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Friday Fun Thread for February 16, 2024

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

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Since my little story got wiped out by the reset I'm posting it here for posterity:


IN tombs of gold and lapis lazuli

Bodies of holy men and women exude

Miraculous oil, odour of violet.

But under heavy loads of trampled clay

Lie bodies of the vampires full of blood;

Their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet.

- Oil and Blood, W. B. Yeats

Variation I:

Two academic antiquarians Ariel (male) and Belinda had recently started a collaboration researching the origins of supernatural myths and the objects associated with them in the distant land of Saagara. After much discussion their plans to visit it and chronicle this history was finally coming to fruition and they had just landed at the airport.

Saagara was at a middling level of development, it was one of the poorer regions of the country but the people there were spiritual and highly prioritized learning, to the point that it’s principal economy relied on a large tourism industry of those seeking guidance who would come to Saagara to listen to the words of wise men. The cuisine was also disproportionately plant based and demurred from using meat or other animal products. It was not for no reason that the area was known throughout the country as the “land of Sage and Onion”.

Despite the highly pacifistic way of life espoused by the locals they did have certain fatalistic myths. One myth with a particularly high penetration that seemed to Ariel as being the most fruitful avenue of research was that of a supernatural monster which haunted an abandoned estate far in the mountainous north of Saagara. The myth wasn’t even that ancient; it’s origins could quite reliably be traced to a mere three centuries ago (or as the locals counted time, 30 decades).

The story went that the mansion had been built over a system of natural underground tunnels by a rich lord for his family. Things were fine until a few years later when suddenly one night the lord was found murdered with large gashes across his neck and while the rest of his family were shaking and cowering traumatized around him. The poor victim was also completely pale, as if his life force and essence had been completely drained (belief in such a life force was a common superstition in Saagara).

After being tended to at the local hospital each and every one of the family members refused under any conditions to return to the house and spoke in terrified tones of a black robed demon, which they claimed was an avatar for the spirit of an ancient monk who had been spurned by his contemporaries for his heterodox beliefs. None of the family members ever fully recovered and upon seeing this the community held a ceremony where all the wisest men collectively performed a ritual to permanently seal the mansion and contain the evil which lay within.

Having a specific place associated to a myth was a unique opportunity for Ariel and Belinda to do a thorough historiographic analysis since normally these sorts of myths did not zoom down to a location anywhere near as close to a single estate. Although they had been strongly warned against it by every single local they mentioned their plans to, since the road quality of the area wasn’t suitable for cars and the nearest town was an hour’s walk away they had decided to spend their nights inside the abandoned house while they conducted their investigations. Belinda remarked that the building was remarkably well preserved for its age, save for the expected decay caused by time and the evidence of opportunistic looting. Certainly the pair would be able to make themselves quite comfortable in this centuries old dwelling.

The first night passed without issue. Ariel and Belinda spent the evening meticulously cataloging and classifying the objects present in the house. Even though the looters had long since taken away anything that may have been valuable, it was still possible to learn a lot of things about the lifestyle of the original inhabitants all those centuries ago. What they could not find was any evidence of the supernatural demon and the horror he was supposed to have inflicted. “Pretty par for the course for your average myth” Belinda nonchalantly observed.

The next day in the course of his work Ariel stumbled upon the entrance to the underground cavern system. He wasn’t sure what it was at first but here at last was some evidence the myth was based upon something real. The pair decided to explore the caves later in the evening after their work for the day was done. “Surprisingly cold down here”, Ariel observed when they climbed down the entrance, “Of course you would expect it to be cooler, but the temperature differential compared to above ground really hits you doesn’t it”. The system was significantly bigger than either of them had expected and eventually they came upon a very large, deep hole in the ground.

“Wow this is deep”, Belinda exclaimed, shining her torch into the hole since even with the torch light it was not possible to see the bottom, “I wonder what the depth is, and how this was created, the edges look too regular to be natural”. "Wait, let me help", said Ariel as threw a large rock into the cavity. It fell and fell and fell; Ariel even raised an eyebrow at how long it was taking to reach the ground. Finally it hit the bottom, but instead of the expected dull thud there was a clear ringing sound, the rock had unmistakably hit something metal at the bottom of the hole. “I don’t like this place, It’s too cold here” Belinda shuddered as the echoes of the ringing reverberated around the cave, “lets go back up to the house”. Ariel agreed.

It was as if the atmosphere had suddenly changed. Everything just seemed more … agitated. For some reason both Ariel and Belinda were significantly more irritable after they came back up from the caves. Indeed there now seemed to be a very slight metallic yet organic smell and taste in the air, just on the edge of detectability and yet so faint that neither of them wanted to bring it up as they couldn’t fully tell if weren’t just hallucinating it. It was as if the house had suddenly turned more eerie, objects which in the day seemed mundane and functional now took on a more menacing quality, one they did not seem to carry even the previous night.

In this perturbed state the pair decided to call it a day. However neither of them were able to go to sleep and soon Ariel heard the creaking of wood on the ground floor. “That sounded like footsteps” he said, “perhaps a trespasser looking for valuables to steal or something, lets go and check”. Arming themselves with pepper spray they slowly climbed down the stairs. A warm yellow glow could be seen coming from one of the rooms. “That’s odd,” remarked Belinda, “I thought you blew out all the candles”. “Indeed I did...” replied Ariel, his speech trailing off. The pair walked over and turned to see what was happening inside the lit room.

Immediately upon looking into the room both of them froze in shock at the sight of what was before them, the colour drained away from their faces and their hearts skipped a beat. Eventually Belinda was able to break out of the lock and pulling away Ariel both of them dashed for the front door running as fast as their legs would carry them. Neither of them cared about their work or belongings left in the house, all that mattered to them at this moment dressed in their sleeping gowns was to get as far away from that cursed place as possible.

A soft, calm muttering could be heard emanating from the house which lingered over its gardens and beyond: “Ōṁ ah ah ah”, “Ōṁ ah ah ah”, “Ōṁ ah ah ah”...

What's this supposed to be, an allegory for CO poisoning? I have no idea what you're getting at.

Understandable, have a nice day!

(How many kids did it take? Was the short term rental worth it? Did you have to lose your deposit because of the stains?)

Ah, it was me celebrating being unbanned after a month. Given how few people made the connection I think I was way too obtuse with it.

EDIT: But yes, I see how it could be interpreted as Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The idea never even entered into my head when I was writing it.

The BBZ wasn't quite as enthusiastic about my plan to devote the NHS's entire budget to improving the health outcomes of trans women of color as I expected them to be. They were concerned about the effect on other marginalised communities.

I flew too close to the sun.

The fact that the Police and Crime Commissioner would suggest such a despicable plan speaks volumes about his priorities and values. The safety and well-being of children should be paramount, not an afterthought in a misguided attempt to raise funds for art projects.

Well, I supposed privatizing the NHS and harvesting PAs and NPs for their organs were niche policy proposals. It didn't make a difference when I pointed out that the brains would fetch a higher price, barely used you see.

I'm not. They didn't like my idea of mandatory euthanasia for journalists.

Before the valentine's day post massacre (never forget) I was having a conversation about Fight Club which made me want to watch it again, so two nights ago I watched it with my brother and his teenage son. My brother and I discussed if it was appropriate for my nephew to watch, given its mature content and themes, some of which would go straight over the head of teens, but I convinced him by pointing out that I watched fight club as a teen.

But I must have been arguing about it with myself in my sleep last night, because I woke up this morning with a burning conviction that I had convinced my brother to fuck up his son - does he want him to turn out to be a ridiculous nihilist misanthrope like me?!

So here's my question - can anyone think of movies with the opposite philosophy and message to fight club? I think I'll need a few of them - I imagine if there was a movie like that that did as good a job presenting its philosophy as fight club did I'd have heard of it already, but maybe we could brute force him back into sanity by inundating him with them.

Your nephew is probably too old, but honestly, the best and most effective positive propaganda I ever consumed was Duck Tales. It's a whole show about how hard work, thrift, entrepreneurship, and relentless curiosity are the path to success. The protagonist is an absurdly wealthy capitalist who never apologizes for his wealth and spends his days going on awesome adventures, sometimes hunting for treasure and sometimes just because he can. He's an immigrant who worked his way up from nothing in an emblematic example of the American Dream, and is almost always portrayed sympathetically.

Scrooge McDuck is a combination of Dale Carnegie and Alan Quartermain (and also a cartoon duck), and I will never understand why this feathered Ayn Rand protagonist doesn't get both more love and more hate.

There's actually a long tradition of leftist/anticolonialist academic readings of Duck Tales and related works.

Should be added to Kulak's index of actually banned books, it never got a proper publishing run in the USA because of Disney's perceived litigiousness.

I realized today what a good anti-Fight Club movie was. It's Chief of Chukotka. The protagonist is a young clerk accompanying a Bolshevik commissar sent to establish Soviet rule in the eponymous region. The commissar dies enroute, and the clerk assumes the leadership role until communication with the capital can be reestablished. He is painfully naïve and optimistic, but despite that (or maybe because of that) he bests every challenge thrown at him, I won't spoil the plot further.

Sounds like it would be good for a cold war double feature with Mr. Smith goes to Washington.

You should look at the Vatican's List of Films. Personally, A Man for All Seasons and Groundhog Day are two films that have an ethos that I'd say have opposite tones. Band of Brothers would be good at diverting any "man I wish I had a violent fraternity" energy towards something real and honest.

because I woke up this morning with a burning conviction that I had convinced my brother to fuck his son

The way I read it the first time it sounded much more schizo.

I don't think it's that easy to fuck someone up by having them watch Fight Club.

If I'd gone in that direction would it have been more obvious that I don't actually take advice from my dreams about ridiculous shit and that the set up for the op was a joke about me dreaming about fight club?

Edit: because it's funnier than my op I mean

Somehow I still haven't watched Fight Club myself and as a result can't comment entirely on what would be its antithesis, but regarding general nihilism-antidote movies: It's Such A Beautiful Day very deeply delves into nihilism and in fact fully accepts every single one of its premises, yet still somehow manages to come out the other end presenting a worldview that's incredibly life-affirming. It's probably my favourite animated movie of all time.

I suppose it is less about Making A Point About Society and more to do with dealing with one's mortality, lack of agency and other such topics, but it is a great movie that's hugely concerned with how to find meaning and beauty in the chaos.

I haven't even heard of It's Such A Beautiful Day, but you have definitely piqued my interest so I will check it out tonight. But you should definitely watch or read fight club man, it has insights into some of the things you have talked about in previous posts that I think you would appreciate even if you disagree with the conclusions.

You have already successfully inoculated him. If he had found Nihilism on his own, it might have intrigued him. But now it's just 'that boring movie my uncle made me watch'.

On a more serious note, the hero's journey is inherently life-affirming, so there's plenty of media to go around. Most Shounen, for example. Lord of the Rings also manages to be quite dark and somber at times while still fundamentally being about hope and progress.

This probably sounds pretentious, but if he was still at that "adults are dumb assholes with terrible taste" stage we wouldn't consider him mature enough to watch movies like fight club. He watches movies with us because whether they are good or bad we have fun watching them (we were watching fight club that night, the conversation was whether my nephew was allowed in the room.)

The cute thing about it is that I'm pretty sure the movie that convinced him adults weren't dumb assholes with terrible taste was The Shawshank Redemption, which you could definitely say my dad (his granddad) made him watch (he sat all the grandchildren down in front of it and told them they could watch it or go to bed - at 3 in the afternoon.) The thing is though, when we watched the Shawshank Redemption the first time, my brother was a little younger than his son is now - and before that film, convinced that adults were dumb assholes with terrible taste. I don't know if that movie will cure any developing teen of that issue, but it's batting 1000 in my experience.

On the more serious note, you might be right and he's already inoculated against it anyway - he spent years pretending to be Aragorn and about the only tv he watches are shounen anime.

Sounds good, just continue what you're doing honestly. In general I wouldn't worry too much about this. Aside from probably overestimating the effect of a single movie, Nihilism is not only not very appealing to begin with for the great majority of people, the larger current media landscape just doesn't lend itself very well to Nihilism. I'd be more worried about Idealism, Escapism, Hedonism and Moralism given both people's natural inclinations and the general contemporary climate.

Spirited Away is a film about a young person finding their place in an alien world. It's also beautifully animated and teaches lessons in loyalty, the rewards of hard work, and having hope.

That's a great suggestion. I almost sneered myself out of seeing Spirited Away when it first came out. It was not long after I'd first watched Neon Genesis Evangelion and then Cowboy Bebop, and then had that epiphany that anime was this untapped wonderland of entertainment where everything is gold. And then I discovered that I had already watched the best of the best and 95% of the rest was the dumbest, most generic pabulum imaginable. So when my gf at the time bought tickets, I tried very hard to get out of it, but she pointed out I was being a tool and she went to terrible ska and punk concerts for me so I should suck it up. I did, and I am glad, because it's a beautiful film.

Of recent movies, the Dune adaptations would fit the bill while being entertaining. Later books muddle the message, but the first one (and its adaptations) showcases legitimate, virtuous leadership in a righteous struggle against decadent, and in the case of the Harkonnens outright degenerate, adversaries. It makes very clear why Leto and Paul are inspiring leaders and why they are a threat to the Emperor. It makes a great case in favor of virtue.

Master and Commander obviously.

A very good suggestion, but I'm afraid the case laid out by the movie would have eluded me when I was a teen, because it's not as clear it's making a general point about leadership and the nature of society rather than a narrow one purely in the service of a (truly excellent) action movie. Fight Club meanwhile beats you over the head with the fact it's making an argument about society.

Obviously the point was always choose the lesser of two weevils.

Yeah, I'm not sure there's a lot of movies like that, but maybe some other commenters will deliver.

Maybe if OP or his brother has a talk with the teen afterwards about the movie they could highlight the philosophy. Maybe I was just thick, but when I was younger it eluded me how Hollum was a weak leader, I accepted the crew's stated reason for their dislike of him.

I think you are overestimating your ability to affect the kid

You are probably right, but dream-me could make my dick disappear until I agreed with him, and that was a very compelling argument at the time.

You're looking for the classics

It's a Wonderful Life

The Liz Taylor Richard Burton Faust

White Christmas

On the Waterfront



Really like, 90% of John Wayne's movies


ETA: I thought of Pride of the Yankees and then realized the perfect answer: spring training is starting up, watch all of Ken Burns Baseball. Fight Club is the classic pessimistic End of History, Baseball is the optimistic. We've solved the big problems, it's only up from here! Everything is beautiful. The human spirit! Achievement!

Baseball is a great idea, but the kid was born and raised here in Australia, I don't know if he'll sit through anything about baseball. It's worth a shot though (plus it would be nice to have one more person in my Dunbar group who doesn't roll their eyes when I mention the sport). Also I didn't know Taylor and Burton had done a Faust movie! The reviews aren't kind, but critics used to have a real hate-on for anything supernatural that wasn't a goofy rubber mask farce, you reckon it's worth a watch?

It's straight Marlowe's play. I enjoyed it but I was also on a very strong edible. Obviously open to interpretation.

Ok, this is not fun, but Wednesday is far away.

I had a panic/anxiety attack thinking about the future of the labor market given AI. For some additional context, I met with a friend who is connected with some very high-up people/ world leaders. And told me that some of them are preparing for social unrest and war. Not in the sense that they are buying guns and missiles. But more in the sense that they think there is the real possibility of ai induced unemployment causing things to boil over. This is not really the point, but it did kick it (my baseline panic) into overdrive.

Just constant stress about the future and hearing shit like this, regardless of how realistic it is or not, along with things in my personal life going south is placing a massive burden on my mental health. The bigger issue is my mind can take it. My body can't. All this adrenaline and cortisol is fucking me over.

The notion that things in my personal life might suck now, but through sheer will and tenacity I can just buy myself into a better situation was load-bearing for my psyche. I am doing OK financially ATM, but as we all understand, there are no shortage of sources telling us we will all become paupers tomorrow.

How do I not lose the plot right now ? If my fears are real, what concrete steps should I take to prepare?

Buy Bitcoin. And land.

If people lose their jobs, might they sell their bitcoin preferentially?

It's highly unlikely there is going to be some kind of societal collapse. When people draw a link between social decay and unemployment, they're not talking about like, a few percentage points on a graph. They're talking about having literally tens of millions of people unemployed, huge swathes of people with nothing to lose. That's not going to happen. The economy will find them something to do. It might be worse than what we have today and it might be better. It's unlikely to be much much better and it's unlikely to be much much worse.

The economy will find them something to do.

Or if not, the politicians will. Or they can't/won't and a civil war breaks out (probably something about developing resources that the federal government would prefer not be developed; environmentalism has always been a "let them eat cake"-type of philosophy), but even more things need to go wrong in order for that to happen.

It's worth noting that tens of millions of people unemployed with nothing to their name and nothing to lose was a pretty good description of the political situation in the US nearly 100 years ago; "welfare", "unemployment insurance", and "minimum wage" (all of which were implemented around that time) form the bulk of what us moderns call "UBI".

Buy shares in NVIDIA or robotics/AI stocks if you haven't done so already? I highly doubt mass unemployment is priced in or NVIDIA would be worth tens of trillions. Markets aren't omniscient, it's easy to beat them.

I wouldn't overestimate the insight and competence of very high-up people. I had a similar friend in high places who was constantly surprised when there was no level at which you started dealing with highly competent, knowledgeable, predictive thinkers. Even at the top it was just the same old laziness and silliness. Preparing for social unrest and war is an absolute no-brainer - these people aren't complete morons. They read newspapers. There's already plenty of social unrest today!

There are annual massive riots/protests in France, the farmers protest in Germany, truckers in Canada. Jan 6th in USA. Basic political science says 'bad economic conditions increase unrest - drought/climate change intensified the Arab Spring'. Logically AI will worsen economic conditions for workers dependent on wages.

I'm really looking for a good FPS. Preferably single player, and I'll accept multiplayer PvE, but if it's PvP it's gotta be perfect.

My problems with most shooters these days is very hard to define. Some of them have a floaty characteristic where all the guns feel like laser pointers that magically kill things. Some of them are boring because enemies are bullet sponges (and somehow game designers don't know that this ruins the whole point of shooters?) Many games just lack a soul, and it's hard to even say what's wrong with them.

I've been playing starship troopers and I really enjoy it as a shooter. There are lots of enemies, situational awareness matters, positioning matters, twitch skills switching between targets matters, and the shooting feels weighty when your powerful rifles can stun an enemy bug.

I just tried hell divers today and was very disappointed. It's not a shooter. It's a grenade throwing game with sidearms to get you in to grenade throwing positions. Most of the "grenades" are not called grenades they are called ordinance and are explained by you having a floating artillery ship in orbit. But you call in all this ordinance by throwing a tracking beacon with a countdown timer. And throwing the beacons is exactly the same as throwing grenades. The progression is all about unlocking grenades/ordinance.

It's frustrating to see the relative popularity of the two games. Starship troopers will probably be dead before it gets out of early access. Hell divers might get game of the year.

Edit: thanks for all the many suggestions. It has allowed me to figure out what I'm actually interested in. Which is longer range engagements. I describe it in another comment, but the 0-15 meter engagement distance of most shooters turns me off. To me that is just a melee game masquerading as a shooter.

You ever find a good answer on engagement range?

I’ve been playing STALKER: Anomaly, and despite having modern military styling and lots of Tarkov mechanics, combat is still largely within the 15m window. Against mutant animals, fine, they’re going to rush you. But humans? The opportunities to use a derelict commie block as a sniper nest, or pick off a merc squad caught in the open, are awesome…when they happen. You just spend a lot more time clearing houses. The game rarely has enough space to play with your full range.

I realized "military sim" was the closest genre tag and I bought Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands

It has a big sale on steam right now like 80% off. Usually I can clear out locations with a decent amount of sniping. There are still times when I need to clear an interior building, but it doesn't feel very often.

There are scenarios in the game where I'm worried about bullet travel times and bullet drop.

It's a little bit of a new experience having three NPCs with me at all times to form a squad. I could probably be using them more to clear internal spaces. It makes the game much easier. I've gone down in firefights at least 10-20 times but I've only had a full squad wipe once or twice. The teammates will revive you in the fight. So you are not a bullet sponges and can go down easily but if you were being careful and not getting into a crazy situation you can be revived. Prevents deaths from turning the game into a grind.

The DLC I think also screws up the progression of the game. They gate some good weapons behind the DLC, and not too much starts unlocked. I bought the DLC not really knowing that and had some super good gear immediately.

Oh, is this the one where you can synchronize your team to snipe different targets on your signal? I thought that was cool.

Yes, that is an ability I use often and fully upgraded. Sometimes there will be groups of guys standing around talking to each other and there is no way to snipe them one-by-one without turning the whole situation into a firefight.

I think this is kind of a weird take as I played the hell out of the starship troopers FPS and most gunfights in that game are also extremely close, although it is possible to engage enemies at range with one or two gun variants.

Helldivers 2 has pretty bad gun balance issues and a flawed armor system, that's it. And fighting bots is an entirely different experience than fighting bugs that just rush or ambush leap you, bots can often snipe you crossmap with extremely accurate rockets.

I play exclusively with one of the guns that has a long distance.

I played Helldivers a few years ago. I liked both the gameplay and the very on the nose film version references of Starship Troopers. I recommend it.

As someone who played Helldivers 1 and 2...yeah, HD2 has problems. First off, both primary and secondary weapons are almost useless, as you noted, because too many enemies are too heavily armored, and dealing with armor requires Strategems. It's honestly something of a design flaw in my opinion. Yes you can take down some lightly armored enemies by exploiting weak points, but at higher difficulties that becomes increasingly risky and you're better off calling in an air strike or mail-ordering man-portable anti-tank weapons. The light guns are given center stage in character or loadout customization, but they barely matter when most enemies require heavy weapons to deal with and the ones that don't tend to die as collateral damage.

As for everything being a grenade and short-ranged - that's a holdover from Helldivers 1, where it made sense since that was top-down and had to fit onto a single screen. I agree that Helldivers 2 could use some alternative methods of deploying strategems, say by laser pointer or calling in grid coordinates, or maybe even by attaching a tracking device to big enemies. That would add a lot of mechanical variety. I doubt we'll ever see anything of the sort, though.

Overall I have fun in the game, but I take it for what it is, and it's not a good shooter.

Also, they really dropped the ball on vehicles. In Helldivers 1, vehicles were very difficult to use because of the cramped screen space. Now we have a third-person perspective where vehicles would be a joy to use...and they just don't exist. Boo. And then they didn't include my favorite strategem from the first game, either - oh barbed wire, how shall I inconvenience my teammates without you?

I hear you loud and clear. I think. I strongly dislike games that almost exclusively have hitscan, or nearly hitscan weapons. Among my favorite arsenals is still the Quake franchise. Had a great mix of weapons with different trade offs. Shotgun gave you hitscan with spread so it's effectiveness dropped off fast. Nailgun/Plasma gun/hyperblaster put out a lot of damage, but you had to lead the target. Rocket launcher was even slower, and had splash damage. Then the railgun had a slow fire speed, and required pinpoint accuracy. Every weapon filled a niche and was situationally better than another.

I don't see much of that design anymore. Most guns in FPS are just straight up better than all the others. Doom 2016 brought some of that design sensibility back. But then Doom Eternal gutted it by ripping away most of your ammo supply, forcing you to mostly use whatever you actually had ammo for in the all of 2 engagements it lasted through before rotating senselessly to a different weapon.

You find a good one, let me know.

Check out Devil Daggers or Hyper Demon.

Some of my favourite FPSes:

  • Condemned: Criminal Origins - shooting only makes up maybe one-fifth of the combat and the rest is melee. The melee combat is the most realistic I've ever seen from a first-person perspective in a game. Also one of the top ten scariest games I've ever played. I play it once a year.
  • F.E.A.R. - you've probably played this one. From Monolith, the same people as Condemned, and it's a shame that Condemned doesn't get as much love as F.E.A.R. when it's better in almost every way. Unlike Condemned, F.E.A.R. doesn't really work as a horror game, but the gunplay is satisfyingly weighty thanks to the excellent, visceral sound design. I've only played the original and can't comment on the sequels.
  • No One Lives Forever - a Monolith hat-trick! Made in the era in which shooters could have vibrant palettes and weren't limited to brown, grey and magenta. Endearingly goofy (with flashes of wit) Bond parody that mixes up the formula with stealth and gadgetry. Apparently it's abandonware now, so mods to make it run on modern PCs are a must.
  • Prey - not the 2017 "reboot", the original from 2005. My single hottest take in gaming is that this is a better FPS than Half-Life 2, which loses momentum after the airboat mission. Fight me. The weapons are creative, the gravity puzzles are brainteasing, the villains are creepy. Apparently it owes a debt of influence to Sphere, which I've never seen.
  • Far Cry 3 - my favourite in the franchise (it's a self-contained story, no need to play the previous). People love gushing about how arty and confrontational 2 is, but for my money 3 does everything better than 2: it's both more fun and absorbing to play than 2 and tells a better story, which manages to actually get across the points that it seemed 2 was trying to convey but failed. My understanding is that the subsequent games in the franchise became increasingly homogenous and subsumed under the "Ubisoft sandbox" formula, but the elements work here.
  • SWAT 4 - an excellently designed game but it is haaard. I've tried to play it a bunch of times and invariably have to give up around the fifth or sixth mission.
  • Tribes Vengeance - I feel like this game doesn't get talked about nearly enough. I'm very biased because I have a recurring dream in which I'm not exactly flying but sort of... "skipping", jumping huge horizontal distances and floating back to the ground gently as a feather. When I played this game for the first time in 2022 I was just like "wow. The jetpack mechanics feel exactly like how it feels when I'm having that one recurring dream". But even aside from the jetpack mechanics it's a very tightly designed shooter and the anachronic love story is surprisingly engaging (even in spite of the PS2-era graphics). IIRC the story was written by Ken Levine. It's also abandonware.

Tribes is getting another sequel that's currently in beta by the way.

I was in love with 2 and early Ascend, and nothing has scratched that itch since so I hope it's good.

Far Cry 3

I am a complete simp for 2, but 3 is definitely a better video game. Although the end choice was ironically preachy against video games - iirc you can either save your friends and decide to be a better man as you sail away from the island (put vidya away and engage the real world) or you can stay on the island and "Win" as that crazy chick sexes you and stabs your heart (continue playing vidya leading to hyper stimulation then death).

Far Cry 3

I like 4 more (and Primal even more), but I can't deny that 3 has the best mission in the franchise. You know, the one with the song. Still can't believe people unironically listened to dubstep back then. And the best plot twist in the franchise: turns out Willis is actually a CIA agent.

I haven't played Primal, what makes it your favourite? 4 was pretty great, but I think it shot itself in the foot a bit with its wait ending, because I was kind of annoyed while playing it that it looked way more fun to hang out with Pagan Min. Also did you play Blood Dragon? That was pretty great too, but far too buggy.

I haven't played Blood Dragon, no.

Actually, Primal has the best song in the franchise, simply because it's so unexpected when it starts playing. But that's not the only reason I liked it. It's mostly the setting that drew me in. Every Far Cry since 3 has been mostly the same: rebels, crazy dictator, outposts, weird dream sequences, you know the drill. Primal throws all of this out. Well, except outposts. And you can ride around on a sabretooth tiger, making your enemies flee in fear.

The only major drawback is the hunter vision mechanic. Any "X vision" mechanic that alters the palette and highlights useful stuff will invariably be too useful and you will spend most of your time with it on, be it night vision, instinct mode, vampire sight or what you call it. I tried playing without it (as I switched the minimap and the detection indicators off as well), but too much of the gameplay relied on it.

If you haven't played Trepang2 it's probably worth trying. It's not as good as F.E.A.R. 1, but it's the closest thing I've seen. I will have to say that the moment-to-moment gunplay is pretty much the only thing going for it. The story is extremely predictable - I guessed the shape of the 'twist ending' in the first mission. It's even worse as a horror game than F.E.A.R is and lacks a cohesive atmosphere. But if you like slowing down time and shredding bad guys with a shotgun it is a fun game.

@cjet79 I doubt this is the game for you. It's got boomer-shooter fast movement though I think the feel of the guns is better. There are also some bullet-sponge type enemies that show up in different numbers based on the difficulty. There's a free demo though so it might be something to look into.

I saw an article about it a few weeks ago and added it to my wishlist, looks sick.

I did try the demo, wasn't for me, but it helped me narrow down what I actually wanted which is more range on engagements.

So boom shoot is out, and you're ideally looking for something more current. So we'll skip the usual list of 96-08 'classics' I'm sure you're aware of to one degree or another.

Have you checked out the Metro series? I've yet to play the third entry, but I quite enjoyed my time with the Redux versions of the first two. They don't lean into the pure shooty aspect of games like Halo or Destiny quite as much, although they are still shooters first and foremost. There's a lot of quiet exploration, sneaking around, and even a few linear mini-tours through underground Moscow. I'd describe it as STALKER without the jank and sandbox elements, if you're interested in that kind of tone and atmosphere.

I also grew up with Halo and miss good FPSs. Closest I’ve come lately is Titanfall 2, which has a good campaign that does some really cool things with level design.

Space Hulk: Deathwing is reportedly fun on co-op. I would be up for a motte gamers group.

James Bond: Quantum of Solace is 2008 but little known and actually really good if I remember properly.

I did enjoy Titanfall 2.

I have no idea it if it's what you're looking for, I haven't tried any of the games you liked or didn't like, and I don't fully understand your descriptions of what you want and don't want, but Borderlands 2 is a pretty good singleplayer FPS.

Fuck the shooting. Playing as a psycho in borderlands 2 is one of the greatest video game experiences I’ve ever had

I was just about to recommend Hell Divers 2 even if it's an FPS. From the gameplay I've seen, it does every ST does and better, and while I strongly prefer an FPS perspective, in a coop shooter it's not nearly as aggravating as wall peeking is something like Gears of War and the like.

Let me know if you pick it up, I might do so myself, it looks like a blast. Ah it looks like it isn't your cup of tea.

Well, maybe you'll try Tarkov one day, but I feel like the anxiety would kill you, and ping limits mean I can't even carry you through the new player on-boarding waterboarding.

There's Darktide, but I have my own gripes with that game and can't wholeheartedly recommend it, but it is satisfying to shoot the guns. There's a game called Grey Zone Warfare entering EA soon, which has PVP but far less of it than Tarkov, and will have dedicated PvE servers if you want to play it like a hardcore Ghost Recon with buddies. I'm quite optimistic about it, if only because the devs read and responded to my autistic screeching about milsim medical systems in their feedback section and even seem to have implemented a few of my suggestions.

I just wish that Darktide didn't include rootkit anti-cheat. I would love to play it, but I'm not willing to install that kind of crap just for video games.

There's Darktide, but I have my own gripes with that game and can't wholeheartedly recommend it, but it is satisfying to shoot the guns.

Extremely repetitive, but damn if they didn't nail the feel of it. Mechanically one of the best games I've seen in recent times.

Well, maybe you'll try Tarkov one day, but I feel like the anxiety would kill you, and ping limits mean I can't even carry you through the new player on-boarding waterboarding.

Tarkov does look mechanically like a game I'd be interested in, but the gameplay doesn't interest me as much. Its more that I dont get anxiety when playing games. Which might seem like 'oh then its perfect for you', but no, it just means I repeatedly suck at them. Anxiety is a feature of human psychology, not just a bug. It gives you some degree of heightened awareness and increased focus.

Grey Zone Warfare

This looks very interesting. Combined with me bouncing off a few other recommendations, I think I've figured out why I have a problem with many shooters: engagement distance. So many "shooters" these days are basically melee distance. Everything is tight corridors, with enemies popping out right in front of you. Most engagements take place 0-15 meters away from the player. Almost every 4 person co-op shooter that follows the mold of left 4 dead is like this.

Halo on the highest difficulties is nearly impossible to win at 0-15 meter distances. Most covenant weapons were not instant hit. They have travel distance, but most human weapons are instant hit. So optimal engagement distance is more like 15-50 meters. And the maps often allow you to actually fight at those distances. Its also why I think the flood levels are so hated and controversial.

If you've ever actually shot a modern firearm you'll realize very quickly how insane a 0-5 meter engagement distance is. 5-15 meter engagement distance makes some sense within buildings. In a city environment between buildings it can be more like the 15-50 meters. Outside of cities engagement distances in modern combat are like hundreds of meters, and most of the killing is done by artillery rather than small arms. So many games going for that close engagement distance nerf the hell out of the weapons to force it to happen.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is my favorite realistish shooter; the firearms are done exceptionally well in my opinion. But it's also purely PvP, so.

Overall I think it's easier to sell realistic mechanics in a PvP package than in a PvE or solo one - the latter two are usually about power fantasies, and I guess it's more convenient to make players feel powerful by letting them get a good eyeful of the enemies they're obliterating with their overpowered player weapons.

What about the grittier WWII shooters then? I'm occasionally playing "Hell let loose" with some friends and on average you die not even knowing what hit you.

Is there a single player mode? Multiplayer is usually just not fun for me unless it's PvE

No, unfortunately not. It does seem to check all your other boxes though. The grittier WWII Shooters in general tend to have a weightier feel for the weapons, people die in just 1-2 shots and engagement is usually at a considerable distance.

Well, there's Ultrakill which is all about speed and precision, running, jumping and sliding all over the place. You can parry and reflect back a lot of stuff, even your own attacks.

The only traditional FPS I've been playing is Entropy: Zero 2. It's basically a fan-made Half Life 3 but from the perspective of the Combine's top Elite. Gameplay is pretty traditional Half Life 2 stuff, with a couple of new bells and whistles. Turn subtitles on, much of the casts speaks like they've had their jaws replaced with machinery - which they have.

There are a lot of good retro shooters (sometimes called Boomer shooters, even though they really target Gen-X/Millennial nostalgia). Amid Evil, DUSK, and Cultic are good examples made in modern engines. Ion Fury and its DLC is excellent, and is made in a descendant of the original BUILD engine used to make Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, and Blood (and, uh, Redneck Rampage, I guess). Shadow Warrior, by the way, got a more modern reboot in 2013 which itself got a sequel. It's pretty fun.

sometimes called Boomer shooters, even though they really target Gen-X/Millennial nostalgia

I hate this term. The only real Boomer shooter was shipping out to Saigon.

It's just a part of the general shift of the word "Boomer" to mean just, well, old.

I always thought it was unrelated to the generation and just referencing booms.

Some of the boomer shooters feel too "floaty" to me. Part of me just wants to move fast and shoot stuff. but another part of me likes the balance of "no you can't float instantly anywhere and shoot super accurately". I grew up in the Halo shooter era, not the boomer shooter era. So I'm maybe looking for games that imitate Halo 2 more than doom/

Doom original is very floaty to me. I have been thinkning of doom 2016.

I also must admit I have some level of graphics requirements. Post 2015 at least. And I'm just throwing that out there as a random year. But really I don't know of any games I play before that date.

Thanks for suggestions though.

You haven't tried Doom 2016 or eternal?

Doom '16 was most fun I had with a non-realistic shooter since Unreal Tournament.

If he doesn't want floaty BS, he should play a realistic shooter like Squad or Post Scriptum. One of those is bound to somehow replicate the inertia mechanics Red Orchestra 1 had.

If you enjoy Halo, maybe give Destiny 2 a go? The game isn't perfect and Bungie seems to be losing their way, but even at their worst they know how to make shooting guns feel real good.

Yeah, I hate Destiny 2 because they basically took away things I spent money on and both pvp and pve just feels like a treadmill of weekly chores/missions, but man do they know how to make shooting things fun.

FPS games aren't really my thing but I've recently heard good things about Trepang2 but it's apparently very short. I've also heard near universal acclaim for Titanfall 2 and it's, from what I've read and heard, the epitome of move fast and shoot stuff.

Sunset Overdrive is pretty great, lots of different feeling weapons.

What are some of the most wildly original premises you've encountered in fiction? I love Cube (1999) because damn what a cool idea, even though the filmmakers screwed up and the puzzle is confirmed impossible to solve.

Greg Egan's Dichronauts moreso for the strange non-Euclidean geometry of the setting, than the plot itself which is a relatively pedestrian Jules Verne-esque voyage into the unknown.

In Time (2011) had an awesome premise but a not amazing execution so I'm not sure I can really recommend it. From wikipedia:

In 2169, people are genetically engineered to stop aging on their 25th birthdays and are given one free year to live. Everyone has a timer on their forearm that shows their remaining time; when it reaches zero, the person "times out" and instantly dies.

Time is now the universal currency, transferred directly between people or stored in capsules. The country is divided into Time Zones; Dayton is the poorest, a ghetto where people rarely have more than 24 hours on their timer. New Greenwich is the richest, people there are effectively immortal.

Film left a lot to be desired unfortunately. The casino scene could have been thrilling as all hell but it just kinda... Wasn't.

I thought the recent first season of Severance and the associated concept was a stroke of genius.

It even managed to depict activism realistically, with lots of moral nuance and without being preachy, which in contemporary fiction has got to be a tour de force.

The sheer existential horror of the concept is fascinating though. Is it slavery? Are you still yourself? Who deserves control over one's body? It's all extremely thorny and evocative from something that's conceptually so simple. I love it.

Hope they don't fuck it up like Lost was.

I really liked the premise of Flatliners (1990) - medical students deliberately induce clinical death to touch the afterlife

My headcanon is that cube is in the same universe as Blame!, so the cube is just the result of a literally insane AI.

Blame! is a great work that strangely gets little mention.

Italo Calvino Novels. Put If on a Winter's Night a Traveler and Invisible Cities aside because they're so weird I'm only 90% sure they're not complete nonsense. Baron in the Trees and Cloven Viscount are both about the collapse of pre-industrial society, told through a 18th century baron who climbs into the trees and never comes down, and a 17th century viscount who is split on half on the battlefield between his good side and evil side, and proceeds to govern his county well and be history's greatest monster, respectively.

If you're sour against postmodernists — and who could blame you — I'm still in awe of Mother of Learning which I read last August and September. Though what's special about that premise only unfolds over the course of the first two books; it starts as just 'timeloop magic school'. (And it's a shame the prose isn't better.)

Greg Egan's Permutation City is a classic example. It starts out with your usual Matrix-like virtual world thing but then gets weirder than that, very reminsicent of Max Tegmark's mathematical universe stuff.

I am going to die in this game-like dimension has one of the most unique worlds I've seen, even if the plot is kind of generic. It was written by a physics teacher, and it has entirely new physics: gravity pulls you to the nearest surface, cold is just as real as heat, your lungs process lavi and oxygen doesn't exist, and my personal favourite: "Did you think I was speaking English all this time?".

Generally, the differences from earthly physics show up in a controlled scenario (such as training), then surprisingly they also show up in real situations working exactly the same way. Like, wall-running past a pit is fine because the nonexistent floor doesn't pull you down, but surely falling out of a huge tree wouldn't let you

(linebreak for formatting only) "fall" to the trunk instead of the ground and save yourself.

You mean 1997? What's impossible about it?

Yeah, '97. There's a great video that breaks down why, the gist is the way the cubes move makes no sense.

To what extent do you conform to cultural or ethnic stereotypes of your people?

Conforming to the stereotype of an asian male, I have trouble finding a romantic partner.

Why do you think that is?

My suspicion, and forgive me if I wade right in, is that it has to do with most people's deep rooted preference for dimorphism. They want men to be as manly as possible, and women to be feminine. For women this is less of a problem as a lot of men will simp for anything with a pulse and a hole. A lot of Asian women have plenty of femininity. Asian men come up short due to being less physically extreme. Less height, less muscle mass, smaller penises. Or so the stereotype goes.

Edit: typo

Yeah. Also autism or whatever

A lot in some ways, less so in others. I think much of this is part of social class, actually, and because I am from the Southern US--if you believe writers like Nancy Isenberg--we are all reprobate chawbacons with prole collars whose tastes define the term "lowbrow."

I am a white dude, though growing up my friends called me hispanic as a kind of jokey epithet because I am olive-skinned like my mother and probably got that from something something Native Merican. They always said Cherokee but I have my doubts because everyone says Cherokee. So anyway White Southern (US) Male.

I was raised united methodist but eventually went to a Southern Baptist church then later a Catholic church, both of the above because of females.

In the a lot category:

  • I like grits, as well as the usual southern foods like black-eyed peas, turnip or collard greens, etc. I regularly long to eat these foods and cannot because I'm far from them. (I am in Thailand on holiday at the moment and literally one hour ago bought a bag of black-eyed peas to take back to Japan.)
  • I dislike tattoos.
  • I own a bible that I took time and trouble to get, and I read it.
  • I quietly judge most people but attempt to hide this.
  • I wear jeans a lot, though the T-shirt jeans and sneakers look I try to avoid.
  • I enjoy drinking beer and don't really care how poor quality it is. I will drink it if it is there and cold and I have someone to drink with, though the latter part is not a requirement.
  • I own a blue blazer and wear it often. With khakis.
  • I wear neckties often and see no inconvenience at all in doing so.
  • I have short hair and wear it probably conservatively.
  • I am somewhat homophobic in that I become uncomfortable if I think a gay man is showing indicators of interest towards me. Ditto if I am touched by a gay dude in that way. This does not happen often at all, which suggests it is some hang-up I have.
  • Lesbians annoy me. Not always though.
  • I like action movies and watch them regularly, more than once.
  • I like almost everything about women, who endlessly fascinate me. They also annoy the shit out of me (not just the lesbians).
  • I am probably trans-phobic as used in the popular sense. To be specific I suspect being trans is a kind of pathology, which if harmless doesn't bother me, people should be free, yes? But currently the trans thing drives me up the wall and if I were in the US many people would write me off as bigoted (Though I do not feel I am--I much prefer dealing with individuals instead of conceptualizing big groups.)
  • My wife is Asian (Japanese.) <- This is only stereotypical in that some white women in particular will scoff.

In the not so much category:

  • I listen to classical music, including opera. My music tastes in general aren't very dudebro. One old girlfriend looked at my CD collection and said "This is chick music." She often put on that kind of cool girl affect. But she wasn't wrong. (Sadé's greatest hits was one such CD if you're wondering, which you probably aren't.)
  • I read a lot of fiction, and not just Jack Reacher formulaic fiction, though I do read that, too. (I have a lot of commute time for reading.)
  • I am in no way overweight and probably relatively fit, at an age when my peers are all fatasses with beer bellies. (But good people, probably, in ways.)
  • I read poetry.
  • I don't get into fights, even when I probably should.
  • When home, I am the one cooking 5 out of 7 dinners during the week, as well as doing the washing up and various other domestic tasks. I * see no problem with this and think I do things well. (My wife would be laughing to read the last sentence there.)
  • I have hazel eyes which I think biologically I should not, according to my high school biology teacher. But he was a degenerate and probably going on what is now considered a dated view of genetics.)
  • I enjoy reading The Motte.
  • I live in Japan.

Extremely disagreeable? Check. Purveyor of gastronomy? Check. Never ever tip? Check. Outlandish philosophy for its own sake? Check. Always complaining about the government? Check. Art and literature snob? Check. Paranoid about debt? Check.

All I'm really missing is loose sexual mores, a penchant for strikes and an outrageous accent.

I care about it so little I don't even know the stereotypes apart from hard-drinking, catholic and gregarious, of which I'm neither.

What stereotypes do people have about Turks?


Mostly check

Dislike of Greece, fondness for cosmetic intervention/surgery.

I go to Greece almost more often than Turkey. But it’s always a bit cringing to see how they are obviously a fundamentally Balkan/Near East people but will pretend to be Europeans with baklava and kebab (trademarked greek food since Alexander).

Nope for cosmetic surgery. It’s a female thing though

Aggressively patriotic.

Half check. Not aggressively but definitely a bit

I'm Irish, I have red hair, I'm not religious but I'm still riddled with Catholic guilt (one of the reasons I drink so much).

I'm a third culture kid. So practically none.

  1. Wave to everyone and say hello

  2. Own several guns

  3. Viciously capitalist

  4. Only speak English, poorly

  5. Confidently ignorant about other countries particularly

5.a Considers all ethnic conflicts in other countries to be junior varsity shit

6 Drive a pickup

Yup, I'm American.

  1. Large nose, check.
  2. Work in law, medicine, or entertainment, check.
  3. Good with money, ish? I understand money but I'm more of a spendthrift than a tightpurse, so let's say half and half.
  4. Hairy, no.
  5. Overbearing mother, check.
  6. Mild mannered father, check.
  7. Either stereotypically meek and gentle or has spent life actively pursuing the opposite, (the latter) check.
  8. Peppers language with yiddish phrases, occasionally but I'll say check.
  1. Check, obviously

  2. You accidentally missed finance, so yes

  3. Same as you, so I’ll say yes

  4. Moderately, although I’ve always felt we do better than the Italians and Greeks

  5. I have a pretty mild-mannered mother, surprisingly. Or rather high string, but not really towards her children, whom she’s pretty relaxed toward.

  6. Of course! My dad speaks almost in a whisper, unless he’s on a work call or giving “a talk”, then he’s a charismatic presenter

  7. If the stereotype is “ultra neurotic”, Check

  8. I don’t do this, but I should. (Weirdly I do this online, but I think it’s just a fun affectation.)

  • Eat pasta and pizza every day. Pasta yes, pizza one or twice a month
  • Obsessed With Food. I checked my instagram saves and 100% of them is food, 93% pasta and pizza. So I guess is a yes.
  • Speak with their hands (gestures). How would you enphasize words otherwise?
  • Drive like crazy. I hate driving.
  • Obsessed with fashion. My "Outfit" Pinterest board has 875 Pin. It's a yes.
  • Connected to the Mafia. No, sadly I would probably have a more succesfull life if I did.
  • Very attached to their mothers. Of course.
  • Creative and artists. Well, I play three instruments, my sister dances, almost every high schoola and university classmate and almost every colleagues have an artsy or artisanal hobby despite being a math-heavy STEM course. Despite my hate for the art world I am an art hoe and I love searching 𝔸 𝔼 𝕊 𝕋 ℍ 𝔼 𝕋 𝕀 ℂ pinterest boards. I would like to get into photography but I'm poor. 😭
  • Always late. On the contrary, excessively on time even when some tardiness would be called for.
  • Love coffee (Espresso). Of course.
  • Impulsive and passionate. On the contrary, I'm very high inhibition in real life. But while daydreaming at home alone, listening to epic classical music that I use as soundtrack for my adventures... You should see me.
  • Effusive and touchy. I hate touching people and I hate being touched. Disgusting habit.
  • Soccer Fanatic. Most boring sport ever.
  • Can't Speak English. Self explanatory.
  • Extroverted and Loud. I think I'm more Finnish in this case. It has caused me many trouble to be silent in a culture where you're expected to be loud.


I was actually expecting worse, given how much I would like to leave this place.

  1. Never smiling unless it's something funny? Check, but I try to smile more.
  2. A big drinker? No.
  3. A tracksuit connoisseur? No.
  4. Preference for simple haircuts? Check.
  5. Direct and blunt in technical discussions? Check.
  6. Patriotic homophobe promising to fuck NATO in the ass? No.



So, a fun little kidding/not kidding hypothetical.

What if Marcus Aurelius was not a cuck?

I've been reading Gibbon lately, and this immediately jumped out at me from the text.

The virtue of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was of severer and more laborious kind. It was the well-earned harvest of many a learned conference, of many a patient lecture, and many a midnight lucubration. At the age of twelve years he embraced the rigid system of the Stoics, which taught him to submit his body to his mind, his passions to his reason; to consider virtue as the only good, vice as the only evil, all things external as things indifferent. His meditations, composed in the tumult of the camp, are still extant; and he even condescended to give lessons of philosophy, in a more public manner than was perhaps consistent with the modesty of sage, or the dignity of an emperor. But his life was the noblest commentary on the precepts of Zeno. He was severe to himself, indulgent to the imperfections of others, just and beneficent to all mankind. He regretted that Avidius Cassius, who excited a rebellion in Syria, had disappointed him, by a voluntary death, of the pleasure of converting an enemy into a friend;; and he justified the sincerity of that sentiment, by moderating the zeal of the senate against the adherents of the traitor. War he detested, as the disgrace and calamity of human nature; but when the necessity of a just defence called upon him to take up arms, he readily exposed his person to eight winter campaigns, on the frozen banks of the Danube, the severity of which was at last fatal to the weakness of his constitution. His memory was revered by a grateful posterity, and above a century after his death, many persons preserved the image of Marcus Antoninus among those of their household gods.

Faustina, the daughter of Pius and the wife of Marcus, has been as much celebrated for her gallantries as for her beauty. The grave simplicity of the philosopher was ill calculated to engage her wanton levity, or to fix that unbounded passion for variety, which often discovered personal merit in the meanest of mankind. 2 The Cupid of the ancients was, in general, a very sensual deity; and the amours of an empress, as they exact on her side the plainest advances, are seldom susceptible of much sentimental delicacy. Marcus was the only man in the empire who seemed ignorant or insensible of the irregularities of Faustina; which, according to the prejudices of every age, reflected some disgrace on the injured husband. He promoted several of her lovers to posts of honor and profit, 3 and during a connection of thirty years, invariably gave her proofs of the most tender confidence, and of a respect which ended not with her life. In his Meditations, he thanks the gods, who had bestowed on him a wife so faithful, so gentle, and of such a wonderful simplicity of manners. 4 The obsequious senate, at his earnest request, declared her a goddess. She was represented in her temples, with the attributes of Juno, Venus, and Ceres; and it was decreed, that, on the day of their nuptials, the youth of either sex should pay their vows before the altar of their chaste patroness.

The monstrous vices of the son have cast a shade on the purity of the father’s virtues. It has been objected to Marcus, that he sacrificed the happiness of millions to a fond partiality for a worthless boy; and that he chose a successor in his own family, rather than in the republic. Nothing however, was neglected by the anxious father, and by the men of virtue and learning whom he summoned to his assistance, to expand the narrow mind of young Commodus, to correct his growing vices, and to render him worthy of the throne for which he was designed. But the power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous. The distasteful lesson of a grave philosopher was, in a moment, obliterated by the whisper of a profligate favorite; and Marcus himself blasted the fruits of this labored education, by admitting his son, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, to a full participation of the Imperial power. He lived but four years afterwards: but he lived long enough to repent a rash measure, which raised the impetuous youth above the restraint of reason and authority.

To summarize, Marcus' wife fucked around a lot, Marcus' "son" was nothing like him at all, and he was so soft hearted that he was oblivious to all this, despite literally the entire empire knowing. To add insult to injury, Marcus had such affection for his "son" that he bequeathed the empire to him, arguably damning it to 100 years of civil war, invasion, famine, and plague.

Now sure, Roman families were different. The last several Emperors had "adopted" whole ass adult "sons" to bequeath the purple to. They divorced and remarried to seal alliances at the drop of the hat. It's debatable how much family meant to them at all. All the same, had Marcus at least kept up that pragmatic tradition, he would have chosen a more worthy successor from the Roman Senate.

Gibbon really puts all the ills that eventually end the Roman Empire on Commodus. Rome's own military industrial complex is birthed under him. He showers the armies in the wealth of the empire to purchase their loyalty, a tradition every succeeding military dictator will have to keep up after him. It results in such rapacious taxes over the next 100 years that famine and disease roar through the empire. Gibbon estimates that over the course of the third century crisis the population of the Roman Empire may have fallen by as much as a half! And when war and disease isn't reducing the population, apparently the taxes are so burdensome that the workers of the empire refused to have families! I can't find the text at the moment, but a later emperor tried to decree tax exemptions for families to encourage them not to just commit infanticide on children they couldn't afford the taxes on. But apparently the system was merely gamed and did little to raise the fertility of the Roman Empire.

So let that be a lesson. Invisible and inevitable, like a cuck that beats his meat in one corner of the globe and with that single action changes the prosperity across the whole of an empire.

First of all great post.

My opinion is that Commodus hastened the descent into chaos but didn't cause it.

By the time of Marcus Aurelius, the vitality of the empire was already spent (even if it was economically richer than it had ever been). Someone like Commodus was bound to come along. Having five good emperors in a row was a small miracle that never happened before and never would again.

The empire couldn't overcome the tyranny of Commodus because it was weak. By contrast, the empire of a century earlier was able to weather similar tyrants like Nero and Caligula and come out stronger than ever.

And now, a tangent... How has Warren Buffett managed to pick so many winners in the stock market? One of the ways he does so is to buy companies that have untapped pricing power. These are companies that charge less than the market will bear and thus can raise prices for a long period of time without losing market share. Examples include Coke and Apple (note: at the time Buffett bought them, not now).

Rome in the time of Caesar had "untapped pricing power". The government wasn't collecting large tax revenues and there were plenty of lands to conquer and tribes to enslave.

By the time of Marcus Aurelius, all the untapped power had been tapped. The empire was at is territorial and economic peak, but there was no more room to grow. Maintaining the empire's current territory already demanded 100% of its resources. Stagnation and decline were inevitable. Commodus might have lit the fuse, but he was not the cause of the decline.

This, especially given the Antonine Plague that struck during Marcus Aurelius's reign. It might've killed a quarter of the Empire, population it never had a chance to gain back afterwards. The Empire couldn't bounce back after Commodus's tyranny because it had just been seriously weakened.

Don’t have anything of substance to add, but what a writer Gibbon was, at least half the sentences feel expertly constructed, pored over, slot together like puzzle pieces.

As for the question, I have long taken the view that many famous historical cuckolds were submissive homosexual men who lacked the ability to have (regular or any) relations with their wives and so requested they provide them with children by whatever means necessary.