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Friday Fun Thread for February 23, 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.

Jump in the discussion.

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I'm a part of a discord community that plays Diplomacy variants, and in particular large world map variants with big numbers of players. These run semi-regularly and there's a new one currently in sign-ups and I thought I'd extend an invitation here to anyone who's interested.

Diplomacy is of course a strategy game based on players negotiating between themselves before making simultaneous moves. Alliances, deception, and betrayal are a big part of the game. The standard version has 7 players and plays out in Europe, but this version (called Imperial Diplomacy and set in 1642) is quite a lot larger.

There's various modifications to the rules to balance the large size and wildly varying sizes of powers (small regional powers start with 4 units while large colonial powers can begin with up to 16). However these changes are mostly to do with win conditions and the game itself plays pretty much as you would expect if you have any experience with standard Diplomacy.

If you're interested in checking out the game or looking at the map and the ruleset in detail, you can find the server here

Mundane life hack:

Writing discharge summaries for patients is a pain in the ass.

I've got a few options:

  1. Hand write it on paper and send it over to the transcriptionists, who are not medically trained, and will likely mangle it beyond recognition. Like, I know my handwriting is reflecting my sanity, but it's not that bad, and yet they manage to do things that leave me in awe.

(@throwaway05 I caught my consultants guffawing over the previous discharge for a post op thyroid carcinoma case, apparently the XXXXXX level LNs were involved, which is either a typist fuckup, or they needed a crane to operate on a giraffe)

  1. Type it out myself, using gummy keyboards that swallow letters, and EMR software that makes me want to pull my hair out.

  2. Type it out, but using something less likely to make me want to self-discharge into purgatory, such as writing it on my phone and mailing it over to the transcriptionists to copy-paste (far harder for them to fuck it up). But still a PITA, fighting autocorrect and RSI to output the 25 drugs my geriatric soon to be ex-patient is on.

  3. Apparently, there's a verbal medical transcription service, where all you need to do is mutter into the mic for some low wage worker to do the dirty work (one that isn't me), but my investigations show that this is a service only offered to actual consultants, in a sub-basement with a Beware of Leopard sign covering up the computer. Limited licenses, HR approval, yada yada. And why would said senior doctors bother when they can get their juniors to bother me at 5 pm to absolutely urgently prepare a discharge by 7 pm for a patient I know for a fact won't be discharged till next afternoon, after being reviewed by said doctor.

Well fuck all of the above, it's the last thing I want to be doing at either 9 pm, when I'm bone tired, or 7 am, when I'm being woken up to handle incessant early morning bullshittery. So, as someone who believes in better living through technology, I wondered if I could use OpenAIs Whisper voice transcription service to save me a lot of writing.

Short answer? Yes.

However, there's no free and easy way to do so, and I can't be arsed to drag a laptop out and install an offline version. There are apps out there, but they're the usual trial and nagware shit.

But wait!

ChatGPT uses Whisper for voice transcription when you use the voice input option. I don't pay for GPT-4, so I don't trust it to do the whole job correctly, but simply transcribing what I'm saying to text verbatim? Hell yeah it can do that.

Cue me opening up the app, entering a prompt that amounts to STFU till I tell you otherwise, then I unload my stream of thought, terribly written surgical notes, and the other forms of torment undergone by my ward. Even the drugs, it does a really good job of handling even the weirdest generics and brand names.

I then copy and paste that, or have ChatGPT lightly format it when relevant, move it around and edit it myself till it fits the format, and then email it off.

I estimate this saves at least half an hour per discharge, what with me not having to write by hand, or undo the errors introduced by the typists.

Thank god nobody gives a shit about HIPAA here, but there you have it, my most useful use case for ChatGPT Free is just to hack into the Whisper API. For anything more important, please use either the paid version or Bing, but this saves me a great deal of real pain.

I still need to give it a once over and fix minor errors but by Allah it does a fantastic job right out of the gate.

I know my handwriting is reflecting my sanity, but it's not that bad

Are you even a real doctor if your handwriting is still legible?

Can't get arrested for malpractice if they can't prove it was my signature!

But surgeons, by far, have the worst handwriting. I guess the fine motor skills were all used up. And there's a neuro consultant who makes me question if he's cottoned on to his own Parkinsons. And our medical oncology boss, who thinks writing BIG is a substitute for legibility (it isn't), but man's dying of cirrhosis and his wife and kids left him, so I'll give him a pass.

Adding this to the list of things to forget before stepping into a hospital

  • the imported doctors will use new shady technology to communicate medically-relevant information, including medication
  • somehow this is still better than the alternative of relying on the regular system of poorly-trained people with even poorer technology

At some point a typo might happen... When all these horrible sci-fi predictions ('BRAIN HACKED BY CIA MICRO-CHIPS') come true we will probably be completely desensitized.

I'm sure your prescription of:

Tab Paracetamol 500 mg PO TDS and SOS

Miscellaneous antacids/PPIs

Tab (Random Multivitamins)

and so on and so forth are eminently unique and precious bits of personal data, laundered through "new shady technology". Or that you're now on 50 mcg of thyroxine instead of 25 post resection is super important to nebulous entities. Huh, which of the seven (hundred) patients with near identical procedures was that again?

By all means, such paranoia is heartening and helpful, I hope you shred all your old mail before putting it in the garbage, wouldn't want hobos going through it.

Oh, and try to forget too, while you're at it, that anonymized patient case reports are regularly published in medical journals, because doctors have to learn things as well.

I completely understand what you're saying and I agree, 999 times out of a thousand, any possible mistake in transcription / medication is probably not a big deal at all. And you don't need special technology to make a mistake as a human being.

Oh, and try to forget too, while you're at it, that anonymized patient case reports are regularly published in medical journals, because doctors have to learn things as well.

I'm not really concerned how the data is used, more about potential patient-related issues.

This is the kind of stuff that American hospitals sometimes do, and this one case is an extreme example.

18 yo patient was treated for brain aneurysm by hospital

patient and family decide that they've stayed long enough in the hospital (2 months)

hospital denies all transfers, tries legal motion to give the hospital legal guardianship of the adult patient, alleging insufficient mental condition to make own medical decisions

normal case would be to get guardianship to family + they had the adult patient sign a bunch of consent forms at the same time they were attempting that legal process

family heists the patient out of the hospital, get cell-phone tracked by the police and chased

police finally back off after seeing a 2nd hospital disagreed with the first

I've recently been made aware of a case of a family with 3 children. One child somehow received 3rd degree burns from a boiling pot of water, was taken to the hospital for treatment. Parents were locked up with a heavy bail, all children sent to foster care.

Here's one hypothetical case :

parent comes into American hospital with a child with a black eye / skull fracture / some other kind of injury that could come from something completely innocuous or from domestic abuse

staff follows the process of performing tests without telling the parent that they're looking for confirmation of domestic abuse

tests come back negative because the child was not abused

low-paid worker/ poor technology /??? introduces some kind of typo

parents get arrested for domestic abuse - kid ends up abused in foster care

This is all in normal times when there is not a powerful coalition of interests to prevent family members from visiting patients, decrease any kind of oversight over what happens inside hospitals and introduce some kind of hero worship for healthcare workers.

That is not remotely anywhere near the issues I covered.

A discharge summary is precisely that. It's written up when a patient is being sent out of the hospital (and still alive, thankfully, death certificates are a pain), and exists solely to summarize events and therapies, as well as ongoing medical care and planned follow up. They are both medicolegal documents, as well as necessary for continuity of care (if you're a doctor relying on patient memory to cover everything they have or had done to them, better have good malpractice insurance).

There is no universe in which a transcription error or misspelled drug leads to a hospital getting into a tussle with the family over a patient being discharged or criminal charges being brought against them. That does not happen, or, if it's happened, it's so vanishingly rare as to not be worth worrying about. Those are issues of hospital policy, legality and overpolicing, not anything related to "imported doctors" using "shady technology". I invite you to show me the relevance.

Further, this is simply an evolution of existing techniques, such as human transcriptionists (who may or may not be licensed for medical transcription, for what that's worth), and voice dictation software. Whisper is just more advanced in terms of functionality, and Dragon VTT is probably old enough to predate modern ML/DL, though some of that might have been folded in. It's also free and open-source, I just happen to have found a way to get it for "free", using the ChatGPT app, without relying on the otherwise unreliable 3.5 model for handling patient data. Hence all the rambling about me reviewing the text, copying it over and editing it for errors. It's not 3.5 doing anything of note, it exists as a dumb receptacle for a far more contextually useful service, the Whisper service, in much the way someone can use an AI Waifu or Twitter bot to learn how the Navier-Stokes equation works (real example from a meme). Your objections make no sense in that regard, and I would hope that Western hospitals have more robust systems (who am I kidding? It's another junior doctor pulling their hair out), but it saves me time, and does a better job for the poor bastards who are waiting for discharge paperwork and insurance to clear before they get to leave.

What EMR are you using?

Something made inhouse, which is an abomination made by the one of the infinite monkeys that was so blackout drunk it submitted the lowest bid.

Horrendously unintuitive, slow, has a distressing tendency to eat multiple paragraphs if you don't scrupulously save, or make the mistake of leaving it unattended.

XXXXXX level LNs were involved

Elaborate? Struggling to figure out which part of this implies a giraffe, probably because I know jack shit about how a discharge is supposed to go.

The lymph nodes in the neck have historically been divided into at least six anatomic neck lymph node levels for the purpose of head and neck cancer staging and therapy planning.

Some say there are are seven, so the different groups are numbered in (rough) height order from Group I to Group VI/VII.

So you can imagine it's going to take a very long crane to operate on a XXXXXX level node, assuming that was a valid roman numeral at all. Someone fucked up, and the doctor responsible for checking the final draft didn't do a good job.

Dragon Naturally Speaking has worked in medical environments for a while, and I was able to find a pirated copy at some point.

Eh, I can't imagine it's on par with Whisper, which, if no longer quite SOTA (by like 3 months, the field moves fast), is really goddamn good and fast. Plus Dragon doesn't seem to have an Android app. I have to shuffle between whichever sorry excuse for a PC is free on the multiple wards I cover, so it's not like I have a place to call my own. And I don't even own a laptop.

Yeah most of my coworkers swear by Dragon or some other licensed or free/cobbled together replacement.

Whatever works though.

I know a lot of people subscribe the "you are slow OR you are fast" approach to medical care and documentation, and I'm partially on that train....but if you want to focus on getting faster you will. It'll take awhile (and if you don't have exceptional insight you likely won't notice it's happening until you look back) but you can get faster at typing/writing/dictating.

Figure out what is fat and trim it.*

*Okay I have no fucking clue what the regulatory environment and documentation burden is in India but this is a good skill to get started on now to prep for psych.

I don't look forward to the novel length discharges in psychiatry, I'll tell you that much.

I wonder if avoiding patient names lets you get around the PII issues with using unsecured/public services, though that is entirely a theoretical concern in India. There's the option to turn off chat history in ChatGPT, though I don't know how happy Western regulators would be with it. Nobody cares here, I'm keeping my trick a secret because I don't want the regs to get ideas about making me write even more discharges even faster haha.

No way I'm doing that in the US because "regulation" jazz hands. We'll catch up eventually though, and I know some are doing it. A good EMR and/or dictation fixes a lot of these issues, even for Psych you can automate a note pretty well in Epic. OP notes a bit tricker depending on your style (but dictation works great). IM discharge notes are a shit show if you want them to be not worthless though.

Most long notes that people are write in psych (less so in other specialties) are a nervous habit, or driven by "training." Regulatory/legal/billing/admin stuff is less than you think it is, filling up the whole thing with subjective info is avoidable if you are willing to condense it - use dem writing skills you got.

What's your excuse for not having an API key by now or just paying for chatgpt4 or not using a mechanical keyboard?

  1. I'm cheap. And $20 a month is, well, not exactly nothing by my standards.

  2. I have a pretty nice mechanical keyboard, but I sure as fuck won't be lugging it to the hospital, maybe if I end up running the psych ward and need something to batter uppity people with.

Is one of the most interesting pieces of writing I have recently come across. It introduced me to a model that I would roughly describe as

(Net X)[Or Net X complement] = Apparent X - Complement of X

I would strongly suggest reading the entire article before deeming the model too simple and obvious.

It's going to take a while for the model to fully settle in for me, but I already see applications all over the place.

I think one of the features of why so many people described Scott's early work and others from the rationalist sphere as "insight porn" was because of this property. Putting a name and formalizing something that for most people was previously only encoded in gut feelings. And I don't think there are any Academic fields other than perhaps Philosophy that are making general fuzzy models of the world (models that also work with the rules and confines of socially constructed domains).

I think I am very high focus and moderate divergence. Net is somewhat mildly unfocused. This might explain why depending on the task and context, I can vary between being perceived as having ADHD, being autistic, or being scatterbrained.

My ADHD is mild, as in I could convince others (including my parents and tutors) that I was a perfectly normal kid, and as for myself, why would I have reason to assume otherwise?

Then high school hit, and my usual habit of cramming for subjects the last couple nights before an exam ceased to cope. Turns out enormous amounts of stress and caffeine (all the pharmaceutical therapy I had access to then) only goes so far, and it only got worse when I crawled into med school.

I realized I had ADHD, badgered my parents to take me to a psychiatrist, and they refused for ages, mostly because they simply couldn't accept that their darling son could have such a disease, as well as the general stigma/ignorance around it in India. It took a complete nervous breakdown for them to finally take me over, and what did you know, I got diagnosed, got meds, and while hardly perfect, am far more capable of handling professional and academic pressures.

For a long time, I thought it was preposterous that people studied until right before exams. Like, can't you just cram dawg? Turns out that, no, most neurotypical people don't need do or die levels of stress or constant micromanagement to do so, even if some leave it off longer than they ought to.

At any rate, ADHD meds work, both on people with "actual" ADHD, depending on where you draw a line on the curve, and even those with above average executive function or conscientiousness. You can't take a happy person and give them antidepressants to make them super duper happy. I'm not inclined to gatekeep, I'd be utterly fucked without meds, so presuming I ever become an actual psychiatrist, I'm inclined to be far less anal than the ones who the blog author encountered.

And my case is mild. It's not obvious at all in normal conversation, nor did it reflect on my grades till the burden simply become too much to cope. My brother is worse struck, and my little nephew is a flagrant example, and I consider them lucky that my suffering will make my/their parents take the issue more seriously. Once again, I complain about methylphenidate/Ritalin. Shit drug, at least in terms of how it makes you feel. I look forward to trying Adderall when I can, since it's not available here. But given that Ritalin still makes me a functional doctor (academically, I can work just fine without it in an actual job), I can't complain too hard.

This looks like it was written by someone talking slightly too much Adderall (I Can Tell by Some of the Pixels and by Having Taken Quite a Few Adderalls in My Day) and the inverted U's being drawn as normal curves when they'd make more sense as parabolas looks like a tip-off that the author is unconsciously pushing a little too hard at that satisfying feeling of fluent-compression of concepts -- but overall this seems reasonable.

My midwit slap-another-axis-on-it extension of that model would be that (for a given task context, but maybe more broadly shared between a variety of task contexts) there's something like a y-axis of "expected reward for effort" superimposed over the x-axis of exploit-explore, or "focus-divergence" (exploit-explore only trade off at a fixed level of task effort). On that graph, I think the effect of Adderall is to push up-and-left -- to increase the expected reward for exploit-effort. This is very performance-enhancing for people who need more exploit-effort, bad for people who actually need more explore-effort, and mixed for people who already have a good explore-exploit balance but just need to put in more overall effort to improve at the task.

In this model, a depressive state is one where, for almost any available task-action context, the expected reward for effort is very low -- and that's why Adderall can sometimes be a decent antidepressant. The classical hyperactive ADHD state would be higher up the y-axis but shifted way the right, while an inattentive ADHD state might not be as far shifted to the right, but lower down below the x. Each might get some benefit from Adderall pushing up-and-left, but in different ways. And of course, some people who look like any of those phenotypes might just need different task-contexts than the ones they're presented with.

I don't see a feedback thread, but can we make the comment scores/votes visible internally instead of having to wait a day? The score would be visible to whoever made the post but invisible externally, until the 24 hours has passed. This would be useful feedback so I can delete the post if it gets downvoted too much instead of having to wait a day. Sometimes it's hard to predict how unpopular a post is just by the replies, like about my posts on cities and crime which was heavily downvoted. Had I seen the vote count sooner I would have deleted it. I feel bad about having posted it and regret it.

I'm late on this but chiming in to join the chorus advising against deletion. Getting downvoted can initially feel terrifying because it conjures up the very primal fear of getting shunned by your community to eke out a lone survival out in the savannah, but it's also used as a last refuge when you've got nothing else to offer. I know that whenever I kick a hornet's nest and post about my favorite hobby horse the downvotes will come out the woodwork, but because it's not accompanied with any substantive critique I know it's just ineffectual flailing. Why should something like that bother me?

Don't delete things just because they're unpopular.

As others have said, sometimes you'll get downvoted for going against themotte's consensus, and sometimes themotte's wrong and needs to hear it.

I enjoy a lot of your posts, don’t delete them.

But don't delete posts just because they're downvoted. That's a one way trip to a boring echo chamber.

Post locally unpopular views that you sincerely hold and then don't be too bothered by the negative points. Reddit has trained people to be bad posters. Let's resist importing their diseased posting culture.

That was a perfectly fine comment.

I can predict how much my posts will be downvoted by simply thinking how much I’m going against the Motte’s grain. So when I comment about evidence for HBD, I get upvoted, and when I say anything negative about Trump, I get downvoted.

I’m always amused when I get downvoted for expressing something directly in line with Siskind-Yudkowskian thought. The apple has fallen far from the tree here, on some issues at least.

(Of course, the SSC subreddit just had a post where someone asked why there was so much discussion about IQ and a significant number of commenters took the “IQ is meaningless” line, which is even more ironic.)

You said something positive about Blue and negative about Red, so you were obviously going to get heavy downvotes no matter what the truth or quality was.

@ymeskhkout gets heavily downvoted for his election comments every time.

If we all just try to avoid downvotes, we will just lose contrarian views (ironic in a place overrepresented with irascible contrarians).

@ymeskhkout gets heavily downvoted for his election comments every time.

TheMotte doesn't deserve him.

"Your boos mean nothing" etc etc. I'm still having fun ☺

Had I seen the vote count sooner I would have deleted it. I feel bad about having posted it and regret it.

I agree with everyone saying you shouldn't do that, so please add my bullying to the campaign against you succumbing to bullying.

As for internally visible comment scores, I agree with @Primaprimaprima that the current system virtually guarantees I visit the motte the day after I make a comment. That's good slot machine design. However, when I make a comment on reddit, I still typically check back several times to see how the score plays out, so I'm not sure that benefit justifies the current approach.

The best argument against making self-scores visible is that it would change the behavior of posters themselves in a hot conversation. When underwater scorewise, one tends to adopt the embattled, passive-aggressive stance of a martyr being inquisitored. The people you're talking to respond in kind. I don't like that dynamic on reddit and wouldn't like it here.

It can get especially bad on Reddit when you're in a back-and-forth conversation with someone that goes enough layers deep that probably nobody else is reading your comments except the responder, and you can see when they're downvoting each reply you make.

I always liked that, frankly. Someone gets to a point like "All prime numbers are odd; what are you, stupid?!", and the part of my brain that evaluates logic is still overriding the part of my brain that evaluates people so I reply with the obvious counterexample anyway, but then the downvote comes and it wakes me up and I drop the thread.

It’s more fun to check back in 24 hours and see how many points you got.


I'm against this proposal.

The point of hiding likes and dislikes is to discourage echo chamber dynamics. Whether consciously or unconsciously (it appears to be conscious in your case), getting immediate feedback on how well your post was received by the community will influence you to write (and hence think) in that way in the future: making points or asking questions which you predict will be well-received by the community, and avoiding ones that don't.

That's not the kind of space the Motte is supposed to be. Before posting, you shouldn't be asking yourself "will other posters like this?" You should be asking yourself "is this a productive contribution to the community, and does it adhere to the rules?" As long as the answer to both of the latter questions is yes, you should post it, regardless of how popular you expect it to be.

If anything, this is reason not to do it imo. Deleting posts just because they got downvoted is terrible behavior.

Downvoting posts that are valuable enough you don't want them deleted is also bad behavior; @greyenlightenment deleting downvoted posts is giving TheMotte exactly what it's asking for. If that makes TheMotte a worse place, that's not on him. It's on us.

If TheMotte doesn't want people to delete comments that contribute to the conversation, it shouldn't be downvoting comments that contribute to the conversation. If you want those comments to persist, my actionable advice is to upvote comments that you think are valuable, but that you think are going to be downvoted.

This is actually a much better reason to upvote than the absolute "quality" of the comment, because 5 "high quality" comments that are all saying the same thing provide a single comment's worth of ideas. If TheMotte wants ideological diversity, it should vote in favor of ideological diversity.

Instead people upvote comments they agree with and downvote comments they disagree with, and then wonder why we all believe the same thing.

For starters, I don't downvote because I disagree, so you're preaching about that to the wrong person. But that aside, the conversation is the conversation. It shouldn't be altered just because someone is mad that they got downvoted.

I tried to be pretty clear on which part of my post was addressed to you and which part was addressed to TheMotte more broadly.

Expecting people to not delete comments the community hates seems at least as unreasonable as asking people not to downvote posts they disagree with.

You seem to have picked up 4-7 weird downvoters for, like, no visible reason. Please don't delete your posts because of them: I'd rather see your content and then call out the downvoters for being little bitches, because I don't see anything wrong with anything in your history.

I think people are getting paranoid and downvoting a lot more to counteract a few mass-spamming trolls the mods refuse to ban, just to stop them manufacturing the appearance of consensus by sheer volume. And after doing that for too long downvoting for disagreement becomes a habit.

Who are these mass-spamming trolls? DM if you don’t want that to be a public debate.

I don’t get the impression that our vote trends are driven by (or against) a few users. As with Reddit, there are popular and unpopular opinions, and a silent majority will vote without ever saying anything. Getting labeled a troll is a good way to attract downvotes. So is complaining about vote distributions.

We probably have more users with one or another principled voting strategy, but we definitely have more who will upvote anything critical of progressives.

Why do you want to delete something just because it's unpopular?

Last Friday I was on the hunt for a Shooter game, and I had some not fully nailed down requirements for what I was looking for.

Thanks to everyone that left recommendations.

I did eventually find what I was looking for. I realized I was interested in more longer range engagements. I ended up searching the "military sim" genre on steam, and got

It definitely has more of the long ranged engagements I was looking for, and the weapons aren't gimped to the point of uselessness for the sake of close range engagements. My average kill distance in the game is 68m, and my furthest kill is 360m.

It reminds me a lot of Metal Gear Solid V, but a little less cheesy. You also aren't a lone person. You have a squad. 3npcs on single player, but I think the multiplayer allows other people to hop in and join. It makes for an interesting set of mechanics, because you can be shot and go down easier without turning the game into a total grind. Because your squadmates can revive you.

Fun game so far, would recommend it if it goes on sale again (I got it 80% discounted).

The Sniper Elite games might also be worth looking into if you haven't already.

Wildlands is a fun game, was 100% worth buying it on a sale. What I really like about it is that while there's lots of different weapons, but one isn't really strictly better than the other, so you can use whatever you think looks cool or is fun to use. And you can fully customize your squad members to look like whatever you want, from casual clothing to military outfits, or ghillie suits. You can even make an either all male or all female team, with different voice actors. And the setting of Bolivia is beautiful, easily in the top 5 of the most beautiful and varied open worlds in games.

If you play on the highest difficulty, or unlock tier 1 mode? I think it's called, you will die instantly if you're detected and the game becomes less fun at that point.

If you want more long distance games like there, the sequel Breakpoint is considered by some people to be strictly better in terms of gameplay, but the world design is much worse in my opinion so I didn't play much of it. Also the party commands are worse because they were added after the game came out, so the commands clearly were added on top of the game, rather the game being built with it in mind.

If you want more games like this there's also the Sniper Elite 2-5 series set in WW2. I didn't like the series because I find WW2 boring as a setting and prefer Cold War and onward instead, but the level design was good from what I've played. It also has co op multiplayer if you're into that, but no AI teammates.

Then there's Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts has a stupid title, but they're fun games, again easily worth buying on a sale, it's set in modern/near future, with the 1st somewhere in Siberia, and the 2nd in some desert. Again, no AI teammates, but you get a drone and a few other toys to control. The sequel has a few parts where you can only do long distance sniping that are fun.

There's also the original Ghost Recon obviously. That game has plenty of long distance engagements, although I haven't played it. It also has AI teammates.

You could also try Crysis, at least the first half of the first game, and then maybe Crysis 2 and 3. Mechanically they're all fun, but only the first game plus its expansion Warhead have those big open levels where you can engage from a distance.

Now, while it doesn't really fit your requirements, because most encounters are usually in tight quarters, I would also really recommend The Division 2, as well as 1. 2 is better mechanically, 1 has a better world. It is a looter shooter, and I have a lot of ARPG experience so it really didn't bother me, but a lot of people complain about enemies being bullet spongy. But mechanically it is one of the best feeling and most intense shooters I've played. They also have beautiful modeled NYC during Christmas in the first game, which even now looks amazing, and Washington DC in the sequel that isn't as atmospheric but still very beautiful.

Also, if you get Ubisoft Connect you can try all of their games for like 15 euro a month, it might be cheaper for a first time too. Other recommendations would be Ghost Recon Future Soldier which is more close quarters, but still has some longer range engagements, but it is where Wildlands took its party commands from, and it's really fun to use your ghosts to wipe out the enemies. And the Far Cry series, which are all good except for 6, which is complete shit. As well as both Division games obviously.

Hang in there for Grey Zone Warfare, you can think of it as Wildlands and Tarkov having a FPS baby, and with far less PVP than the latter.

I'm holding out for it, and I've almost completed everything worth doing in Tarkov two months in, with four to go of fucking about, so I expect GZW will take over.

Friday Not Fun - My calf (or peroneal tendon, I'm not sure) is injured and I can't run currently.

Friday Fun - Zwift remains a fantastic option for anyone that has a few bucks for a bike trainer and the space to set it up. It may still be winter in Wisconsin, but riding a bike and watching basketball isn't that bad anyway.

I read the 4th book in Blaine Lee Pardoe's Land&Sea series. Like the others, it was ok. This one was a collection of short stories not unlike the compilations that would be released for Battletech from the Battlecorps website, back when for whatever licensing reasons full length novels weren't allowed to be published in the "classic" setting.

I constantly question why I'm still reading this series. I think it just scratches that Battletech fiction itch I have after reading probably 100+ novels, and quitting cold turkey. IMHO the setting isn't nearly as good as Battletech, and the limitations of Blaine's writing style are made all the more evident in the Land&Sea setting versus Battletech. All the same, I have needs god damnit, and if I have to settle for knockoff Battletech, I will.

I acquired this beauty from 1970, A Princess of Mars with the Frank Frazetta artwork on the dust jacket. It's a pretty brisk read at 150-ish pages. I'm about halfway through, and the first half was probably the most difficult. Lots of internal monologuing and fairly anodyne descriptions of the flora and fauna of Mars since John Carter doesn't understand the Martian language at first. Coming off Conan and Howard's expert descriptive language, Burrough's struggles IMHO. But, that seems to be behind me now as the main character is conversing and exercising more agency in the story, and things are looking up.


Hell yeah, Frazetta covers. Men would kill to have her quads.

Weirdly enough, the Barsoom covers are probably the only Frazetta cover (or any other) art where he drew the characters with more clothing than the source material described.