• the D&D movie rocks but I think it should be an anthology series. like yeah the obvious choice is the continuing adventures of “the party” but I’d prefer they play around with the entire IP, not do “well the first one worked so let’s keep doing more of that”.

  • Don't make up reasons to hate people if there's already plenty laying around

    Alternatively, “a stopped clock is right twice a day”, “the worst person you know just made a great point”, etc.

    Today’s example is (again, sigh) Musk. A strange number of people seem extremely devoted to the idea that the Starship launch was a failure.

    The guy is basically a Nazi and not at all bright to boot; but the official position of SpaceX was “making it past the tower is a win”, and it did that. Trying to make weird parsings is just … there are so many other things to bag on that guy about. They said X is victory, X occurred, please stop trying to twist it into something other than what it was.

    It’s fine to muse about it in the bigger picture, of course; some people were making note of the number of engines that failed, or damage to the pad. That’s fine! Those weren’t on the table as success criteria, so go ham, who cares.

    I just … I hate it when someone can’t even allow that sometimes it’s OK if good things happen to bad people. Wanting SpaceX to fail has a weird foot-bullet feel to it. Do I want Musk richer and more powerful? No. Do I want to go back to no competition at all for space, stagnation, and lack of options for an important component of our technological backbone? Also no.

  • Note on LLMs

    My thesis statement I guess is: LLMs and the current work on AI is an interesting and possibly useful technology being exploited on one side by rich assholes looking to drive the cost of labor to 0 regardless of consequences, and a bunch of loser scifi fans trying to recreate the weirder parts of medieval theology on the other.

    For example I think a really wide and honest debate about sentience is good. But, the fact is these machines are not sentient, and won’t probably be sentient soon; yet they’re already being used to eliminate the jobs of actual living, sentient humans. In a society with no safety net! Energy spent on AI “rights” is just the anti-abortion movement for nerds. You invent a person who doesn’t exist and then insert yourself as the hero of their entire world. In the meantime you ignore the suffering of actual human beings.

    This POV is also intertwined with Longtermism, and it’s not a shocker that many of the people deeply invested in the rights of something that doesn’t exist are also living their lives for the benefit of people that don’t exist.

    (This is part of an ongoing attempt to have posts “in the can” I can link to from social media, bc at best nuance in those places is hard.)

  • Ayyyy eye

    Time for another “nuance blog”.

    I think LLMs are fundamentally bad, on balance. The problems are entirely social, though.

    First, I am a “traditional Luddite”: I despair at the human cost of these “innovations”. I’ve already seen management decide to let go of skilled professionals, on the belief that the LLM will do the work. So already, we have a pretty big negative. I am generally not a fan of any technology that puts people out of work, and especially in such an early phase of its life.

    Second, I worry about the more credulous members of society. LLMs can generate very real sounding, but entirely fake texts. Some call them “bullshit generators”, precisely for this reason. Right now we live in something of a “choose your own facts” world, where extremely powerful people push blatantly (sometimes, obviously) false narratives or ideas. We saw what happened as Facebook and Youtube radicalized people - and that was before we had the ability to generate the texts at the push of a button. I’m not hopeful.

    Lastly, I think the embrace of LLMs is driven largely by the need for SIlicon Valley to be in a perpetual hype cycle, and it’s been lacking one. Web3 fizzled out - obvious horseshit from the start, backed only by monied interests and gambling addicts - it burned bright but once everyone saw it in practice, it rightfully died. LLMs are, for many, a quick pivot to the next hype cycle. They need it, because otherwise they’ll have to get real jobs, or something.

    I think the technology itself should be explored. It clearly is useful. Technologies like this are intended to augment humans, not replace them - a bicycle for the mind, and all that. It’s just that it feels like we are at the too-soon step of going all-in on them.

  • Homebrew

    A while ago, during the Great OGL Kerfuffle, there was an interesting idea promoted by a bunch of indie game creators: that since everyone ultimately homebrews/houserules D&D, no one “plays” D&D, ergo D&D sucks.

    That sort of got lodged in my brain and it’s been rattling around ever since. It’s always 2 things with me, so it’s my ideal brainworm.

    On the one hand, yeah: if all you need to do to make 5E playable (the way you want to play it) is re-do character creation, combat, and magic … why not just go find a game that already suits your needs? TTRPG houseruling/homebrewing is fun, but you’re spending a bunch of money that goes to a big, faceless corporation when a couple people and some artists could really use your dollar.

    The other is obvious: everyone houserules everything. It’s inevitable; no one except your group can ever know exactly the game you want to play so bitching and moaning about 5E being flawed is like complaining that people modify their house, or car, or even their body. Everything is a toolkit; people like to build things. 5E provides a rich set of rules upon which to build, and an even richer community of tinkerers and mods to play with, to build exactly the game you want.

    I tend towards the latter, with strong sympathies to the former. You should try to find an indie to back, one that is closet to whatever it is you’re trying to do. But you shouldn’t feel like a bad person for buying into the 5E ecosystem; there’s plenty of indies there, too! In the end, the OGL seems to have won the day, and you can go to DRPG and buy content from people working in their basements to build things. In the end, I think it’s OK.

  • On buying a car to save the planet

    I wanted to write this down so the next time someone complains I’m lacking nuance or whatever, I can have the space to put things down properly.

    So, electric cars are going to save the planet: and specifically, we should buy a Tesla, because Elon Musk is going to bring “the light of human consciousness” to the stars, or something.

    OK, let’s engage with that. I have a few questions for anyone who believes this.

    First: in all of human history, please state one example of a time when individual consumer choices that did not occur as a result of government mandates or rules worked to solve a systemic problem. For example, the depletion of the ozone layer was resolved by banning CFCs, not independent consumer choice.

    Second: it’s probably non-controversial to say that most human enterprise requires extractive industry. To build a house, you need at the very least some trees and maybe clay. Building complicated machines like phones and cars requires a huge array of materials from a number of extractive industries. Can you name a single large-scale extractive industry project that did not end up guilty of incredible malfeasance? This can be phrased another way: worldwide, there are too many examples of extractive industry causing more harm than good. How will electric cars avoid this? For example, how is clearing forests to make electric cars a net positive for the environment, when trees capture carbon and cars do not?

    Third: A single car can hold, on average, 4-6 people. A passenger car of the DC Metro can hold about 175 people (albeit, someone uncomfortably) in a little more than the same space. Please explain how 29 Teslas are better for the environment than a single light rail passenger car. For example, how much asphalt (itself produced by extractive industry and not great for the environment) will be required to maintain the roads for 29 cars, versus light rail?

    BONUS QUESTION: given the problem of induced demand, how will a greater and greater number of cars - which necessitates a disproportionate amount of road construction - not contribute to not only environment destruction (tearing down carbon-capturing plants to make room for new roadways) but to the “urban heat island” effect?

    TO BE VERY CLEAR: you should buy an electric car, if one meets your needs. Specifically if you are a suburban commuter who does not travel extensively (or only travels along big roads/interstates where charging stations are more plentiful) you almost have no reason not to. It’s an obvious choice.


    The point here is that your desire for an exciting consumer experience that our society and culture has jammed into your brain from birth as the only way - followed by literal decades of reinforcement of this idea - is not the answer. It’s a short-term step. The realities that exist outside your consumer gadget-lust are very real, and you - we - cannot stop at “well I personally lowered my emissions buy buying a new F150 EV”. Thinking that is the end of the problem is the problem.

  • So what's this button do?

    Ah, yes. That button defaults the country on its debts.

    What? Why is that even there?

    shrug. It probably had something to do with the gold standard? No one’s really sure why it’s set up like this.

    Am I understanding this correctly? You push this button, and the global reserve currency defaults on its debts. That will cause untold calamity in the global economy, possibly throwing the entire thing into total depression.


    And you can just let anyone in the legislative body push this?

    Yeah, I mean, kinda. You have to kinda want to push it.

    WHY would ANYONE want to push that?

    shrug. I don’t think anyone who wants to push it really understands what will happen. They don’t seem to believe that the nation and it’s economy can crash. Or maybe they think their position and power insulates them from it? Like somehow they’re not part of the economy? No one’s really sure why. Some of them just really seem to want to.

    Then why don’t you get rid of it?

    Can’t. The people who want to push it keep the system going that allows it to exist.

    And they’re a legislative body, right? Don’t they understand pushing it will probably harm the people they represent?

    Well like I said, they either don’t understand what the button does, or they don’t care.

    This is all baffling to me. It feels like we’re being held hostage by people who can be entertained by jingling your keys in front them. Toddlers. People with profound neurological problems. What the fuck is going on?

    shrug. I don’t know, man. It’s above my pay grade. They, look, I gotta take a leak. Can you watch the button got a minute? Remember, don’t let anyone push it unless they have the proper paperwork. If you’re going to destroy the economy, it’s gotta be done right. Be right back, man.

  • Merry Christmas

  • passed the first interview. now comes the big coding test, which I always do poorly at. I second-guess myself to death - I assume every q is a trick.

    Second, my personal style is a little eccentric? I tend to sorta hack out a quick thing, then just iteratively fiddle with it. Sometimes it doesn’t even remotely resemble where i started, by the end. That style doesn’t go over well in whiteboard coding: they want immediate results.

    Third, I really have a problem where my brain kinda turns off on bullshit problems. “Design an algorithm to turn the number 243 into roman numerals”. OK why. Why would I do that. Ever. My brain engages on real problems - what it considers real problems - and checks the fuck out on anything that smells like a game. This was a problem in school, and this is a problem in whiteboard coding.

    But it went well, enough to get to the next round, so that’s cool.

    I still think “hire fast, fire fast” is the best way, though. Hire, onboard, and give ‘em 90 solid days to do real work. Automattic’s approach with the short contract thing is a little too much, IMO, but closer to what I think is the ideal.

  • The little drum fill before the vocals start in “Litany” by Fucked Up is so perfect 🎵

  • Just watched “Mad God”. I need a hug

  • thought a lot about my game setting thing. it’s sort of turning into “‘Kill Six Billion Demons’ but scifi”. Like: maybe demons are captured Boltzmann brains, and angels are AI. The locations are artificial habs connected by wormhole gates.

  • soft-launched a big feature today, I’ll open it up to more users next week. I think it’s really going to improve our support/triage responsiveness. AND it has a bunch of back-end stuff that we can reuse on future projects. Hate to leave but I wanna do good work right up to the end.

  • i want to do a really gonzo TTRPG game. Relatively short in length, but completely absurd. Post-apocalyptic cyberpunk but also with like Mind Flayers, and O’Neil Cylinders, and just … stuff that makes Final Fantasy look tame

  • My boss just published his 4th game, Charioteer. It’s a racing game and it’s a lot of fun! It plays fast and works great from a 2 player duel to 6 player “Grand Prix”. I was lucky to be able to play test a couple different iterations so it was a blast to see it published

  • So we got our RTO order. Everyone who had remote status, but was within a set of zip codes near the office, had it rescinded.

    So I’m job hunting. In a recession while every tech company imaginable lays people off.

    I am not going back to an office.

  • I listened to about 4800 minutes of Clutch this year. This is also the first year Black Flag was not in the top 5 (they were #6).

  • Did anyone else notice how Elmo didn’t provide reciepts for his claim about Twitter and the App Store? Seems sus.

    Anyway, it’s crazy how in this back-and-forth it’s clear he’s just Trump. Love him or hate him, your mind is made up, and you are profoundly unlikely to change it. A few people will reconsider, and switch sides, because it benefits them in some way or they have a change of heart. But no one is going to let something change their mind.

  • When Apple v Epic happened it was easy to root for injuries: Apple is totally wrong in its handling of the App Store, but Epic was doing a stupid stunt, it chose not to adhere to the rules. The injuries never really happened; only the lawyers won. Epic still sucks and Apple still sucks. Now we have Apple v Elon and it’s just so much easier to find the heel. Elon thinks he can bluster and send flying monkeys against every problem. But Apples point was clear: bad interaction and lack of trust in leadership. Yes, it’s pretty clear the former has always been a consideration. But faith in leadership and good business relationships can offset that. Elon is wrong and deserves to lose.

  • Trying to get banned from bird site

  • This is an absolutely amazing setting riff: forum.rpg.net/index.php

    I would pay real money for this! I’m already writing up a couple different variants I’d like to play. Total imagination fuel

  • I am thinking that this here site does not violate these precepts www.jwz.org/blog/2022…

  • Bought nothing today.

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