The Exigent Duality
Total Cost of Ownership - 08:25 CDT, 9/19/20 (Sniper)
I'm starting to get cold feet with this PlayStation 5 prospect: the system hardware is interesting and I'm looking forward to several of the exclusives, but I just added up the total costs, and overall this is one expensive proposition. In a way, it reminds me of Sony's "$299" PSX announcement-- oh, except you need to buy a game and a memory card, making it more expensive than the $399 Saturn, and a lot more pricey than the $250 3DO.

In this case, it's the $500 console-- then you'll want a second controller for two-player, and those are $70. After that, you'll want a "PlayStation Plus" subscription, which is $60 every year. Then, unlike with Microsoft where they give away all of their games day one for a cheap monthly subscription fee, with Sony you need to buy the games at full price to get them right away-- that's $70 for the Spiderman ultimate collection, and $60 for "Sackboy", the two games I want to get.

Of course, I'll also want the remote at some point, since this will be my media machine as well-- that's another $30. That's just about $850, after taxes! Console gamers always talk about how expensive it is to build a PC, but I don't think they've done the complete math on just how much money they're spending on their ridiculously expensive controllers (my fantastic PC Logitech F310 sells for $20), their software (which is basically free or dirt cheap on the PC), and their online services over the lifespan they own the system (totally free on the PC).

Granted in my case, I can sell my PlayStation 4 Pro on eBay or via Craigslist for probably $250, which recoups some of that expense. But even with that in mind, the ongoing costs of routinely buying $70 games is going to get old very quickly, unless I want to play them months or years after release. It really puts into focus just how great Microsoft's value proposition is at the moment. Incidentally, here is a thread on Gamespot discussing similar thoughts about this topic-- especially take a look at post #7.

I guess it's the same as it has been for the past six months with me: I just can't make up my mind which direction to go. As I wrote about here, all of the choices are good in their own way, which makes the decision very difficult-- it's a matter of weighing dozens of pros and cons to each route, which is pretty paralyzing.
Impulse Buy - 20:52 CDT, 9/17/20 (Sniper)
I'm now the proud new owner of a PlayStation 5. I saw on Reddit that Walmart was opening up pre-orders, and after spamming their cart scripts about a hundred times, I got an order to go through: got emailed, and have the pending transaction on my credit card.

Wifey is not very pleased about this: "We both know you're going to wind up only playing like two games on it." "Three", I corrected her. Probably not a good time to be cute, in retrospect...

I have mixed feelings about it: on the one hand, why in the world would I buy one of these over a Series X, which is technically superior and has Game Pass? And why oh why would I prioritize this over Ampere? I cry a little inside when I think that I won't be getting one of those cards now.

In the end though, all that was flashing through my mind was that "Gran Turismo 7" footage... if this thing can produce visuals like that, then what difference do specs really make, past a certain point? As I said in my previous post, I even still think the PS4 Pro produces very impressive graphics, and the PS5 is multiple times more powerful, all aspects considered.

And it's not like I'm trading in my RTX 2080 PC or something: frankly, my PC is so close to the Series X spec-wise, that I could probably live with it as is for this entire console generation, aside from maybe buying a better SSD along the line.

So, I suppose this does maintain my access to all three major ecosystems: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. I can also sell off my PlayStation 4 Pro now to get some cash back: won't be needing that anymore.

Provided I don't feel guilty and cancel the pre-order tomorrow morning...
Waiting Game - 15:19 CDT, 9/17/20 (Sniper)
For those who followed the 3080 "launch" this morning, this will come as no surprise, but for everyone else: no, I was not able to get one this morning; I had multiple store fronts open across several different tabs, all ready to go, and even after just a single page refresh, they would all simultaneously go from "coming soon" or "alert me", to "sold out". I've never seen anything like it.

Minutes later, they all showed up on eBay for $1100+: the bots essentially got the entire stock.

I think that's a blessing in disguise though, because throughout the rest of the day, I've been reading persistent, plausible rumors that Nvidia is timing a 20 gig. 3080 for very soon after the release of RDNA2. Both wifey and I suspect that 10 gig. is not going to future proof the 3080 throughout this incoming console generation.

In short, I think I'm just going to sit on my current 2080 for now. Besides all of that, with DLSS 2.0 it already runs non-ray traced games at a locked 60 fps, reconstructed to 4K-- and ray tracing-heavy games like "Control" between 40 and 50 fps, again reconstructed to 4K.

The Series X pre-orders start next Tuesday at 10:00 CDT. I'm going to have a difficult time not clicking on those, even though there is little practical reason why I'd want one.

The interesting part of all this is that everyone is very much spoiled for choices at the moment: I found even the now-lowly PlayStation 4 Pro to be incredible, with its HDR and checkerboarded 1800 and 2160p's, and it's nothing compared to the "slow" PlayStation 5. From the Series S up through the PlayStation 5 all the way to Nvidia's juggernauts, I think people are going to be absolutely gobsmacked no matter which one they pick-- they are all good choices.

In other gaming news, I've got a physical copy of "3D All-Stars" showing up tomorrow at some point-- I'll undoubtedly be playing a lot of that over the weekend. John Linneman found it to be good-not-great-- which totally works for me.
The Field - 16:21 CDT, 9/16/20 (Sniper)
Now that every single cat is officially out of the bag except for RDNA2 PC cards, here is the gaming landscape as I see it at the moment, in price-descending order:

  • Nvidia Ampere: $750 for a 30 teraflops RTX 3080. Requires an existing PC. Crème de la crème. Stratospheric rasterization and ray tracing performance. Play Microsoft's entire publishing sphere for $5 a month.

  • Xbox Series X: $500 for 12 teraflops. Modern feature set with limited ray tracing performance. Fast hard disk I/O. Play Microsoft's entire publishing sphere for $5 a month.

  • PlayStation 5: $500 for 9.5 teraflops. Modern feature set with limited ray tracing performance. Fast hard disk I/O.

  • PlayStation 5 Disc-Less: $400 for 9.5 teraflops. Modern feature set with limited ray tracing performance. Fast hard disk I/O. No optical drive.

  • Xbox Series S: $300 for 4 teraflops. 1080p box. Modern feature set with limited ray tracing performance. Play Microsoft's entire publishing sphere for $5 a month.

  • Nintendo Switch: $300 for 0.15 - 0.3 teraflops. Portable with old tablet chipset. Outdated feature set. Excellent for sprite-based indie games, but 3d functionality limited. Needs a refresh to stay competitive.

I'm prepared to plunk down my cash on the very first one tomorrow morning the instant they are up: it's the best option by a mile for people who have the existing PC, and that little bit of extra cash.

This of course assuming I can beat everyone else to the mouse clicks, which I'm not taking for granted: it's going to be a mad rush once the "buy" buttons go live.
Ego - 12:25 CDT, 9/14/20 (Sniper)
I just watched another one of those interviews, this time with Andy Gavin, and found it to be pretty subpar.

While there's no doubt that he's a creative problem solver, and allegedly a talented programmer-- I'm not sure how much of "Crash" he himself wrote, I'd need to do some further investigation-- the interview was rife with technical inaccuracies.

He starts out by incorrectly describing the 3DO as a "half-3d machine": I'm assuming he's referring to how the "Cell Engine" uses quads instead of triangles. While acknowledging that he's written a game for that hardware and I haven't, the Sega Saturn and certain period PC graphics cards also used quads: the result is still polygons-- i.e. "3d"-- regardless of what primitive types those surfaces consist of. The "OptiDoom" guy, who does contemporary 3DO programming, fully agrees with me.

He then describes PC games as needing "custom config.sys and autoexec.bat files", while trotting out that age-old cliché of PCs being difficult to play games on-- total ignorance: I played hundreds of DOS games from 1985 or so all the way through to the shift to Win95, and the only time I needed to use a custom config.sys file for a game was Megazeux, which utilized XMS. Games "just worked" in those days, way moreso than during the later Win98 era, and probably even moreso than today.

On that note, he then explained-- complete with an interviewee-provided graphic-- that PCs "basically only had 640k of memory." Uh, was he working on an IBM XT, and had never heard of EMS? My dad and I built a 486 in 1992 or 1993, and it had 16 megabytes of RAM. With a cheap product like QEMM, you could basically render the base 640 limitation irrelevant with a few keyboard presses and a reboot.

I also chuckled at his marveling at modern graphics cards doing gigaflops' worth of calculations! Oh my! Not sure where he's been the last odd-decade: even the humble Xbox One GPU is a teraflop chip. Further, his continued referral to the PSX's video chip as a "GPU" is a pet peeve of mine, for the very reason he acknowledged in this very interview (no hardware transform and lighting).

He also made it sound like the use of an SGI workstation was an innovation for "Crash"-- when in a period interview of him in my 3DO hint guide, he explains how they used just such a workstation for "Way of the Warrior" too: very misleading. He also brags about being one of the first people-- "I have patents!"-- to figure out how to stream stage data from slow-ish storage, when people were doing stuff like that on the Amiga in the 1980s, much less on the 3DO way before he did it on PSX ("Immercenary", "The Need for Speed", "Blade Force", etc.).

My impression of him overall is that he's pretty arrogant: his view of himself is inflated versus his actual accomplishments and knowledge. Interestingly, his "soft skill" game design chops seem much stronger than his technical aptitude: his explanation of the principles in "Crash" level design was the most astutely-stated part of the video.
Inside Tracks - 10:05 CDT, 9/14/20 (Sniper)
Annoying plinking music and his frequent use of the non-word "performant" aside, this is a very interesting interview with Dan Greenawalt. The last game I played in the series was Forza Motorsport 5, and his explanation of their AI system really puts into perspective the strange phenomena I routinely saw in that release.

The most controversial topic he discusses is undoubtedly "rubber banding". My personal take is that while it is integral to a title like "Road Rash", it has zero place in a simulation-leaning video game: if you make a big mistake, deal with it or restart the race; heck, these games have even had rewind features for many years-- "rubber banding" is pointless.

And so, it was disappointing for me to hear that cars in front get weight added to them, or torque reduced. That said, he knows his market much better than I do, and it also sounds like their are technical reasons-- which I didn't quite follow-- that make it necessary for the time being.

I once wrote an overhead racing engine in STOS on my Atari ST-- and even when compiled, trying to get the AI to follow the road without my game dragging the 68000 into the abyss performance-wise was quite the task. I wound up coloring different sections of the track subtly different shades of gray-- then every few frames the AI cars look at the color: "This is gray shade three? Turn left", and so forth.

But back to the videos: I also watched this one, with Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford discussing my third favorite game of all time. In "The Need for Speed" on the 3DO, the driver is sitting unrealistically high, to make the game more fun-- but not so high that it destroys the illusion of realism; that's part of the art of making games, and the "Star Control II" planet excerpt is another illustration of the same principle.

Speaking of making games, I showed my son how to make his own texture pack in Minecraft-- he's been hard at work re-drawing all of the game's tile art, then testing in-game. I installed 7-Zip for him, and we worked together on some experiments with saving images in different formats, so I could teach him what "compression" is, and how it works.
The New Low End - 16:20 CDT, 9/09/20 (Sniper)
Microsoft is going to sell a positively insane number of "Series S" boxes-- lots of them undoubtedly to Sony fans, who want to try some of Microsoft's exclusives. As quickly as Microsoft can keep them flying off the assembly line, they will subsequently fly off of store shelves: it's going to be Nintendo-levels of money printing.

Speaking of Nintendo, they need to get their butts in motion with the "Pro" Switch variant: while it's true the Series S isn't a handheld, it's the same price as a Switch, can run "Cyberpunk 2077" with ray tracing when the Switch can barely run "The Outer Worlds" (for Pete's sake) at twelve frames per second on the lower-than-lowest settings-- and you can have the Microsoft box for $25 per month, with basically unlimited free games.

I saw on IGN today that Nintendo just told licensed Switch developers to make all games henceforth "4K ready"-- so they've clearly got something brewing. It can't come soon enough. I've got a lot invested in their ecosystem, so I'll probably buy one when they hit-- but they'd better hurry before they lose momentum.

But back to the Series S, it's not all roses: estimates put it at somewhere around the four teraflops mark-- and since apparently RDNA2 does the ray tracing using shaders, it will probably have substantially lower ray traced performance than the Series X, even at lower resolutions. In short, I suspect it's going to be more of a 1080p box, and with some additional quality reductions, than "identical to Series X just at 1440p", which is how they're billing it so far.

Still an absurd value though.
Correction - 11:59 CDT, 9/07/20 (Sniper)
I've been wrong this entire time: the authorities have our best interests at heart, and we should do as they say. Political editorials will remain on this site for historical purposes, but will be prefaced with this notice.
Superga Redux - 20:17 CDT, 9/06/20 (Sniper)
Being the Italian football fan that I am, I decided to fly the exact flight plan Pierluigi Meroni followed, which ended in the terrible "Superga air disaster"-- still piognant, even sixty nine years after it happened.

Before I get into all of the details, you too can trace the path by downloading the following two files, and opening the ".pln" file in the game's flight planner; I've done all of the work for you:


The ill-fated "Grande Torino" transport was a "Fiat G.212CP"-- one of the strangest looking aircraft I've ever seen, having a third engine mounted to its long snout. The closest equivalent in Flight Simulator is the "Beechcraft King Air 350i".

The Beechcraft is quite a bit smaller than the ill-fated Fiat G212CP used that day-- 47 feet long versus 75-- and a heck of a lot lighter-- 15k pounds fully-loaded versus a whopping 38k!

However, they are both piston-engined passenger planes with nearly identical ranges-- 1550 nautical miles versus 1621-- and powerful Pratt & Whitney engines: close enough for me.



They took off from Lisbon Airport, flew to Barcelona presumably to re-fuel and stretch the legs for a few moments, before embarking on the final leg, eventually arriving-- or not, sadly-- at their final destination: Turin-Aeritalia Airport.



I hacked some custom waypoints into the above-linked plan and flight files, with the exact GPS coordinates of a few points of interest.

The left-most picture below depicts the present-day "Estádio da Luz" stadium, which is near to where Torino and Benfica played their testimonal match that day: it's practically down the street from the airport.

It's worth noting that 1940s era stadium was demolished way back in the 1950s-- I didn't even bother with an in-game screenshot of the spot, since it's apparently a freeway now! But you can find pictures of it online, before it was demolished.

The middle picture shows the "Camp Nou", which I did snap a pic of as I flew over just for fun-- one of many screenshots you'll find below. The right-most picture shows, of course, the fateful hill where the team found their demise.



One thing I really want to get across with some of these screenshots is just how long and arduous of a flight this was for the pilot. Being a parent, I got interrupted several times and had to pause the game-- but the unpaused flying time alone was hours.

This accident is frequently blamed on a theorized faulty altimeter. But after having made the trip myself, I have a different hypothesis: evidently it was late evening when the Fiat plowed into the hillside-- this could have been a straight-up case of pilot fatigue!

Remember: planes back then had only rudimentary "autopilot" systems, which could maintain a heading-- and that was about it. No altitude automation at all. So this dude was managing throttle and elevator trim, not to mention manual waypoint navigation, for hours and hours on end.

He arrived in Turin to complete fog coverage, and a lashing rainstorm: think how easy it would be to misread an altimeter at a glance in the inconsistent cockpit lighting of a now-ancient 1940s craft like that? The guy wasn't a robot: he was a flesh and blood human.

But back to the journey: it starts by flying over beautiful rolling countryside. There are tons of these little villages, centered among the farms:





This goes on for a few hundred nautical miles-- at which point Barcelona and the aforementioned "Camp Nou" is reached. It was here that I landed to re-fuel my plane:





I took off again, and flew yet hundred and hundreds of more nautical miles, this time over increasingly mountainous looking terrain. Notice how Flight Simulator's one hundred percent organic weather systems even realistically generates fog in the mountainous recesses:





Finally, the Turin area is reached, and I achieved my custom "Basilica of Superga" waypoint. To my disappointment, Flight Simulator couldn't figure out that this satellite splotch was a building-- so it didn't try to construct a 3d version. Bummer!

All the same, I was absolutely thunderstruck as I approached the spot of doom, at just how close the poor pilot was to getting home in one piece: the airport is quite literally right over the hill from where he'd crashed! Here he'd flown over half of Western Europe only to fall at the final hurdle, mere minutes away from the trip's endpoint.

Here is the Basilica:



Having found the Basilica, I had to circle around a bit to get just the right shot to represent the accident itself-- and I did.

You see, he crashed into the hill from the exact opposite direction in which my plane is facing in the next shot. In other words, turn my plane around, and point it right at middle of the base of the orange: that's the exact spot he hit, from this exact angle according to my review of Google "Street View" data.

Of course, he didn't dive into it-- he flew directly into it. Hopefully this gives you a perfect display of just how astonishingly low he was: we're talking "grazing tree tops". It's so low I couldn't even attempt it in-game with crashing myself.

And see that waypoint just off to the right? That's the pattern entry for the airport :(



Unlike pilot Pierluigi Meroni and the Valentino Mazzola-led "Grande Torino" team, I completed my flight: here I am on final approach to Turin-Aeritalia Airport-- a tiny, one-strip affair surrounded by grass and a couple of small structures. Judging by the appearance of the place, I wouldn't be surprised if it looks more or less identical today as it did then.

Landing and parking my plane there after the long journey felt bittersweet.



Economic Mantra - 19:25 CDT, 9/04/20 (Sniper)
The point of a free market isn't to have competition: rather, the purpose is to deliver quality goods and services which meet the demands of consumers-- that's the first principle. Yet for a variety of reasons, people very often erroneously and unthinkingly push competition as the first principle, as if that's somehow the end goal!

The reality is that sometimes markets produce better outcomes with less competition.

The "Linux Tech Tips" guy, and others, have been weaving this tale: "Turing wasn't a big jump in performance over Pascal, because there wasn't any competition. But now with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 peering over Nvidia's shoulder, Nvidia had to set their greed aside and actually deliver what they'd been previously holding back."

This is completely backwards revisionist history. What actually happened was this: because AMD was not competitive, Nvidia had the leeway to innovate with their Turing transistor budget, versus just deliver raw framerates. This lack of competition in the market is what got us real-time ray tracing, DLSS and so forth-- Nvidia even said so during the Turing unveil: I don't have time to re-listen to the entire presentation, but if you go back and play it, they discussed that because of their market position, they were able to take more risks on features.

In other words, had there been greater competition in the market, the outcome would have been worse for consumers: Turing would have been another boring straight performance increase, and real-time ray tracing would still be the distant, abstract dream it was for thirty years.

Now that Nvidia has laid the innovative groundwork, which they were able to do only because they had such a huge lead over AMD and were thus able to roll the dice on new features versus raw framerate grab, they are able to use the latest transistor count increase on pure rendering performance, building on top of the cool Turing architecture. And these Ampere framerate increases also, by the way, have nothing to do with "competition": it's just the next natural step for Nvidia's engineers to take, since the core architecture is set, and ready to be optimized and squeezed like a lemon.

The reason, by the by, ordinary people blindly push the "competition as a first principle" myth is because they are taught about the so-called "robber barons" and the "gilded age", and how if you don't have competition, greedy capitalists will rape and pillage the countryside, so to speak. The reason CEOs push the myth, is because they are losers in their given market segment due to poor entreprenurial choices, and got their lunches eaten-- so they start reciting the "there's no competition" mantra in an attempt to get the government's "anti trust" regulators to go after the market winner, i.e. the most competent market player.

I just saw this; very phenomenon in a 1992 "Computer Chronicles" episode in fact: you had the CEO's of Lotus, Sun, and Borland of all companies complaining about "wintel". Anyone who followed that show, episode-by-episode from the very beginning as I did, knows how bad decisions led to their downfalls, which incidentally had nothing to do with "monopolies". Just to name one example, "1-2-3 version 3" became a running gag on the show, it took so long to come out! And by the time it did, it was too late: market lead irrevocably lost to competitors with superior products.

None of this is to say that competition is irrelevant: it's generally a good thing, as it increases the supply of goods, creating downward pressure on overall prices. But to some people it's like a religion.
Slow-Motion Train Wreck - 14:23 CDT, 9/04/20 (Sniper)
If you accede to the face diapering now, that will be used as precedent for forced vaccination; and if you accede to the forced vaccination, that will be used as a precedent for microchipping. Don't go along with the masking now, so you'll have a leg to stand on for the more insidious things which are sure to come later, if a stand isn't made.

Totally obvious. Common sense. It's startling that I even need to explain this to people.

But now, the stakes are even higher: Pocahontas and her gang want to declare resistance to Cultural Marxist dogma as a "public health crisis": it will be like my employer not allowing anyone to criticize domestic terrorists, only praise them-- except this time, nation-wide and at the barrel of a gun.

The explanation given for this legislation is that resistance to so-called "anti-racism"-- aka Cultural Marxism-- is a "public health crisis": and "public health crises", as we learned from the lockdowns and face diaper mandates, require extraordinary measures!

How extraordinary? Mobs of "Black Lives Matter" domestic terrorists have spent the past few weeks across a wide variety of American cities shouting at homes, via megaphones, that white people need to hand over their property to black people. Sure enough, the wording in this very bill explains that any time a black person doesn't have some possession, it's due to "systemic racism".

Do the algebra now; solve for X: a black person not having a possession which a white person does have, whether that's money or a car or a house or you-name-it, will be a "public health crisis", and will require "extraordinary measures", using the face diapering and lockdowns as a template.

We are one step away from South Africa.
Walking Brainless Cliché - 16:51 CDT, 9/03/20 (Sniper)
I haven't touched my Switch in weeks, but that's soon to change: "Super Mario 3D All-Stars" looks like positively outrageous value; I found out about it, and placed a pre-order on Amazon immediately. Even just to have a Mario 64 Switch port all by itself, is worth the price to me.

Once in awhile I see a crony capitalist in some industry or another cite some "study" which says, "for every dollar 'invested' [with stolen taxpayer money] in my industry, returns two dollars in economic activity!" Only an idiot can't see the problem with that postulate: it's an infinite money generator! Just print fifty quadzillion dollars, and get one hundred back! Infinite EBT cards for everyone!

Not to mention, if all it took for the government to ascertain the means via which to obtain a one hundred percent return on investment was to spend a week in Excel crunching numbers for a "study", then why are they two hundred trillion in the hole in unfunded liabilities? Hurr.

Unfortunately, my employer just hired a new senior executive-- I was poking around his Twatter feed, and found him touting one of these "studies"... bodes well! He'll get along just fine with the empty-headed CEO.

He also "re-tweeted" an article about how Elon Musk had "re-defined" the automobile, hah! Yes, it only took billions upon billions all around the world of cumulative tax payer "credits" to knock prices off the MSRPs, grant exemptions from all sorts of laws, the doling out of "carbon credits", the deliberate torpedoing of diesel engines via the Volkswagen "scandal", and every other possible shenanigan...

Electric (external combustion) cars are a hammer in search of a nail: they're not even close to feature parity with internal combustion automobiles, and they cost a lot more even after the tax theft and legal double standards. They've been tried numerous times before, and died out almost immediately each time because they just didn't make sense. The only difference this time is the cronyism.; it's a poster child zombie industry.

Speaking of Elon Musk, I heard he unveiled some thing you plug into your head, and it'll cure your brain of everything. Apparently actual MIT PhD neurologists were laughing their asses off at it: "This is decades old technology! And ninety percent of what he said is pure fiction."

Back to the executive then: he's a technocrat elitist. He fits in quite well with the other limousine liberal, open borders, globalist, gated community "Black Lives Matter"-donating senior leadership types in today's Corporate America.
In the Dust - 15:36 CDT, 9/01/20 (Sniper)
I've been writing a lot lately about the concept of the "GPU of forever"-- such as here, here, and here. But I didn't realize we'd be hitting that point this month.

For those who haven't seen the presentation yet, these Ampere cards are stunning, offering nearly double the performance of Turing, at equivalent prices-- a claim which Richard Leadbetter has independently verified.

We're talking about "better image quality than native" reconstructed 2160p, at a locked sixty frames per second, across the board. Other than to support future API features, it's not apparently where to even go from there, for people like myself who aren't particularly sensitive to refresh rates.

I also wrote about the new consoles in this post, and how they would soon be left in the dust-- we're already at that point, and they haven't even launched yet: I wasn't expecting Ampere to be this big of a jump, yet here we are. And as ray-tracing loads increase in future games, the distance between Ampere and even the Series X is going to grow into a gulf.

For me, the most interesting specific technical detail from the presentation is that Ampere uses the Tensor cores to do ray tracing de-noising. It makes me wonder in how many other, not-yet-conceived-of ways this RTX architecture's pieces could feed off of each other.

I had been planning to hold pat on any PC upgrades until probably 2022, but Ampere has completely caught me off guard: I may just order a 3080 in these coming weeks-- then my current 2080 will go to my wife, her 1080 will go to my daughter, and my son will stay on his 2060. My daughter's current 1070 will go into a box as a backup GPU.
Endless Horizon - 14:56 CDT, 8/28/20 (Sniper)
The kids and I have been playing a lot of the new "Microsoft Flight Simulator", which is the latest in a series I've been enjoying since version 3.0, running on my grandfather's DOS PC in the 80's.

I've been writing for many months now about how this was shaping up to be the most ambitious piece of software I'd seen since the 90's, and it's managed to meet every last one of my sky-high predictions. It's one of those nearly unheard of contemporary video games which is both deep and accessible, blurring the line between "simulation" and "arcade" to the point that it's just a smudge. What's more, it has an attractive aesthetic, and cutting-edge graphics.

One of its coolest features is that not only are the interiors of the planes fully-modeled, but every single button, switch, and lever can be interacted with via the mouse. A full checklist system even walks you through how to start your entire plane, from a cold park. The developers explain that they are in fact emulating the systems, including the Garmin satnav software itself, which is why all of it feels so realistic-- because it is.

By the by: click on any of the pictures in this post to see larger renditions.







In my screenshots, you probably will notice the "ATC" and "VFR MAP" bars along the top of the screen. Those are actually windows, which can be expanded, resized, closed, and moved around. There are about twelve or so different ones you can open, and the game remembers your screen layout.

A huge part of the fun in this game involves the fact that it models the entire planet, via a combination of satellite imagery, Bing Maps metadata, and the occasional custom-curated, artist-modeled building. You can "pause" your plane in mid-flight, then use the "drone" camera, which operates exactly like a free-roaming photo mode.

Before you fly, you create a flight plan by spinning and zooming around a full globe view of Earth, then clicking on icons to configure your route. One of the first flights D and I did was from the local airport, to a fly-over of the Murderapolis home, to a fly-over of the Bugout house, to a landing at the municipal airport near that home.

As of now, you can't place random, custom waypoints on the globe. So what I did was look up the exact GPS locations of both of our houses via Google Maps, then manually edited the ".flt" and ".pln" plain text files for our flight to copy-and-paste the two custom waypoints in. It's a little hackish, but it still only took ten minutes.

We used the "drone" camera to look at the houses up close, and they are hilarious: the Murderapolis home has a huge dent in it, probably where a shadow was in the satellite picture, while the game interpreted the Bugout house as single story, with the garage being converted into what looks like an outhouse with Dish Network, and the chicken coop as its own house, complete with attached garage! Maybe there are some secret our chickens aren't sharing with us... even a nearby grocery store resulted in hilarity.

We also buzzed the cars on the major interstate freeway on the way there-- felt positively surreal. D also took a shot of the Mississippi at ground-level: it looks like a photograph!











This game crosses the line between the real and the fake like nothing I've ever experienced. My mom was watching me play it this past weekend, and we quite literally had a conversation about what the game was doing "for real", and what was phony: it took fifteen minutes of actual explanation, questions, and clarification:

The other planes you see in the game are actual flights, happening in real-time; the weather and time of day is real-time; the radio chatter isn't actually streaming over the internet, but is actually occurring in real life, right around the same moments; obviously you can't see someone in real life walking around-- there isn't a "magic global camera" or something-- but the buildings are all constructed on the fly by actual photographs and other real-life data.

One player stated online that he thought the in-game weather was broken: "it's not raining in real life by my house." Then he looked out the window, and it really had started raining, while he'd been not paying attention. I had a similar experience: I was following an airliner flight, and could hear the real life plane going over my house, right as it flew over my home in the game. It's mind-melting, even for someone as technical as me.

Apparently they're working on VR headset support. I'm not sure my brain could support that added layer, on top of what's already there.



Back to airliners, you could do full-on airline captain simulation, as the airports even let you call in ground services like catering, baggage, electricity, and re-fueling. There's no metagame way to "buy and sell goods", so-to-speak, but you could make-believe and have just as much fun, hopping to and from airports, running your own pretend airline.



One of the best parts of all flight simulators, but especially this one, is sight-seeing. I flew into the mountains to Yosemite, and got a neat picture of me flying over some wildlife.



D is an aspiring architect, and dreams of building something like the Burj Khalifa. Maybe I'll do a whole blog post about just the Dubai area, because it's pretty special. But for now, I did take a screenshot of me buzzing a cruise ship. I also recorded a video of a runway surface which the game failed to properly generate.



D and I flew over the pyramids at Giza, in co-op.





While my mom sat next to me, and we explored Trump Tower plus the White House. Interestingly, the White House was not modeled:





The Lincoln Monument was however: part of what I love about this game is that, like games from the 70's-90's, there are tons of unintentionally funny moments-- if you fly the "drone" camera into the monument, you get an overly-sharpened JPEG Abraham Lincoln, who looks like he's a Star Trek villain on some planet, ready to shoot lasers out of his eyes at the away party!

Also take a look at the dorky pilots. Twins?!





Finally, the game also fully-models sunrises plus sunsets, with layers of clouds making shadows on themselves. Not only that, but actual humidity and individual gusts of winds organically form clouds, just like how weather systems function in real life. There was a thunderstorm over my house today-- so I hopped into the game, and...





The game has a lot of planes to choose from. I've read that they have varying levels "TLC", with the "Cessna 152" flying astonishingly close to the real thing according to real-life owners of that plane. The game has a Forza Motorsport-style "garage", where you can rotate around the plane at every possible angle, as it's parked in a giant, extremely detailed hangar.

For long-distance flights, my primary plane has been the "Beechcraft Bonanza G36": it has adequate power and a modern-day autopilot plus satnav system, besides its back seats and table make it fun to roleplay with-- I can "bring" the whole family with me!

For short distances, I adore the characteristics of the "Robin CAP10". It feels like the airplane equivalent of my real-life "Nissan 350z" car: powerful, raw, low-tech, and maneuverable. In fact, the "CAP10" feels a lot like a miniature version of the World War II aircraft I grew up with in games like "Aces of the Pacific", from doing aileron rolls and Immelmanns, right down to weaving on the taxiways so you can see where you're going.

Incidentally, Asobo could make one mean follow-up to the old "Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator", if they so chose. Maybe an idea for the future...

Airplanes seem to be following some other trends from the automobile industry: for example, the "Diamond DA40" is a diesel-powered plane that's supposed to be "eco-friendly": I found that it was not only ugly, but could barely climb out of its own way. Then you have the "Icon A5", with a totally pretentious cockpit which looks like the inside of a Tesla-- although to be fair, the plane as a product looks pretty sweet.

The next aircraft I'm going to learn is the "Cessna Citation CJ4", which looks like the "Learjet"-equivalent from the older games in the series: specifically, I'd love to fly in it from South Korea to Japan, or even something crazy such as from South Africa to Bolivia.

Needless to say, this is a game the kids and I will be playing for several years, especially as the company undoubtedly adds all manner of new content, such as new planes and probably even a full-on "Forza Motorsport"-style livery editor, for which the "Liveries" hook is already present in the menus (but which only ever has one selection available).
Developments - 07:40 CDT, 8/26/20 (Sniper)
A neighbor who lives very close to my Murderapolis home invited me into his house yesterday, so I could see his ammunition-reclamation setup. I'm thinking about assembling just such a configuration at the bug out house.

Recently, a big storm hit the Murderapolis neighborhood, and several trees were felled. Out of the woodwork came the square-jawed white men with chainsaws, cleaning up the mess. It's important for Conservatives to remember that there are a lot of us out there, in secret. My aforementioned neighbor for one: he has no yard signs, yet his house interior has several "Trump-Pence" adornments within.

I found out that he's a Diaper Refuser too, like me: even on construction sites, he tells them point-blank that he won't wear one-- also like me, he's really good at what he does, which gets him the leeway he needs to dissent, and also keep working.

Interestingly, the first shots have been fired. Maybe it's begun. I notice that one video was taken during the day, and one at night-- which tells me that the "Black Lives Matter" domestic terrorists were hanging around in the town for multiple hours, not just passing through.

Finally, Hitlery outed the Democrat's next chaos-fomenting step, after global warming, Russia collusion, impeachment, wuflu, and George Floyd: drag the election into a legal battle. This while screaming from the roof tops that Trump won't accept the election results. They're already priming the American public by "warning" that the "results won't be known" on election night.

Given how quickly dozens and dozens of millions of Americans bought into the wuflu diaper-adorning nonsense, they're so gullible that the Democrats could make this the last presidential election, under some absurd pretense, and the general public would buy it: hook, line, and sinker. The diapers were a trial run to see how stupid people are.
Dark Ages - 07:51 CDT, 8/23/20 (Sniper)
This is the third or fourth set of videos-- all in different cities-- I've seen involving the domestic terrorists known as "Black Lives Matter", calling for the confiscation of private property owned by "white" people: it's coordinated-- the Agitprop crowd instigators, the Obama-like "community organizers" with the megaphones, all got the memo.

My prediction has been that America will become South Africa: random gangs of "black" people will rove around, pseudo-randomly breaking into "white" people's homes, and murdering them. This will culminate in the government having an ANC-like "land reform" program, "transferring" property to its "rightful" owners. This ANC guy would have fit right in at the DNC convention.

California is doing away with anti-racism laws, and even my own employer openly supports and donates money to "Black Lives Matter", while instituting internal HR policies to hire "black" people instead of other racial groups. So I don't think my prediction is far-fetched.

Another "next thing" which will happen is gun-point enforced injections of Bill Gates-owned vaccinations. Obviously, sane people will flee to the rural outlands, and regroup there: strength in numbers. My favorite restaurant up there has a sign on the door: "our employees have medical conditions and won't be wearing masks; if you feel unsafe, shop somewhere else or order takeout."
Long Game - 08:01 CDT, 8/22/20 (Sniper)
I've finally figured out what's wrong with my back: doctors call it "hyperlordosis"; my spine looks exactly like the picture on the right. My wife has pointed it out before, but I never gave it much consideration until yesterday.

It was caused by the fact that I was morbidly obese-- two hundred and sixty pounds, at sixty nine inches of height-- for over a decade. Presently, I can only get five or six hours of sleep consecutively before my lower back feels like it's breaking in half, waking me up.

Thankfully, I can correct the condition by strengthening my abdominal and glute muscle groups. Apparently, it will take several months of intense exercising before the muscles will slowly pull the spine back into its correct shape. Interestingly, sources indicate I'll probably be a full inch, or even more, taller once the issue is corrected. It will be strange being almost five foot eleven.

In totally unrelated news, I really like where Microsoft is going not just as a company in general, but with their games division specifically.

Their studios are becoming Nintendo-like in their focus on gameplay-first experiences: "Minecraft", "Minecraft Dungeons", "Flight Simulator", "Battletoads", the two "Ori" releases, and "Gears Tactics" are all examples of titles where you spend ninety nine percent of your time actually playing. Even their story-based games like the incoming "Wasteland 3", or last year's "The Outer Worlds" are predominantly gameplay-focused.

This is in stark contrast with Sony, who seem to emphasize Hollywood-style walking simulators. I finally pulled my PlayStation 4 Pro up from the basement and fully patched it and the games I own-- I wasn't feeling it at all, and put the thing right back into a box.

I also haven't touched my Switch in weeks. It's useful for sprite-based games, but I'm totally bored by Xbox 360-caliber 3d graphics-- they look silly in August of 2020.

This leads me to Microsoft's hardware front: subscribe to "Game Pass" for five bucks a month and play on any ecosystem device, save games all transfer seamlessly from one device to another. I get one hundred percent of their output natively running on my Zen 2, RTX 2080 PC. I can even stream titles with ray tracing to my phone's gorgeous AMOLED screen with "xCloud", completely supplanting the Switch.

Even as conventional video game boxes go, if that's how you roll, the Series X is significantly superior to the PlayStation 5. Of course, Sony is going to sell a lot more PlayStation 5's than Microsoft will Series X's, due to brand loyalty alone-- but Microsoft is playing the long game, with a fully forward-looking, cohesive ecosystem and long-term strategy: let's see which company is happier in five years.
DNC Platform - 14:15 CDT, 8/21/20 (Sniper)
I've been following excerpts from the "DNC" convention, and it was the largest collection of sickos, perverts, rapists, and dysfunctional weirdos I've ever seen.

Of course serial groper, probable-rapist, and literal "grabbed and fingered by the pussy" Creepy Uncle Joe was the centerpiece, but also take a look at this woman, plus the trotting out of Bill Clinton to give a moralizing lecture, while also describing Ted Kennedy as a women's rights advocate.

There isn't a word in the English language strong enough to describe just how delusional every day main street Democratic voters are, to say they support women and minorities, while watching video after video of people like Joe Biden and Bill Clinton. It's 1984's "Double Think", but in real life: two contradictory things can be true at the same time.

If I weren't in a perpetual state of "nothing surprises me anymore", it would be startling that one of the two-party duopoly in the United States could product something so stunningly stupifying.

As for Tucker Carlson, he described the event as a get out of jail free card, for everyone to blame all of their mental health problems and baggage on a bogeyman. I think he's right on the money. He also pointed out that the Democrats didn't discuss much in the way of actual policy-- but don't worry, because I've been taking notes over the past few years:

  • Free healthcare for illegals.
  • Post birth abortion.
  • Free needles for drug addicts.
  • Tranny 7 year olds.
  • Human feces all over sidewalks.
  • No more police, skyrocketing crime.
  • Different sets of laws for different skin colors.
  • 31 genders.
  • Ban cow farts.
  • Mandatory government approved uniforms to enter stores.
  • Open support for Marxist domestic terrorist groups.
  • Social distancing unless you're rioting against Capitalism.
  • #BelieveAllWomen unless they accuse Weinstein, Epstein or Bill Clinton.
  • Abolish the electoral college.
  • Saying "color blindness" is hate speech. So is not saying anything.
  • Support snitching on others for "biased" language.
  • Support mandatory "morality pills" for political opponents.
  • Support mandatory injections of experimental vaccines.
  • Support United Nations "Agenda 2030".
  • Reparations for blacks.
  • Reparations for gays.
  • Reparations for Native Americans.
  • Student loan amnesty.
  • In favor of one hemisphere or one world government.

And here I had my father-in-law yesterday telling me that the one thing which keeps him up at night, is that "Chick-fil-A" had a Christian founder. Oh my gosh, how can we live in a country like that?
Way Behind Per Usual - 16:08 CDT, 8/19/20 (Sniper)
Maybe I shouldn't be biting the hand which feeds me, but my employer-- which has lots of redeeming qualities incidentally, otherwise I wouldn't have worked there for so long-- is pulling this kind of crap too.

What makes the case of my employer even more egregious is that they emphasize that common modern-day Leftist expression, "bring your whole self" to work. Oh, unless you disagree with the CEO, then you can just go to hell: keep that part of you at home.

To the people online are finding this Goodyear leak objectionable: "welcome to my world of the past few years." It's a daily basis thing at my company.

In fact, some worse-than-ever, extra hateful garbage was recently posted on the intranet site-- I wanted to do a blog post about it, but it was also cross-posted on the company's public site, and as always I keep my professional and personal lives separate: I refuse to "dox" the company.

But back to Goodyear: out of the thirty times I've shopped for tires for my various cars, not once has that company had a competitive product in the category. They're the milquetoast, generic "Wonder Bread" mass-market tire maker, who people only drive on because they came with the car, and which the owners ditch at the earliest opportunity.
Old Equals Better - 17:49 CDT, 8/17/20 (Sniper)
The Saturn has a reputation for "not being able to do 3d stuff", yet I've been watching video after video on YouTube of it doing not just high quality 3d, but at smooth framerates as well.

Start with the trio of "PowerSlave", "Duke Nukem 3d", and "Quake". Then take a look at "Tomb Raider". Then "Croc". And I can first-hand attest to "Burning Rangers". This is just a small sampling of Saturn titles that have detailed, fully-explorable 3d environments. Not to mention the dozens of texture-mapped quad racers and 3d fighters.

As a change of pace, I decided to do some modern gaming today. I started up "The Outer Worlds", a game which I'd never finished-- immediately I wasn't really feeling the menus or the title screen music, but I ploughed in only to die when I couldn't remember the controls. The game then crashed on trying to re-load my save game.

Enough of that. I then picked up my Switch, which I hadn't played in like three weeks. I fired up "Minecraft", and after three attempts it was able to connect to Microsoft's services. I logged in, wasn't feeling it either, and quit, only for the game to hard-lock the hardware.

Shrugging my shoulders, I headed over to Etsy and asked my favorite repro guy if he could make me a copy of the aforementioned "PowerSlave". Much better! I'm also getting my fully-recapped, laser-lens replaced Panasonic FZ-1 3DO back later this week. I also had the fellow recap my Goldstar unit, although he hasn't been able to get it to read discs yet.

In other news, David Silva is a complete asshole: he had Lazio figures wining and dining him for weeks, offering him a private jet, private driver, and his choice of five mansions. A club in Qatar has been taking similar measures. Then his hometown club called, and were desperately re-working their books to accommodate him.

Today, completely out of the blue, he revealed that he went behind everyone's backs and signed with Real Sociedad.
Growing Armory - 08:52 CDT, 8/16/20 (Sniper)
I picked up the new firearms last night! Here is my arsenal so far:



In chronologically-obtained order, they are:

  • Ruger Blackhawk .357 Magnum (link)
  • Springfield Saint Victor (link)
  • Walther PPQ Q5 Match M2 (link)
Coming Attractions - 15:32 CDT, 8/10/20 (Sniper)
I feel like I'm watching an MLS game, listening to these clips: very recognizable guises, equally familiar shrill voices and inauthenticity. The soy is strong in both settings.

But it's no laughing matter: as Barr points out, these people are just like the Bolsheviks. A family member of mine recently drove down "Lake Street" here in Murderapolis, and said it looked like a war zone: they had to make sure to drive "the safe way" through the area. Right in the middle of America!

I also read that Chicago is so violent right now, that city officials had to literally raise the draw bridges to keep the barbarians out of downtown! More MLS supporters on the prowl, I guess.

I wrote here that wifey and I are not only stocking up on firearms, but are reluctant to put some much-needed money into our house. This neighborhood is filled with radical Leftist yard signs, of all varieties.
Control Interpretation - 21:20 CDT, 8/08/20 (Sniper)
After I read "Ulysses" several years ago, I had no clue what it was about, despite having completed the novel. I'm in the same boat with Remedy's "Control", having just finished it. Here is my guess, based on the game's dozens of text artifacts, audio logs, and videos. I'm also toying with the notion that maybe the whole game is taking place during a therapy session-- but I'll go with this for now:

Brother and sister have alcoholic and potentially abusive parents, who humiliated the sister by showing embarrassing pictures to people via a slide projector in the home. The kids steal the parent's projector, and take it to the garbage dump to throw it away. An oft-bullied friend from school tags along, together with some other children: seven in all.

Some kind of industrial accident happens at the dump, the children are all injured and wind up in the hospital, in critical condition. The surgeon in the hospital is a fellow named "Dr. Casper". Out of the seven hurt children, there are two prime candidates for survival: the brother and the sister.

The sister recovers, but the brother dies after a brief period in a coma, much to the extreme chagrin of a disheveled Dr. Casper: "he showed so much promise!" Time passes, and as the sister grows into adulthood, she is totally unable to cope with her guilt at having brought her brother, and others, into danger at the dump-- and in fact, as a coping mechanism she maintains that her brother is still alive.

She develops an escapist fantasy world, constructed from Jung's "collective unconscious" elements including popular culture artifacts such as melodramatic detective novels and science fiction films. She tries to take a clerical, secretarial job to support herself, but the daily grind makes her miserable and she quits, incorporating her office experience into her fantasy-- where she's in control, and the boss.

In this fantasy world of hers, paranormal elements caused the accident-- like a glorified ghost story-- while the police and first responders were actually government agents sent to cover things up. Her brother didn't die: he was "abducted". This is a classic coping mechanism, where her subconscious can remove her culpability over what happened.

Her psychiatric condition eventually becomes so severe that she gets committed into a mental institution, and undergoes in-patient therapy sessions.

The therapist tries to get her to admit that the incident was actually an industrial accident, and not some kind of government conspiracy-- and also that the girl's parent's alcoholism was partly responsible for the sister's present-day mental health issues. The sister insists: "No! It was not an industrial accident! My brother is still alive too, and I'm going to go see him!"

Putting that plan into action, she escapes from the psychiatric ward to "see her brother", and works her way Eastward. This is where the game begins. Over the course of the game, she is told by numerous "characters" in her fantasy universe that her brother is actually dead-- but she violently lashes out in denial each time.

Her delusions are so great that like "Flat Earthers", she has to make up totally implausible explanations to cover the gaps in her worldview: for instance, how a building so large it can hold an entire rock quarry inside of it can exist in the middle of New York City without anyone noticing ("it has this veil, where people can't see it!"), and even amusingly exclaims at one point, "they even transported the entire town dump into the building!"

At one point, as she reflects back on her life she visits a room with "photographs" from her past, for example picking books up off the floor in high school. "A-hah!", she says, "All of those years I was insecure, the government really was tracking me! See, I'm not crazy!"

Deep down, even she realizes that she's become like one of the kook "conspiracy theorists" who call into the "America Overnight" radio show. But then, finally and over the course of the game, she ends up back to her home town, and in fact to the very dump where the accident had occurred.

It's only by revisiting this "ground zero" scene that she can finally accept that her brother is dead, as she destroys the "Hedron" in her fantasy. Only after this happens is she able to take control of her life, along with the responsibilities of a well-functioning adult: she becomes "the director".
Rapid Refresh - 14:06 CDT, 8/08/20 (Sniper)
As I wrote about here, between limitations in human vision plus the quality of modern-day anti-aliasing and reconstruction techniques, increasing resolution further is pointless. "But how will electronics makers continue to sell new products?", I asked myself.

Perhaps this will wind up being the answer: ever-higher refresh rates? For me personally, in 90% of applications and unless pointed out to me, I can't tell the difference between 30 and 60 frames per second, let alone outrageous numbers like 120.

For the first time while playing "Control", I actually fired up a framerate counter-- and it was moving along at about 47 frames per second. But, I had vsync enabled, and it looked butter smooth to me: I'm not at all picky about these things. I grew up playing games which ran in the low twenties or even the teens, so 30 frames per second is plenty good.

Lots of people's eyes are more sensitive to fresh rate than mine however, so perhaps it makes sense for those individuals. Of course, this is also assuming that game studios are willing to radically slash visual quality to hit these obscene framerates, which I very much doubt.
Moral Hazard - 19:11 CDT, 8/06/20 (Sniper)
If all goes well with my shipment, I will soon be a proud new owner of one of these: a Springfield Saint Victor AR-15. This will be my second firearm, after the Ruger Blackhawk .357 magnum I bought back in 2013.

But I wasn't finished there: firearm number three followed later in the day, in the form of this Walther PPQ Q5 Match. It was definitely a bit of a naughty, considering the last thing I really need is a premium-priced competition 9mm pistol-- but I fell in love with it at sight.

I hate spending money, and I normally would never have dropped $2200 on firearms like this. But the Fed has created profligacy as a real moral hazard: why not spend it now before it's being carried around in wheelbarrows? Which it will be given the M2's status these days, especially if a civil war breaks out.

Another interesting thing: uncertainty kills business investment, and they wind up just sitting on the cash instead. As a corollary, wifey and I have been wanting to sign local contractors to ten-or-more grand worth of projects for the Murderapolis house, which needs a lot of work: but with the political situation, why would we?
Total Math Failures - 07:36 CDT, 8/06/20 (Sniper)
I was veritably crying, laughing so hard at some of these "examples" of how two and two sometimes don't equal four.

For example, if you have two factories with two machines plus half a machine each, and join the factories, now you have two and two machines equaling five! Or how about the people changing bases, and thus somehow saying that math is subjective? "Well in base 2..."

No sweetie, the rules of math are still absolute: comparing one base to another and trying to say "a-hah!" is just a shell game.

That thinking reminds me of the French guy Molyneux debated once, where the former said to the latter "your logical argument isn't universal if you jump through a wormhole into a dimension which doesn't use Euclidian geometry." Molyneux had to continually reign the guy in: "Let's stay in this universe because if you make up infinite fantasy ones we'll be sitting here for the next seventy years."

All of this is why I home school: these are the kinds of people who would be teaching my kids!

It's the tactics of a small child-- get pedantic when you don't like the answer. My son when he doesn't want to do his school work: "You said sit down, you didn't say where."
No More Mr. Nice Guys - 18:56 CDT, 8/03/20 (Sniper)
America was a magical place where anyone could come and live life however they wanted, provided they simply minded their own business. There were almost no laws, almost no government, and basically zero taxes other than some small duties on select goods.

Wanted to work hard and get rich? Wanted to subsistence farm? Wanted to invent crazy flying machines in a shed? Wanted to err towards laziness like this very writer and structure a comfortable, uneventful life?

Nothing was off limits, as long as you just left everyone else alone. In return, they'd grant you the same courtesy.

This attracted people from all over the world, who simply wanted the freedom to pursue their dreams.

And pursue they did.

Because of this almost total, absolute liberalization of every single aspect of life, staggering amounts of wealth was created. This culminated in the last thirty years of the 19th century, where people went from toiling in fields all day, to living in multi-floor apartments not much different from those today.

Live and let live. It was the Golden Rule. It was working. And everyone lived by it. Well, almost everyone.

Almost right from the beginning, there was envy from people in society who were still lived a nice life, but who were not as talented as the millionaires, and thus not as rich.

And there were radical totalitarians ready to promise these envious pariahs to steal from others, to hand to them. This started as early as the late 18th century with Alexander Hamilton and his merry band of banksters and money changers.

But the real alarm bells happened shortly thereafter. A Civil War broke out, because Southerners were not allowed to dissolve what they'd thought was a voluntary union-- which turned out to be anything but. Surprise!

Both the income tax and the Federal Reserve were back-doored in during a lame duck session of Congress in 1913. This allowed the Federal Government to monetize endless conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, especially with the abolition of Bretton Woods in the early 1970s.

Multiple trillions of dollars were spent on "reparation"-style welfare programs, shuttling money from white men to black women. These programs, euphemestically billed as "New Deals" and "New Societies" impoverished the country, lowering the standard of living for everyone.

Hordes of Communists and Soviet spies took up positions in universities and all levels of government, and began Agitprop operations throughout the country, systematically indoctrinating people into believing that the original Golden Rule was bad, and it was somehow evil to leave other people alone.

Countless millions of immigrants from third-world countries were bulk imported or allowed to skip the border to both provide cheap labor to corporations, but also to change the demographics of the country.

You see, most people from the third world do not believe in the original Golden Rule: they instituted totalitarian dictatorships in their own nations, then the masses fled the aftermath of their own sowing to unwittingly re-create the same environment abroad.

Like Cargo Cultists, they don't understand cause and effect. And there are enough Barack Hussein Obamas, Hillary Clintons, Bernie Sanders's, Kamala Harris's, Chuckie Schumers, and countless other nefarious, power-hungry swamp monsters who are more than happy to leverage this mass-blindness to obtain absolute power for themselves, and their technocrat enablers.

Meanwhile, there are the white alpha and omega males. The net tax payers. The ones who, like Atlas, have always carried and still do carry the country on their shoulders. They still believe in the original Golden Rule: the original vision of America.

And that is their downfall. They are kind. They are gentle. They are forgiving. And they are the ultimate torch-bearers of tolerance. To a fault.

Abraham Lincoln wanted to deport the freed slaves back to Africa. Many modern-day Republicans have fought to limit immigration to those who hold America's original values of leaving others alone. McCarthy wisely tried to feret out the Communists and agitators.

But it wasn't enough.

Today, white males sit around watching Marxist organizations like "Black Lives Matter" burn down cities and re-institute government-sponsored racism in places like California. They watch while many of their wives and girlfriends fall prey to the toxic femininity that is third-wave feminism. They are idle while Communist Agitprop actors like Alexandria Cortez and Ilhan Omar are elected to high-ranking government offices, enshrining the hateful tenets of Cultural Marxism into law.

This America and its $200 trillion in liabilities is doomed: it's too late. Those who fruitlessly try to uphold its original form need to retreat and regroup, probably into the rural outlands for now. But there are lessons to be learned, for posterity.

If the American experiment is ever repeated, a little bit of ruthlessness is going to be required: a bit of steel, to complement the satin.

Strict and absolute border controls will need to be in place, where incomers are screened according to values, then given grace periods ending in a local resident vote on whether to trebuchet the newcomer back over the border or not. Assimilate, or you're gone.

The State, should one be chartered, should not be ammendable: it should be a locked-in-forever, "10 Commandments"-style directive, enshrining absolute negative rights such as private property and free speech.

It needs the opposite of ideological purity: it needs to be an ideological vacuum, as relentlessly void as the vacuum of space.

And in that spirit, the most important tenth commandment: exile for anyone who does not follow the original Golden Rule. No more Mr. Nice Guys.
Game Musings - 17:01 CDT, 7/30/20 (Sniper)
I've been playing a lot of "Grounded" the past couple of nights. Thankfully, it retains the superb design principles demonstrated in their previous title, "The Outer Worlds"-- but does not suffer that game's unsavoury aspects. In fact, among its janky contemporaries-- "Ark", "Conan", and "The Forest" to name a few-- it's extraordinarily polished.

The game does have full controller support, but something about the analog stick input filtering feels a little off. Between that fact and the reality that the game doesn't leverage Unreal Engine's HDR support makes it a desk plus mouse and keyboard game for me, versus a comfy couch television one.

For being a very first release of an "early access"-style title-- sort of analogous to Minecraft in its 2009 alpha days-- it has a surprising amount of content. The story is very short so far and is essentially a tutorial, but seemingly the whole board is available to explore, and I'm continually unlocking new recipes.

I also purchased a license to Remedy's "Control" during this ongoing Epic Game Store sale. I want to save the bulk of my commentary regarding that title for its eventual review, but in a lot of good ways it feels like a spiritual successor to the 3DO's "Immercenary".

I've been thinking about the upcoming video game systems a lot. Having almost enough cash on hand to go write a check for a brand new Corvette, I have more money than sense at this point-- so wifey is telling me I may as well just pre-order both consoles, once pre-orders are available.

But I was just reading that the aforementioned "Control" barely hits thirty frames per second on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, which reinforced my notion that while the Series X's 12.5 teraflops might sound like a lot of horsepower now, in twenty four months we'll be right back where we are now: PCs will have 20 teraflop video cards, and the PS5 and Series X will be way behind.

Also remember: neither new system has dedicated AI hardware, which means any kind of DLSS-like reconstruction technique will need to suck up even more GPU cycles. I'm not sure how to compute this exactly, but for games which support DLSS, my current RTX 2080 is already a 20+ teraflops card in terms of pixel quality-to-frame rate.

For example, with full ray tracing enabled, my card runs "Control" like a slideshow at native 2160p. But with DLSS enabled, my card only needs to deal with 1080p, with the nearly-perfect reconstruction to 2160p being done "for free" by the card's so-called Tensor Cores. The Series X would need a lot more than 12.5 teraflops to brute force that level of performance.

In that sense, the new systems are already behind. And as mentioned earlier, just wait until Nvidia and AMD unleash their next generation of GPUs, along with the availability of PCIExpress 5.0 in just a couple of years-- which will support NVMe drives that, even sans compression, will outpace the PlayStation 5's raw throughput.

I think my current plan then is to just sit tight for now, and build a brand new PC probably in 2022. That way I can also pass my components down to my kids. And thanks to "DisplayFusion Pro" and its window position profiles, my biggest Windows 10 annoyance has been eliminated, making that operating system usable.
Atlas of Surveillance - 06:12 CDT, 7/24/20 (Sniper)
I learned from this tool that the parent government county of the location where my Murderapolis home is, uses the following "tools" on its citizens:

  • They track people via cameras, then use facial recognition software to determine your identity.

  • They capture everyone's license plates via cameras and automated license plate readers, which can be used to record citizen movement.

  • They use a Stingray-style spoofing device, which pretends to be a cell site so they can intercept phone calls or implant data on people's phones.

  • They operate two drones, which can be used with the aforementioned facial tracking analysis software.

By contrast, the government county for the bug out house operates a single drone, and the essentially non-existent police forces have Barney Fife, with one squad car and a single bullet.

One more reason to re-locate.
Generational Divide - 20:05 CDT, 7/23/20 (Sniper)
During the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation, games started to lose the magic and authenticity which they had during the 70s through 90s. During the subsequent Xbox One and PlayStation 4 era, this trend was continued and compounded when the creativity and risk taking hit which ever-ballooning budgets caused started to become manifest.

Games during these times-- roughly from 2005 to 2019-- were not bad per se, but merely "blah": colorless, uninventive, and drab.

Unfortunately, the video games market is continuing to follow Dante's Virgil-led descent through you-know-where, because for the first time in the history of the medium, this new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 generation of games is not just boring, or suffering from sequelitis, or any other number of mundane maladies: the games are instead actively terrible.

I sat through Microsoft's dismal "third party showcase" some weeks ago and thought, "ok, so maybe third-party development is in a bad way-- but it's the first-party games which matter more anyhow." I then eagerly watched Sony's PlayStation 5 game presentation, and was astonished to find that other than maybe two titles, the quality of the games on offer was just as poor.

"But that's ok", I convinced myself, "because I'm almost certainly going to get an Xbox Series X anyhow. The July 23rd presentation will be amazing." And here I sit afterwards, with six hundred or even more dollars in hand waiting to throw at one of these two companies, while digesting this reality: they've both talked me out of buying their products.

And when I say "talked me out of", I mean totally blown it. As in, "Giants 41, Vikings 0" blown it. I mean, "SpaceX aluminum foil rocket exploding on the launch pad" blown it. It wouldn't have taken very much today for Microsoft to get my cash, or for Sony likewise a few weeks ago. But even by that low, low bar, they've somehow managed to pull off the impossible: a total and complete Hindenberg, down in flames.

The indiscernable-from-2001 "Halo Infinite", which couldn't be more conservative if it was Rick Santorum supplicating in a confessional, was the lone bright spot in the entire hour-long jank-fest, during which this writer passed the time laughing hysterically at the god-forsaken character designs with faces even a mother couldn't love, and the ceaseless parade of "emotional journey"-style games with stories too immature for a twelve year old eating Cheetos while sitting on his bedroom floor in his Spiderman underwear.

To whom in the world are these games designed to appeal? Other than aforementioned game featuring a "Master Chief" probably old enough to be a card-carrying member of the local AARP chapter by now, the closest we got to seeing actual gameplay were the falling Tetris blocks with the faces of more dysfunctional Millenials than you'd find at the local Starbucks.

And maybe that is exactly what's going on here: a generational divide. There is nothing in the background, history, values, or gameplay sensibilities of someone my age which could make these games on display anything other than absurd.

Even graphically, for all the vendor blustering about ray tracing and teraflops, about SSDs and I/O throughput, about reduced latency and 144 Hz-- the only game I've seen across this entire swathe of "next generation showcases" which looked undeniably like a generational leap, was Gran Turismo 7.

Undoubtedly these machines-- especially Sony's latest offering, because after all it says "PlayStation" on the box-- will fly off store shelves. But to a dinosaur like me, it's probably smarter to just keep the faithful PC-- which can also be used for programming and financial investing and countless other grown-up activities-- up-to-date, because it can also be used to play the very rare modern-day title which actually does look appealing (here is looking at you, Microsoft Flight Simulator).