I have encountered the master sophist
, someone who would make even the very "best" politician blush with humiliation: take a look at this
interview with Ted Bundy, broken down by a psychologist element-by-element. Heck, even without the psychologist's commentary, I can read Bundy like an open book thanks to the practice I had as a youth, which I briefly discussed in this
I can see where people who didn't have exposure to rhetoric-in-extemis
as I did growing up, would be fooled by Ted Bundy. "He's so charming, he could never do what is claimed he did!" But to me, he's immediately transparent. My father didn't murder women, but he was a "prolific" violent criminal, so it might make sense that there are similarities between the ways in which both of them communicate.
Other Tire Drops
It's exceedingly obvious that the ruling class does not want the plebes to have mobility, a change which is necessary so that the citizens can be farmed into ghettos-- "fifteen minute cities"-- for constant monitoring. The elimination of that mobility will arrive via three phases:
- Subsidize-- "artificially goose"-- the production and sale of external combustion engine cars to "prime the pump".
- Make it onerous and then illegal to buy at first, then later to drive, internal combustion engine cars.
- A few years later, make it onerous and then illegal to buy, then drive, external combustion engine cars.
New Jersey and elsewhere, the plan has moved into the final part of phase two. Their plan will almost certainly never fully get to phase three because phase two will cause people to actually
storm the capitol, where there will be a real
insurrection involving stringing traitors up by lamp posts.
People today are passive, and there have been no consequences for the ruling class so far-- which is why the ruling class hasn't stopped
. But eliminating the ability for anyone to realistically travel will create so much distress, not to mention logistical impossibilities, that it will be a line even today's normies will not abide.
One thing I've noticed in the video game industry is that failure is being promoted upwards. For example, Phil Spencer very recently gave a large promotion to the guy who was the "Vice President of Forza and Fable".
Setting aside for a minute the innovation-killing attitude behind having existing game series names in job titles
, this fellow oversaw six years' worth of development of one of the worse games this writer has played
in recent years in the form of the new "Forza Motorsport", while his other franchise saw no game releases at all
in over ten years!
Meanwhile, the guy who has
been overseeing Microsoft's "laughing stock of the entire industry" game studios development, which has been off the rails and essentially not producing anything of merit, or anything at all
, for years upon years-- the tongue-in-cheek-named "Matt Booty"-- has also
Observe how this year, Xbox sales have fallen off such a sharp cliff that it looks like the twin "Series" consoles are both dead for all purposes, only three years into their life spans. In some countries such as France, Xbox-to-PlayStation market share is 7% versus 93%
. Any sober analysis would conclude that a top-to-bottom house cleaning is in order. Instead, everyone involved in the debacle got promoted!
The just-laid-off, original Xbox team member from 2001 gal-- her name is eluding me at the moment-- said recently that the culture there became focused on "who knows whom" versus "how successful you are". External evidence supports her statements.
In a partially non-Microsoft example, here
is more of the same. The obviously man-hating woman who blessed the world with the cringey, eye-roll-inducing, universally-reviled "stories" from the last two "Gears of War" games has gotten a new, super high-profile gig at the company which makes the "God of War" titles. Expect the next game to not even have Kratos in it; it'll be focused on Freya and Kratos's low-T, whiny son.
Death of Digital Foundry
Now is a good time to segue into a topic I've been meaning to cover: the collapse in trustworthiness of one of my all-time favorite JewTube channels.
A couple of winters ago, John Linneman had a quasi-meltdown: "There is too much negativity in the world." His boss Richard Leadbetter and Alex Battaglia, John's Lefty weirdo co-worker with a penchant for posting nude photographs of himself online, both agreed. For awhile this shared sentiment took the form of Linneman side-stepping contemporary game culture by producing more videos about older games. But over time, the shift took a new form: positivity, to the point of creating misleading content.
"It's a shame that failed game developers-- who worked so hard, gosh golly!-- have their creations criticized by paying customers. So rather than contribute to that criticism, we're going to almost totally gloss over failures and be 'positive' instead."
Within one minute of starting "Starfield", I noticed that the game's graphics were totally busted. It was soon revealed that the engine only produces 8-bit output-- meaning, output which precludes HDR from even being possible. To any rational person, the graphics were so
washed out and atrocious looking, that it would-- and indeed was!-- the centerpiece of lucid analysis: "This needs to be fixed, it's a deal breaker." Any honest pundit would explain that Bethesda lied: the game does not
have HDR support, and is leaning instead on "Auto HDR" to fake-map the color gamut.
But how did Digital Foundry handle the subject? Linneman and Battaglia each devoted about one sentence to it, then simply suggested that the users "turn down the brightness on their TVs".
A similar thing happened with the new "Forza Motorsport". The game is an abomination on every level: artistically, mechanically, technologically. Yet if you listened to the Digital Foundry coverage, you'd walk away thinking it was a good game with just a few minor flaws. To prove it's not just a pro-Microsoft bias
, Richard Leadbetter recently did a video about the OLED Steam Deck, and it was like listening to an infomercial.
It's to the point now where I don't trust anything I hear on that channel. And seeing as how that's the case, why listen at all
The reason I bring this up is because I think a similar phenomenon is driving the whole
video game industry right now. "I know it's been rough, but Matt Booty is a friend of mine, and he's a really nice guy who needs to pay his bills." Result: Promotion time! "Crunch time is not fun, so let's allow everyone to give absurdly inflated estimates so they can just chill on the job and not feel any stress." Result: Games take six years to make. "I know the team is struggling with the basics of the technology, but we need more women with purple hair and black people here because we have a 'responsibility' to not just make profit." Result: Completely broken software.
This ties into the lack of accountability I discussed regarding the ruling class: they can get away with murder because no one is standing up to them. Similarly, ideology has taken over the video game industry yet people still buy the games, so there are no consequences for failure; as long as the money keeps rolling in, all is well. Eventually both situations will come to a drastic head, and things will change. But it sure is taking a long time.
Things are different on the hardware-side. Where-- Apple aside-- computer software is plumbing new depths of failure, computer hardware
has never been more impressively-engineered. Take a look
at Nvidia's explosive revenue growth in the data center, which dwarfs their income from consumer video cards! And all of it is deserved: they have been making one cool innovation after another, integrating hardware support for "AI" into even their consumer-level gaming graphics cards.
I saw a post recently on a forum, where a bloke said "I feel like we have all of this amazing technology, but we've become too stupid to know what to do with it. It's like we're living in the movie 'Idiocracy'." That about sums up my impressions as well: the PlayStation 5, these new video cards, modern-day CPUs, and so on are fantastically powerful and capable of mind-bending
software novelty which would put "Super Mario 64" to shame-- but we're just not getting that somehow.
Part of it is that hardware can't be patched later, so it has to "just work" right from the get-go. But that doesn't explain why modern-day hardware features innovation
, while the software side is anywhere from being stuck-in-neutral, to being actively regressive.
OLED Steam Deck
My OLED Steam Deck showed up on Wednesday, and I spent Wednesday night and all-day Thursday figuring out how the whole thing works, and getting it configured the way I desire.
The system runs Valve's "SteamOS", which is Arch Linux with some bolt-ons and custom behavior. The root filesystem is read-only by default: when you install a Steam Deck "update", it is this root filesystem which is being patched. Valve recommends not touching it, since any changes can and probably will be overwritten by their aforementioned updates.
The bulk of the total storage is mounted as a read-write filesystem. Software is installed via Flatpak
packages, which go into a special spot in the directory tree. Then within the home
directory-- the default user is "deck", so we're talking "/home/deck"-- there is a nested directory tree containing the "safe for Steam Deck users to modify" elements of these packages. For example, the user-space RetroArch files go here: "~deck/.var/app/org.libretro.RetroArch/config/retroarch".
The user experience is divided into two modes: "Gaming", and "Desktop". The first mode is the default. Picture the Switch's UI, or the PlayStation 5's-- it's a similar, basic, very polished experience. I daresay significant amounts of people who buy a Steam Deck will never venture outside of it. There is a "Steam" button to the left of the screen, and pressing it opens a menu. One of the menu options is "Power", and it is within that
sub-menu that one sees an option to go to "Desktop" mode.
Almost surrealistically, this
dumps you into a full KDE user interface, identical to what you'd get on a full-fledged PC running GNU/Linux. Just like how casual users will never leave the "Gaming" mode, a power user could choose to never leave the "Desktop" mode. A virtual keyboard can be accessed by holding the "Steam" button followed by a press on the "X" button. The keyboard works just like how it did with the old Steam Controllers, where the two touchpads move cursors over their respective sides of the keys.
The screen is touch-enabled, while the right track pad operates like a mouse cursor. Of course, a USB hub can be plugged into the unit's single USB Type-C port, and-- since it's just Arch Linux-- any mice, keyboards, or other devices supported by the Linux kernel can be utilized with the unit.
I popped for the optional, official dock-- which is simply a USB hub, but with the plastic molded at a perfect-fit cradle for the unit. A USB Type-C cable sticks out the back of the dock, and is reached around to the top
of the unit, to be plugged in. The back of the dock has a few USB Type-A ports, a Type-C port, plus HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.
The over-arching (har har) process I followed to get my Steam Deck set up went like this:
- After initial setup, I jumped straight into "Desktop" mode and set up the panels, launchers, wallpaper, etc.
- I installed RetroArch via its official "Flatpak" package. I accomplished this through a "Software Center"-style application which ships with the deck's SteamOS installation.
- Via "Konsole", I used SFTP to log into my server. From there, I copied all of my ROMS plus ISOs, along with various RetroArch configuration files and its entire "thumbnails" directory, to the Deck.
- I got RetroArch working with the Steam Deck's integrated controller. This was tricky to get correct, as I had to use the Steam client-- the same one full-on PC users know and love-- to remove some of the "assign this Steam Deck button to this keyboard key" mappings. Eventually I nailed it, and discovered that 3DO emulation performance was flawless, and looked dazzling on the display. This new Deck's screen has even better colors than my LG C3.
- From there, I plugged the Deck into the dock, and ran my "DisplayPort-to-S-Video" contraption to the television. No picture! I switched to the dock's HDMI port instead, and it worked. Is my dock's DisplayPort port broken? More investigation is warranted. I set the resolution to 640x480, 60 Hz.
- As I anticipated, the CRT output was radically overscanned. The "Gaming" mode has a "scale" slider built right into the UI-- but for "Desktop" mode, I could find no equivalent within the KDE settings. So, I wrote a little "xrandr" shell script, which gets executed by my ".bashrc" file upon login. You can see the contents of the script in the first picture below.
- Using KDE's "Display" icon in the notification area, I set up the TV to be "extended right" of the Deck's display. For normal usage, one would probably want to pick the option to only use the external display (the TV), so as to not create burn-in on the Deck's OLED screen.
- I plugged my cheap Logitech wireless keyboard / touchpad combo into the Dock, and it worked immediately. I also plugged my "8BitDo SN30 Pro" and "8BitDo M30 Gamepad" into the dock, one at a time. Very oddly, neither controller worked in RetroArch! Both produced errors such as, "'8BitDo SN30 Pro' controller not detected; using fallback", or something along those lines.
- This kicked off hours of tinkering and investigation. The eventual solution wound up being two-fold: every time I dock the Deck, I will need to do a fresh reboot with the controllers plugged in for them to work. Second, I had to manually copy-and-rename an appropriate "autoconfig" RetroArch controller file, to match exactly the name given in the "fallback" error message. Once this was accomplished, I could remap buttons within RetroArch, and successfully save / overwrite those controller profile files.
- Finally: within the "Desktop mode" Steam client, I added RetroArch as a non-Steam application. I flipped back to the "Gaming" mode, and sure enough I was able to leverage the super polished mode while playing 3DO games! For instance, I had a download of "Diablo IV" going, while playing "Gex". While navigating the menus and watching the download, I could still hear the "Gex" music seamlessly in the background. Absolutely surreal!
The first picture is the Deck, docked, running on the CRT with the displays extended. I don't know the first thing about photography, so excuse the weird coloring on the TV. I think it's a shutter speed camera problem. Also and as with all of these pictures, click for a beautiful full-resolution version:
This second picture shows the OLED Switch and the OLED Steam Deck, side-by-side, with both displays at full brightness, displaying the same content. For some reason the camera made it look like the Switch's
display has better colors-- but in person, the Deck has a significant advantage in this area:
Here is the Steam Deck showing off its desktop mode. Click through to the high resolution image to read the contents of my CRT overscan-correction script:
Finally, this picture shows 3DO emulation via RetroArch running in the "Gaming" mode, and how it seamlessly works within the user-friendly interface:
The next thing for me to evaluate is what the experience is like playing contemporary games. I understand that the Steam Deck is sort of
like a half-Xbox Series S: same Zen 2-based APU, but with 10 "compute units" instead of 20. In terms of math processing:
- Xbox Series S: ~4 teraflops.
- PlayStation 4: ~1.8 teraflops.
- Steam Deck: ~1.6 teraflops.
- Switch Docked: ~400 gigaflops.
- Xbox 360: ~250 gigaflops.
- Switch Undocked: ~160 gigaflops.
Obviously this isn't taking into account memory bandwidth, architecture bottlenecks of the various platforms, and so forth-- but it's a nice rough
ballpark to help with expectation setting. I don't think one would be far
off by thinking of the Switch as a portable Xbox 360, and the Steam Deck as a portable PlayStation 4. Mostly, I'm curious to see if modern games on the Deck look like a smeary mess as they do on the Switch.