The Exigent Duality
Strange World - 09:40 CST, 7/13/24 (Sniper)
Here is an article which talks about how small businesses are combating ever-increasing costs. The most interesting thing in it though was mentioned almost as an aside: this one dude makes wooden, painted American flags-- he noticed his ad spend wasn't producing, and after some digging he found out his ads were being "shadow banned" by Google. For making American flags!

Incidentally, always make sure to use the Shadow Stats inflation numbers, not the ones you read in articles such as the above.

I've been (unhealthily) nostalgic lately, and part of that has been a new-found habit of watching old Computer Chronicles episodes. Skip to this point-- a poll in freaking 1995 asking if car companies should be forced by the government to make "EeeVees"! 1995! So this push has been going on for a lot longer than I'd thought.

Changing subjects, I thought the commentary in this last minute-or-so of this Vee video was brilliant. I've transcribed it here, bold emphasis is mine:

"Ok, so he's [Biden] aware, he understands the questions... so that is the bar, that is the requirement for someone to be President now? You don't want a President, you want a manager. You just want someone to manage the country, and you don't even believe it's a nation, you believe it's just an economic zone where transactions happen, and the Democratic Party is just performing wealth extraction. They're just extracting the wealth from people and spreading it among their special interest groups. This is the type of country you want.

Apparently if you're part of a special interest group then that's great, right? The more power to you. But if you're part of someone who is actually hard working and your wealth is being extracted, well I don't know how you feel about this-- probably not so well."

Part of why I've been so nostalgic is just because of how upside down everything in the world is right now. Check this out: car companies deliberately killing models which sell, for models which don't. It's like they don't want to make money.
Contextualized - 17:14 CST, 7/09/24 (Sniper)
This article regarding Minnesota schools is well worth a read. It shows how even the best districts in the state in fact have fairly poor test scores. My home schooled kids are fourteen and eleven years old, and are already at those tenth and eleventh grade proficiency levels. It makes me wonder what the schools are doing with all of that time and money they put into each student.

Changing gears, one of my pet peeves is when people say, "A-hah, when you adjust for inflation video game systems from the 90s cost two bajillion dollars today, boy gaming was expensive back then!" What these people are missing is best explained by this comment, buried in the thread:

"Salaries haven't kept up with inflation, so $600 today probably feels worse than $300 30 years ago because the cost of merely existing is exorbitant now."

I can personally attest to this. My dad made a modest salary in the late 80s and early 90s, yet sixty bucks still "felt" like sixty bucks does today. This is because my parents had to pay very little for their home; cars and car insurance were cheap; they could buy a heaping cart of groceries for fifty dollars; health insurance was a fraction of the cost it is today; and so forth.

So we accumulated a rather large Sega Genesis collection from 1990 to 1994, plus built a couple of cutting edge PCs during that time period, and it didn't feel like we were were spending a couple of hundred bucks every time we bought a game-- it felt like we were spending $59.99 per game, like how that would feel today. Heck, $59.99 might feel worse today than then because of how expensive everything else is!

You have to look at the big, contextual "what was life like then" picture-- not just adjust the game or system prices for inflation.

Take my previous post, where I show houses which went from $180k to $1.2 million from 1995 to 2024. Or take this article: monthly mortgage payments of four and five thousand dollars are mentioned, to the point where people are renting out their yards to dog owners! The average payment is $2800 per month, more than double just three years ago! My parents never had to rent out their yard to survive, and they had money left over to buy Sega Genesis games too.

Or how about a thousand dollars a year to "cover" the average vehicle with insurance? That's not taxes or the car payment or gas or maintenance-- that's just the insurance! I could go on and on.

In other news, I got a kick out of this article. It reminds me of the vending machines from the Dreamcast launch title "Blue Stinger"! Maybe these stores play this song during Christmas?

Changing notes again, t's interesting to see the knives come out for Biden. Notice how as long as Biden was the vehicle for "the press" to maintain power, they were willing to give infinite free passes and run endless interference to and for the Democrats. But now that Biden is threatening their power, they are suddenly acting like real journalists.

Finally, my daughter officially starts her job next Tuesday. Everyone is very excited, especially her! I was talking to the location's general manager today, and he and his nine siblings were home schooled.
First-Ever Job! - 17:27 CST, 7/03/24 (Sniper)
After having interviewed early this week, my fourteen year-old daughter has landed her first-ever job! She has orientation this upcoming Monday. $13 per hour, at a large chain with a reputation for molding and building up mature young people.

It's one of the, if not the, most proud moments I've experienced as a parent. The way she conducted herself on the phone, the way she went into the interview dressed in her nicest clothes with a flower-patterned notepad and copy of her resume for the interviewer, the way in which she said the interview itself went... I couldn't possibly be more proud of the young woman she's becoming. She's going to be a rock star employee for them!

In other news, I haven't been posting much simply because of how busy I've been! Between work, church volunteering, spending time with the wife and kids, plus chiropractor appointments three days per week, I've barely been doing anything else, including playing video games. I do have one review I need to write and post, plus I have a huge backlog of GBA TimeMage reviews he's generously handed to me, and which I also need to post.

I did get a kick out of this Babylon Bee clip, which is made even more interesting when contrasted against the Gears of War "Road to E3" video posted further down in the thread: game development then, versus game development now.

On the subject of "AI", a quote from this article is revealing, bold emphasis is mine:

"...this [generative AI] feature, which does utilize the Snapdragon's NPU for local processing, requires an Internet connection to work. If you try it in airplane mode, it will give you an error message saying so. According to Qualcomm representatives, the reason for the Internet connection requirement is that Microsoft needs to read your prompt and make sure you're not asking for it to create illicit or forbidden images of some kind."

Isn't that interesting! So when Satya Nadella said a few weeks ago, "Oh don't worry about us screenshotting your display buffer every few seconds, because all of the AI processing will happen on your device 'on the edge'", he was lying: in fact, Microsoft feels morally compelled to control what you are generating even on your own device, to the extent that their AI software will phone home for no other purpose than the censor the prompts you are feeding your own computer.

Finally, I was watching this 1995 Computer Chronicles episode the other day, and decided to look up the prices of some of the $180k - $200k homes in the video. For example, how about this dump located on a run-down looking city block for the low, low 2024 price of $1.2 million? I honestly don't know how anyone can even afford to live in Commiefornia anymore, and that's a serious question!
Self-Improvement - 07:20 CST, 6/23/24 (Sniper)
I've been reading a book called "Radical Hospitality". The author lived part of her life with Benedictine monks, and explains what "Benedict's Rule" is, along with how we can use it in our own lives. The gist is that the heart has to be truly open to others. Being actually open is scary, because the other person may in fact change us in some way-- and change can be and often is terrifying.

Therefore, before one can be open to others, they must first be open to themselves; if they're a mess inside, they are going to be "shields up!" like in an episode of Star Trek-- be superficially kind perhaps, but not in a way which genuinely exposes them to any risk of the profound, or any risk of authentic, heart-felt connection.

This leads me to a second discussion point. Two days ago I went with my kids to see the Pixar film "Inside Out 2". I am not a fan of CGI films, and I find modern cinema to be vacuous, trite, superficial, and way too filled with that eye-rolling slapstick one-liner style humor. The film began, and right away I saw the Cultural Marxist influence: the Muslim gal, a black friend, the coach is a black lesbian-looking design, the dad is kind of dorky and effeminate, the mom is driving the car, and so forth.

But what the film gets right is the way it presents the development of anxiety disorders. Without spoiling the film, most of the movie takes place inside the character's mind, inside a "control room" of sorts-- and each of the different personality facets such as joy, sadness, embarrassment and so forth are anthropomorphized! "Anxiety"-- an actual character, and with a wonderful design to boot-- shows up, quite literally bottles the other emotions, and jettisons them from the control room.

What I loved about the script was that, at first, the anxiety gives the character great success: she's better at hockey, she's fitting in with the kids at her new school-- it's like she has super powers! But eventually, "Anxiety" loses control of the situation, and it takes the other emotions to rescue things. Afterward, they don't jettison "Anxiety" though-- that character just becomes part of the crew, in the newly-actualized protagonist: the film emphasizes that "Anxiety" has its place-- like reminding the character to study for an upcoming Spanish test-- but it can't be the only thing in charge.

It was quite literally "Sniper: The Movie" and I felt a deep, deep personal connection to it to the point where I had a few tears stream down my cheeks at the ending-- because I so desperately desire that positive outcome for myself, after so many years of suffering. I think if I can put together the advice from the film-- loving all parts of me equally-- I can work towards becoming actualized, which will let me experience genuine human connection again, like I could when I was a child and teenager.

The final topic is that I've started up at a chiropractor for the first time in my life, and will be going in three times per week to fix decades of neglect. My spine is all over the place! The "adjustment" thing is taking some getting used to-- it has a real "shock value" the first time you undergo it, "What did you just do to me?!" But when I walked out of there for the first time, it was the first time in two decades I didn't have shoulder pain, and my anxiety seemed greatly reduced. Now it's a matter of repetition, gradually getting my muscles to "hold" the correct positions, versus everything simply shifting back after a few hours.
Regression - 18:44 CST, 6/14/24 (Sniper)
It looks like I need to put Activision up there with Microsoft and Google as top-tier evil companies. "AI voice chat moderation to enforce DIE compliance with players"? "Tracks an 'inclusion score' for every employee"? Holy Moses. Of course, I haven't bought a product of theirs in forever anyhow-- I associate them in my mind more with "Pitfall" on the Atari VCS than anything else.

Speaking of companies, large Lazio protests against Lotito. I've always defended him, but the worrying thing is that for the first time in his entire ownership of the club, we've regressed. And speaking of regression, my back has been getting worse and worse, to the point where at my annual physical this week I asked if they could take x-rays-- turns out I have scoliosis! I found a chiropractor near me which specializes in it-- I will call them on Monday. It's probably a degenerative condition I'll have my whole life-- but with a proper approach, I can stall it to a large degree.

In ongoing news, I've also been hugely involved with my church, to the point where now sometimes I'm having multiple consecutive nights of meetings for different things. I'm currently focusing on modernizing the IT approach; lots of people will meet and take notes on paper, but there is no shared calendar and nowhere to put notes where anyone else can read them-- so efforts are being duplicated, and key people are being left out of meetings since they don't even know those meetings are occurring!
Days Gone By - 09:23 CST, 6/08/24 (Sniper)
This is purely anecdotal, but it does make me wonder: my friends lists on the various gaming ecosystems are waste lands! I recently read that the top games people are playing are almost exclusively several years old-- titles like "Counterstrike", "Minecraft", "Roblox", and "Fortnite" dominate. My friends lists reflect an even worse situation than that.

On Switch, most of my friends haven't even turned the unit on in so long it just shows them as being "offline". One of my friends still plays it, but hasn't bought any new games for it in almost two years-- he just plays the latest Pokemon game online for a zillion hours. I don't have many friends on PSN, but the ones there have essentially stopped playing video games altogether, other than the occasional Minecraft session.

The Xbox ecosystem is the most depressing. Back in the 360 days, my friends list was hopping, everyone was playing all of the cool games coming out like "Oblivion", "Forza Motorsport 2", "Mass Effect", and "Gears of War". They were logged in every day, and in-game. These days? Scrolling through the list, haven't logged in for 46 days, 18 days, 212 days, 97 days... no one on my list even plays anything!

I'm by far the most active person in these ecosystems among my friends. Some of it could just be my circles are getting old, and there is some truth in that. But I also have a number of my kids' friends on the Xbox list, since we share a Minecraft Realm-- and even amongst them they hardly are logged in anymore, and when they are it's not like they are playing games on Game Pass or something: they just play Minecraft, essentially, along with maybe one or two other titles.

This seems like a really bad omen for the video game industry. I watch the latest game-related presentations and streams, and can't help but think almost every game they show is going to fail, and result in a studio closure. I think if they could make consoles interesting again, versus just being budget PCs, and get back to focusing on original, first-order, simpler titles which concentrate on just being fun to play, my friends lists would liven up again. But until then, the overall downward trajectory will probably continue.
The Drop - 18:01 CST, 6/07/24 (Sniper)
This could be B.S. obviously, but it would make a lot of sense. They're a generation behind so they haven't seen it yet-- but inevitably, Nintendo is going to get hit with the 4K game budgets as well; they could arrive at the same conclusion as everyone else: "Better spread my software to the widest possible player base." And maybe that is why they've been going so hard after emulation lately? And it would hook them in to the live service player base, in a way their hardware can't, or at least hasn't so far.

In other news, I wonder if, when Bob Vieira wrote this song back circa 1994, he'd imagine it being in a remake in 2024? When I saw the headline, I said to myself "Naaaah, it can't be that Killing Time"-- but sure enough. Of course, a big draw for that game is watching the 3DO hardware in action, pushed to its max-- a remake will lose that, naturally. But it's a really good game in its own right, and the high resolution sprites look very true to their source material. I wonder if the game will become too easy, played at 120 fps versus sub-10 like it is much of the time?

Finally, I'm seriously worried about Lazio next season: we're buying players and signing coaches from relegation teams-- what will that make us? I would not be surprised if we finished fifteenth, and it was like the 2004 and 2005 seasons where we were mere points from the drop.
Take a Stand - 07:30 CST, 6/04/24 (Sniper)
This thread got me thinking: what if in the future the entire "justice" system becomes "AI"-based? You'll get an automated court summons for some crime you won't even realize you committed but which the "AI" picked up via data mining-- sort of like these DMCA takedown requests. Then you'll show up and the prosecutor will be an "AI" subroutine, as will the judge-- you'll get convicted and sentenced by "AI", then taken away to prison by those robot dogs with guns mounted on them, which already exist. Want to actually talk to someone? That will also be "AI"-- some kind of unhelpful legal chatbot of some sorts.

This will all be justified as making things "more efficient". The whole experience will be like an India call center, but a million times worse since it will ruin your entire life by putting you behind bars.

Speaking of "AI", this article is interesting. In it, Elon Musk says that his company's purpose is "is to understand the true nature of the universe". I should borrow him a copy of "Theology and Sanity"-- "read this, the nature of the universe is right in here." Also from the article:

"When asked during the conference about the impact of AI on humans, he said, 'In a benign scenario, probably none of us will have a job. There would be universal high income, not universal basic income [but] universal high income. There would be no shortage of goods and services.'

However, his next words were thought-provoking: 'If the computer and robot can do everything better than you, what meaning does your life have? ... In a negative scenario ... we're in deep trouble.'”

Sure, it may be "high income", but what about inflation? During the Scamdemic they helicoptered a relatively tiny amount of money, Keynesian-style, to the general public, and look at what happened to prices. Can you imagine if they annually started printing and helicoptering trillions of dollars? You'd get that government-issued check for a million dollars a month, and be living in a dirt-floored hovel.

The article quotes another fellow who agrees with Musk's "negative scenario"-- from the article:

"Japanese electronic engineer Satoru Ogino shares these concerns. He told The Epoch Times, 'Having high incomes without needing to work is merely a utopian fantasy. Only through hard work do things gain true meaning, and only then will people cherish everything. If everything becomes readily available, people will lose their sense of happiness and the meaning of existence, leading to greater crises and problems.'

The rapid development of AI makes Mr. Ogino uneasy. He said, 'Whether AI development is positive or negative, it will bring disaster to humanity. In a negative scenario, the continuation of human survival will face enormous challenges. In a positive scenario, humans will become overly dependent on AI for all decisions, cease to labor and think, and eventually become puppets manipulated by AI, altering their thoughts and behaviors.'"

That is a man with wisdom, who understands human nature.

Meanwhile, this unfolding, slow-motion "AI" disaster reminds me a lot of the Scamdemic. I have enormous faults, trust me, but the one thing I did get right was one hundred percent not going along with the clot shots or the face diapers: I was civilly disobedient, and if a critical mass of people would have followed my lead, the human suffering from that period would have been fractionally what it was.

"AI" is the same way. Rather than say "Oh gee, my company needs to use this to 'stay competitive'", or "I need to write software which uses 'AI' because that's what the cool kids are doing", people need to stand up and say "this is wrong, and I refuse to go along with it." Unfortunately, I'd say the odds of that are basically nil, and people won't respond in the way I suggest until immense damage has been done.
No Difference Makers - 06:55 CST, 5/31/24 (Sniper)
It's alarming interacting with people for whom a given action needs to be "contextualized" based on who the action was committed against.

For example, it's wrong to steal from a "good person", but it's good to steal from a "bad person". Meanwhile, a "good person" is someone who agrees with their political ideology, while a "bad person" is someone who disagrees with their political ideology. In other words, theft, murder, or rape are moral goods when done to political opponents-- in fact, the political opponents "did it to themselves" by being "bad people". It's all about "context".

In other news, this is a scary time to be a Lazio supporter-- I'm absolutely unclear on how our team is not going to be fighting relegation next season. Nothing against individuals like Tchaouna or Cancellieri, who are very promising youngsters-- but our team next season looks like it's going to be composed of players which came from bottom teams the prior season: in other words, the squad will look more like a Lecce team than a Lazio one.

I know Daichi Kamada was being a pain in the rear, and I'm not sure we want high strung players like him in future squads anyway, nor would I have agreed to his totally unreasonable release clause demands-- but after having lost Lucas Leiva and Ciro to age, plus Sergej, Alberto, and Anderson to departure, with Kamada now gone and Guendouzi with one foot out the door, that's a lot of "difference making" quality gone in just a few years.

Where is the top-line quality in this side now? Frankly, how are we any better on paper than Sassuolo, who just went down? They also had a lot of promising youngsters-- but their top-line quality player, Berardi, got hurt and everything fell apart.

Footballers are expensive, but I think we need to get creative. Maybe we can loan a couple of really top-drawer players for reasonable sums? And I'm talking household name-style players, who are stars for their national teams.

I know the transfer period has only just begun, but the team had better be serious. In fairness, we still have the best crop of defenders we've ever had in the Lotito era: Gila, Romagnoli, Casale, Patric, and Provedel in goal-- so that's a feather in our cap. But I also have major questions about Tudor, who seems to have a zero percent emphasis on tactics, and who is a "bull in a china shop" personality-wise-- surely we can find a better manager?

Last time we were in this major kind of rebuilding mode was back when I started watching the team in the 04-06 seasons, two straight seasons where we finished basically where Udinese did this past time around. Next season could be pretty frightening if the club doesn't make some major moves.
Check - 10:00 CST, 5/27/24 (Sniper)
It's kind of fun hearing Mark Dice discuss Libertarianism, since I can't recall him previously giving his opinion about the subject. He calls their reasoning as to how a society could function without a formal state apparatus "convoluted"-- but that seems disingenuous, since the hypothesis is quite easy to follow.

Conflict is expensive, and without a state being able to force-confiscate and print infinite currency, only the tiny percent of pure sociopaths would choose conflict instead of the much more ROI-friendly cooperation. And because the percent of pure sociopaths is so tiny-- one, maybe two percent of the human species-- their attempts at evil would happen in such a vacuum, people would push back against them almost immediately.

That's the theory anyway-- I'm merely suggesting that it's not convoluted.

How would Mark argue against something like, let's say, the forced military conscription presently being proposed in England? If he says he's for it, then would he be opposed to mandatory conscription in factories? If not, on what grounds, since he mocks the idea of the non-aggression principle? Libertarianism is the only philosophy I've encountered where people are actually trying to use their brains and make sense-- which is why Trump encountered a mix of cheering and booing at their convention.

I would accept from Mark, "Yes, Libertarians are more or less absolutely correct in their reasoning-- what they say makes sense, and they are logically consistent. But at this moment in time, if we were to attempt a dissolution of the State, our already-violent country would become essentially uninhabitable." I've come around to the notion that different ideas have their places at different moments in time: a century in the making, I think this moment calls for some kind of strong-arm dictator to take control of the military, and clean house.

It's a risky strategy, but we're at the point where the building is going to collapse-- is it better to let it fall randomly, or to have a controlled demolition? One hundred years of bad chess moves seemingly leaves us with no remaining good ones.
Still a Purpose - 07:39 CST, 5/25/24 (Sniper)
Here is a great forum post I read this morning, talking about the nature of dedicated video game systems. Pasted verbatim, bold emphasis is mine:

"To start with, consoles are mostly a legacy market and only survive because there are big companies still interested in making sure they keep on existing. Biggest proof of this is the fact no one would be able to break through the industry with a new console of their own, even if Sony and Nintendo were to blow up tomorrow. Yes, i excluded MS as a dig.

Consoles were a product from a time when hardware was extremely limited in power and had to be designed for specific case usages, in this case home games. Exclusives were a byproduct of that since you had to design games for specific hardware. Naturally there was a lot of interest in securing the best games for your own console, or making them yourself.

Times have changed, most machines have very similar architechtures and have generally similar capabilities. Even consoles becames glorified budget PCs, most of its advantages relying on less critical things like smaller conveniences or subtly better price-for-power value. Similarly, exclusives remain as nothing more than marketing ploys rather than fundamental, unavoidable aspects of the industry like in the 90s. Any dev with a minimally decent publisher behind them can make their games multiplatform.

To make matters worse, the market is oversaturated with games and people are gradually finding their own niches. There's already far less exclusives nowadays and among the few that are there, even fewer can turn people's heads. No one makes queues to buy a ps5 because of Demon Souls remake, even bigger names like God of War don't tend to move the needle much these days."

There are still reasons to sell and buy these platforms however:

  1. Gaming-specific user interfaces; super streamlined, pretty to look at.

  2. Convenience features, like two or three button presses from suspend back to gameplay.

  3. They sit in an elegant, optimized spot on the power curve; to get its extra power my PC has a heat sink the size of a dump truck and a video card the size of an aircraft carrier-- it consumes the electricity of a small city, and generates a corresponding amount of heat.
Missing Solution - 19:16 CST, 5/23/24 (Sniper)
As the video game industry continues to implode, it would be fun to make a low-priced, low-spec machine and get all of the disenchanted and disenfranchised game developers on board, to make low-budget, pure fun original titles. Then, sell them on small ROM cartridges with clamshell cases and color manuals.

The closest thing to what I have in mind is the Evercade-- but the issue I have with their ecosystem is that the "games" are these weird collections of emulated titles from eons ago: they rarely have the specific games I want, and when they do it's not the version of the game I'd prefer. I actually own one of these Evercade handhelds with a few of the collections, and every time I try to play it I walk away disappointed after a few minutes.

If you can stomach the ultra wokeness of their website, with androgynous black bipedal lifeform entities, the Atari VCS is another product which in theory could be vaguely interesting-- but it's way too expensive, and it's all-digital: why wouldn't I just run Steam on my PC if I wanted a digital marketplace, which has-- I'm sure-- a thousand times more games from which to choose? I just don't get for whom this product is made. At least it has some original titles on it, unlike the Evercade.

It would be nice to mash the two systems together. Maybe Atari can do it; they just bought up all of the Intellivision trademarks and copyrights.
Other Shoe? - 17:52 CST, 5/22/24 (Sniper)
Here is what game development teams looked like back when things were one hundred percent meritocratic. Notice any patterns? And these teams made some of the most mind-blowing games of all time. But I thought "diversity was our strength"? Evidently it's exactly the opposite, who would have guessed.

On a somewhat related note, it seems as though gamers are getting dumber, as there is a profound drop in how much strategy people want in their games. Cross-reference this with dropping IQ and standardized test scores, and it starts to paint a picture. This is a sad one for me personally, as I rated in my gamer profile a 95% interest in "Mastery", 96% of which was rooted in "Strategy". As games have become more and more cinematic, there has become less and less "gaminess" to them, which manifests as requiring less and less strategic thinking.

I feel bad for people like this, having their favorite forms of entertainment stolen from them one-by-one. I can relate, but for different reasons. In 2020 we had the new consoles come out, "Flight Simulator" was released, "Fuze" had just come out on Switch... but ever since then, it's been a real struggle for me to find anything interesting to do with my time. For me it's been less about the usurpation of Cultural Marxism in art, and more with a radical drop in the talent levels of people who make games. Whenever I think gaming and technology can't get any worse, it manages to find a way.

Everything I've always liked is either dead, close to death, or violently imploding right before my eyes.

I read today that future versions of Windows are going to take screenshots of your display buffer every few seconds. How in the world can anyone, even my workplace, ask me to use Winbloze in that kind of timeline? The only thing they talk about at developer conferences now is "AI", which not only do I have negative interest in, but would be illegal if I had my druthers. It's really tough to stay motivated as a technologist when everything is moving in the least interesting, most evil direction. I really want no part of it.

I guess the one positive thing is that this Apple Watch has gotten me to exercise even more than I did before. Silver lining?
PSVR2 and Sega CD - 10:22 CST, 5/19/24 (Sniper)
Sad to say, so far the PSVR2 has reminded me a bit of when my uncle got a Sega CD back in 1992-- really cool pieces of hardware, but the software lets them both down. So far I've tried:

  • Horizon Call of the Mountain: This is the closest I've had to a game which really grabs me. It has a very high gameplay-to-cutscene ratio, uses bleeding edge graphics by VR standards, and the core mechanics are simple yet have nuance. The problem is that it suffers from Sweet Baby Syndrome: the female characters are the typical over-the-top butch lesbian types with the most obnoxiously sarcastic and caustic personalities-- I thought the goal of game companions was to make them appealing to look at and fun to be around? After I beat this game, I lost all desire to play through it again due to the characters, and I uninstalled it.

  • Gran Turismo 7: The VR mode is really cool. Unfortunately, it's still the same mediocre Gran Turismo 7 in every other way. I wasn't a big fan of the "cafe" system, and besides that the post-credits content is not very much fun: you need to spend hours in front of spreadsheets to make your car even remotely competitive for each race. That's a little too hardcore for me.

  • Resident Evil VIII: Along with shmups, "survival horror" is probably my least-favorite genre-- but this was on sale for six bucks. It's amazing how they fully-implemented totally realistic gun operation, but the game isn't balanced to support it. Even with the simplified gun handling, this is a really tough game in VR because of spatial awareness. At least for a first playthrough, it seems like it would be a lot more fun on a flat TV.

  • Akka Arrh: This is a fun arcade game with plenty of depth and appealing graphics plus sound. But it's a lot easier on a normal TV, because things "fly into your face" in the VR mode, causing crucial milliseconds of "blindness".

  • C-Smash VRS: In theory this one should really fit the ticket, but I don't have the space to play it! You can't really play it kneeling because you can't hit the low balls then-- and I literally destroyed my ceiling fan operation when playing it standing, to the point where I need to replace that unit.

  • Cities: VR: This is an ancient game, and the graphics in the VR mode are significantly downgraded from that. It's still a competent city-building game, but not necessarily one I was just hankering to revisit almost a decade after it initially came out, especially with all of the graphics settings turned down so low.

  • Kayak VR: Mirage: Flat-out boring. A new "Wave Race" on this engine would be incredible, because the graphics in this title are incredible! But trying to row one of these finicky kayaks at a snail's pace is not my idea of fun.

Like the Sega CD, it's something you want to play, but then you reach for the shelf: "Sewer Shark"? "Prize Fighter"? "Gran Turismo 7"? Both platforms have the same issue. I kind of recognized the issue going in, but you don't really know for sure until you try a variety of games for yourself.

Thankfully, there are a few games which look like they will be up my alley: there is this Minecraft-aesthetic first-person dungeon crawler; there is a "Metro" game coming out, and I really enjoy that series; and there is this "Ruinsmagus" JRPG-looking thing, which seems like it'd be enjoyable. I've run out of self-granted allowance money, but I will keep an eye out for sales on those games nonetheless.
Taking Aim - 16:11 CST, 5/18/24 (Sniper)
We bought my daughter a used compound bow yesterday! Here she was just a bit ago, lining up her very first shot:

We set up a bag target in the lawn, on top of a make-shift stand. While she missed the bag a few times, she also wound up with a super tight cluster right dead in the middle, to the point where she almost fired through the same hole multiple times. She kept backing up and backing up with each shot, and her accuracy was barely suffering! She's trying to build up her arm strength-- I told her if she keeps up practice all summer, it'll be much easier for her to pull the string back.

I held it with the intention of attempting a shot, but she is left eye dominant-- when I would line up the peep sight with my left eye, everything would shift multiple inches; through my right eye, the sights were off by like three inches! No way I could hit the broad side of a barn firing left-handed like that! So I abandoned the attempt.

My kids also got their new tablets last week. My daughter got the M4 iPad Pro, with the new Pencil Pro, and the new Magic Keyboard. The intention is that it will be her exclusive computing device, replacing her PC altogether. She loves it! The dual-OLED screen setup is so vibrant and large, it feels like you're falling into it. For my son, we upgraded an ancient entry-level Amazon Kindle for the new, smaller M2 iPad Air-- that is also a phenomenal device.

Meanwhile, I've been wearing an Apple Watch Series 9 for the past several days. I bought it for wifey for Mother's Day, not realizing it literally required an iPhone. I decided to evaluate it myself-- if it turned out to be a gimmick, I'd return it to the Apple Store; conversely, if it would up being cool, I'd keep it and switch the wife over to an iPhone.

Turns out it's a wonderful device. It's gotten me to exercise much more each day, because I'm hooked on closing up the little colored rings. I've also been tracking my sleep with it, it's fascinating to see how much deep and REM sleep I get, along with my average respiration numbers. In fact, it's confirmed to me that my sleep issues are purely psychological: I have totally normal breathing, my oxygen levels are just fine-- but I think anxiousness is causing me to not get quite enough deep sleep past the first hour or so; that pattern shows up consistently on my charts. Maybe for my Birthday in October I'll buy myself my own Apple Watch.

In gaming news, I've been playing a lot of the original "Baldur's Gate" on Switch. I completely get why that game is so iconic. Today I swapped out "Crazy Eyes" and his nutty companion for Minsc and Branwen. I was kind of sad to see "your voice is ambrosia!" go, but this party configuration will carry me through the whole game:

  • Leader: Jaheira (Fighter / Druid)
  • Tank: Khalid (Fighter)
  • Fighter: Minsc (Ranger)
  • Medic: Branwen (Cleric)
  • Magic: Sniper (Sorcerer)
  • Ranged: Imoen (Thief / Mage)

I'm hoping just my player character is enough magic use for the party for awhile-- it's recommended that Imoen be dual-classed at thief level 6, but she's only at level 2 right now: long way to go. I just got to the Nashkel Mines, I've been taking my time doing all side quests to the maximum of my party's level so far. We'll see how things go. If I can build up more cash I can buy some of the "+1" weapons-- or even better, maybe I can get some cool loot in the mines.

I've also been playing "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth" on PlayStation 5. As much as I like the characters, the older and older I get the less I can tolerate games with lots of cut-scenes-- I just want to play. And this side of Hideo Kojima, "Infinite Wealth" is probably the slowest paced game I've ever played-- it's almost unbearable.
Bigger Part - 11:05 CST, 5/11/24 (Sniper)
The Pastoral Council situation I've mentioned a couple of times here was resolved this past week: we had a tie-breaker vote, and I won! I'm super excited to get started, and have already sent some preliminary ideas. I'd been praying to God to make my career a smaller portion of my life, and how He answered that prayer was by making the Church a bigger part. My wife has also been getting really involved: she has totally "busted out" of her social shell, has joined the "Saint Anne Sodality" group, and is exploring Montessori techniques for Catholic teaching.

In other news, I enjoyed reading this interview with Patric. He talks about how he would have panic attacks, one time he was so ill he "couldn't see the ball", so-to-speak-- but, he just put his foot on it, passed it to the nearest teammate, and got over it. I also remember a picture of him in a gun range when he visited the United States-- he seems like a really cool guy, and it's helpful to hear that even someone at the world class level of what they're doing, suffers from intense nervousness.

Unrelated: we're in this weird position where everything corporate is simultaneously growing, yet on the verge of collapse. As Steinbeck observed, corporations always need to grow; they can't just say, "Ok, we're serving ten million customers, let's just keep doing that." The reason is because investors, especially the institutional kind, are always trying to get the highest rate of return for their clients-- which includes you and your 401k of course, so none of this "shareholders are evil" talk.

It's not that any of this is "good" or "evil"-- it's just mechanically the way things work. And because they work that way, there are certain ramifications. One of them is that corporations often chew off their own arm as a weight loss program, to meet tomorrow's fitness exam. Take the Xbox division's ongoing implosion-- something I discussed and predicted less than six months ago. They closed "Tango Gameworks", then the very next day talked about how they need more creative, smaller-budget games. Gee, if only they had a studio which made those... oh well.

The real issue is that back in the 80s, the world shifted full-fledged into a debt-based model, where instead of adding real value, financialization and shell games became the "growth". That kind of phony "growth" can only go on for so long. It's like a football club which is barely winning matches. Once they start to lose matches, any underlying cracks and fissures become really noticeable, because the club has an incessant need to win matches-- winning is the whole point of playing the game!

To corporations, "growth" is "winning". Standing still is "losing". But because the lemon just can't be squeezed anymore, corporations are and have been doing ridiculous things, like selling productive, talented, profitable game studios. Or throwing their own countrymen under the bus to save a few bucks hiring foreigners. Otherwise, investors will sell the stock and buy some other one which has a five percent rate of return versus four percent, or whatever it may be. The end result is that the ordinary people suffer big time: because we're in End Game Financialization, the banking cartel is inflating "growth", which means prices are rapidly rising, at a time people are simultaneously becoming unemployed due to layoffs.

Thank the Lord I have not been impacted by this. I've recently been fortunate enough to be able to purchase two new vehicles, and I just ordered my kids new iPads-- totally awesome, mid-90s esque commercial, by the way. Specifically, my daughter "saved up" basically two Christmases and a Birthday to get the brand new iPad Pro, complete with the new keyboard and stylus. But back to the topic-at-hand, I'm always prepared for the notion that one day I may lose my job, if the economy continues going the way it's going.
Esoteric - 18:14 CST, 5/04/24 (Sniper)
It's interesting to listen to someone who was hardcore into the "Fallout" game series, and who then watched the TV show. I guess it'd be like them making a show based on "Star Control 2"-- I'm not much of a television series guy, but I wouldn't be able to resist checking it out.

Unfortunately, this "Fallout" series looks like it's filled with Satanic and Freemason imagery-- yuck. Beyond that, I bought a DVD collection of the first two games right before "Oblivion with Guns" hit on Windows, and I couldn't get into them at all. I have that problem with pre-2000 Western RPGs-- and some older Western adventure games too-- in general: they are almost impenetrable, and even once you wrap your mind around the mechanics, they just aren't paced or designed very well.

I remember when I was maybe seven or eight years old, and I was at my friend's house-- one of his cousins kept going on and on about everything he memorized in "Shadowgate": "Then you do this, but don't do that or you'll die, but then do this other thing, and then, and then..." It's like when I tried so hard to love "Might & Magic III" on the PC Engine-- what a mess. So that's where I disagree with "VG Esoterica"-- I would not recommend Western PC games of that era to just about anyone, and that even includes my beloved "Star Control 2": I think they are "you had to be there" experiences.

All of that said, I did start the enhanced version of "Baldur's Gate" on Switch yesterday, and I'm faring a little better in that one due to the over hour-long tutorial these newer versions ship with-- I would be totally lost without that. It seems like a so-so title thus far, from a design perspective. I kind of dig the aesthetic, which reminds me of the original "Diablo". But overall, I am much more of a fan of older stuff from Japan: games like "Shining in the Darkness" or "Snatcher" take the best mechanics from their Western inspirations, marry them to amazing aesthetics, and streamline them into something easier to chew.

On a non-games front, tomorrow I give my church speech for the second time. The bummer part is that I'm sick-- dizzy and a sore throat-- and I also pulled a muscle in my lower back pretty badly, just a couple of days ago.
New Reviews - 09:39 CST, 4/29/24 (Sniper)
I've been having a lot of fun reviewing games lately, make sure to check out the most recent reviews here.

The most interesting one has probably been "F-Zero" on the Super NES. I had literally never even played the game myself until a handful of days ago, but I got hooked on replaying the "GP Mode" over and over, continuously improving the lap times I'm storing in my save state. Anyone who has a good emulator or a "Switch Online" membership-- which is where I've been playing-- should definitely check it out.

Next up on the docket is-- finally!-- "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth" on PlayStation 5, along with the enhanced version of the original "Baldur's Gate" on Switch. My sister-in-law got "Baldur's Gate 3" on the Series X and loves it, so that has nudged playing at least a little of the first two titles up on my list.

Other than that, the guy who won the "Pastoral Council" position declined, so I have to re-deliver my speech this upcoming Sunday for a "run-off election", so-to-speak. I'm also working on getting my marriage blessed within the church. I've really been working hard on "only worry about things today, not several days down the road." I think it's helping, but nonetheless my anxiety levels have been quite high.
Back in the Saddle - 05:57 CST, 4/22/24 (Sniper)
I survived! My speech went brilliantly, although I did miss out on the council position by one vote. Maybe I'll try again for the next open spot.

In other news, wifey sent me this yesterday:

It's so true! Want to see some footballers and their fathers? Try here, and here, and here, and here, and here. How about this Eli Kroupi guy, and his son? Or flipping to American football, how about Mike Shanahan versus Kyle Shanahan? Here is an example I gave regarding professional inline skaters. Or how about Formula One drivers, a post which includes a pic of yours truly? Or just walk down the street? I could go on and on and on.

It's startling watching TV shows and movies from the 1960s and 70s-- the men look like... men! And it's constantly distracting to me watching modern football. I don't mean any disrespect to them, but how many kids would have watched Hulk Hogan in the 1980s if he looked like contemporary athletes?

Something is up, this stuff isn't just my imagination-- but no one talks about it, even though it's right in front of us! And this has a real-world impact.
New PSVR2 Reviews - 06:40 CST, 4/16/24 (Sniper)
I have now reviewed three PSVR2 games:

  • Horizon Call of the Mountain (Link)
  • C-Smash VRS (Link)
  • Kayak VR: Mirage (Link)

These are fun to go through because they are each trying to do something unique, and I never know quite what to expect. Next up will be the VR version of "Cities: Skylines", plus "Akka Arrh". Other than gaming, I've just been in full-on anxiety maintenance mode until I get a short introductory speech I need to make at church, at this upcoming Sunday's council election, over with.
Quake II and Serie B - 14:07 CST, 4/06/24 (Sniper)
Here is a montage I made of my "Quake II" playthrough on PlayStation 5. You can read my review of the game here.

In other news, I've been playing a ton of "EA Sports FC 24", in the Master League-equivalent "Career Manager" mode. As is my usual wont, I picked a tiny Serie B team-- in this case, the "only existed since 2009" Feralpisalò-- and have built them up from an aging squad worth less than ten million Euro, to essentially an all-star U-23 team worth over forty million Euro.

The game has an avatar builder for your manager, this is as close as I could get to myself-- it's not bad, he's even wearing a collared shirt and a sweater beneath a black pea coat, almost identical to me in reality! I'm just a lot more bald in real life, and my glasses aren't of the hipster "Clark Kent" variety. As usual, click on any of the images for the larger originals:

One of the games took place in the snow, I thought the artwork was really good:

Too bad Lazio isn't licensed in the game-- the players are real, but the team name and kits are imitations. I faced them in the Coppa at the Olimpico in this screenshot:

Here is how the initial season finished. I won the league and the Coppa Italia, playing on the middle "Professional" difficulty. I've gotten a lot better at the game with practice, it was really a struggle coming from "Pro Evo", which plays a lot differently. Look at Jebbison's goal contributions, and Yildiz's assists. In real life, I wouldn't be surprised if Yildiz is the next Cristiano Ronaldo; similar physique, similar abilities as teenagers:

Here is what the team looks like now, as I'm just beginning my maiden Serie A season. I have some of the most promising young players in the game according to "SoFIFA":

These last few are just of my avatar. When you negotiate, a pseudo-random model is picked as your sparring partner by the game logic, from a preselected bunch. Sometimes you get the real coach of a team, but other times not. One of those preselected models looks exactly like a friend of mine from work-- I just had to take a couple of screenshots, for laughs.

If I get bored with the "Manager Career" mode, the tradeable card game "FIFA Ultimate Team" is pretty fun too-- it's like squad building-lite: a bit more low-key and relaxed than the full-fledged franchise mode-style experience I'm accustomed to.
Busy Times - 03:53 CST, 3/30/24 (Sniper)
Happy Easter weekend everyone, and belated happy Holy Week! I've been super busy with church commitments: on Thursday night I lectored at "the big church" in town in front of roughly a thousand people; yesterday I was sacristan at the Good Friday afternoon Mass; tomorrow morning I am sacristan again, for the big Easter Sunday Mass. Incidentally, Ellyn is having Confirmation and First Communion at that Mass as well! As a couple, we've also volunteered to help organize an upcoming event, and I will be up for election into the council in an odd-month.

It's been difficult to manage my anxiety lately, even with the Abilify and Lunesta. I actually called sick into work yesterday, I had only gotten two-or-so hours of sleep and had a migraine headache all day. But, I'm hanging in there-- not every week is Holy Week! Last night I went to bed at 18:00, was asleep by 18:30, and slept straight to 2:00-- so I feel great today! I'm up, shaved, showered, and into my morning.

I've been playing a ton of the PlayStation VR2, what a great product! I'm most of the way through the "Horizon" title, I can't stand the soundtrack plus how woke the character designs are-- but the gameplay is enjoyable, and if the game "unlocks itself" after the credits roll, I'll take the time to go back and find collectibles and what not.

My son, who turns eleven today by the by, bought the VR edition of "Cities: Skylines", we are going to work on a joint city today, taking turns. Additionally, I've gotten really good at the demo version of "C-Smash VRS", my daughter enjoys that game too and bought the full version for us on sale for twelve bucks-- I haven't fired it up yet. I also have "Gran Turismo 7" and "Resident Evil Village" to try.

I've also got a few new non-VR reviews to share. I'll also have one up in the coming weeks for the "Final Fantasy VII Remake", once I finish the game.

The only other real news I have is that I hit a turkey yesterday in the WRX! Every single day when I drive around here, I see dead game and viscera all over the roads-- now I know how it happens. This bird came out of the ditch to my left not twenty yards ahead of my car and sprinted across the road like a freaking ostrich-- I reacted quickly and stood on the brake, veering to the right to buy myself stopping time, leaving a trail of rubber behind me: but the giant turkey ran into me, demolishing the driver-side headlight assembly and part of the bumper cover! Nothing I could have done to avoid it, and I've no clue where the bird even went from there-- no blood, no body!
Turn-Around - 05:40 CST, 3/20/24 (Sniper)
I'm not a fan of this "Matt Walsh" guy even remotely-- the definition of "controlled opposition", to put it mildly-- but it's still pleasant to see the "woke" issues in video games brought to a wider, Right-wing audience. It's also interesting hearing outsider "normie" opinions about the medium: yes, the stories are generally that bad, with some exceptions, mostly out of Japan and China.

The good part is that we're winning! Slowly, the "wokeness" is retreating not just from games, but from all aspects of life. I'm sure we'll be stuck with a subset of Cultural Marxist values for this upcoming eighty-odd year cycle-- but that subset is going to make up a smaller portion of the new values regime than I'd been thinking. Here are some links illustrating just a small number of victories:

  • Hertz bought a bunch of "EeeVees" and it was such a disaster that the CEO resigned. The "EeeVee" thing is the "canary in the coal mine" for all of the WEF, Blackrock initiatives: they literally can't work in the real world, so they are falling like decks of cards.

  • Porche has reversed on its prior decision to go all-in on "EeeVees". I was happy about this because of how iconic their cars are traditionally-- I would not like to lose that.

  • Philadelphia is undoing a lot of their "abolish the police!" Fentanyl Floyd-era garbage. I've been seeing this movement in a lot of articles around the country lately.

  • Diversity hires are the first ones being let go in video game layoffs.

  • Japanese developers are pushing back against Western political activist localizers. "ESG" has started to creep into Japan, but it's looking like the phase will be extremely short-lived.

In AI news, for the life of me I can't understand this: to this engineer I would ask, why would you write your own replacement? One of the first posts is a quote from "Jurassic Park": "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

In gaming news, I bought a brand new, sealed PSVR2 "Horizon" bundle off of eBay for over a hundred bucks off retail-- the unit came in yesterday and it's wonderful so far! Yes, this "Horizon" game has those greasy "Sweet Baby" fingerprints on its character designs, but it's still a really cool game from what I can tell in the early going. My son bought the VR "Cities: Skylines" game, which we haven't tried yet, and I also purchased the kayak title, which I'll fire up in the coming days

I also bought the latest "FIFA"-- the nonsensically-named "EA Sports FC 24"-- for ten bucks on sale. The gameplay is kind of rubbish-- expect a full review from me soon-- but with "Pro Evo" having been killed off by Konami a couple of years ago, I was really hankering for a football game, and this has been scratching the itch.

Overall, I'm all-in on Sony at this point. The "PS5 Pro" specs came out, and I am absolutely buying that on launch day, if I can get one-- it's going to be almost as fast as my PC in terms of final output frames, I reckon!

Finally, the wife is having her RCIA-related rites of Confirmation and First Communion on Easter Sunday-- a Mass during which I am also Sacristan. What a great blessing to have wifey entering the Church! I've gone back on Abilify, and I've found that it gets rid of my cyclical rumination about everything-- so despite not sleeping much, I've had such a positive attitude lately. I was also nominated to be on the council for our local three-parish "ACC", so I'll be giving a brief speech in April to see if I get elected.

God is great!
Emerging Light - 06:05 CST, 3/12/24 (Sniper)
The Gospel reading this past Sunday made me think of many things. In the words of Jesus:

"And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."

John 3:14-21

For example, one would think "Sweet Baby" and their advocates would rejoice at the Steam curation list showing all of the projects in which they've been involved: after all, it's free advertising! Instead, they are doing everything in their limited power to not only get the list removed, but to punish the Steam user who created it.

Another instance involves the "Libs of TikTok" account: all she does is re-post videos other people have made-- one would think those content creators would be thrilled at having all of the added clicks! Instead, they have tried to destroy her life because, counter-intuitively, she's made their videos more visible.

The Sarri Scoop

Things have gone from surreal-to-even-moreso since I wrote this post a month ago. Yesterday against Udinese, a team which had only won three games all season, the Lazio players spent the entire second half running around with no discernible formation: they were going wherever they felt like, oftentimes dribbling with the ball for no apparent reason until it was stolen.

What was surreal wasn't the second half though-- it was the first. In the first half, the players decided to actually utilize "Sarriball", and they created chance after chance after chance, moving the ball quickly and looking like a totally transformed team. In other words, it's a light switch: they can turn it on when they please, and they can turn it off when they please. This was hugely informative to me, which I will discuss momentarily.

In the meantime, we have now lost five of the last six games, with four losses in a row. Even under Davide Ballardini we never outright lost four games on the trot. In fact, in nineteen seasons of watching the club I have never seen them play this poorly. In the aforementioned month since my lengthy earlier remarks, I've been able to better piece together what's happening. I will present each party's perspective in turn:

  • The Mercenary Players: There is a contingent of players which can't stand Maurizio Sarri, and who hate the 4-3-3 system. These senior players have taken over the dressing room completely, and think they run the show. Among them I'm almost certain: the neurotic Luis Alberto, who is "king"; Felipe Anderson; Ciro Immobile; Mattia Zaccagni; Matias Vecino; Alessio Romagnoli; Manuel Lazzari; and Adam Marusic. Then you've got the highly paid disaster that is Daichi Kamada, most probably moping around, which isn't helping things. These players despise Sarri so much, that they are actively sabotaging him on the pitch, basically throwing matches at this point.

  • The Lost Maurizio Sarri: Morose and candid, scrubby and guttural, Sarri is not personable to put it mildly. Simultaneously though, he's a bit of a push-over and brings to mind a Helenio Hererra quote: "As a coach, the instant the players stop fearing you, it's all over." He tries but has completely lost the battle of wills with the players, who run around and do whatever they want, whenever they want. This explains why he told them "no" when they asked if the team could change shape: "Just do as I say!!" It was his deficient attempt at stamping authority. At present, the players are essentially throwing matches trying to get him fired-- and he's powerless to stop them.

  • The Furious Claudio Lotito: He understands exactly what is happening, and that is why he's been so adamant to stand by the coach. Lotito has an enormous ego: he is boss, not the players! Their behavior is an afront not just to him, but to the coach who he perceives to be a top-drawer manager. There is no chance, come hell or high water, he is going to let the mercenary players run roughshod over the project! Lotito is a man of settled opinions, and he has chosen "his side" in this battle. Presently, he has ordered the players into a punitive "ritiro" until further notice.

In light of this new information, I'd be more apt to send the players packing instead of the coach. Ciro is one of my top three favorite athletes ever, but it's time for him to go to Arabia. He can take Marusic with him. Alberto can go to Spain, and Zaccagni can go to Juventus along with Felipe Anderson. Lazzari can go to Inter, and Kamada can take a train back to Germany. Castellanos can go back to the rubbish Globohomo rainbow flag American league. Bye bye everyone!

The trouble would then be, how to rebuild the squad with our Mickey Mouse-style management? It may sound ridiculous, but I'd be tempted to give Igli Tare a phone call: I was a critic of his, but at least he was feast and famine, versus the hopelessly vanilla first mercato without him. It would essentially mean buying a whole new team, as the only players even worth retaining are few-and-far between:

  • Goal Keepers: Provedel, Mandas
  • Central Defenders: Patric, Romagnoli, Casale, Gila
  • Fullbacks: Pellegrini, [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]
  • Registas: Rovella, Cataldi, [NEW PLAYER]
  • Mezzalas: Guendouzi, [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]
  • Wingers: Isaksen, [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]
  • Center Forwards: [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]

We know that one of the new fullbacks is Valeri-- but even then, we would need to acquire eleven new players. A savvy management might be able to pull this off by fully leveraging loans and other flexible financing-- I have seen newly-promoted sides successfully accomplish it before. But with our current management, it seems like too tall an order. One thing is for sure: Tare or Fabbiani or someone else, Lotito needs to delegate the responsibility to someone else this time.


Maybe a couple of years ago, I downloaded an ISO of "Sonic CD" and found it to be the worst level design I had ever encountered in a video game. Fast forward to a few days ago, when I decided to give the game another shot via "Sonic Origins Plus": it turns out, I had accidentally downloaded one of many unfinished betas of the game! To my complete astonishment, outside of maybe the first three levels, the stages were one hundred percent different than the ones in the ISO I'd grabbed!

I've since played all the way through the game twice in three days, and will promptly overwrite my previous review. It's now perhaps my favorite Sonic game, as the almost "Knuckles Chaotix"-esque slower, exploration-focused approach is right up my alley.
Fourth Era Upon Us? - 10:33 CST, 3/09/24 (Sniper)
I was really sad to hear about Akira Toriyama's death, I just mentioned him in a post too! He's probably my favorite artist, along with Rieko Kodama-- and now both of them have moved on. God bless their souls! Now they are up in heaven, making beautiful art.

Speaking of artistic legends, here is Nobuo Uematsu-- a top-five-of-all-time video game composer, easily-- echoing exactly what I've been saying for years. I'll let his words speak for themselves, bold emphasis is mine:

"Uematsu goes on to muse as to why recent game music has become less interesting in his opinion. He suggests that the problem might be that directors and producers are 'satisfied with movie soundtrack-like music in games,' adding, 'I think people need to have more freedom when creating (game music).' Uematsu thinks that if games keep using Hollywood movie-style scores, then the genre of 'game music cannot develop further.' On the other hand, he comments that 'game music will become more interesting if composers consider 'what is something only I can do?' and use their own knowledge and experience to be truly creative.'"

Back in the 80s and 90s, game composers were precocious, classically-trained pianists from young ages. Today when I look up contemporary video game musicians, they "make music for television commercials", which says a lot about the precipitous drop in talent-- and which thus explains a lot about why the music isn't that interesting anymore: these new people simply don't have the music theory "chops" that the old guard did.

But, I'm feeling increasingly silly complaining about modern games. To elaborate: I've been writing about the concept of multiple "eras" in the industry since at least 2007, however my thoughts have evolved since then. Here is my current take:

  • Era 1: 1960s to late 1980s. Single-screen arcade games; example, "Pac-Man". Technological limitations enforced a reliance on minimalism and evocatism.

  • Era 2: Late 1980s to late 1990s. Point-A-to-point-B games; example, "Super Mario Bros". Sweet spot between gameplay-centric focus and added complexity. Best visual art and music in history of the medium.

  • Era 3: Late 1990s to present day. Corporatized cinematic games; example, "Uncharted". Shift from gameplay and towards Hollywood-style story telling. Eventually, shift towards Cultural Marxist establishment messaging as well.

I liked "Era 1", loved "Era 2", and more-or-less loathed "Era 3". But in 2024, we are finally progressing to what might be a new era.

  • Era 4: Mid 2020s to present. Democratized experimentation; example, "Palword". Games assembled by smaller teams making full use of off-the-shelf software such as "Unreal Engine 5", combined with cool custom programming. Implicit, reactionary, anti-establishment-driven experimentation.

The Cultural Marxist values seem to, finally, be on their way out: like how the makers of videos re-posted by "Libs of TikTok" don't want people to see their nuttiness; corporations are now trying to hide their "wokeness"; one would think activist organizations such as "Sweet Baby" would want publicity, alas they are trying to shut down anyone who publishes lists of projects in which they are involved. This is a far cry from just a year ago, much less in 2020, when the multi-billion dollar corporations were tripping over themselves competing to see who could donate more Molotov cocktails to domestic terrorists during the Fentenyl Floyd riots.

In addition to the aforementioned "Palworld", take a look at the preview video for an incoming game called "Kingmakers". I suspect the latter is going to be yet another phenomenon, which will surely lead to more and more such releases.

There is such a deluge of interesting-to-me games coming out over the next nine-odd years, that my thinking regarding the state of the medium is rapidly evolving after almost two decades of creative stagnation, with my static musings reflecting the dormant creativity on display.
Steam Army Knife - 15:25 CST, 3/02/24 (Sniper)
I got my PlayStation 5 "Remote Play" streaming to my Steam Deck OLED via "chiaki4deck", with HDR support! I didn't test extensively, but superficially compression artifacts are negligible-to-non-existent, as is latency.

I followed the instructions here and had it working in no time-- absolutely painless. I did notice the camera swinging when I was walking around the house, undoubtedly because the 802.11 signal was going bonkers-- but as long as I sat in one place, things seemed totally solid.
Affliction and Appeasement - 09:10 CST, 3/02/24 (Sniper)
I recently had a Catholic priest say to a group of people I was among, "The church should discuss the issue of 'LGBT' people!" I didn't feel comfortable challenging him in front of the others, but thought to myself "There is nothing to discuss! Scripture is already one hundred percent clear, as is the Church's perfectly clear teaching on the subject: it's a settled matter, for all time."

Satan is constantly tempting each of us according to our own weakness: he tempts some of us to lying and cheating, others to robbery or assault, others to murder. For some, he tempts them to sexual sin-- to highly disordered sexual thinking. It is not a sin to be tempted: indeed, Satan approached Jesus Himself, and tempted Christ to sin! We know directly from God that Jesus never sinned, ergo it is not a sin to be tempted. Besides, it stands to reason: we have no agency over Satan's doings.

What is a sin is to indulge the disordered fantasies, or-- heaven forbid-- to act on them.

There is no such thing as an "LGBT person", just like there is no such thing as a "bank robber": we are all just people in God's eyes-- equally imperfect, yet equally loved by the Lord. "For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest." Just as the person tempted to rob banks needs to abstain from robbery; just as the person tempted to lie needs to abstain from lying; so too does the person tempted to disordered sexual temptation need to abstain from succumbing to those temptations, both in thought and in act.

I'm hardly an expert in theology, but even for a "noob" such as myself this is not a difficult concept to comprehend-- it's so basic that even a three year-old could grasp it. It's so crystalline that it's common sense-- a "well, duh!" kind of notion. Trying to argue against it is impossible! So it's to my absolute bewilderment that actual Catholic priests, even in Conservative rural America, can become so confused by what is so clear, decided, and obvious!

I don't think these priests are bad people-- I am assuming positive intent, for sure. This particular priest, I greatly respect. But, speaking of Satan, I think he is weakening these people by giving them "the feelies" that they need to appease evil, rather than combat it. This is causing those afflicted to lose sight of the Word.
Sensations of the Unprecedented - 08:49 CST, 3/02/24 (Sniper)
The more that time progresses, the more it's starting to feel like the End Times. Each of these things in isolation are small, even trivial matters-- but they are coming so-frequently-as-to-be-daily, that when added together the cumulative effect paints a certain picture.

Gab Self-Immolation

I've been a big fan of Gab essentially since that site went live-- it's the only web site which feels like the internet pre-2016, where you can say what you want without a busy body HR lady or government propaganda minister standing over you, saying "tsk tsk tsk", and taking away your keyboard. Things seemed to be going great over there: I could tell more and more people were joining, as my feed was becoming increasingly full of interesting news links.

Then out of nowhere just a few days ago, Andrew Torba not only posted that in two days he was going to prohibit non-paid accounts from posting images, but he started calling people with free accounts "Communists" and "freeloaders". Now my feed on that site is nothing but Andrew Torba talking to himself-- everyone has jumped ship. Did someone threaten him? Is he just that neurotic and unstable? It's technological hara-kiri, and it was so sudden! Total, inconceivable madness.

Serie A Unraveling

This Lazio season is turning out to be even worse than the Ballardini year-- not only are the performances as bad, but there is an added dimension of unprecedented surreality about the proceedings.

I am not someone who blames referees for his team's issues-- I always turn inward: "What could we have done differently tactically or strategically? Were there fitness issues? Is the mentality correct?" But this season, there is a clear vendetta from several of the referees towards Lazio. I am not Italian, I don't understand the language, I don't know about the politics-- but the league's officials appear to be retaliating against the players, to get at Lotito.

Yesterday's refereeing in the Milan match was so extraordinary that I could scarcely believe what I was seeing. The episodes in particular involving the absolutely shameful Christian Pulisic, who is a total thug of a player as I discovered, were so bizarre I could scarcely believe my eyes.

The first instance was particularly shocking: Castellanos had just gotten fouled, and was visibly bleeding from his mouth. The referee was standing right there, and had put his whistle in his mouth. Meanwhile, all of the players had stopped: Pellegrini was shepherding the ball out of play, signaling with his hand to the nearby Pulisic that he was letting the ball go out so Castellanos could get treatment. Instead, Pulisic dinked the ball around Pellegrini-- totally baffled, Pellegrini pulled the former to the ground.

Rather than just smile and whistle the play back like a normal human being, the referee sent off Pellegrini with a second yellow!

The match turned into pure bedlam after that, with multiple fights breaking out, our team eventually going down to eight men, and so forth. For the record, going down to seven means the match gets suspended due to a lack of players: I have never seen a team go down to eight until yesterday, in twenty-five years of watching professional football. After the match, the referee was suspended for a month by his boss. This is similar to the Juventus match earlier this year, where the referee was so shambolic that he was sent down to Serie B. That was the match where the ball went all the way out of play, Juventus scored, and the decision stood.

Lotito described after the game that the players felt like violence was done against them over the course of the match-- and that's how I felt as a fan, watching it. I've never felt this way watching sports before. What's more, he gave an interview with lots of thinly-veiled allusions that Lazio could leave the FIGC altogether. Again, unprecedented.

Towards the Light

I could keep going, but one more example to support the thesis of his post: there is a widely-circulating clip of Joe Rogan of all people asking for Jesus to return. It's incredible to me that he would embrace Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I find that incredible in the best way. Initially I thought it was a "deep fake", but in fact the recording is authentic. It shows how even ordinarily-secular people are sensing that this period is unprecedented.
Actions - 14:50 CST, 2/23/24 (Sniper)
Very rarely do I read a games-related article and think it insightful and well-written-- yet here is an example. The author nails it: dedicated game boxes need to offer something unique to their nature for the console market to grow-- just being an OEM PC won't cut it. His optimism is appreciated, in that he recognizes the current lull in innovation as just being part of a cycle, and he cautiously suspects that the dedicated game box makers will find ways to bring the world new ideas in the future.

On a less optimistic note, there is this thread in which it's recognized that "Super Mario Bros." and "Super Mario 64" are only separated by eleven years. Others point out even more incredible examples: "Super Metroid" and "Metroid Prime" were only released eight years apart, while "Wind Waker" was only four years removed from "Ocarina of Time"! On a related theme, here is the NFL itself advertising eight NFL games in a single year!

My, how the industry has fallen. The fact it's even referred to as an "industry" in the first place is emblematic of the problem. The more giant megacorporations dominate world affairs, the less creativity the goy are going to get for their entertainment.

Changing subjects a bit, here is a fascinating video. Before I arrive at the main point: the developer is apparently black-- or mulatto?-- and at age twenty-seven, speaks in the same sort of vernacular as my thirteen year-old. Just observations from a man who observes.

In any event, remember when Microsoft had "BLM" garbage all over their tech documentation when Fentany Floyd overdosed? Remember their "I'm a woman wearing a red dress and black shoes and go by 'she' and 'her'", with the now-obligatory rapid-gesticulating sign language person nearby for the probably non-existent deaf people watching? You know how Microsoft's website is filled with ESG nonsense, all of their ads have disproportionate amounts of black people in them? Indeed, Microsoft is perhaps the world's greatest virtue-signaling corporation of all time, or at least close.

When rubber meets the road though, they treat their employees like slave labor, cutting them loose the day before the company is required to provide them benefits. Whatever happened to "healthcare is a right" anyway?

Finally, there is this video which clearly illustrates how our atheist liberal Jew technocrat overlords are trying to erase European white people-- i.e., most likely the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel-- from history. This might seem like laughs now, but wait until they start using these "AI" systems for hiring practices, or for sentencing within the court system.
Bravo Mister - 16:51 CST, 2/15/24 (Sniper)
I was justifiably critical of Maurizio Sarri in this post-- but maybe, just maybe, he will be able to, or already has, won back the dressing room? It's more tempting to write when things go poorly, because it's a way to vent frustration-- but this time, I'm going to write because things went well.

Yesterday, Lazio looked like a phenomenally well-coached team. For all of Sarri's reputation as being the ultimate "drill master" and an expert in match-day preparations, one of my issues with him is that his players seldom look like that's the case: every game, we play the same ineffective tactics, which are stale and predictable, and never do we look like we have a "custom gameplan" for the opponent-at-hand.

But against Bayern Munich yesterday, the team looked every bit a side that validates Sarri's reputation, whether earned or not. I know Bayern are not at their best right now, and I couldn't get over that their coach had his face in his hands in the sixtieth minute, in the first leg of a two-legged tie, with the score at 0-0-- but even with that said, it was obvious that Sarri had his team drilled: every single man knew his job, was one hundred percent committed to performing it, and for the first time this entire season the squad played to its full potential.

Outside of our best-in-the-Lotito-era crop of defenders, the rest of the squad-- especially with Zaccagni injured-- very much has a patchwork feel to it, exacerbated by having two of our four top-value players in Alberto plus Kamada being played out of position due to the formation. But it's still a squad with over two hundred million Euro worth of players: I would expect that minimally we should look organized, well-drilled, be playing with a clear plan.

Bologna have a significantly worse team than us, but look at what Thiago Motta is doing with them at the moment! That's the caliber of performance I expect from a Maurizio Sarri team, and I'm cautiously optimistic that this Bayern Munich result is where the wheels went back on the Lazio car. I'd like nothing more than for Sarri to be "Lazio's Gasperini", where he sticks around and gives us a fighting chance each season. Crossing fingers...

I'd also like to remark that I don't think Ciro is "done", as I'd previously thought: I think his lack of productivity isn't as much down to his age as it's been down to the team moving the ball way too slowly. Harry Kane has scored something like twenty eight goals in thirty one appearances for Bayern-- but yesterday, one would scarcely have know he was on the pitch.

When a center forward is starved of service, he looks pedestrian. Over the past handful of appearances, Ciro has looked more or less like his prior self: running the channels, getting really good shots on goal, and opportunistically poaching. Barring some insane offer like thirty million Euro for a thirty four year-old player, if I were Lotito I would be very much trying to talk Ciro into signing a new multi-year deal, so he can end his career with us.

Non-Lazio Related Musings

I saw a comment on an article today, reflecting on the state of contemporary music and written by someone who grew up during the 60s and 70s, "As a youth I never imagined I would have to listen to the same old music for my entire life." Boy can I relate to that, when it comes to video games!

Here is a superb reflection on Tucker's interview with Putin, a topic I wrote about here. Putin told the West, "If you want, instead of living in a world which no longer exists, you can join the rest of in cooperation and mutual trade." The author of the article takes a similar approach: "It doesn't matter if you think Putin's analysis of history is correct-- the point is he thinks it's correct, and if you want to negotiate with him, you need to acknowledge that this is where he stands on the issue."

Switching gears, remember when I wrote here that Sony appeared to be following the same path as Microsoft, who went an entire year and didn't release a single first-party game? Sure enough, Sony says that it is not going to release any major games before March 2025. They've also said in recent days that the PlayStation 5 is already on the winding down period of its life. It's mind boggling what a terrible console it has been: I think it has surpassed the Nintendo 64 as the worst video game system I've ever owned.

It also sounds like Sony is inevitably going to move toward the "game releases on Windows, on day one" approach just like Microsoft did a handful of years ago. As much that would be convenient for me, as I have a cutting-edge gaming PC, I miss the Sony of a few years ago: what happened to "we believe in generations", and wanting to continue serving conventional gamers with custom hardware and single player games? Alas, they are a corporation, and corporations always need to "grow"-- there is no such thing as "enough."