[Review] The Witcher 3


yen do you plan to compliment me all evening

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I originally played The Witcher 3 (henceforth: “Witcher”) two years ago, and did not complete it at the time. I had run into many small problems, problems that after thirty hours became large enough that I did not want to go any further. Recently a friend got the game and was talking about it, and showed me things he managed which made me think I must’ve gotten something fundamentally wrong. So I gave it another shot. I always thought that if only the gameplay problems I had were solved I’d enjoy the story.

I’m glad that thought turned out to be the case.

The same cannot be said for the two expansions, Hearts of Stone (HOS) and Blood and Wine (BAW). HOS is fine, but does not fully hold up to the standard made by the original game, for both internal reasons and for reasons beyond its own control, mostly the latter so I don’t blame it too much. BAW on the other hand has been praised everywhere as far as the eye can see since its release; in the modern age, finally, DLC that isn’t just cosmetics and pointless new thingamajiggies. Which is true. A new story and a new map isn’t something these days you see.

But it really would’ve been better if they had just let it be.

If you plan to play The Witcher 3:

  • Use a controller.
  • Use some color-changing mods. They’ll make things look prettier and your life much easier. The ones I used were “Super Turbo Lighting Mod” and “Absolute Prerelease ReShade”.
  • EXP is primarily tied to progressing the story.
  • Money is primarily tied to loot.
  • All special items you would want or need are found in easy-to-reach chests. This is to contrast with many items which are in bags and barrels that are often stacked on top of each other, and sometimes in hard to reach places. Skipping these may occasionally miss valuables, but never a unique sword or recipe.
  • Application of oils is not necessary.
  • Application of potions is not necessary, except maybe Killer Whale if you want to go underwater.
  • Having fully levelled equipment is not necessary.
  • Do not play Blood and Wine.
  • Do not play Blood and Wine.
  • Do not play Blood and Wine.

This is the first time I’ve seen something fall off from a potential 8 to an absolute 1.

For record-keeping purposes a singular score must exist, and after much consideration 7/8 is my opinion on that matter. But there is a pretty clear gap where it works enough and where it really doesn’t, a border I can summarize in single line:

Do not play Blood and Wine.

Wild Hunt: 7/8 (3~8)
Hearts of Stone: 6/8 (5~7)
Blood and Wine: 1/8 (1~4)

Everyone and their mother says Blood and Wine is the best thing ever, you haven’t had the full Witcher experience until you’ve played Blood and Wine, Blood and Wine Blood and Wine Blood and Wine. And so I played it. But I simply can’t score them combined. Everything about its existence is such an insult I must dissociate it. I like the characters and themes of the main game too much, and the writers clearly were struggling with invading outside forces. It is possible that with Gwent or in currently released information on Cyberpunk 2077 that they have lost to those forces. I don’t know. That’s a different topic.

But I feel compelled here to give at least The Witcher 3 my fairest shot.

I played it on PC with a DS3 controller on Blood and Broken Bones difficulty, Japanese audio (a large chunk of why I got the game was because I heard Sawashiro would be in it), the above mentioned color-changing mods, mods making the main female characters’ boobs larger, mod that improved their faces, mod that allowed me to play as those women, and a mod that allowed me to fast travel from anywhere, which I got because one unique situation in the whole game bugs out with a female character model (climbing a ladder out of the water). I had intended to play as Geralt too but apparently the mod doesn’t allow switching between male and female, so all screenshots in this review showing “Geralt” will show someone else instead.

I played 158 hours: 115 for the main game, 131 (+16) for Hearts of Stone, 158 (+27) for Blood and Wine. I will put more hours into it before completing this review. I liked the end of Witcher. I’d like to feel that again.

Because I don’t like my current final experience with it.

I don’t like it at all.

> — (Illusion of Space)
> — (Gwent)
> — (Skellige and Everything Else, but mostly Skellige)
> — (People and Objectives)
> — (Exceptions)
> — (Flow)
> — (Unfathomable Errors)
> — (Rise of Routinism)
> — (The Expansion That Killed The Witcher)

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When you see something, it causes you to react in a certain manner, and frame the world in a certain way.

riyo altera peaceful

We like to believe it’s a matter of choice. We choose our thoughts, we have free will to do what we want; if I’m not following instructions explicitly then I’m not following anything at all. The nature of this statement though means that if there is one example at all where response is automatic, then the previous statement about the structure of the human mind loses its inherency. And there is an example. There’s plenty. So many the public discourse has a word for it:

“Not Safe For Work”

Generally this refers to visuals of a certain kind. In itself it’s already somewhat blurry and pretty clearly manipulated with respect to some other internal logic. If something, for example, is referred to as “Safe For Work”, you know that it’s probably with respect to “Not Safe For Work” rather than “Work”, which means that it’s probably not actually safe for work. Whatever that means.

I have an idea what it means, and I’d like to expand the concept.

To work means to focus on doing something. To focus means to ignore all other problems for some given period of time, implying that all other problems are, at least during that time, not problems. The complete statement the other way reads:

“Only when all other problems appear solved for the time being can one begin to work.”

In a shorter form:

Work requires Peace.

In order to work, it must be the most important problem at the time, and the only problem that is perceived. Generally speaking, sex is not safe for work. But quite a lot of other things are also in this category too.

For example: “The Internet”.

There have been things circling for a while now about how the internet, or perhaps ‘social media’ in specific, cause people to be unhappy. Studies show that people who spend more than some number of minutes per day on something online are some percentage of points more unhappy, we need a plugged-unplugged balance, something something something. I don’t doubt that this is true, but we need to know why it is true to get anything prescriptive out of it. If your life is absolutely great, the idea that seeing other people happy on Facebook makes you “jealous” is obviously not going to be true. What you need to know is not specifically that it’s “bad on average”, but what is bad for you. At least, in the context of what is safe for work.

Why “The Internet” makes people unhappy is because people don’t get that it’s not strictly safe for work. If you are aware and conscientious about how you use it, you’ll be perfectly fine, and I’m not talking about something asinine like avoiding pornography or counting the number of minutes. The internet is fundamentally a technology. It’s glowing boxes connected to other peoples’ glowing boxes, and it has a bunch of information on it. If you see what makes you happy, then you’ll be happy. If you see what makes you mad, you’ll be mad. If you see “whatever”, then on a long enough timeline you’ll probably be pretty mad. Don’t pay attention and don’t think about how something works, it’ll eventually do things you don’t like in ways you don’t understand.

Imagine if the internet only had your favorite comedy. You and everyone else would know exactly what using it would cause. Imagine now instead that the internet only had horror. Same deal. In both cases there’d be weirdos who respond to the givens in an entirely different manner, but they’d be accurately and correctly recognized as weirdos, and the general idea wouldn’t change. This… was how the internet used to be. More or less. Places ran with whatever they were about or were interested in, usually with very specific ideas (because they were familiar with the topic), and so were places where various unrelated strangers congregated. Only places where this was maybe not the case was in “off-topic” forums or “chats”, which then was a question of what the moderation paradigm was and who the moderators were, but basically as long as you didn’t go there, or to certain URLs, you knew, with pretty decent confidence, what you were going to get into.

In the post-URL age people have no idea what they’re getting into. Or, perhaps more importantly, they have no idea that they have no idea what they’re getting into. “I joined facebook to connect with my friends, so why am I mad all the time?”. And of course, with a bunch of clueless people of varying backgrounds and interests, there can be nothing actually going on that can be built on at all at with moderation, except office politics and geopolitics, which is exactly what we see happening with “community standards”.

If Facebook really wanted to make people happier, you think it wouldn’t happen? Remember that thing called advertising? Companies paying to get peoples’ eyeballs? That’s why you’re not connecting with your friends. No, not so much because you’re seeing ads, but because you’re in a structure that is interested in you seeing ads (and news, and whatever it is people pay to have you see). That’s called the News Feed. Go to a specific page, or profile of a person who you knows only posts certain things, you’ll see something very different.

Perhaps something like my current experience with Twitter. I used to hate it, now I’m basically fine with it. I’m following about the same number of people I did before, but now I’m perfectly happy going there because everyone I follow posts only either 1) images I want to look at or 2) text in a language I can’t read. For me, Twitter is basically Pixiv, and perfectly safe for work. Occasionally there’s porn on it too, but that’s fine, because when I go there, porn is within my expectations, and therefore I know exactly what to expect – that is to say again, exactly synonymous with safe for work.

Now there is always the chance that something could happen. Maybe some Japanese artist decides to retweet something that in English. Maybe someone @’s me. But these are edge cases. They would not reflect on my experience of Twitter as a whole.

Unless something big happens and a bunch of people @ me at the same time, and then suddenly everything changes. Which, too, is in the structure of Twitter. There is the option to make things private, but that more or less breaks the structure of Twitter (Not the case for Facebook, but Facebook has the advertising thing). If Twitter really wanted to eliminate the possibilitiy of “something big happens and a bunch of people @ me at the same time”, also known as “mobbing”, “harassment”, or “death threats”, they could do it. But they don’t. They’re interested more in something else, one which I unfortunately don’t have a simple analogy like I did for Facebook because I haven’t much experience with it. It’s probably something along the lines of statistics and surveillance, considering how it’s used.

In any case that other thing exists. You use services for a reason, they provide you services for, almost always, a completely different reason.

They have their own ideas.

And I have my own ideas.

I have noticed that what I think when I wake up in the morning and what I think before I go to bed in the evening have large impacts on what happens during the rest of the day. Anything thought during these times takes a while to form, and I need everything to be silent and calm during that time for them to bear fruit. Sometimes these ideas are complicated, sometimes not. At best they are a productive idea for me to chase for the rest of the day or week. At worst it’s a metaphorical and literal breath of fresh air: a visceral understanding that there are no major problems. The air is warm, the light is bright, my belly is full, and my body will do what I tell it to do without pain or limit. Maybe this is what’s called “meditation”. I wouldn’t know. I don’t like how that word sounds so I don’t use it.

I can’t do any of that if I open up the internet and have people reposting shit spewed by journalists about employment rates or automation or economy or politics, anything anyone ever says about cars that aren’t in the direction of absolute and unwavering praise of trains, anything anyone in the west says about housing and rent, any western cartoons, any webcomics, the vast majority of things that can be said about videogames, the vast majority of happy smiling pictures at any parties because that’ll just remind me about employment rates and cars and all the lies people tell about those things, and all the lies people tell about the lies that people tell about those things, and a whole laundry list of other things both of things that I can explicitly name and things that I can’t identify are problems.

Information space works differently than physical space. There’s the connectivity and speed issues to be sure, but even if I did sit down and think about really all the potential problems that would for me be not safe for work, it’s difficult to tell when that list or formulation would be complete. Here’s all the real and potential instances I get unseated from my focus, here’s all the sets of reasons I’ve come up with that explain the data, is this a complete understanding? It’s Hempel’s Paradox. Or maybe even attempting to solve the thing runs into Godel’s Incompleteness.

But if I don’t deal with information space, it’s not a problem. Sitting in silence with my monitors off and my phone on silent means that the only information space I need to deal with is in my own mind. I spend my due time clearing out possible worries in the times where such ideas gain a huge first-move advantage, and as a result a lot of irrelevant other ideas that come up during the rest of the day get tossed. Not that nothing can disrupt this, to be sure. But, if I think things though correctly, only significant things will change my focus, and those things won’t so much be “Not Safe For Work” as it would be “You Need To Work On This, Right Now”.

Most things don’t need to be worked on right now. Journalists will say something “JUST” happened but it doesn’t matter. Not much matters. And that’s how it needs to be, if anything is to get done.

Format the day correctly in the mind by calmly dealing only with physical space in the morning and evening, making the only information space your own mind, and recognize that there are no major problems. The “world” is, all major things considered, safe for work.

riyo astolfo zzzz

Unless a bullet comes through the window. Then it’s not safe for work.

But if it did, that would be the thing to work on.

this exists solely because facebook seems to default to the final image of a post for its preview image. apparently you can control it by setting a html meta property, but that's not allowed in free wordpress. what is allowed though is putting down images in html and then setting them to not show up. so this technically is the last image - as far as facebook is concerned.

The World Beyond Words

“I’m not really interested in truth. Truth relies on consensus and evidence; it is by definition ex post facto.

I’m interested in what truth is before it is truth.”

altera in nero np extella


How should one change decisions?

“Making”, or “sticking” to a decision, is largely a matter of confidence, to not think further about the inputs (i.e. “not doubt yourself”). That is not the topic.

The topic is about “changing” a decision, that is to say, making a change to the overall set of actions and beliefs you hold, because you always, always already have a default decision: it’s “abstain”. Everyone gets 24 hours a day, and they’re used up even if they’re not touched. If the move you choose to play is “sleep more”, that’s a move. A move you can never take back, a move you are making at the cost of every other move. A New Year’s ResolutionDecision to “go to the gym” is not simply, “go to the gym”, it’s “go to the gym for x number of hours at y time, time which is currently used by Facebook and Netflix”. Fail to complete the statement, and sooner than you know it you’ll be back on Facebook and Netflix.

We want to know what it means to change a decision and what it is that leads to it.

The question: How can we more reliably and consistently change our decisions so that they better lead to the results we desire? Errors in making the decision, errors in executing it, and errors in outcome are to be expected; nonetheless, we would like to attempt to solve the field of problems in which all factors at least appear to be under our control, which is to say: What sort of mindset does that involve?

It appears to at least involve asking: “What is the good life?”. That would cover how one should think with respect to one’s own thoughts; a principle, or paradigm of sorts. If you don’t have a larger, perhaps unreachable goal in mind, then your mental horizon only ever reaches into the next few minutes, and that’s clearly not correct. But what else would it need to cover?

It’d need to cover how to interpret information from the outside.

It’d need to cover how to categorize the words other people speak. It is these, not our eyeballs’ interpretation of colors and physics nor eardrums’ interpretation of intensity and distance, that are our primary informers on the state of the world.  And there’s an international intertemporal logistics chain for every idea. Keeping in mind that such a thing exists, that every word not only has someone saying it but organizations and cultures of people behind it, is definitely part of the correct interpretation. That’s all the easy part.

The other part is dealing with the words themselves.

Words which just so happen to have nothing to do with changing decisions at all.

> The Simple Case: On Entertainment
> The Heavy Case: On Institutional Narratives
> The Specific Case: On the Results of Decisions
> The General Case: On the Structure of Decisions
> Decision Theory: The World Beyond Words

The Simple Case: On Entertainment

How does one decide what movie to watch or what game to play?

liz vs joseph anderson


Starting from the end, we know that the decisions will either take the form of “Yes” or “No”.

“Yes”, go spend time with it, or “No”, don’t spend time with it. Things can be divided up further and justified using any number of words; those are the basics. Everything is framed in this manner, even whether or not to further look into whether or not the entertainment is worth the decision. The strongest influences are directly interpretted in “Yes” or “No”, the words they come in basically irrelevant: if a friend you trust on these matters says something is really good or really bad, anything else they say is rhetoric to fill up the time; you know just off of that what you will do. If you have multiple such friends and they say the same thing, same thing.

If you have multiple such friends but they don’t have the same opinion, then it gets a little more complicated. This situation feels a lot more like wading through various opinions of strangers. It’s as if these friends suddenly lost their faces and started talking in very serious voices in a foreign language. And of course it would be: no longer is it simply accepting the conclusion, you’re now being pushed to look at how conclusions are created. Time to go to the sausage factory.

How does one reconcile such conflicts? How does one flatten these various “Yes”‘s and “No”‘s into a single Yes-or-No? Is there some way to formalize it so that the answer is immediately clear every time, or even vaguely clear and decently quick most of the time? I think most everyone intuitively recognizes the correct answer to this question:

It’s not possible. You can’t actually do such a thing. “Things aren’t so black and white”.

Unfortunately they then get themselves fooled into thinking it’s 100 shades of grey.

What does it mean for something to get a rating of 81/100? First of all, it’s now a number, and not only is it a number, it’s a fraction. A fraction whose units is presumably “of a Yes”. 81/100 “of a Yes”. Unfortunately this runs back into the previous problem because we don’t know how to operate on the unit “of a Yes”. It’s clearly not additive, you can’t have a 81/100 then find a 19/100 and call it a day. There’s some kind of averaging going on maybe? Maybe only from people you trust? Or people who make sense? But sometimes those people are still wrong. And a lot of the time they’re not even consistent! There’s the whole disagreement between the “anything below 70/100 is absolute trash” people and the “50/100 is average” people, but everyone even in their own ratings doesn’t make sense! They say this one thing is bad because they do this, but they say this other thing is great for doing the same thing! This 95/100 is mediocre but that 92/100 is game of the year?

Actually even more importantly, what does it mean for something to be a certain rating to begin with? If they’re not even useful in internal rankings, what are they good for? Prices? Does 81/100 mean “Yes but only at 19% or more off”? Does a 70/100 mean the first 70% of the thing is good? Or maybe only the last 70% is good? What does it mean? Means go buy the thing, find out yourself, and join the comments section afterwards. But that’s the journalism business model; it does not actually help you and your decision beforehand. You can’t make it “Yes” and then go back and change it to a “No”.

The fundamental problem is that “Yes” and “No” opinions can’t mix. In entertainment these are called “Positive” and “Negative” reviews, and while I’m sure those two words existed before integers did, their appearance alongside “81/100” turns it into just another numericist fetish. Makes it feel all objective and sciency. Yet, the slightest inspection reveals we can’t treat them like numbers.

That’s because they’re not in the same units.

That is to say: they don’t measure the same things. At all. Go through a large number of positive reviews and negative reviews, on anything at all, and you’ll find almost overwhelmingly they talk not only about entirely different things, but also in entirely different ways. Positive reviews say things like “Oh my god it was the best thing ever”, whereas negative reviews will say “X which was done in Y way should’ve been A done in B way.” One reads like a press release and the other sounds like a whisteblower on a scandal.

An asymmetry: “Yes” only needs a declaration, but a “No” begs explanation. A short and unsubstantiated “No” might as well not exist; a short and unsubstantiated “Yes” doesn’t feel out of place. A detailed “No” is expected, a detailed “Yes” seems to invariably have to start talking in “No”-language to up the wordcount. This game is great because… it’s “No”t like the other games. An avoidance of the “No”. Whereas the “No” doesn’t have to mention the “Yes” at all, it just tells you to…

…go back to your life.

Ah: And every change in decision affects your whole life.

No change… doesn’t.

Now it makes sense. To change a decision requires something, to not change a decision doesn’t require anything. A Law of Inertia… a Burden of Proof. So of course a “Yes” decision wouldn’t be comparable let alone mixable with a “No” decision. Any amount of Yes-change is fundamentally different from no-change, whereas any amount of no-change won’t subtract from a Yes-change.

It only flows one way.

Or, if it’s easier to visualize: there’s only resistance the other way.

But wait. Isn’t the asymmetry backwards then? If “Yes” is required to fulfill burden of proof and overcome inertia and “No” isn’t, why is it that in entertainment, negative reviews are the ones which have more detail and reasoning? If such a theory was true, wouldn’t we expect to find the positive reviews going through all the effort to get people to come and spend their time and money, while the negative reviews have nothing worth reading? I mean, that fits in with the rest of what we know too right? That negative people are just haters and you have to be positive to do anything productive?

(First though I must reiterate: “Yes” in the context of this post refers to a very specific concept. It is “Yes”, in the decision whether or not to change. In just switching both terms to read “”No”, in the decision not or whether to change””, the statement would be logically equivalent, but it wouldn’t make any sense. You can’t negate something before stating it; the default assumption of the human mind is always inertia rather than change. In all the languages I’ve ever heard anything about, there’s a number of concepts which are commonly or only phrased as Not-Somethingelse. I’ve never heard of a Is-Notsomethingelse.

As an exercise, please try to think of a word with a negative prefix/suffix, then try to think of a word with a positive prefix/suffix. I will give my own results after this sentence, please actually do this exercise. Do you have them in mind? My results are: I thought of “Un” immediately, and “undo” was the first word to fit. All those years of playing Ghost has biased me towards the first few letters of the alphabet. In contrast, It took me a couple minutes to ponder if a positive conjugation even existed, to which I eventually answered “Pro-Choice”. But that really means I wasn’t able to think of one, because that’s not actually a word.)

That’s true. In a sense. Yes, and No. If you’re only looking at the big popular things, and a lot more things are or at least are seen as (and thus equivalent as far as the stranger is concerned) big and popular these days thanks to the internet, then…. no, it’s not. It’s not backwards at all. It’s right on the mark. The theory predicts that more energy will have been spent on the side which attempts to convince people to change. If you’re looking through reviews on a big popular thing thinking about whether or not you are going to buy, with no further change in your decision, you are… going to buy. With no change in course, no additional information, you will now or eventually spend time and money on that piece of entertainment. Might take a year or three until it goes on steam sale or whatever the equivalent is for movies these days, but it’ll happen. This won’t be true of things you’ve decided against already and don’t even bother with the reviews on. This is also not true of smaller productions you’ve never heard of, and on that, as expected, the results are flipped: the positive reviews gain the meat, and the negative reviews lose their character.

It takes energy to make a push for things no one cares about, and it takes energy to make a push against things people do care about. Which one is “Positive” and which “Negative” is field-dependent; which one is for change and which one abstains is not.

The asymmetry is not backwards; the theory holds.

The Heavy Case: On Institutional Narratives

We were originally asking whether to or not to play this game and to or not to watch that movie, but the same problem arises in things which don’t not-matter: how do we know how to think, what to believe, and who to trust? Am I correct in my ways now? Which parts of it need to change? Which things are leading to results I did not expect or want? What sort of things need to occur in order for me to decide to change? We’ve found that in entertainment, the people saying the actually interesting stuff can usually be found in the negative or positive reviews for popular and indie productions, respectively, but what about the general case?

What is the standard approach to solving such a problem?

Ancient Overlord weapon story


The standard approach is: insert more positivity until it’s positive.

Or, if it’s easier to visualize: The problem exists because it’s negative. You’re poor because you are “lazy” (negative) or don’t “work hard” (positive) enough. You have a shitty job (negative) because you aren’t “passionate” (positive) enough about your field. You should stop complaining (negative) about X business/business practices, you could just “start your own business” (positive), it’s a “free country” (positive), only reason why you’re sitting around complaining is because you’re a “hater” (negative). There is no problem (negative) with this game, you just need to “git gud” (positive). Out of all of these the “passion” explanation is the one I hate the most. Probably because it’s the most prevalent.

In any case, the standard approach is not a solution.

It’s not even related to a solution. If the heater broke and you comment that “it’s cold”, the solution isn’t to “raise the temperature”. If you are broke and you are “unemployed”, the solution isn’t to “get a job”. It’s so obvious that these are not solutions that it’s almost mind boggling how it’s confusing. These “suggestions” and “I’m just saying”-s are not solutions. Solutions are things which take the problem as a given and respond to the problem by discovering and playing within its ruleset. Maybe it’s solvable, maybe it’s not (and thus it’s a “fact of life” rather than a “problem”), but if it is solvable, that’s the way to solve it. “Just fix it” i.e. “Just don’t have the problem” solves as many problems as the number of people who have ever been enlightened by an after-the-fact “well you can’t say I did’t tell you so”.

A lot of people like SpaceX. Should these people therefore decide to become aerospace engineers? Why would that be true? If they decide to do something else are they therefore “just not passionate enough about space exploration”? I like food therefore I should become a chef? I like clean things therefore I should become a janitor? People who become chefs might have done it because they liked food, and people who become janitors might have done it because they have OCD, but these links don’t work both ways. Oh I didn’t become a janitor. It’s because I’m just not passionate enough about cleaning. Or, perhaps more applicable, I didn’t become a janitor or an aerospace engineer at SpaceX, because I am just not passionate enough about space exploration. You see how this works? You see how the words as used have absolutely nothing to do with the thing at hand? But that’s all that’s ever stated by the standard narratives.

I’ve thought about trying to move to Japan because I hate cars. Considering my options, I applied to get in with the government-run “JET Program” for the temporary position of ALT, which is basically a permanent student teacher of English. My application happened to fall through and I thought about the other options, one of which was Interac, a private company hiring for the same position. In the end, due to things I then found out about the private specifics and just the general endeavor as a whole, I decided against it. Did I lose my desire to move to Japan? Well I definitely didn’t stop hating cars, but to say I stopped because “I’m just not passionate enough” is nonsense. Would someone not passionate have gone through all that paperwork and research to begin with? If I got in with JET I’m “passionate”, but if I don’t get in I’m “just not passionate enough”?

What’s the criterion here? That I do or don’t get in? Then that “passion” is a description of a result rather than a prescription of how to try to determine it beforehand. Who takes this shit seriously? Has no one heard of Hume?

I could get in as a fugitive too, come in on a visitor visa and then just hide from the police after the 30/60/90? days elapse. Maybe if I lived in Mexico or Venezuela or North Korea such an option would be higher up on the list. But the fact is: I don’t live in those countries. My life as-is isn’t so bad that I would try being a fugitive in a land whose language I don’t speak. It just also isn’t so great that I’d defend America and cars at every chance I get. Under the standard narrative I should either put up or shut up. But, if I shut up then that must mean there is no problem, and if I put up then that must mean I am crazy or am “just” too (something negative). Thus there is no problem. Meanwhile, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose.

The standard approach has no real comment on how to solve problems i.e. change decisions.

Probably because most people don’t solve problems or change decisions.

(There are actually very salient reasons as to why “passion” and positivity et. all are paraded around as solutions to such things, but those reasons and their implications are beyond the scope of this post.)

The Specific Case: On the Results of Decisions

The reasoning of a decision do not in themselves strictly lead to the decision’s results.

A common refrain is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. This is at least not untrue, but more importantly, it has no expanatory or prescriptive power. It’s not actually usable. Does it tell you to not have good intentions? Or always suspect those who do? Does it say that “A road paved with good intentions is a path to hell” or “The road to heaven is paved with bad/good/no intentions”? It doesn’t tell you what to do, nor does it tell you what not to do. It’s completely and utterly useless except for gotcha “I told you so”s.

Good intentions don’t mean good results. They also don’t mean bad results. Bad intentions don’t mean bad results. They also don’t mean good results. We never really know others’ intentions, we can only see results and attempt to reverse-engineer from there. That information is, in anything of any noticeable complexity, always incomplete. You simply can’t “know for sure” or “prove” something like a mathematician proves math (that itself is also not as a-priori perfect or inhuman natural law as most people believe, but that is beyond the scope of this post). In a very controlled environment, like a game, perhaps it can be narrowed down to intelligence/stupidity. Anyone out of elementary school should know how to not lose at tic-tac-toe. In high school after about a year of afterschool waiting with a few friends, I solved Chopsticks and won every time, and I solved what could be solved with Deuces, as whenever I played I never scored lower than rank two. Different people have different abilities, so I perhaps solved some things others didn’t, and I didn’t what some others did.

But some problems are just unsolvable. That is to say: they are close enough to unsolvable that thinking of them as solvable will itself in turn cause bigger problems. In other words again, some results do not trace their lineage to a single use or non-use of some idea. Sometimes there’s more than one thing going on.

Sometimes being most of the time. And almost all of the time on things worth talking about.

This is a game of PUBG I played. I’m not the star of the video.

No one is.

And yet, it’s the most interesting sequence of events I’ve ever seen, bar none. I had originally thought about sticking in music and captions and explanations or fancy slow-mo sequences to explain everything, but it didn’t need it. With only a few edits for simultaneous feeds and repeating events in a certain sequence, it’s self-explanatory. There are no particular game-technical details that are at all important.

It’s simply a series of human intentions and reactions.

A story.

There were no amazing plays. There were, to be sure, two really stupid ones. But other than that, everyone played as reasonably as anyone could expect. Some brighter players, some dimmer players, but all about right. Commonly with PUBG in specific this is due to “randomness”, as you start the game with no items and need to find some in order to survive and win fights. But that wasn’t the case here. Everyone had the items they could’ve reasonably wanted by the time of the final fight. Six players, six people with differing expectations, and yet not a single one at the end was right.

I could speculate and write out what I thought were the motivations of each player at the time, but you can do that yourself with the video.

I’ll tell you what was going through my head when I played as me, 01 korezaan, partially because I happen to know what I thought, but also because I happen to be the player in the video who has the least interaction, so it’s not obvious what it is I’m responding to.

After firing upon 22 Khram, partially in cover and almost completely in sync with 01 Personofsecrets thus somewhat hiding how many people were firing, 01 Personofsecrets tells me to rush the building. I agree it’s a good idea, or more importantly it’s not obviously a bad idea and there’s no time to talk about it, so I do it. While running I hear shots in front, then shots to the right, the shots in front again. No one on my team has died or taken any damage (the UI is slightly different in-game, there’s team health indicators to the bottom left), so I continue sprinting. More shots ring out as I reach the building, 01 lonelyshadowzz has taken hits, but he’s behind a wall, and I know that Team 22 in general is on this side of the road, so I thought, if I was in that situation, I’d just lay behind that wall. If I have healing I use it, maybe come over, if not, just stay put. I didn’t expect him to try and run across an open road without having healed. But he did that. So now he’s dead and I can’t do anything about it.

At this time it’s not entirely clear how much of the enemy team was alive. I presumed it was 3, but it could’ve been 4; 22 Baconnaise died out of line of sight and the kill ticker at the top right is hard to pay attention to when you’re trying to spot enemies. In any case there was definitely 1 in the building, and the others were up the treeline somewhere. Probably. Then I start suspecting that building guy (22 Khram) had left the building, because nothing was happening. I didn’t hear any footsteps so there was no movement, which could mean because there was no person. It would be reasonable to leave the building and run directly away, towards teammates, with the building itself covering the line of sight between us. At one point I look behind me too, because I found it that odd nothing had happened for so long.

Then 01 Personofsecrets gets a huge chunk off 22 calmdownok. In those few seconds 22 calmdownok uses a healing item, 01 Personofsecrets tells me “turn left and left again, he’ll be at the tree right in front of you”. I took this literally and turned left, before realizing two lefts is a nonsense direction, and deciding it meant the closest tree to the west that would be “right in front of me” if I looked off that side of the building.

I happened to turn left because I believed there to be no one in the building at the time. Given that someone is at the tree, and that another one or two are up in the treeline somewhere, the approach with first the blue building on my left and then the red shed on my right would keep me in the most cover for the longest amount of time against the largest number of angles.

It just so happens there was someone in the building, but he didn’t shoot me immediately.

Which in turn was because I just so happened to spook him from shuffling around the outside of the building a lot, making him think I was about to come in at any moment.

Just so happened he decided to watch an angle completely useless to his teammate.

Just so happened that, after following the information provided by 01 Personofsecrets, I won the fight against 22 calmdownok. Not an expected result, I’m usually the poorer shot. Just so happens I finished my sprint first, my gun was up and his gun was down, and I got a shot off before he could even contest.

Just so happened that 22 Khram comes down the stairs and fires at me as I move into general cover.

Just so happened that, as 22 Khram is firing at me, I turn around to see that the building’s windows were empty. There was another window, which he was in, but that’s not what cropped to mind at the time. What appeared to be the case was that the game’s sound engine was being bad again. Here’s someone firing at me, yet the building windows I see in front of me – where I hear the sound from – are empty. PUBG’s sound engine is such that sounds in front of you and sounds behind you sound exactly the same. Left and right work just fine, but front and back are as if you yourself are firing, so to determine locations by sound you always have to spin your head. So, since bullets were being fired, but I saw nothing, and 01 Personofsecrets definitely wasn’t the target, it must be at me, and the enemy must be further west or up the treeline. I finish the kill on 22 calmdownok and run to where I thought would be cover.

Just so happens I was wrong.

Just so happens 22 Khram decides to reload his magazine rather than finish firing his final 8 bullets at a defenseless target.

Just so happens 01 Personofsecrets runs in the door as that reload is occuring.

Just so happens, because we hadn’t seen Team 22’s fourth, 01 Personofsecrets still thought there was still an enemy to deal with.

Just so happens, at some point I said “You need to rez me. Like. Right now.”

Just so happens he jumped off the second story and got to me in time.

This isn’t so much a just so happens, but it just so happens, their fourth got in a boat at the beginning and went to the next village over, and only just got his land vehicle on the road when the encounter ended.

And so, it just so happens we survived.

Did we all give our best? Maybe not 01 feakyassuo or 22 Engineoflove. Not only is dropping a skill that’s not too difficult to get right, a few hours of the game reveals reliably to the average person just what kind of difference it makes to drop 20 feet in the wrong direction or 5 seconds too late if you’re dropping with company around. Going to the next town over is a couple of orders of magnitude up from that.

But everyone else certainly did. We – both Team 22 and Team 01 – aren’t the best players, but we all did reasonable things, with reasonable levels of skill. No one was to praise, no one was to blame. Team 01 didn’t win because they were great players. Team 22 didn’t lose because they were poor players. Nothing to do with smart or stupid, good or bad. Not really “because” anything in particular. It was quite a lot of little things that turned out in ways no one expected.

Just so happens too that I was the final spotlight character and the whole thing could be edited into something that almost looks like a story. I certainly wouldn’t have found it very interesting if I had played as someone else. Nor would I have had the replay to even look at or make the video on, because, it just so happens, PUBG replays cut off the moment you die. You can look at other peoples’ perspectives if they’re within a certain range of you, but you can’t look if you’re dead. Just so happens too this was my first squad game in a long time; I had decided that only duos was worth playing but 01 Personofsecrets said he wanted one game, I said alright, one game. Just so happens that one game was amazing.

Just so happened I didn’t die.

Just so happened we won.

Just so happened… to be that way.

The General Case: On the Structure of Decisions

The results of decisions are not the reasons, that is to say, structures, for decisions.

The structures of decisions, even if identical, can result in wildly different resulting decisions.

Please make your choice 9S-A2


Let’s talk about achievements. Climbing to the top. A mountain top.

Let’s say your achievement is climbing to a mountaintop. Good job! With this achievement, you’re now looking to do the big one: Mount Everest. How do you climb Mount Everest?

“I’ll just climb it”

Well no, you can’t do that. You’re on the top of a mountain right now, you see.

You’re gonna have to get off the summit of that mountain first. If climbing a mountain has approximately the same properties as does hiking or cycling a really steep hill, then I hope your skills for climbing up a mountain are equally matched by your skills for climbing down a mountain, because that’s not a cakewalk either. It’s not just “I got to the top! Time for sex, shower, and then bed”. You gotta go all the way back down first, buddy. Down is easier than up if you’re a rock, but you’re not a rock, you’re a fleshbag, and even rocks break if you drop them from high enough. Are you tougher than a rock? The ground doesn’t care if you’re manly or not I’m afraid, only that you are a man, and not a rock.

Anyways, supposing you make it safely down the mountain, then you gotta go home, or back to the hotel, and that’s not necessarily at the base of the mountain either. If it isn’t, you are probably driving or going to get driven back, perhaps in a bus of some kind, so no whipping out your dick in there either (unless you’re into that sort of thing), then you enter the hotel, go up stairs or elevator, and hope to god you remembered to bring your keycard before you left for your great expedition, because if you didn’t, back to the lobby you go. Depending on how much time has passed you may or may not have taken off all your fancy equipment, so you’ll have to take that off. You are probably caked in sweat. Sex now or after shower? In any case, you’re not in bed until you’re in bed, and you’re not in bed until you’re in bed.

Then you gotta go to that other mountain. Probably with at least a handful of months inbetween because you used up all your vacation time already and have to save up again for the next one. Then you gotta look up the routes, call up some numbers, buy the plane ticket….

The important parts are: you need to get down the mountain, then you need to do a lot of things that don’t involve you going up mountains or gaining altitude in any way, all in order to even start climbing the next mountain, let alone getting on top of it, which may or may not happen, since expert climbers still die.

You don’t “go higher”.

You literally always need to go lower first. Probably a lot lower.

To anyone simply looking at the results at the time from moment to moment, they won’t understand it at all. “Wow why is this guy losing altitude, I thought he was a promising newcomer but maybe not”. For something physical like mountain climbing perhaps it sounds like a comical exaggeration, but that’s only because basic physical principles are generally understood: of course you have to come down from the top first before you can go to the next one. K2, the second highest mountain in the world, is in the same mountain range as Everest, but everyone recognizes you don’t just climb from there up into the air until you reach the correct elevation, and then magically get teleported over to the summit of Everest, just because “they’re part of the same range”. They might not understand all the other things like how you really will die up there if you screw up or how heavy carrying oxygen tanks is, but at least a few of the critical basics are understood. Enough to understand that being able to do something once doesn’t mean being able to do it again.

People generally don’t understand this on anything else.

If symbols (numbers, words, pictures) are involved, “generally” becomes “definitely”.

Good Programmer? You can do more in less time. What do you mean you’re going to do something that might not work? Didn’t you learn how to program in school / the jobs you had before you were hired here? And what do you mean it’ll take more time than you thought? You gave me an estimate didn’t you? Aren’t you the progr-ah, so I did mishear. You’re actually an artist. A big one too, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers on YouTube. Wow, you can make really realistic drawings of people! Truly skilled. Master artist. Hey, can you draw me a kangaroo? I just like kangar- what! That looks ugly! Like a five year old drew it! You’re a hack! Fraud!

I haven’t done any amount of programming so I can only point to someone who has and the mountain climbing metaphor in general, but I have done drawing so I know exactly what the problem was there.

It’s that the results are not the structure.

“Good artist” doesn’t mean “he can draw whatever I want”. People train and practice in different ways, they are going to be good at what they trained and practiced at and nothing else. Or more specifically: if they do actually turn out good at anything else, it’s either 1) a happy coincidence, 2) a fluke, or 3) the audience is simply unable to detect the errors. The artist of the example above has studied at an atelier for a decade drawing extremely accurate muscle forms on human anatomy. That is a certain field. It is “in” art, it is not “(all) art”. From what I know about ateliers, they generally create from reference – i.e. they are copying without tracing. Here’s a picture or model, now draw it. Drawing from imagination is a wildly different skill from drawing from reference. How you approach things if you are always going to be copying is fundamentally different from how you approach things if you want to be able to do them from your mind. If I’ve never seen a kangaroo before everyone understands I wouldn’t be able to draw you a kangaroo, but even supposing I have, that still doesn’t mean I can do “it”, because that’s not what “it” depends on. It depends on a number of things, maybe the first of which is whether you’re paying me enough to draw a kangaroo, or more generally, why I would be interested in doing such a thing.

This isn’t a joke or nonsense separate detail; it’s a direct cause to whether or not something happens i.e. a part of the structure. A good artist isn’t suddenly not a good artist because he declines your request. He might just not want to draw kangaroos. If he does want to draw kangaroos, it depends on why he wants to draw them and what it is he likes. If he likes cute things, perhaps the head will appear larger. If he likes slimmer sexier things, perhaps the tail’s length in proportion to the body will be longer. If he doesn’t care about color, you’re probably not going to get immaculately rendered fur. If you didn’t pay enough, you might get something that would otherwise be more complete. These are generally referred to as “style”. And it works in different ways than just “good” or “not good”.

If you can draw a cat, you can probably draw a tiger. Maybe not the best one ever, but probably a better tiger than someone who’s only ever drawn environments.

And yet, maybe not.

I’ve spent years grinding pencil sketches of little anatomical details of the female body (for reasons beyond the scope of this post), the vast majority of it being from imagination, but I was able to pick up the most important points on how to draw jets and cars within a few iterations (not hours, iterations!) of each. Does this mean I have a natural affinity for mechanical objects? Maybe. And yet, maybe not. I can’t draw a tank that doesn’t look silly. And all my guns are terrible, they’re too fat and look like supersoakers. I think this might have something to do with the fact that I draw on paper at a certain size, and that “certain size” is such that the diameter of the barrel on the gun or tank is often not much larger the width of the 0.5mm lead out of my mechanical pencil. I mean, maybe that means I should draw larger? But drawing smaller means I can see all of it without having to pull my head back, and in my experience the large problems are always at the large scale; an eye can be 10% off a non-symmetrical direction without any real problem, a head can’t be 10% larger without turning an average young adult into a tall kid. And that’s my domain, drawing small sketches of anatomical parts. With no knowledge of how any other setup works the rules from that setting are going to be what I’m going to default assume. So those might be why I can’t do tanks and guns. Or it might be something else.

These are the kinds of things which comprise the structure of decisions.

Are there universals?


Do I know what they are?

Well, I know where not to look.

I also know approximately where it is to look: Any universal in the structures of decisions has to do with universals for human existence and epistemology. One of them would be time. You and everyone else only ever have 24 hours in a day, and you can only ever do one action at a time, at the cost of every other action. Keep that in mind and plan without regards to direct feelings about any specific actions; the results are not the structure. Related to that is how you assess risk. You want some things, you don’t want other things. Given what you know at the time, what kind of decision will you change? If it’s already obvious then good for you, if not then you need to lay the details from the top to the trivial; the results are not the structure. Ideas, like “truth”, are important, but they’re not the most important thing, not at the cost of everything else. There are other things to weigh it against. How do you weigh it? I don’t know. Weighing Truth against Love is probably very different from weighing Freedom against Order, and that’s assuming we even have the same definitions of the term. I do know that their weighing has nothing to do with speaking inside their own terms. “But it’s true” is not a valid point in Truth vs Some Other Virtue; the results are not the structure.

It might be that Truth, or some other idea, really is worth that much. What do you think? Operative word: “you”, not “think”. What are you willing to do? That’s what’s at hand here; it’s not a test with a box and a correct answer. “Risk” is essentially just cost. Living in industrialized society it’s been confused to a pretty large degree, with such reliability in systems we have begun to believe that more than just that the sun will rise again tomorrow in the east, more than the moon will fill up every 30 suns, more than the seasons will cycle endlessly, we place our trust in a seemingly endless number of other things… so much that we think that chaos is the error.

“Risk” is essentially just “Cost”. No, that’s wrong. “Cost” is essentially just “Risk”.

In deciding something, the question is: Is it worth the cost?

These decisions aren’t in terms of “passion” or “competency”. “Just git gud” says, in this domain, literally nothing. It’s less than nothing. The equivalent of “Why don’t poor people just buy more money?”. The problem isn’t “good” or “bad”, “passion” or “laziness”, it’s that it looks silly or stupid, and the reason why it looks silly isn’t because it’s “good” or “bad”, “passion” or “laziness”, but because it’s the end result of a whole chained series of other decisions, decisions that may or may not even be known are related at time of initial inspection, that are entirely opaque if you attempt to think about the world in a just-shove-in-more-positives way.

Last month I wrote something up on Bitcoin, saying it had no future, or whatever future it and all the other cryptocurrencies had it would be at best the same as what we have now. Last month, quite a few people were talking about how all the naysayers are just naysayers (negatives are negatives), look at how they said it wouldn’t break 1 dollar, 10 dollars, 100 dollars, it’s currently 17,000, it’ll be 100,000 soon, it’ll replace fiat currencies with raww paww bux (positives are positives are positives). Since then it’s dropped about half its value to ~10,000, and I haven’t needed to say anything, because I looked into the problem structure, and analyzed it at that level which didn’t happen to change (it could’ve, but it just so happened that it didn’t). So I haven’t said anything. Granted, I lose out on all the potential profits daytrading or shorting or whatever a bubble might have, but that’s not what I commented on. I commented on the long term inherent value of such a technology, not what dollar number it might reach. Since then though, “quite a few people” have changed their tune drastically, because their analyses *were* on what dollar value it might reach. Now it’s all about how it’ll fall fall fall, sell now it’s going down, get back in when it hits 5000 or 800 or [number]. Maybe. Some of them are now saying they knew it was a scam all along and they were in just to make the quick buck.

I find it pretty obvious these people are in it to demonstrate to others that they’re an expert on the matter, rather than actually being an expert on the matter. Not that the former isn’t important, but it’s not the same as the latter; the results are not the structure. They may or may not confuse the two. If they do, then they’re high on their own supply, if they don’t, well. Now you know why Hanlon’s Razor is for tools.

People who look up to these “quite a few” though definitely do confuse the two. Just the same as people who look up to entertainment reviews, or institutional narratives for explanations, it’s always sort-of just-as the expected results, until it really, really isn’t. Look to take advantage of something when you don’t know how it works and aren’t willing to figure out how it works, the expected result is that it will do the unexpected. This isn’t to say you have to understand how everything everywhere works. No one has time for that. You have to move at the speed of everyone else, and everyone else has decided they’re going to ride airplanes without understanding how airplanes work. So onto the plane you go. Just don’t be surprised if the pilot and co-pilot can no longer operate the plane and the plane crashes.

Perhaps, before getting on the plane… before buying into bitcoin, before looking for art commissions or getting into a coding job, before moving to another country or picking a major, before seeing that movie or buying that videogame… perhaps, before you get into something, you try to look into things a bit first.

You may learn a few things.

You may not.

But you definitely won’t if you don’t look at all.

At some point in time your boarding party is called and it’s time to get inside. Plane lifts off and you’re on your way to your destination, with no further input asked of you. Everything proceeds as planned. Until it doesn’t. You notice no one is attempting to do anything about the situation. Perhaps one of the flight attendants or other passengers has more experience than you, or perhaps such people are in the bathroom. But you can only act on what you believe to be true at the time, and you believe no one is up for the task. It just so happens no one rises in your field of view, and you make your way to the cockpit.

You may, perhaps, be able to figure out the radio, and learn over the telecom clear enough information in time to have the chance to try and land safely. It’s not impossible. Happy ending if it does, and everyone wants it to happen, but the results are not the structure. The structure is: you don’t know what you’re doing…

…and you’re willing to do it.

The expected result would be that the plane crashes and everyone dies.

The decision… is to man the controls and put up a fight.

Decision Theory: The World Beyond Words

dominator destroy decomposer


“Why… Why did you do such a reckless thing?!”
“This is about finding the truth behind people’s deaths! If we want to uncover such a thing, naturally we must risk our own lives!”

Tsunemori Akane, Kogami Shinya

“I seriously doubt this, but I’d better ask… do you think you can accomplish anything with no sacrifices? You’d like it if stuff you did saved people’s lives, but you don’t wanna let a single person die, ever? Think about the fact that right now, at this very moment, there are Eishi fighting and dying all over the world. If you want to save the world, if you want to save even a single human life, then don’t you need to prove yourself as soon as possible? What is it then? You don’t mind people dying without your knowledge, but once you know about it, suddenly it’s bad?”

Tsukuyomi Mana
Muv-Luv Alternative

“The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim.

We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaining one’s aim is a dog’s death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

“I might have to kill your son after all.”
“Guess it can’t be helped.”
“But I thought this shuttle was unarmed.”
“Yes, it’s unarmed.”
‘Then, where do you get your confidence from?”
“*laughs* This is typical of how the Abh think. It’s not as if Her Highness believes she can definitely win. There’s no sense thinking about what we’d do after we’re killed. She’s just warning me in the event that we were to win.”
“Then, what did you think, Jinto?”
“His Excellency thought that you disregarded the possibility that this ship may be destroyed.”
“Do you take me for a fool? Our chances of winning this battle are less than 10%. Of course I know that.”
“But you still choose to fight?”
“What other choice do we have?”

Lafiel Abriel, Second Baron of Febdash, Jinto Linn
Crest of the Stars

“When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.”


“The ‘Why’ is there for purely rhetorical purposes, like the ‘it’ in ‘it is raining’.”

The Last Psychiatrist

“There has to be an answer. You must not doubt that.

If you can’t believe that, why don’t you cry yourself to sleep, and then just give up and die?”

Umineko no Naku Koro Ni Chiru: End of the Golden Witch

“If that Dong Zhuo can confine the emperor to the inner palace, and toy with him as a puppet, then why can’t we look at him equally, and use him to our advantage? Within this decree I hold in my hands, is there a single phrase that is not what the emperor would like to say, but dare not say? Though this is a forgery, it is more real than a real decree. I am certain that as soon as this decree is announced throughout the realm, every treacherous man will cower in fear, and every loyal man heartened.”

Cao Cao
Romance of the Three Kingdoms

“Maybe we haven’t had enough time to prepare, and maybe this still isn’t enough power… but the people who fall back on endless excuses like those will never achieve anything.”

Kouzuki Yuuko
Muv-Luv Alternative

“There are things I just can’t do.”
“Because you never try.”
“I do the things I can as best I can.”
“And so you never accomplish anything new.”

Phosphophyllite, Antarcticite
Land of the Lustrous

“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

The Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith

“Video games tend to be loathed by people who have never played them. That’s understandable, given the gore involved, but it’s a shame. In addition to their considerable ingenuity and occasional beauty, the best games provide a model for the design of software. They show how applications can encourage the development of skills rather than their atrophy. To master a video game, a player has to struggle through challenges of increasing difficulty, always pushing the limits of his talent. Every mission has a goal, there are rewards for doing well, and the feedback (an eruption of blood, perhaps) is immediate and often visceral. Games promote a state of flow, inspiring players to repeat tricky maneuvers until they become second nature. The skill a gamer learns may be trivial – how to manipulate a plastic controller to drive an imaginary wagon over an imaginary bridge, say – but he’ll learn it thoroughly, and he’ll be able to exercise it again in the next mission or the next game. He’ll become an expert, and he’ll have a blast along the way.

When it comes to the software we use in our personal lives, video games are an exception. Most popular apps, gadgets, and online services are built for convenience, or as their makers say, “usability.” Requiring only a few taps, swipes, or clicks, the programs can be mastered with little study or practice. Like the automated systems used in industry and commerce, they’ve been carefully designed to shift the burden of thought from people to computers. Even the high-end programs used by musicians, record producers, filmmakers, and photographers place an ever stronger emphasis on ease of use. Complex audio and visual effects, which once demanded expert know-how, can be achieved by pushing a button or dragging a slider. The underlying concepts need not be understood, as they’ve been incorporated into software routines. This has the very real benefit of making the software useful to a broader group of people – those who want to get the effects without the effort. But the cost of accommodating the dilettante is a demeaning of expertise.”

The Glass Cage
Nicholas Carr

“Anything that’s actually worth doing has a non-zero chance of failure and too many unknown unknowns for estimates to be useful.”

Michael O. Church

“Eren… I’d told you to wait for me downstairs!! What have you done… DO YOU EVEN REALIZE WHAT YOU DID?”


Father, Eren Jaeger
Attack on Titan

“Suppose you have two theories, A and B. Both completely different psychologically, different ideas and so on. But all the consequences they computed are exactly the same. They may even agree with the experiments. The two theories, although they sound different at the beginning, have all the consequences the same. It’s usually easy to prove by doing a little mathematics ahead of time to show that the logic of this one and this one will always give corresponding consequences. Suppose we have two such theories: how are we going to decide which one is right?

No way. Not by science. Because they both agree with experiments there’s no way to distinguish one from the other. So two theories, although they may have deeply different ideas behind them, may be mathematically identical, and usually people say then in science ‘one doesn’t know how to distinguish them’. And that’s right.

However, for psychological reasons, in order to get new theories, these two things are very far from equivalent. Because one gives a man very different ideas than another. By putting a theory in a certain kind of framework you get an idea what could change. Which in theory A would talk about something, you say I’ll change that idea here, but to find out what corresponding things you’re going to change in B could be very complicated. It may not be a simple idea. In other words, a simple change here makes maybe a very different theory than a simple change there. In other words, although they are identical before they’re changed, there are certain ways of changing one which look natural, which don’t look natural in the other. Therefore psychologically, we must keep all those theories in our head. Every theoretical physicist that’s any good knows six or seven different theoretical representations for exactly the same physics, and knows that they’re all equivalent, and that nobody is ever going to be able to decide which one is right – at that level – but he keeps them in his head, hoping that they’ll give him different ideas.

Incidentally that reminds me of another thing, and that is that the philosophy or the ideas around the theory: a lot of ideas, ‘I believe there is a space-time’ or something like that in order to discuss your analyses… these ideas change enormously when there are very tiny changes in the theory. For instance, Newton’s ideas about space and time agree with experiment very well. But in order to get to get the correct motion of the orbit of Mercury, which is a tiny tiny difference, the difference in the character of the theory with which you started with is enormous. Reason is, these are so simple, so perfect. They produce definite results. In order to get something that produces a little different results, it has to be completely different. You can’t make imperfections on a perfect thing, you have to have another perfect thing. So the philosophical ideas between Newton’s theory of gravitation and Einstein’s theory of gravitation, their differences, are enormous.

What are these philosophies? These philosophies are really tricky ways to compute consequences quickly. A philosophy, which is sometimes called an understanding of the law, is simply a way a person holds the laws in his mind so as to guess quickly at consequences.

Some people have said, and it’s true for instance in the case of Maxwell’s equations and other equations, ‘Nevermind the philosophies, nevermind anything of this kind, just guess the equations. The problem is only the compute the answers so that they agree with experiment, and it is not necessary to have a philosophy, or worry about the equations’. That’s true. In a sense. Yes, and no. It’s good in the sense if you’re only guessing at the equations, you’re not prejudicing yourself and you’ll guess better. On the other hand maybe the philosophy helps you to get it. It’s very hard to say.

For those people who insist however that the only thing that’s important is that the theory agrees with experiment, I would like to make an imaginary discussion between a Mayan astronomer and his student. The Mayans were able to calculate with great precision the predictions, for example, for eclipses and the position of the moon in the sky and Venus and so on. However it was all done by arithmetic. You count some numbers you subtract certain numbers and so on. There was no discussion of what the moon was. There wasn’t even a discussion of the idea that it went around. There was only calculate the time there would be an eclipse or a time when it would rise full moon and when it would rise half moon. Just calculated, only.

Suppose that a young man went to the astronomer and said, I have an idea. Maybe those things are going around, and they’re balls of rock, we could calculate how they move in a completely different way, rather than just what time they appear in the sky.

So of course the Mayan astronomer would say Yes, how accurate can you predict eclipses? He says I haven’t developed the thing very far. He says But we can calculate eclipses more accurately than you can with your model and so you must not pay any attention to that, this mathematical schema is better.

There’s a very strong tendency in people to say against some idea, if someone comes up with an idea, says let’s suppose the world is this way, and you say to them what would you get for the answer for such and such problem, and he says I haven’t developed it far enough, and you say well we have already developed it much further and we can get the answers very accurately.

So it is a problem as to whether or not as to worry about philosophies behind ideas.”

The Character of Physical Law
Richard Feynman

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Our objectives may be the same… however, as long as we value different things, we will choose different methods.”

Mitsurugi Meiya
Muv-Luv Alternative

“When we measure something we are forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We are not ‘measuring’ the world, we are creating it.”

Niels Bohr

“A trap is for fish: when you’ve got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you’ve got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you’ve got the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find someone who’s forgotten words so I can have a word with him?”


“Training deals not with an object but with the human spirit and human emotions.”

The Tao of Jeet Kune Do
Bruce Lee

“Why don’t you just let it go? That’s all in the past, now. You’re like my mom, going all “Oh this guy was suspicious from the start!” once the culprit in her detective dramas gets revealed. What difference does it make if you don’t manage to stop me?”

Yiwu Liu #44
Terra Formars

“I’ll go buy time. We’ll have to bet that this situation will change.”

Komachi Shoukichi #3
Terra Formars

“It is a principle of the art of war that one should simply lay down his life and strike. If one’s opponent also does the same, it is an even match. Defeating one’s opponent is then a matter of faith and destiny.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

“The birth of a hero is completed upon his death.”

Kusanagi Motoko
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

“Why do anti-Nazis always make fun of the fact that Himmler was a chicken farmer? First of all: there’s nothing wrong with being a chicken farmer. Second: it obviously didn’t affect his performance as head of the SS.”


“Matsudaira Izu no kami said to Master Mizuno Kenmotsu, “You’re such a useful person, it’s a shame that you’re so short.”

Kenmotsu replied, “That’s true. Sometimes things in this world don’t go the way we would like. Now if I were to cut off your head and attach it to the bottom of my feet, I would be taller. But that’s something that couldn’t be done.””

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

“I have heard that most of the forces for retaking the capital will be gathered from the Secondary Defense Line and the Kantou Final Defense Line.”
“Who cares who gets to rule right now… such a damn waste of time.”

“If you are calling our nation’s sovereignty “stupid”… I cannot ignore that.”

“How are these battles for power not stupid? It’s all meaningless if humanity has no future. Squabbling over government here, on the front lines of the Far East? They should just borrow everything the UN has and squash it like a bug.”
“Then I shall ask you this. What if the UN’s objectives were heavily influenced by a particular nation’s desire for world domination? And if that state happened to be exceptionalist, and intolerant of contrary opinions, would your answer remain the same?”
“It would.”
“Humanity’s survival takes priority.”
“In that case, assuming we became able to communicate with the BETA, would you allow them to rule the world if it meant our survival?”
“No. I’m after a human victory. It’s impossible for us to coexist with the BETA.”

“Then I shall use a different analogy.

Let us say your squad, while engaging the enemy, experienced internal strife and fell into dire straits as a result. Then my unit, which happened to be deployed in the same area, came to you and offered to help resolve that strife. If you do not accept, your squad will die… but if you do, then most likely the problem will be resolved and you will win. However, accepting would force your squad to be incorporated into mine. Let us further assume this means you would all become my slaves, losing all physical and mental freedom.

Would you still accept my offer?”


“Would you accept any sort of plan if it could ensure victory?”


“Is something wrong? If fights over power are indeed “stupid”, you should be able to answer without hesitation.”

Tsukuyomi Mana, Shirogane Takeru
Muv-Luv Alternative

“He knows. But what good does that do him? He doesn’t believe it.”

Cao Cao
Romance of the Three Kingdoms

“Truth is what a person / a people believes. Everything else follows, not precedes.”

Korezaan Su
2016 December 20

“Even when our eyes are closed, there’s a whole world out there that lives outside ourselves and our dreams.”

Edward Elric
Fullmetal Alchemist

“I’ll let you decide whether I’m bluffing or not.”

Tsukuyomi Mana
Muv-Luv Alternative

“The essentials of speaking are in not speaking at all. If you think that you can finish something without speaking, finish it without saying a single word. If there is something that cannot be accomplished without speaking, one should speak with few words, in a way that will accord well with reason.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

“According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.”

Donald D Hoffman

“You’re thinking, “I don’t want to hear about how everything is interpretable through the artificial paradigm of narrative structure–” as if it was me and not your god who made it this way, as if I was better able to invent a convenient fiction that happened to apply to you rather than describe a process that’s been used for millennia. You think you’re the first? You think no one but you has lived your life? Do you think you are so unique? Do you think I just took a guess? This isn’t the first time this game has been played, there’ve been over 100 generations of Guess What Happens Next and it is the exact same answer every single time. All of this has happened before and it will happen again.

But you want “why”, you’re drawn to “why” like you’re drawn to a pretty girl in the rain. Let me guess: she has black hair, big eyes, and is dressed like an ingenue. “Why?” is the most seductive of questions because it is innocent, childlike, infinite in possibilities, and utterly devoted to you.

“Why am I this way? Why do I do what I do?” But what will you do with that information? What good is it? If you were an android, would it change you to know why you were programmed the way you were? “Why” is masturbation, “why” is the enemy, the only question that matters is, now what?”

The Last Psychiatrist

“It doesn’t matter what you know – it only matters what you can think of in time.”

The Book of Five Rings
Miyamoto Musashi

girls last tour arrow1

Girls’ Last Tour

“There is something to which every young samurai should pay attention in battle. During times of peace when listening to stories of battle, one should never say, “In facing such a situation, what would a person do?” Such words are out of the question. How will a man who has doubts even in his own room achieve anything on the battlefield?

There is a saying that goes, “No matter what the circumstances might be, one should be of the mind to win. One should be holding the first spear to strike.” Even though you have put your life on the line, there is nothing to be done when the situation doesn’t go as planned.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

girls last tour arrow1

Girls’ Last Tour

“I think talent is the ability to take chances, and the calm to learn from your mistakes. Skill is second to that. I’ve seen plenty others with much more skill miss great opportunities because of extreme self-consciousness or some mistaken sense of discretion.”

Sugie Shigeru

“Personally, I believe the most important thing in life is being able to take advantage of an opportunity whenever it may come. If one manages that, one can bring about positive results through later effort. However, effort alone is not guaranteed to bring about such opportunities. Those opportunities will not wait for people to be ready. If you want to accomplish something… there will be times when you must make decisions, whether or not you are prepared for them.”

Tsukuyomi Mana
Muv-Luv Extra

“An unforeseen situation… An unexpected turn of events… In the face of those, you too will face your true self.”

Makishima Shogo

“A good player tries to read out such tactical problems in his head before he puts the stones on the board. He looks before he leaps. Frequently he does not leap at all; many of the sequences his reading uncovers are stored away for future reference, and in the end never carried out. This is especially true in a professional game, where the two hundred or so moves played are only the visible part of an iceberg of implied threats and possibilities, most of which stays submerged. You may try to approach the game at that level, or you may, like most of us, think your way from one move to the next as you play along, but in either case it is your reading ability more than anything else that determines your rank.”

James Davies

“To stand atop other people… is to bear a great many responsibilities, and hand down a great many decisions. As a result, governments and organizations have different beliefs and ideals depending on their positions. People are no different. When one wishes to do something, there are inevitably some who see it as good and others who see it as evil. However, if you are able to place yourself in different positions, then all of them will appear to be right.

And… although it is sad, there may not always be a path which satisfies each and every one of their wishes… No matter what you rely on at those times, or what path you show to those below you… If you hesitate at those times… then you must have the courage to stand still and look back at how you arrived there.

And… you must never hesitate to stain your own hands with blood. Those who show others the way must not avert their eyes from the weight of responsibility.”

Koubuin Yuuhi
Muv-Luv Alternative

“Pacifism will remain an ideal, war a fact.”

Oswald Spengler

“Asking nicely never works until you have the upper hand.”

Kusanagi Motoko
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

“Victory needs no explanation, defeat allows none.”

Imperium Thought for the Day
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

“Always attack – whether it is a counterattack or an attack in response to an attack. In the time it takes to evaluate the effects of an attacker’s attack, you could have attacked. Whatever has happened has already happened, and the effect is what the effect is, and no matter the effect – if you will want to attack, attack without pausing to find out what happened to you. It takes focus to do this.

People are naturally inclined to respond more powerfully to things happening to them than to things they are doing.

This reflex must be overcome so it cannot be used against you.”

The Book of Five Rings
Miyamoto Musashi

“I’ve lost everything. My room, my money, my reason to live. Everything. I wish they’d just kill me.”
“No. You can’t die.”
“You’re telling me to live? Oh that’s right, you were royalty, you talk different. I’m a piece of shit at rock bottom. And you still tell me to live? No to give up hope?”

“You’ll stink if you die.”


“So don’t. Not in this tiny space.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s it.”
“How selfish are you, you bitch?”
“You’re one to talk, you loser. Hope? Do you honestly believe such a thing exists? All that exists is persecution and fighting DRAGONs every day.

Dammit. It’s almost funny. Those ignorant bastards are brimming with prejudice and bigotry. They hear I’m a Norma and they reject me like idiots. Is it THAT bad I can’t use Mana? Is it THAT bad I’m different?

It’s all a lie. Friendship, family, social bonds. AAAAAHHHH I can’t believe I said friendship is great and bonds are beautiful. I want to beat myself up.”


“Complete dumbass. Dumbasses everywhere. The world is rotten…

…How about we destroy it all?”

“I bet we could do it. With our Para-mails and Arzenal’s weapons…”
“How far do you think it is to the continent? We’ll run out of fuel, and then it’s *splash*.”
“We just have to build something that can make the trip, then.”
“What about food?”
“There’s plenty of fish. Or we could steal from the humans, if we had to.”
“And materials?”

“We’ll figure something out.”

Hildegard Schlievogt, Angelise Ikaruga Misurugi
Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons

ange i'm not empty enough to be content with whatever you decide to give me

Cross Ange

“A person who does not want to be struck by the enemy’s arrows will have no divine protection. For a man who does not wish to be hit by the arrows of a common soldier, but rather those by a warrior of fame, there will be the protection for which he has asked.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

ange kill god

Cross Ange

“Send out all the drones we’ve got!”
“But we don’t know which path to take.”
“Try randomly! Make sure at least one drone gets through!”

Nobuchika Ginoza, Kunizuka Yayoi

Nero to Altera drown in human life


“Why are you going that far to obey the law when that law can neither judge a criminal nor protect people?”

“The law doesn’t protect people. People protect the law.

People have always detested evil and sought out a righteous way of living. Their feelings… The accumulation of those peoples’ feelings are the law. They’re neither the provisions nor the system. They’re the fragile and irreplacable feelings that everyone carries in their hearts. Compared to the power of anger or hatred, they are something that can quite easily break down. People have prayed for a better world throughout time.

In order for those prayers to continue to hold meaning, we have to try our best to protect it to the very end.”

Kogami Shinya, Tsunemori Akane

Commander to 9S what path will you take


“When the time comes, there is no moment for reasoning. And if you have not done your inquiring beforehand, there is most often shame. Reading books and listening to people’s talk are for the purpose of prior resolution.

Above all, the Way of the Samurai should be in being aware that you do not know what is going to happen next, and in querying every item day and night. Victory and defeat are matters of temporary force of circumstances. The way of avoiding shame is different. It is simply in death.

Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death.

By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

D meiya birthday

“Life is not always better than death. It is not that simple. Living and being made to survive are very different things.

What matters is what the person wants, and whether or not it can be achieved.”

Mitsurugi Meiya
Muv-Luv Unlimited

this exists solely because facebook seems to default to the final image of a post for its preview image. apparently you can control it by setting a html meta property, but that's not allowed in free wordpress. what is allowed though is putting down images in html and then setting them to not show up. so this technically is the last image - as far as facebook is concerned.

A Lie Stronger Than Truth

“Why so many people compare [Houseki no Kuni] to Nier automata?
The only similarity I see is the post apocalyptic setting”

“empty world
pretty girls
simple enemies
simple motivation
then you find out everything about everything you knew was wrong.

and everyone knew.

everyone but you.

and yet, there was a reason. a reason that, no matter how much you try to fight, you can’t win. people before you saw through it, but they too could find no other way. a lie, but a lie that’s stronger than the truth.

knowing that, what will you do?”

9s vs a2

Confidence and Conflict

laphos gentle persuasion

Once upon a time, when I found out someone contradicted themselves, I got really really mad. I’d get mad, and I’d stay mad as long as the contradiction existed. Which it always did. And when it didn’t, it was obviously a PR apology, so the original contradiction would be replaced by another more unclear sort.

Somewhere along the way it occurred to me to pay attention to what the givens actually were. Person said statement A, given. Person said statement Not-A, given. Statement A and statement Not-A have a resolution — given. Person is good and honest — not given. Media interviewed Person for some reason, given. Media interviewed Person for reason they stated, not given. Entity made contradiction because of stupidity or error — not given.

This hasn’t solved any contradictions specifically, but it has led to an orderly process: “inspect the givens to determine where the contradiction lies”. “Where” – it’s either in me, or it’s not in me. If it’s in me, then it’s a matter of reflection. If it’s not in me, then I have linked someone’s name to danger.

Either way, getting mad is no longer part of the equation. No more mental equivalent of pointless rioting, because the problem structure has been identified. And one of the results of the structure is: enemies exist only on the outside.

If the self was a nation, this would be unification.

Detecting Enemies: Houseki no Kuni

Tumblr says Houseki no Kuni writer Haruko Ichikawa makes money from writing stories glorifying incest and pedophilia.

I don’t know whether this is true.

However, I do know how Tumblr has reacted to allegations of incest and pedophilia in the past, and their reactions in the past were exactly the opposite of how they’re reacting now; namely, “Let’s put a P on that LGBT”.


So what I know, having spent negligible time and energy on the information, is that not only is there something else other than The Truth going on, I know they know something else is going on, they find that thing more important, and they intend to deceive everyone by going into significant detail on the “Truth” of something which they do not find important.

Following that are two questions: Do I agree that the other thing is more important than truth? and Do I support or oppose them?

This isn’t a difficult problem. The thing that’s more important than truth is reputation, and the corresponding goal is character assassination. People understand these things intuitively, they just forget because the battleground itself always deals in the language of truth. They forget, and don’t remember, because attention is being actively and continuously being paid to the wrong thing and only the wrong thing.

To consider truth as if truth alone is how you win a battle of truth is like thinking as long as you have more bullets than the enemy you will win a battle of military combat (extended: writing more words makes a better story, painting more detail makes a better picture, doing more work makes a better project, etc.). Yes, “all things being equal” he who has more truth wins, and if truth itself really is overwhelming, then nothing else matters.

“All things being equal” just happens to be a really bad assumption, and the “truth itself” in question is almost invariably guaranteed to be weak.

Truth’s purpose, in an engagement, is first and foremost to be shot at the enemy. Or more correctly: Things should be examined first and foremost in their potential to do damage to the enemy, and Truth is one among many items.

It may be sensible or even agreeable to refrain from using certain items. Nonetheless, this is the correct framework. It is, at the very least, a more correct framework than “But is it true?”.