Game of Truth

REZ: i remember one summer a long time ago
REZ: probably middle school
REZ: i went to a “writing camp” over the summer
REZ: i.e. a class run by non-teachers
REZ: and for some reason i forget we played this game
REZ: two people would be blindfolded and put into a ring
REZ: a rolled up newspaper would be thrown in there
REZ: and there’s two stages to the game
REZ: first is someone needs to find the newspaper
REZ: second is when the newspaper is found, it’s announced, then the guy with the newspaper needs to be able to find and whack the other guy
REZ: arena size was…
REZ: i was a kid so it was smaller; i’m trying to imagine how large it’d be for an adult
REZ: 9×9′ or 10×10′, thereabouts
REZ: i wasnt the first to play so i got a chance to see others play for a while, maybe it was even the second or third time it happened until it was my turn
REZ: maybe multiple days, maybe not, i forget
REZ: but the way i saw people do it was really really obtuse
REZ: granted it’s young teens doing it but whatever they had in their minds, it was different than mine
REZ: newspaper’s somewhere on the ground, and what they do is they reach out at different spots with their hands to see what’s there
REZ: second phase was basically the same except standing up and with one guy not reaching out at different spots
REZ: maybe 3~5 minute rounds of people blindfolded, acting as if they weren’t blindfolded
REZ: as if the lights had just been turned off
REZ: the whole time.
REZ: then it came my turn with some girl
REZ: and i swam along the carpet
REZ: the objective was to find a newspaper and there was nothing that would hurt me, so the strategy as far as i could tell involved covering the largest amount of area as soon as possible
REZ: made me look like an idiot but i wasn’t interested in that
REZ: so basically, breaststroke.
REZ: unfortunately my strategy wasn’t able to get me the newspaper because i hadn’t thought through how to measure covered ground versus uncovered ground, and i started in a bad direction
REZ: i hit the edge of the arena multiple times and didn’t know where i was facing after i got turned around
REZ: so now i’m the hunted versus the hunter
REZ: and rather than walking around with the smallest profile like a girl in a movie walking down a dark unfamiliar street
REZ: my upper body was about as wide as it’d normally be
REZ: but i was basically squatting with how far apart my legs were
REZ: and rather than having (nothing) to indicate to me where my opponent was
REZ: i listened and felt for heat
REZ: if i felt something, i’d move far with only a few strides
REZ: i’d stay mostly put otherwise unless something changed
REZ: it went on for 10~15 minutes until the “teachers” finally stopped it.
REZ: i got pretty popular afterwards for a few minutes.
REZ: then afterwards the game was broken and i don’t think anyone really felt tension from playing it anymore.
REZ: both players would always start out with breaststroke and whoever got the newspaper would instantly start swinging it around like a madman
REZ: i forget if everyone actually got a chance to play in the end or if it was just stopped without comment.
REZ: oh yeah i forgot one part of the story
LAX: I feel like someone would have accidentally gotten punched like that
REZ: when the blindfold was put on, i was also the first to insist on a certain way it was put on
REZ: namely, that they didn’t cover my ears.
REZ: oh sure
REZ: i meant relatively speaking
REZ: rather than a swordsman in a dark dungeon on the wary for large monsters
REZ: the hunter actually did assume the role of the hunter after that
REZ: moved quick, “sword” in front, extended arms
REZ: one time where i really did change ‘everything’.
REZ: i solved it
REZ: and then i ruined it.
LAX: What do you mean ruined it?
REZ: what’s the point in playing a game?
LAX: To win
REZ: no no no
REZ: that’s the point when you’re already playing a game
REZ: why do you pick up a game?
REZ: why play a game rather than do something else?
LAX: Because other stuff is boring?
REZ: yes
REZ: because games are fun
REZ: it wasn’t fun after i and whoever came after me solved it, me with the search and defensive standards, and him with the offensive standard
REZ: “everyone” had a certain understanding of “how” the game was played
REZ: then i played it
REZ: and that other guy played it.
REZ: it was a game of tension and mystery
REZ: then it became a dice roll.
REZ: or rather, a coin flip.
REZ: i wonder if i was the dumb one in the end.
LAX: Nope
LAX: You were the only one to think outside the box
LAX: The rest of the kids followed in your footsteps, no one else attempted to change it
LAX: It’s like when a new “unbeatable” meta shows up in a game
LAX: Everyone conforms to that meta and no one tries to break it
LAX: Everyone was doing what you did rather than thinking about how to beat what you did
LAX: AKA they were fucking stupid sheep
REZ: as was the case with most educational summer camps, no kid actually wanted to be there and little of it was interesting at all
REZ: that was the first time something happened that was both interesting and something they couldnt simply replicate at home
REZ: you really do need a human ring creating an arena for no danger of running into things to be involved, and enough eyes on the scene to determine what the objective state of the game is
REZ: but after those two games it was just another thing to do.
REZ: and then not a thing to do, because it stopped.
REZ: back to writing stupid shit no one cares about and no one reads.
LAX: The problem with your story isnot that you ruined the game
LAX: It’s that the game was stupid.
REZ: oh sure
LAX: Or more that the rest of the kids were….
REZ: we’re adults and we have experience with games so we can see that the design was absolutely retarded
REZ: but i don’t think that changes the purpose and niche the game filled for that situation at that time
REZ: everyone played the game as if there was also the rule that you had to act as if you could actually see
REZ: and that created a certain feel for the game
REZ: i played as if that rule didn’t exist and revealed that the emperor wasn’t really wearing any clothes
REZ: good for me i suppose
REZ: but all that was left for me and everyone else after that was looking at a hairy fat ugly old man.
LAX: The real problem is that you were theonly person that actually played the game
LAX: In a competetive game the goal is to win
LAX: Or rather to beat the other person
LAX: Everyone saw that you found the winning defense strategy
LAX: If there were a few smart kids in that group the game could have been a bit more like rock paper sissors with a phsyical aspect
LAX: The problem with being smart is you tend to ruin the “fun” for everyone else who isn’t smart.
LAX: No one else there had the physical or mental capacity to win aginast a decently thought out plan
LAX: But, was there a point to that story?
REZ: i’ve been reading some of the kaiji stuff i hadnt before since i cant sleep and something in there reminded me of this story
REZ: the point was that i wasn’t sure if it was the right move
LAX: It was the right move for you
REZ: it was the right move inside the game.
LAX: Same difference
REZ: no, i think it was the wrong move outside
REZ: there’s fewer smart people than dumb people
LAX: No matter what, the same outcome would have happened
REZ: if smart people can figure out a way to win, they should also figure out the cost of ruining the whole thing
REZ: on a long enough timeline, yes
REZ: but it was a camp of like 4 weeks, maybe 16 days
REZ: and its not like we played all that time
REZ: the dumb kids wouldn’t have made it out, only the smarter ones
REZ: we could’ve played for a few hours longer rather than not
LAX: With enough iterations the game would have evolved anyways
LAX: With your strat that is
LAX: Someone would have figured out how to beat it
LAX: Really, the burden lies on the teachers.
LAX: For ruining the game
LAX: They’re the ones who cancled it, presumably
REZ: i think that way of thinking will evade the understanding of a lot of things people do
REZ: there are more dumb kids than smart kids, more dumb people than smart people
LAX: Sure
REZ: how much of society is run with the super smart people pretending just enough so that all the dumb people continue enjoying life the way things are?
REZ: or rather: not seeing how absolutely retarded their situation is, not realize such a thing, and thus also never start trying to even want to look for a way out of it?
LAX: A lot.
REZ: probably.
REZ: and people like us, not-dumb not-super-smart people, spend time looking at how to win the individual games instead.


A Minute in Design: “Inherit the Wind” 1960 vs 1999

I recently watched again a clip from the 1960 classic Inherit the Wind. When I first discovered it it must’ve been via the big atheism vs creationism circles prevalent on YouTube at the time, so I viewed it in that context. I thought it was great. And for years, I thought it was great for the same reason, even after I got to see the whole movie. This time rewatching that clip I thought it was even better, but not because of anything relating to the topic, or even the theme. It was intuitively and abundantly clear the two main characters could’ve switched positions or even talked about some other topic entirely, and the cast and crew would have for sure made a masterpiece anyways. I’ll have to watch the whole movie again sometime.

In the meantime I have what’s up for free on YouTube, and what shows up in the results are different today. In 2012, all the results were in black and white. Today, half of them are in color. Apparently, there’s a 1999 version of the movie, too.

I first watched the first 10-ish minute long result. I had expected it to be the same scene as the one from the original since that was the climax of that movie, and generally speaking if there are clips from a movie then the top result will be the climax in some way. But it wasn’t. Something bothered me but I wasn’t sure what it was. Then I went to another video, supposedly of all court scenes, and scrolled through it to find that climax.

And I found it.

I found what was bothering me.

Let’s see if I can’t make a more coherent film comparison than that other time.

>– INTRO / 1960 shot-by-shot
>– 1999 shot-by-shot
>– The Execution is the Story
>– Other comparisons
>– Meanings of 1999 / CONCLUSION

The two movies share the same script, but their results are entirely different. From just one minute it’s clear as night and day. I’m convinced it could be any minute of the film, but since the climax is both the most interesting and at our disposal, we’ll use that one.

Here is a link to a clip from the 1960 version (v60) and here is a link to a bunch of clips from the 1999 version (v99). v60 starts the argument at 0:17 in the video link, and v99 starts it at 43:07; in time notes beyond this point, 0:17 and 43:07 will be referred to as 0:00 in their respective cases.

Continue reading

The Primary Principle behind Writing

Finally sat myself through this >5 hour interview.

The most interesting thing I got out of it was the idea that compelling writing requires looking at its structure in terms of the relationship between “a unit of meaning” and “number of syllables”.

As opposed to, say, the relationship between “a paragraph” and “number of supporting evidences”.

It was intuitively obvious to me the moment I heard of Schaffer that nothing produced in that structure would ever be worth bothering with, but in all the years since I’ve never stumbled upon any idea that felt like it’d result in the fundamental opposite. I’ve tried reading and copying the style of this or that blogger, collecting and retyping entire passages that sound like they have something; all to, whatever improvements on my writing it may have had, has largely felt incoherent. Because I didn’t know what to look for. I wasn’t even looking in the right place. It’s not something to “look” for.

I think this idea is, at the very worst, pretty close. It, or something like it, is the primary principle behind writing, in the same way (no, it’s not “creativity”) contrast is the primary principle behind painting. “Contrast” doesn’t “produce” beautiful women, and this “sounding” doesn’t “produce” profound philosophy, but it’s definitely what makes it sound profound.

And sounding profound is 80% of being profound.

You’re going to find that the ordinary unit of meaning in the English language is three hard stresses long, or sometimes four, but often it’s two, three, or four. As you enter the realm of intellect and have more to say, or more nuances to say, you need larger units of meaning. Five, that’s iambic pentameter, even six, that’s hexameter, the Greeks used seven, septameter, and you’ll feel that by reading and memorizing some of this poetry, you’ll have the models built into your head to shift back and forth according to your audience.

Shakespeare, to the ignorant, writes iambic pentameter lines, and one of the reasons you don’t even want to look at Shakespeare is all the lines seem to be pretty much the same length. I’m gonna teach you something he knew four centuries ago: it looks like they’re all the same length, but there’s a breath pause in this speech after two hard beats, the next breath’s pause is twelve before you’ve delivered your meaning, three, four, there’s this inner jazz at work underneath this regular pattern. You can learn to do that after someone exposes the secret to you, that’s half the game, and the other half of the game is simply building the models into yourself so you don’t have to think.

We used an exercise that immediately turned horribly dull writers into at least moderately interesting writers, and it’s totally mathematical […] Write 1 to 20 on twenty pieces of paper, put them in some sort of container, then list what you’ve drawn out at random, now you’re going home, and you’re gonna write a paper on X subject, and if 1 is the first number that came out, the first sentence will be 1 word long or 1 word long, and if the second one is 20 it’ll be 20 long. […] Now they had the kind of jazz that readers aren’t completely conscious of but they’ll record as, “something’s interesting about it”, even if he’s writing about a milk separator.

And you as a filmmaker remember Eisenstein’s film of the peasants watching milk being separated on a Russian farm in the 1920s. Why is it so awfully interesting? Because he understood things, that the eye is looking at the movement of light around the screen, it’s looking at entrances and exits.

Thirteen year old kids from Harlem can master these secrets just as well as twenty-five year old Harvard students can. And then they become preternaturally sophisticated.

Air vs Liquid Cooling, Lies and Pretending

Today was hot and my house doesn’t have AC so I spent today doing nothing other than laying around and complaining about how it was too hot to do anything.

One of those complaints led to a debate about air cooling vs liquid cooling.

That was pretty productive, for a hot day anyways, because I learned something about the world: there are who people buy into liquid cooling simply because they think it’s cool. By which I mean they’re stupid, and it feels like they are probably the majority. Liquid cooling computers isn’t strictly wrong, there are reasons why it is better, but it took me a while to come to the conclusion, using thought routes that a bunch of people who support liquid cooling certainly didn’t use. Eventually I’ll make the comprehensive essay I’ve dreamed of writing, but for now the concept of Communication vs Conveyance suffices: people can write a lot of things about how something works and how well it works, but other people only read the parts they understand (if they understand at all), and they perpetuate their own story from there. Of all the comparison tests out there, where the liquid cooler wins, there’s people who read “liquid cooling (in all its forms) is better than air cooling (in all its forms)”.

When so many of these things are titled and labelled “air cooling vs liquid cooling”, who can blame them? That’s what you said, right? And the liquid cooler(s) won? Then liquid cooling is better. Hey wait… it’s not better. Wait, what do you mean you weren’t talking about all liquid coolers anywhere and everywhere?

So anyways, I was sitting in my room in front of my computer, complaining to my good friend Laxeris that it was too hot to lay in bed and do nothing, too hot to think, and too hot to play videogames, when he stated the extremely curious idea that liquid cooling is better than air cooling… for the sole reason that it has liquid in it.

Which is absolutely fucking wrong. But how was he supposed to know? I only happen to know because I took classes on thermodynamics and more broadly engineering classes that helped me look at the physics/systems behind the specifics. His knowledge goes as far as the average person’s i.e. journalist’s understanding takes him.

And what do the journalists say?

EK Water Blocks (liquid cooling manufacturer)
      “Air Cooling vs. Liquid Cooling”
NZXT (computer case/accessories manufacturer)
      “Should You Cool a CPU with Air or Liquid”
PCWorld (magazine about computers)
      “Liquid cooling vs. traditional cooling: What you need to know”
Tom’s Hardware (online magazine about computers)
      “How to Choose a CPU Cooler”
Corsair (computer peripherals company)
      “Liquid Cooling vs. Air Cooling: Which Performs Better?”

These are the top five non-video results from Google searching ‘ air vs liquid cooling ‘.

On the topic of the fundamental idea, the driving physics behind the reason these ideas exist to begin with, throwing any particular implementations aside, this is what I got from each of the results on air cooling vs liquid cooling:

EK Water Blocks:
      “Liquids and solid materials are better conductors of heat.
      ” […] water transfers heat much more efficiently than air.
      “[…] fans aren’t as efficient as water cooling […]”
Tom’s Hardware:
      (no comment on comparison between physics)
      (no comment on physics at all)

Excluding the 4th and 5th results, the latter of which is “just” playing the SEO game at the cost of coherency for the English language, the first three claim liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling because ‘liquid is a better conductor of heat’. Which is correct. Liquid is indeed a better conductor/transferrer of heat than air.

But do people know what that means?

Here’s an extremely simplified thermodynamics lesson, without symbols and without math, and it’ll still be better than all the “look at all these pretty parts from our associates you might want to buy” garbage.

The two laws of thermodynamics that are of interest to us are, simplified:

  1. If two non-isolated items have the same temperature, no heat is exchanged.
  2. Energy is never created or destroyed.

In the zeroeth law, “isolation” means it’s in a vacuum and not touching anything. Such a thing does not exist in the scope of our analysis of a computer; everything is connected at least by air. ” The first law is clear enough after the clarification that heat is a type of energy, basically saying that if something is hot it’s not about to be cool unless it dumps its heat onto something cooler. According to Wikipedia it’s also the first law states that heat only (naturally) passes from hot to cold… I always thought that followed from the zeroeth, but it’s also in common sense.

Understanding the concept of heat capacity is also helpful: it’s the amount of heat that can be dumped into something before it changes a certain amount of temperature. Example, water has high heat capacity and air low: with any given heat source, air will rise in temperature faster than water ‘because it has less capacity for heat’.

Beyond that… heat transfer between solid-solid and solid-liquid is better than solid-gas.

And that’s all you need to know.

So how do air cooling and liquid cooling work?

Air cooling: You have a part under load. A heatsink is directly attached to the part, and a fan is directly attached to the heatsink.

  1. Heat moves from part to heatsink.
  2. Heat moves from heatsink to air, fan speeds that up.
  3. We stop analyzation of the system at the air in your room.

Liquid cooling: You have a part under load. You have a loop of liquid with a coldplate at one end, a radiator at the other, and a pump somewhere inbetween.

  1. Heat moves from the part to coldplate.
  2. Liquid moves to radiator, pump speeds that up.
  3. Heat moves from liquid to radiator.
  4. Heat moves from radiator to air, fans speed that up.
  5. We stop analyzation of the system at the air in your room.

That’s right: “liquid cooling” is actually liquid and air cooling. There are a few other super fancy and exorbitantly expensive ways you could potentially do it, but look at any standard consumer liquid cooling system, and you’ll find a fan on it somewhere. That’s because the air as the final “heatsink” is cheap. Air is, as far as human activity is concerned, everywhere, and, as far as mechanations are concerned, basically always cold. So that’s where they dump their heat in the end.

The original question I was debating with Laxeris was whether or not a liquid cooled system would keep the room a computer is in cooler, which somehow also also got into whether or not a liquid cooled system would keep the computer itself cooler. His position is that both the room and the computer would be cooler.

If we assume that everything about the system is completely identical except for the existence of a liquid system, then a liquid and air cooled system will reach the exact same temperatures and exact same effects for the sole reason that the origin point and the endpoint are the same.

Heat is generated by the computer/part at the start, and heat is dumped into the air in the end. Liquid in the middle doesn’t make that heat disappear, it just means some heat can build up there because there happens to be stuff in the middle, “some heat” being “however much heat capacity it has until it reaches the same temperature as the part”. Its supposed efficiency over air, i.e. solid-liquid vs solid-gas, doesn’t matter because its final steps are exactly the same bottleneck, i.e. solid-gas. It’s not as if you have a river in your room and you stuck the radiator/heatsink in that. If you did then yes, all the logic stacks up, it’s a true liquid cooled system, one which has the same 3 steps instead of 5, and it is accurate to say it is superior “because liquid transfers heat better than air”. And it would be. You wouldn’t need to test it to be confident it had superior results.

But unless you have that river, or a gigantic lake, you’re going to run into the same problems in the end, because the end is the same: you’re still dumping heat, from a solid to a gas, in the same way as air-cooling. Better than liquid cooling is solid cooling; let’s put a giant metal block inbetween the part and the heatsink instead. Actually… since it’s the same anyways, why not just put the heatsink directly on top of the part?

Because that’s air cooling.

Not that any of these top results of self-purported “explanations” would tell you that. If anything what they say is deliberately misleading. It’s not apples to apples. Sure solid-to-gas is less efficient than solid-to-liquid. But if that’s true, why does your liquid system end with a fan? It feels like they’re reciting something they heard more than anything else.

Except the EK Water Blocks guys. Those guys knew exactly what they were doing.

“In comparison to air, liquid cooling is 2-10 times more effective in transporting heat away from a source to a secondary cooling surface”

“Secondary cooling surface”? Air-cooled systems don’t have a secondary surface. It’s heatsink to air and you’re done. This supposed air cooling system that they’re saying liquid is 2-10 times better than is a system which has the computer heat up air, air which then piped to a heatsink (the “secondary cooling surface”)… which presumably also dumps its heat with a fan into the outside air.

So basically, a liquid cooling system except the tubes are empty.

Or a computer inside a fridge.

What the fuck am I reading? Is this a serious publication by a manufacturing company? They’re inventing fictional competition which would absolutely never exist to promote their product technology?

That’s the other thing which floors me. It’s one thing that Laxeris and similar aren’t educated or aren’t interested past “just tell me which one keeps my temperatures lower and i’ll decide if the cost and hassle is worth it” and misremember things they don’t understand. It’s another thing entirely that people that do know what’s going on lie, hide, and pretend. Or are unimaginably stupid, but Hanlon’s Razor is for idiots.

This is the “explanation” between the two systems by PCWorld. A bunch of words. If you’d never really looked at liquid cooling before, you’d be fooled by this journalist into thinking that a “radiator” is something that’s fundamentally different from a “fans” and “a big […] heat sink”. Quoted earlier in this post and appearing later in that article, he says “fans aren’t as efficient as water cooling“. You think he doesn’t know that liquid cooling systems have fans on them?

After not bothering with Laxeris on the topic anymore because it was going in circles, I thought about why liquid cooling for computers exists at all. I could figure out why they existed for cars; engine blocks are huge and complicated and air can’t properly cool them, but with cases designing in cable management these days that’s not a problem…

I eventually decided that it was because one of my initial premises was not true: liquid cooled systems aren’t simply the same as air-cooled systems with a loop of liquid inbetween. They do have a fundamental advantage, not in that they use “liquid cooling is 2-10 times more” nonsense, but because they are flexible heat pipes that can allow remote and thus larger heatsinks. Look at actual liquid cooling products, their “radiators” are almost all gigantic pans, significantly larger than any heatsink you can mount on any component (There are some which aren’t, and I’ll bet those are strictly worse than air-coolers). There are more details than the cartoon model/diagram, like the existence of the computer case, and given that there’s no huge fundamental difference between air and liquid cooling, it’s these smaller differences which set them apart. The inside of a computer is only so large, but the outside of a computer is larger, and if you want to jury rig a clothes rack outside to support a bunch of radiators and fans, the flexibility of piping liquid makes that possible. Theoretically you could do it with solid metal blocks or heat piping, but they’re not flexible, and they’re exorbitantly expensive in comparison to some plastic tubes. Effectively, without liquid cooling, you must have heatsinks which fit inside a computer case (caseless is bad, trust me on this).

So the real reason, tl;dr, why liquid cooling would be fundamentally better than air?

“Our heatsinks are bigger”.

But that doesn’t sound as cool as “liquid cooling is 2-10 times more effective”.

One would think that such statements would instantly make people question why air coolers aren’t ancient history if a 200~1000% gap exists, but I suppose not. People will believe such a thing, then continue by the tens or hundreds of thousands to read and watch head-to-head comparison tests on this liquid cooler vs that air cooler, with differences coming down to 1~3°C. We need to test it man! It’s the scientific method! If it’s better by 1° then it’s better! And it’d be better because it’s just inherently more effective!

I mean, I suppose it’s not wrong. Liquid cooling is more efficient than air, all things being equal. Which they aren’t. But given so-and-so test results, it does appear that this liquid cooler is better than that air cooler. And it was a fun video. So I’ll buy the liquid cooler, giving that company some business. And I’ll remember to like, comment, and subscribe, giving these YouTubers some business. I’ll receive the liquid cooler in the mail in a few days, making the temperature monitors show lower temperatures, and most importantly of all, I’ll feel satisfied about my purchase, all the interactions which led to it, and that one science-y sounding bit explaining these results, and science is cool, so science is what I’ll tell all my friends: “liquid cooling is 2-10 times more effective.

I don’t know the textbook example of marketing success, but I imagine this would be it:

“Everyone involved goes home happy having gained more “value” in their lives.”

Everyone, except me.

I feel like I should know a bit about how things work, and I feel that things like these show that there’s a lot of lying going on unseen in the world. I was able to identify this one after quite some work, but what about the ones I can’t identify? Or have failed to identify? How do I defend against things which I not only don’t know of, but don’t know the nature of? I could tell that a fan advertising itself as “25% Quieter” without saying what it was compared to is meaningless. But now I’m not so sure that fans which list their exact noise value in decibels mean much either. Do they have a different definition of “decibel“?

I’m not happy about that. I did not gain any “value” from having thought this problem through. More than a market for lemons, it’s a world for lemons. If I had to use vocabulary I’m not used to to refer to things I’m not familiar with: Is this the cost of refusing postmodernism?

But in the end, we all know what they say about the constant through all your problems:

so maybe, just maybe,

or maybe absolutely certainly,

I’m the one who doesn’t get it.

2017 Aug

The place I originally posted my sketchbook pages on, Permanoobs, is dead.

I don’t remember the name, but I remember reading on /ic/ one day about one guy who posted his progress every day from absolute beginner to absolute professional on a sketchbook thread on, and I found that really inspiring. I thought I’d give it a shot too, optimistically maybe become the second guy ever to do such a thing, realistically just to force myself to do stuff regularly instead of just whenever. Which it didn’t, because that sort of logic never actually pans out. A thing without a motivated person behind it will never actually force you to do it. Eventually though for a completely different reason I did end up drawing regularly, and then, the viewcounts did motivate me a little bit. Every once in a while it’d be the little extra nudge i needed to start things rolling. I get basically no feedback, much less useful feedback, here or on facebook, so it was nice to see the ticker numbers show 50+ every post and have a useful or at least apparently informed comment every once in a while.

Someone’s set up a direct replacement forum, but I don’t think I’ll be joining it for the time being. I need to figure out solutions to certain problems and they don’t seem to be solvable through simply “more work”. At least, not my understanding of “more work”, which is grinding more iterations of torsos and faces, which by repetition I’ve also associated with the idea of posting sketchbook pages to a public forum. Recently I’ve gained more insight by slowing down in some ways and asking specific questions of specific people, so I think I’ll stay on that path for a bit.

No one reads this though so I don’t mind posting here.

These are some of the things I did this month. There’s five other pages which I won’t be posting because there’s things I’d have to crop out. Like some of the pages here I was trying out various things to remove myself from a “grinding”/”perfectionism” mentality. Some of it was pretty neat; I found out I could actually learn the basics of proportions for a tank and a fighter jet in only a few hours each.

The word “perfectionism” isn’t a good way to think about it, I think. If you tell people not to be perfectionist, you’re basically telling them that perfection is bad. All the arguments ala “perfect is the enemy of good” are great for preaching to the choir, but in terms of helping those actually in trouble it’s not so stellar. There’s a phrase on /ic/ which I think describes perfectionism, from the perspective of a perfectionist, pretty well:

“Don’t polish a turd.”

The frame of the world is very different when fecal matter is involved. A much more down-to-earth thought that can be talked through. Rather than having someone first imagine perfection, goodness, all that is holy, and then tell them that they shouldn’t want it, the only thing in the frame is a piece of shit.

“Polishing turds” isn’t too far from how I got myself past an initial hump way back when. These days basically all I can draw is women, but once upon a time it was spaceships in bad isometric, and all my people looked like crap. I looked at, watched, and thought about how other people could draw such beauties, and decided on an axiom: “every drawing is just a collection of lines”. So I drew lines and tried to make them look like faces, rather than draw faces and hope lines didn’t start sticking out everywhere.

If that’s not “polishing” I don’t know what is. And I’ve learned a lot more and gone a lot further with “polishing” than I have “doing it right”, so it should be clear to me which one I should follow.

I wonder how much of the problem is also just the circumstances of how I’ve been drawing. It is vastly more important to get the foundations right on paper because erasing is a pain, and at the size I’m drawing at, placing an eye slightly too far to the right can happen in one or two millimeters. Not so much on a digital canvas where things can be resized, transformed, warped, marqueed, and all the other possibilities.

These are the sorts of things I need to spend more time with.

But it’s not as fun drawing on a tablet as it is on paper.

C 17_08_16+26

after D/8_13 i was really wondering what was “the essence” behind rendering. one of the replies i got on the /ic/ discord was “form change = value change”, and after browsing through robertson’s rendering book i thought i’d do values by line boundaries instead, just to cut the “blob question” out of the picture.

the first two curved panels, the two below that, and the three spheres enlightened me quite a bit.

an object has a certain topology, and how to shade something is the interaction between that topology and the light source. directly facing light is brightest, sharper corners means sharper transitions…

not that this tells me how much lighter or how much darker something should be. didn’t get any good answers on that one, just that ‘accuracy isn’t the right way to think about things’ and ‘the important thing to get right are the value relationships’.

for 8/26 i wanted to try and make my stuff look not so boring, and i remembered hands were really expressive. and hair is pretty important to a character’s design. so are their expressions. all things which, being focused on the nude figure and having the “don’t polish a turd” mentality, i never thought much about. i was aware that eyes, nose, and mouth aren’t things you just haphazardly slap onto a face after it’s done, but i wasn’t aware that the same sort of effects extended to all the other things i was ignoring.

C 17_08_27-29

8/27 and /28 take up the ~25% column to the left.

i can see that most of /29 was grinding in retrospect, but it’s difficult to tell in the moment. at that point in time given the past several pages of doing whatever and learning the basics of jets and tanks in half a day each, i was pretty confident in my ability to basically “set up” anything. and the crotch section / leg spread was something i was interested in solving, even though it felt like i’d been there several times before. maybe the idea with projects determining what to grind is actually set up some creative idea, and then stop in the middle to grind out whatever problem you have? i can accept that there’ll always be something you’d probably want to stop and practice a bit before putting it in the big one, but it feels like that shouldn’t account for more than 5~10% of any problem.

C 17_08_29-30

copied a bunch of blouses/skirts from some book to try and get an idea for the basics of clothing design. some of them have folds as part of the design, whether they manually set up the frills themselves or not.

made me realize basically even t-shirts have folds incorporated into the design – you’re never going to see a t-shirt on a person and have it be fold-free. if you saw such a thing you’d wonder if you were dreaming or looking at a picture; there’s always going to be folds at the armpit/shoulder, and probably around the waist. this is a very different way of thinking about folds than when i was reading hogarth, where the idea is almost “all folds are unintentional and only exist due to physics”. which is a little bit silly and is borne out by his examples. it’s not so much that physics doesn’t play a part, but folds by physics alone have a different meaning than folds which look like they were put there intentionally.

i didn’t think this stuff consciously while i was doing it.

bottom right i put a bunch of things together because it was the end of the day and i wasn’t about to spend an hour or two filling it up. wanted to see if i’d sufficiently addressed the problem from a few days ago, namely whether i’d succeeded at making my women look not boring.

and i did. she doesn’t look boring at all.

she looks like a slut. and her arms are wrong, her neck is too long, and something else looks off about the orientation, with the shoulders being almost flat and the ribcage being pointed toward the left.

but this is probably closer to what i need to be doing. the magnitude of the error isn’t terrible and could be sufficiently compensated with decent enough lighting.

D 17_08_05

i don’t remember what i was thinking. but i stopped because on one hand i didn’t want to recreate the same aesthetic from 7/21, and on the other anything i was doing just felt like aimless blobbing. i’d watched a few artists process videos off of patreon, but it didn’t really clear anything up for me at the time.

D 17_08_10

no idea what i was doing.

D 17_08_13

still no idea what i was doing, but i needed to do it. maybe i’d learn something if i stumbled upon it.

D 17_08_21

so after C/8_16, reciting “form change = value change” a few times, i managed to get the idea of “blobbing” out of my head for a bit and try to think of how the form was changing rather than how the value was changing. the other problem though was what exactly the value range should be. robertson had one guide in his book, something about “halfway to black”, but said the logic only worked if it was midday sun on a cloudless day, or something. that with the ‘accuracy isn’t the right way to think about values’ led me basically back to where i started: what am i supposed to do with values?

all the top objects have the same mid value and all the bottom objects have the same mid values. second row has the same value range as the second object in the first row. top and bottom rows are basically value range tests and the middle row is basically edge softness tests.

i didn’t learn anything. i probably could figure out something looking at it right now, but even that wouldn’t really be learning; i’d be describing without internalizing.

D 17_08_31

tried to simplify the slut from C/8_30, and succeeded, but she just looks boring now. There’s not enough detail. and a big part of it is because of the linework. it’s too smooth. her right armpit and right jawline has a bit of life in it but everything else is dull. part of the problem is that my line thickness is way too high for the given size of things i’m drawing at, but that’s not as big a deal as this. my lines are basically as bad as if it was vector art. the stabilization is too high.

i don’t understand how inking works if it isn’t high stablization, but i’m gonna have to find out, because it’s really clear that the completely fluid and even strokes kills life in a drawing.

Vector of Truth vs Vector of History

A long time ago for a reason I don’t remember, I was watching a Q&A session with developers of a videogame I didn’t play. The game was World of Warcraft, the session was at BlizzCon, the questioner was some guy and the answerer was the lead producer. Or developer. Some title that was a “lead” but not a “writer”. I remember having played AION at this point so it must’ve been 2009/2010, i.e. pretty close to the peak of the days of MMORPGs. Or in other words, the start of their decline. And World of Warcraft was the biggest one in subscriber count, in world size, in game depth, in all primary respects.

The guy asked some question about how the recent update made sense, given that some prior lore established by these minor characters in this quest somewhere said something. Took quite a while for him to explain things. Very serious business. His rhetorical skill didn’t quite get there, but from what he said it sounded like something that could potentially overturn the entire canon. At least a few few of the guys near the mic stand looked like if they hadn’t come with it themselves, they were considering it seriously now.

There were two guys sitting on stage, some head honcho money-guy and our lead. After a short pause, our lead answered the question. I don’t remember if any of the guys around the mic were satisfied, or if the camera even panned back to show the reaction.

I do remember what happened between the two representatives of Blizzard right before the answer. A quiet signal between themselves, to signal who’d lean into their mic to answer the audience. This was back in the days before the prevalence of 720p, the camera wasn’t zoomed in, and it was only there for a moment, in and out in a flash. But I caught it. Any human who was even remotely watching would’ve caught it.

It was a chuckle.

I woke up today and checked my usual internet feeds to see that /v/ had a sticky. That’s not something that happens every day, what’s in it? The line “It’s dead, jim.”, and a link to some guy’s blog. The link is some pseudo-fanfiction where all the names were changed around for some reason, which I didn’t read beyond figuring out it was written from the perspective of the real character which I knew the name of, from a game I’d never played, but knew enough about to get the gist of things. So I went to my other feed and asked, “didn’t everyone know it was dead? who’s this guy and why does he matter?”.

Turns out that this Marc Laidlaw guy was a lead writer, and the meaning of the existence of this “fanfiction” was that Half-Life 2: Episode 3 was dead.

Half Life 2 was released in Nov 2004. Half Life 2: Episode One (a sequel) was released Jun 2006, and the most recent one, Half Life 2: Episode Two, was released Oct 2007. But that sticky still got a ton of posts and the rest of the catalog is filled with threads about it.

/v/ is a place which prides itself on realism. With a few exceptions, positivity about anything is regarded as shilling/marketing. It’s seen through No Man’s Sky, Might No. 9, Star Citizen, and a lot of big names hyped by all the big journalists which turned out to be a whole bunch of nothing. Kickstarters are all bad, Early Access are all bad, anything by this guy or that company are all bad, basically everything is bad unless said otherwise – and they can back it up with a seemingly endless number of examples. And yet, even after the perhaps unprecedentedly realistic crowd reaction to Valve’s announcement of their new digital card game, many people still thought that HL3 was going to be a thing.

10 years of back-to-back constant watching and participating in other peoples’ dreams being crushed wasn’t enough to convince some that they weren’t special.

Or maybe something else is going on here.

Linkedin is Signalling Hell

I fundamentally do not like Linkedin.

I don’t like Twitter, but not in the same way. OWS and BLM and the SJWs with their hierarchies of oppression – the primary people who flock to and are produced by this system (as far as English is concerned; Japanese it’s entirely different) – these are really simple power games whose mechanics are transparent as long as you don’t buy into the content, and probably still at least somewhat clear if you do. There’s a method of resolving things which is inherent to these groups/systems, reliable enough so that you can predict approximately what they’re going to do given something. Facebook or YouTube comments are usually less extreme but have that same structure. I don’t care to read what any of these groups have to say, but supposing I was to read them, I could read them. I can simulate their frame of reference, I understand approximately what’s going on; enough of the important possibilities are settled such that I could extract meaning from my time reading them, however many brain cells it would cost me to do it.

On the contrary, I feel like I can’t understand anything that’s going on in Linkedin. It’s like an infinite number of 5-star Amazon Vine reviews about anything anyone has ever done in the real world. Every post, every comment, every review, every line of text anywhere on the site has been crafted for the maximum amount of mediocre positivity. On Twitter I am disgusted, and I know why I’m disgusted. On Linkedin I am disgusted, and that feeling is the only thing which doesn’t feel foreign. Whatever level of status signalling SJWs are at, clearly they’re not the big leagues, because however bad I might be at replicating or competing with it, I can tell SJWs on Twitter are signalling.

Linkedin is about signalling. Somehow. But no one there passes the Turing test.

The most important thing is it’s really clear that where people exist at all, they basically don’t interact with things. Go on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and compare the like-to-comment ratio on posts. “Like” is what people use to demonstrate they’ve seen it, and “Comment” is what people use to demonstrate interest. You’ll find that the ratio for Linkedin is by far the highest, i.e., that most people don’t actually care. Which is incentivized by the way it’s laid out: a Linkedin feed, where it shows posts at all, cuts a post off at three lines before a “read more”. Why? Why are the pictures so big? The comments, when a post actually gets comments, is just a number. Every other system has them default expanded, why here are they default to hidden? Then, supposing you somehow find someone interesting in this environment, and you go to their profile, it’s static. Constant. 90% of the visual space is old news, only 10% shows their activity.

This is flipped for organizations, where all their activity appears as an infinite feed without any additional actions. What is this system saying it prefers? People going to organizations, and that’s it. What does it mean for interactions between people? Well, imagine if comments were default hidden on Facebook. I’m not so familiar with Twitter but there’s no hashtags on Linkedin; not ones that operate in the same manner. Linkedin has predefined categories of “topics” beforehand and they say they give you trending posts on those topics… but you have no idea what the other posts are that it’s trending in relation towards. You can find out with 1 click on Twitter what the posts on the trending topics are, and the column for it is ~25% of visual space on the home page. I’ve no idea where I would look up other things on the same topic on Linkedin. I am subscribed to “Leadership & Management” some apparently officially curated feed called Linkedin Pulse, and I was unable to find a way to that page by any internal organic linkage. I had to go to Google. And if I have to go to Google, your site is broken.

With this backdrop you look at the big companies’ pages and the official curated topics, you see the most popular representation, the statistical mode, of what kind of people this system attracts and/or creates… and it’s an audience that’s blander than what a second grader could come up with for what a crowd sound like at a baseball game. Occasionally a comment says something more than just “Congratulations” and “Amazing” maybe 8% of the the time, but they almost always use some grandiose way of saying things laden with jargon. Which could be fine, maybe it means something and goes somewhere, and the rest of us are just the uncultured masses, but by the responses of their peers commenting on the same topic, they’re clearly not. One hop over to any StackExchange and the difference will be clear. The comments on Linkedin do not respond to each other. Linkedin has a tagging system where in a comment you can pull in one of your friends to come look, but that’s just as rare. You’d expect on a reveal of a new hip thing people can buy it might ever so slightly slip over to looking like Facebook where a bunch of comments are just taggings of friends, but no. Doesn’t happen.

These things aren’t errors. They’re by design. It’s not just because “oh they’re new they haven’t quite figured things out yet” either, Linkedin’s older than any of the other guys; they’ve been around since 2002. And all of it’s worse than a simple html vBulletin (ref: 2000), a forum standard, which social networks are theoretically supposed to replace. For whatever reason when I visit forums through Google it usually dumps me on the version as close to simple text as possible, and often enough I’ll see a conversation that happened, something useful was produced, which even though that’s what I searched and came for, I’ll wish I was there to participate. Maybe with another mind the idea could’ve been developed it a bit further. Or in a different way entirely. That could happen on Facebook et. all, if the infinite scrolling cancer weren’t around and the profiles aren’t private. But it basically won’t happen for Linkedin. A visitor isn’t going to wish he participated, feel that there’s a community there he could’ve been and maybe still could be a part of, because the fucking residents themselves didn’t bother.

Put all the stuff together and on Linkedin, we have:

People who don’t interact with each other, only (visibly) interact (which is what matters in a social environment) with large companies, with comments that are almost always along the lines of “Congratulations”.

And that’s the end of all there is to the available interaction.

They’re signalling ridiculously like Twitter SJWs, but unlike Twitter SJWs, they don’t respond to each others’ signals. At least there’s potentially some sort of intrigue behind the development of, say, the progressive stack, as stupid as it is, because it’s clear a number of the guys are telling this story and a number of other guys are listening and if not believing it then at least following along. What’s going on when one guy says “Underpin the future of technology”, another guy says “Game changer is now here”, every other comment ends in a [ ! ], and no one builds on what anyone else says?

IS there something going on?

On Twitter there’s almost always, and at least from this outsider’s perspective, it almost seems like there are people just sitting in a quiet room waiting on some big-time tweeter to say something just a bit wrong so they can jump in and scoop a large audience. Facebook comments and YouTube comments work similar ways, though depending on the topic the kind of scoop changes. It’s a little exciting. Who knows what fun things are going to show up tomorrow? And who knows if you or anyone else will have anything witty to say or constructive to add to it? Maybe you’ll write the response that gets the big numbers! That’s part of the appeal of social networks and how, in general it seems, groups perpetuate their own existence. Even on 4chan where all users are anonymous, people want to collect those replies, those (You)s, for a good OC or a timely pasta.

Who the fuck cares about clicking Like, much less writing yet another comment of praise for a big company with another bi-weekly post conjured up by a PR committee about how they’re yet again breaking ground, leading the industry in innovation, and humanity in the frontier of cutting-edge progress with this latest creation of passion and inspiration? It’s one thing to be paid to serve as non-bots to help pretend a press release is actually a community announcement and reaction. It’s another to pay to do that thing.

Is that the point of Linkedin?

“Well that’s part of being professional.”

Well then it’s clear professionalism sucks. Like, as a self-evident truth, which everyone agrees on, just look at the actual activity patterns. That being said I’m not sure Linkedin is equivalent and interchangeable with being professional; obviously they would like everyone to believe it is, but I’m not so sure about that. I haven’t done that here anyways.

For sure Linkedin sucks.

This is before all the other stuff about selling your data, which, now that I think about it, seems to be correlated to all these “leaks” and “hacks” from all these companies with the complete nonsense justifications, like passwords being stored in plaintext.

Plausible deniability; thank god people buy Hanlon. God damn Hanlon.

But anyways, if it is true, then professionalism sucks too.

“For me, I fucking hate how immediately everyone publicly denounces him via vague tweets.

If it’s true, and this is some open-secret thing that everyone’s letting on, then why the FUCK are Griffin and co only coming out NOW? That makes them look gross. This will make Grffin’s shit + Bombcast super hard to listen to because it will make me question their entire integrity.

If it’s false or blown way out of proportion, then why fucking disown the guy? If this is the case, then Griff+Bombcast will be impossible to listen to because I’ll assume them to be opportunistic.

And I just fucking know that no one will even address this shit on their podcasts. Just fucking tweet it out and say NO, DON’T TALK ABOUT IT THO, like what the fuck? It’s legitimately disgusting behaviour.”