The Enemy of Good

I never learned to accept “okay” quality.

Everything always had to be excellent, or else it was trash, start over and do it again, do it again forever until it’s right. It’s right or it’s not. There’s no such thing as partial credit, designing a bridge 99% right kills 100’s of people. Even if it didn’t, why would you settle for less than perfect? Do you want to lose points? If you can be perfect, you should be.

It’s not like you have anything better to do anyways.

You can’t do the next lesson until next week, and if you do anything from any other class, or worse, something not educational, you’re a smart enough kid to guess what’ll happen.

Dreaming too is a skill

In school I chased ever higher grades. In piano I chased ever fast complicated chords. In writing it was ever longer essays. In projects, tighter schedules; in managing, tighter rules.

Or in short in all fields throughout life what I sought was technical competence.

Drawing is the only thing so far where I’ve attempted to teach myself. It’s also the only thing where I’ve had a fairly clear idea from the beginning of what I like and why I like it, and for reasons other than technical competence: line drawings of women in sexual manners because muh dick. Simple, but conscious. While I liked songs I played on the piano I didn’t know why, and never fathomed to begin thinking about why they were appealing. It never occurred to me to think about drawing either, but by chance or other means the reason did exist.

It’s been a little over two years since I took drawing as a serious endeavor, and I’m now reaching basic technical competence in a majority of the things I originally wanted: I can draw all basic body parts of a woman, and know which proportions and camera angles to adjust to emphasize sexuality. There’s still some work to be done on reliably and accurately drawing certain positions and camera angles, but the problem’s approach is known, and estimates on how long it’ll take to solve are fairly accurate. All of this is a far cry from not knowing what to draw, how to draw, or even being able to copy anything at all. I know what I can and can’t do, and what I can do I can do well.

What I can’t do is anything worth doing.

Drawing female bodies is the only thing I’ve ever actually learned on my own, I’m certain I have competencies in it even if several areas need improvement, and yet I’m also completely unsatisfied with it. At some point in the past though I was satisfied with revisiting the same things over and over again, getting better day by day. Technical competence in a number of component skills is always required to open more doors in its superset skill: Not knowing clothing or hair or how to digitally color skin believably weren’t concerning to me because I knew I’d get to it eventually, and get better at it just the same as torso forms with pencil lines. It’s somewhat daunting to have to step into new territory soon; it’s even more to have to relearn how to take steps altogether.

l9wnqyoI can tell you there are some problems in this image. Some things are too large, some things are too small, a few things should be lighted differently, and some forms interfere if thought out a bit more. It’s fully within my abilities to redraw and fix those problems.

But I wouldn’t be able to create bottom up something that gives its feeling. I can draw female figures from this angle, but I wouldn’t know to use this one in particular. I can draw the stairs, but I wouldn’t know where to stop. I wouldn’t know to have the characters only take up that amount of space in the frame. I’d know how to make the females attractive. I wouldn’t know how to arrange everything so that the final product felt both sad yet comforting. At some point in the past I wouldn’t consider to make something sad yet comforting.

But now I do consider it. I think conveying feelings is what’s worth doing.

And I don’t know how to get there because my only meanings in life have been chasing technical competence and whetting my genitals . I’ve written a number of words in my life, but since I’ve never tried to do anything with it other than record my thoughts as-is with only myself in mind as the audience, that’s the limits of my writing. If I wrote a story, my strongest characters would be those singlemindedly improving on one skill and those running around satisfying carnal desires. There’d be other characters too, they’d just all be flat and unreadable. There wouldn’t be a story. They wouldn’t be characters. They’d be words.

The moment I stop thinking pornographically, my drawings become pencil lines. I can’t see characters. I can’t see motivations. If I see anything at all other than lines and shapes, it’s just a pretty face and a pretty body.

Which is what I wanted. So I guess it’s what I got.

j5honeb

If you want to see something, and over time you’ve only ever trained yourself to see that particular something, you’re not about to see anything else. If I want to see and draw “pretty faces”, I’m not about to see why she’s making that face, or what pose her body is in, in what kind of scene or including what other characters and their overall story. I still want pretty faces, to be sure. But it’s not the only thing I want anymore.

I want to tell stories now. I’ve no idea where to begin.

But technical competence in a number of component skills guarantees more open doors in its superset skill, and at some point component skills are effortlessly interchangeable.

When I started drawing it was difficult to keep returning to it. I sucked, I wasn’t making progress, nothing looked good, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I only stuck with it because after a lifetime of believing in school I failed to get any job, and was hammering into my head that I needed to have something to show for in my life. Even then I only returned to it for a few hours a month. But it grew to a few hours every few weeks. Then a few hours a week, and now, I can’t imagine not doing it. The competency of the final result improving was only the cherry on top; what was important was learning how to approach the idea being encoded and becoming familiar with the kinds of mental landscapes that help cultivate these actions. Like water and food in an endless desert, when I just started drawing it was important for me to be able to produce good drawings at a certain rate. Now the land is bountiful, or at the very least there’s a decent sized patch of it which isn’t desert. I know how to get back to that patch, I know how to expand it, I even have a decent idea how to recreate that patch somewhere else entirely if for whatever reason that need arises. Good drawings hold a different meaning now, a man used to having his belly full at the end of every day isn’t going to find the same things acceptable as a man perpetually starving.

Among all the other things, dreaming holds a different meaning too.

This time it’s not like two plus years ago when all I had to reference was the pedagogy of the public school system and an online sea of low quality amateur artists who only pick up their craft twice a year and spend the rest of the time talking about personal style, imagination, passion, big names, and other undefined unactionable buzzwords. This time I have some experience learning, some idea of where to look and how to inspect things for the purposes of reverse engineering. In drawing the workflow is familiar enough to me that I can document it. But even elsewhere I have an idea how it works, what to do to expand my foothold, and the confidence that certain actions will produce the things needed to in turn produce and improve results: the first step is to believe the problem is solvable, the second step is to try out different imitations of examples until the structure of the whole can be identified. The other steps are depend more on the subject matter and are more complex, but are relatively trivial in importance. The first step is the most important one of all. And it’s one I can now take reliably.

Learning how to tell stories in drawings shouldn’t be too hard.

Learning how to tell stories in writing should be doable too, if only a few years further away.


[0] The original intended title for this post was “The End”. The second title was “Desire too is a skill”. It was changed to the final title due to connotations of the replaced words.

“Checking” Facebook

Not using facebook is pretty great. It’s like getting a good night’s sleep; everything’s magically grown more detail.

Probably because as many friends as I can get and as many news “stories” there are, it’s all basically about the same voices saying about the same thoughts and about the same things. It’s not like it’s a calendar of deadlines; the vast majority of items are unactionable, so they all blend into each other like so many fetch quests.

Or perhaps more simply, fb “stories” average ten to a hundred words, and outside I find and read “stories” from two thousand words to tens of hours.

They too are generally unactionable, but unlike stuff I see on fb, which pretends the actions are liking, sharing, and commenting, there’s no pretense, so I’m left with thinking about what to do with what I’ve learned instead. Write a couple thousand words to review the morals and materials? Read up other things the author has done?

Or maybe close the tab/game/video and get back to work?

Hit Detection

I stopped drawing to masturbate. I opened up Honey Select cause that’s what I wanted.

I proceeded to spend the next half a day in HS… not masturbating.

The “half day” part isn’t particularly important, even if I had paid closer attention to the time I probably still would’ve spent 30~60 minutes in HS before realizing I wasn’t doing what I stopped drawing for. Or to put it another way, I could’ve continued drawing for 30~60 more minutes, stopped, go instead to my porn folder, masturbated, then have the rest of the day to do whatever and it would’ve been more productive. I did learn some things in HS, but it’s not how I intended to spend my day[1].

What’s important is that I intended to do one thing and did something else instead. Today it was HS and masturbation. Past couple of months it’s been WOT and having fun. Past two decades it’s been school and happiness in life. In several memorable instances, it’s been humiliating acts and social acceptance.

If the effects of something couldn’t have been predicted it’s one thing, but I think this applies quite frequently to stuff that could have been known too.

I wanted to see what a certain gym was like once, and they did this hour-long spiel-plus-tour and revealed the rates and the existence of both a safety and an advance deposit almost after-the-fact, buried in a sea of text. And I signed it! Even if I couldn’t predict what sales tactics they’d use, I’d been to a different gym before which, within 10 seconds of me walking in the door and asking the front desk what the rates were, was shown a laminated single sheet with big numbers how much it’d cost if paid per 1mo, 3mo, 6mo, 1yr. No fancy ~lifestyle~ names about what this plan is called or that plan’s benefits are; this is the table of costs for a membership, if you want yoga classes it’s a separate charge. Unfortunately that gym is also basically bankrupt, even though it’s cheaper and in a better location. I don’t doubt the addition of predatory sales tactics and red-orange-green marketing strategies would up their numbers; in any case this sample size of 2 tells me that the majority of people go to a gym for reasons other than actually getting fit[2].

How can these occurrences be countered?

The more I revisit this the more things seem to come down to awareness and reactivity.

“Reactivity” is a word I made up which happens to exist; what I mean is to have decided on things beforehand and not budging from it after the decision. There is never a time where there is something to be gained from pondering new material in the moment – there’s no shame in losing, but if it happens, you are “at a loss”, and you should strive to avoid it in the future. An expectation should be set concretely, and results checked within a matter of minutes or seconds. If things have deviated from expectations, react strongly and reject any “alternatives”. Your expectation should have included them if they were reasonable, and if you were wrong, then better you learn later than be taken advantage of in the moment.

I walked into that gym thinking “it’d be nice” if they had a simple sheet like the other gym. I did ask what the prices were, but they asked me to sit down until they could have some [associate?] “walk me through” “the process”. Different companies have different naming conventions and slightly different ways of doing things… which is fine, so long as that “different” is still within the range of “stuff I’m okay with”, which should’ve stopped when the first thing the [associate?] gave me wasn’t a price table. At that point I should’ve interrupted him, stood up, literally why should I give a fuck about what they think of me it’s not like they’ll call my mother, they fail for one reason or another to present me the thing I want so the relationship is over. But no, because “I didn’t want to be a dick”[3], so I let him go on his spiel… wasting an hour of my life.

Opened HS thinking I’d get my dick wet then get back to work; didn’t have a day left when I was done. In this instance no one was there to exploit the weak point, so it probably could’ve gone a whole lot worse[4], but it still could’ve gone a whole lot better.

“Awareness”, other than the usual meaning, can primarily be augmented with some amount of other priorities. If you only have one thing to do and you’re actively trying to do something else that’s “temporary”, something not a major task and therefore lacks an “importance” value to it, “temporary” can become dangerously long. It’s clearer how important one thing is when there’s a handful (but not an overwhelming amount) of other things to serve as contrast. More rigidly, this means a schedule. Nothing is truly “scheduled” if there’s only one thing to do, but if multiple things have to be done within a certain timeframe then any “break” from one of them affects all of them.

In terms of training these two things videogames are probably terrible. Videogames will always automatically and without fail tell you whether something has or hasn’t happened. If you fire a bullet at an enemy you know if you did damage within a fraction of a second; if you fire a resume at an application you won’t know when you’ll know if it’s ever seen by human eyeballs again. Physics has instant hit detection but with people and ideas it exists sporadically. People even actively attempt to make it disappear by training themselves with ritual magic they call “politeness” and “professionalism”. Their actions generally reveal their intentions, but it can be difficult to see them if their words are marching the other way. In the end you have to decide where the cutoffs are, then follow your own instructions “blindly” until the event has passed. “Can’t bluff someone who isn’t paying attention”.

Upon browsing my old posts, it looks like I’ve written about this before on multiple occasions. At least the “decide for yourself beforehand” part. As for the other part, I have an ancient draft with a bunch of different ideas titled “What’s In A Name?”. Recently and unrelatedly, I’ve also collected in a txt a bunch of ideas under “what’s in a word”.

 

The mechanics of verbal deception is evidently my enduring topic.

 


[4] This “weak point” is probably how a lot of Free To Play games make their money.

[3] Read a bunch of ‘horror stories’ about commissioning amateur artists recently; this phrase was surprisingly common on a lot of them. One of them had an expected turnaround of about three months and let the thing go on for five years. This wasn’t some ten-dollar throwaway sketch either, it was a deposit of two grand USD.

I ended up getting my shit refunded from the gym the next morning. The internet has thankfully trained me to be pretty nitpicky stringent, but there are some really simple tricks I’ve noticed which completely undo my tendencies. Things which can be trained against but probably will always retain some power. Having to interact with people face-to-face is one. Lots of paperwork is another…

[2] I don’t have the numbers, but assuming what’s said about gyms right after New Year’s is true, I think it’s safe to say most people don’t actually get fitter after starting to go to the gym. Which is what you’d expect from people who aren’t going to the gym to get fit.

[1] For the curious, HS is a game which allows you to pose characters into sex positions.

Experience is Relative

I went over to help a relative with their garage door today.

It was an old wooden type, and the connection to the opener had splintered. After drilling new holes and adjusting the chain position to attach properly, I found that positions 1,2,5,6, and 8 out of 8 possible positions did not work, as the chain track would bend. I supposed it was necessary to move the car to get to adjusting the position of the box itself. So I detached the arm again, and lo and behold, the garage door itself would not move. One person should be enough, but two weren’t, and a third arrived with a crowbar and still it would barely move. A wooden door, a concrete floor, and a rubber flap of sorts on the door which never posed any problems before. But at that point it was noticed that one of the structures attaching the door to the door frame had splintered the frame, and the structure was sticking out somewhat.

I had replaced springs of that type before and advised against touching it. A single garage door spring took both me and my dad to replace when the garage door is open, trying to lose the tension on two of them while the door is closed spelled to me “suicide”. I am also by education an engineer, so perhaps that contributed to my basic understanding of what state the spring was in and the force potentials in the overall situation, rather than simply noticing “this thing is broken, it should be removed”.

But what do I know and what can I say to two people three times my age in Chinese culture? So they went ahead and did it, and the third guy got whacked with about 10 pounds of steel. Maybe a concussion, I wasn’t looking at the time, but he had to spend a minute to regain his bearings. Then he said no problem.

And then he went to work trying to figure out how to remove the other structure.

So I called my dad because I wasn’t about to be an accessory to manslaughter.

Thankfully that halted all movement. Rather than talk specifics about the situation he talked about how it sounded like the situation’s problems just kept getting larger and it was better to just call in professional help instead. Probably also helps that when he grew up it appeared he didn’t follow the Confucian way and was basically top dog without being the eldest, and maybe used some rhetorical tricks I didn’t catch. The relative attempted to get my dad to research contractors on replacing garage door openers for him, then attempted to get me to do it, at which point the third guy conveniently pulled out a really thick Chinese yellowpages and I took my leave. I had come intending to do ~1hr labor helping the elderly, but spent about 4, and wasn’t interested in doing 20~30 more where I wasn’t particularly needed. I had assumed that it was just squeezing me for more young-people help, and that they must have done these sorts of things before. Even if they don’t understand physics they should understand people and data comparison from other things. I haven’t replaced garage doors before, but I have built a computer, researched videogames, and read anime reviews to be more sure I’m getting quality beforehand. Surely at three times my age there’d be plenty of things to draw from?

In review my dad said the curious line that even though they definitely had language problems they’d still have difficulties even if they were in China, I asked him what he meant. He had talked about calling up different numbers, comparing prices, materials, services, and how they wouldn’t consider as much as we would, but not just because we were trained as engineers and they weren’t, and distilled it into one line:

If you can’t plan or make decisions, you will have trouble with everything you touch.

People can get this old without figuring out basic things? I mean, especially the third guy. Not understanding statics is one thing, but getting whacked then going for round two is another.

People can live their whole lives without learning anything.

Harsh Times Are Required : A World of Tanks Experience

I’ve been playing a game called World of Tanks for the past month and a half or so.

I had played it a few years back when it just came out of beta and had some fond memories of some of the tanks, but I had dropped and uninstalled it because I got fed up with the lack of power I had over the outcome of the game. The standard mode is 15 minutes, 15 vs 15 with each player in one tank, and everyone only lives once – if you lose all your health you cannot simply hop into another tank and continue. It wasn’t too hard to drop the game since I had picked it up like League of Legends for the purpose of training minimap awareness for Starcraft. This time around I picked it back up as I was invited by a friend who had another group of friends interested in doing company and clan battles, and I had Go, where I am actually in full control and anything that goes wrong is completely my fault.

Coming back there were a lot of changes; quite a few tanks I had remembered being good or at least fun to play had their best guns removed or were reworked entirely. My favorite tank felt largely unchanged but perhaps lacking a bit due to powercreep. As I had not gotten to the higher tiers / endgame of World of Tanks the new tank lines and meta changes didn’t matter to me too much, so I just played it as a new game with somewhat of a head start. At first I was performing about where I was performing historically, approximately the 47% winrate average. One of the friends was very into the numbers and statistics of the game and I learned a lot more about the mechanics, which I had ignored completely the first time around opting for a “feel first think later” approach, and I started looking at my own winrates more closely on the third-party sites that kept track of more stats than the official site, including individual tank stats and daily/weekly/monthly progress.

Learning about which tanks had which guns which did however much damage at whatever penetration, how far away they could see me based on their tank type and equipment, and how fast they could turn or move based on horsepower/tonnage ratio did not raise my winrates by much at all. It raised my daily winrates (50~100 battles/day) from a fairly stable ~47% to an unstable 49%. The two things I did learn were hull-down and sidescraping, which weren’t really about to help me since I wasn’t really yet playing at high enough tiers for these things to be crucial, or otherwise failed by themselves to have any significant statistical impact. I started reading articles written by top tier players and watching their videos and streams, and they bumped me up to a vaguely less unstable 52%. It’s hard and not very informative to compare the two jumps in a numerical way, but it felt substantial enough for me to believe that the future of improvement lay in following the footsteps of the better tankers.

Somewhere along the way I stopped playing regularly with the aforementioned group and played the game on my own. The original inviter turned out to be someone I really didn’t want to play with and for various reasons was clear he is not a person to learn from, and the rest weren’t really looking to be competitive or were unable to explain how they were improving. I had also stopped playing Go for the time being and spent time on other activities when not on WOT, so the “I’m only one man out of fifteen against fifteen, what could I possibly do” came back in full force. My winrate was still about 52%, but became a little more unstable – there were some days I’d hit 55 and other days where it’d go back to 46. I read a post about how team games don’t require teamwork, which helped a little bit more every time I read it, but it didn’t have much effect. Or so it seemed.

This past weekend was horrible, as most weekends are. Reasoning is that more bad players are out on the weekends and since WOT has no ranked games ladder where bad players only see bad players, the games were much more one-sided and the feeling of playing them ranged from “dumb” to “humans are garbage i have lost my faith in humanity”. The difference this time though was I kept trying to play and kept trying to focus. Usually I either 1) get really mad and quit or 2) get really mad and keep on playing. The former leaves me with a bad taste and a lower winrate, the latter leaves me with a worse version of the former.

This time I took no breaks inbetween games and forced myself to remember that this was a new game, with new players, sometimes on a different tank, most of the time on a different map, and even if players are still probably going to be bad because it’s the weekend, they might do something I can work with this time, and even if they don’t get better, I can get better, and that at least requires some experience in trying to apply what I’ve learned.

I forget what my winrates were, I didn’t bother to record them because they weren’t out of the ordinary. On the lower side of normal things.

This is what happened after last weekend:

Those were my numbers after Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday were something like 62 and 68 respectively; I didn’t record them because I thought they were anomalies of some kind. I thought it might’ve been RNG or MM (MatchMaking) favoring me, or perhaps it was because I was playing too much of tanks I liked (T-34, tier 5; T-150, tier 6) rather than grinding through tanks I wasn’t so comfortable in towards higher tiers. But three days in and a last minute check before bed opened my eyes pretty wide.

Thursday felt pretty bad and it was something like 56 at the end of the day. Today was the worst I’ve felt in WOT for a fairly long period of time and I simply quit after a fairly short session, and I thought perhaps this whole week was just a Flowers for Algernon experience and the window of greatness had passed.

These were today’s stats:

In a 15 vs 15 game a 2% disparity in overall winrate signifies a massive difference in strength, and on what I thought was one of my worst days I performed that much better than my historical average. I was killing more than a whole nother tank per game, doing more than twice as much damage, and instead of surviving one every five games I was still surviving one out of three. It used to be an extremely good day had this 51.5% winrate with >2.0 KDR – and now it was just the opposite. On reflection, I’ve found I now basically expect to win at least 2/3 of my games, kill 3 or more opponents, and survive at least 1/2 of the time.

In this past week I have read no new articles and watched no new videos relating to World of Tanks. I have only played more games. I have been playing no tanks this week that I did not last week, and while I have been trying a few new routes this week on particular maps this is something I do all the time anyways. My strategy and style has been largely the same for the past three weeks or so. Nothing directly measurable has changed.

My mind, however, has changed.

A post written by a fairly famous player states that there are essentially three things that separate a player from being just pretty good (52~55%) and amazing (60+%, as defined by WOTLABS): Activity, Consistency, and Deliberateness. As he defines it, Activity is basically firing more and always looking for a better way to approach the local and global fight, Consistency is about doing the right thing with your tank given the matchup, and Deliberateness is the mental focus for Activity. Activity I’ve been ramping up for a while now, due to playing more slow-firing tanks but still needing to output the same damage flowrate to win/stay alive, and deliberateness is in the same line. Consistency in the form that he mentions I definitely don’t have yet since I basically only have a “light tank” and “heavy tank” mindset.

What I have gained is another kind of consistency.

After a weekend flood of playing with straight-up no-question-about-it tomatoes and being able to keep some grip on my sanity and temper, playing with weekday potatoes shot my winrate through the roof. Being forced to spend a significant amount of energy on keeping myself under control while still wanting to play for wins, I didn’t have any room in my mind for thoughts other than what I thought would bring my team the victory. No doubts or hesitation, only correct moves or mistakes based on what I had understood from my studies and what I thought would be the correct move at the time. If I made the correct move, great. If not, reflect a bit on what went wrong and what could’ve been done better. If a different solution is found, great, do that next time; if not, oh well, just don’t do something similar to that thing that clearly didn’t work. Now that I had that much more mental energy to spend but significantly fewer things to spend it on, I was able to do the correct things much more efficiently.

It’s somewhat akin to a hardening or an annealing. All the things I had learned were indeed useful and they are definitely why I was able to play such good performances this week, but before this weekend those ideas and developing habits sat alongside their bad and counterproductive counterparts in my toolbox of available moves. Before I would just sit and wait for a bit to let the opponent potentially make the first move while I thought about which idea to execute, but this past weekend and now, that sort of doubt or pondering has been erased. If I feel like I want to try something new now, I ask myself and almost immediately answer – if not within two seconds, then I decide when my tank has driven to the last point where a decision can be made without turning around.

There are no more great debates in my mind between two great powerful voices.

Only a “That looks interesting. Shall we do it? Ok gogogo.”

The following is my general mindset in WOT, sorted by tank types. The first three are the main tank types in the game, the latter two are supporting types and generally require assistance from other tanks both to be able to do damage and move forward on the map. With a little translation, I think the Heavies and Lights mindsets can be easily used in playing real world power games.

Now that I know I like playing power games, what I’m interested next is what exactly my style and strengths are. I prefer certain tanks in WOT because of my playstyle; I play these tanks in WOT rather than any class in many other games because of my playstyle – what does this mean for my style in real life, and where can I find games in real life which my style can dominate?

Heavies:
1. PUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSHH
2. Where is the furthest conceivable safe position I can be in at this point in time?
3. If I do not have sente, how do I gain sente? If I have sente, what move can I make that keeps sente?
4. HP is a resource. It is not only something that the opponent takes, but something that has ways for you to correctly spend it. HP generally buys either time or initiative.

5. I can’t die to this guy, I have to be alive so I can kill the next guy.

6. PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSHHHHH

Lights:
1. I must see the midgame/endgame to fully utilize my strengths.
2. What do I know about the enemy deployment and where are its holes?
3. “General” scouting is generally dumb. Scouting should be thought of as marginal.
4. Don’t shoot unless someone else is already shooting.
5. Don’t shoot unless it’s their sides or their ass.

Mediums:
1. High tier mediums: see Heavies.
2. Low tier mediums: see Lights.
3. Mid tier mediums: depends on specific tank. Pick either Heavies or Lights.

TDs:
1. Fuck TDs.

Arties:
1. Fuck arties.

 

ADDENDUM

Someone else’ll fix it.

And it’ll be me. And I’ll carry until my fucking back breaks. And those worthless fucking assholes will get another win they don’t deserve.

After a whole year of learning and failing to manage/lead/carry engineering project teams I was supposed to take a month off to just relax and play videogames, but apparently I just went from the pool to the pond; from being 1 of 6, 1 of 3, to 1 of 15.

And now I just don’t care anymore. It’s not even a 拖死佢 thing where I’m secretly hiding bitterness, I actually just don’t care whether or not someone’s “leeching” or if I’m carrying people anymore. Obviously it’d be better if every teammate was productive but it doesn’t really matter, and it’s not because of “we’re a team” or some feel-good bullshit.

It’s because what I want is to win. I happen to be playing a team game so I have to defeat more opponents. If my teammates can only contribute the most minimal things then mathematically the rest of it falls on me. If I happened to carry some shitfuckers along the way then they got lucky and I got experience. If there are teammates who appreciate my efforts and work with me then that’s great too. But it’s not the main idea. If it becomes the main idea then relying on other people becomes an MO, and both winrates and relationships will falter.

The idea is for me to win and survive. The rest is built on top of that.

The only difference is in real life there is no big public objective stat tracking board.

The Top 10 Things I Learned of at College [7~10]

I’ve been catching on to a few other ideas recently and am starting to be able to explain them, but this was in the way, so I’ll finish it up first.

“Attack From the Furthest Possible Distance”

This is a saying I heard in Go club on talking about attacking a group on the board. In Go every group of stones has “liberties”, points immediately outside the group that are not yet filled, and one of the two rules of Go is that when a group has no more liberties it dies. When beginners want to attack a group they usually “attach”, that is immediately play on one of a group’s outside points. This is disadvantageous because you immediately start out with fewer liberties. Even if it’s only one stone, which has four liberties, when one plays next to that stone each player’s stone now has three – but it’s now the opponent’s move.

Supposing the attack, the question becomes how far away, and the answer is “as far away as possible”. “As possible” being not the 19×19 on the board, but how far away one can play that one’s followup can still effectively make that stone useful in the attack. Sometimes it actually is attaching to the opponent’s stones, usually it’s three or four away, occasionally it actually is on the opposite side of the board. “Liberty” in the immediate is where one can play while still being connected; in the larger scale if we count not just the immediate points but the empty points around a stone, it means potential, influence, power. The more liberties you have the more plays you are able to set up, 1) the more choices and potential mistakes the opponent can make, and 2) the more things the opponent has to worry about defending against.

The focus of this idea is not so much “Kill as many birds as you can with one stone” as it is the principle behind it: stability and readiness. Attacks should not be executed with the mindset of victory at the fastest speed, or obliteration of the enemy to the cleanest completion, but rather “attack so that if an attack or defense of something else also needs to occur, that can also be done with the minimal amount of additional trouble”. If the answer to this is doing it ASAP or obliteration, then the thought process occurs in that order, not the other way around.

In practice I’ve found this is the best counter to inadvertently tunnel-visioning, though of course tunnel-vision has its benefits and is sometimes the furthest possible distance.

Logistics / Architecture is 99% of everything.

Morality is garbage. Movements are garbage. Ideologies are garbage. And by garbage I mean decoration, because if garbage had a use it wouldn’t be garbage.

No one cares about what you think happens in the world, or thinks should happen in the world, or what you call it, or whatever. Doesn’t matter if more people like/agree with you, or the other way around. The only thing that matters is what happens. “Actions speak louder than words” is the dumb version because it encourages activism, and activism is stupid, because no one cares about what you think should happen in the world.

The simplest example everyone knows about is that clicking like on facebook doesn’t actually save any starving african children. However this doesn’t stop people from continuing to voice or show “support” for any number of other things which are only ideas to them, which is why it doesn’t matter, because they’re only ideas. The “support” for a political movement of any kind, let’s say the gay marriage one for instance, isn’t important insofar as it “advances progress in society” as it is signalling to media that that’s the kind of fashion the market margins are into these days, and the same sort of thing to politicians and their votes. This sort of thing is not ignored by standard ideologues, who actually admit “that’s how things work, unfortunately”, right before they go back to being drunk on whatever pet mythos they subscribe to.

Removing the “unfortunately”, that is to say, no longer thinking that the way things work is unpleasant and therefore deserves more looks than “is absolutely necessary”, reveals that it’s basically everything. The desire, the intent, the idea, the description of something is almost completely irrelevant to what it is and how it works. Perhaps the important point of this fairly easy to understand concept is its usefulness in clearing away the smoke and mirrors.

Some examples.

Independence from family:

The American Dream is that everyone grows up to have their own family, their own single suburban home, with their own car, and this all starts off with moving out of the house when you’re 18 / out of college. There’s some statistics floating around recently talking about how some large percentage of young adults are now living at home with their parents for an extended period of time, and it’s being read as a bad trend, “lazy Generation Y” or whatever. Ignoring potential laziness, increasing college tuition and debt, bad job market and all the other circumstances, why can’t one live at home with one’s parents? I understand the appeal of having your own place and having privacy to do whatever it is you want to do, but the choice of staying at home is not unreasonable.

Most 20-somethings don’t have their own single detached suburban two-story five-bedroom houses, but rather a one or two bedroom apartment. They don’t own the apartment, they pay rent, which according to Numbeo averages about 1000/mo in the USA. Supposing they get a supposedly respectable 60,000 as an annual salary (random number), decrease that by 25% due to taxes (estimate), that’s 3750 per month to the individual and therefore about 1/3 to rent, which is a fairly standard estimate.

The question of “independence” developed fully is more a question of whether paying 1000/mo more is worth the net benefits of having a separate apartment. The average 20-something is also a college grad, which means they also have about 29000 in student loans debt. Let’s round down and ignore interest, say it’s 1000/yr for 25 yrs.  Live at home for a little over two years and all that debt is gone. Live “by yourself” and maybe the drain on your bank account will stop sometime before your 40th birthday.

Supposing your parents treat you like shit, do you want to be someone’s little bitch for two years, or for twenty five years?

Obviously it does depend on how badly you think of your parents, but it is something that requires weighing. It’s not a foregone conclusion that independence is better.

Independence itself is also a fairly silly concept. A childhood friend of mine apparently is “living on his own” these days because he doesn’t like either of his divorced parents. I asked my mom how he moved into his new apartment and if he had any at all help from his parents. The silliness extends everywhere. How exactly is one living “off the grid” when it involves driving a factory-made truck to buy international corporation extracted and refined gasoline/diesel? Is a country really independent if it imports or exports anything at all, or is always being told by AMERICA what and what not to do?

Solar Highways/Ocean Cleanup:

Logistics is why all the “THIS IS THE FUTURE” or “I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE” type stuff doesn’t fly. (The reason why it’s annoying is something different and has to do with religiosity.)

There are plenty of reasons why solar highways won’t work, the one that sticks out to me is fatigue.

Roads are made the way they are for a reason; they were made of something before asphalt when horses and the things they pulled were common and they’re made of asphalt now because the most common transportation is cars. Weighing stations exist because the roads are designed to have a certain lifetime to them and if you load them more more often then they will break faster and need repair. Asphalt is the most common material to cover roads with due to its cheapness, availability, and because it’s basically rock. Solar panels have to be made of glass or something that’s transparent so that the flimsy fancy stuff underneath it can work. Assuming crystal clear perfect weather and no integration problems between each solar roadway cell, and ignoring power transmission because I have no clue how that works, by simple fatigue the cells will have to be replaced at a ridiculous pace. That, and there’s no way in hell there’s that many materials lying around to make that many solar cells. That kind of stuff isn’t just expensive because “THE MAN IS HOLDING US DOWN”, it’s because there’s actually not that much of it.

On the green energy note, electric cars at least in America actually run on coal. Perhaps in Germany or France or Japan they run on nuclear, but electricity for electric cars from the power grid, and the power grid isn’t something that just has infinite power. Just because pollution doesn’t happen at your location when you’re driving doesn’t mean you’re not polluting. Also electric car batteries require rare earth metals. Do you think those were mined using something that didn’t run on diesel?

The logistical problem I saw in Boy Genius Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup wasn’t so much that it wouldn’t work, but why Boy Genius matters at all. This was happening about a month ago right after the solar highway fad died out; people started posting TED talks of apparently some genius 19 year old who thought up of something that would clean up the garbage patches in a very short amount of time! We should totally support this idea he’s being held down by the maaaaaan maaaaan. Shit doesn’t happen just because it’s good, and even if that is why things happen, why do they happen when they happen? When isn’t a why, language is poor at defining time, and no you aren’t allowed to ignore it. I found out the fad occurred in ~June because the organization had released some new report in May, which explained why the fad was happening then and not in 2012 when the organization first formed. The report has Boyan Slat plastered on so many chapters it’s unclear how much of it he actually looked through and contributed to, his own website talks about diving in Greece so clearly he’s from a really rich family, and the lack of any other sort of description of his background while the backgrounds of the people in the organization are so extensive shows fairly clearly that this guy is most likely just a posterchild because the environmentalist message doesn’t have enough kick to it.

And it really doesn’t. How anyone thinks only this “genius” 19-year old could’ve thought of this idea is either implausible or shows just how stupid people really are. His solution literally consists of a bunch of buoys that funnel the plastic into a collector which then every so often gets visited by a tanker and emptied out. The mechanics of the buoy funnel system were somewhat interesting to me and I read what I could, but it’s not really the point, the fact that the concept is the funnel is the point. Which is retarded because that’s literally the only concept that makes sense. Supposing that the ocean would be cleaned up of plastic garbage, how else would you do it? Pick it up by hand? By robotic arm? Train dolphins? It has to be a net of some kind that collects it over time; the rest of the details is stuff that you need engineers with experience, a lot of engineers with experience, to figure out how one would go about it. “But Boyan Slat made the decisions” someone’s never watched any dramas with supposed child monarchs in them. I’ve experienced firsthand how hard managing TWO people is over FIVE MONTHS; where the hell did this kid get the experience to manage a hundred people over two years from? How did he oversee which parts and who got paid? Where is the money coming from? None of the logistics make any sense.

It doesn’t work by the way; the foundation admits this on pg 432 of their report. It is not at all profitable, and economically costs per unit about the same as a beach cleanup. It also takes 10 years not 5 (pg 25), and it’s not all plastics but about 27% of them (pg 175) at 40~45% efficiency (pg 25). How do I know this, because I read. I’ve also read Kickstarter’s statistics for projects larger than 100K have a 7% delivery rate, and that’s the model that Boyan Slat’s organization is using to ask for 2M. “But you’re not paying 2M, it’s just like 1 or 2 dollars!” Then I might as well not contribute. Ocean pollution with plastic is unfortunate but this isn’t about to really change anything and I don’t believe it’ll work well at all. If it really did work and really did make profit I expect some big corporation to be funding it; the fact that they have to rely on a kickstarter and some random rich kid as their poster just shows me that this is a cute little side project organized by some connected guy somewhere hoping to earn a buck or two for their hobby. Like hell all those hundred something people work full time for this organization, there’s no money.

“You just like the status quo!”

That’s the trick you see. It doesn’t matter what I want. I can want rare earth metals to be common, or Boyan Slat’s project to fully clean the oceans within 5 years and profit the whole time, but that doesn’t make them happen. I can also want to care about the environment, but that doesn’t make pop cult environmentalists believe me.

Killing women and children is immoral:

This belief is more common than toilet paper, and is usually said or thought with contrast to killing men. Ignoring details on whether killing is moral or not under whatever situations, the fact that such a distinction on killing between “men” and “women and children” signifies that whatever value life has, a man’s life is worth less than a woman’s or a child’s. Man vs Woman has some biological justification namely in fertility ratio, as for children I have no idea but in cases like a sinking ship the purpose of life to begin with is that genes are passed onto the next generation so if you have a kid and you had to choose, you would let your kid live.

Supposing the sunken ship and a bunch of women and children live, what happens? They live, but they now have no source of income, and if the mother goes to work and becomes the source of income then the mother figure is gone and there’s no particular advantage to having the mother over the father (I’ve read stats that say single mother causes significantly more problems in the future than single fathers but I currently lack links). If it’s an orphan kid then he goes back to the orphanage, and if it’s a single woman then perhaps there’s some argument if she’s younger than 30.  If it’s your woman and your child then the choice is clear but if it’s other women and children there’s nothing special about them.

The futures argument (“but the kid could be X!”) isn’t really an argument since by definition it defies actual quantification; it’s more a matter of whether you want your engineers and doctors now rather than your engineers and doctors later. This would be a population or demographics balancing problem then and not a moral problem – in other words, “killing women and children is worse than killing men” is a false statement and the true statement would be “killing women is sometimes worse than killing men and killing children” and the other two versions. One would obviously choose Einstein to live over a crack addict prostitute, but that again is outside of the original moral claim. Choosing anyone over a random infant is harder to argue for in writing due to the extremely strong protective instinct, but if one was just born on the sinking ship and it was one of those that had defects that’d kill it within the next 12 hours, and you were choosing between that and a famous pop star, the choice would be obvious, and thus the statement goes back to being a case-by-case i.e. logistical issue rather than some categorical moral imperative.

Decisions in the end are made on logistics and not on concepts which are just fuzzy words. If only women and children can get onto the lifeboats, does a 16 year old male make the cut? What if he’s 17.5 or 17.99? If the woman is a transgender or a crossdresser do they count? How old can the women be before they are counted as elderly and not allowed on? How much net worth does a man have to have so that he can get to captain a boat and get off alive? How much command does a woman have to have shown before she’s allowed to replace one of those men? Careful not to make a mistake now, you’re killing people you know.

It’s not so easy if you have to think about it. It’s really easy to just say something is immoral.

A good rote repetition to start on thinking in terms of logistics is to phrase all claims in terms of a question. If it is said “X is true!”, make yourself hear “If I said X is true, would you believe me, and if so how do you think it works?”

Note that logistics is exactly why philosophical “thought experiments” are never modified. An experiment consists of testing a hypothesis of a control group versus various variable groups, but the trolley problem for instance is always presented in a single form. Whether your philosophy/debate teacher taught you it in the form one versus five or one versus ten, the question always remains in that one smaller versus larger value and the question posed is always whether action is more immoral than inaction. They never ponder the difference between one to five versus one to six, or if it was instead ten to one, one woman to five men, one elderly to five babies, or one jew to five koreans. The students sometimes bring it up, but the teacher always turns them back and asks them the impossible question of universalizing it by making up some a priori principle. If it was encouraged, the resulting plethora of variations would reveal that morality is a fraud concept that actually only exists inside the very narrow mental corridors and that the students aren’t talking with seekers of truth and masters of the world, but social engineers.

Another result of seeing things in terms of logistics is that there is no need to continually seek a new “edge” that the mainstream has or hasn’t gotten to, as seems to be the case for many “skeptics” whose MO is more about differentiating themselves from what they see as the group than anything else. Logistics clears away the smoke and mirrors if that is what you want, but they also help explain why the smoke and mirrors exist. “Sleazy tactics” are understood as a subset of “tactic” rather than a subset of “sleazy”, making its substance one of an action that has its own purpose, effectiveness, and other attributes, rather than one of emotional self-image defense. I hate feminists and I’d absolutely never date or marry one, but the feminist/SJW movement has gained power somehow and regardless of whether it was largely handed to them or largely self-made, the fact of the matter is it’s something I would not expect and if possible I’d like to figure out and learn exactly how they managed to get to the forefront of all media today. Again it’s easy enough to just say “women are consumers/larger voter base”, but I’m interested in the actual things that went on. This interest would not be possible if I was the standard anti-feminist.

“Architecture” is the word I use to describe the larger organization of logistics. It is the strategy to the tactics.

Ignoring lewds, the only real passion I have is PvP.

Every time there’s a group presentation in engineering and someone brings their laptop, the background shown before PowerPoint is moved over is without fail some picture of something related to engineering. A sports car, a fighter jet, the space shuttle, the ISS, some famous piece that everyone’s heard of or seen before. At first I thought it was just for the show, like a dress code or common etiquette because that’s the kind of schizophrenic puritan culture this country has, but no, some people actually care so much about their major or career path that even if you drop in on them working at the lab or at home you’ll see the exact same pic. Whether or not this is honest or part of this culture’s psychology problem is not really relevant, fact is, it’s there, it’s there for most people, and I can’t give a shit about it.

You know what I want to see when I minimize all my windows?

A pretty girl with a gorgeous smile.

Cause that’s one of the two things I want in life, and the other one has absolutely nothing to do with my vocation. “But everyone likes sex” I would imagine so, but not everyone likes engineering. And I really don’t like engineering. I appear to have a natural talent for the most basic stuff, but everything beyond it I’m somewhere between mediocre and bad. And I can’t care to learn more about it. Some of it is certainly due to the fact that structured education is structured horribly, but even now that I have free time I can’t care really to do much about that subject on my own.

The real medium is pursue what you are talented at. Ideally this will also be something that you enjoy, but if it isn’t that’s why hobbies exist. Employers pay for talent, they don’t pay for making employees feel fulfilled and they don’t pay people who have below-average knowledge in an ‘in-demand’ field. All the people on /pol/ who can’t find jobs with STEM degrees? They have a < 3.3 GPA because they didn’t have the talent for it. Sucks to be them.

People say because I have a mechanical engineering degree that it’ll be easy for me to find jobs as opposed to if I had a different major or no degree, maybe this is true maybe it isn’t, whether it is or not I don’t care because while money is important I’m probably going to be just as bored flipping burgers or taking calls as I am doing CAD. The one time in my four years at college where I thought the workload was getting fun and interesting was near the end with managing projects, but the interest there was more in the project management than in the engineering. Manipulating several variables and attempting to account for an unknown amount of unknowns while working with several people is a pretty fun challenge, but if the scope was the same I’m sure I’d still have the same amount of excitement if it was replaced by economics or politics or something. “But you have a background in engineering” yes, but do managers with “backgrounds” in something have the same kind of passion, vision, and perspective that the ground experts do? I don’t think so.

I tried to trace my interest in management to a broader principle. It wasn’t the accounting, as my detail-tracking is somewhat spotty and tires me out. It wasn’t the creating knowns from unknowns, since I’m not the type to just randomly build stuff on my own. The balancing between speed and certainty of decisions was definitely part of it but didn’t explain enough, since that kind of thing happens all the time anyways and it’s not like I get excited just by walking around in real life. The answer I found was in manipulating other people. The “evil boss” figure as is commonly imagined is something I don’t have the natural skill for; I don’t have the conception of some sort of absolutist power so that’s not what I enjoyed while being a manager. “Control” didn’t exist; people rarely did what i told or asked them to do even if it was by their own suggestion. The interesting part of being a manager was that my role relied on my ability to make people do what I want them to do.

“PvP”: Player versus Player. My core interest in this life is mental combat against other people. I’m not particularly interested in winning or losing, just that there was an interesting enough fight that challenged my skills enough so that my mind was pushed to its limits and I can bring enough from that experience to improve on future fights. Everything that I am interested in that isn’t biologically driven is in some way related to mental combat skills. Writing and philosophy are to structure the mind, reading is essentially the equivalent of watching a replay of someone else’s fight, games are actually simulated fights. Logistics is the thing you have to have a “background” in to be a good fighter; it’s not like politicians and journalists are actually just dumb. My interest in management wasn’t the power over others, but the game of dealing with both people supposedly more and less powerful than me. The average team member for instance has his teammates as equals, his manager as someone who basically tells him what to do, and that’s it. However much leeway his manager gives him is not really an issue, as the discussions would largely revolve around the project substance and not the power differentials. I might be totally wrong about this since I have very little experience in office politics, perhaps team members can have the exact same kind of experience. In that case then the management is irrelevant, but does not make engineering or whatever my vocation is become the primary focus. If that was the case then it simply does not really matter to me what kind of work I do, unless there’s some field where the metagame of power is more suited to my tastes and tendencies than another.

Everyone wants to win and this is acceptable, but there’s some sort of notion that manipulation is “evil”. I can’t say I find this to be the case; if we are of conflicting interests then I will to the best of my ability find out how to make your interests align with mine, at least for the most crucial moves. The model of conflict as an arm wrestle or some sort of contest of the single variable of strength is somewhat simplistic; one does not simply win because “they want it more”. Wanting it more is what leads to more experimentation and experience, the first step of advancement of which I see is to make the opponent do what you want. Direct conflict is the least efficient method; if you can deflect their attention, evade them, or make them help you, then everything becomes significantly easier. Changing the mind of an opponent is also standardly modelled as some sort of evil brainwashing, when it can take on any sort of form from the Godfather’s offer you can’t refuse to offering a kid a popsicle to stop them from bawling to a simple apology after a mistake. My interest in PvP has clarified to me that logistically there is no point in getting mad about people having a cover “lie” about things no matter how big, but also why a particular “lie” exists, why that “lie” was chosen over other “lies”, and potentially how I can use that sort of tactic. There is no “right” or “wrong”, only “what I like” and “stuff that prevents me from getting to what I like”.

Just as engineered devices are the tools people use to get to their interests of sports/fashion/etc, engineering is at least for the near future going to be my tool to get to my interest of PvP.