All posts by Db0

Our Coronavirus reaction is like a test run to the climate catastrophe

It amuses me darkly to see the reaction of the so-called “civilized world” turn from schadenfreude at the plight of the Chinese, to denial and worry, to full-blown panic in the past month, as the Coronavirus spreads unchecked to our own communities now.

However I can’t help but see similarities in these reactions to the ones we have to the climate apocalypse, albeit at something like 3 orders of magnitude faster pace.

Like the climate catastrophe, nations not yet affected have been assuming nothing bad will come out of the Coronavirus and that business as usual should continue. Any steps of preparation were sporadic and isolated, from a few “doomers”, often ridiculed by the smug people who assumed this epidemic would simply fizzle out like the Ebola, or SARS.

They don’t realize, of course, that those diseases might have only fizzled out due to an immediate and good response. But it’s on our nature to label any successful attempt to prevent the worse as an “over-reaction” to something that “wouldn’t have been a big deal”. Frustratingly I see this daily in how many companies perceive investment in their IT departments as an overall loss.

The calls of “climate panic” of climate deniers map very well to the denials and conspiracies created by people when Coronavirus first appeared on the scene. It is for this reason that Europe and US have completely squandered all the time and lesson bought by the Chinese response. And by the time the effects of the pandemic were felt in the western cities, it was way to late to mount an effective response, and the cost of that response is likewise orders of magnitude what it could have been had measures been taken early enough.

Likewise, by the time the real effects of the climate catastrophe start being felt in an undeniable manner, it will be way too late to salvage it. The cost to the existing sociopolitical systems will be prohibitive and thus nothing significant will be effected.

The people in power assume that they will be spared the worst of a catastrophe, but as Coronavirus spreads indiscriminately and the old plutocrats realize their money cannot shield them, so will the collapse of modern civilization from climate catastrophe make their power vanish into thin air as their private security forces realize who has the power in an apocalyptic situation.

The worst thing in my opinion is that we cannot even use this epidemic as an effective wake-up experience because of the timescale of the climate. To mount an solid response to the global warming, we should have started 30 years ago, but like Coronavirus, we simply squandered out rime into business as usual because “it hasn’t happened yet”.

In the scale of climate Catastrophe I speculate we are at the phase Coronavirus was two weeks ago. Some isolated nations have felt the brutal effects, but they were either not significant enough, or those nations themselves could somehow be blamed for it. By the time the climate catastrophe finally manages to panic as many people as Coronavirus has today (5-10 years I expect), it will be too late to do much about it.

My theme kinda died

And I’m not in the mood to fix it anymore. I used a heavily customized HemingwayEx ever since I started this blog, but it’s been unmaintained for the past 7 years and I noticed recently that my homepage is now all wonky. Plus sporadically people had been complaining about readability.

Since I don’t post that much anymore, I think it’s time to go to something more standard, so I just selected one of the wordpress defaults for now. Feeling cute, might change later ๐Ÿ˜€

Looks like the police is unable to catch a scammer for the past 10 years

More than 9 years ago, I posted that the one scam artists that I fell victim to (because of good fucking heart) was still at large. I just found out that he’s been going around unmolested in Europe ever since and there’s a huge thread about that one guy by now in a French forum.

He changes names and nationalities constantly, so any information I provided about him is way obsolete by now, but his face and sob story should remain approximately the same.

On celebration

Ever since I left school I remember I was not big on celebrating my birthday. I don’t say this as any sort of boast, but rather because an event today made me realize something about the concept of celebration and by extension, birthdays.

You see, I just passed an IT certification exam that I felt was fairly difficult. I did the usual and posted about it on Facebook and LinkedIn and whatnot because I was overjoyed I made it. Naturally I wanted people to interact with me about this achievement which is why I broadcasted this online, so I obviously I have the drive to want to share things about my life. However I’m not the kind of person who wants to try and rub it in people’s faces to make them interact with me, so that’s as far as I usually go.

Anyway, at the semi-humorous advice of a colleague on chat, I decided to anyway bring some croissants to work to mark the occasion. What natively happened is that everyone who stopped by to pick one up, also congratulated me about the occasion. and some also asked for more details and ended up having a nice conversation about my experience. Naturally this was very pleasing to me, as I received more positive attention than usual. Certainly more than I would have gotten if I simply came to my desk as any other day.

This is, I expect, normal. People don’t much care about other people achievements and if I went around just announcing it to people unsolicited, it would sound boastful and forced. People might even resent me for thinking I’m trying to rub it in their faces. Typically this is why I tend to not to play up any of my achievements.

In that sense then, me buying a round of croissants for everyone, is sort-of like paying for their attention in a socially-acceptable manner. The croissant is free, but there is an unwritten expectation that you positively interact with the person that brought it!

This has probably been consciously or subconsciously obvious to most of you, but it never really clicked for me until now. I bring snacks now and then, like everyone, but it was more of a guilt-thing. “Everyone is bring stuff on occasion, so I guess I should be doing that as well”. The dynamics of the situation are simply more clear to me now and I felt I had to share.

As I mentioned, this led me to thinking a bit further about birthdays as well, and why I don’t really care to celebrate them. The birth of concept of celebrating birthdays is lost in history, so I’ll guess we’ll never truly know, but It feels to me that birthdays must effectively be tradition that begun when human life was much more easily ended than it is today. Especially since children mortality was sky-high before the advent of modern medicine. Thus surviving for a whole year into your life, especially as a child, is a noteworthy event, and naturally, an occasion on which you might want to reminisce about the past year as well.

Therefore, I think I instinctively stopped caring about my birthdays because they in turn do not feel like an achievement. At this point of my life, it’s not difficult to survive another year, and thus I feel no reason to make it a big deal.

To wrap it into the concept I explained above, I see no reason to “bribe” people to interact with me about something I have nothing to say.

And yes, I realize I sound like a robot learning about human emotions ๐Ÿ™‚

On Game Design motivation

There’s been quite a bit of progress on my game engine since the last time I posted about it. I now have playable cards, building placement, effect automation, ability to manipulate elements on a hex map and a research pile. All in all, it has taken me approximately 35 hours to reach this stage which feels pretty decent for someone who’s never used Godot or built a video-game from scratch before, but I think a lot has to do with my time building card game plugins in OCTGN.

I even created a Godot demo on how to merge hexagons into tilemaps, which is the question I was asking last time ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately, while my coding has already caught up to the rudimentary design I had drafted, I feel like I’ve been procrastinating from furthering the existing design by losing myself into the code. I even started making Unit Tests rather than progress the game’s design.

Funnily enough, I initially thought that the game design would be the easy part, and actually making the engine to run it, was going to be overwhelming. However now that my basic code has provided me a platform to create fast iterations on design (which is why I wanted to start with the engine before I has a working prototype), I find that when I’m going back to complete the design game, I find that overwhelming.

I have to make it interesting? And exciting? And variable?” Uuuuugh! Can’t I just code existing mechanics instead? At least then I have a tangible goal and I’ll know when I’ve achieved it.

My stupid internal monologue

I’ve always been much better at expanding what was already there than making something from scratch, and it is a “muscle” I’ve never trained before. It will take me a while before I’m not instinctively afraid of the amount of work I have to do. That’s my main procrastination trigger.

I have to keep reminding myself: I do have experience in game design, did tons playtest organizing, got ~25 years of boardgame experience, and now I know enough of a video game engine to perform game design iterations at a speed others can’t match. This is doable for me, damnit!

And yet, every time I open my design document, my brain tries to run out of my head.

Anyway, here’s a random screenshot.

So I started making a game

Oof, update frequency here has decreased dramatically hasn’t it? Oh well, I blame the new social media taking over how we consume updates. Also, I haven’t felt the urge to keep waxing politically lately as most I can think off in that regard are rants and nihilism.

Nevertheless, I do have something new I’m doing, which is that I started using The Godot Engine to finally create The Game I Always Wanted To Play But Nobody Would Make (TM).

Initially I was looking at using pygame since Python is the only language I feel comfortable enough to use for something as complex as that, but my first foray into documentation and examples was a complete disaster. Most the code samples in the pygame repository I tried, led to dead links and the documentation was difficult to get into.

I then left things simmer for a while until I run into Solar Settlers which is surprisingly similar to the concept I have in my head and that kickstarted my drive to continue development as it showed I could do a very minimalist game and still achieve the gameplay I wanted. I checked with the author who pointed me to Unity, which unfortunately does not support python. Howevever I was lucky enough that one of my searches on using python with Unity brought me to Godot and it was “love at first sight”.

You see, Godot is like Unity, but, very importantly, using an Open Source licence (MIT) and its scripting engine, while not python, uses exactly the same syntax and has lot of the same methods. This should theoretically allow me to get a much better running start than having to also learn C# to work with Unity.

So I’ve started doing this on my free time lately, following the great step-by-step tutorials to get me into how Godot handles things, and past few days I’ve started creating a basic setup for me to test and iterate the game rules, without having to use Pen&Paper.

And the speed by which I’m able to do things now has been amazing! I got me a hex map, and a card-drawing mechanism already! It may look like absolute shite, but it’s there ๐Ÿ™‚

Things really do feel overwhelming when starting something like this from scratch. I have almost no idea what the hell I’m doing most of the time and I just keep hacking at it until things eventually work. It would be even worse if I at least didn’t have python knowledge already. Hopefully my motivation will last longer than my patience ๐Ÿ˜€

Also, if anyone wants to help me implement this hex guide into Godot (because I have no idea how to connect the two), lemme know. I could use all the help I can get!

Trump is not a liar

He’s a bullshitter! Quoth Harry Frankfurt (found via this article)

“A liar knows they are lying, which means they know what the truth is, and have a certain respect for it. But a bullshitter either doesnโ€™t know or doesnโ€™t care, and is fundamentally unable to handle being caught. “

Harry Frankfurt – On Bullshit

I was thinking about this when I was seeing the trumpettes valiantly arguing against the world calling Trump a liar for claiming that a living president agreed that The Wall is a good idea.

Trump didn’t lie, he was just trying to bullshit you, as he always does.

Stellaris now allows Megacorporations, so I brought in some familiar faces

In case you don’t know, Stellaris is a 4X / Grand Strategy videogame. Yesterday the latest expansion came out, which introduced, among a complete redesign of the game, Megacorporations.

So I couldn’t resist to create the leaders of industry from the Android Universe, as I faced or represented them often enough in Android:Netrunner.

What do you think?

NBN – Led by our lord and saviour

Haas-Bioroid Unfortunately I cannot create a Machine Megacorp Empire ๐Ÿ™

Jinteki – The Clones have finally taken over.

Weyland Consortium – You’ll trade whether you want to, or not!

Quote of the Day: On Ad Hominems

During online arguments, you often see people shout out “Ad Hominem” when you’re pointing out their problematic background. They assume this is a good comeback as they want you to evaluate their words in isolation. It’s difficult to understand why this is not an appropriate use of this logical fallacy, but redditor bardfinn states it very succintly:

Ad hominem is only a fallacy when someone is using it to construct an argument for the audience to dismiss what the subject is arguing, and when the personal qualities imported into the ad hominem aren’t relevant to what’s being presented. The ethos of someone presenting a subjective opinion is important to assessing how much credence to lend it, and whether they’re presenting their subjective experience in good faith

This is not a case of trying to persuade the audience that 2 + 2 = 5;

This is a case of “Yes, really, all of these parties in this discussion have ulterior motives for playing their parts in this little stage drama, and none of them are grounded in a realistic assessment of how the world actually works”.

Slowly, but surely, we’re becoming cyberpunk.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and saw cyberpunk stuff first at middle/end of the nineties. A lot of the cyberpunk imagery back then was taking current technologies and attempting to extrapolate them. The Internet was still new back then, so a lot of people thought it would evolve into some sort of virtual reality interface or use some direct feed into the brain, possibly something involving a large spike and wires, ala The Matrix. A lot of the other trappings,ย  as envisioned by books like Neuromancer or RPGs like cyberpunk 2020, tended to involve bulky machinery, like a cyberdeck, or cassettes and whatnot, as those worlds were imagined in the 80s where computing was a much “bigger” affair.

Cyberpunk, for those who don’t know, is a science fiction setting, which typically merges near-future high-tech, along with dystopian societal themes. As such, what feels “cyberpunk” tends to change as time goes on, as our current technology catches up to the imaginations of the authors. Someย  trappings that looked possible 30 years ago such flying cars and monofibers, stubbornly fails to materialize, while others take their place which the authors didn’t imagine, such as widespread smartphones, instead of decks.

And it sometimes, you get some tech that actually matches cyberpunk imagination. For example the recent breakthrough in cyber/implant technology is still mind-blowing to me. We’re now at a level where we have people using mechanical extremities where scientists are effectively actually making neural connections between machinery and brain. We have the internet combined with mobiles phone in the form of affordable smartphone and tablets, widely reshaping how society behaves and organizes, much more than what we would expect even just twenty years ago.

As someone who’s seen many of my early cyberpunk imaginations come to life, I still couldn’t declare now is cyberpunk, because there is an important piece missing.

You see, cyberpunk is not just near-future tech + dystopia. Otherwise every generation would merely be the previous generation’s “cyberpunk”. Rather cyberpunk is how high-tech (and more specifically transhumanist tech) is implemented in a world to enhance its existing dystopian themes.

We have literal themes out of Black Mirror playing out in places like China, with their Orwellian surveillance and mandatory social credit system. We have actual crimes and even genocides (!!) being commited due to false news being spread via unchecked social media. However the thing that made me say “hold up now” and write this post, was reading this article about one of the most notorious “IRL streamers”: Ice Poseidon. This is like a caricature out of goddamn Transmetropolitan!

From my perspective, the tech that we have now, fits absolutely into my idea of what tech would look in the near-future of my childhood, and not only that, but this tech is widely being used to make the world a darker place. All the pieces fit!

Tell me which other examples of technology used in the service of dystopianism have you noticed yourselves.