Infopost | 2023.06.30

NonCredibleDefense New York Times Prigozhin Surovikin

The Drive had a couple of good articles about the aftermath of the Wagnerkrieg. One was an interview with Ukraine intelligence's Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov that had some gems. For example:

Maj Gen Budanov Because had Prigozhin entered an empty Kremlin that day, he would have shown to the public that the Kremlin is empty. There are no ministers. There are no real high-ranking officials there. They all have escaped, and he would demonstrate that there's no authority in power currently in Russia.

The plot

The Drive Prigozhin originally planned to capture two top Russian generals as part of his mutiny attempt, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. But that was apparently foiled when the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) found out so Prigozhin decided to move up his timeline, the Journal reported, citing "Western intelligence officials."

Last week there was speculation that Prigozhin was executing his checkmate against Putin. And there was speculation that Putin had succumbed to his illness and Prigozhin was making a move. The coup thing seemed strange, if Prigozhin was planning to capture two generals you'd think he would have done that before announcing it on Telegram.

Based on this reporting there was a longstanding plan to mutiny. I'm still confused about the endgame; he seizes the MoD, then what? Putin appoints Pringles to the MoD because of Dothraki rules of succession?

The Drive Prigozhin was apparently planning on the help of Russian armed forces, who would turn on their leadership, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It's no suprise that Prigozhin had supporters in the MoD, he's a wealthy, influential personality that was fully committed to the war effort. Conversely, the failures of Russia's military must have created dissent in the ranks. But for Prigozhin to turn swaths of the military apparatus on Shoigu seems less like a mutiny and more like a coup, because why stop at the MoD?

Maj Gen Budanov If the question is did we know about [Prigozhin's] plans to conduct such actions? Yes, I can confirm that we knew that there was an intent to do something similar. And we knew about it for quite a while.

Despite assertions that the mutiny was a long time coming, it may have just been one of many contingencies that Prigozhin had in his back pocket. One that he needed when the entirely-foreseeable arrest warrant came down. At best, he'd accomplish whatever happens after he has Sergei Shoigu wrapped up, at best, he'd have enough leverage to walk out of Russia alive.
The MoD purge

Vladimir Putin double Dagestan comparison
Meanwhile Vladimir Putin (or a stand-in) wins back the hearts of his countrymen.

Since it appears Prigozhin had a plan and some allies, the Russian MoD is cleaning house:

The Drive Support for Prigozhin "has become a litmus test against which the [Russian] Armed Forces are scourged," Rybar wrote. "Surovikin has not been seen since Saturday - it is not known for certain where General Armageddon is located, there is a version that he is under interrogation."
Belarus, Wagner, and Africa

Lukashenko interview Putin colonel
Colonel Negotiator.

The Wagnerkrieg ended with Lukashenko brokering a deal where Prigozhin and Wagner could set up shop in Belarus in exchange for an end to hostilities. Wagner mercenaries could join the Russian MoD or relocate to Belarus and the PMC would exit the Ukraine war. Aside from hurt feelings, that seems like it could be a clean break except for all of the Wagner operations in Africa.

The Drive [Summarizing Russian press conference:] The state had nothing to do with the business of Wagner PMC in Africa; (this is laughable considering Putin himself said the Russian government wholly financed and armed Wagner just a couple days before)

Maj Gen Budanov Yes, their operations overseas are continuing mostly in Africa. And what is going to happen next is that the majority of personnel which was previously engaged in fighting in Ukraine will be step-by-step moved to Africa to build up operations there.

So I guess Russia's going to continue paying Belarusian PMC Wagner to advance their interests in Africa? Or maybe Putin has other ideas in mind.

Maj Gen Budanov We are aware that the FSB was charged with a task to assassinate him. Will they be successful in doing that?

The Drive The new bottom line though is that if Moscow has its way, Wagner's operations will be under new management, according to the Journal.

Maybe Lukashenko's reward is Wagner, he'll get to be a colonel after all. He just needs to let Prigozhin reconstitute Wagner so it doesn't disintegrate with the change of management.

Russia APC tractor gun mounts Reddit NonCredibleDefense

Maj Gen Budanov New batches of drones from Iran are coming constantly to the Russian Federation.

Russia's procument and logistics issues has been a major theme of this three-day military operation. The Iranian Shahed suicide drone has been a constant thorn in the side of the defenders; it's cheap to produce and expensive to intercept.

OpenOb OpenOb > The Russian army now uses Iranian-made artillery ammunition - photos that have emerged show brand-new Iranian OF-462 122mm HE projectiles in the possession of Russian artillerymen.

> Yesterday photos also appeared showing "Chinese ammunition" in the possession of Russian troops.
> Though the projectiles are indeed Chinese and were manufactured prior to 1986 - China has likely nothing to do with it.
> We assume that these rounds, exported to Iran roughly 40 years ago, since then have been refurbished there due to their age, receiving new propellant charges and remarked crates- the new markings are quite similar to standard Iranian ones.

Today there was talk that Iran made a deal with the US that they would not supply Russia with ballistic missiles. Looks like ammunition is a far game though.

Could be a huge win for the State Department, if true.
The war

Maj Gen Budanov Russia on the technical side has set everything ready for orchestration of a technological disaster on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. They've prepared everything necessary to create an artificial technological, man-made disaster.

[Ed: more specifics follow]

NATO's February 2022 playbook was to broadcast to the world Russia's intentions - invasion, false flag attacks, annexations, etc. While it didn't prevent the invasion, it probably reduced the uncertainty that Russia preyed upon with Crimea and Georgia. The technique seems to have caught on.

The Drive TWZ: Are you cooperating at all with [Russian partisans]?

KB: Being a special service, it's understood that we are familiar with multiple organizations across the world.

I need to pause to appreciate this amazing response by Budanov. This is a question he should at no point ever, ever answer in his position. And he accomplishes that, but with understated flair. "Multiple organizations across the world", the amount of layered vagueness is just superb. And the passive voice, "it's understood that" is both non-committal and rightfully reproachful.

And to be explicitly clear, if he said something that even approaches, "yeah we funded the Russian partisans and high fived them when they crashed a drone in Moscow" there'd be more than a few problems. First, it'd antagonize Russia in an escalatory way. Second, it would reveal information about their ongoing covert actions. And third, it'd open him to potential legal liabilities. So of course he's not going to answer that question, The Drive, I thought you guys were better than this. And yet they continued to ask unanswerable questions:

The Drive TWZ: Are you helping them in any way?


TWZ: So there's no cooperation?

KB: Our cooperation, if there is some, it doesn't step beyond their assistance to us in defense of Ukraine on the territory of Ukraine. Everything they do outside Ukraine in the Russian Federation is none of our business.

They finally let it go, but of course asked him to answer for others about the state of the counteroffensive and F-16 training.

Infopost | 2023.06.28

Reddit snoo scientist experimenting petri dish

Someone familiar with the matter explained more of the rationale behind Reddit's de facto ban on third party apps.

AnonymousAnonymous Reddit's IPO price depends on more ads being seen by users. To maximize this, they run experiments on user accounts to determine the effectiveness of ads and quantify user engagement. Gathering these metrics requires introspection into specific user behaviors, something they don't get from third party apps.

Hundreds of experiments are being run on user test groups at any given time [Ed: Reddit's total headcount is a few thousand]. Loiter as you're scrolling? They are interested in what was on the screen. Screenshot something? Another datapoint. Copy a link and remove the guid? The copy is stored even if you trimmed the fat off the url.

This is all pretty standard in the social media bz, of course. With all of the attention user content gets in discussions of privacy and ownership, it's worth remembering that fine grain user interaction data is also a valuable commodity that users unwittingly produce.

Infopost | 2023.06.26

Wagner mutiny Russia Rostov street tanks
Source. Rostov parking tickets are printed on ERA.

Yevgeny's rebellion was one of the best 24-hour stories all year. It's gotten plenty of coverage in the media, so here's why I'm providing the kilroy take:
  1. It wasn't covered very well. The media was still talking about the Titan sub when the story broke, then it was the middle of the night on Friday, then they started having facts they could confirm, then it was over.
  2. The events were predominantly relayed by Telegram and then Twitter. Since I mentioned OSINT a couple months ago, this was a good follow up.
  3. I've been tracking the Ukraine saga on and off, this was a plot twist worth following.
  4. I spent most of that night in a hospital waiting room, so what else was I going to do?

The whole thing kicked off the morning of June 23rd (West Coast time) when Prigozhin released more fiery criticisms of the Russian MoD. Another day, another Telegram rant, right?

wartranslated Some Russian channels are spreading info about the alleged intention of the Russian MoD to detain Wagner's Prigozhin.

Channel Goryachie Tochki posts a screenshot of the "conversation" between two soldiers from Rostov. By their words, the command is preparing for a force move to arrest Wagnerites for their refusal to sign contracts with the MoD - a requirement that needs to be fulfilled before 1 July to "legalise" the PMC. The channel suggests those who resist the arrest will be shot.

In this regard, Prigozhin's emotional interview from today could be a way for him to deal the most damage.

However, aside from this information from several channels, there's currently no indication that any raid against Wagner is actually going to take place.

The FSB responded quickly.

OSINTtechnical Russian state media reporting that the FSB has opened a case "on the fact of calling for an armed rebellion"
Is this real?

Wagner mutiny Russia highway closures

By Friday afternoon (West Coast) there wasn't any clear indication that this was more serious than the standard PR salvos. OSINT twitterers relayed rumors of Wagner forces on the move, but there were only a few shaky videos of Russian-origin vehicles. Like with FlightRadar in February 2022, public transportation was seen as an objective but uncertain bellcow.

Wagner mutiny Russia military police guarding Moscow

Well, either the Friday night party scene was getting out of hand or someone at the Kremlin took the situation seriously.
Initial speculation

Credible reactions

The Atlantic A Russian Defense Ministry edict was about to go into force requiring all mercenaries to sign up with the Russian military, which would place them under Shoigu's control.

The lack of definitive information meant everyone had time to speculate and no speculation was too speculative. Was Prigozhin trying to unseat Shoigu? Was it a full coup against Putin?

john_andrew_smith101 john_andrew_smith101 Next week Wagner soldiers in Ukraine would've been forced to sign contracts with the MOD. When they told Caesar to give up his legions, he marched on Rome.

Non-credible reactions

Rumor of prigozhin learning of Putin being unhealthy in their meeting a few days ago, and that's why he's choosing now to act
Putin has already died, and that was the spark that started the civil war.
Source: it came to me in a dream
DreamINT is the best kind of Int

Now here's speculation with some chest hair.

Propaganda reactions

Since I enjoy a good cope session, here's the Foundations of Geopolitics guy:

wartranslated Aleksandr Dugin is still finding satanists in today's events:

"Just as we face the true enemy, the satanic West and its demon-possessed henchmen, he sows confusion within ourselves, and so goes from century to century. When will we wise up?.."

Anyway, I'm done for tonight. Good night!

And since I was in a waiting room and had hours to kill, I stopped by the ZeroHedge comments for a laugh.

Wagner mutiny Russia ZeroHedge comments Wagner mutiny Russia ZeroHedge comments Wagner mutiny Russia ZeroHedge comments Wagner mutiny Russia ZeroHedge comments

Left to right: "nothing is real", "you guys love Russian propaganda", "Prigozhin's video is a deepfake", "ZH's sole contributor is a glowy".
Not dead yet

Wagner mutiny Russia Putin address

As the hours dragged on, doomscrollers wondered why Putin hadn't made a public statement. The two non-sensational points that stuck:
Putin broke the silence with a televised address Saturday morning (local). An abridged quote:

wartranslated As a President of Russia and the Supreme Commander, as a citizen of Russia, I will do everything to defend the country, protect the Constitution, lives and safety, liberty of the citizens.

Those who prepared the military mutiny, who raise weapons against combat brothers, have betrayed Russia, and will pay for this. And those who are being pulled into the crime, I'm asking to not make this crucial, tragic, unrepeatable mistake. Do the one right choice - stop participating in criminal actions.

If there was any belief that Shoigu had been acting against Prigozhin without approval from the big dog, this nixed it. Perhaps if there was any hesitancy on the Wagner side, Putin's condemnation of their rebellion locked them in.

water_bottle_goggles water_bottle_goggles Et tu pringles?

A few hours later, Wagner HQ was raided. FSB or whoever announced that they had found a truck full of cash, the kind of thing a criminal might have. Pringles's response was amazing:

wartranslated Audio message from Prigozhin, 13:23PM BST - on reports of cash found in Wagner office:

"The information spread by some media: "during searches in Prigozhin's offices, a Gazel truck with cash was found". I don't have one Gazel. I have a Gazel and two mini-buses with cash intended for paying salaries, compensations for gruz-200 [deaths] and other issues.

PMC Wagner exists for 10 years using exclusively cash, which is said in the contract. And I'm respecting this carefully. When we were occupied in Africa, in Ukraine, and other countries, cash satisfied everyone. But now, they came with searches. That's fine. Cash was truly found there."

Wagner mutiny Russia military police guarding highway

Part of the Wagner force steamed toward Moscow, possibly engaging in scattered gunfights with Rosgardia. More notably, Wagner AA downed a few MoD aircraft during their advance. The rest of the Wagner force was down in Rostov...

Wagner mutiny Russia Rostov coffee break Wagner mutiny Russia Rostov coffee break

... getting coffee and setting up outside the MoD building there.

Wagner mutiny Russia Rostov street cleaner

The Rostov standoff had more than a few spectators and videographers. The street sweepers didn't seem to care. Wagner eventually seized the building and Prigozhin showed up to have a conversation with a Deputy Defense Minister.

Wagner mutiny Russia Prigozhin meet Rostov
And just like that, it's over

A few hours after the Rostov siege, Prigozhin announced on Telegram that his 'march of justice' was done. Belarusian President Lukashenko had stepped in to broker a drawdown, read: Putin can't appear to negotiate with anyone.

wartranslated The case opened against Prigozhin about organising a coup was cancelled. Things are done quickly in this country!

By all accounts, the rebellion had been mostly bloodless but was at a precipice, with Wagner occupying Rostov and nearing Moscow.

OSINTtechnical I'll leave at this before I finally get some sleep, Prigozhin probably cashed out at his strongest point. I'm not exactly sure what Wagner would have done once they reached Moscow, but the chances of actually capturing any significant Russian leadership was basically zero.

2skwb9 2skwb9 > written and directed by david benioff and d.b. weiss

It was certainly an anticlimax.

Tsukune_Surprise Tsukune_Surprise We were inches from going back to our original timeline.

What was wrought by the death of Harambe and Kobe was almost made right.

And just when things were about to go back to normal - it's snatched away.
4D chess

Since Putin is a ten foot tall chessmaster, this was all a charade, right?

How credible was my initial thought that the "mutiny" was a false flag orchestrated by Putin to pull Russia out of Ukraine? He can't win, his "allies" barely support him, and he's in too deep to publicly cut his losses and retreat.
So, Putin makes a deal with Prigozhin, who everyone conveniently thinks is an enemy of his already, Wagner "invades" Russia, and Putin now has an excuse to retreat from Ukraine to deal with the new threat. After he "wins", Putin can just declare he de-Nazified Wagner and stopped the West's evil scheme to destabilize Russia.
It became obvious to me that it wasn't a false flag when I realized that Wagner troops in Ukraine only had a week left to sign contracts with the MoD.

It reminds me of this scene from Rome. Prigozhin's main protection was that his soldiers followed his orders, and the MoD, with Putin's support, was going to take that away. So he did what any rational man fighting for his survival did; he declared Shoigu do be a traitor and rolled the dice.

I have also read that this was a clever way to redeploy Wagner to Belarus and make another attempt at Kyiv.
The final word

South Park smore schnapps
It was kind of like this.


wartranslated Summary of Prigozhin's 26 June address to clarify the situation: it was to demonstrate protest against the "destruction of PMC Wagner, not toppling the Russian authorities":

- PMC Wagner carries out tasks around the world. It was meant to stop existing on 1 July 2023. "Employees" all refused to sign the contract with MoD, only 1-2% decided to join the Russian army.

- The original plan was to go to Rostov on 30 July and transfer all vehicles to MoD, which were ready for transport.

- Despite any aggression, Wagner suffered a missile attack, followed by helicopter attack. Around 30 PMC Wagner fighters died. This triggered an immediate decision to move out early and respond militarily.

- The objective was to not allow destruction of Wagner and take to responsiblity those who with their unprofessional actions made a huge number of mistakes during the SMO. All the military met along the way supported this.

- Wagner stopped when the advanced storm unit deployed artillery, conducted reconnaissance and realised a lot of blood will be shed in an upcoming battle. They decided that demonstration of the protest was enough, and turned around.

As far as I know, the details of the Putin/Prigozhin arrangement aren't public but it's widely acknowledged that Prigozhin would head to Belarus for the moment. With Putin's notorious ruthlessness toward his opponents, some have speculated that he made credible threats against the families of Wagner's leadership.

I'm not sure Prigozhin had much of a choice in any of this. After his inflammatory broadcasts from Bakhmut earlier this year, the MoD was coming after Wagner (as /u/john_andew_smith101 points out) and Pringles himself. It wouldn't be surprising if Prigozhin was wise to an arrest warrant that had been issued before his Friday declaration. In that case, he'd have to look no farther than Alexei Navalny to know what his future held. So his only negotiating chip was 25,000 mercenaries and a bunch of tanks, IFVs, and antiaircraft systems.

Can we have another coup? I'm bored
Maybe Prigozhin is a coup machine? Feed him the right cocktail of meth and krokodil and, bam, 72 hour coup train, all aboard! He's in a windowless hotel in Minsk right now. A fist full of rubles and Wagner could once again be riding the Valkyries.
Moment of zen

> How credible would it be to have an autonomous drone slaved to a tank that flies ahead and uses a machine learning algorithm to identify visual mines?

That depends. Do you have a dataset of 100,000 overhead photos of mines taken on low-quality drone cameras with which to train the AI?
If we start to get recaptchas of AT mines we'll know it's happening.

Storypost | 2023.06.21

Comic end of Digg Reddit
An old webcomic about the migration from Digg to Reddit. 1, 2, 3.
The jannicide

Last week a bunch of Reddit went dark to protest the API thing. Site administrators responded with an ultimatum to bring subreddits back online. The protesting moderators came up with a response that was as clever as it was futile - bring their subs back but list them as nsfw to diminish their visibility and advertising revenue.

Reddit blackout interestingasfuck nsfw
Some subreddits reopened with vanilla content labeled 'nsfw'.

Reddit blackout nsfw wellthatsucks
Some users didn't get the memo that the they weren't actually posting nsfw content. Since this is a family-friendly blog, I'll just post a meme about it.

When a former /r/celebrity mod posted to Hacker News about his ban, the reception was mixed. To paraphrase:
SleepingSicarii SleepingSicarii This website now may be a little misleading.

"Public" does not equal "back to normal". For example r/aww, r/art, r/pics, r/videos and maybe more are posting only John Oliver-related content.

(Fun observation: r/Documentaries has 20m subscribers, but the top post for their month only has less than 4k upvotes. Is Reddit as big as it seems?)
The front page of the internet

Before the spez drama, Reddit's default front page was a pretty decent place to get news. The posts would span current events, politics, technology, culture, and humor. It wasn't all good, the links weren't always top quality, and the editorials were sometimes terrible. But old.reddit would show 25 posts that were easy to skim and deemed interesting by peers rather than editors or advertisers.

Reddit still functions, but the content is suffering from the site's brain drain. When you factor in the replacement of moderators and official company position of sacrificing content and users for revenue, it probably time to jump ship.

WSB Reddit WallStreetBets bull bear dichotomy technicals

There are a few niches that might be worth visiting for technicals and technicals.
Where feed?

I'm not sure what's next for news feeds, but the information vacuum has given me a chance to check back on the indieweb. There were even some posts about the Reddit drama.

Gio Why? AI??

But the reason Reddit is going this direction now isn't just so it can inflate its value for its upcoming IPO by squeezing its users. In fact, I'd be willing to bet Reddit sees its users as "acceptable losses" rather than as its intended target. What Reddit is trying to cash in on here is the AI gold rush.

Generative text products like ChatGPT are based on huge corpuses of human conversational speech, and their quality directly depends on the quality of those sources. Reddit, meanwhile, is sitting on a treasure trove of real data on modern human conversations, and even metadata about what constitutes high-quality responses in the form of upvotes and downvotes.

Because of the enormous volumes of data required, text models have to use official, high-volume API endpoints in order to gather data in a reasonable manner. They can't just "scrape" the site by browsing it at a comparable pace to a user, they need vast quantities of data in bulk. That's exactly the kind of access a premium API is perfect for.

Okay first off, Giocities is an awesome name, but I don't really buy the AI thing. Data shops can absolutely scrape Reddit at scale, especially if they're focused on the high-tier discussions. All things being equal, any coder would prefer the API interface, but that's not what drove the price changes. Spez specifically said he saw third-party apps as both an infrastructure cost and an opportunity cost. Moreover, Reddit could easily license user data to AI shops and third-party apps at different rates.

Lewis Dale If the Apollo app has to shut down, much like with Twitter I'll end up spending a lot less time there. In both cases, the official apps were so bad that I happily paid annual subscriptions for well-made alternatives.

UI matters.

Lewis Dale But this just serves as a reminder of what we actually lost when sites like Reddit took over. Independent forums were a great way to find and interact with niche communities

They were, as long as you didn't mind a fairly limited group. Any forum that did grow beyond a few hundred active users suddenly became innavigable.
The old web

Last year I had a post or two about static site generators and the indieweb. Hopping around the modern blogverse you see plenty of nostalgia for the old web.

Rebecca Toh The old internet - the internet we first fell in love with - was a weird and wild and unregulated country. It was experimental, free for all, exhilarating, creative. The browsers in those days did not yet need to worry about mobile formats, so people were able to make the coolest, most interesting websites. The sky was the limit and Macromedia Flash would bring us there.

There were no algorithms, no big tech companies trying to gobble up and then sell our data, no surveillance. The oddest friendships happened, because the internet allowed people from opposite ends of the world to find each other based on their common interests (and often via their wonderfully kooky little websites).

Her photo work is pretty amazing, btw. Speaking of blogs and photos and static sites:

Rousette I've had an itch for a while to create my own photoblog site. Flickr is convenient, but it doesn't feel like your own site, and you can't style it the way you would like. I've tried other photo hosting options, but they have the same kinds of issues. Lately I've wanted to host my own stuff in my own way, using - as far as possible - simple frameworks that I understand and can maintain. I have been working on it for a while, but I've finally got my Hugo-based static photoblog setup to a presentable state, and made it public.

Storypost | 2023.06.19

Airplane child southwest

Tonight on Petite Tour:

Unfathomable board game amogus

Since Corey is moving away the board game crew got together for a bon voyage session. We chose a travel-oriented game Unfathomable, which is basically Among Us + Arkham Horror set aboard a Titanic-era steamship.

The passenger ship - probably named Unfathomable but I didn't check - is crossing the Atlantic besieged by two oceanic elder gods and their tentacled minions. The creatures of the deep climb aboard the ship and try to kill passengers and crew (both players and NPCs) and damage compartments (bridge, medbay, engine room, etc.). Running out of people or pieces of ship is a failure condition, as is depleting food, fuel, and sanity. The creatures are easy enough to kill but they spawn regularly.

So it's a lot like Arkham Horror's spawn gate whackamole but things don't explode quite as readily. Players/abilities/items are similarly like Arkham Horror - everyone has lore, a special action, and one or more items.

After each player turn, the creatures and/or elder gods move and the ship sometimes progresses toward its destination. There's also a global crisis to resolve via players secretly donating their plentiful skill cards to hit a required point value. If the crisis is not averted, something bad happens, like ship damage, creature spawns, or the depletion of resources.

And here's where the amogus element comes in: there is at least one traitor who wins if the ship never makes it to Boston. Traitor roles are secretly assigned at the start of the voyage and the midpoint (so players might change sides). Traitors can sabotage the ship in secret and eventually declare themselves allied with the elder gods. Once the big reveal happens the traitor rules change so that they're less powerful but also less susceptible to the actions of the human players.

The traitor mechanic is fun and tactical, but probably hard to pace on your first playthrough. Our traitors both drew their roles at the journey midpoint, so they didn't have a lot of time to act. Still, we sailed into harbor with a couple damaged ship compartments and creatures of the deep all over the place. The mechanic of announcing your traitordom is also unpredictable. One of our traitors was basically forced to announce when he had a very obvious turn to play (saving colocated passengers). He could have saved the passengers and remained in hiding, but the mid-journey role change put him - er, it - on the clock. Our other traitor kept his fishy secret until the last round but was guessed to be the turncoat simply because he took the least valorous actions (such as donating cards to save allies).

The reason I didn't love Unfathomable more is this: Arkham Horror-like survival games pit a co-op group against an unrelenting enemy. It requires teamwork and luck to succeed against the odds or, more likely, fail spectacularly. Unfathomable feels like Arkham Horror, but the sense of interdependence and camaraderie turns from asset to liability. To be fair, Unfathomable is a different game and should play like a different game, but having played a couple Arkham Horror versions and the snow zombie game and some others, I can't shake that mindset.

Clank Legacy character Proposition Joe

Elsewhere, the people remaining in town have started Clank Legacy. The core game is a deckbuilder with geography (as in, move actions and location-dependent things). The game is lored around basically being Bilbo's expedition in The Hobbit. We're halfway through the prologue and I'm liking the gameplay, the entrepreneural theme and card flavor texts are amazing.

Napa Oxbow market deli soft serve

We took a trip up to Napa to see Great Grandma. Ted and Chrissy, Rob and Hayley, and Dad also stopped by.

thumbnail Tannery Bend Beerworks Napa Google maps thumbnail Sacramento airport smf bridge Southwest thumbnail Norma Schwarzkopf autobiography
thumbnail Napa River hotel balcony
thumbnail Sloth airport messaging thumbnail Playground tunnel Napa
New York

Jeff sent some pics from New York a few weeks ago.

What's for lunch? Derrick
Pajamas. [Ed: wfh day]
I had that for lunch three days in a row. [Ed: D had been sick]
I'm in NY so that's up to y'all! Jeff
Lollllll what a time to visit.
You have no idea.
I mean, I was in SD for both wildfires and Paris for the Notre Dame fire so I know a little.
(What is an idiom anyway?)
Hmmm... you were there for SD AND Notre Dame fires?
Methinks Interpol might want to have a word.
Think people will give me an odd look if I try to order a Smokey Manhattan?

Rob suggested the meme that was on every San Diegan's mind:

SDHumor first time meme wildfires New York San Diego
Safari Park and a Tesla

San Diego Safari Park Wgasa tram giraffes

We took Dani to the safari park. The lion and okapis were a big hit.

Hertz Priceline Tesla rental San Diego Safari Park lion

The trip gave me a chance to try out the Model 3 we rented while Jes's car is in the shop. And yeah, I was a little surprised to see that Hertz was renting Teslas and they weren't one of the max upgrade options.

Since this was my first time really driving a Tesla, so here's my review.
In summary, the Tesla 3 is not for me, but I like some of what they're doing and wouldn't hate it if Jes bought one.

Cybertruck in n out dazzle camouflage
Least necessary dazzle camouflage ever, well played.

Donut Pith hat exploration Ataraxia Aleworks San Diego tap list

This month's GBES event happened to be on Father's Day. So I basically went from breakfast in bed to Ataraxia Aleworks where they were pouring such beers as Pale McPaleface and Harambe. We watched F1 and golf and ordered some grub from Dumpling Inn.
Yard and pool

Fallen flowers from bush Raking

We're still moving dirt around on the upper terrace. Far below, the pool is being prepped for fiberglass.
Solar 2.0

Pool solar pump maybe shitty paint diagram
Left to right: deck, pool, trees, sun.

Years ago I ripped out a (water-)leaky gas heater that had served one or two February pool parties. With the fiberglass resurfacing ongoing, I thought a bit about increasing pool usability (warmth). Here's the sitch:
The traditional pool approach is to connect solar heaters in line with the pump and filter. I had a small solar grid on the pumphouse, but it suffered from the same shade issue. Since my house/roof is fifty feet from the pump, moving water up there isn't ideal.

Having replaced most of my pool equipment at some time, I am sensitive to the economics and wear/tear. If I can, I want to minimize load on my six-hours-per-day mission critical pump, so asking it to also push water up and through solar isn't ideal. Indeed, my recollection is that some friends' new pool installations have a variety of pumps and water circuits. The traditional approach also means you have to run the filter pump during the day so the sun can heat the circulating water. Midday pool filtering has gotten quite a bit more expensive in recent years.

The other traditional approach is to get a ton of photovoltaic solar panels and just not worry about the utility bill ever again. That's my backup plan, but the last few years have validated my early skepticism about how solar adopters would be treated. The latest hit was AB 2316 which I agree with in large part (since $12/month doesn't cover the grid), but it's a huge shock for solar people.

What about

Pool solar pump maybe shitty paint diagram
Pump pulls cold water through solar heaters mounted on the deck railing.

Since we've established that solar pool heating requires sunlight and solar panels require sunlight, what if photovoltaic panels powered a separate, heating-only pump? I haven't seen this anywhere, so clearly a solar pump can't pull water up eight feet?

baloydi How do I create a solar pump setup without battery? I want a direct setup from the panel to the pump. Which means my setup only works when there is sun light availabe.

What materials should i use?

I will be using the smallest 12V water pump.

Amazon and Google suck

The internet was pretty dry. Google's top link was Amazon advertising an off grid water pump in womens shops. There was a time that posting somewhere like Reddit's /r/diy would be an option. The astroturfy-sounding 'diysolarforum' seemed to have legitimate amateur content, the question above was more or less what I was looking for. Responses included:

i've been using one of these for 7 months. Good customer support, easy installation into a well (drilled by someone else).

Abodyofscience 10w will get you 1 GPM to a height of 16' or 2 at 8'. Maybe.

Ah, solar pumps for wells. That's way more than eight feet. And it looks like one batteryless design is to pull water into a cistern during the sunlight hours. If I could use that design to pull water into a solar heating grid, I'd have ten hours of heating per day. I looked at some of the sites.

- Battery less operation
- Variable Frequency drive incorporated for smooth operation even during minimum sunlight
- Transformer less design makes the product smaller in size and also cost effective
- Can be installed to the required load of pumps upto 15KW (15hp).

Some of the most popular applications are:
- Drinking water supply for small habitations
- Horticulture farms, orchards, vineyards, gardens and nurseries

They're in India, so maybe not viable here, but 15hp is like 15x what is used in pools. The other place, RPS, was a bit closer to home and had some diagrams that matched my MSPaint aesthetic:

RPS solar diagram

I believe they listed both submerged and aboveground pump applications, I'd need the latter. I'm not sure how priming would work, but I imagine there is a solution. I think I don't care about the flow rate much?

I will noodle on this more and @ Erik.

Solar pump questionnaire RPS solar pump river diagram

Infopost | 2023.06.13

Failboats Moskva Trump Spez Berlusconi Snoo burning ship fractal

Some stories of interest:
The Reddit blackout

Reddit blackout front page Travolta meme

Reddit drama has managed to make its way to mainstream news, users and moderators are staging a two-day protest of the company's third-party API price hikes. If it's an unfamiliar subject, Reddit provides a programming interface to allow third-party software to access site content, like how you can use a variety of email clients to access a given email account.

The third-party API thing is a bit uncommon. Social media platforms typically either want complete control over their service or they simply have the best, most polished user client that leaves no room for competition. That's not the case with Reddit.
The public API also allowed more niche development efforts, such as a Reddit client for the visually-impaired ( common side effect of using the official app). To its credit, Reddit kept the pre-revenue, community-focused aesthetic alive for a long time. In turn, the platform's growth was helped along by third-party development. Outwardly, there was no compelling reason to change the status quo, but then they did. API access suddenly came with a hefty price tag.


WallStreetBets fuckboy

Reddit's been trying to IPO for a few years now so it's hard to look at the the API access changes in any other light. There seem to be two plausible objectives:


It's no secret that Reddit is the least-effectively-monetized social media platform, but they're also still in business fifteen years later. There are three reasons for this:
  1. It's not a walled garden. Facebook and Tiktok and Quibi try to in-house everything they can. Reddit grew out of the web portal era by providing interesting links outside its own site.
  2. There's a saying on WallStreetBets, "The real DD is in the comments". A convergence of information volume, user expertise, and Cunningham's Law makes the comment sections valuable sources of information. Any discussion of how Google search sucks will often have the tidbit, "add 'reddit' to the search text to get good results".
  3. Free labor. Reddit's interest-based communities make one-size-fits-all moderation very difficult. Facebook ended up outsourcing their moderation at great expense and limited effectiveness. Reddit depends on the goodwill and autonomy of volunteer enthusiasts to keep their platform interesting and healthy.

Mods? Admins?

Quick primer: the Reddit community consists of the following:
Since this is a story of users and moderators being angry at Reddit for killing third-party apps, the distinction is important. And it's worth noting that plenty of Reddit users don't understand the difference between mods and admins.

Part I: Apollo announces EOL

One of the popular apps affected by the API changes is Apollo. The developer, /u/iamthatis, wrote a lengthy post explaining just how severe the financial impact would be.

iamthatis iamthatis The price they gave was $0.24 for 1,000 API calls. I quickly inputted this in my app, and saw that it was not far off Twitter's outstandingly high API prices, at $12,000, and with my current usage would cost almost $2 million dollars per month, or over $20 million per year. That is not an exaggeration, that is just multiplying the 7 billion requests Apollo made last month by the price per request.

In his discussions with Reddit, /u/iamthatis suggested Reddit buy his app, as they did with Alien Blue. He phrased it in a weird way and the Reddit rep initially thought he was asking for hush money. But they immediately cleared up the miscommunication, per /u/iamthatis's recordings of the call. /u/iamthatis is quick to point out recording phonecalls in his country (Canada) just requires one-party consent. Personally, I can't imagine a mindset where you don't expect recordings of official business negotiations.

And yet:

iamthatis iamthatis Then yesterday, moderators told me they were on a call with CEO Steve Huffman (spez), and he said the following per their transcript:

> Steve: "Apollo threatened us, said they'll "make it easy" if Reddit gave them $10 million."
> Steve: "This guy behind the scenes is coercing us. He's threatening us."

Part II: /u/spez does a damage control AMA

Apollo and other third-party users weren't happy. Some had paid for subscriptions that the developer could no longer support. Most were not impressed by the official Reddit app, which is why they used Apollo and RIF in the first place.

Reddit either thought the apps would start charging their users a lot more or that they would go away quietly. Whichever the case, spez hastily scheduled an AMA to address moderator/user concerns.

Prefered4 Prefered4 I thought the answers of this AMA would be sterile and empty speeches reviewed by dozens of lawyers and PR and carefully crafted to not even begin to acknowledge the current controversies in any slightly risky manner but oh boy did it deliver

Dudesan Dudesan He got caught copy-pasting answers from a pre-written Q/A script by accidentally including the "A:" in his reply.

As soon as he was called out on it, he attempted to destroy the evidence.

Archive link:

The AMA was more of a CEO LARP than anything else. Spez did CEO-like things: pregaming the Q&A, pasting non-answers into questions that were vaguely related. He even provided a junior varsity response to the 'threat' non-controversy:

spez spez His "joke" is the least of our issues. His behavior and communications with us has been all over the place-saying one thing to us while saying something completely different externally; recording and leaking a private phone call-to the point where I don't know how we could do business with him.

Escaping this controversy wouldn't have been difficult: offer an empty apology and a sacrificial lamb, "the guy on the phone call related the buyout/threat thing to me and I misunderstood". Instead, he failed the acknowledge that the issue was immediately resolved (on tape) and that it was neither a threat nor a joke. Then handwringing over a recorded conversation between two businesses, what?

Part III: The blackout

A bunch of subreddits announced at 6/12-13 blackout. Others immediately or eventually decided upon an indefinite blackout, with varying levels of support from their subscriber base.

Part IV: this is fine

The Newsroom on Reddit Boston bombing

Spez wrote a memo to employees that leaked:

Steve Huffman A number of Snoos have been working around the clock, adapting to infrastructure strains, engaging with communities, and responding to the myriad of issues related to this blackout.

Genuinely curious how a reduction in traffic creates an infrastructure strain. Bot farms to keep the stats up?

Steve Huffman There's a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we've seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well.

He's, of course, referring to the dogwalker kid, the fappening, the Aimee Challenor thing, and of course the time Reddit sleuths misidentified the Boston Marathon bombers. Oh right, and there have been a lot of really bad subreddits over the years that ended up being mentioned by the mainstream media.

Steve Huffman I am sorry to say this, but please be mindful of wearing Reddit gear in public. Some folks are really upset, and we don't want you to be the object of their frustrations.

Instilling a siege mentality into your workforce:


Cory Doctorow Think of Amazon: For many years, it operated at a loss, using its access to the capital markets to subsidize everything you bought. It sold goods below cost and shipped them below cost... This was a hell of a good deal for Amazon's customers. Lots of us piled in, and lots of brick-and-mortar retailers withered and died, making it hard to go elsewhere.

Searching Amazon doesn't produce a list of the products that most closely match your search, it brings up a list of products whose sellers have paid the most to be at the top of that search... All told, the first five screens of results for "cat bed" are 50 percent ads.

This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they're locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they're locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

Well said. I got the link from this exchange:

It's all here.

Longish read, but relevant. Greed kills platforms. All platforms.
This article terrifies me, Reddit is one of the last few places you can get information off google.
You ask google "How do i handle X" and it will sell you 20 sponsored answers and adverts that don't actually solve your issue.

You ask google "How do i handle X 'REDDIT'" and it will show you 20 reddit threads with people who had your exact same issue and many of which have answers you didn't know you needed.

Doesn't matter if its daily life, community stuff, gaming tips, cooking, cleaning, frugality etc.

You get actual answers from people and not buzzfeed articles or pintrest posts or advertisements.

If reddit goes public i know it will start only showing some sponsored 'hegetsus' crap instead of answers.

Just get people who paid to be at the top of every search instead of the actual thing you're lookingfor.
Do you want to know how to fix your PC graphics card? Many people have complex issues from their personal computing but it's not as complicated as it seems. To understand how to fix your PC graphics card, you first need to understand a few basics. A PC stands for personal computer and can have multiple components, including a PC graphics card. When users need help fixing their PC graphics cards, it can be a costly replacement to have someone else do for you, but it can easily be done by yourself. By understanding how a PC graphics card works, you can start troubleshooting issues with your PC graphics card right away, so you can quickly return to using your PC graphics card for business or personal use. When trying to fix your PC graphics card, one should consult a user manual before attempting to fix your PC graphics card. This can help keep you safe when trying to fix your PC graphics card as components can break if you are not careful. By not following the directions in the user manual of your PC graphics card...

This is what every website of your first 10 results reads like, loading an ad between every 2 sentences which bounces the page around while you try to read it, alongside about 10 other YouTube results selling you on the latest overly expensive card.

I fucking hate the modern Internet so goddamned much. Shit started with the demonetization of short videos. Most shit can and should be conveyed in like 90 seconds.

Ahhh SEO.

Scab mods, AI, and AEO

While plenty of users have visibly deleted their accounts in protest, the blackout is most noticeable because moderators took their subreddits private. But since mods don't have any actual ownership of their subreddits, admins can replace them. This can be a good thing, e.g. in the case of the the WSB coup.

But since the large subreddits have a long line of users willing to take a position of authority in their beloved community, Reddit could easily just nuke the mods teams until they find someone who doesn't care about third-party apps or a CEO chasing every last IPO dollar. No doubt there would be some brain drain, but it's the most likely path forward. Reddit dying slowly doesn't significantly impact the IPO.

Herbsaurus Herbsaurus Honestly what better time for Reddit to just remove these anonymous power hungry people with their own personal agendas with some kind of AI moderation system that doesn't have weird beliefs and such.

There's a saying on Reddit, "mods are Nazis". It's not an actual fact but a testament to how most users have had a bad experience with a mod:
This is somewhat tangential to this discussion, but it's probably why /u/Herbsaurus doesn't look too kindly on mods.

Taytweets Twitter

If history is any indicator, the AI mod thing isn't going to happen, at least not in the short term. Reddit tried this a few years back and it didn't go well. Eyeballing IPO, Reddit decided that having users tell other users 'kys' would inevitably result in an incident (swatting, suicide, whatever) and bad press. So they created the Orwellian-sounding "Anti-Evil Operations" (AEO) team. Quietly.

When mods noticed random unsanctioned user bans, the AEO product manager jumped on /r/modsupport and spoke at great length about "the model" that they were employing to keep everyone safe. While the details of the automated tool weren't disclosed, its effectiveness and the product manager's inability to describe its function in any detail indicated it was some glorified expression matcher with "AI" printed on the box.

People found themselves getting AEO bans for sarcasm and Idiocracy quotes while actual hostility could be hidden behind an translucent euphemism. The AEO product manager followed up by assuring mods that automated actions were checked by a real person (through an outsourcing service).

Anyway, between Reddit's inability to write a usable app and its failure to effectively police the most cut-and-dried cases of violent speech, I simply cannot see an LLM doing mod work. And this approach ignores the positive things that mods do to keep their communities engaged.

Example: WSB is one of the most well-known Reddit communities, its mods do considerably more trash talk and events (flaring, megaposts, paper trading competitions) than police their user base. In fact, the majority of WSB contributions that warrant moderation are attempts to pump a stock. After a couple of months with RBB, I'm not confident an off-the-shelf LLM can do this.


It'll be interesting to see where this goes. The next big news will probably be what the admins decide to do with the big subreddits that announced an indefinite blackout.

Will Redditors jump to Mastadon or Lemmy? Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Elon the Wise? I thought not. It's not a story the mods would tell you. As noisy as Redditors are, like with Twitter and companies/celebs, there aren't a lot of alternatives. More importantly, those alternatives don't have the critical mass required to provide the kind of content that has people adding 'Reddit' to their Google searches.

I've suggested it already, but I wouldn't understimate the board/C-suite's desire to cash out. They've been associated with the platform for years but haven't gotten the huge payday they see their peers getting. As we saw with Trevor Milton, you can make out like a bandit even if you company is completely worthless. Reddit doesn't "make money" (per Spez), but it's serveral tiers above Nikola's gravity-powered truck.

Yes, Milton got nailed for all the fraud, but before that he stepped away from the company with millions.

(Update) Part V: execute order 66

Huffman went on NPR and said, (paraphrasing) "API support costs us a lot of money, both queries and opportunity cost of having people on other platforms". This is some top-tier junior varsity CEOing - explain a business decision with a half-truth. The admin-mod battle has continued:

ModCodeofConduct ModCodeofConduct Thanks for bringing this up; it's an important conversation.

Mods have a right to take a break from moderating... [but] we have a duty to keep these spaces active.

This is beautifully HRified. Let's recap:
Admins have been working overtime to make this seem like it was always carved out in the rules:

Sun_Beams Sun_Beams Under Rule 4 of the Mod Code of Conduct, mods should not resort to "Campping or sitting on a community". Are community members of those Subs able to report the teams under the Rule 4 for essentially Camping on the sub? Or would it need to go through r/redditrequest? Or would both be an options?

I know some mods have stated that they can use the sub while it's private to keep it "active", would this not also go against Rule 2 where long standing Subs that are now private are not what regular users would expect of it:

"Users who enter your community should know exactly what they're getting into, and should not be surprised by what they encounter. It is critical to be transparent about what your community is and what your rules are in order to create stable and dynamic engagement among redditors."

"Won't someone please think of the communities!"

BradGroux BradGroux /u/spez directly contradicted this statement to the verge

(Update) Part VI: bring on the lackeys and astroturfers

There's a subreddit that handles evicting zombie mods.

Judah_the_Hammer Judah_the_Hammer Requesting r/science - due to inactivity

Plan to operate the community normally and in the fashion similar to the state when it was last active. As you can see, I have an interest in science topics, and moderate science related subreddits like r/SkinCareScience, r/TheLongLived, r/CircadianRhythm . The name is basic such that creating a new sub would be sub-optimal. I'll also appoint known relevant and responsible moderators. The subreddit will remain SFW. I will do my best to ensure that the subreddit stays compliant with all of the reddit rules and guidelines.

I can't imagine there being brain drain on /r/science when the new top mod also posts to /r/conspiracytheories, /r/antipsychiatry, and /r/radicalmentalhealth.

sublimeinslime Now is the time to capitalize off of their stubbornness and potentially a pissed of Spez and company. I am requesting all of their closed subs. B)

CNBC Donald Trump Miami arraignment crowd

Almost a year ago, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago to recover some classified documents that the former president withheld. I always enjoy the comments section, so I posted a roundup of the good, the bad, and the absurd. I've found that /r/conservative provides a good encapsulation of what you'd see everywhere else, from cable news to the basement of the internet. Before moving onto the recent news, let's check back in on some of the bold preditions from last August.
Some of those lines even made a comeback with last Thursday's announcement:

LostInCa45 LostInCa45 He had a scif in mar a lago. He has secret service there. He was working with them they even suggested an additional lock on one of the doors which they did.

"Banana republic"

Before the indictment was made public, a lot of the commentary was simply assuming the allegations were bogus. Never mind the testimonies, photo evidence, and admissions of the accused party himself. "Political persecution!", "banana republic!", etc. Those cynical takes are all well and good, but only if the charges have no merit.

This is what you see in third world countries where leaders go after their political opponents
They are going to make a martyr out of him. Sad day for this country where they go after political opponents on criminal charges.
They are making an example out of him so nobody else from outside the swamp ever dares to run for President ever again.
This is political persecution, same as you'd see in any other totalitarian country like China or Russia.

"Espionage is basically jaywalking"

Running_Gamer Running_Gamer Most investigated man in history and they can only come up with bogus charges for an unenforced law

Discord guy would like a word.

"CNN arrested GEOTUS"

NiceChemical NiceChemical Biden is more corrupt than Trump, but the media always goes after the wrong big guy.

This is the justice department actually.

"4D chess"

ultimis ultimis I think he thought he was being unfairly harassed over them. Presidents have historically taken such documents home for memoirs and other reasons. After years of harassment by government agencies he was done with them. It's also possible he wanted this type of legal harassment. As he was plummeting in GOP support post 2020. He was already playing the victim card about the 2020 election, it was just another way for him to be Martyr.

That's quite a game of chicken.

"Innocent until proven guilty"

BrigadeDetector BrigadeDetector It's not a fact that he did so. Not until a court finds it is, which isn't guaranteed.

While acquittal is a very real possibility, facts aren't actually beholden to the justice system.

"Maybe he actually did it"

Trump indictment dissemination plan of attack

Trumps big fat mouth will once again be his own undoing.
Also the crimes.

The old standby

kajarago kajarago "We'll get him this time!

The Teflon Don thing only worked when his only path to conviction went through Mitch McConnell.

"What about Hillary?"

With the former president's own words acknowledging intent and the classification of the documents he retained and shared, there is really nothing for his proxies to do except beat the whataboutism drum.

RedditsLittleSecret RedditsLittleSecret Two systems of justice in America: one for Republicans, and another for Democrats.

Mike Pence tho.

LoveWithoutLoss LoveWithoutLoss Trump controlled the DOJ for 4 years. If he had evidence, why didn't he put her in jail like he promised? Nobody cares about the Clintons and many liberals/moderates do not like her. If there's evidence, bring it forth and put her in jail too!

The Netanyahu Maneuver

The most damning thing here is the recorded conversations of him showing classified documents to people without a security clearance. It fits his character. He likes to brag about stuff. No doubt he showed these people this stuff because he thought it was cool and wanted to impress them. Classification be damned.

If this is all true. Trump needs to bow out before he takes the entire Republican Party down with him. Accept that he f***** up and do the time for the crimes he committed. I know he won't. He will fight this to the grave because Trump can never admit he did something wrong.
Trump might view the reelection as his only way out at this point.
Or, he just made a joke and pretended that those documents were still classified. Nothing in his statement btw specifically said they were still classified, just that he couldn't declassify them now.

The mental gymnastics on that last one are kind of hilarious.


mattyyboyy86 mattyyboyy86 So [the Clinton email server] has been investigated extensively by multiple factions of government. I would suggest laying off the pundits and opinions of partisans and look at what the investigations turned up, remember some of these investigations were headed by the GOP.

The Subpoena you are referring to was in accordance with her dealings with Libya and Benghazi. The order to delete emails that came from Cheryl Mills (not Clinton) before the subpoena and was to delete all "none government related emails" (so out of scope of the subpoena) that were more than 60 days old.

An employee at Platte River Networks, who manages Clinton's email server, than deletes the emails that are personal and over 60 days old (according to the employee of the network), but did so after the subpoena, and after the emails pertaining to Benghazi were turned over (according to Mills).

You can come to your own conclusion but those are the conclusions of the investigation and the facts. In the Clinton example there is no clear evidence of wrong doing. As far as anyone can prove she turned over all relative materials on Benghazi in a timely manner. There's also so many degrees of separation between HC and the actual perceived "crimes" that you wouldn't be able to pin the crime onto her even if you could prove there was a crime committed, which at this point there's no evidence to even say there's a crime.

Conservatives have got to stop with this crazy shit. This is not serving the conservative wing of the nation. What started out as misinformation about emails has turned into Trump getting charged for actually mishandling classified information. What started out as misinformation about illegal voting has turned into actual conspiracies to subvert a election. Misinformation and conspiracy theories are ruining the right wing of the nation and if it doesn't stop, the GOP will never win a solid majority of the house or a popular vote (and it'll be difficult to win EC to) for the WH. Because truth is more powerful than lies and BS. Stop, just stop.

Video Prigozhin 72nd brigade

The Ukraine counteroffensive began, with Leopards and Challengers and Bradleys. I don't have anything interesting to post on this, but it appears that the Prigozhin/MoD drama still going strong.
RIP Silvio

NPR interviewed Alexander Stille about his book The Sack of Rome that discusses the recently-deceased Silvio Berlusconi. Some interesting tidbits:

Review | 2023.06.09

Grand Theft Auto Online satellite dishes armored Kuruma

Lots of games in this one, notably the old (but new to me) titles Grand Theft Auto Online and FTL. Also some progress on a smattering of games from the library, including 'daddy games' (ones I let the little one watch for short periods).
New games: GTA Online

Grand Theft Auto Online tank helicopters crash police

I've been a fan of the GTA series since II but never got around to playing V. Since the PUBG squad was looking to introduce a little variety, we decided to try GTAO.

Based on my vague recollection of the game's reception, it was no surprise that GTAO delivers the driving and gunplay experience the series is known for - that sweet middle of the road between simluation and arcade action. Missions are, likewise, challenging but doable with the occasional rage-inducing mission objective.

The game

The single player GTA games are about progressing a well-written plot to its finale with ample distractions along the way. GTA Online has serial missions from a few questgivers, but if there's an overarching story I am not yet aware of it. So the overarching objectives seem to be leveling your character, growing your arsenal/garage, and increasing your stacks.

Grand Theft Auto Online asteroid armored car
GTA Online: where you're just driving through town and come across an asteroid in the middle of the road and a unicorn driving an armored car.

Unless you're going from questgiver to questgiver and hosting, the missions and activities (races, PvP modes) are pretty disjoint (open your phone, find a rando squad, complete the mission, bounce). And it only really feels like you're in an MMO when you are going from, say, your house to Los Santos Customs, and suddenly there are helicopters and explosions. But the helicopters and explosions are for someone else, because you have zero stars.

Getting started

Grand Theft Auto Online Omnis rally car night

The game's interface is unwieldy and heavy on load screens. While there isn't a ton of value in a startup guide for a decade-old game, in case someone else in the gaming crew picks up GTAO, here are my notes:

Most missions are multiplayer, so if you're skittish about your skill level you can start with, well, grand thefts auto. If the car you steal is on Simeon's (random criminal contact) list, you can drive them to his warehouse at the docks for a 10-20k payout, otherwise just drop them off at a Los Santos Customs garage for 5-10k.

When you do want to run missions, check your phone's jobs list. The phone list includes invites from friends and is sometimes the only way to join their game because the 'social' menu often is bugged and show they're playing GTA V.

Buy/steal snacks from convenience stores to restore health when you need it.

Grand Theft Auto Online garage mod shop Grand Theft Auto Online warstock cache and carry web site Grand Theft Auto Online maze bank foreclosure map Grand Theft Auto Online garage Audi rally car Obey Omnis

The (bundled?) DLC provides a number of properties and vehicles for free, you just have to go to the (in-game) website and purchase them. So a good place to start is buying a house with a garage so you can then then add a personal vehicle that will spawn on each mission.

Since Jon has an armored Kuruma and Shane has a Firebird, I followed my heart and looked into rally cars. It's important to have offroad-capable vehicles, after all.

King of Los Santos

Grand Theft Auto Online hideout apartment pipe

As I said, (maybe) in lieu of a primary storyline, GTA Online is about growing your criminal enterprise. Player levels are necessary to unlock weapons and gear, missions, and mods for your personal vehicles. A high rise apartment with a heist planning room is required to, well, plan heists (a la Payday 2).

Prison break

Grand Theft Auto Online helicopter prison

Jon started us off with a challenging five-part heist:
  1. Steal a plane.
  2. Steal a prison bus.
  3. Steal the prison bus schedule from a police station and a car from a cargo ship.
  4. Kill assistant district attorneys and the client's business partner.
  5. Break the client out of prison using the stolen bus and plane.
The last part has been challenging. The prison yard gunfight isn't easy, they send an F-35 after your stolen plane, and the player disposing of the switcherooed bus often gets bored and finds a way to lose the mission. But from the squad that spent six straight hours trying to beat Hoxton's Revenge, it's only a matter of time.

Grand Theft Auto Online prison break heist squad Grand Theft Auto Online prison break snipe prosecutors Grand Theft Auto Online prison break Rashkovsky

Bowling with Roman

Grand Theft Auto Online minigame Mad Max

Niko and Roman had bowling, Big Smoke had Cluckin' Bell, and GTAO has a wide variety of side activities that leverage the sandbox world. My heist crew took a break from the challenging final stage of the prison break to play Tron and Mad Max-inspired PvP games.

Grand Theft Auto Online open wheel race setup Declasse DR1 Grand Theft Auto Online minigame Tron lightcycles Grand Theft Auto Online strip club Grand Theft Auto Online minigame runner helicopters


Grand Theft Auto Online hacker duplicates

GTAO has been out for a long time so I'd expect it to be both empty of players and technically stable. Imagine my surprise when a griefer somehow managed to spawn a bunch of clones of me in order to kill me in no-combat 'passive mode'.

What did you do to piss off that hacker? Rob
I think griefing is just his thing. First I saw him he backed his car into a door to the ammo store. It would have trapped me in but I could crack the door open a little bit. I lit him up and he didn't die after two mags, I initially assumed it was an extreme level difference.
Then he killed me.
I respawned and he ran me over again. The griefer prompt popped up, letting me go into ghost mode with him.
I also enabled passive mode (global no pvp) and he started glitching all my shit. Like spawning clones that could attack me and bouncing me into the air.
I expect hackers to cheat to win, but cheating just to grief is a whole new level of virginity.
Griefer mode, neat
How... how does the game stay online?
Afaik pvp isn't a big part of it.
It's basically an mmo with co-op missions.
I'd heard of cheating in GTA Online but wow Rob
Oh man, I hadn't heard of it.
I'm used to aimbots and wall hacks where you use memory scanners for an edge, but those are working against the security of your local memory. This was fucking with the server.
I wonder how one starts with this, mitm the packets from your machine?
Yeah, probably some weird corner cases that Rockstar doesn't handle like the 'take control of an RC car' command also accepts a user ID or something.
I wonder if that's griefer logic, "looking like this person will be annoying" or if it's a consequence of the exploit
If I had to guess (based on general cyber knowledge), he uses the NPC/RC car control interface but with a real user ID (mine). There are maybe local checks for this that he has patched out.
So his machine tells the server he is taking control of a character with an ID collision and so it spawns a new one.
That bypasses ghost and passive mode since I can do damage to myself in these modes (falling, shooting an RPG into a wall, etc.).
Ghost and passive are separate? One is targeted at the griefer and one is general? Rob
And then he hits you with lightning and fireworks, likely effects from elsewhere in the game?
Yeah those gotta be something else.
The lightning might just be some weapon (splash) damage that doesn't get checked against passive mode. Or maybe a debug/admin ability with poor access control.
Thor mode seems like quite an edge case
Haha I mean it's potentially simpler than taking control of an existing player('s clone). It might just be a matter of finding direct or splash damage that doesn't have a user ID associated with it (for the grief checks), like chaff from an aircraft or a submarine EMP or something.
Yeah the YouTube video I watched on it said something about exiting a vehicle before it hits a player to injure them from passive mode. The check is momentary.

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Grand Theft Auto Online Dax

GTA Online is easy to get into, even a full decade after its release. The combat and driving mechanics are fantastic, the progression system is good, and the density of interesting areas, film references, and sophomoric brand names/advertisements makes it a joy to play. Like a franchise I've more recently played, Far Cry, GTA's latest installment adds more vehicles, weapons, and customization options to an already extensive catalogue. Most importantly, it adds a well-developed co-op mode with fun, Payday 2-like heists.

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New games: FTL

FTL dead spaceship combat lost

J sent me a bunch of games for my bday, so one stormy night I gave FTL a try. Games Mass Effect, Barotrauma, and Valheim have had me lusting after a sci-fi exploration game with a customizable spacecraft - something like what Star Citizen has promised to be. Rebel Galaxy and Crying Suns were mediocre hints at such a game, and unfortunately I have a job and family so I can't play Eve.

FTL feels like Barotrauma in space - ship management in an unforgiving galaxy.
FTL unstable killer dead crewmate

FTL is known to be rather difficult. Indeed, my very first encounter was with a mentally unstable man marooned on a planet. I rescued him and he killed one of my three crew. It didn't take long to lose that run.

FTL sector map FTL combat rebel rigger FTL vendor systems items crew

The game's objective is to make a successful run through several sectors without losing your hull, fuel, or crew. Along the way you replenish assets, repair damage, and buy upgrades. Like Crying Suns and the various deckbuilder roguelikes, each node on the star chart is most often a narrative encounter or combat.
Daddy games: Astro's Playroom

Astros Playroom memory card stairs

A few months ago I gave Astro's Playroom try, hoping the dark media room and looping music would lull Dani to sleep. It succeeded that one time but was followed by the occasional request to play a 'daddy game'. So after a few sessions we've conquered each of the four main areas and the dino bosses.

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Daddy games: Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator flying theme park

The next potential daddy game was Goat Simulator. I expected a weirdly-addictive sim game but quickly learned that it's Tony Hawk Pro Skater but you're a goat. The controls are bad and there isn't a ton to do, but the game's style and humor are awesome.

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Progress: Fallout 76

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I think me and J are pretty far along the main quest in Fallout. We cured the, errr, fallout disease and now just have to spread the cure. I think. Vague plot aside, as much as I enjoy the beauty of Horizon maps and humor of GTA maps, Bethesda maps are the most rewarding to explore. Even when you're not pursing any particular objective and even when it's in West Virginia.

Fallout 76 early shelter

I spruced up my shelter, because that was a fun part of Fallout 4 and theoretically would be more useful in this game. I'm not sure it's useful at all in this game though.

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Progress: Gunfire

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We finally beat that annoying ship at the end for Gunfire's easy mode. This unlocked the ice level where we've twice been killed by the polar bear final boss. Also I think Dani now thinks J is an actual bunny.
Progress: I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

I Was A Teenage Excolonist tentacle monster

On our recent Napa trip I picked up IWATE again. To recap: the battle/skill check mechanic is pretty unremarkable, leveling and perks are run-of-the-mill, but the writing is fairly unique, in the vein of Firewatch and The Last of Us. The story starts unambitiously; your character is a kid on a colony planet that has some docile life, some hostile life, and some mysterious life. As the plot progresses, the planets mysteries deepen and the colony leadership struggles become less straightforward.

I Was a Teenage Excolonist manticore egg I Was a Teenage Excolonist thumper I Was a Teenage Excolonist Dys stars I Was a Teenage Excolonist Dys observatory Convergent Domain
Progress: PUBG

PUBG Battlegrounds air collision parachute package
I think the boys were testing if you could clip a parachute with the glider mid-air. For science.

Cattle bagged an open-field C4 squad wipe:

Progress: Gloomhaven

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Still getting a weekly quest in with Ted and Jon. That wind totem is pretty excellent.
Progress: Slay the Spire

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Ascension 4 Silent deck.

My go-to sick game is Slay the Spire. The daily climbs are fun and I've been trying ascension levels.
Progress: XCOM Chimera Squad

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I need to push through the final act of XCOM but, like, see above.