RobotOverlord525's recent activity

  1. Comment on ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ renewed for Season 4; ‘Lower Decks’ to conclude with Season 5 in ~tv

    RobotOverlord525
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    Yeah, I definitely felt like season 2 wasn't as good as season 1. In fact, it reminded me entirely too much of what I don't like about Discovery. I wish they could strike a bit more of a middle...

    Yeah, I definitely felt like season 2 wasn't as good as season 1. In fact, it reminded me entirely too much of what I don't like about Discovery.

    I wish they could strike a bit more of a middle ground between the lavish production values of the modern shows and the longer, deeper seasons of the '90s shows. 8-10 episodes per year just isn't enough to do an ensemble, episodic show justice.

  2. Comment on Two years to save the planet, says UN climate chief in ~enviro

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    Human evolution hardwired our ancestors for survival in an unpredictable world. Immediate threats and opportunities took precedence over distant, uncertain futures. This evolutionary legacy has...

    Human evolution hardwired our ancestors for survival in an unpredictable world. Immediate threats and opportunities took precedence over distant, uncertain futures. This evolutionary legacy has bequeathed us a psychological "present bias," where the urgency of now overshadows the needs of tomorrow. In the context of climate change, this bias manifests in a global inertia, particularly pronounced in developed nations, where the immediacy of economic growth, political gain, and social comfort often trumps the looming environmental catastrophe.

    The social fabric of humanity is woven with threads of in-group favoritism, an evolutionary trait that ensured the survival of our forebears by fostering group cohesion and cooperation. Today, this manifests in a preference for national interests and the welfare of immediate communities over the global collective. Developed nations, with their historical emissions and current consumption patterns, face a moral imperative to lead the charge against climate change. But our in-group bias creates a reluctance to act unless there is perceived equitable effort from all, leading to a deadlock in international climate policy. Worse still, we are more concerned with how are efforts will affect ourselves and our in-groups, not how it will affect others.

    Theoretically, governments are institutions that are supposed to overcome our irrational individual preferences in order to promote the general welfare of everyone. But our governments only care about their own citizenry when they are focused on the general welfare of people at all. At the end of the day, with global capitalism being what it is, the focus of the governments of wealthy nations is predominantly upon the wealthiest people within their borders. A senator from Kentucky is not going to win any elections worrying about and passing legislation to mitigate climate change, particularly if it's going to help the people of the future living in the global south.

    It's hard to be optimistic about our ability to overcome these challenges.

    1 vote
  3. Comment on Discord to start showing ads for gamers to boost revenue in ~tech

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    Yeah, I'm failing to think of any features that Discord currently lacks that I would like to see based on how I use it. Everything they seem to be adding is all useless fluff, as far as I'm concerned.

    Yeah, I'm failing to think of any features that Discord currently lacks that I would like to see based on how I use it. Everything they seem to be adding is all useless fluff, as far as I'm concerned.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on Larian Studios won't make Baldur's Gate 3 DLC, expansions, or Baldur's Gate 4 in ~games

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    It seems like such a no-brainer from the WotC side of things to try to do whatever they can to cultivate an ongoing working relationship with Larian. And yet, here we are. I don't know why it's so...

    It seems like such a no-brainer from the WotC side of things to try to do whatever they can to cultivate an ongoing working relationship with Larian. And yet, here we are.

    I don't know why it's so hard for business types to understand that creative things are not widgets. (Well, that's not entirely true. I suspect there is a specific personality trait that strongly influences why your average MBA can't work well with creatives.)

    2 votes
  5. Comment on Apple has kept an illegal monopoly over smartphones in US, Justice Department says in antitrust suit in ~tech

    RobotOverlord525
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    This lawsuit was discussed in the New York Times' Hard Fork podcast. I thought some of the quotes the DOJ included in the complaint were pretty hilariously damning. It's quite obvious that Apple...

    This lawsuit was discussed in the New York Times' Hard Fork podcast. I thought some of the quotes the DOJ included in the complaint were pretty hilariously damning. It's quite obvious that Apple saw a major problem with iPhone users being able to easily move over to Android (or Windows phones when that was briefly a thing).

    I do have to wonder what the smartphone market would look like if Apple the hardware manufacturer and Apple the software company were two separate companies. Would people buy iPhones with Android on them? Would people buy Samsung Galaxy phones with iOS on them? Or, hell, just to look at the smartwatch market, how many iPhone users bought an Apple Watch because they really thought it was the best watch and how many thought they more or less had to because they owned iPhones?

    At the end of the day, I know Apple will probably argue that nobody's buying an iPhone just because of the color of the bubbles of their text messages to other people, but all of it just creates an enormous amount of friction that is intended to lock people into their ecosystem. Because no gigantic corporation wants to compete on merits. They want to lock you in and keep you there. Which is not to say that the Apple ecosystem doesn't have any merits. Obviously it does. But it's also obvious that Apple would prefer not to have to compete on those terms.

    10 votes
  6. Comment on Birthrates are plummeting worldwide. Why? in ~life

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    I suspect that needing more farm hands and a sort of retirement plan was also an incentive for subsistence farmers to have children. But I'm just speculating. Especially considering what hard...

    I suspect that needing more farm hands and a sort of retirement plan was also an incentive for subsistence farmers to have children. But I'm just speculating. Especially considering what hard labor does to the human body.

    7 votes
  7. Comment on Birthrates are plummeting worldwide. Why? in ~life

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    That was true when fertility rates were higher 40+ years ago. So I don't think it's a major factor.

    That was true when fertility rates were higher 40+ years ago. So I don't think it's a major factor.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Birthrates are plummeting worldwide. Why? in ~life

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    They talk about that in the episode, too. And how helicopter parenting (though they don't call it that) makes raising children even more demanding, which is yet another reason fertility rates are...

    They talk about that in the episode, too. And how helicopter parenting (though they don't call it that) makes raising children even more demanding, which is yet another reason fertility rates are down.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on Birthrates are plummeting worldwide. Why? in ~life

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    I've read a number of interviews with Dr. Shanna Swan, who emphasizes that man-made chemicals are a leading cause of the decline in sperm count and overall fertility. Her research points to...

    I've read a number of interviews with Dr. Shanna Swan, who emphasizes that man-made chemicals are a leading cause of the decline in sperm count and overall fertility. Her research points to endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA and phthalates that are widely used in plastics, linings of food cans, and many other products. These chemicals mimic hormones and can disrupt normal sexual development and function. She wrote a book about it, Count Down, which delves into the topic. (I picked it up from my library and skimmed it.)

    I've contacted my members of Congress about the topic but, based on seen responses I got, whoever (or whatever) read my message didn't "file it correctly" so I think it was just a waste of my time.

    6 votes
  10. Comment on Birthrates are plummeting worldwide. Why? in ~life

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    What's interesting about this perspective to me, and it comes up in the podcast, too, is that as miserable as life under American capitalism can be, is it really worse than, say, subsistence...

    What's interesting about this perspective to me, and it comes up in the podcast, too, is that as miserable as life under American capitalism can be, is it really worse than, say, subsistence farming in any pre-industrial society? And yet people still had plenty of kids back then.

    Of course, some of that was simply down to a lack of family planning options. But still... It's strange and rather sad that we live in a society that is so affluent but so many people feel like it would be a bad decision to bring people into that world. It's a rather damning indictment of our culture, no matter how you look at it.

    10 votes
  11. Comment on Birthrates are plummeting worldwide. Why? in ~life

    RobotOverlord525
    Link
    Obviously I am a big fan of The New York Times' "The Ezra Klein Show," since I've linked to it before. I thought this episode was especially interesting because of the discussion of the...
    • Exemplary

    Obviously I am a big fan of The New York Times' "The Ezra Klein Show," since I've linked to it before.

    I thought this episode was especially interesting because of the discussion of the intersection between birthrates (really, fertility rates) and culture.

    Here is the introduction from the episode:

    So, for a long time, the population concern we’ve been used to hearing is that we are racing towards too many people too quickly. This was a Malthusian fear in the 18th century that more people would mean more starvation. This was and is the fear of many environmentalists today, that more people means more weight on the planet’s resources, more environmental damage.

    But now there’s this other concern that has come to join it, that we are racing towards de-population — too few people too quickly. As countries get richer the world over, fertility rates plummet, plummet quickly. In countries like America, we’re now below replacement rate, the rate at which a population holds steady. You see that in China. You see that in India. In some countries like Japan and South Korea, they’re so far below replacement rate that their population is going to rapidly shrink generation by generation.

    If you spend much time on today’s right or among the Silicon Valley VC class, you find the set of fears has become, for them, almost what the climate crisis is for the left. You hear about it constantly. For many, it feels apocalyptic. It is the overarching context in which everything else is playing out.

    But even if you don’t quite know how to feel about it, and I don’t always know how to feel about it, it’s also just kind of strange. You wouldn’t necessarily think that societies would have so many fewer children as they become richer. Money makes life easier. Lower child mortality makes the heart rending grief of losing a child less likely. Being better able to provide for your children would maybe make it easier to have more of them. Many people believe a boisterous family is part of the vision of a full life.

    But fertility rates, they keep falling and falling. And even in the places where that fall has turned into freefall, where the very fabric of the society is now in question, policy to turn it around is proving completely ineffectual. So, why? We’re going to do two episodes on this, but the first is going to be about the global big picture.

    Jennifer Sciubba is a political scientist, a demographer, and the author of the book, “8 Billion and Counting.” I asked her on the show to guide me through what these population numbers actually tell us, what they say in different regions of the world, how they might play out, and what they reveal about what happens to societies as they get richer.

    You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio app (iOS only, for some dumb reason), Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts. (Sadly, these links don't point directly to the episode, I don't think, but I took it from the Times' website.)

    Here is a summary of the episode from Google Gemini.

    This episode delves into the global phenomenon of declining fertility rates and its potential ramifications. While economic development, education, and urbanization are generally linked to lower birth rates, the podcast explores a range of social and cultural factors that further influence this trend.

    Shifting Priorities and Realities:

    • Changing gender roles: Traditional expectations where women shoulder most childcare responsibilities discourage larger families, particularly for career-oriented women. More equitable sharing of childcare between partners could lead to higher fertility rates.
    • Intensified parenting: Modern parenting styles emphasize quality time and enrichment activities, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Social media often portrays a stressful side of parenting, potentially deterring some from having more children.
    • Individualism vs. Family: The rise of individualism and focus on personal fulfillment may lead some to prioritize careers or smaller families over traditional family structures.

    Challenges and Considerations:

    • Lack of community support: Dual-income families often lack access to affordable childcare and support systems. This, coupled with fewer opportunities for unsupervised play among children, can make raising a large family more difficult.
    • Low-fertility infrastructure: Cities and businesses increasingly cater to preferences of childless adults or small families, creating a feedback loop where having children feels less supported.
    • Population aging: Declining fertility rates lead to older populations on average, which can strain social security systems and healthcare resources.

    Beyond the Alarm:

    The podcast argues against viewing declining fertility rates as apocalyptic. However, it highlights the potential consequences of this trend, including global power shifts and a decline in societal emphasis on supporting families.

    Key Takeaway:

    Social and cultural factors, including gender roles, parenting styles, and societal values, significantly influence fertility decisions. Policymakers seeking to address declining birth rates should consider these factors to develop policies that support families and create a more balanced environment for individuals and families to thrive.

    Personally, I only have one child. And since she's in high school, I certainly don't plan on having another. When I was growing up, I always expect to have two kids (a boy and a girl, of course). I have a brother and a sister, and am especially close with my brother, so I definitely see the value of having siblings. But the reality was that my daughter was born when my wife and I were still in college, so we were rather financially strapped. More than anything, I would say that money was the thing that held us back from having more children. But who knows?

    There were a lot of interesting things in the episode, so I don't want to just wholesale quote the entire transcript, but I thought this was especially interesting.

    Japan and South Korea come up a few times as examples of societies where women in particular seem to have opted out from having families because of the gender inequalities.

    JENNIFER SCIUBBA: [...] > Now, the extremes can tell us a little bit here. Throughout East Asia, which has a region with the lowest total fertility rate in the world, there is something in common. And I first learned of it when I was still an undergraduate, I think. And I actually think this is probably part of what set me into wanting to study this for the rest of my life. I studied Japan, and I remember trying to write this paper — this sounds so funny now. I think it was called like “Sex in Japan” was like my senior thesis.

    And I remember learning about Japanese young women were basically being — they were being vilified, really, in the media for living this very individualistic life, rather than getting married to a man, settling down and having children. And I think now that I’ve matured in my scholarship and studied more about this, that was symbolic of an opting out.

    And we see this opting out kind of running throughout East Asia. South Korea has something called the four no’s — no dating, no sex with men, no marriage, no childbirth. And so we see them have the lowest fertility rate in the world. It’s this idea that marriage is no longer required to have a good life. You can have a job. You can make money on your own. And in fact, it is not only no longer required, it might actually stifle your life because of gender relations within the household.

    South Korea has paternity leave. So, there you go — state policy, right? Oh, you say there’s no maternity and paternity leave. Let’s give you that policy. But men do not take the paternity leave. And that’s the values and cultural norms there. So, those are very important in being this counter or a limit on state policies’ ability to affect change. So, there may be ways — this may be where research needs to go. How do you change culture if you want to through state policy?

    On the flipside of that, though, as they discuss later, it's not just unique to these highly developed but very patriarchal societies. I'm almost hesitant to quote this part because there's a much greater context here in their conversation that, absent hearing it, will probably warp someone's understanding of the conversation. But I think it's a very interesting potential topic for discussion, so I wanted to highlight it.

    EZRA KLEIN: I think a lot about this particular question because I’m so caught on it. Because on the one hand, I get the all joy, no fun theory here. And I don’t find it to be true exactly. I find there to be a lot of fun in it, but I’m also somebody with a pretty flexible job. I work a lot, but I have a fair amount of control over those hours. And I’m somebody with enough money to fill in some of the gaps that we need to fill in. So, we can go out occasionally, that kind of thing.

    And the thing that keeps coming to mind for me is like this collision between two ideas. One is that maybe the way we’re doing it, it’s not that much fun. Maybe the amount of pressure we’re putting on ourselves — is my kid reading early enough, are we spending enough time together, are the weekends enriching enough — my whole weekend is planned around what might be good for my kids. It’s like playground, library, go and get a bagel, right? It’s just, it’s all kids all the time. It’s not my sense that that’s how it’s always been.

    And then on the other hand, it’s not also my sense that it was always fun, that maybe it just wasn’t part of the choice structure the way we thought about our lives that everything was about how much fun it would be, how individually enriching it would be. So there is this kind of interesting question of, one, have we made it less fun than it should be? Have we made —

    In a way, are we too pro-natal for society in a way that has made us low-fertility societies? Because now what it means to be pro-child is to treat your children so well you can’t imagine having more than two or three of them. And on the other side, that this question of making everything a choice about is it going to be fun for me, I mean, when you look back in human history, that’s always how we thought about things.

    JENNIFER SCIUBBA: Yes, and we have some data on this. The one that always strikes me is that a working mother today spends more time with her child than a stay-at-home mom would have a few decades ago. We’re spending more time with our kids on average. So I absolutely think that’s the case. And I do think it matters.

    This very indulgent sense that everything should maximize your pleasure, why? Why is that the case? And so, every moment as a parent is not the best in the world, but overall, I don’t know. I’ve not seen a study, like, are you sad you had your kids? I mean, probably somebody has done that. Do you wish you hadn’t had them? It’s very few people.

    I don't want people to think that the host and guest are adamant that every person should have children, though, so I guess don't take quotes too much out of the overall context of the conversation.

    43 votes
  12. Comment on What is the most reliable and affordable form of storage medium to use as a backup drive for your computer? in ~tech

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    Personally, I didn't know what this meant (which is embarrassing, because I consider myself relatively techie for a non-programmer). but the New York Times Wirecutter has a buying guide with a...

    Local NAS

    Personally, I didn't know what this meant (which is embarrassing, because I consider myself relatively techie for a non-programmer). but the New York Times Wirecutter has a buying guide with a brief explanation that I found helpful.

    NAS explained

    What is a NAS?

    Network-attached storage (NAS) is a shared computer that backs up the data from and serves those files back to your phones and PCs.

    A NAS is best for multiple devices

    Back up documents, photos, and videos from multiple laptops and phones, or create file storage for a business with a few employees.

    If you don’t need a NAS

    A NAS is overkill if you have just one phone or laptop. In those cases, we recommend online cloud backup services or portable SSDs.

    Personally, FWIW, I just have a combination of a local backup (an 8TB external HDD on my desk backed up using Macrium Reflect) and a cloud backup (a regular Backblaze account, which is somewhere in the realm of $5 a month). It's not perfect, but it's affordable and at least has an off-site component.

  13. Comment on What irrational video game requirements do you have? in ~games

    RobotOverlord525
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    I can appreciate a lot of the things people have brought up on this post. But this one is the first full-on dealbreaker I have encountered. I'm with you — I hate that art style. I've never been...

    I can appreciate a lot of the things people have brought up on this post. But this one is the first full-on dealbreaker I have encountered. I'm with you — I hate that art style. I've never been interested in any game that uses it.

    Coincidentally, I don't really play indie games.

    2 votes
  14. Comment on What irrational video game requirements do you have? in ~games

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    I only started modding Baldur's Gate 3 because I got so tired of having to wear ugly armor. Having my character look cool is half the fun of gear!

    I only started modding Baldur's Gate 3 because I got so tired of having to wear ugly armor. Having my character look cool is half the fun of gear!

    1 vote
  15. Comment on Climate deniers don't deny climate change any more. They do something worse. in ~enviro

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    At this point, I have become convinced that large numbers of people would still attribute the deaths of those hundreds of millions to something that was completely unavoidable. Within this decade,...

    At this point, I have become convinced that large numbers of people would still attribute the deaths of those hundreds of millions to something that was completely unavoidable. Within this decade, we had a global pandemic and still had tons of people refusing to wear masks because they can't see germs.

    Until climate change transforms into a human being, puts on a uniform, and starts killing people dramatically and obviously in cold blood, there are tons of people who can comfortably bury their heads in the sand and ignore it.

    3 votes
  16. Comment on ‘Dune: Part Two’: How sci-fi space worm epic reared head to $81.5m opening after strike release delay in ~movies

    RobotOverlord525
    Link Parent
    The writers of the Expanse are executive producers on the show. As far as they are concerned, the show is a different telling of the same story as the books. I rather like how it turned out. There...

    The writers of the Expanse are executive producers on the show. As far as they are concerned, the show is a different telling of the same story as the books. I rather like how it turned out. There are some things I like better about each version, but they're both good in their own right.

    I think it's just hard, in general, for fans of any book to see things they liked from a book left out of an adaptation. Though there are also plenty of people who seem to object to any changes merely on principle. Those people will not ever be satisfied with any adaptation and would honestly be happier if they just avoided adaptations of anything they like.

    6 votes
  17. Comment on What's the matter with men? They’re floundering at school and in the workplace. Some conservatives blame a crisis of masculinity, but the problems—and their solutions—are far more complex. in ~life.men

    RobotOverlord525
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    Interesting what happens when you separate out men and women in that same age range. Men are about 11 percentage points higher than women (86.1% versus 74.9%). I would have expected to see that...

    Interesting what happens when you separate out men and women in that same age range. Men are about 11 percentage points higher than women (86.1% versus 74.9%). I would have expected to see that narrowing more over the last two decades. (December 2003 was 86.4% for men and 71.5% for women, a 14.9 point difference.)

    4 votes
  18. Comment on FastSDXL.AI: Free demo that lets you generate AI images as fast as you can type in ~tech

    RobotOverlord525
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Weird. I experimented with using this other technique, but I'm sad to report that it doesn't seem to have improved its ability to handle this particular prompt. What I was going for: a paladin is...

    Weird.

    I experimented with using this other technique, but I'm sad to report that it doesn't seem to have improved its ability to handle this particular prompt.

    What I was going for: a paladin is "knighting" a woman who is kneeling before him in a snowy vineyard in the forest. (She is actually swearing a Paladin oath before/to him and his god, but it turned out to be kind of a knighting ceremony.)

    Every attempt I have made it this has resulted in both of them kneeling or just generally getting the placement of things wrong.

    Interestingly, when I tried to iterate on it, it was as if each rendering was a completely unique prompt anyway. And it was making her much paler than she was supposed to be.

    2 votes
  19. Comment on FastSDXL.AI: Free demo that lets you generate AI images as fast as you can type in ~tech

    RobotOverlord525
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    See, I wasn't even sure that it would be willing to iterate upon anything it creates. The UI suggested, to me, that each rendering stood on its own. Unlike the chat interface of Google Gemini or...

    See, I wasn't even sure that it would be willing to iterate upon anything it creates. The UI suggested, to me, that each rendering stood on its own. Unlike the chat interface of Google Gemini or even the free version of Chat GPT.

    Edit: I just tested it, and it seemed to take my second prompt as if it were a completely unique request. But perhaps I just need to select one of the four images in particular first...? Or perhaps it's the fact that I'm in a mobile browser...? Hmm...

    1 vote