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Posts posted by Fez

  1. 10 hours ago, Mr. Chatywin et al. said:

    Israel to the best of my knowledge still has never confirmed they have nukes, even though everyone knows that they do. Governments in general do their best to hide information. Would it shock you if in the morning you read that Australia had them? Or how about Canada? Looking at the list of G20 countries I guess South Africa and Japan would surprise me the most. Mexico too. Everyone else, fuck if I know. 

    I wouldn't be surprised if a few close US allies under our nuclear umbrella started looking into the feasibility of developing their own weapons after Trump made a whole lotta statements while President saying the US shouldn't defend our allies. But I doubt any of them actually have any yet, both because a nuclear weapons program takes a long time to spin up and because I think they would announce they have them as soon as they do.

    The only country I could at all imagine might have nuclear weapons but keep it secret would be Japan, because it would actually be against their constitution, much of their population would disapprove of it, and it would unnecessarily antagonize China to announce it. But its known that as early as the 1960s there were Japanese government white papers arguing that tactical nukes at least wouldn't be unconstitutional and their PM at the time told LBJ that Japan should have nukes if China does. So maybe they do have something.

    Even if they don't right now, they have missiles and literal tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium already, so they probably could put some together very quickly if they needed to.

  2. Chrono Trigger is a lot of fun, but I'd certainly agree that its been surpassed by a number of games since; and mostly retains it's place on a lot of lists simply from how great it was comparatively at the time.

    There are some '90s RPGs that have better writing than most games even today (e.g., Planescape Torment) but are often janky in the actual gameplay. The only '90s RPG that I think completely stands the test of time is Final Fantasy Tactics, which I believe still is the king of its niche of turn-based, grid-based tactical RPGs.

    But note that, other Mass Effect 2, all the games I mentioned are less than 10 years old.

  3. BG3 is pretty on-rails, so how much do you actually roleplay? You can certainly skip a lot of content, but you don't actually have a ton of choices besides whether to do a quest or not. There's a lot of gameplay options of how to complete the quests that you do, but the end result is generally the same. The one big exception is how the Druid's Grove resolves in Act 1, where there are numerous branching options. However, even there the outcome basically boils down to whether you have access to the Tieflings in Act 2 or not (and Minthara's fate). There's not really a true "evil path" through the game, just a good path and a good path with less content. Which means, it comes down to how you define roleplaying.

    A game like Disco Elysium blows BG3 out of the water in terms of truly playing a character that can take different options through the game.

    A game like Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous beats BG3 in terms of character build roleplaying.

    A game like The Witcher 3 or the Mass Effect trilogy beats BG3 in terms of playing as a defined character going through a set narrative.

    A game like Cyberpunk 2077 beats BG3 in terms of the mechanical expression of gameplay (i.e., all the different ways you can resolve combat encounters).

    Don't get me wrong, I love BG3. But I don't think it is best in category for any of the ways you can define roleplaying. It's a very good RPG in many different ways, and it may be the actual best ever in cinematic quality, but its hard for me to see how its the best "in terms of what it's genre is trying to achieve".

  4. There are certainly benefits to MJ legalization, and the old system was very screwed up. But anyone claiming weed is harmless is being willfully obtuse. Here's just a few of the studies finding health risks:



    Evidence shows a clear association between cannabis use and psychosis, affective disorders, anxiety, sleep disorders, cognitive failures, respiratory adverse events, cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and gastrointestinal disorders. Moreover, cannabis use is a risk factor for motor vehicle collision, suicidal behavior and partner and child violence. Cannabis use is a risk factor for several medical conditions and negative social consequences. There is still little data on the dose-dependency of these effects; evidence that is essential in order to define, from a public health perspective, what can be considered risky use of cannabis. This definition should be based on quantitative and qualitative criteria that informs and permits the evaluation of current approaches to a regulated cannabis market.



    Overall, use of higher potency cannabis, relative to lower potency cannabis, was associated with increased risk of psychosis and CUD. Evidence was mixed for depression 2 and anxiety. The association of cannabis potency with CUD and psychosis highlights its relevance in healthcare settings, public health guidelines, and policies on cannabis sales. Standardisation of exposure measures and longitudinal designs are needed to strengthen the evidence.



    Systematic reviews find that adolescent cannabis use is inconsistently associated with alterations in the structure of prefrontal and temporal brain regions. Meta-analyses reveal functional alterations in the parietal cortex and putamen. Differences in the orbitofrontal cortex predate cannabis use; it is unclear if they are affected by continued cannabis use and prolonged abstinence. Longitudinal and twin studies report larger declines in IQ among cannabis users than their non-using peers but it is unclear whether these findings can be attributed to cannabis use or to genetic, mental health and environmental factors. Several longitudinal studies and a meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies suggest that there is some cognitive recovery after abstinence from cannabis. Longitudinal studies and some twin studies have found that cannabis users are less likely to complete secondary school than their non-using controls. This association might reflect an effect of cannabis use and/or the social environment of cannabis users and their cannabis using peers. Cognitive performance is altered in some domains (e.g. IQ, verbal learning) in young people while they are regularly using cannabis. There are two important messages to adolescents and young adults: First, cannabis has potentially detrimental effects on cognition, brain and educational outcomes that persist beyond acute intoxication. Second, impaired cognitive function in cannabis users appears to improve with sustained abstinence.

    Is it as bad as heroin? Certainly not. It's probably not even as bad as alcohol (though that's more because alcohol really is quite bad for you). This isn't to say prohibition is correct. But cannabis isn't harmless either, yet many people (and state agencies) have treated it as such since legalization occurred.

  5. 1 hour ago, Zorral said:

    Somehow though, here where it has been decriminalized and the selling of cannabis in stores, it hasn't worked that way at all.  It's created another criminal mess that the cops aren't -- at this time -- doing a thing about, which is almost all the stores are unlicensed and illegal -- and not paying taxes. People are hanging around them, doing other things that may or may not be illegal, but some of them are really unpleasant for a neighborhood and community.  They are more like public nuisances than actual shops providing services and goods.  And many people continue buying the illegal stuff anyway, because it is better and costs less.

    Nothing about legalizing the selling of cannabis turned out as it was said it would, including who got the licenses to sell.  It's not popular among certain groups of politicians to hear, say or admit it, but it is the case.  We are living it daily.  Albany is rather flummoxed.  They've tried to correct course a few times and it made no change at all.

    Also the stink and the reek, along with the rest of the garbage that gathers around those stores -- ugh.

    Yeah, it is remarkable how badly New York bungled its regulatory scheme and enforcement mechanisms for cannabis legalization. They're basically the case study for other states to review what not to do.

    They probably aren't the only state that screwed it up, but they are certainly the most visible.

  6. Hmm, interesting. Generally I've gone with what my favorite release at the time was, rather than retrospectively what I like the most now. Though that isn't possible for the first 5 years or so.

    1987: Sid Meier's Pirates

    1988: Super Mario Bros 3 

    1989: SimCity 

    1990Super Mario World

    1991: Civilization

    1992: Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

    1993: NBA Jam

    1994: Final Fantasy VI

    1995: Chrono Trigger

    1996: Civilization II

    1997: Final Fantasy Tactics

    1998: Xenogears

    1999: Sid Meier's Alpha Centuri... I guess. This is kind of an impossible year

    2000: Final Fantasy IX... maybe? Another impossible year. Going back, I'd only want to play Baldur's Gate 2. But, in the moment, I played a crazy amount of FFIX and loved all of it. But also the Tony Hawk games (1 and 2 both came out) and a ton of others.

    2001: Final Fantasy X

    2002: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    2003: Dynasty Warriors 4...I suppose. I kinda didn't play most games from this year.

    2004: World of Warcraft

    2005: Civilization IV

    2006: Gears of War...sorta by default. Another year I mostly skipped.

    2007: Mass Effect

    2008: Saints Row II

    2009: Dragon Age: Origins

    2010: Mass Effect 2

    2011: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    2012: Mass Effect 3... but only barely. So many awesome games.

    2013: Bioshock Infinite

    2014: Dragon Age: Inquisition

    2015: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

    2016: Overwatch... incredible how much the game/sequel has fallen in my opinion

    2017: Hollow Knight

    2018: Pathfinder: Kingmaker

    2019: Disco Elysium

    2020: Hades

    2021: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

    2022: Elden Ring

    2023: Immortality... for the very specific reason that it was one of the few games I've been able to play together with my girlfriend. And we had a great time. More traditionally, it'd be Baldur's Gate III.


    It's interesting to see how much my tastes changed over time. When I was younger I loved JRPGs and strategy games and now it's very rare I'd go to those genres. And after 2015, I almost totally disengaged from the AAA space. There have been a handful I played and enjoyed beyond Elden Ring and BG3, most notably Control and Cyberpunk. But vast majority I ignore because I know I'll be disappointed.

  7. 2 minutes ago, Mr. Chatywin et al. said:

    Not really. It's more or less open to liberal light social issues and conservative light economic stances. 

    Perot was never going to win and if he denied either Clinton or Bush the necessary EC votes Clinton would have been voted in. Again, third parties don't work at the higher levels. You're better off joining a party and influencing it. Run third party if you want for your local school board. 

    He was polling in first place that spring, which may very well have been enough to overcome the "wasted vote" concern that usually sinks 3rd party bids. Your own state's experience with Jesse Ventura shows what can happen if a 3rd party bid gets enough momentum going.

  8. Unicorn Overlord is a really fun Vanillaware game on Switch (and maybe PS5?) I've ben playing. It's like Ogre Battle 64 in that it's a tactics game where you don't actually control your units in battle. Instead you are programming them (similar to the FF12 gambits), equipping them, and deciding which ones go in which formations. And then you see how it plays out. It starts simple, but gets complex pretty quickly.

    Unfortunately, if you know what you're doing, it's pretty easy. The AI units don't take nearly enough advantage of the options available. Also, the story is very basic. But the artwork and music are top notch. There's lots of little touches to the gameplay loops that are very satisfying. And fully optimizing your formations can be very fun, even if it's kinda unnecessary.

  9. Just now, Maithanet said:

    If they wanted to actually move America more towards bipartisanship, then they ought to do it by fighting in the primaries of both parties, rather than fielding 3rd party candidates with no chance of winning.  If they supported people like Hogan in Maryland, Collins in Maine, Dolan in Ohio, and Tester in Montana, that would help make bipartisan deals in the Senate a bit more possible.  You could do ever better in lower profile races in the house, to help fund more mainstream candidates against the edges of both parties. 

    I'm not saying that would be a particularly exciting or impactful effort (those "mainstream" candidates are typically well funded anyway), but it would probably show some results and successes would at least be possible.  Instead, they're trying to win the hardest race in the country first, without even a ghost of a chance of actually succeeding. 

    Well yes, certainly. Ground up is the only way to achieve lasting change. But that's boring and everyone wants to ignore that.

    I will say though, I think Perot 1992 shows that with the right stances and in the right circumstances, a 3rd party presidential candidate can have a real shot. If his campaign hadn't had such a bizarre July that year (including him briefly dropping out of the race), he might've actually won. He was certainly the polling frontrunner in May/June.

  10. 10 hours ago, DMC said:

    So No Labels is packing it in after they couldn’t find anybody to run under their..no label.  These type of groups are always eye-rolling in their premise that centrism somehow means better and even more righteous.  Not to mention their laughable lack of understanding that the US electoral system simply doesn’t allow for the competitive emergence of third parties.  But what was especially amusing with this effort was they thought they could make a difference during rampant polarization.

    Especially since, to have any chance at all, a third party candidate would need to have pretty much the exact opposite stances of what these groups want. They always want the mythical reasonable Republican (read: not too social conservative, but otherwise bog standard). Whereas an actually effective third party candidate would be some populist hybrid of all the positions that these groups hate (e.g., calling for high taxes on the rich and shutting down the border); basically Trump 2016 with some tweaks to appeal to Democrats more and further differentiate from the generic Republican running.

  11. 2 hours ago, Ser Lany said:

    I was going to post the same thing.

    I just have one question for those that have recruited her this way:

      Reveal hidden contents

    Should you wait and attack her last, after the other two? I usually do her first, since her area is isolated.


    I believe that's still pretty buggy though, since it's not really intended. Stuff like Halsin and Minthara sharing an overlapping tent in camp because they have the same location.

  12. 25 minutes ago, ThinkerX said:

    Given the trends in the last few elections, and that Republican incumbents continually push for policies that tick off many members of their own party, I figure the Democrats will retain their majority in the Senate and retake the House.


    I also note that many Republican politicians seem to loathe each other more than they loathe the Democrats, making it nigh on impossible for them to accomplish many of the goals they claim to want. 

    I do think Democrats are in a really good position to take the House back, and I think Biden is a little better than 50-50 to win re-election, but the Senate is a real tough nut to crack. Could Democrats get the clean sweep (minus WV) and keep a 50+VP majority? Sure, but I don't think the odds are in their favor at all right now.

    However, if Biden wins and Democrats keep the House and are at 49 Senate seats, I could see a situation where Murkowski finally does flip sides in exchange for enough goodies and in the name of avoiding total gridlock.

    But we'll see. I do think polling is basically totally broken right now, which is why I'm a bit more bullish than some on Biden's chances. But, without reliable polling, it's real hard to make any sort of informed forecast as to how things will go.

  13. 52 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

    Does congress have the authority to force Trump to order troops? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. 

    Sort of, yes. They can't easily force him to do things, but they can easily force him to not do things. Withdrawing troops from NATO bases costs money for instance, and Congress could include a rider in the appropriations bills that no funding may be used to withdraw troops. This is the exact tactic Republicans used to stop Obama from closing Gitmo. 

    Granted, there is the wrinkle of how far Trump would try pushing his pardon power; e.g., ordering the defense secretary to illegally provide funding to withdraw troops and then pardoning him. Though that does run into the potential barrier of the military being supposed to ignore illegal orders. Also, I do think there's 5+ SCOTUS votes to reinterpret presidential pardon power if Trump tried being that much of an outright dictator.

  14. Decided to give honor mode a shot, and am trying to avoid anything truly cheesy to beat it. I also still want to do most of the content, rather than rush through things. So far I'm level 5 and just wiped out the Goblins. I think so long as I don't get too greedy, I'm probably in the clear the rest of the game now that I gotta the powerboost of extra attacks and 3rd level spells. Just gotta delay certain fights until I'm over-leveled (like Auntie Ethel).

    The one tight spot so far was fighting the goblins outside the shattered sanctum at level 4. I got over-confident and tried taking on everyone at once without any real prep. Ended up having 3 party members die and had to have Astarion drink the triple-distance jumping potion and escape far enough away so he could flee to camp and pay Withers to bring everyone back.

  15. 4 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

    I'd think the Democrats would also wave through a combined bill. It'd be utter madness to leave Ukraine hanging to make some hay and grandstand over Gaza. Maybe with Europe literally an ocean away Ukraine looks more like an issue to play politics over (as shown by the GOP). But I'd like to think the House Democrats are smarter.

    Depending on how things shake out, Democrats could straight up have the majority and just make Jeffries Speaker (albeit only until a few special elections in safe Republican seats wrap up). Right now, if nothing else changes or really unexpected things happen, from April 30 to May 21 the Republican majority will be down to 217-214. There's been ongoing rumors that another couple House Republicans are already planning to resign soon. If there's a new round of chaos because of a move to vacate the speaker, it's not that hard to image a couple more than that calling it quits and all of a sudden Democrats have a 214-213 majority or thereabouts. And since special elections take time to organize, they could potentially have that majority for a month or two.

    Fantastical? Sure. But not actually as crazy unlikely as it sounds.

  16. 11 minutes ago, DMC said:

    To be fair, Catholics actually slightly favored Biden in 2020 (52-47).  Even 44% of white Catholics voted for Biden.  The religious right isn't really a "Christian" problem, it's primarily a white evangelical problem.

    Depending on where the decimal points are, that 52-47 may mean that Catholics voted slightly to the left of the country as a whole. Certainly better than 2016, when they went 52-44 for Trump. But that's the only time they were pretty out-of-sync with the overall vote this century. In 2012, they went 50-48 for Obama, 2008 was 54-45 Obama, 2004 was 52-47 Bush, and 2000 was 50-47 Gore.

    While white evangelicals are the biggest problem, it's really all Protestants that are an issue. Even in 2008, McCain won them 54-45. If the Reformation never happened, Democrats would probably never lose another election.

    (Hi everyone!)

  17. 26 minutes ago, Whiskeyjack said:

    I feel like you maybe didn't get deep enough into Act 3?  The coronation at Wyrm's Rock gives you some direction, and if you progress through the Lower City its pretty clear which areas are connected to which characters.  There is definitely a lot of side content too, so maybe you got bogged down with that.  But there's also a strong narrative and quest (or multiple quests) for each companion, with most of them also linked to the main story.

    Maybe. But the issue is:


    I'm playing as the Dark Urge and I felt it made sense to side with Gortash at Wyrm's Rock (also, I have Minthara; which means no Karlach or Wyll connections to anything; so I don't care about Ravengard for instance). And I happen to know, despite not reaching that point, that Gortash never betrays you (at least if you're the Urge, not sure about for other PCs) and I don't feel like it would make sense to betray Gortash. Which means a lot of the Act 3 content kinda just feels "there" without good reasons for me to do it.


  18. 42 minutes ago, IlyaP said:

    I've heard Larian fixed a lot in DOS2, especially the latter half. How much got tweaked in the game between release and the current edition?

    A lot. They substantially reworked the narrative of Act IV, with new quests, changes in flow between existing quests (to better tie events together), and more companion reactivity to events. Apparently over 150,000 words of text were changed and 130,000 new words were recorded by the VAs per https://www.neoseeker.com/divinity-original-sin-ii/guides/Definitive_Edition_Differences

    They also made a bunch of balancing and leveling changes throughout the game.

  19. 1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

    Can't talk about it in terms of bugs.. but it's.. a bit dull. I know they have talked about the storytelling for Act 3 in interviews, but it really does just throw you back to square one a bit and the momentum totally dies. I still haven't finished the game. 

    Yeah, honestly as much as I love the game overall, Act 3 completely kills my interest in the game. The last time I played, I managed to plough through Rivington but once I hit the lower city I just had no desire to keep going (it also didn't help that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth just released and is incredible). It's actually too open-ended, and too disconnected from everything you've been doing up to that point. Act I is open-ended, but it's also very tight in that everything you do relates to learning about your tadpole and possible options for getting rid of it. Act II is extremely focused. And then Act III is open-ended again, and not really in service of anything specific. I hope a director's cut eventually changes it as much act IV of Divinity Original Sin 2 got changed.

  20. 14 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

    We know for 100% certain that a candidate can win the White House with a lower NPV than the losing candidate. It's just that this only seems to be achieved by Republicans because of structural advantages in the EC. However it would still be theoretically possible for a Democrat to pull it off.

    There was a real chance of it happening in 2004. Kerry lost the national popular vote by 2.5%, but only lost Ohio (my how things change) by 2.1%. And if he won Ohio he'd have won the election.

    Then, in both 2008 and 2012 Obama won the tipping point state (Colorado, in both cases) by more than his national popular vote margin. In 2008 he could've lost the national vote by up to 1.7% and still won the election, and in 2012 by up to 1.5%

    Up until 2016, it was more often Republicans talking about abolishing the electoral college to erase the assumed Democratic edge there. Although it was only Democratic states actually passing the national popular vote compact to do so.

    In general, the electoral edge has bounced back and forth between the parties. And the current Republican edge isn't even the worst it's been, it's just that elections used to more frequently be blowouts so it masked the issue. 

  21. I'll also chime in to note that Biden is certainly old enough to remember the 1968 election. LBJ was actually eligible to run for another term, decided not to, and the Democratic party split into several major factions immediately. The result was a chaotic Democratic convention and Nixon beat Humphries in an election that was actually close in the popular vote but was an electoral blowout.

    The conventional wisdom is that LBJ was so unpopular from the Vietnam war that he would've gotten blown out in the election and so he decided not to run to spare himself the embarrassment and to hopefully improve Democrats' chances that year. However, the limited polling at the time suggests that LBJ actually was in a good position to win and there's a variety of theories as to why he ended up not running.

    I think Biden thinks he can win and he doesn't want to be another LBJ.

  22. 15 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

    Logically speaking MAGA should already be a dead end. That's a large part of the problem. General failure in last few elections hasn't caused the right to move back to a more normal position. 

    I disagree. The problem is that Republicans are still in an excellent position to takeover, and hold significant amounts of power as is; especially at the state level. I do think this is despite MAGA, not because of it. But the harms of MAGA to their political aims hasn't been enough to make them risk pissing off their base yet.

    The only way I see MAGA starting to break is if Biden wins re-election AND the 2026 midterm resembles the 2022 midterm (especially if Democrats have the senate after 2026, and there are a few decent pick-up opportunities there). I think that, and pretty much only that, would lead to a 2028 Republican primary where MAGA starts getting ditched.

    And the problem is, that's a really tall order. Even if Biden wins, I think there's a very strong chance that 2026 is a more regular midterm incumbent bloodbath.

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