The end of a hot June. A summer of MMO stuff apparently. Subtitling. A lot about The Three Body Problem. A couple of movies.

Eliminate human tyranny! - June 2024 Part 2

2,623 words.

Eliminate human tyranny! - June 2024 Part 2

It’s been rather hot this June. The highest temperature measured at my house (in the shade) was 97 degrees (that’s 36C for the rest of the world). That’s more of a July or August sort of high temperature. My heat pump wasn’t operating very well at the start of this month, but after some maintenance and additional refrigerant, it’s working much better.

It still doesn’t cool more than about 15 degrees below the outside temperature, though, so when it’s 97 outside, it’s noticably warm inside, too. Not ideal, but certainly far better than no air conditioning. For some reason I’ve had pretty bad luck with heating and air conditioning for the last 10 years or so.


I got the Elden Ring DLC and started playing it, but I’ve only gotten about five hours into it. The only boss I’ve encountered so far (in the Western Nameless Mausoleum) is annoying and frustrating and kills my level 150 character with a health bar halfway across the screen in two hits, so I left it. My guess is they put in that alternate leveling system so that your character feels weak no matter what level you start at, a big departure from other From Software games, and I’m not fond of it.

I still haven’t completed Lords of the Fallen. I got to the Adyr boss fight which I presume is the end. It’s also a very annoying and frustrating and not fun boss fight because it’s another Lords of the Fallen-style “here, try to survive all this randomness you can’t control” boss fight. I feel like I’ve said this a hundred thousand times, certainly in video recordings, but I hate randomness in boss fights. Getting killed by some fireball that comes in from outside your field of vision just plain sucks. Dying after making a poor decision is acceptable. Dying without having the opportunity to make a decision is poor game design.

Crazy MMO Summer

Syp is reporting this is “one of the craziest MMO summers in recent memory.”

So much MMO gaming to do this summer! – Bio Break

I have to assume he’s a reliable source for such information, because I’ve heard almost none of this.

  • Tarisland is launching. That’s … an MMORPG? Never heard of it.
  • FFXIV Dawntrail expansion. FFXIV is pretty much dead to me. Thanks for the memories, but it’s time for new memories.
  • ESO Gold Road expansion. In the world of ESO, an “expansion” is “a couple of quests on a smallish map.” That might be an exaggeration for comedic effect.
  • LOTRO has a new update this summer. Dear god, shoot it in the head and put it out of its misery already. That game engine is a hopelessly lost cause and I can’t imagine installing it on a newer PC anymore. Export the quest text into ebooks.
  • Guild Wars 2 Janthir expansion. Did I even look at the last expansion? What was the last expansion? Who can tell? It’s unknowable. ArenaNet’s releases are always shrouded in deep mystery for some reason.
  • Fallout 76 is apparently in the MMO conversation now, and there’s a new thing for it this summer. Meanwhile, I formed an intense hatred for Fallout 76 within five minutes of starting it up for the first time a couple months ago.
  • And of course World of Warcraft has a new expansion along with an old expansion, or something like that. Blizzard still seems to be the only MMO game company that’s mastered how to maintain long-lived online game software. Technologically speaking, at least. (Although, to be fair, ArenaNet is also pretty good at the technology, but, again, they’re always hiding their stuff from the public for inexplicable reasons.)

Syp didn’t mention this, but I think I heard there’s also something new with EVE Online, though I know nothing of the details. EVE Online remains the most inexplicable of all the MMORPGs. It’s like one of those clubs like the Loyal Order of the Moose or the Freemasons. It seems like an apt analogy for most MMORPGs actually. They aren’t games anymore, they’re secret societies.

Anyway that certainly does sound like a lot of MMORPG action for one summer, except for the minor fact that literally none of it sounds interesting to me. All but one of those are fully afflicted with what I like to call “late-stage MMOism,” which is that state that MMORPGs get to when they’ve been running for a long time, and they’ve long since given up trying to appeal to anyone but the insular bubble of superfans dedicated to playing and praising their game daily, when all their development efforts are devoted to keeping those superfans from noticing that there’s anything else in the world to do with their gaming time. What was once a fresh new idea in the MMORPG space becomes stretched out and beaten to death over countless years of repetition, kept alive like an undead revenent by god only knows what kind of smoke-belching machinery or unholy demonic rites.


Tarisland is new, though, so maybe worth a look. I say “new,” but based on the web site, it already looks pretty old. It’s way beyond cliche to say it looks like a WoW Clone, but it really does look like a WoW Clone. It’s published by Tencent, so it makes a certain amount of sense that it is literally a clone of a Western intellectual property (hey-oh rimshot global trade war humor).

Wilhelm wrote a post title that exactly matches my expectations:

Tarisland – I Hate it Already | The Ancient Gaming Noob

Then he wrote a followup post revealing the well-known value of titles that mention hating whatever the new thing is:

Moving Over to Tarisland on the iPad | The Ancient Gaming Noob

Still doesn’t make me want to get the game, though. Otherwise I don’t see anyone talking about it. Not even Inventory Full, who usually plays anything and everything at launch.

Stars Reach

Wilhelm is making clickable headlines all over the place lately. I also caught this:

Playable Worlds Announces Stars Reach | The Ancient Gaming Noob

It’s No Man’s Sky. Raph seems to be describing No Man’s Sky. Here ends the commentary.

Media Production

I heard tell of an OBS plugin that generates subtitles in realtime while you talk, so I tried it out. It uses a Google voice detection API, so it essentially does the same thing that you see in YouTube’s auto-generated subtitles. Somehow it’s free, which I don’t fully understand. Surely that API costs money at scale.

Anyway it led me down a rabbit hole of learning how to edit subtitles for videos, thinking that perhaps I might start uploading game videos with high-quality subtitles, instead of letting YouTube make those below-average-but-still-kind-of-useful subtitles. Subtitles are their own form of creative artistry, and I’ve always thought it would be fun to make them.

Turns out it is fun to make them, but it’s also very time-consuming. Way too time-consuming for me to deal with, except on rare occasions. It took me an entire Sunday to perfect the subtitles for one 40-minute video. So unless I only record like two hours of video a week, that’s not sustainable.

At first I just used a text editor to edit the .srt files, but that quickly revealed itself to be a fool’s errand. Next I found an open source program called Subtitle Edit that lets you edit .srt files in a much friendly way. It’s open source, though, so, since there are no UI designers working in the open source world, it looks and feels exactly the way you think an open source program does. I found myself thinking of ways to improve the user experience within minutes of opening it. But it has the essential features you need: An integrated collection of video player, audio waveform, and text editor.


By the way, I put this under “television” but I rarely turn on an actual television for this stuff.

Regularly watching, roughly in priority order: Three-Body (the Chinese 30-episode version) on Amazon Prime, The Rest is Entertainment podcast (on YouTube), Jon Stewart’s The Weekly Show podcast (on YouTube), Glass Cannon Podcast (on YouTube). I rarely mention this because I don’t think he’s well-liked by the youths anymore, but I usually stream Real Time with Bill Maher every Saturday. If not the whole show, then at least the monologue and the New Rules editorial.

Three-Body (Tencent series)

After watching Netflix’s 3 Body Problem, and starting The Dark Forest audiobook, I stumbled on the Chinese Tencent production called Three-Body on Amazon Prime. It’s a 30-episode television series adapting the first book, The Three Body Problem. I’m finding it a fascinating watch for a variety of reasons. It’s also a difficult watch because you have to remain glued to the screen reading the subtitles for the entire 45 minutes of each episode, which is not a particularly comfortable way to watch television anymore.

But there’s so much interesting stuff to talk about with this series. Chinese television production values (everything looks like it was shot on a phone camera). Chinese culture (every building is spotlessly clean and every room is empty). The fact that there’s thirty episodes in one season so there’s actually more in the show than there is in the book (some things actually make a lot more sense). The long, long scenes where the script is a direct quote from the book. The songs and random dialog suddenly in English. The vertical Chinese subtitles that come up on the side every time there’s music. The blue and purple lighting. The 1970s-style slow, repetitious story pacing. The weirdly G-rated vibe. The list goes on and on. I can’t think of any other book adaptation like it in the history of television. This series is a genuine event in history. I wish I could find some behind-the-scenes information about it (every search is polluted by the dumb Netflix show).

Anyway, if you want to read the book without having to read the book, then you can watch Three-Body. Almost everything that’s in the first book is in the series, in more-or-less the exact order of the book, and more-or-less word for word. I have never seen a more faithful, meticulate adaptation of a book before. (There are a couple of “sensitive political issues” removed from the show, though.) And because it’s 30 episodes they actually had to add material. They took some incidental characters that were only mentioned a few times (e.g. Xu Bingbing) and expanded them into full roles, but I found that they were all sensible additions that enhanced the story. Honestly the book is a somewhat dry, unemotional read (partly because of the translation), as in the traditions of the old Asimov Foundation books, which, as I recall, established a tradition of science fiction that reads like encyclopedia articles, but this Chinese series injects a lot more emotion and human drama into it all, and I found it a welcome addition.

If they do another 30-episode season for the second book, I only know a couple of things: I’ll definitely want to watch it, and it will be a hundred times more complicated and expensive to make.

By the way, the post title is a quote from the book, and (roughly) from the series, the chant of the Earth-Trisolaris Movement. Probably relatable to the kids these days.

Dragon Show

Incidentally, I watched the first episode of season two of Dragon Show (I can never remember the exact title and can’t be bothered to look it up), but I found it sufficiently meh that I saw no need to hurry to watch the remaining episodes. Not being on anything like Twitter anymore means I’m no longer bombarded by accidental spoilers. It wasn’t exactly an intellectual tour de force anyway–as I’m typing this, I can’t remember a single thing that happened in that first episode.



Oppenheimer arrived on Amazon Prime and I watched it. It was okay, although I didn’t find it to be a particularly innovative or memorable take on the subject matter.


I watched a movie on Netflix called Damsel. The trailer laid out the exact plot from beginning to end. It sounded like a fun idea (I’m trying to make an effort not to be so negative about modern movies). That is, until I saw how much the actors–some very famous and reputable–were phoning it in. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 57%, which seems generous. As a favor to potential viewers, I will report that the movie actually begins around the 35 minute mark. I can also report that I did not actually finish the movie, but since I watched the trailer, there was no need to.


The Dark Forest

Completed re-listening to The Three Body Problem, and then I listened to the sequel, The Dark Forest. As I suspected, back when I first listened to Three Body and decided to stop at the first book, it’s a very different kind of book from the first, with an almost entirely different cast of characters. Whereas the first book is chock full of imaginative ideas, I find that they don’t really fit together very well and plot holes abound if you think about it too hard (how the hell do sophons move). It’s also about 90% exposition.

The sequel is a much more mature novel, imo, and it’s downright jaw-dropping at times. However it has a bit of a sudden ending that didn’t make much sense on first reading. I’m not a physicist so I can’t comment on the authenticity of it, but there are definitely times when I think to myself, okay this doesn’t sound credible, but I don’t know anything about the micro world. Anyway, I’ve begun the third audiobook, Death’s End.

It’s a really imaginative series, and a fascinating Chinese cultural export. My impression is that China is incredibly proud to own this popular literary export. The meticulous care that Tencent put into the Three-Body 30-episode series speaks volumes of how much they love these books over there.

Death’s End

And I’ve delayed this post long enough to report that I’ve finished the third audiobook, Death’s End. Talk about a book full of big science fiction ideas. Yikes. Also, super depressing. Despite being translated like a dry, expositional encyclopedia article for the majority of the time, it’s still a pretty depressing tale of woe.


Regularly listening to: Glass Cannon’s Blood of the Wild. Yes, I paid money to get access to it. It’s that good.

Sometimes listening to: A Naddpod episode here and there.

Day Job

It’s been a somewhat exhausting sprint to end the month. Working on Java code. Working on writing documentation. Working on docker containers. Fixing a broken deployment to a cloud environment caused by discrepancies in the database. Lots and lots of troubleshooting. Stuff like that.

World Context

As yet I don’t know what to replace TweetDeck with for news.

  • The Celtics won a basketball thing this year. I don’t watch basketball, although the raging controversies surrounding women’s basketball right now sure make it sound like an exciting warzone.
  • The First Presidential Debate occurred on June 27th. I didn’t watch it, because I don’t hate myself that much and I also don’t care for pro wrestling. Everyone’s reactions to the debate and voting choice were decided long before the debate anyway. It was only useful as fodder for topical comedy. Good thing nobody’s deeply invested in the outcome of this election though, am I right!
  • Ongoing Trainwrecks of the Year: 2024 Presidential Election, War in Israel (since 10/2023), Nigerian Coup (since 7/2023), Sudanese Civil War (since 4/2023), War in Ukraine (since 2/2022).
  • Celebrity Deaths: Willie Mays (baseball).


Hey look, I added comments again, because it was easy and free. I don't recommend writing anything that you don't want to lose, because I don't know anything about the stability of this platform.