June 25, 2019

Random Thimgs

Someone takes a moment from twirling his broomhandled mustache long enough to provide an interesting review of Innocents Abroad .

Dustbury points us to ...this...


Soon!

Scott Lowther gives a shout out to Tabletop Whale, a really interesting art of science page that is the exact opposite of the cringey dumpster fire one expects from 'STEAM'.



Buy her art here, she sells posters, canvas prints, stickers and more!


Pixy doesn't seem to know what 'unexpectedly' means, but he does provide us with this....



...which tells us nothing, but certainly has my attention.

Pete notes what appears to be a cunningly executed trap.


J.Greely seems to be a deeply problematic individual whose tastes are not global at all.

And that's OK.

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June 24, 2019

Style Guide

Houtengeki provides us with a convenient visual representation of today's fast-evolving terminology.


Global Elf

more...

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June 23, 2019

Even the Stupidest Stories Can lead Us To Worrisome Truths

In bowels of the previous post we snarked briefly about that Tifa non-troversey and how it was distracting from potentially worrisome issues with the game. That post hyper-linked to an article that had the character designer explaining that the decision was forced on him by the company ethics department in order to conform to 'Global Standards". Curious as to what "Global Standards" were, our crack team of fact checkers did a cursory search and lo-and behold it's a thing.

Interestingly, this policy was implemented by Sony in in 2018, which was about the same time that a wave of censorious shenanigans descended upon the internet in various places. That timeframe is significant because looking for info on "Global Standards"turned up this rather long but fascinating article at Medium, which deserves your full attention.

Let’s take this timeline for example; In, July of 2017, Stripe announces a partnership with Chinese Companies WeChat (Tencent) and AliPay. What happened less than a quarter of a year later? Well, Patreon (who as stated earlier relies on Stripe for processing), had their guidelines updated with further scrutiny paid to adult content, seemingly out of nowhere. As time went on, Patreon would be on and off with the adult content they allowed, eventually allowing it as long as the outward page being presented was not itself explicit. The NSFW community on the site was left in a cloud of doubt about what the official position was when it came to terms of service; much akin to what is currently happening on platforms like Steam. Are there any other examples of this, however? The archived list we used notes that Circle, which was at one point accepting of this content, apparently changed their mind.


This explains a couple of things like why Patreon and Tumblr suddenly got all wonky regards adult content and still can't seem to define it consistently. Note that Stripe, is believed to have been the payment processor mentioned in the Matt Christensen video and transcript of his interaction with Patreon customer service after the second series of their purges last year, and Stripe and PayPal attempted to shut down SubscribeStar when it presented itself as an alternative.

It gets worse...

  ...there’s been an oddly increasing number of incidents related to so-called "problematic content” being stripped from or outright barred from a number of sites. However, when looking into it deeper, there seems to be a simple, central trait shared by all of these incidents; Chinese Investment, or entrance into the Chinese Market. All of this also corresponds to reports that cross-border investment from China is reaching new levels, as there is proof of China actively attempting to move their money overseas. What’s terrifying about this revelation is, as you’ll see, the issue with censorship does not come simply from Chinese companies buying out firms so they can censor them; it comes, sometimes, from companies simply wanting to expand into the Chinese market themselves, and be compliant in doing so.


This,  of course has far worse implication than the silly notion that "Global" beauty standards are actually being set by insecure members of the CCP's "50 Cent Army".

The article goes on to discuss how this has affected Reddit, Discord, Tumbler, Apple, Google, You-Tube, Steam and the development of the Playstation4, before taking a deep dive into the Chinese influence on various payment processors, how this is tied to Xi Jinping's modern version of The Little Red Book and the dire implications of any TOS that has a "Reactionism" clause.

Also: Epic Games is cancer. (But we knew that)

Of course, this is not entirely the CCP's fault.

On one hand essentially, tech firms are bending over to please the ideals of the Xi Jinping Doctrine, in hopes of courting favor with the party — leading to their eventual approval to begin operations within China.


On the other hand, tech firms are pleasing the ideals of the Xi Jinping Doctrine — without being told to, simply because they already ideologically align.


Again; read the whole thing. Be warned, it's long. Medium estimates 30 minutes, but as I kept cross-checking stuff It took me a bit over 90. It was worth every minute. Joe B. did yeoman's work on this.

The payments processing situation with regard to free speech has been brought up a lot of late, but it bears repeating as it is beginning to look like this is the biggest issue facing freedom of speech.

This dovetails nicely into Dev's latest video...




...and should remind us that the Chinese social credit system is not just a problem for the Chinese people.

Note that the CTV article referenced in the video mentions that Libra will be backed by
  "bank deposits and government securities in currencies from stable and reputable central banks."


I'm pretty sure the U.S. isn't investing in this so I imagine those government securities will include a lot of Yuan.

Dev's video also clarifies a widespread misconception about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, that EFF seems to share.

Anyway, watch the whole video, it's worth the 20 minutes.

Take heart; The situation is grim but not hopeless, and we are far better served to be aware of what's arrayed against us than to be ignorant of what lurks in the dark.

Also, I apologize to anybody, who, having read the first paragraph, read through the entire post thinking they were going to get boobs.

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Gracious! It's Just Like an Isekai Show

Oh good. My login works in this universe. Fancy that.

So. Due to automotive problems and some ill-considered decisions, I have, for the last four days, been in a North Carolina swamp with spotty cell-phone connectivity and no internet whatsoever.
Today, after returning "home" I've discovered that I've returned not to my home, but someplace....else.

It's a dystopian alternate universe where Facebook is actually issuing its own online currency with the backing of multinational corporations, some of whom have a reputation of freezing the bank accounts of people they find politically suspect. This will make the Chinese Sesame Credit System a reality throughout the U.S.A. and the world...like it's some Walter John Williams novel.

In this dark reflection of my world, the news media is CREDULOUSLY reporting that cellphones are causing young people to grow horns out of their heads. Weekly World News must not exist in this universe...(checks Wikipedia)....aaand it went out of business here in 2007.
On the one hand "Yay! Draphs!" on the other hand....Bullshit. Surely it's bullshit? (does a modicum of checking) Yes it's bullshit.

In THIS reality the anti-war left is catatonic with rage that Trump...did...not...start a full blown war...
 
This grimdark science fiction novel has the poorly written, mustache-twirling, cruel and decadent aristocrats in the cities cutting off power to those in the rural areas just as the hottest days of the years approach...no doubt to maximize the impact of loosing refrigeration, air conditioning and access to home medical equipment.

In this sequel to Harrison Bergeron a beautiful, strong, competent, independent, heroic, mixed-race woman was forced to get a partial mastectomy because the Handicapper General demanded it so that the woman would meet approved global beauty standards.

Akshually that last paragraph consists mostly of snark as the non-story is not, in itself, of any importance...This most inconsequential of udder utter non-issues only becomes an issue because the media in this Orwellian Hellscape I find myself trapped in is, for some reason, literally trying to tell us that this non-event is not happening and that the new design has exactly the same bra size as the old...we're not seeing what we're seeing because 2+2=5.
The actual character design of this Tifa cosplayer is gorgeous (a 9/10 or better if one needs a numerical representation),  it's like the Megacorps of this alternate world are hyping largely non-existent outrage in order to distract from the fact that the game is being released in 3 to 5 separate games, over years, looks very much like it may have pay to win issues, will be entirely online and fully embraces the media-as-a-service cancer to the extent that no one will ever really be able to own their game and will always be at risk for loosing it if one crosses the ever changing threshold on speech standards.

 
In this world, far from being over, the Jussie Smollet case is just getting started.

It seems that Kaiju are real here: The Kyushu shinkansen nework was taken out by a single slug.

This universe seems to have diverged from mine around 1984, because here Atari has a new console coming out.

So. I find myself trapped in an alternate, and slightly crazier world

However, this worlds version of my blog (curiously) is unchanged.
Perhaps this isn't really an isekai situation.
After all. All those years of wasting my life on comic books, video games and playing D&D didn't prepare me for squat in this place..

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June 18, 2019

2 Million

That's how many people need to march to get the Chinese government to pause and reflect.

I did not see this outcome, and I am happy to be wrong.

It's no doubt a short reprieve, but that the citizens of a city of 8million  could achieve this in the face of a a totalitarian nation of 1 and a half billion is nothing short of amazing. Outnumbered about 180 to 1, they successfully staved off further erosion of their liberties. This should serve as both an inspiration and moment of humiliating self-reflection to those of us whose political movements  have yielded liberties for generations in the face of similarly minded totalitarians, but at odds of roughly 1:1.

Cdr. Salamander has been following this shamefully under-reported story and, as always, his take on it is well worth your time to read the whole thing.

Finally, there's this....


Behold: The exact opposite of Antifa


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June 17, 2019

More Musk Magic


This tweet means something, but the tweet's existence suggests it means something other than what is tweeted.




"Oh please. This is Obviously a demonstration of the...(something-something)...capabilities of Starlink." 

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Affirmation

Well, 5 and a half years after we first reviewed it here, Pixy has started to watch Log Horizon and seems to be liking it.

I can only caution him that when he gets to the cake episode not to give up.  This show remains interesting and different in all sorts of ways.


To Wit: In any other show, 'Bouncing Kunoichi' would have different implications..

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June 15, 2019

And Just Like That

It was gone.

Tim Pool is not a minor player in the YouTube Ecosystem where he has several channels, mostly providing editorial opinions on topics of interest. However, it should be noted that Mr. Pool is best known as a gutsy reporter who does solid gumshoe work in war-zones and other dangerous places. He is a legit journalist, plays by the rules and, because it matters these days, is pretty far to the left on several hot button issues.

The other day, he held forth on another outfits report concerning bias and anti-Christian shenanigans at Pinterest. To me, as a conservative, it was completely unsurprising 'dog bites man' stuff and didn't warrant cluttering up this happy, fun, format-free blog with yet another damned current events post that looks to be ripped from a dystopian plot generator.

In his video, Mr. Pool, being a lefty, noted that the Veritas people had mentioned in passing that members of the anti-war left were getting the same treatment. Now I'm not a fan of the spit-on-the-troops-and-appease-our-enemies-left  but Pool is, and he pointed out in his video that this was an aspect of the story that was not getting proper attention.  This editorial mention is an excellent example of how the free exchange of ideas allows a society to bit-correct information by having people with different viewpoints, perspectives and experience look at data from different angles. It's also important because EVERYBODY gets to speak. Besides the romantic ideal of this now outre' notion, there is the practical matter that a society needs to find a middle ground between its Charles Lindberghs and John McCains, because either alone will lead to ruin.

It was a thoughtful short little video and I watched it and moved on until this morning when I noted that Vee, a (Romanian gaming blogger) was reporting that YouTube had take it down. Props to Vee, because , well, that's his livelihood and he's now angering his host.

This is a particularly odd and scary takedown by YouTube, because it did not involve the usual offense to some protected group (generally via mere words). Rather, it was based on a privacy claim by a company that was  the subject of a journalistic expose'.  That's not what a privacy claim is.

Note that Twitter banned Project Veritas over their original report. Now Tim Pool's video opining on the story has been pulled, despite being an editorial that's commenting on an already published publicly available story.

On an unrelated tangent...I'm told that one of the crazy conspiracy theories that's being bandied about these days is that the Tech Giants of Palo Alto are working together to silence voices that speak truths they do not wish to hear and are engaged in coordinated cross platform censorship campaigns to hurt those they dislike and to cover-up their own malfeasance.

But I digress.

Fortunately, Tim Pool also has a channel on Bitchute, which you should probably subscribe to. Start by clicking on my Bitchute referral page.

Here's the video that YouTube took down...



Here's Vee's take on this which is how I found out about it. You might want to send him some views before his channel goes away.



There's one more thing, barely worth mentioning.  I noticed when typing this that my spell-check in  doesn't recognize 'dystopian'!


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June 14, 2019

Ripped From the Headlines


In tonight's episode of Pretty Pestilence Malady Musume, Ebola-Tan gets a phone call.



Hijinks ensue.

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June 13, 2019

I Only Just Now Noticed

...that Styxhexenhammer666, the crazy new-age anarcho-libertarian hippy dude (with the occasional gardening video) has a GOLD YouTube medallion on his wall. HE'S got a million subscribers!?

I'm a social con, but I find it quite reassuring that despite everything going on, the world is still wacky enough for this to happen.

Anyway, SHH666 doesn't, as a rule, do interviews, and yet, because the world is mad at the moment, here he is interviewing Ray Vahey, the CEO of Bitchute who is, in theory, one of the most topical guests at the moment. And yet it was Styx who got him.

I guess Styx earned that medallion. In any event, it's a solid 33 minutes well worth your time.




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Hide All The Archdukes

There are reports that two tankers have been torpedoed in the Gulf of Aden.


Of course everything is chaotic now. We'll know something in a few hours or days.


But this could be very bad.


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Enough!

It's too easy to let ourselves get down due to current events.

Lets take a journey to the far future, so far into the future that the associated predictions are probably wrong. In any event, here is a very optimistic and yet technically conservative view of how Pluto might look a few centuries hence.




Sailor Pluto by Pyo

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June 12, 2019

Pick a Sampan, Any Sampan

What looks like it might be Hong Kong's death rattle this week has been a remarkably, nay shamefully, back page story. 

This is looking like it could be Tienanmen 2. At last report there were a million people marching to protest an extradition law that probably represents the final nail in the coffin of the "One Country, Two Systems" lie. Mayor Lam has betrayed her people, though it looks likely from her body language and facial twitch that this was not without considerable behind the scenes CCP pressure.


These people, many of them college educated, have guts. They know there is little hope of winning when the Mayor has sold them out. They know that every one of them that is in this protest is being filmed and their faces logged. But freedom, to them, is not a irritant but a beautiful and fragile gift to be prized. Free speech to these people is not a canard, but something that they fully grasp the importance of because they have so little of it.They know full well what is happening across the Pearl river and over a million of them have the guts to stand up to censorious authoritarians, who, 30 years and four days ago ground 10,000 of their ethnic brethren into hamburger for the crime of crying out for freedom. They know that, and yet they still are willing to march. Contrast this to those here who are so used to and ensconced our freedoms that they have no appreciation for how precious it is. Like a fish who does not know its wet, and will have no appreciation of water until it finds itself suddenly in the Sahara.



Nevertheless, all the guts in the world mean little to incoming bullets.

When things turn south they are likely to turn south quick. On the vanishingly unlikely chance that anyone from Hong Kong is among my few dozen readers, my advice is to make arrangements to get to the airport before its subject to the Social Credit System.

If you can't get to a plane, then by boat it's 164 nautical miles to Kaohsiung and 480 miles to San Fernando. Get a compass, a Garman a chart some water and a boat even if it's sampan or a john-boat.. Get out now. All Hong Kongolese that haven't already been informants are going to be considered politically unreliable and in China today that is a dark, dark, place to be.


Perhaps, it would be advisable to stage some assets outside the 12 mile limit, off the Peal River.






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June 11, 2019

What?

Umamusume appears to be a sports anime revolving around track and field.
And horse girls(?).
It looks cute. The first episode is exceptionally well animated  and...


That's it. I'm out.

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June 10, 2019

The Irish Hydra

They lopped off his head and two grew back.

Because they tried to cut him down, he's now appeared 3 times in the same picture on the cover of the New York Times.



Dave Cullen has won.

As for the article itself, (which discusses a young man's decent into extremist perdition after watching YouTube videos)...well, it's bollocks.

I confess to being a tad skeptical when Pixy noted what the impressionable young man's extremist perdition involved.

I thought Pixy was being a bit facetious.

So I read the whole thing and....Pixy was right.

The fellow's anti-social behavior consisted of debating his lefty friends and...dating a Christian girl. Presumably the most horribleest thing ever.

The world has gone mad.


"Yes. Verily."


So today's life lessons are:
1: Strike down Dave Cullen and he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
2: Pixy is never facetious.
3: Don't be diss'n Christian chicks or you'll end up the sort of looser that the NYT does psychological profiles on. 

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A Question For The Tech Savvy Viewers

So there's this story on Ars Technica that can be largely summed up in this quote...

Criminals in 2017 managed to get an advanced backdoor preinstalled on Android devices before they left the factories of manufacturers, Google researchers confirmed on Thursday.


Now this sounds remarkably similar in principal a story from last October that resulted in your humble blogger wiping egg from his face and dining upon crow. The vector in this case is software rather than hardware, but it still involves the spyware/malware mechanism being embedded in the products at the factory and being essentially irremovable.

This story is getting coverage on other non-Bloomberg outfits as well and seems to be endemic to the platform.
"While it is known that personal data collection and user tracking is pervasive in the Android app ecosystem as a whole we find that it is also quite prevalent in pre-installed apps."


So the implication is that this is not isolated.

As I said when self-immolating on the Bloomberg story, I happen to think that this sort of thing is quite likely to be happening. I also think that the Bloomberg 'rice grain sized chip embed' story contributed to a "cry wolf effect" problem with the public's understanding of the issue. 

However, I'm NOT particularly tech savvy, This story is akin to 'The Dero are wire-tapping by brain!" and that's always a cause for skepticism, but it does not rule it out*.

So...tech savvy viewers, what do you think about this one?

*Heck, Alex Jones is a complete nutter but he was right about something turning the fricking frogs gay (well, trans). 

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June 09, 2019

Heehee!


Jet Jaguar by Ueyama Michiro

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Two Good Videos on #VAP





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Who Pressed the Traffic Button?

It's 02:30 as I type this. About 11:30 I left to see a friend about 45 minutes distant and I got there around 01:00. OK, it wasn't so bad coming back, but where on earth EARTH did all the cars come from?

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June 08, 2019

When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Ampersands

What can we trust?


Image Via
This sums up a lot of the concerns regarding ChiCom infiltration of our tech industries and its implications, especially in light of the Social Credit System being implemented there.

But we don't need China for this sort of thing, they are just a worrying bonus.


While scraping up links for the last entry, I blundered into this post from 2014, that revolved around Amazon and  iTunes editing the RWBY soundtrack. I urge you to read it in full.

 The post also links to this 2009 story about how Amazon erased copies of...wait for it...Animal Farm and 1984 from the Kindles of the customers who had bought them.
 

"Ha! That's funny.....Oh...Wait."



In a recent, fairly inconsequential post, mention was made of the loss of my access to the Windows partition on my iMac. It was noted in the comments that the software as a subscription model is intensely worrying.

This model, is, increasingly the standard for most media and the implications for our history and therefore our future are troubling. I lack the technical expertise to begin to conceive of how to cope with this challenge. The sheer volume of data created by the information revolution makes hard copies only practicable for a small percentage of knowledge. Even if we printed all the E-books out on microfiche it would represent an impossible volume and mass. Yet the digital storage, as compact and wondrous as it is can be, is susceptible to something far more insidious than burning. Books can be rewritten to tell the stories the totalitarians want to tell.

Imagine if the great libraries of Alexandria and Nalanda had instead of being burned, been edited to remove all thoughts considered discourteous or problematic to established doctrine and edited to sing the praises of their conquerors. We are richer for the few scraps that we have than we would be inheriting such a castrated  travesty.

We live in a world where Fahrenheit 451 becomes a best case scenario in the event of a real  shift to totalitarianism. At least then knowledge can be hidden from the book burners and preserved.

 
But fear not. Um....

[ optimistic platitudes and constructive suggestions go here ]

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