October 22, 2019

CELEBRATE

TODAY IS THE DAY WE ALL CELEBRATE THE WAY WE CAN MAKE OUR ONLINE WRITING LIKE SOCIETIES OUTRAGE, BY PERPETUALLY CRANKING THE INTENSITY OF OUR DISCOURSE UP TO ELEVEN. WE CAN DO THIS BY USING THE CRUISE CONTROL OF COOL, THE QWERTY KEY OF POWER, WHICH  ALSO HAPPENS TO BE THE PROPER AND APPROVED WAY OF TYPING ONLINE WEATHER BULLETINS.




HAPPY INTERNATIONAL CAPSLOCK DAY.

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October 21, 2019

Gracious.

Gone for a few days and THIS happens.


Alarmingly accurate in spirit representation of our comments section is by Garnet. Buy Garnet's stuff here or show support on Pixiv Fanbox!

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Questions on Starship and Falcon Heavy

 An hour long talk and Q&A by the SpaceX Principal Mars Development Engineer Paul Wooster discusses the companies plans to put people on Mars in 6 years.



There are a lot of interesting and impressive items in this presentation, some of which impress on a more visceral level than a technical one.


"Principal Mars Development Engineer!" Is there a cooler real world job title!?

Interestingly, while it has previously been sort of hinted at, Wooster here specifically states that the first manned rockets will be one way affairs. 

Wooster also said the first spaceships will likely serve as homes for astronauts. This may not be the most comfortable setup, but it could reduce mission complexity and development by skipping the need to immediately build Mars habitats.


While the later vehicles are slated to make round trips and return, this confirmation presents in a fairly stark fashion that Musk and company are serious about a permanent human presence.

While that's fraught to be sure, few truly great things are done without risk.

The 21st century seems to finally be arriving.

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It's looking Like a Keeper

Three episodes in Ascendance of a Bookworm seems to be living up to its initial promise.

It appears to be a very low budget show animation and art wise, but the story of a librarian who finds herself stuck in a 5-year old body in a parallel world's dark ages remains quite engaging.



Our heroine is saddled with myriad obstacles (for one thing, she's stuck in a 5 year old's body) but she's really determined and I particularly like that not everything she tries works, more-so that she learns from her mistakes and tries different things.

This is actually better than I'd hoped. I initially thought she was a Renfaire enthusiast and/or had experience making paper for calligraphy, but no. It turns out that Urano/Main doesn't actually have any hands on or technical knowledge of what she's trying to do. However, she has some historical knowledge of vaguely how it happened in our world and given that she KNOWS it can be done, she's doing experiments to figure out for herself, how to make a book.




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This Seems Big Enough to Warrant More Coverage .

Many of you may have been vaguely aware of the fact that there was a big firefight involving El Chapo's sons and some cops. Indeed it got some coverage, albeit mostly by local news operations in border states.

However, if this post over at Claire Berlinski's place (via) is to be believed, then this is a major, major debacle that is indicative of the near collapse of the U.S.M. as a functioning country. According to Ms. Berlinski's correspondent, the battle involved...

0

...Heavy weaponry that would be familiar on any Iraqi, Syrian, or Yemeni battlefield was brought to bear. More and worse: custom-built armored vehicles, designed and built to make a Sahel-warfare technical look like an amateur’s weekend kit job, were rolled out for their combat debut. Most critically, all this hardware was manned by men with qualities the Mexican Army largely lacks: training, tactical proficiency, and motivation.  

Then the coup de grace: as the Chapo sons’ forces engaged in direct combat with their own national military,
kill squads went into action across Culiacán, slaughtering the families of soldiers engaged in the streets.


Emphasis is mine.

Mentioned later in the piece is the fact that the surrounded troops were ordered to surrender and turn over their quarry by the President of Mexico.

There has been a lot of ink and pixels spent on Mexico as a failed state, but if this report is true, then Mexico is heading for chaos like it hasn't seen since 1910-20. The Federales cannot control a state capital, the families of their troops cannot be protected, there are technicals running around with impunity and the president is literally surrendering to terrorists then this is it.

Mexico is falling apart.

Here's some footage from  Mexico's Aztec News (without translation)...



...and there is a selection of footage here albeit from RT. Note that some of it is duplicated from above, but there's some that appears to be from the perspective of the Federales as well as the gangsters.

This is not an isolated incident. There are whole regions of Mexico that are not under the control of the government and when the police try to assert that control they are murderously rebuffed...

When a convoy of Michoacan state police did make a rare appearance in El Aguaje last Monday, they were ambushed and slaughtered by Jalisco cartel gunmen. Thirteen state police officers were shot or burned to death in their vehicles


This is a calamity of the first order and is especially of concern for the U.S.A. as we are the next country over and a inviting target not only for the waves of refugees, but the gangsters, paramilitaries and crime bosses fomenting the chaos.

And yet, aside from some local news outfits in border states...I'm hearing very little discussion of this dreadfully consequential development.

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HIJNS Akagi Found



Discovered yesterday, by the Research Vessel Petrel 18000 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific, the wreck of the flagship of Japan's once implacable Kido Butai sits in the middle of the craters she made when the vessel came to the end of her long fall from grace.

Akagi and her sisters sallied forth expecting to spring a trap and oversee the killing blow against the U.S.N. and the capture of the most important pile of sand and albatross nests in the world. Instead, the loss of of this vessel and 5 others at the hands of a numerically inferior and diffidently equipped scratch force of U.S. Navy planes dumbfounded the Japanese and ended their rampage across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Over the next three and a half years there would be more battles and the Japanese would even win a few, but this battle ended the Japanese forward momentum and the loss of so many aircrew was a blow from which Japan never really recovered.

Japan's hope for success in her folly ended with the death of Akagi and her sisters.

Kaga was found last week:



There is a very good overview of this battle from the perspective of the Japanese here.




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October 17, 2019

Hiatus

Due to...

...circumstances...




...we will be laying low for a few days in a place far removed from the internet.

And laminate wood floor boards.

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October 16, 2019

Blizzard Makes Amends

OK, I'm only being 86.8 percent facetious.

They did get slightly more consistent in their totalitarian douchebaggery.

Originally Blizzard opted not to ban the players when they first held up the sign during the October 8th competition, but American University elected to resign from competition anyway to stand in solidarity with Chinese player, blitzchung, who had been banned from competition for saying "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times!” during a post-game interview.


Kudos to these American University students for pushing this. They gave up a fair amount of money by standing on principles. They also are grounded enough to note in their statement that they are in North America and Blitz Chung is in Hong Kong.


Chambers said the team wants to remind people that Blitzchung risked far more than he and his teammates did to make a point.

"He risked real things,” Chambers said. "We risked getting banned from a tournament structure we don’t intend to compete in anymore. He lost his permanent Grandmasters spot, which is a money printer. He risked getting arrested by security services in Hong Kong. He actually is the hero here."



Note Blizzard's official announcement and public explanation on the matter which, which consists of an anonymous tweet and a quiet banning.



 

But hey; Blizzard is courageously putting to rest the notion that American Media Companies are not just tolerating totalitarianism in overseas markets, they are helping to bring the censorship here.


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October 15, 2019

Iseakai: But With a Different Skillset

Motosu Urano is a Japanese Librarian.

Presumably, she is a very NAUGHTY one, because when her library collapses on her and burns during an earthquake she dies and goes...TO HELL. A very special hell reserved for naughty librarians.

But Perdition has bitten off more than it can chew and this badass bibliophile is about teach Gehenna itself a lesson it won't soon forget, as she embarks upon: The Ascendance of the Bookworm.

more...

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October 14, 2019

THE THING THAT CAME FROM KRUGER 60



Observations of the trajectory and composition of the interstellar comet 2i-Borisov have resulted in a strong theory as to where it came from.

The referenced paper is here.



"Now that we know who threw it at us...

...SNOWBALL FIGHT!"

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Good Grief

It looks like Japan got clobbered by Typhoon Hagebis. Dozens are reported dead, which is unusual as Japan is pretty hurricane savvy.


Nagano got hit hard.


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72 Years





22 years after this we got to the moon. Now, 72 years later, we're all the way to low Earth orbit
Wait.
What?

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October 13, 2019

Lion Rock is This Week's Suribachi



Note the protective plastic sheets being used to prevent the statue from being dinged by their huge brass balls.

I'm sure it will be removed posthaste, but the Hong Kong activists, acting in the dead of night, managed to get their 'Lady Liberty' Statue to the peak of Lion Rock.

Previously the statue, which had been sculpted back in August, had resided at the Benjamin Franklin Center University Avenue.

The fact that there is a Benjamin Franklin Center in Hong Kong is surprising, a bit awesome, and should be cause for some reflection on this side of the pond. We have a lot to live up to.



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October 12, 2019

The Art of Math

God's Blessing on this Wonderful World!  was first published in 2012. Therefore, as SakimiChan so expertly points out here, everyone's favorite explodemologist is 20 now.



Support Sakimichan's art on Patreon and Gumroad!

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Answering Readers Questions: Reactionism

In the comments to an earlier post someone ( I think it was Borchardt?) asked the following question...

"Reactionism Clauses"? first I've heard the term. What's that?


Well, after several hours over a couple of days I find myself devoid of any hyperlinkable citations aside from this one, linked in an old post.

This is vexing, as I KNOW they exist, or existed because I've personally read them. They were "a thing" about 12-18 months ago.

Anyway...

Essentially, "reactionism" is a word that exists in the English language but is scarcely used.  It shows up in the Terms Of Service for companies that have recently been bought by or received large investments from Chinese companies.

Generally a reactionism clause will appear in the following context:

' word salad of things that one should not engage in' any publication, information or document with content of reactionism.

As I understand it (or did before the articles, posts, and tweets I read a year or so ago went away)when one sees those boldfaced words, one is screwed! One had best get very big padded snow shoes because from that point on one is walking on very thin ice.

Because the word can mean "conservatism or rightism" it's a odd choice for a legal document, but it is perfectly at home in a Communist Diktat outlawing anything that might be perceived as 'counterrevolutionary'.

These particular TOSs encumbered with this peculiar word (which seems to have come into existence around 2008 ) seemed to have been a big deal in the tech industry about 18 months ago as there was a surfeit of these TOS changes especially in development circles. Reactionism is the word that stood out, but the troubling bit here is what it generally foreshadows...a very restrictive Terms Of Service document that has broad guidelines for off-platform behavior, or speech that can be considered reactionism.

Similar TOS issues started cropping up the same time involving any faux-pas involving the constantly changing minefield that is the ever shrinking verbiage allowed by social justice culture. In the SJW case the correlation with Chinese investment is not 1:1 but it does seem to exist. Note that one of the definitions is "the condition of being reactionary or resistant to change" which serves the purposes of the SJW crowd in a sublime fashion.

Regardless, the clauses are a strong indicator of Chinese influence and tend to be both broad and nonspecific, ensnaring any employee (and increasingly customers) in something akin to a morality clause for a Hollywood actress during the early Hayes Code

It was one of these clauses that was cited by Blizzard in the recent unpleasantness and they are used with merciless effect to coerce and hurt people who don't tow the party line, many of whom who do not enjoy the limelight. Additionally the problem with terms of service from a legal standpoint is that one has agreed to them.

This is a big issue and has been coming to a head for several years. However, because it's buried LITERALLY in the walls of text that constitute Terms of Service it isn't covered much, and it seems to be covered less now than it was 18 months ago.

I may update this post considerably when and if I find the articles and discussions in question.

In the meantime: regarding the related and more visible issue of companies doing the Kow-Tow, here is a very non-comprehensive list shamelessly nicked from an as-of-now continuously updated document at Github.

Blizzard Entertainment 2019-10-05 2019-10-08 Banned a player who voiced support for the HK protests, rescinded his prize money and fired the 2 casters that were with him on air
Apple 2019-10-03 2019-10-08 Removed HK police tracking app from the HK app store after pressure from the CCP; Removed Taiwan flag emoji in Hong Kong
NBA 2019-10-04 2019-10-08 After Daryl Morey, manager of the Houston Rockets, published a tweet supportive of the HK protests, NBA issued an apology, calling the tweet "inappropriate". NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later contradicted this stance and said "We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression"
Marriott 2018-01-12 2019-10-08 Fired an employee after he "liked" an online post about Tibet; De-listed Taiwan as a nation, listed it instead as part of China after Chinese pressure; Released a statement reading "Marriott International respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We don’t support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China"
Vans 2019-10-05 2019-10-08 Removed contest submission depicting the protests in Hong Kong
Gap Inc. 2018-05-14 2019-10-08 Apologized after a T-Shirt depicting China without Taiwan was sold at a store in Canada, issuing the statement "Gap Inc. respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We've learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China in the design"
Tiffany and Co 2019-10-07 2019-10-08 Removed tweet showing model covering her right eye (angry Chinese netizens believed it to be a reference to the woman who lost her eye after being hit by a police projectile)
Nike 2019-10-09 2019-10-09 Removed all Houston Rockets merch from their China stores (web and physical)
ESPN 2019-10-08 2019-10-09 Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that any discussion of the Daryl Morey story avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong; ESPN displayed a Chinese map complete with 9 dash line, Taiwan, and also Arunachal Pradesh, which is a part of India that China claims is part of China
Viacom / Paramount 2019-07-18 2019-10-09 Removed Taiwan flag from Maverick's jacket
Disney / Marvel 2016-11-04 2019-10-09 Censored Tibetan monk from "Doctor Strange" and turned him into a white woman: the "Ancient One" was Tibetan in the comics, but white in the film. Statement from C. Robert Cargill, screenwriter: "If you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit"
Cathay Pacific 2019-08-09 2019-10-09 Fired staff members who expressed support for the HK protests
Mercedes 2018-02-06 2019-10-09 Apologised to China after quoting the Dalai Lama in an Instagram post, also deleting the post
Delta Airlines N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as part of China
American Airlines N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website
United Airlines N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website
Qantas N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as a province of China
Air France N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as a province of China
Lufthansa N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as a province of China
Air Canada N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as a province of China
British Airways N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as a province of China
Malaysia Airlines N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website, instead listing it as a province of China
Audi N/A 2019-10-09 Apologised after using a map of China that didn't include Taiwan
Muji N/A 2019-10-09 Apologised after featuring a map of China in a store catalog that didn't include the Senkaku islands, destroyed the catalogs
Zara N/A 2019-10-09 Apologised for listing Taiwan as a country on their website
Ray-Ban N/A 2019-10-09 De-listed Taiwan as a country on their website
Sheraton Hotels and Resorts N/A 2019-10-09 Barred a Taiwan National Day reception from taking place at their Stockholm hotel, at the request of the Chinese ambassador
Rockhampton Council, Queensland, Australia N/A 2019-10-09 Removed Taiwan flags from public artwork
Global Blue N/A 2019-10-09 Fired a member of staff for calling Taiwan a country
Lancome (L'Oreal) N/A 2019-10-09 Canceled Denise Ho concert after Denise Ho expressed support for 2014 Hong Kong protests
Givenchy N/A 2019-10-10 Apologized for identifying Hong Kong and Taiwan as an independent country on their T-Shirts.
Coach N/A 2019-10-10 Apologized for identifying Hong Kong and Taiwan as an independent country on their T-Shirts.
Versace N/A 2019-10-10 Apologized for identifying Hong Kong and Taiwan as an independent country on their T-Shirts.
JYP Entertainment 2016-01-16 2019-10-11 Forced Taiwanese kpop idol Chou Tzu-yu to release an apology video after she was seen waving a Taiwan flag
Tiktok 2019-09 2019-10-11 Instructed moderators to censor videos that would upset Beijing

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An Off-the-Shelf solution to a Real and Serious Problem.

This month's U.S.Naval Institute Proceedings has an article (via) concerning the many advances in ocean sensing and breakneck progress in machine learning that have the potential to greatly reduce the ability of submarines to hide.


A broad range of emerging technologies is reducing the ocean’s opacity. Unmanned undersea vehicles offer cheap platforms for nanotechnology and 3-D-printed sensors and antisubmarine weapons. Machine learning and big-data tools enable the analysis of this data. At the same time, the proliferation of aerial drones and commercial satellite imagery allow improved intelligence collection on activity at submarine ports.

These technologies reinforce one another.....



The author, Zachary Kallenborn, suggests that this is not a transcendental threat to the survive-ability of the sea based portion of our nuclear triad, rather, he posits that increasing the capabilities of the submarine force will suffice. Gives specific examples of  improvements that can help mitigate this threat.

He does not give specific examples of how to pay for these non-trivial increases in capability.

We are over 21 Trillion dollars in debt. Future budgets are going to be hit hard by austerity, and the severity, painfulness, length and societal risk of that austerity will increase non-linearly with every year that we don't engage in it. Because we are broke.

This is a thorny problem for a number of reasons. The biggest one is that the other legs of the triad are rather wobbly.

All 450 of our Minuteman ICBM silos are fixed sites. Their locations are well known to our enemies and at the top of their list of long worked out firing solutions.


China and Russia Know EXACTLY where this is and have the targeting coordinates worked out to the third decimal place..

They make sense in the context of deterring a Russia limited by treaty to 1550 strategic nukes as each silo, as a matter of precaution will need about three warheads apiece, leaving all other strategic targets to be spread between the remaining the remaining 200 to be divided amongst ALL other military targets, leaving relatively few for the cities. Multiple warshots per silo are needed to account for duds or misfires, and to ensure a spot-on direct hit to ensure a kill. See, the Minuteman silos are impressively robust pieces of early '60s construction technology...


...but they are between 40 and 60 years old, unmovable, and  we're forbidden by treaty from building any more or widening them, and the premises upon which they were designed and later renovated are no longer valid.

For one thing, targeting is vastly more accurate than it was in the '60s, meaning that direct hits are likely. More importantly, China, is not part of any arms control regime and despite being invited by the U.S. and R.F. have rebuffed any attempts to initiate the process of doing so. While the generally accepted estimates have China's nuclear arsenal being comparable to France's, if those assessments were way off, even by an order of magnitude no great surprise would be warranted.

So the math for these silos, dubious as it was, no longer works out.

Furthermore, the bomber force, as stealthy as it is, must operate from fixed bases, which also double as enemy firing solutions, and their stealth might be a transitory characteristic, as our friends the Germans have helpfully informed the world.

We need a strategic deterrent that is survivable. Currently, this is supplied by the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Force, but as the Proceedings article above notes, that is a basket of some uncertainty in which to put our strategic eggs. Additionally, the whole point of having multiple delivery systems is to reduce the possibility that any one breakthrough renders our deterrent obsolete and our nation helpless.

There is a solution to this conundrum, and it's development costs are modest by virtue of it already having been successfully developed. 

Just dust off the MGM-134.

What is the MGM-134 you ask?

It's an ICBM that was developed in the late 1980s and early '90s.

A little one!



Whereas the big and now defunct MX-Peacekeeper-LGM-118 was developed as a Titan 2 replacement, the MGM-134 was intended to replace the Minuteman.  Like the Peacekeeper, it was intended to be mobile, but that missile was intended to be moved around in huge, expensive, armored subways, (which were abandoned for cost-saving reasons and the missiles squeezed into old Minuteman silos during their 20 year service).

By contrast, the MGM-134 was far smaller, and was intended to be drawn around the country by an off-road, tracked truck in a self -burrowing armored capsule and be hidden in tunnels, barns, caves, haystacks, cornfields, warehouses, boxcars, forests, shipping containers, and perhaps even at the bottom of random lakes,. Moreover, they would be constantly moved around to make the enemy's firing solution nonexistent.


If this sounds silly, I refer you to the Great SCUD Hunt.


The name of this diminutive Minuteman replacement was MGM-134 Midgetman.


 
"Naming win!"

The missile was designed, successfully tested, and accepted for service, but it was cancelled with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. just as it was about to enter service. 

It seems likely that ~400 mobile launchers, constantly moving around in a country this size, represents a far more survivable deterrent than 450 silos the targeting solutions to which are unchanging and well known. Presenting an enemy with a "SCUD hunt" a third the size of North America means they can never assure the destruction of the deterrent. It would make the survive-ability of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent comparable to that of the SSBNs.

The Midgetman worked, it's developed, and 30 years on it still seems to meet requirements. Of course the erector launcher prototype was scrapped, but it might be better to use a new one anyway. It will fit into a 53 foot trailer and at 30,000 pounds, it's tare weight makes it usable on U.S. highways. meaning that that you could put some of them in Commercial Off The Shelf tractor trailer rigs painted up to be innocuous to move the things around.  Targeting these things in the lower 48 states would be nigh impossible. 

On the debit side, 30 years on, spinning up production is, of course, going to involve some changes and detail updates, but most of the design work is surely still usable. It achieves a range comparable to the current Minuteman by having a payload of only one warhead as opposed to the Minuteman's capacity for 3, but the Minuteman missile has been reduced to single warheads to comply with treaties anyway.

However, it should be noted that the other nations with Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, Russia, China, and the DPRK all make heavy use of mobile launchers for them

This is an off the shelf solution to a real and pressing problem, and given its already existing nature, it ought to be a fairly economical solution.

Please check my math.

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One of Life's Important Lessons I Occassionally Need to Re-Learn...

One should ALWAYS read the day's post over at Ambient Irony before one clicks that little icon.

Don't use Apple developer previews.  Don't use their public betas.  Don't use the .0 release.  Don't use the .1 release.

Apple's cloud sync can replicate file corruption bugs from your beta test environment to your supposedly safe production system.  (Tyler.io)

I've suspended OS updates on my iMac for a little while.  Things aren't pretty.




Well, I suppose that's a fair observation.


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October 11, 2019

If I Vanish Mysteriously, Please Avenge Me

When I got in from work this morning, there was part of a dead animal on my porch. I think the parts used to belong to a rabbit. I'm not sure,

I'm not an important member of the blogosphere, haven't posted anything involving actionable evidence about the Clintons, and in any event, there was no note attached

So for now I'm going to blame a hawk or coyote.

Why on my porch though?

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October 10, 2019

Of Quislelings, Collaborators and Business Decisions




A fairly comprehensive discussion of the current situation with Blizzard, the NBA, South Park and various other horror stories.
 

UPDATE: Aaaand we won't be using that video's cover image. The video is here. The hottest of bluecheck hot takes is at 26:51

Also: Extradition is now a swear word.
more...

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October 09, 2019

A Guest Editorial From An Anonymous Blizzard Employee

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