Sunday, December 16, 2018

A massive online purge is coming

For some reason during the past couple months not only have all the major Silicon Valley megacorporations started engaging in a mass purging of "wrongthinkers" from their platforms, but, more scaringly, banks are joining these actions.

It's one thing if online publications engage in slanderous smearing campaigns against someone or some organization. It's a bit worse when major technology megacorporations start actively banning and shunning those people or organizations, in an attempt to purge them from the internet completely.

However, it reaches a whole new level when banks join the crusade and start refusing payment processing services from them, trying to erase them from existence. The free speech social media alternative has been the major target of a massive campaign by such tech corporations and payment processors, but it's not the only one.

Expect this to only escalate. Expect it to start affecting you.

You might think "oh, that sucks; it really sucks that the freedom of speech of these people and organizations are under attack, and I really wish them the best, and hope that they can find a solution, but I myself don't use social media, so it doesn't really affect me." However, if things continue escalating like this, you'll soon find that it will start affecting you.

If this goes like it has been so far, expect most, if not all, online services to be affected. Do you use, for example, a digital distribution platform of video games such as Steam or the PlayStation Store? Expect quite soon a change in policy and a massive purge of "politically incorrect" games. Some games in your library might actually stop working because they have been removed from the platform. And I'm not just talking about obscure indie games that nobody cares about. If this escalates enough, expect some of your triple-A titles to start disappearing from the platform, if they become the target of smearing campaigns (titles like Far Cry 5, and the upcoming new Doom game.)

"Valve wouldn't do that." Except, as said, when banks become involved, Valve will most definitely do that. It's enough for the payment processors that Valve is using to threaten them with terminating their business deal, and Valve will most definitely do it. It doesn't matter what Valve's own policies are. Even if Valve were the most pro-free-speech corporation in the entire world, it wouldn't make any difference. When banks start blackmailing such a company, what can they do? Sue the bank? Good luck with that.

"Well, I'll just move to an alternative platform." Except that, as we have seen in the last couple of months, Silicon Valley tech megacorporations and banks are in an active crusade to kill all alternative platforms that do not conform to their politics. There will be no alternative platforms, unless the US government seriously steps in and puts a stop to it (which I don't see happening very soon, even under Trump's administration.)

Professional movie critics are not your allies

In the modern world, professional movie critics have become more and more detached from their audience. Rather than critique a movie or TV series from the perspective of the people, they are in an increasing manner doing it from their own personal political bias.

Two quite telling examples have been pointed out. Consider, for instance, the movie Death Wish, and its Rotten Tomatoes scores (Rotten Tomatoes is a review score aggregation site for movies and TV shows):

Why such a big disparity between the average professional critic score, and the user scores? Because professional critics are not giving their scores based on the merits of the movie alone, and how good of a story it tells, from the perspective of the average viewer. Instead, the critics are giving it a low score because of their own political bias. They don't care how good of a movie is. They only care whether the story of the movie clashes with their own personal political beliefs.

A good example of the same bias working in the other direction is the Season 11 of Doctor Who:

This season of the TV series is infamous for its open and hamfisted identity politics, which of course automatically makes it resonate well with critics, and quite badly with the average viewer. Again, critics are not giving a score based on the actual quality of the series, but based on their own personal political bias.

In fact, if you just browse the highest-rated TV series on Rotten Tomatoes (from 90% or so up), chances are that the user score will be significantly lower, and when that's the case, the TV series has something to do with identity politics in one way or another.

Movie critics are not your friends. Do not listen to them. They are only projecting their own politics into their scores and do not care about whether you will like the move or not.

What is scammy "dropshipping"?

"Dropshipping" is a system of online sales that has become popular in the era of online shopping (although similar businesses have probably existed for a very long time in one way or another) where an online website acts as a kind of intermediate between several online shops and customers. In other words, the "dropshipping" website essentially acts as a marketplace where several smaller businesses can sell their products in one centralized place. The website itself doesn't handle the products, doesn't have any sort of stock of them, or even gets the products themselves at any point. Instead, they just list products from online shops and take purchase orders from customers, transfer the order to the actual shops and have them ship the product directly to the customer. Obviously the price of the product will be slightly higher for the customer, because the "dropshipping" website will take a cut. On the other hand, it's much easier for the customers to find products in this manner, and especially it's much easier for small online shops to get visibility and customers, if they get into a big dropshipping website.

There's nothing illegitimate in this form of business itself, especially when the website is completely open about the actual manufacturer/seller of the product, and makes it clear that they are just an intermediate between the customer and the shop. There are many such legitimate online websites out there, and in fact some of the biggest online shops pretty much engage in this business model, such as Amazon. (While Amazon does manufacture and sell some products of their own, by far and large they are a reseller of products of other companies, that have a reselling contract with them.)

Of course some such "dropshipping" websites can be a bit more on the gray area, especially when we are talking about China, but sometimes even elsewhere. That's because these websites are very popular among counterfeiters, hardware (and software) pirates, scammers and manufacturers of knock-off products. (Sometimes even the biggest stores, such as Amazon, aren't free of this. However, some such stores, such as Ali Express, are infamous for being popular among shady product manufacturers and scammers.)

But this blog post isn't about those. It's about a different sort of "dropshipping". One that's outright fraudulent.

Normally "dropshipping" websites are completely open about them simply being intermediates between the customer and the actual manufacturer, as they should be. This, however, becomes fraudulent when someone claims to be selling a product as their own, with its own branding, when in actuality they are just delivering orders to some other company behind the scenes, without telling the customer, and getting a big cut from the sale (without even having to do any investment themselves).

A very infamous case of this has popped up recently, because a famous rapper (of all people) seems to be doing exactly this. He claims to be selling his own brand game console, named "Soulja Game Console":

The problem? It's actually directly a product by another company, which is selling it for much cheaper:

This rapper is getting a $45 profit from each sale. He's selling someone else's product as his own branded product, without telling the customers that this is the case, and getting a hefty cut from each sale.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why YouTube Rewind 2018 is the most disliked video

For many years now YouTube has made a yearly video celebrating YouTube content creators. This yearly video series is called "YouTube Rewind". They typically star famous YouTubers.

At the beginning, these videos were very liked, and the like-to-dislike ratio was overwhelmingly positive. Two years ago (ie. "YouTube Rewind 2016"), there was an unusual amount of dislikes. Still not many, compared to the amount of likes, but still quite a lot. Last year, however, with "YouTube Rewind 2017", the amount of dislikes started to raise quite a lot, with the video having about as many dislikes and likes.

Now, "YouTube Rewind 2018", released a couple of weeks ago, has broken two records: Most dislikes a YouTube video has ever received in its first 48 hours, and now, a bit later, the most disliked YouTube video of all time (in raw number of dislikes), breaking all previous records. At the moment of writing this the video has over 11 million dislikes (compared to a bit over 2 million likes).


It's actually not completely clear-cut why there was such a flood of dislikes last year, which culminated this year to overwhelming numbers. However, the most likely reason is that a good portion of YouTube users are actually quite aware of all the politics and antics that Google has been engaging in, with all the demonetizations, restrictions and bans based on political bias. YouTube also cutting ties with PewDiePie, the most subscribed (and one of the most liked) YouTubers of all time, pretty much shunning him and unpersoning him, based on slanderous hit pieces written by third-party journalists, may have had an effect. (After all, it only takes a small fraction of his 75 million subscribers to dislike the Rewind video to make that number skyrocket.) PewDiePie has effectively become the enemy of the Silicon Valley tech corporations, who they can't get rid of, even though they are trying very hard. (Which is strange, really, since he quite rarely expresses any political opinions. I suppose it's enough that he's not part of the regressive leftist orthodoxy, and has way too much influence for their liking.)

Many have commented how the contents of the video itself are also quite indicative of how out-of-touch Google has become with their target audience. I think there's merit in this argument.

One of the main aspects of the video that just goes to show this is that it stars and prominently features the word-famous actor Will Smith. Why? I'd say two main reasons:

Firstly, "YouTube Rewind" is supposed to be a celebration of YouTube content creators. Of what makes YouTube such a great platform. Will Smith does have a YouTube channel, but he's in no way famous for it, nor known as a YouTuber. Google probably thought of hiring him for the video because he's such a "cool" and well-liked and respected actor, expecting to get cheers and excitement from the audience. Which just goes to show how out of touch they are with said audience.

Secondly, and more subtly, this is kind of a "Freudian slip" of sorts from Google. Inadvertently, they are showing how good buddy-buddies they are with Hollywood and all the other rich people and megacorporations of the west coast, and the connections they have there. It's a bit like Google "flexing" by showing how they can get a world-renowned famous actor into their video production, via their connections and size. It kind of shows, inadvertently, where Google's priorities are: Not with the average small YouTuber, but with the rich people of the west coast.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Why I don't watch nor support Games Done Quick marathons

The Games Done Quick marathon is a biannual charity event organized by the Speed Demos Archive website, where speedrunners complete games as fast as possible, and donations are collected for several causes. It started very small, at someone's home, and the first event got something like 10 thousand dollars in donations. It quickly grew in size, getting several millions of dollars in donations every time.

I'm a speedrunner aficionado. Not in the sense that I would speedrun myself, but I watch speedruns at a semi-regular basis. For many years I was excited for the Games Done Quick marathons, and often watched them for hours when they were live.

Not anymore. I have stopped watching and supporting those events. There are three main reasons:

1: Deceptive donation policies

The marathon happening in winter, Awesome Games Done Quick, collects donations every year for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The announcers love to repeat over and over how "100% of donations go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation". This implies that none of that donated money goes to the organizers of the event, or the Speed Demos Archive website.

This is deceptive.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation is a sponsor of these events, and part of this sponsorship is covering some of the monetary costs of organizing the event. The AGDQ charity events form a quite significant portion of all the money that the Prevent Cancer Foundation gets every year. This means that part of the money donated to the event goes to organize the event the next year.

"100% of the donations go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation" may be technically true, but it hides the fact that part of that donated money will go to the organizers of AGDQ the next year. That money simply goes through the PCF organization. The claim that's so often repeated implies that none of the donated money goes to the event organizers, and 100% of it goes to cancer research and prevention, which just isn't true.

(Many donors may be completely ok with this. However, the fact that this isn't publicly and clearly divulged is deceptive.)

Most donors also don't know that the PCF organization operates solely in the United States, nowhere else. The organization also funds very little actual cancer research. Most donors probably have the misconception that it's a cancer research funding organization that benefits the entire world. In actuality most of the activities of the organization consists of awareness campaigns and the like, within the United States. These are of little benefit to the rest of the world.

Most donors also aren't aware that something like 30-40% of the money goes to running the organization, not any activities dedicated to preventing (much less researching) cancer. (Again, most donors would probably be ok with this, but the fact that this isn't divulged openly isn't a good thing, and it's deceptive. The "100% of donations goes to the PCF" deceptively gives the impression that 100% of the donations goes to cancer research, which isn't the case.)

2: Sterile and oppressive corporate-friendly environment

What was once a small event among friends and aficionados, which was pretty much speedrunners hanging out and playing games for charity, has become a highly sterilized corporate-friendly and advertiser-friendly event. Moreover, it has become excessively strict and oppressive in terms of rules and behavior.

Games Done Quick has become so infamous for being banhammer-happy, for issuing bans to people for the slightest of things, that it has pretty much become a joke. In fact, some people even humorously consider it a "badge of honor" to be banned from GDQ.

Many of the bans have been quite egregious. Some years ago a runner was banned due to mere accusations of improper comments in social media, even though the organizers had zero proof of it being the case, and the runner even offering them full access to his social media account to corroborate. The organizers just refused to check if the accusations were true, did not want to hear any defense from the person in question, and simply banned him.

In another case a runner made on stream a light-hearted joke about some Canadian airline losing luggage or something. The organizers proceeded to ban the runner and issue an apology to the social media account of the airline. The airline representatives had no idea what the GDQ organizers were talking about. (Obviously no offense of any kind was taken.) The runner was still banned.

The list of examples could go on and on, with people being banned left and right for the most ridiculous of reasons. The environment at GDQ is really oppressive, as the runners need to constantly walk on eggshells and be extremely careful what they say and do. One single wrong word on stream, or even off stream, and the banhammer will strike. And sometimes even without having to say or do anything.

Needless to say, the authenticity, the people, are not there anymore. What's left is a sterile show with forced acting.

3: Pushing identity politics and social engineering

Unsurprisingly, Speed Demos Archive, and the GDQ events, have embraced the modern social justice ideology, and they are enamored with transsexual runners and presenters. For several years now they have had a presenter at the events who is quite on-your-face transsexual.

Now, let me make this clear: My objection is not how that person decides to dress, act or speak. That's none of my concern. Whatever floats his boat is fine by me, and it doesn't bother me. People should be free to dress however they like, act however they like and speak however they like, as long as they aren't hurting anybody nor breaking any laws, and I will defend people's right to do so. That's just fine by me.

My objection is to why they have that person there, year after year. The reason for it. What exactly their agenda is.

I think the reason is quite obvious: Virtue-signaling, identity politics, and social engineering. "Look how tolerant, inclusive and diverse we are!" It's precisely this "look at us, look at how virtuous we are" attitude that shines through so clearly that I detest. And, of course, there's the social engineering aspect: Giving visibility to these types of people with the explicit and deliberate intent to try to influence society.

Sure, I could be totally wrong here. Maybe they did hire the best person for the job, with zero favoritism and no agenda, based solely and purely on merit. However, I would be ready to bet actual money that's not the case, not even close. I suspect they are putting that person on the forefront precisely and primarily because he's a transsexual, not because he would be the most qualified person for the job of all possible candidates.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Corporations and governments, the arbiters of morality

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc, recently gave a speech that has immediately become infamous. I think this part perfectly summarizes everything (emphasis mine):
"I believe the most sacred thing that each of us is given is our judgment, our morality, our own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside at a moment of trial is a sin."
I just love the religious undertones. This is the most direct statement I have ever seen so far that social justice is, in fact, a religious doctrine, and that Silicon Valley tech megacorporations are adopting it as their official religion.

He clearly emphasizes how it's a question of morality, for example by saying:
"And as we showed this year, we won’t give a platform to violent conspiracy theorists on the app store. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. My friends, if we can’t be clear on moral questions like these, then we’ve got big problems."
Well, I would have one question to ask Tim Cook: Who exactly elected you to decide on our behalf what is morally right, and what is morally wrong? Who elected you to decide on our behalf what we should or should not see and hear? Who exactly gave you the power to make these decisions on our behalf, and engage in censorship in order to protect these moral virtues that you advocate? Why are you trying to impose your morality onto us?

The problem with huge megacorporations embracing quasi-religious ideological doctrine, and imposing its own moral values onto the population by abusing their power, ubiquitousness and marketshare, is that they can have a huge influence in society. A totalitarian influence that goes against people's fundamental rights, most prominently the right to free speech, which includes the right to receive any information without the impediment of the government or any other entity, such as a huge megacorporation.

It would be one thing if this was a small corporation which platforms affect a minuscule portion of the population. It's a completely different thing when it's a huge megacorporation that has a very significant marketshare of essential services and determines and influences the information that a good portion, even majority, of the population can share or receive.

And the scary thing is that Apple is by far not the only corporation engaging in this kind of morality policing and activism. This is corporatism of the worst kind.

But do you know what's even scarier? When government are starting to do the exact same thing. In other words, dictating, imposing and enforcing morality and moral values.

The primary function, duty and responsibility of a democratically elected government of a free country is to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens, in addition to providing an economic framework for commerce, offer public services for citizens, and protect the country from foreign invaders.

The primary duty of a democratic government of a free country is not to dictate, impose and enforce morality onto the citizens. That's what totalitarian theocratic governments do, not what free democratic governments should be doing.

But this is where we are heading: Towards totalitarian quasi-theocratic governments and corporations, which will not only impose arbitrary morality onto the citizens, but will persecute, shun and punish those citizens that do not conform to these moral rules. We are quickly heading into a world where simply criticizing these moral values (which should be a fundamental right in a free constitutional democracy) will be punishable by law. Which is exactly what totalitarian theocratic regimes and police states do.

Indeed, criticizing the government and its policies has always been one of the most fundamental inalienable rights under the principle of free speech, and one of the key things that distinguish free democratic societies from totalitarian regimes. When this fundamental right is being limited and eroded, you know for certain the direction that we are heading.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Is Battlefield V an SJW game? Yes!

It appears that one phenomenon seems to be becoming more and more common: A new game has promotional material that hints of it being politically charged with identity politics and social justice ideology... and those suspicions turn out to be completely right in the end.

I already wrote previously how a trailer for the game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus seemed to hint of the game having heavy-handed social justice ideology shoved into it (and down the players' throats). It turned out that it wasn't just a rogue advertisement corporation trying to be clever, but the game was arguably an SJW game.

When the first trailer for the new Battlefield V was released, people started criticizing it for having social justice ideology undertones. The reason for this is that the Battlefield series has always been based on real World War II battles and events, and this new one was no different, with the developers previously announcing that it, too, was based on real events that happened during the war. The trailer showed a handicapped woman fighting on the frontline, in the British army. Something that never happened.

Again, it's just one trailer. Maybe they just wanted some variety and wanted a female protagonist, even though it's perhaps not completely historically accurate? Yet, comments made by people in the team were not easing the suspicions, with some of them even being incredibly arrogant, telling in an interview directly people that "we want inclusivity; if you don't like it, don't buy it".

Well, the game was published, and what do you know, the suspicions were confirmed. Battlefield V is an SJW game, pushing the SJW agenda and doing some heavy historical revisionism.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is that the game depicts African soldiers in the French army being segregated and discriminated against, relegated to menial jobs instead of being allowed to fight alongside the other soldiers. And this is not just hinted at or made ambiguous. It's extremely on-the-nose.

That absolutely and categorically did not happen! No such thing ever happened in the French army during World War II. It's extremely insulting to the French soldiers who fought in the war!

Another egregious example of historical revisionism for the sake of identity politics is one mission that's based on real life events. In the real life event, a Norwegian commando group consisting of nine (male) soldier attacked a German complex to sabotage it.

In the game, the nine male soldiers are replaced by two women.

And no, the developers aren't even making any excuses about it. They are quite open about these changes having been made for "inclusivity".

And the thing is, there are plenty of real-life examples of women and black soldiers in World War II that they could have based their missions on, with complete accuracy. Instead, they decided to go for historical revisionism and invent discrimination that never happened, and replace historical people with women.

Not only is this obnoxious social justice ideology being shoved down the players' throats, it's insulting to the real-life people who sacrificed their lives during World War II.