Saturday, August 19, 2017

Who is to blame for the riots in the US? The police!

This is not the case everywhere in the United States (as it probably depends on the state and perhaps even the city), but at too many places the police is incomprehensibly lenient when it comes to "protests".

At most places (probably everywhere in the country), deliberately obstructing traffic is a crime, and will have you at the very least detained, perhaps even prosecuted. Except, it seems, if it's a group of people engaging in a "protest". Somehow that seems to elevate them above the law, and the police will not do anything to them. (YouTube is full of videos of people obstructing traffic, and the police just watching, doing nothing. At the very most they are perhaps calmly trying to solve the situation, but not detaining anybody. Not at all places, as said, but way too many.)

If somebody were to disturb somebody's peace on the street, yelling at them, calling them names, following them, obstructing their path, and kept doing this for an hour, if the police is called, they would surely detain the harasser, and perhaps prosecute him, at least if the victim is willing to. Except if, you guessed, the people doing the harassment are "protesting". Once again they seem to be above the law, and free to harass anybody they don't like, and the police will do little or even nothing at all. There are even videos out there of "protesters" outright assaulting people, hitting them, dragging them and so on, in full view of the police, and the police does absolutely nothing about it.

More egregiously, there have been several cases of outright brawls between people on the street, with the police explicitly having been told not to intervene. That's right, people being assaulted, beaten, and injured, and the police does absolutely nothing to stop it. Sometimes you can see in the videos this happening in the full view of the police, and they still do nothing. Sometimes the police aren't even there, even though they fully well know what's happening. (In one particular video a person asks the police why they aren't stopping the violence, and the answer was "ask the police chief". They were told by their police chief not to intervene. This is, as far as I understand, highly illegal, and deep corruption. To my knowledge no investigation has been done, and the police chief, or anybody else, has not been prosecuted for this.)

If a person, or group of people, were trying to break into the premises of a prison, it would normally raise huge alarms, and the police would very quickly be called. The people trying to break in would be very quickly apprehended with force if needed, arrested and prosecuted.

Except... you guessed it, if the people trying to break into the premises of the prison are "protesters". Then, suddenly, for an inexplicable reason, they are above the law, and untouchable. I'm not even kidding. There are videos of this on YouTube. These people were bringing down a fence for like an hour or more before the police showed up. And once they showed up they did absolutely nothing to the "protesters" who were trying to break in (and some of which had already succeeded in it). The police just stood there in front of the fence, doing pretty much nothing. Nobody in the video was seen being arrested or anything.

It is completely incomprehensible to me why it seems that in many parts of the US people seem to be above the law as long as they use the excuse of engaging in a "protest". They can literally break the law, and get away with it. They are getting away with unambiguous crimes that in any other situation would have them quickly arrested and probably prosecuted.

This is almost like the exact opposite of a police state (whatever that might be called, if it even has a name). Rather than the police being overly abusive and roughing up people for even the smallest of excuses, they are acting exactly the opposite: Even people who are clearly and unambiguously breaking the law in their full view, are being let do that with complete impunity. Oftentimes the police doesn't even intervene, and in many cases when the police does intervene there are zero repercussions to the perpetrators. Only if somebody is being physically injured will they intervene... perhaps. Not always even then (as described earlier).

It's a complete travesty. I simply cannot believe my eyes when I see YouTube videos of people harassing and literally assaulting other people in full view of the police, and the police just standing there doing absolutely nothing to stop it. It doesn't happen everywhere, and at some places it seems that the police is more eager to intervene, but it happens way too often, in way too many places.

Well, this is one of the major the reasons why the situation has escalated so much in the United States at this moment: Rather than putting a stop to the violence and the crime, the police is doing very little to stop it. Rather than immediately arresting people who are breaking the law, they are just letting them go, with no punishment of any kind. Often even without any sort of warning.

And no, it's not a question of not having the resources. Once again: People are committing clear unambiguous crimes in full view of the police, and the police officers are just standing there, doing nothing about it. Often they don't even approach the people.

If I were the president of the United States, I would command a full investigation of this behavior, and for stern measures to be taken to weed it out. A "protest" is not an excuse to be able to commit crimes with impunity. Being in a "protest" does not elevate people above the law.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Valve tries to get rid of asset-flippers, only makes matters worse

Introduction


In the beginning Steam was a product created by Valve to distribute their own games. After it turned out to be surprisingly popular (being pretty much the first viable online store application for the purchase and digital distribution of video games), they opened the platform for other game developer companies to sell and distribute their games. Steam became an absolutely enormous success, and to this day it's still by far the biggest such distribution platform on PC, regardless of all the competition that has spawned once this form of distribution of games turned out to be a very well working model.

The problem with Steam, from the perspective of tons of game developers, especially indie ones, was that it was only open to certain manually-picked big corporations. Indie devs had no chance of getting their games sold on Steam. This was a big grievance for years.

Thus Valve created the so-called Greenlight system, which opened Steam for anybody. In order to avoid the platform being flooded with junk, spam, malware, vandalism and so on, the system required for developers to submit a proposal for their game for people to vote (ie. "greenlight" it). If a proposal got enough user votes, it would be accepted to be published.

At first this worked like marvel. Most indie games published in this manner were of surprisingly high quality, even the worst ones being, at the very worst, mediocre but acceptable.

The problem


But, like with everything else, of course less scrupulous people started finding out ways to game the system. They would submit proposals that were edited to look much better than they really were, and dupe people into greenlighting them, and then in actuality doing the absolutely minimum effort in the actual game, which turned out to be absolute unplayable junk that cannot be even considered a "game" at all.

And, of course, and as always, hackers started developing automated bot voters that would automatically greenlight their submissions, no matter what they were, thus bypassing the hurdle of having to have a big number of users accept their submission in the first place.

Thus were born the so-called "asset flippers". And Steam got absolutely flooded with them. These are really simplistic crappy games with the absolute minimum effort put into them, and copied multiple times as "different" games, with just some game assets (graphics, models, sounds...) changed to make screenshots look different enough (ie. an "asset flip"). Thus you could have the exact same crappy game published a dozen times on Steam, just with some changed graphics and sounds.

It became infinitely worse when Valve implemented trading cards into Steam. Every game can have a set of trading cards which users would earn by playing the game. These trading cards can be sold on the Steam market. (The price of these trading cards is based purely on a supply-and-demand economy, with people people offering the cards at a given price, and other people perhaps buying them, with the cheapest ones being more likely sold more easily. Prices for these cards typically range from less than 5 cents to even over 20 cents. Some really rare and sought after foil cards may be bought at over 2€ and even more.) Trading cards can also be converted into "gems", which are a generic "currency" that can also be sold, or used for other purposes, such as creating booster packs (which can themselves of course also be sold.)

The problem with this system is that the hackers also figured out a way to game the system, and get free money from people with their asset-flipping "games": Have a game published, assign the allowed amount of trading cards to it, give Steam keys for the game to a couple thousand bots, have those bots "buy" the game using those keys, fool Steam to think that they are playing the game, get the cards, and either put those cards on sale or, more likely, convert them to gems, and sell those gems, or create booster packs of a completely different game with those gems, and sell those. This costs pretty much nothing for the hacker, but he receives free money from users who are buying those gems or booster packs.

The "solution"


This went for many years. Recently Valve tried to solve this problem by getting rid of the "Greenlight" system and replacing it with something entirely different: Now in order to submit your game on Steam, you have to pay $100. You get this money back after your game sells one thousand copies.

At first glance this does sound indeed like a solution to the problem. No longer can these hackers just use bots to bypass the system and have their games published. Now they would need to pay actual money, which they might never get back, and nobody would do that, would they? If you think that, you are as naive as Valve was.

You see, the problem has only gotten worse with that change. With Greenlight there was a mandatory voting period for something to be accepted into Steam. Now that voting period is gone. Anybody can have any game of theirs immediately accepted into Steam, by simply paying that $100. Nobody will check it, nobody will vote on it, there's absolutely no oversight.

Did I mention the thousands of bots that the hackers are using to "purchase" the game using Steam keys? That's right. The hackers can just keep doing what they did before, and they will get their money reimbursed once a thousand bots have "purchased" the game. And now there are even less hurdles to overcome, and it can be done much faster.

This is not just theoretical. It's actually happening. Many commentators and reviewers are pointing out the sheer amount of asset flips that are flooding Steam.

So, when trying to "fix" the problem of asset flippers gaming the system, Valve has only made it easier for them to do that, not harder. They have made the problem worse.

Does this affect me?


"I don't buy Steam trading cards, nor do I buy these asset-flips. Does this really affect me?"

Yes, it does. It affects Steam as a content distribution platform, and it affects legitimate indie developers even more, and thus it affects you.

Some of the greatest and most appreciated games out there are made by very small indie developer teams, sometimes even just individual people. The game Undertale is the perfect example. It's considered by many to be the best indie game of 2015, and even one of the top 10 games of that year period. And it was developed by one single person.

It didn't have any big advertisement campaigns on newspapers, TV and online. Its fame came mostly by word of mouth.

Now imagine if the game had been buried under hundreds of crappy asset-flip scamming "games", and would thus have gone completely unnoticed. Currently there isn't even a Greenlight system on Steam to have people notice the game and spread knowledge of it. Under the current system it would have just appeared one day on Steam out of nowhere, and probably just buried under all the junk, and not many would have noticed it.

(Granted, big part of the fame came from the fact that the game was crowdfunded, which spread the word of mouth in itself, but not all indie games, even the great ones, are developed like that.)

The scamming asset-flippers are hurting the platform and legitimate indie developers, which in the end hurts you as a gamer.

More predictions for the near future

The regressive left is already felling down statues in the United States. It's only a matter of time before they start the nazi-style book burning. Big bonfires made of books and other art, just like the nazis. Mark my words, it's going to happen very soon.

In fact, if and when that happens, I will edit this post and add a photo of it.

On a rather different tangent, I have also another prediction (although, admittedly, perhaps not exactly as likely as the above.)

In the near future the regressive leftist SJWs will start rooting for women to stop exercising and becoming obese.

This prediction is inspired by something that happened recently in Australia. A company produced an ad campaign to encourage women to exercise and become fit and healthy. Two Australian feminist academics wrote an article criticizing the campaign, writing among other things:
"In its attempt to motivate and empower women, the campaign material may unintentionally work with entrenched norms of sexualising women to perpetuate their self-objectification. This is likely not only to be detrimental to their mental and physical health, but also further their commodification in society."
That's right. Exercising and becoming fit is a bad thing because it "self-objectifies" the women doing it. And this is, somehow, "detrimental to their mental and physical health."

You read that right. Exercising and becoming fit is detrimental to their physical health.

Couple this with the "fat acceptance" movement, which claims that there's absolutely nothing wrong in being morbidly obese, and that people can be healthy at any weight. It will be only a matter of time before the regressives put two and two together, and decide that all women should become morbidly obese so that they stop being "objectified" by society. After all, there's nothing wrong or unhealthy about being morbidly obese. On the contrary, as those academics know, being fit is what's unhealthy, both mentally and physically.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

HDMI 2.0 switchers are a rarity

In a previous blog post I explained the annoying problem with the PSVR and a 4k display. In summary:

The PS4 Pro has an HDMI 2.0 output, which allows it to output to a HDMI 2.0 capable 4k display using a 3840x2160 resolution in RGB mode at 60 Hz. (HDMI 2.0 is also necessary if the 4k display supports HDR.) The PSVR processing unit box, which sits between the PS4 and the display, however, only supports HDMI 1.4. This means that if the PSVR is in use, the console can only use the display in YUV420 mode, which has reduced image quality (less vibrant colors, color artifacts), and without HDR. This is because HDMI 1.4 does not have enough bandwidth for RGB at 60 Hz.

That blog post explains how it's a real pain in the ass to switch between using PSVR and using a direct connection between the PS4 Pro and the 4k display (for improved image quality), as it requires physically switching cables on both ends.

It also explains that a simple HDMI switcher is not enough to deal with that problem. For one, HDMI 2.0 switchers are still a rarity. Secondly, in order to manage that mess, the switcher would also need to be a splitter, taking multiple inputs and supporting multiple outputs.

The closest thing that I have found is the KanaaN 4K 6x2 HDMI Matrix Switch Splitter. At first glance it seems absolutely ideal to deal with this problem: It supports six inputs, and two outputs, and can be configured to have any input be redirected to any of the two outputs. (It's not 100% clear from the page, nor the user manual, whether it supports redirecting one input to one of the outputs, and another input to the second output at the same time, but to my best understanding this seems to indeed be so.)

This could be used to solve the problem: Connect one switcher output to the PSVR processing unit input, and another switcher output to the 4k display. Connect the outputs of the PS4 and the processing unit to two inputs of the switcher (as well as whatever other HDMI devices you may have). Now you can choose whether the PS4 signal is redirected directly to the display, or to the processing unit (in which case you would also choose to redirect the output of the processing unit to the display).

Perfect, right? Except for one slight problem: The switcher only supports HDMI 1.4. Thus it's essentially useless to solve the core problem (which is that the PSVR processing unit uses HDMI 1.4).

I have actually not found any such switcher/splitter that would support HDMI 2.0. There are some pure switchers that support it, as well as some pure splitters, but nothing I can find that's both. That 6x2 switcher/splitter would be absolutely ideal, if it just supported HDMI 2.0.

Even the sole switchers and splitters are still a rarity. For example, check this "The Best HDMI Switchers of 2017" article at toptenreviews.com. These are the best reviewed HDMI switchers of this year. Look at the "HDMI version" line in the compatibility table: It's all full of 1.3's, with one 1.4 thrown in. Not a single 2.0.

And that's not a list of 5 years ago. That's a list for 2017. HDMI 1.3 doesn't even support 4k resolutions at all, no matter what the refresh rate.

Another thing I have noticed while browsing HDMI switchers and splitters in online stores is that you have to be really careful and make absolutely sure that they explicitly have HDMI 2.0 support. It's not enough for the manufacturer to advertise "4k UHD 2160p 60Hz support". HDMI 1.4 supports that (just not in RGB mode, but only in YUV420 mode), and I have noticed that manufacturers like to boast about that support, and bury or hide the actual HDMI version number (sometimes even completely).

From what I have seen, it's pretty safe to assume that if the manufacturer visibly boasts "4k support" but doesn't outright announce the HDMI version, it's 1.4.

Free speech is coming to an end

For the longest times the idea that freedom of speech is ending in the west sounded like just paranoia and a conspiracy theory. However, it has become clearer and clearer in just the past couple years that it's a real threat.

Country after country, especially in Europe, is criminalizing "hate speech". The problem is that "hate speech" is such a vague umbrella term that almost anything can be categorizing under it. In reality it's just a convenient excuse, and it means anything that could be considered even remotely "right-wing" and "conservative". This includes things like criticism of unrestricted immigration policies, criticism of the crimes committed by immigrants, criticism of Islam (both the religion and the sociopolitical ideology and culture), criticism of feminism, the social justice cult and identity politics, and so on and so forth.

In some western European countries, such as Germany and the UK, it has already gone so far that the police is literally raiding homes of people who have posted the wrong opinions on social media. This includes at least one instance of some people posting on a private group in Facebook (ie. a group that's only visible to its members and nobody else.) In the UK it has gone so far that even criticizing the police themselves may result in investigations and arrests. I wish I were making this up.

The EU is pressuring social media corporations to limit freedom of speech, in the name of eradicating "hate speech".

The scary thing is that it's working. And the even scarier thing is that, as said, "hate speech" is anything that's critical of the regressive leftist ideology. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit... and now even YouTube, is banning, censoring and shadow-banning people who simply criticize the leftist ideology. Many of these banned people have never even broken any terms of service, or said anything illegal; the only thing they have done is to criticize the regressive left, and have a relatively large audience.

Sometimes this has gone to absolutely egregious levels. For example, whenever Donald Trump posts a tweet, any supportive responses just disappear within minutes, while anti-Trump responses get to stay. This has been tested time and again. The only possible explanation for this is that somebody at Twitter is actually constantly monitoring Trump's twitter feed, and manually removing any supportive comments. That's right; it appears that Twitter has somebody hired to manually monitor and remove supportive comments, just to make Trump look bad.

Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and now even Google, is at increasing levels just banning people with the "wrong" opinions. In the past I thought that Google was supportive of free speech, but it seems that this has changed. For example, recently they just completely removed the YouTube channel of Jordan Peterson, and even his gmail account, with no explanation whatsoever given. The only reason they were restored was because he is so famous and his supporters were able to raise such a ruckus that Google couldn't ignore it. And it has become the norm that any famous critic of the regressive left will have their social media accounts suspended (and sometimes restored after a ruckus, and then some time later suspended again, in an eternal dance.) American conservative users are routinely banned or censored.

YouTube has announced plans to hide all videos for all "undesirable" people. These videos will be hidden from the public, and will not appear in any lists, and even their comment sections will be disabled. YouTube is already using blacklists to demonetize all videos of certain channels, even when those videos contain absolutely nothing objectionable and are completely unrelated to politics or anything. (This has been tested: The exact same video posted on two different channels can be demonetized in one but not the other. The only possible explanation is that the first channel is blacklisted.) It has also been demonstrated that Google is increasingly dropping search results that are critical of the regressive left, or of Islam or immigration, further and further back in their search engine. It's perfectly possible that it's only a matter of time before they hide "undesirable" pages completely.

The internet is supposed to be the bastion of free speech; the only medium that cannot be censored by governments. The problem is that 99.9% of people use one single search engine, and only a handful of social media websites. When all these corporations collude in limiting people's free speech, and do so in a surreptitious manner, that means that 99.9% of people will be affected. They will be getting limited information, because the counterpoints have been censored.

And it will probably not even stop there. I don't think it's unreasonable to suspect that in the near future government after government will start demanding that ISPs themselves censor "wrong" websites and content, so that their customers cannot get hold of it even if they had a direct URL to it. If governments pass this as law, ISPs will have no choice than to comply, or face criminal prosecution.

All this will be done in the name of removing "hate speech" and "terrorism" from the internet, yet it will be quite transparently done to remove anything that's deemed "right-wing" and critical of the regressive left, immigration, or Islam.

The European press is, of course, already full-on regressive hard-left, and has been so for decades. It has only become more radicalized as the years have passed, and will probably only become worse in the near future.

Europe will become like China in terms of internet censorship. However, unlike China, most corporations will actually willingly engage in it, rather than the government having to force them. But like in China, the police will kick your door down if you dare to post the wrong opinions on the internet. Perhaps not in every single European country, but in increasing amounts so.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What happened to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver?

For years, the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver YouTube channel used to be one of the best channels in existence, and I was a subscriber and an avid follower.

The show itself has much more content, and runs on HBO, and the YouTube channel only posts excerpts; individual stories. However, these used to be really, really interesting for the most part. It used to be one of the last bastions of actual investigative journalism, and many of their stories were extremely illuminating and interesting, and have taught me a lot.

For example the story FIFA and the World Cup is one of the best pieces of journalism I have ever seen, even though it uses (as all their other stories) copious amounts of humor. I would recommend this video to anybody. The channel is (well, was) in fact full of very interesting stories about all sorts of sociopolitical issues, such as predatory lending, civil forfeiture, multilevel marketing, and so on and so forth.

The show has always been quite left-leaning, "blue-pilled" so to speak, but that has only occasionally shown. There was a story about the "wage gap", which is one of their weakest episodes by far (and I'm not just saying it; it really has some of the least amount of research and references, compared to their average episode). A few episodes have some leftist agenda claims, but it happened quite rarely. Overall it happened so rarely that it wasn't at all bothering.

Then Donald Trump got elected the president of the United States, and the channel went completely down the drain, at one fell swoop.

While previously the channel discussed all kinds of sociopolitical issues (with only a slight left-leaning agenda here and there), after the election it has become a full-on anti-Trump propaganda channel.

John Oliver simply cannot shut up about Trump. Every single story must be about him, no matter what. From the 24 or so videos uploaded to the YouTube channel since the election, I think only one or two don't mention Trump at all.

Some of the videos are just 100% anti-Trump propaganda, from the beginning to the end. The rest often take jabs at Trump, no matter what the actual topic of the video might be. And we are not talking about just making light of him, making some humorous remarks. No, full-on attacks against what he has said.

It really doesn't matter what the topic may be. The importance of vaccines? Surely that doesn't need any anti-Trump bashing? Nope; he has to attack Trump. The French elections? Of course he had to bash Trump. No matter what the topic, Trump-bashing must always be part of it. In fact, I think that the topic seem to be chosen precisely if Trump-bashing can be included.

I got completely tired of it quite quickly, and unsubscribed, and stopped following the channel. I'm not especially fond of Trump as a world leader, but I'm not interested in a single-issue channel that has become just pure anti-Trump propaganda. I want to see interesting stories, like the FIFA one, or the multilevel marketing one. I don't want to see just Trump-bashing, and stories that have been created just to present more Trump-bashing.

That seems to be the only thing that John Oliver can talk about anymore. He's obsessed. A quote attributed to Winston Churchill describes him perfectly: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Equality laws are now a problem, it seems

Salon.com is an online publication with a very heavy feminist leftist leaning. Recently they published an article: Dang - looks like those women-only "Wonder Woman" screenings were illegal.

It seems that a movie theater in Austin, Texas organized showings of the movie Wonder Woman, where only women were allowed, and it turns out that this is actually illegal in that city.

I want to highlight one particular paragraph in the article:
"As it turns out, the complaints have at least some legal merit. Austin city equality codes ban any public accommodation — such as a movie theater — from limiting their services for individuals based on factors including race, color, sex, sexual orientation and gender identification. It’s a situation even Wonder Woman couldn’t fix."
Fix. That's right "couldn't fix".

Apparently, it seems that having equality laws that forbid discrimination against people based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation and gender identification is a problem that needs "fixing".

And no, the article isn't humoristic. If it were, it would not write things like: "Turns out that when men whined about being banned from the screenings, they had a legal point"

Damn those equality laws. They don't allow us to discriminate against those subhuman men. This is a great injustice.