Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Six meanings of evolution"

Some creationists, when talking about the theory of evolution, will bring up this argument that there are "six meanings of evolution." Namely:

Cosmic evolution: the origin of time, space, and matter from nothing in the “big bang”
Chemical evolution: all elements “evolved” from hydrogen
Stellar evolution: stars and planets formed from gas clouds
Organic evolution: life begins from inanimate matter
Macro-evolution: animals and plants change from one type into another
Micro-evolution: variations form within the “kind”

I'm not 100% sure who invented this, but as far as I know, it was most probably Kent Hovind. (His son, Eric Hovind, who just loves to parrot all of his father's arguments and speeches like a robot, also regularly presents this "argument".)

The claim isn't true, and is nonsensical. Those names are completely made up by creationists (probably by Kent Hovind) and the first ones have absolutely nothing to do with the theory of evolution. It's a scientific theory of biology, not cosmogony, cosmology, nuclear physics, astrophysics nor abiogenesis, which is what those first four are talking about. Also the theory does not distinguish between "macro-evolution" and "micro-evolution", which are also more or less made-up terms. No scientist has ever claimed that any of those four things are part of the theory of evolution (which, once again, is a theory of biology).

Yet, no matter how many times this is explained to creationists, they keep parroting this over and over. Because, you see, for some unfathomable reason you can see this list repeated by other creationists, on websites, on YouTube videos, on Chick tracts... you name it. No matter how many times they are explained that the list is just nonsensical, they just keep parroting it, like it were some kind of great argument.

And that's what puzzles me: Why do they keep parroting this, and why do they think it's some kind of argument against evolution? What exactly is the point they are trying to make?

I mean, seriously. Watch some Kent Hovind lecture where he presents this list. He just presents it and... well, nothing. There is no followup, no argument, no point. There is no explanation of what exactly he's trying to say (other than "only the last one is true"). He presents the list as if it were somehow revealing. Revealing of what? Who knows.

He's not the only one who does it. I have seen several YouTube videos of creationists parroting the list (usually without referencing the source) as if it were some kind of great argument, but without any kind of explanation or point to it. They just present the list... and then nothing. They go to something else. The point they were trying to make by presenting the list remains a mystery.

It just goes to show how dishonest creationists are. Most of them know that those terms are nonsensical, and that the theory of evolution does not encompass those fields of science, because they have been told so over and over. Yet they keep repeating the list as factual.

An honest person would find out what the theory of evolution really is about (a theory of biology explaining the diversification of life through the mechanism of descent with modification and natural selection), see that it has nothing to do with astrophysics or particle physics, and then stop presenting that list as inaccurate and pointless.

But creationists are not honest. "An honest creationist" is one of the biggest oxymorons in existence.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Social justice invades everything, including now VR development

I have been writing quite a lot about the modern social justice cult. I have also been writing quite a lot about how disappointing VR has been. It was only a matter of time before the two would meet, because social justice wants to invade everything.

Oculus announce $10m diversity pledge.

What does technology have to do with social justice and diversity? Who knows. But apparently to Oculus "diversity" is so important that they are going to invest a whopping 10 million dollars on it. In an unspecified manner, somehow.

Of course "diversity" (scare quotes intentional) in social justice vocabulary means the exact opposite of actual diversity, par for the course for such an Orwellian totalitarian ideology. The word, as used by them, doesn't mean what it means to everybody else. To them "diversity" means that only one opinion is allowed, only one political stance is allowed, diversity of opinions is not tolerated.

Technology and technological development is genderless, raceless, and completely neutral in all other such categories. It's just circuits, wires, metal, plastic and glass. The main focus of technology development is how to make those devices as efficient as possible, and as cheap as possible, for maximum benefit to the consumer.

Oculus could have spent those 10 million dollars to improve their VR headset, to make it cheaper, to benefit the consumer. But no. They are going to just throw it away, for absolutely no benefit to anybody (except the swindlers who will be getting that money for what amounts to zero work and zero beneficial products.) Which is doubly facepalmy given that the Oculus Rift isn't exactly a ginormous success (it has something like a 0.1% adoption rate among Steam users, the growth of this adoption rate having essentially stalled to a halt.) One would think that they would have much better use for those 10 million dollars, but apparently not.

For a long time I was of the opinion that it's a good thing that the Oculus Rift exists, and that it would be detrimental for the consumers if they were to fail and go bankrupt. After all, healthy competition is good for the consumers. Monopolies are bad for the consumers.

I have now changed my opinion: I wish they crash and go bankrupt. Just throw even more money away at "diversity" (whatever the heck that means to them) and sink. I don't care.

Needless to say, I highly doubt I will ever buy an Oculus Rift.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Flavorless pizzas

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And that's often true about food as well.

Particularly, quite often if you go to an ultra-cheap pizzeria, the pizzas are really, really flavorless and tasteless. They might have a really, really mild flavor, but overall they often taste like nothing.

This is actually a bit of a mystery to me. How do they do that? I'm completely serious: If I purposefully wanted to make such a flavorless pizza myself, I wouldn't know how! Even if I buy the cheapest possible ingredients at the grocery store and make a half-assed pizza, it will taste significantly better than those at most cheap pizzerias. I honestly don't know how to make such a tasteless pizza even if I wanted to.

My hypothesis is that these pizzerias don't actually get their ingredients from the same sources as grocery stores do. Instead, they get them for much cheaper from some other sources, and the quality of the ingredients is simply abysmal. So abysmal that they don't even sell them in regular stores at all. Like flour that would otherwise go to the garbage, cheese that even pigs wouldn't eat (and would likewise be thrown out), and so on. That's the only thing I can think of how to make such tasteless pizzas.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Antiquated web pages and mailing lists

The internet was a rather different place in the early and mid-90's. If you didn't use the internet back then, you wouldn't even believe how different it was.

This very blog service is an excellent example of how the internet has changed over the years. Back in those times, there was absolutely nothing even resembling this. In fact, the technology (in browsers and overall the HTML specification and all other kinds of specifications needed for this) just wasn't there. Back then it was unthinkable to actually have some kind of content editor usable from within the web browser itself. (Web forms did exist back then, which could be used by a user to send data to the server, but they were significantly more primitive than they generally are today.)

(And this isn't even going to things that we take today for granted such as YouTube, which nobody could have even imagined in their wildest dreams back then. The necessary technology was simply non-existent. The necessary video codecs hadn't been invented yet, the necessary internet protocols hadn't been invented yet, obviously web browsers were completely incapable of anything even resembling video streaming, internet connection speeds were but a tiny fraction of the required for live streaming (and that's assuming you didn't have to pay per minute, or per transferred kilobyte) and, moreover, computer hardware wasn't even close to powerful enough for anything like YouTube to be even theoretically possible. After all, video streaming and decoding requires quite a lot of computing power.)

Search engines were really, really primitive back in those days. In fact, Google, which we have been taking for granted for over a decade now, didn't even exist back then. (And even when Google did their first search engine service, it was significantly more primitive, and uglier, than it is today.)

Social media didn't exist either. Only a tiny, tiny fraction of people (mostly university students and staff, an the employees of some companies) had the possibility of creating a personal home page, publicly accessible through an URL.

Dynamic content was almost non-existent. 99.9% of web pages were static, meaning that their source HTML file was just a fixed (rather than generated) file stored in the server's hard drive. In the vast majority of cases this file was manually written, rather than programmatically generated. Some web pages might have had a bit of dynamically generated content (such as news reports, statistics that were automatically updated on a regular basis, and in some cases even user-submitted content), but almost invariably they used some custom technology (such as scripts written by the company itself) to achieve this.

Nobody had any idea back then how to create good-looking web pages. The WWW was in its early infancy. Most personal pages consisted of basically nothing more than black text on a white background, with a few embedded images at most (all of it in hand-written HTML, of course.) Fancier pages used a black background and white text, for extra coolness factor! Some people might have tried to play with text size and colors, but that usually only ended up looking more horrible. Even plain text files (ie. ascii .txt files, with no formatting of any kind) were common.

One very common custom back in those days was to have a separate page of links to other places. Just that. A page containing a list of random links to other places. Often there was no explanation, logic, rhyme or reason for the list; it just was there. (In most cases people created such pages solely because everybody else also had such pages, and that's it.)

Online forums, accessible through the WWW with a web browser, did not exist. Basically the only online forum systems were usenet news (which, sadly, is nowadays almost dead) and mailing lists.

Mailing lists are a rather horrible form of "online forum". Rather than have a web page where you can browse threaded discussions, you get every single message by every single person participating in any of the discussions to your email inbox. (Even back then most email software supported filtering of emails, and automatically sending them to different folders based on some filtering rules, but still... you could have hundreds or even thousands of messages from a mailing list, to wade through, including discussion threads you might not be interested in at all.)

Why am I doing this nostalgia trip to the distant past?

Because some projects, even those being actively developed today, seem to be stuck in the mid-90's in terms of their online content.

As an example, consider the libpng library project: Look at their home page at http://www.libpng.org/pub/png/ (they even have a Yahoo! search box on that page, right from 1995!) Also look at, for example, their "Other PNG Links and Stuff" page. Their usage manual for the library? In plain text format (with no alternatives.)

Those are, in fact, excellent examples of what typical web pages used to look like in the mid-90's. It's like a window to the past.

And their "discussion forum" to ask questions about the usage of the library? A mailing list, of course. With no alternatives. (Yes, try searching for actual png discussion forums. They don't exist. They don't seem to exist even on usenet.)

It's just horrendous. And I wish that were the only example, but unfortunately it isn't. Quite many software projects out there seem to be stuck in the mid-90's.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Will people just shut up about "4k" already?

The "8.5th" generation of consoles is being published at this moment, with the Xbox One S, the PS4 Pro and the "Project Scorpio" upcoming Xbox console.

When you watch reviews about this eg. on YouTube, it seems that all people can talk about is "4k". 4k this. 4k that. Does it support 4k? Is the 4k support good enough? 4k here. 4k there. 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k 4k...

Please SHUT UP about 4k already! I'm getting sick and tired of it. What strange obsessive compulsive disorder do people have with "4k". Who the fucking cares? Isn't there anything more important and relevant to talk about than the fucking "4k"?

Sheesh. It's like "4k" is the next coming of Christ or something. I don't care. Nobody cares. Shut up about it already.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Feminism is a strange religion

I often compare, even consider, the modern progressive feminist social justice ideology to be a religion. It might not be a theistic religion, but it has most of the hallmarks. Like many religions, it's guilt-based (you are sinful by nature, even if you think you are not), and it has its quasi-supernatural beliefs (like the "whiteness" aura that the undesirables have and which has quasi-supernatural properties) and great unseen enemies (the "patriarchy").

There's one curious difference to most other religions, though.

Look at various religious people talking about their religion. They talk about how much it brings them joy, and happiness, and fulfillment, and positiveness. And that video is just the tip of the iceberg. In general deeply religious people tend to have personal anecdotes about how unhappy they were before, how many problems they had in life, many of them even going the deep end, and how their chosen religion saved them, how it turned their life to the better, and how much happiness and joy it brought them.

Yet, when you watch feminist videos, and read their texts, quite often you see the exact opposite happening. They will recount how before they were just happy and lived normal lives, but after joining the social justice cause, they became angrier and angrier, unhappier and unhappier by they day. How they started becoming more and more paranoid and stressed. How their studies and grades suffered, how their mental health suffered, and how they started to see racism, misogyny and all the other bogeymen everywhere, at every moment. In one video, a feminist tells how she is constantly "triggered" by absolutely everything, every day, at every moment, by the most mundane of things, by everyday activities; when she wakes up, she's triggered; when she makes breakfast, she's triggered; when she leaves the house, she's triggered... and so on and so forth. In another video another feminist is speaking to an audience at a college campus, almost in tears, how bad it is to be constantly triggered, how stressful it is, and how it makes her life a living hell.

And, get this: These are not cautionary tales of ex-feminists, retelling horror stories and the reason why they left the ideology. No, these are active feminists who take these horrible symptoms as a reason to remain feminists.

It's actually quite incredible. While most other religious people revel in how much happiness and joy their religion gives them, these feminists actually revel in how much anguish and mental suffering feminism gives them. They talk about it like all that mental torture is somehow an integral part of feminism, and justifies it, and is, somehow, a reason to be a feminist and remain active in the ideology.

Ultimately, modern feminist social justice is a victim cult. Its most passionate followers embrace and revel in victimhood, in being victims. They carry their personal, often self-inflicted psychological torture, their deep unhappiness and anger, like a badge of honor. (A big part of this is probably the desire to get attention and pity from their fellow feminists.)

This kind of mental torture is not healthy. It will have its psychological consequences. When these people are deliberately getting constantly "triggered" by everything, deliberately becoming angry at and unhappy about everything, and being constantly paranoid and seeing bogeymen everywhere, that's going to erode their mental health in the long run. The human psyche just can't stand that forever, without consequences.

It's a dangerous cult, especially to its own members.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Social justice gives ammunition to conservatives

This topic is in essence pertinent only to the United States, and thus you might be asking that why I, not a citizen, but an European, care and why I spend so much time writing blog posts about American politics. Well, I wish I could simply ignore what happens in America, but unfortunately it's not that simple. The United States has an incredible amount of power to influence the rest of the world. And I'm not only talking about the American government and their political decisions, but about all major ideological movements within the country with a very sizeable following and loud voice. It just tends to be that what becomes popular in America tends to want to become popular in Europe (often starting with the United Kingdom) and the rest of the world. If there's some ideological movement happening, like, in Japan, or China, or India, or Brazil, that seldom has any kind of influence or impact anywhere else (except perhaps some neighboring countries that share a close cultural relationship with them). The United States is much more globally influential than that.

That's why I have to care.

Creationism is one practical example. But an even more dangerous example is the neo-Marxist feminist social justice ideology that started within American universities, spread to UK universities, and is now infecting the rest of the world. For example, Australia is now going to not only teach the social justice ideology (boys are privileged, ie. there's something wrong with them and they should feel guilt, false statistics about domestic violence, and so on) to their schoolchildren. On its wake, this same poison is now spreading to Finland as well, of all places. It will be only a matter of time before the same bullshit happens here that has been happening in America and the UK, with ideologues calling for the end of free speech, demanding racial discrimination, and harassing, insulting and discriminating against white men solely because they are white and men. (If it's happening there, it will eventually happen here. I don't see how Finland would be so much different than it won't.)

One thing that irks me quite a lot is that in the United States the conservative party (ie. the Republican Party, ie. the "right") is completely and fully equating the neo-Marxist feminist social justice ideology with liberalism, and the liberal party (ie. the Democratic Party, ie. the "left"). They are using social justice ideology as an ammunition against liberalism, and the entire left side of the political spectrum. Whenever you see a republican activist talking about social justice warriors, they will seldom pass the opportunity to call them "liberals", as if the entire liberal political view were synonymous with the social justice ideology, and thus the conservative side were a better alternative.

The thing is, the feminist social justice ideology is pretty much the opposite of liberalism.

Social justice is highly collectivist (ie. it divides people into groups based on gender, race and sexual orientation, and assigns rights, privileges, responsibilities and guilt onto people, and judge people, based on which such group they belong to, completely regardless of personal merit, achievements, qualifications or content of character) while liberalism is individualist (every person is treated like an individual, disregarding inconsequential things like skin color, and every person has the same rights, privileges, opportunities and responsibilities as everybody else regardless of those superficial characteristics, and every person is treated and judged as an individual, based on personal merit and qualifications, without prejudice).

Social justice seeks to censor, silence, ban and criminalize unwanted opinions, while freedom of speech is sacrosanct to liberalism. Social justice wants to discriminate against people based on gender and race eg. in hiring and in overall treatment, while that's abhorrent in liberalism. Social justice is highly authoritarian, while liberalism is highly egalitarian.

So, in essence, social justice is pretty much the opposite of liberalism, and clashes with it blatantly. Yet republican activists in the United States just love to equate the two and consider them full synonyms, because that gives them ammunition against the opposing party.

The problem with the republican party in the United States is that many of their principles and policies, too, are in complete opposition to my views. They are, generally speaking, very theocratic. They vehemently oppose European-style universal healthcare, and in general don't seem to care much about the poor and needy. They generally oppose environmental laws, which would reduce the amount of pollution. They are an extremely corporatist political party, and in general want to reduce government restrictions placed upon private corporations. In general, they are gun fanatics, and consider the Second Amendment to be sacrosanct, to the absolute extreme. Almost everything that makes European welfare states successful, they vehemently oppose.

For those reasons, among others, I just cannot support said party. Which is why it irks me when they use social justice warriors to attack the better alternative, even though SJWs in no way represent that alternative and are, in fact, pretty much the opposite of it.

You might once again wonder why do I care about the conservative party of the United States. I'm not a citizen, nor do I live there, so why should I care? And here we have to come back to what I wrote at the beginning: Because they, too, can have a great detrimental influence globally. When we are talking about the United States, big ideologies seldom remain local.

Where do you think that, for example, climate change denialism originated? Which group of people is the biggest driving force in this denialism? Where do you think that teaching creationism in schools comes from? And so on and so forth. And when these things become big in the United States, the same poison tends to seep everywhere else. And we are already seeing this happening at some level.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Do "chi" "masters" believe in their own "powers"?

There are many videos out there of "chi" "masters" (scare quotes intentional) who defeat assailants without even touching them, just by gesturing at them. Of course these videos invariably show them doing it to their own students. There are also many videos showing them doing it to third-parties, and a few where it's an actual (organized) fight between the "chi" "master" and some actual martial artist. Not very surprisingly, the "chi" always somehow fails to work in these more real situations. (One particular example is quite striking, where such a "master" has a fight with a mixed martial artist, and gets seriously hurt immediately at the start of the fight.)

Rather obviously, all these "chi powers" are complete bollocks. But the interesting question I'm tackling here is whether these "masters" themselves are fully aware of this, and are just swindling people, or whether they are actually themselves convinced that it's a real thing, ie. whether they are self-delusional.

The latter isn't actually completely out of the realm of possibility.

It may be a similar phenomenon to how many "psychics" actually honestly believe that their cold reading techniques are the real thing, real supernatural powers. They have learned these techniques from others, from reading books, and practice, and are using textbook cold reading on people, but they aren't actually aware that it's just that, and instead honestly believe that they are getting all that information supernaturally. They are so convinced of it, and are so entrenched in their beliefs, that they won't be dissuaded even if they are explained how it really works. They might even get semi-euphoric feelings when they successfully use the techniques on their clients, emphasizing their conviction that it's a real, supernatural thing. It's essentially a form of mild self-hypnosis, self-placebo effect.

A similar thing might be happening with many of these "chi" "masters". They may be inadvertently using psychological suggestion techniques on their willing students, not even realizing what they are actually doing, and convincing themselves that it actually is a supernatural power, rather than simply psychology. They probably rationalize away any signs and symptoms of it not being real (such as it not working on some less suggestible people, or many of the things they teach to their students being so blatantly similar to psychological suggestion.)

It might have started with actual phonies, actual con-men who realized that they could fool people into believing in these "chi" powers, who conned people for money and prestige. Their pupils then inadvertently started using the same techniques on their own pupils, believing it to be a real thing and not realizing the actual psychology behind it.

Of course when these "powers" don't actually work in real situations, they further rationalize it to themselves, to keep believing. Maybe they weren't feeling right just that day. Maybe they were tired and stressed. Maybe they were catching a cold. Whatever is needed to keep holding to the conviction, and not let go. It would be unthinkable that after decades of believing it to be real, they would have to admit having been wrong and self-delusional.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PSVR, yay or nay?

If you have been reading this blog, you'll know how greatly disappointed and disillusioned I am about how VR turned out to be.

(If you don't want to wade through miles of text where I rant about it, here's a super-condensed summary (you'll have to read the blog posts for the actual arguments and reasoning): Enormously expensive, way out of my budget range. Abysmal game support: virtually zero support in any existing games, almost zero support in new games of existing genres. Room-scale VR cripples game mechanics and gameplay, it's physically straining and unfeasible for any actual gameplay, and I doubt it has a real future. I highly doubt many big-budget 50-hour triple-A games will ever be made for room-scale VR.)

But what about PSVR?

PSVR seems to lack many/most of the problems I have seen in VR: It's significantly cheaper (although still a bit on the expensive side), it's focused on sit-down VR, and at least at this point it appears that there will be a much healthier game library of triple-A titles than for its PC counterparts (although here, too, there will very unlikely be any added support for existing games, although this might be slightly more understandable given the limitations of the platform. It's not like a PS4 game can suddenly require more efficient hardware, because the PS4 being a console is fixed.)

The pricing may still be an issue here, especially since, in a manner of speaking, and like with its PC counterparts, it kind of has "hidden costs" attached to it, in the form of requiring, at the very least, the PlayStation Camera peripheral. The headset alone will, at least as of writing this post, cost 400 USD. Unfortunately that means that it will probably cost at least 450-500€ (ie. about 500-560 USD) here, because that's how it seems to work, for some reason. That's still cheaper than the Oculus Rift (750€) and especially the Vive (980€), but still a bit on the steep side. Especially since that's the price of the headset only. It won't work on its own; it requires the PlayStation Camera, which is not exactly cheap either (60€).

Moreover, it might be necessary to also buy two PlayStation Move controllers. Sony will be releasing a pack containing all three things (ie. the headset, the camera and two Move controllers), and it will be about 100 USD more expensive (which, once again, means something like 150€, ie. about 170 USD, more expensive here, because reasons.)

It's not clear whether the Move controllers are actually needed or not. Sony has announced that most games will not require them, and will be playable with the DualShock controller alone (with former enhancing the experience but being optional), but has also said that some games will require the former, but it's unclear how many, and how the trend will develop in the future.

It also doesn't help that I'm not exactly thrilled about the Move controllers. While they allow for some gameplay that's not possible with the gamepad, I'm not exactly thrilled at the prospect of playing 50-hour games by flailing my arms around. There's a reason why gamepads have become as they currently exist, through several decades of development: They are ergonomic, comfortable, and playable while resting your arms. You can play with a gamepad literally for hours on end without any problems.


Yeah, good luck playing a game for hours on end like that. I dare you: The next time you have a long game session, hold the controller with your arms extended like that. Let's see how long you last. I dare you.

The Move controllers will also, necessarily, restrict game mechanics and gameplay (and they are in this sense going to the room-scale VR territory). This is a Move controller:


Notice something that's conspicuously missing from it? This:


Yeah. How exactly do you move around with a "Move" controller? You don't. Which is why it gives me so much "room-scale VR" bad vibes. (And if you have read my previous blog posts, you'll know how highly skeptical I am of gameplay where movement is restricted due to limitations in the control system.)

Incidentally, there exists a version of the Move controller, called Move Navigation, that actually has a thumbstick. The problem is that it's not the controller that will be used for PSVR.


So what's my verdict of the PSVR based on the information so far? Well, so far it looks much more promising than its PC counterparts, even with its slightly lower technical specs. However, I'll have to wait and see how it develops after launch before I even think of purchasing one. (I'm not expecting it to become any cheaper over the next couple of years. I am going to wait to see how its game library develops, though.)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The most obscure "racist" stereotype ever?

Apparently, it seems, this is a "racist stereotype":


What's so racist about it, you might ask? Very good question. The fact is that I have absolutely no idea, and it seems that nobody can explain it to me either.

It's a black man eating fried chicken. A couple of years ago I heard, for the first time in my entire life, on some YouTube video or something, an allusion to this being somehow an extremely racist stereotype, or something. I had never before heard of anything like this. I asked how exactly is it racist. I got no clear answers.

To this day it remains a complete mystery to me. Apparently only Americans know why it's somehow "racist", even though, apparently, they are incapable of clearly explaining why. It just is. Somehow. I have asked this several times over the years, and to this day I haven't got a single clear explanation, or any explanations at all. I don't even know if there is some context within which it's allegedly "racist", or if it's always such, or what.

I think there's a very similar thing about black people and watermelons, but this one is even more obscure to me than the fried chicken thing. So obscure, in fact, that I'm not even sure it is actually a thing, or whether it's just some kind of joke or something that I have misinterpreted.

The mysteries of life.