Thursday, December 28, 2017

Why I'm not an "ally" (and why you shouldn't be, either)

The modern social justice cult divides people into groups based on how "oppressed" they are, and assigns more rights, privileges, responsibilities and guilt onto people based on which such group they belong to. At the very bottom of the barrel are, of course, white men (although jews might or might not be even lower, depending on the social justice warrior). White women are just slightly above them, because they are women (and thus more oppressed than white men).

White people in general, and white men in particular, are considered the bottom of the barrel in more than one way. Not only do they get no respect, consideration or rights in the eyes of social justice warriors, and not only are they despised, vilified and hated, but to an increasing extent social justice warriors think that white people are pretty much a different species from other people, who are literally, not just metaphorically, genetically predisposed to racism and oppression. It's literally in their DNA, and is something that every single white person inherits (and nobody else, of course). White people are literally an inferior race, not just socially but genetically, and many social justice warriors express the sentiment that the world would be better if they were exterminated and completely eradicated from the face of the planet. (And then they call their critics "nazis", and are completely oblivious to the irony.)

An "ally" is, to them, a member of this inferior race that's subservient to the social justice cause.

It's very similar to the concept of a "dhimmi" in Islamic culture and religion: A person who is not a member of the religion, an outsider, but who is subservient to it and its members, and obeys everything that the actual members of the religion want, and pays tribute (often in terms of money) to the religion. Dhimmis are tolerated, but they will always be inferior and will never get the same rights and privileges as actual members of the religion, and must always be subservient to the religion.

As an "ally", you will still be considered to be on the bottom of the oppression stack, just a tiny bit better than the rest of white people. You will have to be subservient to the superior races and groups, and do everything they want, never talk back, never present a dissenting opinion, never criticize anything that the superior groups say. If you are a white man, and a woman or a non-white person starts talking, you must immediately and subserviently shut up. You must never interrupt or talk over a member of the superior groups. You must always follow the orders of your superiors, even if doing so would get you in trouble (eg. with the authorities). And you must always remember your place.

I wish I was exaggerating or making those things up, but all of those are things I have seen concrete examples of, in articles, blog posts and YouTube videos. Examples of social justice warriors explicitly and literally saying and enacting all those things (even including that part about white people being genetically inferior, and racism and oppression being literally part of their DNA, as well as that part about such a white person being commanded to obey orders even if it gets him in trouble with the police, precisely because of his genetics and the associated guilt.)

If you submit yourself to be an "ally" of social justice warriors, you will never get the same rights and privileges as the "superior" races and groups. You will always be subject to and forced into submission, and you will always be used and taken advantage of, and no matter what you do, you will still be vilified and oppressed, and not only will any differing opinion of yours not matter, it will actually not be tolerated. You will only be tolerated, barely, if you fully submit and commit to the ideology, without question and without criticism, and if you constantly humiliate yourself by confessing your sinful nature to the superior groups, and pledge your allegiance to them.

You are not a person to them. You are a useful tool. A tool that does not have the same rights as the superior groups. In other words, you will pretty much in essence be a slave. A slave that will be punished if he shows any disobedience or dissent.

I will never degrade myself into this, and neither should you!

Valve isn't as consumer-friendly as you might think

In 2015 Valve implemented the now famous refund policy on Steam: Within 14 days, or 2 hours of gameplay (whichever comes first) you are allowed to refund a game you have purchased, no questions asked. The media and the public lauded Valve for being so consumer-friendly, and one of the very few good and fair corporations out there. It seemed to be a fresh deviation from the corporate greed we are all so accustomed to.

What the vast majority of people don't know, however, is why Valve suddenly decided to implement this policy. The reality is that Valve didn't do so because they were thinking what's best for their customers. They did it because they were thinking what's best for Valve. It was purely for self interest.

After all, Valve's non-refund policy prior to this change was quite strong. For example, customers in the EU had, in principle, the right to a 14-day refund of any purchases, but there is a caveat in these EU laws that state that a customer may waive this right by agreeing with a contract with the seller, and Valve fully used this. When you purchased a game from Steam, one of the conditions in the license was precisely your waiver of this refund right.

What caused the sudden change in Valve's refund policy? Was it because Valve had a change of heart and wanted to do something good for their customers?

No. It was because the Australian government sued Valve because the non-refund policy is directly against Australian law. No buts, ifs, maybes, or waivers allowed. The change in the Steam refund policy was in direct response to this lawsuit. Valve was trying to defend themselves against this, and any future similar lawsuits.

We shouldn't really be lauding Valve for this pro-consumer change. We should really be thanking the Australian government.

(All this information came from this video by SidAlpha.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The American left has completely lost their minds

When a bit over a year ago Donald Trump was elected the president of the United States, leftist social justice warriors, celebrities, and pretty much the entirety of the leftist media, predicted pretty much an era of Nazi Germany for the country. Many social justice warriors, including many celebrities, were literally crying in desperation, and making somber videos and posts about the grim future, and how it was pretty much the end of the world. They quite literally looked like they were jews being led to the showers of Auschwitz. And I'm not even exaggerating; you can find videos made by these people on YouTube, where they sound and look like they are expecting the state police to kick down their door at any moment and take them to concentration camps to be gassed.

A year has passed and... well, nothing much, really. Trump enacted, to a varying extent, some of the promises he made during his campaign, such as repealing the affordable healthcare act, and the travel ban from certain countries (among other things that have got less attention), which you might or might not agree with, but these are hardly atrocities. Travel bans, while not very common, are not unheard of, and quite many countries employ them (including every single country in that list; which, by the way, was created during the Obama administration, not the Trump one.)

As for atrocities and death counts, Obama is still leading on that camp by several orders of magnitude. But of course the regressive left is very silent about this.

Given that an entire year has passed, and the predicted atrocities have not happened (in fact, quite ironically, by far the vast majority of atrocities in the country have happened because of the regressive leftist protesters, not because of anything Trump has done), one would think that they would have calmed down, and realized that they over-reacted, and that Trump is not the totalitarian dictator they feared him to be. Maybe not the best possible president in history, for certain, but nowhere near as bad as they thought.

But no. The regressive left still maintains this fantasy world in their heads where Trump is pretty much Hitler reincarnate. The leftist media has engaged in a year-long non-stop anti-Trump defamation propaganda campaign, and is not showing any signs of slowing down. Since there is so little they can actually criticize, most often they are grasping at straws to absolutely ridiculous extents (such as attacking him because of his eating habits.) The social justice warriors still engage in protests, even though they can't even answer simple questions of what exactly Trump has done that's so horrible.

When you think about it, rather than becoming a totalitarian dictatorship, the United States government is amazingly lenient towards these regressive leftists who are outright breaking the law. They constantly and completely ignore their own sedition laws (which the regressive leftists are constantly, openly and blatantly breaking, with complete impunity), and the police seems criminally lenient towards crimes committed in the name of "protesting" (as I have written about before.)

Antifa, in particular, lives in a completely fictional fantasy world in this regard. While the majority of the rest of the regressive left is assuming that Trump will create a totalitarian dictatorship any day now, antifa literally thinks that Trump is already committing atrocities.

In one leaked video a member of antifa was recruiting high school students (I don't even understand how that's allowed, given that these are minors, and ostensibly their parents were not asked for permission, but that's the mindset of schools in the United States nowadays), and he was literally telling the students that the secret police was already trying to go into schools and taking immigrant students away to be deported, and that the only reason why they were unable to do that is because of antifa. He made this claim in complete seriousness. (He also says in the video that their plan is to keep doing this, and have Trump resign his presidency once he gets tired of trying to do this unsuccessfully. I'm not making this up. He literally says that Trump will resign once he is unable to round up immigrant students from schools to be deported, because antifa members are watching.)

Many antifa branches have also been talking about a so-called "underground railroad", a system where antifa members would collaborate to give immigrants safe passage out of the country, mostly to Canada, to escape persecution by the government. Again, I wish I were making this up. They literally think that the United States is Nazi Germany, where the state police is rounding up immigrants to... I don't know, probably be thrown in concentration camps to be exterminated? This is a complete fantasy world they live in. The irony is that not only is nobody stopping anybody from leaving the country, on the contrary, a good portion of the conservative side of the political spectrum would be happy if there was a mass emigration of immigrants. There is literally no need to have immigrants leave the country covertly, if they so wish.

Many conservatives are calling liberalism a mental illness. While I disagree with them using the word "liberalism" for this (because this is not what liberalism means), I am tempted to start agreeing with them that at least in the United States it quite literally has become an actual mental illness (or, at least the authoritarian regressive leftist portion of the American "liberalism" side of the political spectrum.)

Missed PSVR opportunities

This is the Aim Controller for the PSVR:


Do you know what it looks like it's perfectly designed to emulate (all the way up to its very color scheme)? This:


Yet, sadly, Valve will never make a Portal game for the PSVR (much less one supporting the aim Controller). That's because Valve has stopped developing games altogether. (Also, even if they did by some miracle develop a game for it, it would probably be a crippled game, because Valve doesn't believe you can move with a joystick in a VR game.)

On a similar note, this is the PlayStation Move Controller (which is fully tracked in PSVR):


Do you know what it looks like it's perfectly designed to emulate? This:


Yet, so far there isn't a single Star Wars PSVR game where you get to use a lightsaber. Maybe in the future there might be, but I'm not very hopeful.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Why do transsexuals do it?

Suppose you are a completely healthy person, in quite good health and fitness. There's nothing medically wrong with you, and therefore you most certainly don't need any sort of medication or other medical treatment. Would it make sense to deliberately start taking medication that you don't need, and that has severe physical detrimental effects on your body and your health, just because you feel like there's something you don't like about yourself?

Many transsexuals take cross-hormones like candy, even though most of them are fully aware of their negative health effects. When you take them for long enough (and not even necessarily for that long), they sterilize you, they increase the risk of several kinds of cancer, and may have a myriad of other long-term detrimental side-effects. And the only reason why they take these hormones is to try to change their appearance to be more of the opposite sex. (Some of them even do it without even planning to have a sex change surgery, or they can't afford one, or it's simply not available to them. Of course this surgery in itself is rather insane, given that it also likewise has all kinds of negative side-effects, and the "transition" is never absolutely perfect.)

I'm not going to make any claims about how genuine their feelings are about being the "wrong" sex, and how much this can be supported by biology and psychology, because I don't have enough expertise about this (and, I suspect, in fact science isn't completely clear about this either). However, I do have to wonder why somebody would subject themselves to this just to make themselves look different. Why are they deliberately, consciously and actively harming their own body and their own health, just to change their appearance and some body functions. Because that's what the cross-hormones do. It's a bit like extensive plastic surgery, except it's much more detrimental to your health, sterilizes you, increases the risks of many types of cancer, and on average shortens your life expectancy.

If there were some things I'm not completely happy about myself, especially if they are more or less a cosmetic thing, I would most certainly not start taking any sort of medication to try to change it, especially if the health risks are so high. It would be effectively self-harm, for a more or less cosmetic purpose.

Sure, maybe if you genuinely feel like being the "wrong" sex, it sucks, and you have to live with it every day of your life. However, why would you actively harm yourself, just to try to change your appearance to be more like the other sex? Why would you do it? Is it really worth sterilizing yourself and pretty much effectively killing yourself slowly, potentially really painfully? Cancer is most certainly not a laughing matter. And those hormones have all kinds of other side-effects as well.

No offense intended, honestly, but if you are really, really stressed about it, wouldn't a less dangerous and healthier approach to be to try to get some kind of psychological help? I'm not talking about trying to "deconvert" yourself and make you believe that you really are the sex you were born, but simply some therapy to help you cope with it. Many people have all kinds of emotional and psychological problems, and they get help dealing with it. I think getting help to deal with your problems in a non-intrusive manner is much better than active self-harm.

Sometimes life does suck. People are seldom perfect, and we are often born with, or get later in life, all kinds of defects. Sometimes these defects can be fixed in a relatively safe manner that will genuinely improve the quality of our lives, sometimes we simply have to learn to live with these defects. It sucks, but people learn to cope with their defects all the time. Coping with them in a healthy way is much better than harming yourself trying to fix them.

Think of it like this: There are tons of people in this world who have to live with defects that are significantly worse than yours. They may have all kinds of physical handicaps, chronic diseases, or other sorts of physical defects. Most people who feel the "wrong" sex are usually healthy and there's nothing wrong with them physically. I think they should be grateful of this fact, and cherish it, rather than inflicting self-harm trying to change themselves. Millions of people in this world would kill to have that same state of health. Deliberately harming yourself simply doesn't make any sense.

Also consider that some transsexuals regret their decision later in life. There are entire websites dedicated to them. Even just taking the hormones for long enough produces irreversible damage (not to talk about going through the surgery). Wouldn't it be much better to simply accept your flaws and learn to cope with them? We all have flaws, oftentimes irreparable flaws, and we just have to learn to live with them. It is possible to learn to live with them, and live a happy life. Don't harm yourself just to try to change who you are or what you look like.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Nintendo Switch Joy Cons are horribly designed

I'm not here talking about their ergonomics (which are rather horrible), but about an infamous flaw in the Joy Cons, which should have never went into production.

The Joy Cons are the two half-controllers that attach to the sides of the Nintendo Switch, and can be detached (allowing them to be used when the Switch is docked, or even when it isn't, especially if using the grip peripheral, or even on their own. Some two-player games even have each player using one of the controllers.)

When used detached, they have strap attachments that ought to be connected to them.

Most people don't notice it, but the left Joy Con has a "-" symbol at its top, which ought to match the equivalent symbol on the strap attachment. Likewise the right one has a "+" symbol.

For an unfathomable reason, however, they can be attached in the wrong orientation (ie. upside down, or on the wrong Joy Con, likewise upside down).

An extremely basic principle of engineering design is that if two parts can be connected, and there's a wrong way to connect them, the parts ought to be designed as to make it impossible to connect them in the wrong way.

A floppy disc is the perfect example of this: Even though there are eight possible orientations for a floppy disc to be inserted into a floppy drive, you can only insert it in one way. In any other orientation it won't go all in (in four wrong orientations the floppy disc is too wide to fit in the slit, and in the remaining three wrong orientations it won't go all the way in because there's a diagonal notch designed to stop it.) Likewise an USB connector cannot be connected upside down because it's designed non-symmetrically, and will simply not fit that way.

It would have been quite easy stopping the strap attachment from being connected to the Joy Cons upside down (by using a non-symmetric design in their rails), but for an unfathomable reason they didn't do that, and it's in fact very easy to do.

Ok, no harm done. Oops, it's the wrong way. Just take it off and connect it correctly?

Except that here's the absolute failure of the design: There's a locking mechanism that keeps the attachment firmly connected to the Joy Con. A locking mechanism that's easy to open when the two parts are connected properly. The problem is that when connected upside down, the locking mechanism will still lock the attachment in place, but now there is no easy way to unlock it. The attachment is very firmly stuck, and there is no easy way to remove it. The unlocking mechanism doesn't work if the attachment is connected upside down.

People have broken their Joy Cons trying to remove a wrongly inserted strap attachment.

It is, in fact, possible to unlock the locking mechanism, but it requires a flat tool, like a thin screwdriver or other such object (you can insert it between the Joy Con and the attachment from the right spot, and it will unlock the locking mechanism, freeing the attachment). However, obviously the vast majority of people don't know this.

It's astonishing how this kind of design flaw went unnoticed and into production. It's one of the most basic things in engineering design.

No, private companies cannot do whatever they want

How many times have you seen someone say or write "it's a private company, they can do whatever they want"? I have seen it tons of times, and I'm getting sick of it.

Quite obviously a private company can't do whatever they want. I can't even believe this has to be stated because it's so utterly obvious. Can a private company, for instance, hire a hitman and murder people? Of course not. Can a private company, for example, put poison in their products and cause thousands of people to die from it? Of course not!

I'm not straw-manning the issue here. That sentiment is often expressed by people when a company does something that's controversial, or something that's unfair towards somebody. People will often defend the company with that sentiment, without any qualifiers, implying that private companies, just by the fact that they are "private", have some kind of carte blanche to do whatever they please, without restrictions or limitations.

It might be implied that what is really meant is "a private company can do whatever they want, as long as it's not illegal". If that's the case, then well, duh! Everybody can do whatever they want as long as it's not illegal. The question is: Was the action legal?

The law in most countries restricts what a private corporation can do, and it often delves into the situation being discussed, ie. what happened. For example, if a company offers a product or service, they need to adhere to strict safety standards. Corporations have a duty to ensure the safety of their customers. In most countries such a company can't discriminate against people eg. based on race. Likewise there are strict rules about how companies should deal with other companies, in their inter-corporation business and other such dealings (there are many competition laws that restrict what companies can do). In most countries there are tons of privacy laws that companies must obey, to protect the information of their customers.

One particular subject where the claim often comes up is precisely when a company uses or abuses its de facto monopoly (or almost monopoly) status to hinder competition. As an example, Apple has got into legal trouble in the past for abusing their de facto monopoly status (at least back in those days) in the portable music device industry. There are laws in many countries restricting anti-competitive practices.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Can a person be "illegal"?

Just like young-earth creationists, social justice warriors love to play with words, and deliberately make equivocation fallacies.

There's this mantra that "there's no such a thing as an illegal person". It's essentially nitpicking on the term "illegal immigrant", and interpreting that expression as meaning that the person himself is, somehow, considered "illegal". The intent is to argue that there are no illegal immigrants, because people can't be "illegal".

This is one of the stupidest arguments ever.

The term "illegal immigrant" is just a shorthand to describe the status of an immigrant who has no legal right to stay in a country. It's not saying that the person himself is, somehow, "illegal". It's saying that what they are doing is illegal. (In this case, what they are doing is entering or staying in the country without legal permission to do so.) It's no different from saying that a person who steals something has done something illegal. The action is illegal in both cases.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Playtesting is not a dream job

Especially a decade or two ago, and probably to this day, many game developer companies had job positions for people to almost exclusively (in some cases perhaps even completely exclusively) do playtesting of their games being developed. In other words, you do nothing but play the game and find bugs.

Especially back in the day, perhaps even today to many, this sounded like the absolute dream job: You would get paid to do exactly what you love: Play video games. And, unlike eg. streamers or other online video content producers, you didn't need to be entertaining or anything like that, to gain an audience. Just play video games all day long, and get paid for it.

Of course the actual reality of the job was, and is, much harsher than that. If you want to ruin playing video games for yourself, then by all means apply for such a job.

The naive vision of the job is that you get to playtest the almost-finished game, and just report any bugs you stumble across. In reality, what you get to "play" is often very early alpha-versions of the game, which often lack most of their final graphics (geometry, texture, visual effects, etc), most of their final story, and so on. And "playing" means in this case grinding through test levels trying to find bugs in the engine, or any of its functionality, or in the level design. This is not normal casual gameplay, this is bugtesting. Your job is to grind through the levels (often incomplete alpha versions of the final levels) over and over and over, testing every corner, every mechanic, every tiny thing, over and over, to see if you can break it. And of course when you do find a bug or defect, no matter how minor, you have to write in detail where and how it happens, under which circumstances. And when the development team submits a bugfix, you'll need to test the same things again, to see if that bug has indeed been fixed, and whether the fix broke something else.

Some people would actually enjoy even this kind of work, but most wouldn't.

FCC voted to repeal Net Neutrality

It's still has to pass the approval of the United States congress, but the FCC has already voted to repeal the net neutrality principle. If it passes in congress as well, the future isn't looking very bright.

What are the possible consequences of net neutrality being removed?

Expect all of the internet services you are using to become more expensive. It's very possible that your very internet service itself will become more expensive (especially if you are using a smaller ISP, which needs to pay larger ISPs for their services). And it probably won't matter if you don't live in the United States. Your ISP will be forced to charge you higher fees, even if they wouldn't want to.

Expect more and more online services that are now free to either go behind a paywall, become more expensive, or just cease to exist. Expect, for instance, all games on Steam to become more expensive, if Valve is forced to pay money to ISPs to avoid severely crippled bandwidth. The same goes for PSN, Xbox Live, and all digital distribution platforms. Likewise video rental services will become more expensive.

It's very possible that twitch.tv, and all streamers using it, will be affected. It may well be that in the near future you can't stream to twitch.tv for free anymore, which means that 99% of streamers will just have to leave the platform. Heck, it may even mean that you can't watch any videos on twitch.tv for free anymore. Which in turn may well mean the end of the entire site. It's very possible that twitch.tv will cease to exist.

And the big one, YouTube, will likewise be affected. We take YouTube for granted, but it has been under constant attack during the past year, and if net neutrality is repealed, the attacks will only get stronger. Google is already running YouTube at a loss at this moment. The losses will only increase by orders of magnitude. Google may well decide it's not worth it, and end YouTube for good.

Not only will this stop the service, but it will mean that for hundreds and even thousands of people their main channel of free speech, of communicating their opinions, will be shut down. And there probably will not be any alternatives (because any alternatives will also be either expensive or shut down).

And here we come to the crux of the problem: ISPs will now have the legal right to throttle, or even completely ban, websites that they don't like, eg. for political reasons. Only approved websites will get any bandwidth.

This last thing might not be as bad, as the net neutrality repeal will only affect the United States (although it will affect Americans themselves). Websites in other countries will probably still be viewable in other countries. It's just that they will probably have to be low-bandwidth text-and-images only websites, such as articles and blogs. Forget about video websites.

The lack of net neutrality will be abused for political purposes. If somebody thinks it won't, they are being naive to the extreme.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One year later, Trump's victory still tastes so sweet

Approximately one year ago the United States presidential elections were at full swing, and the leftist media was predicting a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton. Chances up to 99.9% were cited. A news reporter predicted that Trump would lose by such a wide margin that it would make history, and it would be a devastating blow to the Republican Party, and perhaps change it forever. Everybody on the left, especially the media, considered the voting to be just a useless formality, given how clear the winner was.

But, of course, the media doesn't elect presidents. The people do.

Trump's victory was so, oh so sweet. It still gives me an immense sense of glee seeing those news reports from a year ago, when that reality dawned on them.

Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech the next day after the election results were announced. It is my understanding that this is the first time in history (or at least the first time in a long, long time) that such a thing has happened. Usually the losing candidate gives the speech right after the results.

Do you know why she gave her concession speech the next day? Because they didn't actually have such a speech ready for her. Normally all candidates have prepared two speeches, one for victory, one for loss, and thus they are able to give either one immediately after the results are in. In this case, however, Clinton and her team were so convinced that she would win that they didn't even bother to write her a concession speech.

They also had bought and prepared a massive fireworks display, for several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course they never got to fire it.

Trump might not be the best possible United States president in history, and many of his views are somewhat detrimental, but his victory was extremely important back then, and it's still extremely important today.

A year ago his victory was a fist-strike against the collective faces of the media. It was a clear signal to the media that "you do not decide who becomes president; the people do." The media thought that they are in power, and that they decide what the public has to vote. Trump's election told them otherwise. No, you do not elect the president. Get off your high horse.

A year from then, Trump's presidency has become even more important than ever. It has clearly and unambiguously exposed the leftist media for the partisan biased liars they are. They are constantly lying, distorting, and fabricating propaganda. The leftist media is constantly, and I mean constantly, attacking Trump with everything they got. But Trump is untouchable, and it only helps to expose what a bunch of biased hypocritical liars and buffoons the leftist reporters are.

(I'm not saying right-wing reporters are never biased hypocritical liars and buffoons. Of course many of them are. They aren't much better. But it's really important that it has become clear that the leftist media, who think have the moral high ground, are nothing but liars and hypocrites.)

Likewise the mere fact that Trump is the president of the United States has brought to public attention the absolute lunacy of the regressive leftist social justice warriors. Not by Trump. Trump doesn't even need to do anything. By the social justice warriors themselves! They are the ones shutting down speeches using violence and rioting, they are the ones beating up people on the streets, they are the ones calling people "nazis" and "fascists" for simply disagreeing with them, they are the ones demanding the cessation of much of the Bill of Rights, and universal human rights. Their own actions are bringing to light their supremacist totalitarian destructive ideology.

One year since the election, it's more important than ever that Trump is the president of the United States. I'm so glad that he was elected. I don't agree with much of what Trump says, but I'm so, oh so glad that he was elected.

Dangerous video game copy protection systems

Most games do not implement any sort of copy protection system. Piracy is rampant, and in most cases it takes less than a day from publication before pirated versions start circulating the internet, but these developers just live with that sad fact.

Some games do implement some type of copy protection system. Some are more effective than others. (For example, one particular game by Ubisoft, if I remember correctly it might have been Splinter Cell 2, or perhaps 3, had a copy protection mechanism that was so effective that it literally took hackers over a year to crack it, and distribute a pirated version. The common "knowledge" that copy protection systems are pretty much useless isn't always true. That game got a full year of legitimate sales before a single pirated version was available.)

When a copy protection system is "clean", in the sense that it just affects the game itself, and tries to stop it being illegally copied without affecting the operating system itself, that's fine. If you are a legitimate user, then you essentially have nothing to worry about nor need to care.

But then, sometimes, in their eagerness to protect their game as well as possible, some developers, or publishers, will go beyond the legitimate, and break the boundaries of the game itself, and start affecting the operating system beyond what an application should. These games might, for example, install some system drivers (something that a regular app has no business in doing, unless it legitimately requires such a driver to, for instance, control a hardware peripheral) in order to monitor the user's activity "from the outside" (ie. outside the game), from the system level.

In the absolutely worst case scenarios some games have surreptitiously installed outright rootkits into their users' computers. Such rootkits may grant software direct access to the computer's hardware, such as the hard disk, bypassing the safety mechanisms of the operating system. In the worst case scenario the computer may be accessed remotely, by anybody. In some instances the game leaves these rootkits installed in the system even after the game itself is uninstalled. Almost invariably they also communicate constantly with the developer's or publisher's servers. Yes, there have been actual cases of all of this. (In one particularly egregious recent example such a rootkit actually monitored the user's activities outside the game, such as what web pages the user browsed and what kind of search terms the user wrote in search engines, and proceeded to close he browser in certain cases.)

Here are some tips to avoid your PC becoming the victim of this:
  • Always use an anti-virus software that has system protection mechanisms against rootkits and other such malware (such as ransomware)! Nowadays this kind of software is even more important to stop malware than to stop viruses. And if the software warns you about a particular software, don't just ignore it! (While sometimes this might be a false alarm, at the very least make an extensive online search for that particular software, to see if it has been reported to contain malicious components.)
  • Be always suspicious if installing a game requires administrator privileges. Windows will tell you if the installer is requesting such privileges; don't ignore this warning! Normally installing games (especially if you install them eg. from Steam) does not require them. In a few cases they might require to install some normal system components, such as a particular version of DirectX or some VC++ runtime, which might require administrator privileges, but as above, if unsure, always make an online search for this particular game to see if problems with it have been reported.
  • Installing a game on a physical disc might give a false sense of safety. We tend to think that such malware only comes from the internet. However, these developers/publishers don't care if you are installing the game from the internet or from a disc. The malware will be in the disc installer as well, if they had added it there.
  • Likewise purchasing and installing a game from Steam might also give a false sense of security. While admittedly it's probably enormously less likely that a game purchased from Steam has such malware bundled, it's still not impossible. There have been cases. Always take heed of those warnings that the system and/or the antivirus software is giving you. Don't just grant a game installer administrator privileges simply because you purchased it on Steam. Search for info to make sure it's normal and safe.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Microsoft's White Elephant: The Kinect


Those who never owned an Xbox 360, or those who did, but were never really interested in, nor followed all the hype that Microsoft created around the Kinect, might find it a bit surprising, given how little impact the Kinect had on video gaming, but this device was absolutely massively advertised and pushed by Microsoft back in the day, with borderline outrageous promises and hype. And we are talking about massive promotional campaigns.

The original slogan for the Kinect was "You Are The Controller". The initial narrative, prior to the Kinect's launch (and a bit after that), was that the traditional controller was a "barrier", a very limited form of control that severely limited possibilities. According to the marketing campaigns, "Kinect will change living room entertainment forever".

Microsoft's promotional demonstrations at E3 2009, and several subsequent ones, promised absolutely incredible real-time interactivity. (Given that the actual published Kinect turned out to be enormously less accurate and powerful than advertised leads me to believe that those E3 demonstrations were fully scripted, running pre-recorded animations, rather than being real-time live captures of the movements of the performer on stage.)

Among the things that were promised (with live demonstrations, allegedly in real-time, although as said, I have my doubts) were:

- Accurate full-motion capture of the entire body, with the in-game character following the position and movement of every limb and head very accurately. In one demo this allowed full control of a character wielding a lightsaber, to fight against hordes of enemies, with accurate movements and all kinds of maneuvers (such as force pushes, etc.)

- Moreover, the detection would be so accurate as to allow very precise maneuvering, allowing very small, precise and subtle movements, such as hand gestures, to accurately control something. This included things like opening and closing one's hand, or even moving individual fingers, and manipulating in-game objects with great precision (to even the millimeter range).

- Using the traditional controller would become essentially obsolete, as everything would be usable with the Kinect alone, using gestures and voice. In fact, it was promised that many things would actually become easier with the Kinect than with the controller, especially thanks to the smart voice recognition system. (For example, not only could you make the Xbox 360 play music by saying "xbox, play some music", but you could moreover specify a particular song, an artist, or a music genre, for instance, and the system would quickly find songs matching the specified parameters.)

- Video chat with remote players would be possible, easy, and practical. (In fact, the Kinect could even follow the user's position so as to keep him or her always centered on the view.)

- The Kinect would have full facial and shape recognition, distinguishing between different users, and being able to track the position of each user, and even being able to scan objects of a certain shape, such as a scateboard or a piece of paper, in real time. In one demo, for instance, a player draws a picture on a paper, shows it to the Kinect and "hands it over" to the in-game character, and this character reaches and grabs the paper, which now has the same picture in-game (which the Kinect, at least allegedly, scanned in real-time from the paper using its camera.) The Kinect is able to see that the paper is coming closer, and thus the game character can react to it in real-time, reaching his hand and "grabbing" the paper.

Microsoft got some really big name people to promote the Kinect at some of their E3 presentations, such as Steven Spielberg himself. Several big-name game companies also announced full Kinect support in many of their future games and game franchises, promising significant improvements in gameplay and immersion.

The first launch of the Kinect was made quite a massive spectacle in itself, with tons of money poured into it. Microsoft really, really pushed the Kinect to be a complete revolution of video gaming. A completely new form of control, of playing games, that would make the old systems obsolete, antiquated and limited. (Does this sound familiar? *ahem* VR *ahem*)

Of course reality turned out to be quite a letdown, and the massive hyping campaign to be completely out of proportions. The camera image resolution as well as the framerate of the final retail version of the Kinect was but a fraction of what was promised (something that Microsoft directly admitted a bit prior to publication, citing cost and technical problems both on the Kinect side and the Xbox 360 side), affecting most of the promised features. Motion detection was much poorer than promised, facial recognition was almost non-existent and extremely flawed, as well as the promised ability to scan objects (such as pictures drawn on paper) being likewise pretty much non-existent. Accurately scanning the entire body of a user and replicating it on screen was likewise unrealistic.

I do not know if the Kinect would have worked as promised if it had the technical specifications originally planned for it (both in terms of camera resolution and capture framerate), but at the nerfed specs it was finally published it made the system almost unusable. Rather than replacing the regular controller, and being at least as fluent as, if not even more fluent than it, it was a nightmare to use. Just navigating the home screen, or the main menu of any game, using gestures, was often a pain. Very inaccurate and inconvenient. Most games were unable to accurately detect but the broadest of gestures (even though the E3 demos had promised the Kinect to be able to detect even minor gestures, such as opening and closing one's hand, or even the position of individual fingers), and this made even the simple act of navigating a menu very inaccurate and inconvenient. (In fact, many games opted to skip even trying to detect hand gestures, and implemented the simpler method of just broadly detecting where the user's hand is, and if the user keeps their hand on top of a button for long enough, the game would then activate that button. Needless to say, this isn't the most convenient and efficient or fastest way, nor the most accurate way, of navigating a menu.)

Needless to say, this was quite a big disappointment, both for users and for game developers. Neither of which got the wondrous new form of control that was promised.

Even so, Microsoft still tried to push the Kinect as the next big thing, and induced many game companies to make games for it. Some developers did indeed make Kinect games, even Kinect-only games, especially during its first few years. However, regardless of how much Microsoft pushed the platform, the total number of Kinect games is quite low. Wikipedia lists the Xbox 360 having (at least) 1233 games in total (although the real number is probably a bit higher, as Wikipedia doesn't necessarily list the most obscure games ever released for the console), and from those, only 108 are Kinect-only (with an additional 49 games having optional Kinect support).

108 games is not exactly an abysmally low number of games, but it's still pretty low, considering the success of the Xbox 360 console itself. (Also consider that a good portion of those Kinect-only games are dancing games, which isn't exactly a very popular genre.) The number of games for the Kinect is relatively low, considering how much Microsoft promoted the system.

One would think that after the disappointment that the Kinect was, as it didn't deliver almost any of its promises, and neither the users nor game developers were exactly thrilled about it, Microsoft would have, after a couple of years, just abandoned it and let it die a natural death. But no. For some reason Microsoft was obsessed with the Kinect, for many years to come. So much so that when they designed their next-generation console, the Xbox One (which was published almost exactly 3 years after the original Kinect), they made a new "improved" version of the Kinect for it. They wanted to push it so hard into the market that they actually made it a mandatory peripheral for the Xbox One. Not only would every single console come with the new Kinect bundled with it, but moreover the console wouldn't be usable at all without the Kinect! The Kinect was a mandatory peripheral to just use the console. No Kinect, and the console would refuse to even work!

Due to the massive backlash caused by this announcement, Microsoft reversed that decision just prior to launch, and allowed the console to be used without the Kinect. However, the Kinect would still be bundled with every Xbox One. You couldn't buy one without the other. (It wasn't but almost a year later that Microsoft finally started selling Xbox One's without the Kinect. At about $100 cheaper thanks to that.)

I understand what Microsoft was trying to do: The problem with the Xbox 360 Kinect was that only a fraction of users had it, and thus it wasn't very enticing for game developers to make games for it. However, now that every single user of the Xbox One had a Kinect for sure, that would certainly give incentives to game developers to support it. (After all, that's one of the core ideas of game consoles: Every console owner has the exact same hardware, and this makes the life of game developers much easier. If every console owner has a Kinect, there shouldn't be any problem in adding Kinect support to a game.)

It didn't help. Users still weren't interested in the Kinect, and in fact, the Kinect making the system about $100 more expensive hurt sales of the system quite badly. Perhaps in a vacuum it would have been ok, but the Xbox One had one ginormous adversary at the exact same time: The PS4. Which was selling like hotcakes, while the Xbox One, with its $100 higher price tag, was suffering.

When Microsoft finally started selling the console without the Kinect, its sales figures started improving significantly. (They never reached those of the PS4, but were still significantly better, making the console actually viable.)

Three years after the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft finally accepted the reality that the Kinect was a completely dead piece of hardware that nobody was interested in. The users weren't interested in it, and game developers weren't interested in it. (There's perhaps no better indication of this than the fact that even though the Xbox One has been on the market for four years, there exist only an abysmal 21 Kinect games for it.)

A nail in the coffin of the poor device was when Microsoft published the Xbox One S, which was a streamlined and slightly more efficient version, and it had no Kinect port at all. (A Kinect can still be connected to it, but it requires a separate USB adapter. The Kinect itself isn't an USB device, instead using its own custom port.)

And, of course, the absolutely final nail in the coffin is the fact that the new Xbox One X has no Kinect support at all. Microsoft has finally effectively declared the system dead for good.

Microsoft really pushed the Kinect to be the next big thing, and probably spent countless millions of dollars in its development and marketing, and did this well beyond what was reasonable. They should have accepted it as a failure in its first couple of years, and not even try to drag it into the Xbox One. The Kinect, however, became some kind of "self-imposed" White Elephant for Microsoft. (In common terminology a "white elephant" is an overly costly possession that cannot be disposed of. In this case, Microsoft imposed this status onto themselves, for at least six years, rather than just getting rid of it.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why are "social constructs" a bad thing?

Modern social justice cultists repeat the mantra that gender is just a "social construct" (a few of them even claiming that biological sex itself is such a thing).

Gender is not just a social construct, of course, but even if it were, the question arises why it's a bad thing. They always use that term, "just a social construct", as if it were an undesirable thing to get rid of. But why?

As a social species, almost everything related to interactions between people in our society is a "social construct".

Crime and punishment are social constructs. We, as a society, invented both things, and are "artificially" applying it to ourselves. It's the reason why the vast majority of people, when they for example want something, don't just go and take it from someone else. It's the reason why people don't just go to a store, take whatever they want, and walk off without paying. Even in the mildest of cases, at the very minimum, it's universally considered polite to ask before taking something that's not yours (in a situation where it could ostensibly make sense for you to take that thing, even though it doesn't directly belong to you.) It's the reason why the vast majority of people don't go pillaging, raping and murdering (and even those few that do usually get caught and punished very quickly). The social construct of crime and punishment is a huge deterrent of crime (something that has been demonstrated many times in very concrete ways.)

Traffic rules and laws are a social construct. They exist to make traffic fluent, and to minimize the risk of accidents. They wouldn't need to exist by absolute necessity but we, as a society, came up with them in order to introduce some order to the chaos, to optimize the movement of people and cargo, and to minimize the loss of life and health.

Interaction between people consists of almost nothing other than social constructs. Language is a social construct. The way we communicate our ideas to other people is a social construct. Our choice of words and expressions, depending on the situation, is a social construct. The rules of politeness are extremely subjective social constructs, but they help us communicate, interact and cooperate better with other people.

Concepts like privacy and respect are 100% social constructs, which in theory wouldn't have to exist, but as a society we have decided is the best way to go. When you go to the doctor, for example, some privacy is to be expected; other random people won't be able to hear you explain your medical problem to the doctor, and the doctor is expected not to divulge this information to random people. (In some jurisdictions this might even be enforced by law.)

In short, social interaction between people, no matter what kind, consists of pretty much nothing but social constructs.

So why are the social justice cultists using that term as if it were something negative, something to avoid and get rid of?

Activists are taken way too seriously

The media at large, as well as myriads of organizations, corporations, institutions, and sometimes even governments, take social justice activists way too much seriously than they should.

They don't seem to understand one crucial thing about those activists: They claim to represent the interests of several groups of people, but nobody elected them to represent them. Those activists did not ask anybody, nor were they appointed by anybody to represent them. The activists have all appointed themselves into that role, without asking anybody. Activists are speaking on behalf of large groups of people who were never even asked if they want those activists speaking on their behalf, or whether they agree with their views, opinions, methods, or proposed "solutions" to the "problems" they see.

If, for example, some group of neonazis were pretending to talk on behalf of, let's say, all white people, the majority of the media, even the regressive leftist media, understands that nobody elected them into that position, and that the vast majority of white people disagree with them and would most definitely not want them speaking on their behalf.

However, if a social justice warrior, or a transgender person, or somebody similar, pretends to speak on behalf of large groups of people (sometimes even groups of people they themselves aren't part of), the media and other organizations take them seriously, as if they indeed are speaking on behalf of those people, without actually going and asking those people if they agree.

Would you want for some zealots, who you never elected to represent you, speaking on your behalf, and make all kinds of claims and demands on your behalf, without asking you, and for the media and all kinds of institutions and governments to take them seriously and consider them to speak on your behalf, without asking you, especially if you disagree with many of the things that the zealots are saying?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What is "acting white"?

Black racists will often accuse other black people of "acting white". There's even a rather old moniker "oreo" to describe this ("black on the outside, white on the inside"). Black people who "act white" are deemed as some kind of race traitors, because they don't "act black" enough, and thus are traitors to their "own people" and their "own culture".

But what exactly is "acting white"? It's actually hard to get concrete answers.

Deducing from everything I have seen, when they accuse black people of "acting white", what they mean is somebody who (typically) gets a higher-degree education, ie. goes to school to study hard and get a degree (and typically does not participate in any political activism), gets a good-paying job corresponding to his knowledge and education, performs that job diligently, using all of his knowledge, education, qualifications and experience, is perhaps promoted because of his job proficiency, gets a quite good income, buys a car and a house in a decent middle-to-upper class neighborhood, gets married, does not make a big fuss about politics and such, and overall lives like an honest, hard-working, law-abiding, successful citizen.

You know, like a normal person in a normal society, pretty much anywhere.

There are no traits, behaviors, opinions and characteristics that are common to all "white people" (whatever that term would even mean, given that it's not completely unambiguous; for example, are Spanish people "white"? Are Jews "white"? Are Brazilians "white"? And so on). Even if you took the "whitest" people you could think of, they are still extremely diverse in their traits, behaviors and opinions. There is nothing that's common to all of them, when it comes to behavior or culture.

When black racists talk about "acting white", what they seem to be talking about is the ideal modern western sociopolitical culture (which is, in fact, not restricted to the west, as it's very common in other parts of the world as well, such as Japan, India, and so on) of honest hard-working law-abiding citizens who just live their everyday lives and get along, without making a big fuzz about things, and overall have an live-and-let-live attitude, and a "we should all work together to build a better society" attitude.

When it comes down to it, when we really examine it in depth, when these black racists talk about "acting black", what they are talking about is, essentially, racial hatred and having a "gangsta" thug culture and attitude that hates white people and is very tribal and isolated, and hates the idea of a peaceful working society where everybody lives in peace and harmony, working together and working hard to earn a good living, and owning a good home in a good neighborhood, and living a peaceful and prosperous life.

When you demand censorship, expect to be censored

One common wisdom, which many zealots seem to not understand, is that when you demand limiting people's freedoms, those limitations will eventually come back at you. If you demand censorship, that same censorship will be eventually applied to you.

Modern regressive leftist feminists want to both keep the cake, and eat it. They demand tougher stances on "hate speech", harassment, derogatory comments, and anything that anybody would consider offensive and demeaning. But, as always, don't want this exact principle to apply to themselves. (After all, when you have the moral high ground, you can do no wrong, you can do whatever you want, and your own rules, which you are trying to impose onto others, do not apply to yourself.)

So what happens when they successfully drive a social media platform like Facebook to ban people who make derogatory comments about other people? Well, what do you know, they get banned themselves for making derogatory comments about men. And of course they aren't happy.

Of course they should be free to post derogatory comments about a group of people they hate. They should be exempt from the rule, because they have the moral high ground.

You know, because feminism is about equality.

(Btw, it's curious how many of the people mentioned in that article are self-proclaimed "comedians". Because saying "men are scum" is the pinnacle of comedy in the modern world, it appears.)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Captain Disillusion chose the blue pill

Captain Disillusion is one of my all-time favorite YouTube channels. He specializes mainly in analyzing and debunking online videos depicting seemingly extraordinary events (such as UFOs, ghosts, viral videos presenting belief-defying acts of skill, and so on.) He does this by acting a fictitious role, often with copious amounts of humor. The production quality of his videos is quite high (and have got better and better over the years). His videos are very informative, enlightening, and entertaining. He doesn't publish videos very frequently, but every time he does, it's a real treat.

To my recollection, during the whopping 10 years he has been making YouTube videos, he has never delved into politics, or made any sort of sociopolitical comment, or taken any stance, or any sides. Of course I have only watched his videos and nothing of his other online activity, but at least deducing from his YouTube channel, he has been keeping away from making political comments of any kind. He seems to have liked to keep away from those things, and concentrate on making entertaining and informative videos about hoaxes and special effects.

That's actually something I like and admire in a skeptic. I don't actually care which side of the political spectrum they are, or how extreme they may be. If they produce quality content, and keep their political opinions (regardless of what they might be) out of it, that's A-ok by me, and in fact a quite desirable trait.

Recently, however, he gave a speech at Skepticon Australia 2017, which seems to have changed this.

At first the presentation seems quite enjoyable and humorous, and it feels like he's going to say something informative. It's presented in a very self-deprecating manner, making light of him supposedly being so "awesome", yet then presenting some flaws and mistakes he has made over the years, like for instance making a factually false claim about how magnets work, and so on.

Overall, the speech doesn't actually seem to have any point, nor is it all that informative after all. It doesn't actually present any information, or anything useful (it doesn't, for instance, debunk any viral video or the sort, even though he briefly presents a few clips). It appears to be more of some sort of comedy sketch than anything else, without any actual point.

(In this light, in fact, and a bit in retrospect, it actually feels a bit like virtue-signaling. The sort of the wrong kind of self-deprecation, where the "comedian" is not so much making jokes, and instead he's trying to virtue-signal to the audience. "Look, I am flawed and I'm not afraid of showing my mistakes. Look how good of a person I am. I'm the bigger person and I can admit my mistakes. Please admire me.")

Anyway, that's besides the point. If he wants to make a self-deprecating comedy sketch, that's completely fine (even if it feels a bit virtue-signaling in retrospect). I don't mind.

What I do mind, however, is that he seemed to break his unstated neutral stance on the current sociopolitical climate and, at least seemingly, he had chosen the so-called "blue pill" of the current social justice divide. (And, in fact, I got the strong feeling that he did this as yet another form of virtue-signaling to his audience.)

The first slight sign of this was when he presented as one of his "mistakes" showing, among other people, the photo of Anita Sarkeesian at the beginning of one of his videos as examples of "annoying people on YouTube", for which he got some flack from YouTube commenters.

He still presents this in a rather ambiguous manner, as in, he doesn't make it completely clear whether he's just being humorous here, or if he's actually apologizing for this "mistake". He presents it more as if that's indeed the case, but it's still a bit ambiguous. It could also be that he's just making a comment like "how could have I known this would stir so much controversy?", without actually taking a stance one way or another on what Sarkeesian's opinions are.

But then he pretty much removes all uncertainty by presenting a small sketch where he quite directly and unironically calls several known anti-SJW skeptics "asshole skeptics". Included were people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the YouTuber Sargon of Akkad. While still maintaining a modicum of ambiguity, I nevertheless did not see anything in that segment that would indicate that he wasn't completely serious about calling those people "asshole skeptics", clearly referring to their anti-SJW stances. His use of "asshole" seemed to be completely serious, regardless of the humorous tone of his entire speech. I didn't see even a hint that he was not serious about calling those people that.

And the thing is, that part, which took like a minute or two, was completely superfluous. If it had been removed from the speech, absolutely nothing of substance would have been missing. The part was completely extraneous. It didn't even tie in with his theme of having made mistakes, or anything. It was kind of completely superfluous and out-of-the-blue. But for some reason he had to include it, he had to virtue-signal to his audience about it, and break is 10-year-long unstated neutrality.

I must say, I'm quite disappointed. As said, I don't really mind what his political opinions are. I liked him for his content, and I liked the fact that he kept it separate from his politics, and never mixed the two. But he had to virtue-signal; he had to take a side; he had to insult the "wrongthinkers" in front of an audience. And for what? Nothing. There was no need. He could have just as well left that part out, and nothing of any substance would have been missing.

I just hope this doesn't become a pattern. I'll still check his future videos, but I hope he doesn't start infecting them with the regressive leftist social justice ideology. I'll let this one speech be, and continue following his channel as normal, but the very second he makes a new video where he starts spouting SJW ideology, or attacks people because of their "wrongthink", I'm done. I don't have the patience for that kind of people.

Is going into water after eating dangerous?

Many countries and cultures have really pervasive beliefs and superstitions that live on, as strong as ever, regardless of all the evidence of the contrary. For example there's a belief, believed by a good majority of people, and repeated by the media year after year, that sleeping with an electric fan turned on in the same room can be dangerous, even lethal. This belief seems to be pretty much isolated to that country alone, but it's still strongly believed by a good portion of the population. (I don't know if the origin of this myth is known, but it's easy to assume that at some point somebody was found dead while sleeping, perhaps for unknown reasons, and there was an electric fan running in the room, so somebody, or the media, made hasty conclusions, which spread like wildfire.)

A much older, and much more widespread quasi-superstitious belief in many countries (especially in southern European countries, and many continental American countries, both north and south) that going to swim after eating can be dangerous.

I lived in the Canary Islands in my youth, and this belief was very widely held there (and pretty much most of Spain, and to my understanding, most of Mediterranean countries). It was repeated by teachers in schools, and it was repeated by television, year after year.

In fact, oftentimes the belief was so extreme that the claim was not only that swimming was dangerous after eating, but the mere act of going into water itself was likewise dangerous. Just entering water was enough for it to be dangerous.

Curiously, and in retrospect a bit hilariously, the "safe" amount of time to wait after eating varied wildly as well. I heard all kinds of "safe" times, ranging all the way from half an hour up to a whopping three hours (this last one presented completely seriously in a TV program, which I remember vividly). The most commonly cited time seemed to be 2 hours.

And what were these "dangers", you might ask? Also quite curiously, nobody seemed to have a concrete answer. It simply was dangerous. Nobody could really tell if it was just discomfort, feeling ill, throwing up, falling sick, or even death. Of course all kinds of concrete claims abounded, but they were varied and contradictory. But yeah, even claims of it being lethal was not uncommon.

Of course in reality there's absolutely nothing "dangerous" in going into water after eating. The act of strenuous swimming might make you feel sick, and even make you throw up if you keep doing it, depending on how much you have eaten, but that has nothing to do with you being in water, and everything to do with you exercising strenuously (and the same would happen with any form of exercise.) It also might be that if you go into very cold water all of a sudden, it might also likewise disrupt digestion and make you feel a bit sick. However, as far as I know, this is not especially dangerous, just discomfort.

These might be the origin of the myth, which got inflated well beyond proportions.

In many countries people have never even heard of such a myth, and might find it hilarious when they hear of it.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Britain the first police state of Europe?

Given how horrendous the situation in Sweden is, with massive amounts of crimes, including rapes, committed by immigrants, and dozens of literal "no-go zones" dominated by immigrant gangs, where the police literally doesn't dare to go unless in the utmost of dire circumstances, and where ambulances also dare not go because of the fear of the safety of the ambulance personnel, and given how massive the propaganda and censorship is in Sweden with regards to all this, I always assumed that Sweden would be the first European country to become, effectively, a police state followed by becoming an Islamic totalitarian hellhole.

However, it appears that Great Britain might be even worse.

The British police forces are seeing their budget being cut year after year, and the size of the police forces becoming smaller and smaller each year. Yet they still have the resources, budget and time to fight the most horrendous of criminals in existence: Trolls, and people speaking their minds on the internet.

The numbers are staggering. Last year alone the British police arrested over 3300 people because of comments they had made in online forums. That's over 9 people every single day of the year, on average. And their pace isn't slowing down, but all the contrary.

The British police literally has too few resources to investigate all robberies, thefts, muggings, sexual assaults, and so on and so forth. And sometimes they are too scared of being called racists to intervene when gangs are grooming and raping thousands of underage girls. But they certainly seem to have the time and resources to deal with the horrendous crime of having the wrong opinions on the internet. They also seem quite ready to harass in absolutely horrendous ways individual people for being critical of immigration and Islamic culture. (Whether you personally agree with Tommy Robinson's opinions, that doesn't make one iota of a difference: The police still has no right to harass him and his family, sometimes in an almost deadly manner, in a civilized western country. The police has no right to harass anybody in that manner, no matter what he may have done. They have much less right to do so purely because of his opinions.)

If you get mugged by somebody in Britain, don't expect much help from the police, especially if the perpetrator is a Muslim immigrant. They don't have the resources nor the willingness to do much about it. However, if you go to the internet to express your dissatisfaction about the situation, expect the police to knock on your door. Your crime is so much worse. You dared to have a negative opinion of a Muslim person. Suddenly the police has all the time in the world to deal with your heinous crime.

I wish this was isolated to Britain. Unfortunately it isn't. The same phenomenon is quickly spreading among most European countries. Other countries, such as Germany , are still behind Britain in sheer number of arrests, but they are doing their best to keep up.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A trip down memory lane: Game boxes

My previous blog post gave me a bit of a nostalgic feeling when thinking about video games in physical media. Who purchases those on this day and age anyways? Ok, they are still very common on consoles, but on the PC side they are becoming more and more of a rarity. I myself haven't purchased a PC game as a physical disc in years.

But I do have quite a lot of them. Not nearly as much as avid collectors, but somewhere in the ballpark of 150-200 in total (this includes all games I own as a physical copy, for all systems, not just PC games. From those perhaps about 75-100 are PC games.)

Here are a few of the more iconic, more recent PC games I have a physical copy of:


Probably not many people own these as physical copies.

Of course I have been buying video games for quite some time, so it goes way back.


And waaaaay back:


In fact, Tomb Raider III was the first PC game I ever purchased. That's the original disc. I wonder if it would even work anymore.

Of course it's just the first PC game I ever purchased. My video game purchases go all the way back to the early 80's, but sadly I don't have those cassettes anymore.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Moneygrabbing business practices in modern videogames

A couple of decades ago the video game business was rather simple: A game developer offers a complete full-size video game on physical media, you buy one copy of that physical media, and that's it. You have the full game; you play it; you are happy. At most there could be some patches to fix bugs, which you could download and apply. (After technology became advanced enough, the game could automatically patch itself! No longer did you need to go to the developer's website and download an .exe file and run it manually to patch the game. Yeehaw!)

Then digital purchasing and distribution of games became viable. While purchasing games on a physical media is still alive and well to this day, it has become less and less relevant over the years due to the convenience of simply purchasing the game online and have it playable as soon as your rig can download it. What's better, the digital version is oftentimes cheaper than the physical copy (or, at the very least, downloadable versions are on significant sale a lot more often than the physical copies at physical stores.)

Of course online digital distribution of games made it much more feasible to add additional content to the game afterwards. Back when the internet was the privilege of the very few, and download speeds were abysmal and horrendously expensive, additional content for video games wasn't very feasible. Today, when the average household has download bandwidths that would have made even governments jealous in the early 90's, and costs nothing additional to download anything you want, additional content for video games is just limited by the imagination of the developers.

Some additional content was made freely available to owners of the game, like a kind of PR thing, to perhaps boost the sales of the game itself. Many such content was sold for a reasonable price. Often this DLC was, for example, additional playable content for the game, such as extra levels or missions. Perhaps even a full sequel story to the game. Sometimes it would be more cosmetic in nature.

Anyway, the basic timeline was: Game is published, some months/years later the developer makes additional content for the game, which users can purchase and download, if they wanted. This additional content was purely optional, and only added something extra to the game.

Some years ago this trend changed. Many people don't remember it anymore, but at one point some game companies caused a lot of controversy and criticism by engaging in a then-abhorrent practice: Day 1 DLC.

In other words, no longer was the game sold as a whole packet, and DLC only developed and distributed afterwards, as purely additional content for a successful game. Now the contents of the game was split into parts from the very moment of publication. Additional DLC content was made and sold from the very start. This, at the time, made absolutely no sense, seemed like nothing more than a money-grabbing scheme (especially if this was done for a full-priced triple-A game), and caused a lot of controversy and criticism. After all, it was deemed that the game was being sold incomplete, without all the content, often at full price, and to get all of the content, you would need to pay extra. It felt almost as if the developers were holding part of the content "ransom" for extra money.

Nowadays this has become normal, normalized, and not many even remember the controversy anymore. Unfortunately Day 1 DLC has become so normal that people don't even pay any attention to it anymore.

And of course from Day 1 DLC it's a very easy jump to the absolute pinnacle of anti-consumerism: Mictrotransactions.

Microtransactions originate from, and were invented for mobile games. When Apple made the touch-screen-display smartphone ubiquitous, and opened it for developers to create any apps and games, and all other smartphone brands followed suit, and coupled with ever-increasing speeds and screen resolutions cellphones became viable gaming platforms, a very curious phenomenon surfaced: While in all other gaming platforms games were priced between something like $10 to $60, on the iPhone, and later Android phones, a game had to be priced at about $2 or less, or else it was deemed way too expensive. In the first years many companies tried to sell full-priced, or "half-priced" (in the 20-30 dollar range) games, with little success. These attempts were quickly abandoned after a couple of years.

This phenomenon became only worse over the years, with companies trying to out-compete each other in how cheap their games were. Of course the logical extreme was to distribute the games for free. No charge. Just download and play. But of course companies still needed to make money somehow, so they, and Apple, developed the notion of "free to play" games with microtransactions, so called "freemium" games: Rather than buy the game and that's it, like you do in the "big" platforms, you instead get the game for free, but you can buy things within the game, using real money. For example, there may be some form of virtual currency used in the game (that can be used for various things in the game), and this virtual currency can be either earned very slowly by playing, or by buying it from the store using real money.

In the best case scenarios you could just play the game normally, ignoring the microtransactions. If you wanted things more easily, you could spend real money to purchase the in-game stuff, but you wouldn't have to. In the worst case scenarios, in the greediest of cases, the game is almost unplayable without spending money on microtransactions (there have been several very infamous cases of this.)

Everybody hates microtransactions and "freemium" games, yet they are absolutely ubiquitous in mobile platforms. So much so that it's essentially hopeless to try to actually sell a game for money there, no matter how little it might be. The traditional "fair" system of "purchase a full game once" just doesn't work. And this model is completely ubiquitous in mobile platforms because it works: Even if 99% of people hates the business model, it's enough for that 1% to get hooked into microtransactions for it to be highly profitable. (And I suspect that 1% figure I just invented is probably way, way too low. Probably a much higher percentage of users get hooked.) The problem is aggravated by the fact that almost nobody is ready to actually purchase full games for mobile platforms anymore, because they have been accustomed to everything being downloadable for free. (Yes, even that 99% that hates "freemium" games isn't actually ready to purchase games outright. Which makes it kind of hypocritical, but whatever.)

Anyway, after this really long-winged sidetrack, to the actual point I was trying to make: Unfortunately game companies are trying to introduce these same microtransactions into the "big" gaming platforms (ie. PC and desktop consoles). But usually not in the form of "freemium" games. In the worst case scenarios some completely full-priced games ($60+) will have microtransactions in them. Not just DLC, but actual microtransactions (as in eg, purchasing virtual in-game currency with real money). After all, if it works on mobile platforms, why wouldn't it work on the PC and consoles?

There are already some actual "freemium" games for the big gaming platforms. You can download and play them for free, and in some cases you don't even have to purchase anything in-game, but you have the option to, if you want. Some of these games aren't actually bad, and can actually be quite fair and non-obnoxious in their sales tactics. Of course some bad apples also exist.

But it gets really shady and obnoxious when a commercial game, especially if full-priced, uses microtransactions. You already paid full price for the game, and now you are expected to spend even more money on it?

Fortunately, so far, this is still a rarity, and absolutely hated by most gamers and critics. Let's hope it doesn't become more prevalent. And let's really, really hope it doesn't become as ubiquitous as with mobile platforms.

As long as people keep purchasing video games in the normal way, it probably won't happen. Let's hope that lasts.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Multicultural Britain prepares for Christmas

"How Britain celebrates Christmas in 2017: Armed guards, concrete barriers and metal detectors spring up around festive markets due to terror attack fears"

"Armed police, large concrete barriers and stop and search checks carried out at festive markets across UK"

This is what the British police currently looks like:


Welcome to open borders, unrestricted immigration, and the joys of multiculturalism. Just hope that the joys of multiculturalism don't explode too close to you. Or that the bullets from those automatic assault rifles will be able to stop those jihadi trucks.

And by the way, there are still between half and one million economic migrants entering Europe every single year, with no signs of it slowing down. So happy multiculturalism everybody.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Should social taboos affect science?

Science ought to be objective, neutral and unbiased, examining just the facts and drawing conclusions from those facts, whatever those conclusions might be, without biases or agendas. If the facts overwhelmingly indicate thing X, then that's it. No ifs, buts or maybes.

That's not the situation in all cases, however. Sometimes things like cultural norms, stigmas and taboos hinder scientific research, no matter how objective that research might be.

As a hypothetical example, suppose that the IQ of a million white people and a million black people is tested, using an extensive unbiased IQ test that has been demonstrated to be completely independent of culture, upbringing and educational background (ie. those things do not affect the results of the test). The test is performed properly as a double-blind test with controls, and is as much automated as possible, to remove all possible bias from the people doing the research.

Now, suppose that the results show a quite significant difference in average IQ between the two groups. Would this result be taken at face value, and simply accepted as is, and added to our catalogue of knowledge? If the results showed, for example, that black people have on average a significantly lower IQ than white people, there would be an uproar, demands for censorship, and all kinds of sophistry to try to explain the result away (no matter how reliable the experiment was, given the ginormous sample size and the extreme rigor to remove all bias)? Much of this opposition to accept the results would undoubtedly come from the scientific community itself, not just the wider public.

(And, indubitably, if the result were the opposite, it would be wildly embraced in the current political climate. You know, because equality. Because it would be the progressive thing to do.)

And that's only one of the many taboos that our society has, which potentially affects science and makes it biased and even self-censoring. Sometimes it even introduces bias into the scientists, who try to artificially get the "correct" results that confirm the notions of the taboo.

The interesting thing is that these cultural taboos change over time. What was such a huge taboo 100 years ago that it affected science in that manner, might not be a taboo today. 100 years from now some of these taboos may have changed as well.

But shouldn't science be above these cultural norms and taboos, examining the facts of reality and nothing more?

Monday, November 20, 2017

More about the Finnish vs. US constitutions

In a previous blog post, The Finnish constitution vs. the United States constitution, I compared the two constitutions and how they are applied in each country, and described how weak and powerless the Finnish constitution is, and how relatively freely it's ignored by judges and officials.

There are still even more differences than what I wrote there.

In the United States, the constitution is, in fact, enforceable law. Meaning that officials can be sued by individuals for unconstitutional behavior. In other words, an individual can sue a government official (such as for example a sheriff) for an action that's against the constitution.

A recent case in the United States is a perfect example of this. A sheriff in Georgia has been indicted after a jury awarded 3 million dollars to 900 students, after the sheriff ordered his deputies to perform an unlawful body search of those students. The sheriff was sued explicitly for violating the 4th Amendment rights of those students.

This is a non-existent concept in Finland. The constitution is not law. Here you sue people for breaking the law, not for "breaking the constitution", or "unconstitutional behavior", which are non-existent legal concepts here. Nobody has ever been indicted for violating the Finnish constitution.

When I think about it, I don't even know what the Finnish constitution is. It establishes the form of Finnish government, and lists the "basic rights" of its citizens, but especially the latter don't seem to be enforceable laws, nor does much of it restrict what kinds of laws can be passed by the government (unlike the United States constitution). Something is illegal if it's forbidden by law, not if it's forbidden by the constitution. If the law says that something is A-ok, then it doesn't seem to really matter what the constitution says.

It gets even worse when the constitution explicitly gives carte blanche for the law to do whatever it wants, as is the case with the free speech clause, as I commented in my previous blog post. To recapitulate, said clause says (translation mine):
"Everybody has freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech includes the right to express, publish and receive any information, opinions and other messages unimpeded by anybody. More specific regulations on the exercise of free speech is decreed by law."
One particular example where this carte blanche principle is seen is in the law that criminalizes inciting hatred towards a group of people. That law states (translation mine):
"Whoever makes available to the public or in any way spreads or keeps available to the public information, an opinion, or other form of message, which threatens, vilifies, or defames a group of people based on race, skin color, place of birth, national or ethnic background, religion or conviction, sexual orientation, or physical handicap, or similar basis, is to be sentenced for incitement against a group of people to a fine or to imprisonment for up to two years."
Notice the similarity in wording between the constitutional act and the law. For instance, both talk about the dissemination of opinions. This is so also in the original Finnish. The difference is, of course, that while the constitution seemingly ensures the right to disseminate eg. opinions, any opinions, the law forbids certain opinions.

One would hastily think that the law is in contradiction with the constitution. However, as said, the constitution gives carte blanche for the law to freely restrict whatever speech the government wants. There are no limitations specified or imposed by the constitution.

Who decides what falls into speech forbidden by that law? Judges, of course. And the law is so loosely worded, and so open-ended ("or similar basis") that judges are pretty free to choose based on their own subjective opinions what speech breaches the law and what doesn't.

Some years ago a man was put in jail for two years because he drew by hand a picture of the koran, and defaced it. The judge deemed that action to break this law. Likewise a bit ago a politician was convicted to a fine because he called Mohammad a pedophile in a blog post. Once again the judge's opinion was that this violated this law.

This law is, in fact, heavily used in Finland for political persecution. If you express too heavy criticism eg. about Islam, expect being sued by the government, using this law. It is my understanding that in the United States both of those actions fall completely under the free speech clause and are thus unpunishable.

I would categorize countries into four groups, based on what kind of constitutional principles they have:
  1. The constitution is the highest law of the land, and imposes severe restrictions on what kinds of laws the government can pass. It limits what the government can do, and forbids it from restricting people's freedoms.
  2. The constitution only forbids the government from sentencing people who have not broken the law, but imposes little to no limits on what kind of laws the government can pass, including laws that restrict people's freedoms. In other words, the government cannot sentence people without a law that they have broken, but they can create new laws at will, without much restriction.
  3. As the previous one, but people are de facto "sentenced" for actions that are not unlawful, but deemed heinous. This "de facto sentencing" may come in the form of social stigma, public shaming, and harassment (from either officials, the wider public, or both).
  4. There are no constitutional principles, and officials are free to punish people for whatever reason as they see fit. There doesn't even need to be an explicit law.
I see the United States as belonging to category #1 (and, in fact, I can't think of any other such country, although there might be). Finland is, still, on category #2 for the most part. Examples of category #3 include Sweden and the UK. Any totalitarian dictatorship is an example of #4.

(Sweden is in a really horrible state. If, for example, a Swedish woman dares to express that she feels unsafe to go outside her home because of all the abuse and sexual assaults by immigrants, she will not be prosecuted because that's not an illegal opinion, but she will be harassed by feminists and often even government officials. The UK, in turn, is pretty much effectively a police state, where the police will harass and abuse people who express publicly the "wrong" opinions about immigration. Finland is still thankfully not in that state, but we are slowly getting there.)

The EU is pushing for more and more regulation restricting "hate speech", which in practice means criticism of immigration or Islam. I fear that Finland will inevitably start restricting and punishing such speech, in increasing manner, and prosecuting people who express the "wrong" opinions eg. in social media (like the UK and Germany, among other countries, are already doing). And why not. As said multiple times, the Finnish constitution puts absolutely no restrictions on such laws being passed. Pretty much anything goes. Free speech is dying here at a very fast pace.