In the wake of the ANTIFA bullcrap that’s been showing its ugly head at universities all over the States and most likely soon if hasn’t already also in the UK. It seems inevitable that my next piece of writing would not be on the dire state of Academia but instead how we are watching the death of intellectual pursuit and even to some degree rationality. Apparently, it’s a ‘masculinity’ thing. And we all know how toxic masculinity is right? Totally not sounding like a bigot when you say that. But what do I know as a filthy straight white male in this day and age?

That paragraph may come across as a bit blunter than what you usually find here but at the end of the day, I’ve taken a long break from writing about my issues with social justice activism. But inevitably I reached the end of my tether and here I am once again to discuss the hypocrisy that is rotting its core as well as currently polluting young minds with a dangerously destructive world view that denigrates everyone into categories and practically worships everything that’s come from Identity politics. Remember folks treat people by how they look on the surface. Yeah, they do have a brain but that’s just there for aesthetic reasons.

You might ask what could possibly have led me to write the two paragraphs above. Well if you’ve ready anything previously on here related to ‘No-Platforming‘ then you probably already know what my stance is on it. I hate it. It directly contradicts why anyone would bother going to University. Especially since most students, I like to imagine aren’t being held at gunpoint to attend these monstrous seminars with the literally Hitler speakers that were invited to have a thing that once meant something. A discussion. God fucking forbid you to allow people the free will to listen to someone that is on the right side of the spectrum.

So you can imagine how many tables I flipped when I read this idiot’s defence of ‘No-Platforming’. This is how the article begins:

‘As graduation season approaches, colleges across the country are locking down commencement speakers to address the class of 2017. Harvard got Mark Zuckerberg (a Harvard dropout). Hillary Clinton is speaking at Wellesley, Bernie Sanders at Brooklyn College. Joe Biden will speak to my seniors at Colby. But if this year is anything like last, other invitees will prove more controversial, sparking another round of debates over “no-platforming”: the practice of opposing campus speakers.’

It’s interesting is it not that the author immediately paints University as some left-wing bastion and that the idea that a conservative would attend University let alone want to hear a discussion that at least supports their views is obviously a complete myth. So what I gather is it’s okay for left wing politician to preach their bullshit to students but call the fucking police when the right wingers show up to have a nice chat with a handful of students that actually remembered that there are always two sides to an argument. Oh, wait this is Moral Supremacists we are talking about. To oppose any aspect of the SJW mindset will automatically put you in the crosshairs of the label brigade. And even that is like a game of bingo to see how many words in the English language can be rendered meaningless!

Although it is somewhat reassuring that Bernie Sanders the man sold up the shit creek by his own party no less has some sane views on the matter. The author of this shit piece quotes his interview in the Huffington Post;

“Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous—to my mind, off the wall,” Sanders told The Huffington Post last week. “But you know, people have a right to give their two-cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.” He said that it was “a sign of intellectual weakness” to “boo, or shut her down, or prevent her from coming,” adding, “What are you afraid of—her ideas? Ask her the hard questions. Confront her intellectually.”

The author further adds that ‘Barack Obama and Alice Walker are among many speakers the right has attempted to disinvite‘. However, after going over his link, note you will have to possibly open up the page properly as it is archived. I could only find Joe Biden as particularly significant someone who the right tried and failed to disinvite. Although there are a few people they have tried to disinvite and often failed with only some successful attempts. It is, however, awfully telling how often left wingers to try to get someone disinvited and in most cases actually succeed in cancelling the event. The excuse this shit piece makes for all this is very interesting I think; ‘Rejecting campus speakers is not an assault on free speech. Rather, like so many other decisions made every day by college students, teachers, and administrators, it’s a value judgement’.

The author is forgetting that none of these talks is probably mandatory. How many times will I have to say this I wonder? You have a choice. If a right winger is invited to talk at your university then do something else that day. You have no fucking right to interrupt the learning of your fellow student. I consider that disrespectful not to the speaker but to the student. Because how dare they listen to a view you disagree with, right? If anything you could learn a lot from the fact they are rather open minded on most things. They probably aren’t perfect but at least they are trying to hear from an alternative perspective. That they may even want to debate. Shock. Horror.

The author surmises that No-Platforming is a value judgement and further states; ‘This has always meant deciding what people needed to know, but also what they don’t need to know—or at least which knowledge and skills deserved priority in one’s formal education‘.

To which I ask why should you dictate what is and what isn’t discussed on campus. It sounds awfully authoritarian to me personally. The author’s excuse is amusing, to say the least;

‘Though the knowledge and skills we deem essential have changed over the years, the practice of curating and prioritising them is still crucial to the mission of a classically liberal education. No-platforming may look like censorship from certain angles, but from others, it’s a consequence of a challenging, never-ending process occurring at virtually all levels of the university: deciding what educational material to present to our students, and what to leave out. In this sense, de-platforming isn’t censorship; it’s a product of free expression and the foundational aims of a classically liberal education.’

Because you can’t have students daring to question if you are in fact wrong. By deciding what they can or can’t know you might as well open up the door to room 101. He further goes on to state;

‘For my “Age of Revolution” course I have 14 weeks to cover the English Civil Wars, the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and the Haitian Revolution, which means it’s incumbent upon me—and every other professor—to think very carefully about what students need to know, and thus what to prioritize and what to leave out. In making that decision, I consult other scholars in the field and review other syllabi. I consider my research strengths, as well as the gaps or needs in the broader curriculum. If I end up leaving off James Madison in favour of Edmund Burke, I’m hardly “censoring” Madison.’

This is apples to oranges in my opinion. It’s obviously not possible to cover every person or event in a lesson, let alone such a topic of revolution considering how many revolutions have come about in human history. Furthermore, one speaker attending for a few hours isn’t going to kill someone. It’s also not like you can schedule another speaker for another day and allow those students to hear from someone they want to listen to. It’s not rocket science but the process of deciding what to focus on in a lecture is very different from usually far more flexible seminar that follows. Especially if that seminar involves a speaker from outside of the university. After all, they don’t have to take the time out of their day to speak to you. It’s not their time being wasted. It’s yours. You who decided that your fellow student can’t handle a controversial opinion.

‘To treat the open forum of the classroom or the campus like just another town square—and thus to explain value judgement and knowledge prioritisation on campus in terms of censorship or “shutting down” speech—is misguided. No one really thinks Coulter’s ideas are “shut down” if she doesn’t get a chance to talk to Berkeley students.’

The truth is though, she is being shut down. A speech on campus is a unique chance to gain the insight you may not have a chance to access otherwise. I doubt it’s every day you get to hear let alone possible meet Ann Coulter. The author further goes on to state;

‘Obviously, students can read, watch, and hear professional provocateurs like Coulter without an institution of higher education hosting her speech. An education opens minds and expands horizons by introducing students to people and ideas they otherwise won’t find trending on Twitter over the latest monetized controversy.’

Clearly, this person is living on cloud nine, since all education teaches now is that you have to conform or be cast into oblivion there’s no in between. Students on campus put simply. Are not allowed a voice because some idiot will protest, silence and try to suppress that voice.

This is the final point I will leave you all with; ‘Students and protesters need to eschew violence and disruption and focus instead on the many viable arguments for why low-value speakers like Coulter don’t deserve a campus platform‘.

To which Mr Hanlon I ask what you makes you the arbiter of what is or is not a low-value speaker. Because what’s to stop me saying the same about you. It goes both ways is all I’m saying. It’s why I will oppose silencing any speaker because the only way to judge their views is to actually hear them first hand. That’s all that needs to be said really.

(Extended Note: This style is little more informal than my usual approach if anyone has the time, let me know what you think of the writing and is this format is preferred over my usual formal approach)

Growing up it was almost unconscious to be against the Right, probably down to the fact my parents are Labour voters, although whether they are now, remains to be seen. It seems in the last few years my position on the political spectrum has me torn on conceding that at heart I am quite conservative but I am still very much supportive of Liberal views. The rot on the Left in my opinion is routed in the narcissism of those that now take advantage of the minorities they claim to represent. In reality, it’s nothing more than political grandstanding mixed with an unhealthy dose of identity politics. In the end, I may just have to resign myself to the centre and reconcile with myself that in the end, I misjudged the right wing. It’s not the evil bogeyman the mainstream would have you believe. It’s not perfect by any means, go too far right and you end up staring at the same identity politics that have strangled all discussion and open mindedness on the left. The danger currently is that the current hysteria will see the rise of Far Left and Right wing organisations trying to outdo each other, and potentially resorting to violent means of silencing opposition. This has already happened in Berkeley, the former home of the Freedom of Speech movement. Now just reduced to ashes under the foot of Anti-Fascist Fascists.

The reason I write this is because I stumbled upon an by the College Fix regarding the group Turning Point USA. Santa Clara University voted to deny the pro-capitalist organisation for many reasons such as ‘that the group may invite conservative speakers, and that allowing it would be a stand against “humanity.” The claim is actually made in the video and upon reading this absurd rationality I immediately gave up on Academia. Let me put this as simply as possible. This group’s existence is not against anyone’s humanity. The censoring of it, in my opinion, is a violation of the right to freedom of speech and expression. The Director of the Multicultural center is quoted as saying:

“This organisation, nationally and on this campus, is against our ideals as a university with a Jesuit philosophy and more than anything it is against our humanity … This is not right, this is not what we stand for as a whole university.”

Don’t you love it, when a single authoritarian-minded individual can dictate an entire university? I assume Turning Point held them to ransom or maybe their forcing people to attend their meetings at gun point? No. Of course, they aren’t. Their just a conservative organisation that is more than likely completely harmless. But as I mentioned with this stupid stigma, some Liberals quiver at the idea of allowing conservative speakers to speak at their university. And what an insult to liberalism this university is for kowtowing to those that aren’t prepared to have their ideology challenged. Academia should not simply be a way to reaffirm your beliefs. But it should challenge them.

Warne who voted in favour of the group stated that ‘the debate centered around the possibility of the club inviting conservative speakers to campus as well as the organization’s affiliation with the Professor Watchlist, an aggregated list of articles published by a variety of news organizations on professors who have said or done controversial things’.

The Professor Watchlist is, for the most part, a record of Lecturers who spout radical ideas, bordering on possibly even racist. Although as we all know you can’t be racist to white people. Examples include ‘A sociology professor at the University of Oregon openly stating that he “advocates a ‘red-green’ alliance to abolish capitalism” and “considers the collapse of the Soviet empire a setback for human progress.”.’ There’s also a race and ethnicity professor at Boston University went on a twitter rant that suggested ‘slavery was a “white people thing” and “white college males the problem population.”.

So whether you agree with the list or not, it’s alarming that this is rhetoric coming out of some universities. The other reasons for Turning Point being blocked unsurprisingly relates to the overstated views of Milo Yiannopoulos who has made being a provocateur into an art form. You may be wondering how one man can possibly do so much damage to their fragile minds. Just remember that everything to the right of the left is a Nazi and you should be fine. What’s also interesting is that Caleb Alleva, president of the TPUSA chapter seeking recognition at Santa Clara was quoted by the Fix over the phone as saying: “We stated very clearly that we did not want to invite Milo.”

As a whole, it’s pathetic crying, especially if the organisation doesn’t even intend to invite Milo. I would like to think the group gets recognition and can go about holding talks without disturbing those to close minded to give them the benefit of the doubt. Of course, we would have to live in an ideal world to believe that. And let’s be honest, the ideal world is already in tatters.


 

The Trump victory is a by-product of what happens when you spend years taking a colossal dump on everything that disagrees with you. I’m not a fan of Trump or Hillary but I can safely say none of this surprises me following the #Brexit shambles we’re all currently having to endure. The problem I have with modern day politics is that the Left and Right wing have been reduced to petty squabbles over first world problems with an unhealthy dose of identity politics thrown in for good measure. I see the suffering in the world as people die in places where oppression is a very real terror that haunts their every waking moment. Then I watch as so-called western activists cry over Frank Cho’s decision to draw satirical art. When all you see is the media attacking and slandering everything that stands against it. You really have to wonder why did so many liberals and former democrats vote for the Republican candidate. This is just from my own observations but #Gamergate signified a significant stage in the change of cultural identity. In the 1990’s and leading into the early 2000s the Right led by Jack Thompson attacked gamers, and the Left came to their defence and even despite Hillary  Clinton’s attempts to pass the Family Entertainment Protection Act that could have potentially hindered the creation of video games. It failed to go through. The Right  and Clinton lost against Liberalism and the freedom of expression.

You fast forward to 2014 and the collective-minded Liberal Game Journalists took the knife and drove it into the back of the people they had once ‘pretended’ to support. The Gamer Identity is over slander that came out as gamers realised the media that represented them was corrupt was just the beginning of this madness. The media loudly proclaimed the death of the gamer and then wondered why their audience was pushing back against the same diatribe they had once heard from the ‘religious right‘. Most of those in Gamergate were moderately liberal as hard as that is to believe. These people support diversity but realise there is a lot more to someone than their penis, vagina or skin colour. Unlike the mainstream media that continually time and time again put each respective group in their own little safe box. The Left wing has become more divisive than even it realises.

Gamergate exposed also the outright hypocrisy at the root of social justice. A movement that would sooner stab its allies in the back and actively followed the listen and believe mantra to its logical conclusion. For a movement that preaches equality, it has absolutely no shame in attacking people based on things they have no control over. When you have buzzwords like mansplaining, and manspreading and people freely saying that being white means you’re on the easy difficulty setting. It’s not hard in the slightest to understand why there is a push-back against the progressive mindset. When Liberals stare into the mirror they expect to see the Bogeyman they elaborately devised to blame all their problems on – Gamergate, MRAs, and the nebulous Alt-Right that is almost a reflection of them. Perhaps now all they see is themselves. Or maybe they will continue kicking and screaming and wonder why no one takes them seriously anymore.

The small events around Gamergate also had an impact on this changing mindset. They were small events but once the first domino fell, it’s no surprise it became a cascade. The Tim Hunt incident that resulted in him in losing his reputation over a joke, the attack on Corbyn by the Right wing media. I may not agree with everything Corbyn stands for but his character is in tatters because of the media. In more recent times there has been slander directed towards the developer behind VR and his girlfriend purely on the basis that she supported Gamergate. For me, personally, the media blitz on Matt Taylor after he had just landed a spacecraft on a comet was an eye opening experience. The poor man was reduced to tears regarding the art on his shirt that he was wearing. He was attacked by a shameless media who will never be held accountable for the destructive nature of its reporting. The funny thing is the shirt was made by a woman, Elly Prizeman. I know the Right Wing isn’t perfect, not by a long shot but I can’t ignore what I’ve seen coming from the Left lately. This is just a part of why I think Trump won. I’ve written a lot about what’s happening on campuses across the west but I also believe the activism there is also to blame for why people are no longer on the side with left wing parties and ideas in general.

Congratulations Progressives you have killed Liberalism.

Another comic book related controversy has arisen in regards to the variant cover for the new Iron Heart comics. The image itself is completely tame but that didn’t stop a special group of people going past being critical to the point that they would tell someone what they can and cannot draw. This is nothing more than a rerun of past controversies. Yet the industry continues to pander to those who cry and moan. The only result will be characters lacking any kind of expression.

Frank Cho was one of the first to suffer the consequences of drawing ‘controversial art’.  As I go into detail here, he was attacked for his provocative drawing of Spider Gwen. The Mary Sue also ran this on Milo Manara’s Variant cover,‘Marvel, This Is When You Send An Artist Back To the Drawn Board’. Neither of them were put off by the shrieking and have only gone on to double down harder and harder with everything they draw.

Hot on the heels of one controversy,  Rafael Albuquerque was also criticised for his reference to the Killing Joke in his comic variant featuring the Joker and Batgirl. The controversy began on Tumblr when the blog, ‘Dc  Women Kicking Ass‘ posted about the cover stating, ‘DC Comics got the last laugh again with more of their disturbing covers that reeks of, get your comments read, misogyny’.  The #SavetheCover campaign failed to save it from the chopping room floor but that’s why the internet is such a great place and the cover is one of the first things to show up on Google’s search engine.

And now we have Scott J Campbell getting flack for this. Hardly sexualised and a standard pose for any comic book character. Yet Marvel caved to the pressure. An Artist can do very little when it’s publisher won’t defend their art. Compared to the above, this is tame. Yet for some criticism extends to telling people on what they can and can’t draw. Because something something probably  cultural appropriation. The worst thing is they consider the censoring of his art to be some kind of victory and have gone on to lecture him on what he can and can’t do.

I’ve saved the best for last. Whether you love or hate gamergate, the mainstream media took the knife and drove it hard into the back of gamers. It turned their mascot Vivian James, into a hate symbol by publishing hack piece after hack piece. Pepe was not the first to fall on the ‘sword of progress’ and I doubt either of them will be the last.

If you really want to know what Vivian stands for. It’s simple she just don’t give a damn about anything, she just wants to play video games. It’s that simple. But god forbid you draw her. After all it’s not like all art is just lines drawn into recognisable shapes. Right…

 

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I have previously written a piece on Candid and its A.I as well as mentioning Google’s Jigsaw and the possible dangers it posed to freedom of expression on the internet. Initially, I believed Candid’s A.I to be flawed but relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things. I should never have been so naive.

From the short time, I used it. I quickly found the app to be an unorganised mess. There was no real discussion, like people were being offensive for the sake of it. There wasn’t a lot of productive discussion in any of the groups and unlike Minds, you’re limited by how much reach you have. You also risk being damned to the random group if your post is considered to be offensive. Or worse have the post removed without so much as a notification.

It’s already been mentioned how Harmful Opinions video criticising Candid could not be posted but as time has gone by the CEO Bindu Reddy and those under her employment have engaged in a witch-hunt of anyone critical of the app. Claiming that there will be legal consequences and that she has a case for libel.

This all appears to be coming off the back of an Encyclopaedia Dramatica article that goes into some depth on what lies behind the code of Candid. If you are interested in reading it, then here is the archived page. However, I do suggest reading it outside of work since ED has a lot of NSFW content dotted around its pages.

The first to observe is that Candid is to some extent recording the details of those who chose to connect their facebook accounts (really defeating the point of anonymity) although you can skip this. The button to do so is relatively obscure. The real concern is that Candid is data-mining its users using an app called Kochava. A quote from MobyAffiliates in the ED article describes Kochava as:

‘Kochava is a mobile app marketing tracker with a unique approach, it looks at all device identifiers as equal and as such is able to match the identifiers of different publishers to provide effective analysis and reporting to advertisers. In addition to this, Kochava also automatically engages a device fingerprinting system, using a number of algorithms incorporating carrier and geo-location to match clicks to installs with an accuracy rate of 85%. Offering deep level integration support, Kochava supports server-to-server integration as well as an SDK for Android and iOS. Match reporting for each attribution includes how (device, hash types etc) and Cohort analysis is offered for ROI overlay as well as optimisation according to various campaign metrics (clicks, installs, post-install revenue etc).’

The ultimate point is that Kochava is using your information to feed you ads. For a service built on allowing users to be anonymous. It certainly seems to be doing the exact opposite of this. The ED elaborates on how connecting Facebook allows Candid access to your feed, your likes, your app invites and your messages. This data-mining extends to knowing the model of your phone and even your cellphone number if its present on facebook. But even without connecting to Facebook, more code reveals that your location is being tracked. It’s also sorting your apps into lists of whether based on quality.

The ED article is ultimately damning of what has gone into this apps programming. However, it gets much worse, after Mark Kern spoke negatively about the app. He was forced into silence by the actions of those at Candid since they had begun digging into his past. And when Harmful wanted to talk to Reddy on stream she made the request that ‘comments be disabled’. For someone who has created an app centred on free speech this is immensely hypocritical.

This situation in all fairness has been overblown and Reddy fanning these flames has merely caused the Streisand Effect. If this escalates any further into legal implications, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. Reddy and those working for her seem to not realise that criticism is allowed in today’s society. For those under her to actively seek to ruin the lives of their critics is abhorrent by itself. But in the age of the social media mob, I’m just disappointed. I will note that she has since apologised for these actions but they never should have been undertaken in the first place. If you want to hear more about all this, Reddy did go on a stream with Bearing, and Harmful posted his own response to that.

If any more developments occur, I will probably write a part 3. If you haven’t read part one, you can find it here. It mentions Jigsaw google’s AI. That has already policed a few comment sections and is going to save humanity from itself.
God help us all…

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EDIT: With the code for candid released, I will be doing a follow up piece to this one. Due to a lack of knowledge on how candid is programmed I believed it was harmless, just a smaller version of Jigsaw. However, an Encyclopedia Dramatica article has revealed that the anonymous promise put forward is a Lie. I’ll elaborate in a follow up piece  but from reading that post. I am shocked that some respected YouTubers endorsed this with very little skepticism. It’s seems Harmful Opinions was right in the end.

Artificial Intelligence is a difficult subject to approach for many reasons. Its depictions in fiction speak volumes of how paranoid we are of becoming too dependable on machines. But this hasn’t stopped Google, and apps like Candid from developing smart A.I capable of judging human behaviour.

The developers of Candid have been formerly associated with Google in the past and are co-founders of another app, MyLikes. Candid advertises itself as an app designed to allow speech to flow freely without fear of suppression. The idea that such an app needs to exist in this day age, says a lot about how things are and what they are progressing towards. Candid offers what other social media apps like Facebook and Twitter can’t. It is partially true that anonymity is provided. You just don’t have to link any of your accounts to Candid.

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The anonymous nature of the app puts it alongside similar sites on the net, specifically 4chan and those that split from it like 8chan. The difference is that Candid aims to create polite discussion or as polite as you can be on the internet. Being anonymous means most will be far less hesitant to voice disagreeable opinions. However, reports on Candid suggest the free speech it promotes is not an entire truth. The app itself seems to revolve around the moderation done by its artificial intelligence system. A system that has some similarities to Google’s Jigsaw. The comparison between the two was raised by Harmful Opinions. As both appear to measure hostility through rating the post or comment.

In an interview with Fortune, Beddy raises the key reason for the app’s existence;

“Over the last year or two, there has been this kind of repulsion to most social media, especially Facebook and Twitter,” Reddy tells Fortune. “And the reason is that it’s hard to say anything opinionated or even remotely controversial without facing a huge backlash. You can post your puppy photos or whatever, but the minute you post something about politics, it becomes a huge problem.”

She isn’t entirely wrong either, to post anything nowadays is to be met with either harsh criticism or a barrage of unwanted hate. It’s all depends on the content of the post, though. Whether your left or right wing leaning, it’s hard not to notice a lack of dialogue between the two groups. The same can also be said of the vitriol feminists and MRAs exchange whenever gender and human rights are debated. So then perhaps Candid, even with the A.I is a necessary evil if it means being able to discuss the most controversial of topics.
However, the article carries on to mention that between 40-70 percent of what is posted is either flagged or removed outright. That number is pretty high, but you may ask what content is filtered out in order to allow free discussion.

The Washington Post has the answer;

‘Candid’s secret sauce is in its artificial intelligence moderation, which aims to weed out bad actors by analysing the content of posts and keep hate speech and threats off the network. ‘

The fundamental issue I have with this is that hate speech alone is too vague and that apparently the A.I is capable of detecting sentiment, or at least that’s what Reddy claims. In an interview with the NPR, she goes into some detail on the how A.I operates and how far general developments in Artificial Intelligence have come. The A.I uses natural language processing [NLP] in order to determine the sentiment of the post. One of the things mentioned earlier is the similarity to Jigsaw, Google’s A.I.

This is how the Verge referencing Wired describes Jigsaw ;

‘Jigsaw, a subsidiary of parent company Alphabet is certainly trying, building open-source AI tools designed to filter out the abusive language. A new feature from Wired describes how the software has been trained on some 17 million comments left underneath New York Times stories, along with 13,000 discussions on Wikipedia pages. This data is labelled and then fed into the software — called Conversation AI — which begins to learn what bad comments look like. ‘

Bad comments is a very vague way of determining right and wrong. A bad comment can range from hate to honest criticism or disagreement. Most humans can struggle to read intention when worded and not spoken but that purely depends on the content and specifically its context in relation to what it is responding too. So how can any artificial intelligence match the human mind’s rational thought? An A.I. regardless of how smart it becomes is still limited by the constraints of its programming. The Verge does express doubt when faced with how Wired’s representative Andy Greenber reacts to this artificial intelligence.

Like the beginning of a bad sci-fi fanfic, it goes like this;

‘My own hands-on test of Conversation AI comes one summer afternoon in Jigsaw’s office when the group’s engineers show me a prototype and invite me to come up with a sample of verbal filth for it to analyse. Wincing, I suggest the first ambiguously abusive and misogynist phrase that comes to mind: “What’s up, bitch?” Adams types in the sentence and clicks Score. Conversation AI instantly rates it a 63 out of 100 on the attack scale. Then, for contrast, Adams shows me the results of a more clearly vicious phrase: “You are such a bitch.” It rates a 96.’

It goes without saying that both phrases can be open to interpretation. They can both be said in jest or as an expression of frustration. It’s a human thing, we all do it. Shouting obscenities at each other is what we do best.

The  horror show continues meanwhile;

‘But later, after I’ve left Google’s office, I open the Conver¬sation AI prototype in the privacy of my apartment and try out the worst phrase that had haunted [journalist] Sarah Jeong: “I’m going to rip each one of her hairs out and twist her tits clear off.” It rates an attack score of 10, a glaring oversight. Swapping out “her” for “your” boosts it to a 62. Conver¬sation AI likely hasn’t yet been taught that threats don’t have to be addressed directly at a victim to have their intended effect. The algorithm, it seems, still has some lessons to learn.’

I don’t know what scares me more, the eager endorsement of such an unworkable A.I or the fact that he wants it to improve. He welcomes our robotic overlords with open arms. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the ‘haunting’ quote that made Greenber quiver is one made by a troll. The intention is to get a reaction. So congratulations the troll was sustained by your salt.

The Verge goes on to say;

‘Greenberg notes that he was also able to fool Conversation AI with a number of false-positives. The phrase “I shit you not” got an attack score of 98 out of 100, while “you suck all the fun out of life” scored the same.’

These examples by themselves make the A.I incredibly unreliable if it were ever implemented. It’s already been shown with Tay, Microsoft’s twitter bot that if you give the internet the chance to mess with the algorithm of an A.I. They will probably turn it into Neo-Nazi.

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On paper both A.I. operate in a similar manner, suggesting that maybe Reddy used Jigsaw’s design as a foundation. Whether Google allowed this, however, remains to be seen since the similarities are definitely there. The difference is that Candid’s A.I. is completely harmless in my mind. Although I will update this post or write a new one if things change. What I’m more concerned about is Google’s A.I and the ringing endorsement of sites like Wired. Mundane Matt and Shoe’s sponsorship along with others of Candid pales in comparison to a man who is willing to allow an artificial intelligence rate and decide what you can and can’t say online.

Some will say that is what Candid does which is true to an extent, but from what I’ve observed in the app, it is mostly shit-posting and random ideas thrown around. I remain sceptical but in a strange way optimistic that Candid may succeed where others have failed. Would I recommend it? that depends purely on what you want out of the app in the end. I personally believe Jigsaw poses a greater threat to freedom on the internet since we are in a time where the MSM will censor anything for any reason. An A.I similar to the one used by Candid could prove to be an effective countermeasure to perceived trolls or god forbid honest criticism. 

To some, it is a cartoon frog, usually used as a kind of banter intended to be funny or at times offensive. But to many this innocuous drawing of a cartoon frog is a symbol of hate and the equally nefarious Alt Right. It seems everywhere you look these days, the mainstream media will buy into anything. I just thought I’d never see the day in a which meme could be vilified due to how it’s used or for its perceived representation. But this isn’t the first time the mainstream media has latched onto something like this. When they discovered that Gamergate had a female mascot. Naturally, they had to read too much into her, by assuming the green and purple stripes on her sweater symbolise rape culture. And in more recent times an academic article was penned using her as a way of trying to understand Gamergate.

Except for the writer of that hack job forgets that when there are two sides, perhaps you should at least learn the general opinion of the side you’ve already decided is some kind of monstrous bogeyman. If Bradley Glasgow can do it, so can you. It’s easy for people to assume the MSM is some kind of truthful entity. The truth is, so many sites report on rumours but fail to go the extra mile by verifying their information. Or at worse they target an individual then when they latch onto something remotely controversial. They try and drive that person’s career into the ground. As Oculus founder Palmer Luckey found out, simply for endorsing conservative views or rather specifically for endorsing Donald Trump. Oh and they do mention he is dating a female Gamergater. What a time to be alive when your love life is the source of international news.

But you might ask what is PePe? Pepe is a reaction face created for a comic series by Matt Furie and is often associated with another meme, Feels Good Man another reaction image. It seems the presumption that it is a symbol of hate purely depends on the context of use and who the poster is. Because for all intents and purposes, it is a cartoon frog. Nothing more nothing less. Rather like how Vivian James represents the gamer that just doesn’t give a shit and just likes playing video games. It’s almost like reading too much into things is a hobby now for some journalists.

In an interview for Esquire Furie describes Pepe’s inception as being completely harmless;

“The comic itself represents that post-college zone of living by yourself with a bunch of dudes and pulling pranks on one another. The vibe of the comic is very chill and mundane and absurd.”

He also admits he can’t stop those on the internet acting as they are;

‘It started off on 4chan as an inside joke, then it became more mainstream and the memes were being shared by Katy Perry or whomever. Then the 4chan guys started flooding the Internet with weird Pepe memes to kind of reclaim him as their own. And this is just what I’ve gleamed from the Internet. I had nothing to do with this at all.’

Like with most meme creators who have watched their creations flourish Furie acknowledges that there will always be those who use something for dark humour. In the end, you could almost say that the Alt Right Pepe is a just that, another branch of the meme taking on a whole new life as a mainstream icon and target for opportunist journalists who see everything as black and white.

Although you know the world has gone stark raving mad when even the Guardian has to post an opinion piece on this insanity. Below, the writer seems to have only just discovered the existence of dark humour.

This universality, however, was what also soon gave Pepe the Frog a dark side. Pepe appearances were not always innocuous, as people drew him in various sexual, tasteless or otherwise offensive poses and contexts. Some called such images “dark Pepes”.

I guess the writer also doesn’t understand why people enjoy it. It’s rather like how if it exists on the internet, then chances are there’s porn of it. If it exists on the internet, then chances are someone, somewhere has twisted it into something offensive. It’s just how the internet works.

Two developments gave it a very different path. The first was the rise of the so-called ‘alt-right’, a loose network of white supremacists, mostly online, who seek to infuse American conservatism with racism and antisemitism. Pepe the Frog became an unofficial mascot for many on the alt right.

For those who wonder what the Alt-Right actually is. It’s amorphous, and those that subscribe to it aren’t necessarily supporters of white supremacy. It’s more like how some perceive the Regressive Left, a group that is also conveniently obsessed with race and gender. Rather like looking at a coin really.

This does not mean that all uses of Pepe images should thus be considered racist or antisemitic.

And yet you have the audacity to say that when the ADL has placed this reaction image as a serious proponent of hate. The thing that leaves me speechless though is that the Alt Right only has traction because of how the press engages it. It’s easy to place your enemies in one basket and it’s also easy to recycle the same dried up old arguments. Or in this case the assumption that even a harmless drawing can become someone’s hate symbol.

The key thing to remember is that like with most fictional entities when someone writes or draws in a certain way chances are they will represent it differently. After all, there are many inceptions of PePe. The reason the mainstream media has latched onto him is that they have played hook, line and sinker into their oppositions hands. Because by reporting on this cartoon frog, you may very well find more people end up voting Trump or even using these offensive PePe images. Why? because it gets a reaction. Negative publicity, in this case, can do more to help your opponent than actually be a hindrance to them.

So to summarise, Pepe, is a cartoon frog, adopted by the Chans, drawn thousands of times. And due to an excessive usage by Trump supporters, this frog has garnered the attention of the mainstream media. It just begs the question, which one will be next. Will Feels Man become a symbol of depression for the Labour Party after it probably fails to get elected at the next election? Who knows? because at this point, the media can’t go any more insane. Can it?

YouTube Heroes is a new program that aims at giving the YouTube community more power on the site. However, the video advertising this new program has received backlash from many who feel that the powers given could easily be abused. And they aren’t entirely wrong about that. When the video was first launched it begins by giving the information on how it will operate. YouTube Heroes has a levelling system and you gain points by doing things such as putting subtitles on a video, whether it’s transcribing purposes or translation.

However, even that power can be possibly abused by a malicious individual. The other significant feature of this program is the ability to mass flag or report inappropriate videos. The problem is that statement alone is very vague, and even before YouTube slyly updated the video’s contents, it simply referred to flagging negative content. A lot of the criticism directed at YouTube Heroes stems from its recent changes in TOS. Before almost any video could be monetised but under new vague guidelines any tag deemed ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive’ can deem a video ineligible to be monetised. This new policy has affected the whole site and coupled with YouTube’s dodgy DMCA system, it’s like YouTube is begging its users to dig its own grave.

There’s also the ability to host hangouts and participate in them. That too is pretty harmless but that too depends on the participants and their intentions. As a whole, this development reeks on the stench left behind by Crash Override Network (CON) who despite claiming to counter harassment on social media, was actually indulging in harassment themselves. The leaks have been discussed all over the web and the method employed by the Heroes Program sounds all too similar. There’s nothing inherently wrong trusting your user base to moderate content. However, such things can and will be abused. The mass flagging ability, for instance, could kill a single channel despite them possibly doing nothing wrong. YouTube’s lack of response to criticism and its sneaky way of editing the video has done little to end concerns regarding the state of the website.

Once heroes are implemented, all we can do is hope that people don’t let the power trip go to their heads. Because as it stands this new addition to YouTube is very much a double edged sword.

For a long time I had no interest in politics, and looking back, I’m thankful that I was. The more I observe the spectrum, the more I realise it truly is a horseshoe. It, for instance, took very little time for certain left-wing game journalists to declare the death of their audience, thus leading to Gamergate and the pursuit of encouraging ethical journalism.

I can only assume that the writer of this hack job was high or something since he described Gamergate as;

‘What began as a critical discussion of female representation in video games, was adroitly exploited by Alt-right activists using misinformation to incite a huge explosion of hatred online against women and minorities in gaming.’

Guilt by association, the default strategy the press resort to. Whilst the situation with Zoe Quinn remained nebulous, the operations within Gamergate led to the exposure of GameJournoPros that more or less confirmed that journalists were, in fact, colluding with developers and were more importantly not disclosing their connections. But of course, like with anything the Left disagree with. All they are in the end is their bogeyman.
And that bogeyman is now the amorphous blob that is the Alt-Right. A group of people whose motivations are hard to pin down but depending on how you see them. Then they can come across as being the opposite of the Left Wing Social Justice Warrior but even then that truly does not describe the Alt-Right. But like Gamergate, they have had the same choice buzzwords thrown at them, that just ends up stifling all discussion in the end. The difference between the two is pretty simple. Gamergate consists of mostly liberals.

Essentially people who subscribe to left-wing views. Although as Progressivism strangles discussion by reducing it to a tit for tat over identity. More and more find themselves pushed towards conservatism, and I can hardly blame them.

The outrage the man refers to was not a product of the Alt-Right. That’s disingenuous. The outrage comes from oversensitive liberals who claim to be tolerant yet have a problem with a single group of people for whatever reason. A reason I can’t rationalise because it’s inherently racial and does nothing but provoke division. This outrage by the Left has led to DC pulling a variant cover, the changing of a joke in Pillars of Eternity to mock the controversy. Note the game also has a hanging tree, just to put the limerick into perspective. But now we got to protect the fragility of other people at the expense of the audience who just want to enjoy their games. There was also the case of Tracer’s Pose change that ended up simply doubling down, the Foaming Jugs in which Brianna did nothing but show hypocrisy and finally there is the complete failure, regarding the English translation of Fire Emblem Fates.
None of those things was the by-product of anything tied to the right. If anything those things happened because overly sensitive individuals played up to the mainstream media knowing it would eat up all they had to say. Whilst then attacking criticism that suggested this was leading to a dangerous rise of censorship. For me personally, as soon as that comic cover was pulled. I knew the first domino had fallen.

‘Star Trek gave television audiences their first interracial kiss in 1968, and Gene Roddenberry’s vision of mankind’s future continued to champion progressive ideas for many decades. Today “geek culture” is more diverse than ever, reflecting audiences’ hunger for a better world where the Ghostbusters can be women, and even Ms Marvel can be Muslim.’

A better world? I thought this was supposed to be fictional products. Now there’s nothing wrong with diversity but then it really is getting to the point where diversity is purely about the race or appearance of an individual and not the actual content of their character. Leading also to the point where the story becomes utterly worthless. Diversity doesn’t guarantee good writing if anything most audiences just want a good story. They don’t need social justice rammed down their throats every two minutes. It’s why more fans are slowly abandoning comics. There’s nothing new. Once you’ve seen one rehash, you’ve seen them all. The Ghostbusters is just another example of not knowing your audience, and then doing the very worst thing and attacking them for their views.

Perhaps inevitably, that growing diversity has met with a backlash. Recently, there was much debate surrounding the cult horror author HP Lovecraft becoming the “face” of the World Fantasy Award due to his well-documented racism. His passionate fans – most of who have never experienced racism – asked why such historical oppression even mattered anymore?

This invocation of the past is all too common. It’s easy to dismiss Lovecraft for his views that were of the TIME he was from. Do I need to emphasise that any more than I already have? Also if people actually looked up the life of Lovecraft. It wasn’t exactly sunshine and roses. I’m not for any second excusing his views but it’s the default tactic to attack someone based on their beliefs. Lovecraft’s fans love him for his phenomenal writing ability and more. That’s why he had an award dedicated to him. But being the overly sensitive illogical morons, you decided that because of modern perceptions. He’s not worthy of it. Thus defeating the point of an award based around writing.

Gamergate has done far more to empower feminist critics of gaming than to silence them.

Now this I wholeheartedly agree with for the simple fact is that I follow and support a fair few feminist Gamergaters, all of which are great critics. The article waffles on about the monstrous Trump and the Hugo’s, the latter, I’m saving for a separate article .

The conclusion then is that the Progressives in geek culture have their focus completely on the wrong thing. You should really be worried about how moderate liberals are reacting to this madness. And who knows when they do maybe then this crazy train will finally reach the end of the line.

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Gawker is regarded by many as the click bait magnet of social media. It’s articles more or less pure gossip. And over the years, Gawker has been no stranger to controversy regarding its invasion into the lives of public figures such as Peter Thiel who had been outed as gay in 2007 by Gawker’s now-defunct Valleywag blog. Gawker’s downfall was inevitable following the Gamergate controversy that saw it lose over 7 figures in advertising revenue. Gawker has since failed to recover from that loss sustained at the hands of Gamergate and now faces the end since it filed for bankruptcy.

But what started this magnificent fall. Well, Sam Biddle learned the hard lesson that you don’t target ‘nerds’ of all people. This was what he posted on twitter and later deleted and apologised for posting. However, it was already too late.

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It would later be reported by numerous outlets that advertisers such as Mercedes-Benz and Adobe had pulled out from their advertising deals due to these comments. This was following a campaign by Gamergaters coined Operation Disrespectful Nod that originated on 8chan. Its aim was to contact advertisers and expose cases of unethical journalism. This extended past Gawker and included other sites who had deliberately gone out of their way to slander gamers such as Gamasutra who led the initial charge against gamers with this article titled: ‘Gamers don’t have to be your audience. Gamers are over.’  An article published by the Washington Post also mentioned why advertisers were pulling ads, with The Michigan Economic Development Corporation stating that it was pulling ads, ‘out of fears that it appeared to mock the “gamer” demographic’.

Disrespectful Nod wasn’t the killing blow that would end Gawker. No, that task fell on Hulk Hogan and to some extent Peter Thiel, with the intention to stop Gawker from profiting off of exposing details of people’s private lives. In the case of Hogan, Gawker had without any consent by him posted a sex tape, showing him having an affair with the wife of a friend of his. This act alone led to a back and forth court case and subsequent ownership of Gawker being transferred to Hulk Hogan. But if that escalation wasn’t enough for you. In a recent bankruptcy auction, Gawker was bought by Univision who will now go on to shut down Gawker, for good.

Gawker was just one of many that publicly slandered gamers and it has since paid the price for that. Gamergate as a movement showed that the public is no longer willing to stand by and watch slander or in the case of gamers. Be on the other end of slanderous hit pieces.

I guess all that’s left to be said is ‘Gawker is over. Gawker doesn’t have an audience anymore.’

#GameOver

mankindDeus Ex has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism for the lore surrounding it’s newest game Mankind Divided. Deus Ex is a favourite among gamers not just for the immersive world you are placed in but for the underlying commentary.

Deus Ex is known for tackling hard issues,  and as far as fiction goes, in my opinion, it is one of the best pieces of science fiction to date. Now games journalists want games to be regarded more for their art and message,  as evidenced by games like Gone Home and Sunset. Widely acclaimed by a media supposedly representing the gamer. However,  for all their talk of wanting social issues tackled in video games. They appear rather shy of Deus Ex.

The first critical articles came up regarding the term mechanical apartheid. Its relevance in the Deus Ex universe relates to the division amongst Augs and non-Augs. Most Augs are seen as the lower half of society and as human revolution demonstrated they are often demonised and as the story progressed, they were hacked leading to them attacking and possibly killing other people with no way restraining themselves. In later missions, some of the living conditions for Augs can be seen as appalling. They are held to ransom by the black market  that makes a living off of their prosthetic limbs.

Polygons criticism of the term begins with the definition of Apartheid;

Apartheid (literally “separateness” in Afrikaans) was the brutal governmental system of political oppression and racial segregation used by white rulers in South Africa throughout much of the last century.

In truth, there is more to that definition. Apartheid is also the segregation on grounds other than race.’ Therefore it can be used to define the separation of natural people  from the augmented people as shown in Mankind Divided.

The writer Colin Campbell quotes a series of tweets made by Austin Walker stating “How might we feel if they called it ‘Robot Jim Crow Laws'” and “Apartheid isn’t just a general term, it references a specific period of great trauma and oppression.”

The general consensus is that it’s the wrong choice of term. This ignores the fact as fiction goes, the use makes sense as a reflection of the oppression faced by the Augmented. If we as writers hesitate over terms then how can fiction ever develop as a literary form? This approach by critics reflects how some regarded the Reader, a novel that later was made into a movie. The controversy spawned from the movie as publications moved to slam it and deny Kate Winslet an Oscar she was nominated for. The Telegraph reported at the time;

‘Movie critics are divided on whether Winslet should receive the best actress Oscar for the role. Voting closes at 5pm on Tuesday and supporters of rival films are said to be emailing Jewish members of the Academy in a last-minute campaign to ruin The Reader’s chances.’

And one critic Gabrielle Burton accepted that the film was “flawlessly crafted” with fine performances but went on to say how ‘it was too close to that scary genre ‘Holocaust palatable”.

Is it too much to say that this fear of dark fiction is what leads critics to get on a bandwagon of hate? Whether it’s Mankind Divided or even the Killing Joke. What stands out is how the ‘intended’ audience reacts. And usually, it’s positive because they, unlike some critics, realise perhaps that fiction should be allowed to tackle dark subject matters. Because it can serve as a way of reflection on our past, as well as looking to our future whilst also exploring our flaws as human beings.

This isn’t to say that people can’t criticise the term ‘Mechanical Apartheid’ but I feel in their haste to push a story, journalists and especially game journalists usually overlook key details in favour of pushing the story to publication.  The message conveyed by some of these people is that they want its removal. Campbell does refer to Giles Matouba’s rant on Reddit. Giles formally worked on Mankind Divided and goes into detail on why the term was chosen over other things.

‘When we decided to go all-in on delivering the experience to play as Adam Jensen, an Augmented, in a world aggressively segregating his own kind, we actually wanted to offer to our audience something unique. Something that was close and very personal to us: The experience of being torn between 2 worlds and 2 identities. Augs calling you the ‘uncle Tom’ of the non-Augs, non-Augs always insecure when you’re around, always deeply being scared or appalled by your mechanical body.’

Campbell’s criticism points at how segregation affected those native to South Africa, he also refers to gender apartheid and states that in regards to Mankind Divided;

‘The Augmented in Mankind Divided are a privileged and wealthy elite who mostly choose to put themselves above their fellow human beings through expensive technological enhancements. When these enhancements are manipulated by evil forces, millions of people are killed.’

This statement is misrepresentative of how many Augs are well below the poverty line and struggle even to survive. It also ignores the fact that Augmentation saved a lot of lives, especially that of a woman of colour who is mentioned in a newspaper if the player chooses to read it.  The revulsion and forced separation of Augs and Non-Augs by any means necessary is without a doubt a form of Apartheid that literally afflicts everyone who for whatever reason, whether wealthy or otherwise was deemed too dangerous for society. The trailers shown so far clearly conveys a world divided to the break point.

Despite the terms relevance, this hasn’t stopped other notable figures coming out against it. Zoe Quinn’s comments ignore that the man who coined the phrase Mechanical Apartheid and who formerly worked as one of the Directors on the game, Giles Matouba is actually a person of colour. However, she is not the only one critical of the game, Mass Effect developer, Manveer Heir in response to the use of ‘Aug Lives Matter’ among other things tweeted ‘Also, let’s pretend for a minute there was a ton of diversity on that Deus Ex team. It doesn’t mean they understand the issues well enough’ which in turn led to a response from one of the writers that the term Aug Lives Matter was purely coincidental.

Essentially we now live in a world where a critic can basically say ‘sod the content’ attack the creators. It’s why I personally worry that some people need step back and realise they are acting morally superior. Talent for writing is not and I repeat not decided by your gender or your skin colour. Perhaps Manveer should first realise this.

Inevitably, Jonathan McIntosh formerly associated with Feminist Frequency went on his own personal tirade against the game stating that ‘Sometimes when game designers set up “player choices,” the choice itself is immoral because it shouldn’t be up to the player to make it.’ To which I ask should the player be given any choice. Whilst true the game has programmed responses to every action, every consequence is shaped by how you play the game. It’s what makes RPGs so popular with gamers.

The problem with McIntosh’s approach is that it leads to conflating fiction with reality to the point they are indistinguishable when they are two separate entities entirely. Inspiration is natural by product of the writing process. In the end, the only way we will know that Mankind Divided is a success is how it sells and how the actual players respond to the game. Because sometimes I get the feeling that its critics who are actually out of touch with their audience.


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Pokémon Go has become quite the phenomenon, eclipsing most other mobile apps and being something that many who have followed the Pokémon franchise have dreamed about for years. The ability to catch Pokémon in real life. Whilst we aren’t quite at the stage where Pokémon are real things, augmented reality has paved the way for players to get as close to that as possible. The only other way a player could get any closer to a virtual Pokémon would be in Virtual reality. Which equally sounds incredible to one day stand alongside a Blastoise in a virtual world.

Whether you love or hate this new trend, Pokémon Go has potentially opened a new door for augmented reality games, and many will probably say that the games success lies heavily with Pokémon being such a recognizable brand for all generations. That being said, Go is not Niantic’s first AR game. Their most successful app and the foundation of Pokemon Go is Ingress. A game where real-world landmarks are portals and players battle for control of them. Go has a similar premise except instead of portals, each team battles for control of gyms. And depending on where you live, really depends on the length of time you can hold one down. There are three teams to choose from, Valor, Mystic, or Instinct. The choice has no bearing on the game itself just when it comes to gyms, if one is your teams colour then you can power it up in order to put your Pokémon in. It should be noted that each player can only have one Pokémon in a single gym. The bonus of holding down a number of gyms is rewarded through coins and stardust.

 

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Currently, all Go has is the Pokémon of Generation One, Gyms, and PokeStops. The features promised such as trading and PVP have yet to added but I imagine as the game continues to be rolled out across the globe, these features will eventually be added. The game on paper has the potential to do really well despite it being a mobile app and in a lot of cases, mobile games aren’t held to the same level of standards as other console games. And whilst the mainstream media has rather unsurprisingly demonized the game at times. The reality is that there has been an overwhelmingly positive response by the community leading to organised events and more. With the addition that many stops are located on top of shops or restaurants, some businesses have also seen a potential profit. Ultimately, Pokemon Go has done a lot more for businesses than most governments ever will. With the added incentive to go outside, Go has also done wonders for social interaction leading to the inevitable three-way gym battle standoffs. The game is still in its infancy so the potential for it go beyond what it is now, is definitely there.

However, sadly the game has been plagued with a number of issues. In the beginning, the only way to track Pokémon was with the in-game tracker. It worked by having three steps eventually decrease the closer you got to a certain Pokémon. Now for whatever reason, since Niantic isn’t very open with its player base, that feature is either broken or disabled. Leading too many players resorting to using a tracking site like Pokevision to at least give people an idea where Pokémon are spawning. However, presently Pokevision is no longer available to use to track Pokémon locations and with no steps, there’s still no way to actively track Pokémon in the game. So it’s not surprising that people are getting more and more frustrated with the developers. Other issues include crashes and freezes. But, with the most recent update, that issue at least from personal experience is all but gone, along with the fleeing Pokémon glitch freezing if you go into the items screen.

Niantic’s failure to fix the 3 steps bug has led to the community, getting increasingly frustrated, and in the end, it just boils down to wanting more communication with the developers. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to the game and not the even community manager is involved with it. Leading to the player base feeling neglected. If Niantic wants this game to carry on growing, it needs to do more to reach out to its player base, especially online with social media sites.

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Everything was perpetually three steps away….

The final thing I need to mention is that there are growing issues regarding GPS spoofers. A method that involves faking player location. Allowing players to move around from the comfort of their own homes. This cheat has been used by a large number of twitch streamers, and to this day I’ve only seen only one stream where a player is actually outside playing the game. This method of cheating isn’t just cheating other players but it’s cheating themselves.

In my opinion, GPS spoofers might as well play the DS or Gameboy games. It’s the same principle except you’re not directly affecting other users when you play Pokémon FireRed or X and Y unless of course, you have hacked your Pokémon. In which case, I wonder why you even play the game. With Pokémon Go, spoofing is like giving yourself unlimited ammo or god mode in an fps game. It may be fun for you but it inevitably irritates everyone else. Especially if you directly affect the control of gyms. The unlimited inventory might as well be part of this cheat since players’ teleport from poke-stop to poke-stop more than a roaming Abra, giving them easy access to items. This isn’t just one person, though, but a large number of players. The main excuse is that the rural players have it far harder than city players, and I to some extent agree with that. Whilst I am against spoofing, with Wi-Fi connections so bad in the countryside, I can understand why a rural player may do it. I disagree with the method but Niantic has made little effort to consider the rural player base. The other type of spoofer is ones you can see on twitch, sitting at their computers grinding levels until there’s no reason for them to play. They aren’t even using their mobile for this but their computers. This epidemic of this kind of cheating could really run this game into the ground.

Overall, aside from the cheaters and Niantic’s lack of customer service the game runs flawlessly for the most part. And the most recent update has made the game run a lot smoother. Despite a lot of paranoia from the player base, I am optimistic that Niantic will add tracking back to the game and along with the features advertised. The game is fun for the most part and gets people outside socializing. There’s really nothing more I could ask for, except maybe gen 3 instead of gen 2. Is this game going to have a long lifespan? That all depends on Niantic’s ability to stabilize the servers and keep them up and running. Will this game also open the door for other AR games? Yes, it will. Will they receive the same recognition and hype that allowed Pokémon Go to become a worldwide phenomenon? That all depends on the contents and the developers behind it. Finally, would I recommend Pokémon Go? Yes, if you are a fan of the franchise you will love it, if you are already an active person then this game can easily fit into your schedule. It may be early days but this game still has life in it. It just depends on whether or not Niantic listens to the community and improves upon what they have currently. As presently, there are a lot of angry customers who simply want transparency. And that is really not much to ask for.

(UPDATE: the blog ‘Everything’s a Problem’ is in fact satire, and as such is not a relevant example. A mistake that I hope to avoid in future when hunting for sources. Apologies for this misinformation. anyway.)

Frank Cho vs the Outraged

In the age of social media, a news story can break faster than ever before, and with the internet being such a vast place, this has given rise of outrage culture; which can be an article specifically designed to generate clicks or force a reaction. In many cases this kind of media pressure has led to the pulling of covers, limericks, and more because someone, somewhere deemed the content offensive . This pervasive form of journalism is called clickbait or sensational/yellow journalism. Clickbait is usually done in a manner aimed at evoking a response, and sensational journalism can result in the exposure of an individual or group. The Liberal Media has also made a habit out of regurgitating each other’s articles for clicks.  Certain, Conservatives outlets do the same but the Liberal Media has a louder voice, and uses that voice to beat others over the head with a stick. These articles have increasingly pushed for more political correctness and arguably the suppression of creativity deemed problematic.

One of the most well known examples of outrage being used to police content is the response to the Spider-Gwen artwork by Milo Manara and the later parody by Frank Cho. This crusade against creative freedom was done by many outlets, such as the feminist site the Mary Sue who ran with the title ‘Marvel, This Is When You Send An Artist Back To the Drawn Board’. The title itself speaks for the article, the Mary Sue regularly conveys its point of view to be nothing but the truth and that its readers should just listen and believe what they are being told. The Mary Sue claims that this variant cover is telling women to ‘run away and don’t ever come back.’ They then add that this variant cover could offend paying or potential paying customers, and that Milo was not the best choice to promote this comic. Of course despite this outrage, Mary Sue parodied this image in their own way. The observation however by those defending the art is that Gwen’s pose is actually no different from most depictions of Spiderman.  Inevitably Marvel, would pull Milo’s cover  claiming that, ‘it didn’t reflect the sensibility or tone of the series’ . This as such led to cries of censorship and the Mary Sue going on the defensive claiming their only issue was with Marvel’s choice of artist, either way, pressure from the political correct police got a cover pulled simply based on it apparently being offensive.

However, this wouldn’t be the end as artist Frank Cho parodied the cover, and like a case of déjà vu this did not go down well with the Mary Sue, whose title of choice clearly conveyed disapproval ‘Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should’. Their reasoning being ‘but by taking a shot at this particular cover, one that caused so much discomfort among lots of comic book readers, it shows a clear disregard for the perfectly valid outrage over Manara’s original Spider-Woman Variant’. They add this parody is misogynistic, and that it obviously poked fun at the easily outraged feminists. They also believe that even though it’s a joke, it can cause real harm to marginalised communities. I think the Mary Sue should learn the definition of critique, a critique of work aims at improving it or reviewing its features. It does not imply, call for removal or suggest it never be made .

The Mary Sue weren’t only ones offended by Cho’s art, Comics Alliance also took the bait despite the writer stating ‘they didn’t really care but the cover was pretty gross’. The underlying issue that Jannelle Asslin takes is that with both the batgirl cover controversy and Cho’s parody, ‘a publisher choosing to publish an objectifying image on the cover of a book meant to appeal to a new and/or diverse audience is a mistake’. I think it’s a mistake to assume that you think you can be the voice of all comic consumers. The writer then references a tweet by user Robbie Rodriguez (another person who thinks they speak for minorities or women).

Here’s my take on the frank cho sketch cover. Your drawing dirty pics of one of my kids. Be lucky your never around me. #spidergwen

— RobbiRodriguez (@RobbiRodriguez)

The cover in question is of a fictional character, so for Robbie to say that it’s a drawing of one of his kids is absurd and crazy. He later backpedals and states, what he actually meant was that the gratuitous cover is tasteless because it objectives women. Robbie assumes that his country isn’t mature enough for this kind of art. I hate to break this to Robbie but just as before with the writer of this article, you alone don’t decide whether your country can handle something in a mature manner. Especially when the art in question is a parody done as a joke. I also note this is a similar argument to the Mary Sue in that they want art to change in a way that suits them and is for their benefit. Robbi makes a damning statement below;

If you, as pro, want this medium and industry to be taken seriously, like we have a chance to now, then start fucking acting like it and change with the times. The definition of body image has changed in of all entertainment in the last decade. And it’s not a matter of changing the style of your work – it’s a matter of thinking about your work outside of your bubble.

An extract from Robbi Rodriquez’s facebook post

In other words Robbi wants to control what you can and can’t create, because apparently fiction has only now become serious business. The whole point of being a creator is being allowed the freedom to express yourself either in a serious or satirical tone. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean everyone else shares that same sentiment.

The writer of article then moves onto another parody done by Frank Cho featuring Harley Quinn, and the Joker mocking the outrage aimed at the original piece. The writer goes onto state that ‘here’s where things get really messy’, and also quotes from Cho’s blog;

Wow. What a crazy couple of days it has been. My parody cover sketch of Spider-Gwen aping the infamous Manara Spider-Woman pose sent some of the hypersensitive people in a tizzy.

To be honest, I was amused and surprised by the uproar since it was, in my opinion, over nothing. It’s essentially a small group of angry and humorless people ranting against my DRAWING of a pretty woman. It’s utter nonsense. This world would be a better and a happier place if some people just grow a sense of humor and relax.

Now, I’m getting bombarded by various bloggers asking for an interview addressing this “scandal”. Instead of me wasting my breath and precious time over this non-issue replying to all the interviewers, I’ve drawn another cover sketch in response which will, hopefully, answer all the questions.

The writer adds the word’s ‘hypersensitive’ and ‘humourless’ are examples of how the same language is used to defend jokes that dehumanise women even though there are plenty of comedians out there who will joke about just about everything including themselves. It has a name: Comedy.

Fortunately many came to Cho’s defence, such as Liefield who on facebook came to the defence of Cho and a similar artist by the name of Campbell. The author refers to Campbell and Liefield’s conversation.

I just finished reading a disturbing rant by a fellow who took, in my humble opinion, uncalled for shots at two stellar talents in my industry, in our industry, Frank Cho and J J Scott Campbell. Let’s establish here at the outset that these two are a pair of comic book wizards, visual stylists that have been at the top of the comic book mountain top, and have entertained the masses for nearly two decades. Both men are famous for their renderings of the female physique, an art form once referred to as “cheesecake” by possibly the best illustrator comic books ever saw, Dave Stevens.

And its following this conversation where the author gets angry in their prose because god forbid that art could depict sexuality or even have a sense of humour. However, (NSFW) throughout history men, women, and it seems even beasts have been drawn in an very sexual way by many painters/sculptors throughout history but suddenly in modern times, people are incredibly thin skinned and get quite angry at the sight of ass or boobs. The writer however deflects and claims only the government is capable of censorship. Yet the definition of censorship is this;

The suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security: the regulation imposes censorship on all media

Oxford Dictionary, definition of censorship

They also have the audacious claim that this is unrelated to free expression, when it is everything to do with freedom of expression. The writer claims these men are merely shifting goal posts, but then adds a critical detail – ‘it’s not censorship if these new readers don’t care for the exploitative ways women are sometimes drawn. This is how trends work. Styles change. Complacency means death of our industry.’ How are you the voice of an entire audience, what if new readers see these pieces of art and appreciates them. What happens then?

Of course the author is right, there is no call for these men to leave the industry but the overall message is that this style of art is unwelcome because it is ‘harmful’ to the readers of comics.

The Batgirl Controversy

Furthermore, Frank Cho is not the only artist to receive this kind of criticism. Another artist by the name of Rafael Albuquerque was also criticised for his reference to the Killing Joke in his comic variant featuring the Joker and Batgirl. The controversy began on Tumblr when the blog, ‘Dc  Women Kicking Ass‘ posted about the cover stating, ‘DC Comics got the last laugh again with more of their disturbing covers that reeks of, get your comments read, misogyny’. This complaint relates to the Killing Joke by Alan Moore, a classic but also widely despised comic by Social Justice commentators. In advance , if you haven’t read the Killing Joke, you can either buy it or find a version of it online as the following words will spoil a significant part of the comic. The part in question has the Joker shooting Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) in the spine and proceeding to take pictures of her semi naked body. The response to this one scene was accusations of fridging despite Batgirl going onto be incredibly successful as the Oracle and still managing to kick the Joker’s ass in later comics. There were also presumptions that the Joker raped her despite there being little evidence of this, and there is also the fact that Moore would go on to deny these claims. Even so, this is fiction, and Moore can write what he wants, it was after all a graphic novel.

Despite the Killing Joke depicting the psychological torment endured by both the Joker in the form of flashbacks and Gordon having to go through the process of witnessing the images of his exposed daughter. The Fiction Police focused fully on Batgirl. So it comes as no surprise that the Batgirl variant caused outrage. In the wake of this two tags appeared on Twitter #ChangetheCover and #SavetheCover that came later. The argument for suppressing the cover was that the target audience was mostly young teenagers. However, not one of these critics suggested alternative uses, instead focusing on scrapping the cover entirely.

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The cover may have been censored by DC but the aftermath led to parody after parody after parody by those fans who had appreciation for Rafael’s art.

Lionhead Controversy

Hot on the heels of Batgirl’s variant cover outrage came outcry directed at Lion Head Industries for posting artwork from their game Fable 2 in the #NationalCleavageDay tag on twitter. The artwork was an old asset of a barmaid with two foaming jugs of ale referencing an in game tavern called the ‘Foaming Jugs’. Like moths to a flame, the Social Justice Mob descended and cried the usual claims of sexism and misogyny. At first Lionhead doubled down and posted a picture of a male character depicted in a sexual way.

However, further pressure led by game developer, Brianna Wu led to the image being deleted and LionHead issuing an apology. It should also be noted that only a couple of hours earlier Wu posted a far more revealing image of the Sorceress, and in doing so shows her blatant hypocrisy by attacking Lionhead.

The game Fable has always be known for its satirical mockery of British culture with characters like Swift donning the handlebar moustache. The setting of Fable 2 also parodies England’s Industrial Revolution. As with the Batgirl cover, the Streisand Effect led to further distribution of the image. This was also reported on by the games media with Nardmode stating that it was a publicity blunder and that the tag itself was ‘ludicrously sexist’. The writer then makes this statement;

lion

Once again, another male thinks he can speak for all women, and completely misunderstands just what goes into the Fable universe, in regards to satire of British culture.  He also uses his wife as confirmation bias despite just as many women coming out in support of Lionhead. However, this incident perhaps shows how out of touch gaming media is becoming in regards to its own audience.

The Firedorn Limerick

In Pillars of Eternity, backers were given the chance to inject their own creativity into the game with custom gravestones. One gravestone in particular had a limerick that describes a man named Firedorn who happened to bed a women that turned out man. This led to him running off a cliff in shame. In a game that has a hanging tree, it’s hardly anything to get worked up over. But then there’s always someone, and in  this case it’s Ice Queen Erika who complains in a tweet that this limerick was ‘transmisogynistic’. This led an entire discussion on Obsidian forums and the original writer claiming it was their decision not Obsidian’s to remove the ‘offensive content’.  Furthermore,  another cultural critic jumped in to the fray, known as Jonathan McIntosh, he claimed;

“Transphobic jokes aren’t a problem because they might be personally “offensive” they’re a problem because they’re culturally oppressive.”

– The Twitter Post

I think someone should notify McIntosh that this was a limerick, in a video game. It has no sentience, therefore it cannot be oppressive. The following below is Ice Queen’s rant using the tag #killallmen;

In the end, the limerick was changed to mock the entire incident. Despite this sites like One Angry Gamer, The Ralph Retort, and Reaxxion came out in defence of the limerick and how it was ‘self censored’. This incident showed that not even something as obscure as a limerick in a video game can escape the eyes of the Political Correct Police who by being offended can get something that someone put  $500 towards changed to cater to their precious feelings.

#Shirtstorm

In 2014, the Rosetta Mission aimed to land a spacecraft on a comet, the first in human history. During the livestream, of the event.  A scientist named Matt Taylor was interviewed wearing a colourful bowling shirt featuring scantily clad clothed female cartoon characters. Whilst everyone marvelled at the success at what some would consider an impossible feat, some on twitter reacted differently. A user by the name of Rose Eveleth tweeted are sarcastic remark next to the image that gained over 1000 retweets. This would lead to Chris Plante and Arielle Duhaime-Ross writing an article titled ‘I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing’. Even though the shirt was actually produced by Elly Prizeman a friend of Matt Taylor.

The outrage at his decision to wear Elly’s creation led to a tearful apology during a time the man and his team should have been celebrating. The Verge writers go onto say that ‘Taylor’s personal apology doesn’t make up for the fact that no one at ESA saw fit to stop him from representing the Space Community with clothing that demeans 50% of the world’s population.’ Firstly, citations please, 50% is a very specific number and secondly, yet another man is trying to tell women how to feel, this is quite a trend when it comes to these kinds of controversies. They then make the audacious claim that this sort of ‘casual misogyny’ is stopping women from entering certain fields.

News Just in: Scientist’s shirt has become self aware! and is now physically stopping women enter stem.

To conclude these controversies spawn from a collective group of social justice advocates picking offense with everything and anything. They claim to be critical yet their wording implies otherwise, that they would rather censor the creativity of others, if it meant protecting the sensibilities of the few. These are a few examples of the media and individuals getting together and attempting to be the gatekeepers of creativity, this trend also effected the game ‘Hatred‘ that was banned from Twitch after they coincidentally changed their policy to ban adult only games and there was also a campaign to ban it permanently from steam and other outlets. Another game that has been under fire in the press includes HuniePop for its sexual themes, and it’s developers blamed SJWs for negative reviews. In addition, a romance novel came under fire from Jezebel for having the audacity to depict a Nazi and Jew falling in love. Bustle quoted a review by Smart Bitches, Trashy Books that claimed it was ‘problematic’ and hoped this lead to a change in the romance industry. When Jack Thompson, attempted to ban violent video games in the early 2000s, gamers and games journalists of the time defended their hobby. However, the new face of censorship has changed to that of the Authoritarian Far Left.  We now live in an era where even the freedom of expression is rallied against, and the ability to draw, write and, animate is policed by those who delude themselves into thinking they represent you, me, and the general consumer.

In the wake of Trump becoming president, nothing much as really changed in how some on the left approach their opposition. Whilst I like to believe most liberals are against violently assaulting their opponents under the excuse that said person is possibly a ‘Nazi.’ That doesn’t change the fact that some folk have been encouraging it, claiming it to be necessary. When in reality it makes you look no better than the opponent you fight against. For instance, I don’t agree with Spencer, on probably everything but does that mean I would assault him without provocation. Hell no, because the last thing that man needs is sympathy but that’s how you create your enemies, and convince those around you that your movement is far worse than whatever he claims to be.

I can’t help but think words like fascist and Nazi have lost all meaning, they’re thrown around so commonly that they don’t have nearly as much impact as they would have years ago. It further amazes me how many fail realise the consequence of violently assaulting their opposition. The result of that being you give them the option of self defence. Worse still, under normal circumstances this would be met by condemnation from the media. But sadly in the current generation, most journalists would sooner sell their soul to the devil before condemning unprovoked attacks on people they disagree with.

Ever since Trump became President, I’ve seen nothing but a string of paranoia and hysteria coming from liberal media sites. I’m not saying don’t protest, you’re entitled to that if you wish. I just want to see more people come out and encourage an end to this violent retaliation because the end result is usually the same. You’re not hurting the establishment by attacking businesses like Starbucks. You’re having a direct impact on the workforce you long since stopped caring about. It’s them who have to endure your insanity. Burning the flag of your country does not heal division. The problem I have with the left now is this over emphasis on factors we can’t change. As long as identity politics continues, division will remain. It’s all fine and dandy stating ‘he will not divide us’ when the truth is. There are some on the Left who did that long ago.

(The following is inspired by Archer’s Unlimited Blade Works incantation from the Fate/ Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works Series because it’s bloody awesome.)

Most people bleed red but mine is black and blue.

They outnumber me, characters and their creators who practically live on Tumblr. We’re all guilty of making them, though; the dreaded Mary Sue. A misshapen mess of self-insertion and overpowered goodness. They all have the same torturous back story with no real appreciation for how the past can become a story by itself. But no, they have to be a loner, bullied or some kind of social outcast. Separately these traits aren’t necessarily bad but put them together and you potentially have a walking, talking cliché. A character without flaws is not a character. It’s a god that needs to be struck down.

Or critiqued in such a way to help balance them out a little more.

Even though the distant between us is small, it feels massive. I hear them charge with their unorthodox weapons and superhuman prowess. A stampede of monstrosity. I choose to remain calm for the sake of my sanity.

I am the Ink of my Pen
Criticism is hard to stomach and that’s not just for fictional writing. If you can’t face criticism then what is the point of making the argument? At some point, it will have to stand on its own two feet. And if it can’t do that then perhaps you should open your mind a little. Closing it off and trapping it in a safe space is no way  to live. No matter how much you want to convince yourself otherwise. Humans are naturally drawn to a challenge, regardless of difficulty. And white men apparently have it on easy. The very definition of FILTHY CASUAL.

The Patriarchy is a Lie. Besides, I set my difficulty to Normal. Life is never easy.

Paper is my body and Imagination is my blood
I have created over a thousand characters

The army of cringe-inducing OCs remains distant in my mind, even though I know they are cutting through me like a knife through butter. Being overpowered usually grants an instant death to any poor sod on the other end. But in some exceptional cases. There’s this nice little thing that protects its wearer from the sword, the bullet, the bite, the axe, the high mana attack that took longer than it should charging up. Plot Armour is everyone’s friend. Unless you’re in the Game of Thrones. In which case tough luck, and avoid all weddings.

Unknown to Death,
Nor known to Life.
Have withstood pain to create many drafts

The drafting process is always difficult since you have to mentally tell yourself not read through what’ve you written previously. Even if there’s that glaring typo mocking you. Ignore it until the final draft. But no, the human mind’s strive to create perfection means we will skim over every last word until it’s just right. No wonder I’ve only just recently felt I can finish my first true novel. Self-doubt is a bitch. But every writer should seek to counter it. Self-critique isn’t bad just don’t let it destroy you in the process.

Yet, those pens will never write anything
So as I pray, unlimited character works.

They are scattered, sliced, and sent back to whatever fanfic spawned them.

Isn’t this a fanfic, though. And your immortality is that not a sign that you are also a Mary Sue.

Fuck off Mr Mad, I prefer the term parody.

Alright, carry on then. But they just keep coming back, stronger every time. A new magical resistance to sharp swords. OC’s are like the Borg but on steroids. They adapt, they assimilate, and then there are the ones who wield the sword of criticism in such a way that they intend to distort your creation. Subjective criticism is purely on an individual. One person’s way of looking at art is not a universal truth. Do not be put off by the mainstream media who peddle article after article on sexism and racism like its all they know. Your audience will appreciate what you do. Even when it seems no one else will –

This is a pretty shit reality marble AND YOU HAVEN’T DESCRIBED HOW IT LOOKS! Oh and did I mention that even you can’t beat half-assed characters.

You just can’t help yourself can you.

I enjoy watching a hopeless optimist overcome insane odds.

The only reason I’m not winning is that all of my current characters have fatal flaws that can be used against them. That and even my post powerful ones can’t overpower something that is literally god.

Ah, death is a cruel mistress.

Just be useful for once.

Here’s a serious plot twist in the next paragraph. Have that one for free.
Sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire. Only another Mary Sue can beat another. And I have one final trump card. Buried beneath draft layers of Project Zero, between the fragments of the Grey Watch series, and some random roleplay ideas that looking back really were quite crap. I reveal to you, a wonderful set of cliches called The Circle of Life. The characters are all labelled with stupid names except Raphael (who literally hasn’t changed in years) they are all more or less ridiculously powerful. And one of them has ungodly regenerative powers. It’s like watching Brazil being beaten 7-1  by Germany. Except my old characters have finally found a reason to be useful. And by useful, I refer to how they mop the floor with these OCs because even for clichés, I did at least try and make them two dimensional. Even if the result was still full of cringe. I mean why the hell did I think of naming the at the time protagonist: the Hider. I was a strange kid.

The dust settles, everyone disappears and since it’s probably the end, and expending that much energy to create a reality marble should have really killed me. It’s probably best if I go to sleep. Right here. In the middle of fricken nowhere. FANTASTIC.

What a sh – 

The End

or is it the beginning of a book series and several movie follow ups followed by the nail biting two part film which ramps up the suspense to levels never before seen in film or television.