Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Bible Reloaded on YouTube

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In my Internet wanderings I came upon a rather interesting YouTube channel hosted by Jake & Hugo called "The Bible Reloaded."

They take a unique approach in how to use their channel in the ambitious attempt to read the narrative of the entire Bible (NIV) on the Internet.

Not only this but most importantly they provide context for the topics they raise and even have done a video outside of canonical texts to provide further context still. This ongoing project has caught my attention and is a worth a look.

Episode 1: Genesis

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Anita Sarkeesian: Entrepreneur, Activist or Phony?

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For those not keeping up with the pulse of YouTube: a channel by the name of Feminist Frequency run by Anita Sarkeesian has recently gathered $160,000 via Kickstarter to produce what is currently a three part video series focused on sexism in videogames entitled “Damsel in Distress.” Originally she asked for $6,000 for this project and spoke of academic value as well as intense research involved in the final product.  But the videos about videogames are only the catalyst in a tale of Internet Infamy that begins with feminism and ends with pseudo-science.

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The dubiously high amount of money involved raised many eyebrows due to the fact that YouTube videos of this exact nature are produced on shoe string budgets every day. She refuses to allow comments or ratings which is a tactic looked down on by most Internet users for obvious reasons. Compounding this is some evidence to show she likely screen captured the videos of other YouTube users rather than recording original video from the games she supposedly bought for the research stage of the project. But I'll return to that topic later. Whatever else may be true of Sarkeesian there's no arguing that she has become extremely successful directly as a result of this Kickstarter project and is rumored to have entered the professional gaming industry as a consultant to EA Games on the title Mirror Image 2.

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Which brings me to the first quandary: Is she a capitalist genius or just a case of luck combining with opportunity? I don't think it's as easy as some of her detractors would like to discount her as simply a "troll" (meaning intentional instigator) taking it to the next level. That's one possibility but considering the nature of human greed I find it also likely she uses pop culture as a crutch to avoid the more scientific elements of social commentary all while appealing to her base, in this case hard-line feminists, to keep the donations coming with lots of red meat. All the benefits but none of the heavy lifting. As an example of this she doesn't present any information to the viewer about learned and demonstrated behavior in the field of Child Development Psychology which would be the cornerstone of a hypothesis involved in linking external input like the themes and plot devices in videogames with outward attitudes toward the opposite gender.  Fancy way of saying she is obviously not doing an academic piece.

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One thing that occurred to me when I saw her first video was most of her arguments could be transplanted to rail against rap and hip hop music, or against the fringes of the artist community, or pretty much any extreme form of expression. But somehow I don't imagine a young woman who wants to decry the evil rap music industry right next to figures like Bill O'Reilly and Pat Robertson would catch much traction on YouTube. Sarkeesian's main point in summation, while it takes a different route to get there, is no different from the position of the religious right-wing: society is harmed by things I find offensive being popular.

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That brings me to my second quandary: Is she an earnest activist that is merely making amateur mistakes or is there intentional deception by stating her opinions as facts numerous times? Again I'm not entirely convinced the worst to be true. It's not all that impossible most of what she has presented that has ruffled feathers is just us witnessing a slow learning curve on her part to avoid logical fallacy. I read some old political posts of mine and felt deep shame ... because I wrote them prior to taking a college course on critical thinking and proper argumentation. So hey, total benefit of doubt thing going on here. But to ever buy this one in full I need to see her start basing factual statements in facts and come to see that if you decry a social injustice you perceive but provide no positive solutions then others who feel as you do are left feeling disempowered (common theme in her videos) instead of united in this common worldview.

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My final quandary: Are we being lead around by the nose here or not? The strongest point that leads me to think this a con artist at work is not so much the large pile of cash she got but rather what other users pointed out: she is almost certainly using footage of Let's Play videos (someone voices what is essentially a podcast alongside a game they’re playing) to pad out her game footage shots and blatantly ignores or misrepresents the context within a story line she critiques. As a quick example of misleading viewers about the contextual story line within these games she references Fable 2 as a title that represented the "male revenge fantasy" overlooking the fact you can select to be female without affecting any element of the story and after the death of sister you are mentored by a powerfully authoritative female character. As to the other point I've heard some users say she "stole" these clips of game footage but one not giving attribution is bad Web-etiquette but not stealing per se and two with the exception of the audio these Let's Play videos are likely the sole property of the game makers or YouTube not the person who used a computer to mesh together game play and commentary. Find a copyright lawyer to really nail that down but in the case of potential plagiarism I'm near positive that unless they have a partnership with a gaming company thus a legal department behind them they can forget about this sort of thing being declared anything other than Free Use by YouTube. That said, it's beyond suspicious to me that such a highly funded project would borrow footage in this way at all.

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The sad part is no matter what Sarkeesian holds as her true intentions the focus on tired clich├ęs being overused in gaming and how these plot devices, or tropes, are used to enforce unfair gender stereotypes is an opinionated stand to take but it's just a simple fact that the professional gaming industry is predominately male and could greatly benefit from say a youthful female voice on YouTube encouraging women to strike out toward careers in gaming design and development. I have no doubt the gaming industry as a whole would welcome a more gender balanced input when it comes to design and development. The number of female gamers in the market keeps rising and they often bring different tastes and expectations to a videogame than male gamers do. But instead of that sort of encouragement, so far anyway, we have three videos that contain contradictions and have yet to succeed in proving or even attempting to prove the central premise that fictional fantasies lead to negative attitudes and beliefs about others. We already beat that horse to death with the whole violence in the media causes violence in real life bullshit that was debunked over and over again.

Correlation is not causation, Anita.

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More Video Links:

"More than a Damsel in a Dress: A Response" by KiteTales
"Three Simple Questions for Anita Sarkeesian" by IWALVG
"Female Game Developer's response to Tropes vs Women" by dolldivine
"Damsel Trek..." by Triox45
"GAME OVER: Anita Sarkeesian has won" by MundaneMatt

Monday, September 26, 2011

America in 2011 (Occupy Wall Street)




This is America in 2011: citizens protesting the social injustices of the financial sector upon the middle class and working poor are being brutalized by police and subject to a blackout by the mainstream media that is slowly being lifted.

It's an unfortunate truth that the Occupy Wall Street movement(s) are revealing before us today: scream about the evils of government health care or murdered fetuses and they will grab the news cameras, scream about the evils of corporate monopolies or the corrupt practices of Wall Street and they will grab the pepper spray.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

:P



I don't feel like writing anything too serious today. I'll just keep typing into this laptop to fill up the space in my head that creeps and crawls. I have plenty to say, too much in fact. But it's not going on the Internet. Sorry but my ever so interesting life story is not something I'll put on here. I know all about tearing my heart out and wearing it on my sleeve for complete strangers. I'm the master of TMI ("too much information") and I ramble as bad in conversation as I do online. But the person I am changes too fast to even keep track of anymore these days. I will say this though: for someone so young I've lived a rather full and complex life. Even though I've barely lived at all I could die with a smile on my face today, I've made my mark and changed cold hearts with my compassion as well as hardened hearts with my malice. I can finally view existence as something that makes sense and remembered that believing in myself is the only thing that ever made sense to me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Year After The BP Spill

April 20th, 2011, marks the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

I mark the BP Spill as a point in time which it became even more clear to me that the United States government is invested in protecting corporations and industry over protecting its citizens from harm.

The reckless disregard for both human life and the environment of BP and Transocean has not met with any criminal prosecution. Serving as an example that a company is free to cause death and mayhem without any consequences but an individual who caused the death of eleven workers and poisoned the Gulf for decades to come would receive no such special treatment.

America continues to be a cowardly nation when it comes to holding the people responsible for the industrial homicide that took place one year ago.

Add atop all this that the government lied to the public regarding the location and magnitude of the spill on multiple occasions and approved a toxic dispersant that has been banned in the U.K. to be sprayed into the environment in quantities previously unheard of for use in an oil spill clean up.

Considering all this I don't trust the EPA or the federal government when they proclaim the seafood as safe as the Gulf as non-toxic. The health and safety of the public is secondary to promoting the needs of the private sector industry forces, so if the feds and the EPA have to lie and cause a few people to get sick as a direct result then that is exactly what they will do.

As a single solitary citizen there is not much I can do to bring the inhuman monsters responsible for this to justice nor can I hope to see those in the EPA and the federal government who would lie to public be fired and replaced with people who would actually do their jobs rather than bend knee to the oil industry. Beyond voicing myself on a blog the only avenue I have to act upon is this: boycott BP forever.

A corrupt government we can change, though I don't see it as an easy road it is entirely possible if people only stand together in a common cause. But changing a multinational corporation is much more difficult than changing a government and in all reality corporations are beyond all laws and beyond taking responsibility for the death and destruction they bring about in their narrow, greedy quest for ever-increasing profits. When faced with such a power the only recourse of a ordinary person is to not contribute to the empire of death with everyday purchases like gas or food.

When every former BP station has rebranded itself and the company is treated like the pariah they are in the United States then I might consider reviewing their corporate policies and considering put an end to the calls for boycott, not a moment before.

If consumers continue to reward corporations guilty of industrial homicide with business then there shall never be any hope of a private sector that doesn't cause these horrific disasters in the first place.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jeffrey Sachs: 'The People's Budget'

Jeffrey Sachs has posted an excellent piece on The Huffington Post regarding the only sane budget proposal floating around Washington D.C.

HuffingtonPost.com:
Just when it seemed that all of Washington had lost its values and its connection with the American people, a bolt of hope has arrived. It is the People's Budget put forward by the co-chairs of the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. Their plan is humane, responsible, and most of all sensible, reflecting the true values of the American people and the real needs of the floundering economy. Unlike Paul Ryan's almost absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class, the People's Budget would close the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, taming health care costs (including a public option), and ending the military spending on wars and wasteful weapons systems.

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The fact is that the People's Budget is the public's position. That's why it is truly a centrist initiative, at the broad center of the U.S. political spectrum. Ryan reflects the wishes of the rich and the far right. Obama's position reflects the muddle of a White House that wavers between its true values and the demands of the wealthy campaign contributors and lobbyists that Obama courts for his re-election. Many Democrats in Congress have also gone along with the falsehood that deficit cutting means slashing spending on the poor and on civilian discretionary programs, rather than raising taxes on the rich, cutting military spending, and taking on the over-priced private health insurance industry. Only the People's Budget speaks to the broad needs and values of the American people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gutting America


Now that the budget cuts have been released for public viewing I am reminded that we have a Democratic president who enjoys passing Republican policies.

This budget as it stands now is the gutting of America and the road to ruin. Slashing every domestic program in sight and leaving the wasteful military spending alone is the sort of move I would expect from a Republican, but if this is indeed the budget Obama supports then it amounts to yet another huge failure of this president to stand up for progressive values.

Gutting $415 million from state and local law enforcement, $438 from energy efficiency and renewable energy, $786 million from FEMA first responder grants, $1,045 million from HIV AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD and TB prevention -- all of these proposed cuts represent a desire to see Americans suffer and to see this country fail as a competitive nation.

Combining these facts with the $5 billion increase in military spending illustrates to me that the whole of Washington DC is hell-bent on turning America into a war state with permanent rampant poverty. I expect such destructive and illogical policies from Republicans, they maintain the role of the uninformed saber rattlers, but to see such a ruinous and hideous budget plan being endorsed by Democrats is disgusting.

It's obvious to me, as things stand now, that Obama along with the Democratic Party have thrown the middle class and the American worker under the bus. All the while holding up the bloodthirsty military industrial complex and the heartless desires of corporate America as paramount.

It is nothing short of a lie that the nation is "broke" and if either party was serious about trimming waste without gutting vital social services the first on the chopping block would be the Pentagon budget.

What this country has is a tax revenue problem. As any conservative will tell you GE paid nothing in taxes last year. That is only the tip of the iceberg, but a good place to start. Closing all the corporate tax loopholes combined with raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans would free more than enough tax revenue to manage the debt while at the same time avoid gutting important government services in the process.

The failure of American Democracy is perfectly represented by the non-choice of Democrats who cave on if not directly promoting anti-American policies and Republicans who pander to racists if not openly endorse fascist laws. The choice between moderate conservatives calling themselves Democrats and extremist conservatives calling themselves Republicans is no choice at all.