Month: August 2015

The corporate creeps again (this time: Amazon … I mean Twitch … I mean both. … I guess?)

Twitch.tv now belongs to Amazon. It was also proudly announced a while ago that Twitch.tv is now its own company. Yeah, Amazon, you’re basically bragging with your tax evasion.

I made an account at Twitch.tv to give livestreaming a try.

I got added to a newsletter for all Twitch users. No surprise there, and maybe tolerable, but then I get my first newsletter e-mail and it’s advertising for Amazon Prime. Which they already try to forcefully cram down my throat on Amazon as if their life depended on it. (Poor near-monopolist global corporation. Always on the brink of bankruptcy.)

So then I open a link with the intention of unsubscribing, and it tells me why I am subscribed:

Because I am a valued member of the Twitch community.

Bah, those suckup rhetorics. Cut the bullshit.

Then I unsubscribe, and I receive a confirmation e-mail that states:

” ** We have removed your email address from our list.
————————————————————
We’re sorry to see you go.”

Ehm, what? I merely unsubscribed from an e-mail newsletter and they act as if I canceled my account. Are those creeps trying to guilt-trip me with inflated emo-drama?

Every time I have to deal with stuff like this, I am reminded of a certain movie that is like a metaphor for the modern marketing mindset:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115798

The Cable Guy is your friendly neighborhood global corporation just wanting to be your best friend.

By the way, IMDB is Amazon, too.

Blizzard never rests … getting worse

Topic: reserved character names.
The unimaginative self-victimizing spineless whiners who would call reserving a character name using an idle char “passive griefing” to claim it is against the rules have won. As usual. But it might not even be directly this pathetic personality trait that was the reason. At the core, Blizzard cares about profits, and gamemasters having to manually deal with requests cost money, so now instead of acting mature and setting a standard, they cater to that mindset that is so close to their own by automating the process. And automation means it is being done. And the conditions are appalling:

——————–
https://eu.battle.net/support/en/article/requesting-a-name-be-released-for-reuse

“Requesting a Name be Released for Reuse

We often receive requests from players to free up a character name. Customer Support will no longer assist with releasing names. Instead, names will automatically become available if the account that holds the name has remained inactive for the past two expansions.

For example, if an account has been inactive since before the Cataclysm expansion, all names on that account will be made available when the Warlords of Draenor expansion launches.

If you are an active player, there is no need to worry that your character names will be changed, even if you have been playing other characters for a while.
Updated: 27-Jul-2015
Article ID: 200790 ”

——————–
Notice how it doesn’t say anything about character level. So if you found an awesome name that you can identify with, leveled the char to 85, got tons of achievements and rep and stuff, then stopped playing, and are now coming back to Warlords of Draenor, you might find your level 85 character has had its name taken away and given on a silver plate to a brat with a bloated sense of entitlement. Because that’s the target audience Blizzard caters to and always has. Some people just don’t understand that Blizzard doesn’t respect them, despite their best efforts to make that clear, like said case. If you are inactive for a longer time, you just don’t matter to them. Even though they lost tons of subscribers lately. They have given up and don’t expect you to return to the game anyway, so don’t be a fool and even consider it if you have any self-respect. They fully focus on the “whales” (rich and/or addicted) now. Supporting such a business has negative consequences for all of humankind and the world.

The nail in the coffin for my WoW subscription years ago was actually because of more automation and ensuing disrespect when a game master eventually talked total bullshit to me (as people usually do when reason collides with lowly motivations).

Any temptation there might have been for me to re-sub has been thoroughly averted by my self-respect. And preserving my self-respect even under severe pressure is an actual achievement.

Sidenote: RP is supposed to nourish creativity, but WoW isn’t really what role playing games used to be. People who complain that “all the good names are in use” are too stubborn to not have it 100% their way. They should just practice some creativity, which would work if the will was there.

I am probably the gold standard, because I have a hard time coming up with character names that are not unique, haha. xD

Round avatar pictures – The new stupid trend

They keep popping up. The stupid trends that do something the stupid way which used to be done the smart way and everybody jumps on the idea.

Examples from movie-making would be immersion-breaking circular explosion pressure waves and lens flares.

One of the more recent web design trends is to make avatar pictures worse. (There is no English word for Verschlimmbesserung, the act of changing something to make it worse.)

Picture files are rectangular. Web design is profoundly rectangle-based, and for a good reason. It makes efficient use of screen space. Now you create your avatar picture for a web service, cut it so that it includes what you want to see, upload it, and then the web service just cuts off a good bit of the picture all around, thus wasting all the space that has been cut off, since there’s no use for the free space around a circular web element like that anyway. Your whole avatar now looks like it has been squeezed into a balloon, with no advantage, only downsides. Why? Because some marketing-drunk fools think rectangles are so last year?

The world is going crazy. I see the process at work every day.

The racist implications of subtitling because of accent

I couldn’t find information about the history of subtitling, so here is a thought about what might have happened.

Since TV is mass entertainment and mass entertainment is sensitive towards audience displeasure, people complaining about weird accents might have been the reason why we now see that habit of adding subtitles to people speaking in a familiar language but with an accent. Often the accent doesn’t really make it more difficult to understand, yet there are subtitles anyway, which can seem insulting.

And since I have studied people’s behavior a lot, what I could imagine is that this was caused by people who simply don’t WANT to understand. There might have been racists or just general pricks who went like: “What’s that Asian guy mumbling about there? I can’t understand a word of that gibberish!” while they could have understood perfectly well if they hadn’t been an ass. And then the entertainment business got afraid that this might harm the audience appeal of the product, so they better added subtitles, just to be on the safe side.
And as is so often the case when people act out of fear, they do a disservice, and to themselves, too.

Again, such things are often merely about willingness to make an effort, even if just a small one, and many people are not willing. It’s the same issue with people speaking foreign words the wrong way just because they want to signal disrespect; are not willing and don’t care enough to make a little effort.
When people admire that I am good at speaking certain foreign words, it gives me mixed feelings, because all they’re really admiring is that I make a little effort and they don’t even try. Many things are damn easy if only you can get yourself to have a bit of interest. And thus, interest is what paves the way to excellence.
If you think “Nobody likes to have a speech impediment.”, you’re wrong. Many of them are even proud of their self-made one; created with the power of the mind.

See this video for a humorous (yet with a deeply serious core) look on the issue:

This doesn’t even cover the more extreme degrees of the issue, like phonetic mistranslations. One example of that that made me facepalm for years is cherries named Schattenmorellen in Germany. Schatten? Did they grow in the shade? And what the hell are morells? Nope, they were originally called “Chateau de Moreille” (after Castle Moreille), but someone decided that making themselves look like an idiot/jerk by doing this crude phonetic translation was a good idea.

Beef jerky is another example of an equally dumb phonetic translation. That product was apparently named by and after knee-jerks.

“Out of respect…”

There’s no point in opening your statement with “Out of respect” as an indication that you deliberately decided not to pursue a certain course. If you say it, you signal that you don’t want to keep the fact from them that there is a reason for disrespect in your mind. So while it is less deceptive/secretive/closed and more sincere and open, it also implies disrespect and a closed mind, already considering its own standpoint final. The openness of this choice of words can come from a feeling of superiority, which itself can work as an insult.
It’s somewhat similiar to saying “I could call you names, but…” or “Some people might say that you…”.

As a sidenote: It also reminds me of the somewhat related issue of “No pun intended”. I love puns, so when people keep saying this, it would piss me off if they weren’t the ones dissing themselves by openly showing their fear of not appearing in the proper light. It basically means you want to suck up to an uptight crowd, but at the same time be fun. You want to have it both ways, all the benefits with none of the drawbacks, but you really gain none.

For further details on that matter I can simply refer to this very good essay, a favorite of mine because it covers the topic thoroughly:
http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=puns

Krav Maga – Breeding the world’s most deadly cowards

These notes are semi-refined. A bit of flow-of-thought style, as I like to do. Obviously this will offend some people, but that’s an issue in the offended, and that’s part of the theme of what I write about. Unlike the people and behaviors I examine in the following, I am not acting based on fear. Fear is the mind-killer. It weakens the character.

I watched a documentary about martial arts and now an episode about Krav Maga and hearing about its rules and basics, it sounded like a political guide book. Which makes perfect sense if you consider that it is the Israeli fighting style.
It immediately was an obvious stark polarity to previous episodes about Asian martial arts and mostly any other style.

– Developed originally as defense for the meek and helpless against an oppressive regime and with this idea further developed and practiced by a powerful military force.
– Focuses on things considered forbidden in other martial arts (groin kicks, throat punches, eye pokes), for the sake of effectiveness and defeating your enemy as quickly as possible.
– Always defend and attack at the same time.
– Is also a mentality, and the key word is aggression. (according to a trainer)

It’s what the Israeli military learns.
Just like Eastern martial arts, it has its ‘philosophical’ side. Just that it’s a very different one.

Krav Maga sounds like Grave Maggot. I came up with this pun before realizing how applicable it is, hah.

Krav Maga is designed to turn average people into the world’s most deadly cowards.

I guess it’s something you can be proud of if you fully focus on the deadly part. Which should be no problem at all. To most people, it comes naturally.

The style is adapted to being the lone one being crowded, facing multiple opponents, implying that you are the good guy. But if you have an assault rifle and your opponents are tormented and hungry and united in their resistance and spirit, then you are trained for being a bully, for acting like a victim when you’re not. For acting like a soldier invading a market to hunt down and punish people and believing you are an innocent civilian who just wanted to buy some fruit and gets assaulted by a mob.

Here’s some much-needed Eastern wisdom combined with social psychology:
Since Krav Maga was originally created as a way for Jews to defend against the Nazis, this means its conception was brought about by two influences: Krav Maga wouldn’t exist without the Jews, and Krav Maga wouldn’t exist without the Nazis. Half of Krav Maga keeps the role of the suffering victim alive, the other half the oppression. And when you keep acting like the Nazis are still around when they’re not, you need to find a replacement to make that idea work, to give your mentality purpose. It boils down to classical projection. You cultivate your preferred inner state (like not wanting to let go of pain and fear), and then you try to shape the outer world accordingly in order to create a comfort zone that allows you to live with your inner demons without being reminded of them.

And that’s in part why I tend to say that Hitler isn’t dead, but alive and well in Israel. He lives on in his victims; turned them into agents. It’s traditional; inherited fear.

In the documentary series, there was also a very insightful statement made about the differences of cultures and philosophies and how they affect martial arts and the other way round. A statement that pretty much sums up where the problem lies and points to the solution:

‘In typical Western MA, you try to impose your will onto other people. In typical Asian MA, you see your opponent lose balance and merely help them fall.’

Asian martial arts are closely connected to the culture’s philosophy, i.e. a mindset of strength through inner peace; of NOT acting like a victim. For building character. Krav Maga is like a caricature; the extreme imbalance – total physical survival mode. It’s like the guys from the dojo with the black clothes in Karate Kid, where they were used an a contrast, or metaphor for what’s wrong with Western mindset.

Krav Maga is the only martial ‘art’ I know that focuses on character weakening. All it has going for it is the idea of “Keep going!” which serves as a simple distraction from how it erodes pretty much the rest of your character. Perpetual “Keep going!” makes you forget to pause and reflect on what you are doing.

You know, to go back to the documentary material … it is telling when after a line of very respectful and awe-inspiring statements by the main participants, one of them said he thinks, based on his experiences in the army, that his instructor is “partially insane, not a stable human being”. Even if he didn’t mean it 100% serious, such choice of words always expresses sincerity, especially since no “just kidding” vibe could suffice to make you not pause and think when you hear that from a guest about a host.

The problems with US police seem related, of a similar mindset. You have people of weak character given power and authority. They use fear as justification. They go to an incident scene and then go into “They’re out to get me” self-defense mentality based on fear.

I’m quite sure a proper wu shu master could defeat a krav maga master easily and quickly, without causing lasting injury. The more balance there is in the practice, the easier it gets to exploit the opponent’s imbalance.
It’s relatively simple for anybody to master something that requires so little; such a narrow, focused skillset.

In sparring, you apologize when you hurt your sparring partner. In Krav Maga there are no rules, so there is no real sparring. They showed that in the documentary when his not-really sparring partners repeatedly went straight for his leg injury, making him scream in great pain. When I saw that, I wanted to tell him to play their game by their rules and kick the shit out of them. Then let’s see how that gang of bullies can handle suffering from their own game. Then again, he was probably too afraid that he would get killed then. As they exclaimed repeatedly, those guys are nuts. If they wanted to really get into the spirit of Krav Maga, they’d have to go nuts, too.
There was also as I remember no or almost no swearing in previous episodes, but in this one, there was plenty. It’s also the only episode where they tell their instructors what they want to hear without really meaning it. Their recap was that the past five days were more mental conditioning than actually growing technique-wise. Basically just about not giving up when doing pit fighting. Naked survival, training to become totally ruthless if necessary.

Last time I checked, US marine training wasn’t considered a martial art.

At one point the guy farewell-hugged his instructor and mentioned that he habitually wanted to go into defensive position. There you see how it affects the mind; what it cultivated towards. You get mistrust deeply ingrained, which can eventually lead to paranoia and psychosis, and that’s what you see a lot in that country.

At one point the instructor said: ‘You need to be alert, 24/7, every day, all the time’. There’s your unhealthy, obsessed imbalance again. Aiming for the impossible. Driving yourself crazy if you are serious. Again, Asia understands the importance in balance. If you push yourself all the time and don’t allow yourself phases of rest and depressurization, you’ll break down. You’ll ruin yourself. And if you keep being afraid of covert attacks from anywhere all the time, you’ll get adrenaline fatigue and your body is not allowed to heal. It will have to adapt to that, but this cannot go on forever. The imbalance will sink in deeper and deeper. I know from own experience that it can be hard to give it a rest when you are (impatiently) driven towards something, but pushing it further will always come at a cost that needs to be paid if not soon in soft currency, then later in hard cash.

At the final trial they again tried to seriously hurt his leg, and the way he fought he was still too polite to try and DEAL some serious injury. And that showed his real character. That he wouldn’t stoop to their level.
Finally they celebrated that they could welcome them into their ‘family’ in “true hell”. Must give them real comfort to know that another person accepted to share their misery and assume, even for a while, their unhealthy attitude.

Understand that a dojo full of physical pain doesn’t imply it can’t be a massive comfort zone for the mind. Because anything you can go through in a Krav Maga training is trivial compared to the suppressed pain that might make you seek out such training. Getting rid of some inner demons can mean you have to be willing to die; to give up your will to live. Which is the opposite to Krav Maga’s core message of never giving up. Wisdom means to know when to give up. Sometimes what you aim for will remain absolutely impossible to reach, maybe even move further away from you, as long as you keep pushing for it. You’d become an obsessed fanatic.

In the very end, one of them summed it up very well, jokingly, but it has to be asked in all seriousness: “Why train Krav Maga when I can just spend 40 bucks on a taser?”
Yeah. I could just pose as a Krav Maga master-instructor and beat the shit out of my students with a stick and tell them this is elemental core practice; just take it and keep going. There’s no way to tell a madman from a Krav Maga teacher. In previous episodes, with the ‘less Western’ styles, but generally with pretty much any other style, you just knew there was more to it. But of course, if you are a master of something so imbalanced, there is no depth, no contrast.
There’s a reason why there is no master title or martial arts label for running amok. Even associating the word “art” with Krav Maga is an insult to art of all kinds.
Hopefully the practice outside of Israel will at least not share the Israeli sickness and instead focus more on the technique set of defending against multiple attackers. But then, why still call it Krav Maga? If you want to know the core of an Israeli-rooted martial arts, of course Israeli masters would be the ones to consult. And that’s what the documentary showed. Pure and unadulterated Krav Maga.

UPDATE: In the last episode they showed Kajukenbo, and while it utilizes some similar techniques and is focused on merciless streetfighting, the whole spirit of those people was like the total opposite of what was shown in the Krav Maga episode. And that’s a crucial difference. The important thing is to look at what a practice does to a person.

UPDATE 2: I now learned that there’s virtually no alternative to a several years long compulsory military service in Israel. And Krav Mag is being taught to everybody during that time; naturally alongside the whole package of political agenda and implanting of fear-propaganda into people’s minds. With such a mass-indoctrination and -conditioning, it is no surprise that the situation just won’t find a resolution in the Middle East. Way too much energy is fed into the problem. There’s a very active desire on a grand scale to keep the conflict alive, and new radical fanatics (I mean Israelis now) are trained every day.

It is interesting though that there are Israelis bold enough to risk legal consequences by refusing to do military service, and according to Wikipedia information their numbers increase. Those are the actually courageous people, not the bullies in uniform.

Footnote: Funny thing in relation to this article and marketing automation: http://dowlphin.tumblr.com/post/126713670607/automated-twitter-fav-hilarity-this-is-the

Selling your soul becomes closer to literal for businesses

Blizzard runs World of Warcraft.

They have their own website and a game forum specifically for World of Warcraft and the game’s login screen features an optional news window if something’s important.

It seems they maneuvered back a bit now (probably because of significant negative feedback), but a while ago you had to look for important info about stuff like unscheduled server offtime on Twitter. They really want people to go to Twitter. And they have Twitter integration in the game now, so I suspect marketing whoring to bring about the new world dominance.

Daybreak Gaming Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) runs Planetside 2. That game, too, has its own game forum, and just like in the case of World of Warcraft, you use your game login, which means that if you want to talk to the player community, there you will find the people who are actually playing the game.

Yet the go-to place for the devs to communicate with players is Reddirt. ( That was a typo I decided to keep. 😀 )

In other news, one of the big German internet providers (the privatized formerly national one in the form of the telephone company Deutsche Telekom) – T-Online – now decided to sell their own website.

Yeah, you heard right. T-Online.de. The company’s website. Where you can log in and do customer service stuff, web mail etc and where they offer their service packages, and also run it as a combined new portal. They sell it. The website that dons their name won’t be theirs anymore.

And it’s probably because of the news component, and not deciding to separate that, but keep it tied to the name, shows how highly names are valued in business, as a brand.

If this continues, selling your own grandma might soon become more than just a figure of speech.

And you know that this is all touching the topic of slavery, right?

When you are no longer in control of your own assets. When more and more that you thought is yours becomes owned.

Are you sure your name is still part of you and not just a legal person? Maybe it has been sold without your consent. (This is what happened to that German telephone company. Important things are not decided democratically here, but sufficiently indirectly to allow the plutocracy to rule over their subjects.)

Speaking of control: When businesses become so big that they consider the small stuff not lucrative enough, they dump that; leave the bread crumbs to the small businesses.

Amazon seemed to have realized that the small crumbs add up, so they decided to gain control over that, too. Can you still afford to run small online distribution without Amazon Marketplace? And Amazon gets their cut. This is the hybrid-solution of total dominance. It’s related to politics when you control and lead the dissent against you in order to crush or drown out any non-approved dissent.

Amazon might have a relatively good service for a huge corporation, but I don’t give them credit for that. Because they can easily afford it. It’s not like there’s still another big competitor like it’s so often the case when corporations wage a war and lose customer-orientation. Amazon now tries to intercept all potential competition and put them under their umbrella. They take all the benefits and reject the inconveniences. Amazon Marketplace is no benefit for small businesses because it only appears to be an advantage because it exists. It’s a bit of a mafia approach: You pay money for protection. Which would be a legit service contract if we didn’t talk about what it is that you need protection against.
This might end in what people who are afraid of socialism think is socialism but is actually a capitalism that they should be afraid of. Concentration of power is never a good idea. It has to be rooted in the people.

Encore
——
Wondering why so many businesses sell out? – It’s like a 3-layer system:
1) Some created their business to sell it once it gets attactive.
2) Those who didn’t might get an offer to sell it that is attractive enough to put money before the business. (Might also be due to special circumstances like with Mojang where Notch wasn’t ready for the responsibility of a fast-growing business.)
3) Those who refused to sell might be either signaled that if they don’t sell, the potential buyer will just push them out of the market with their greater might, or this step happens without communicating that course of action to them.

This chain can be broken by courage, resolve and skill. You gotta be smart enough to, when losing in a shitty game, step out of the game and create your own rules. It’s all mostly just a mind game anyway. The good thing about out-of-the-box thinking is that then you no longer live in a box. 😉