Archive | February 2017

Digital Homicide Homicides Itself–But Not Digitally

So I’ll provide a brief recap before sharing Jim’s video with you. Jim does a series called Jimpressions, where he downloads and plays games to get a first impression of them. While doing this one day, he played a game called “The Slaughtering Grounds,” which was, at the time, just another shitty game in a long list of shitty games that The Steam Cleaner had been trying to protect gamers from. The people who put The Slaughtering Grounds together, in their confusion, mistook the first impressions video as a review, proceeded to shit themselves in ways shockingly glorious for those who weren’t involved, and ultimately filed a lawsuit against Jim Sterling for ten million dollars.

Now that it’s over, Jim can finally talk about it, and the above video is spectacular, and a long time coming. Since the suit was filed, we’ve all known that it would ultimately be dismissed, although–having been hit with a frivolous suit myself in the past–this is of no consolation to the defendant, who has to lawyer up and deal with the possibility of a judge being in a bad mood. I actually lost the frivolous suit filed against me. An ex-girlfriend had given me a guitar, and six months after we broke up showed up at my house to ask for it back. I no longer had it, as I’d traded it for a new amplifier. She decided to sue me. Seeing as she was asking only for $300, I did not seek an attorney, and I instantly lost the case the moment that I told the judge I’d sold the guitar–which was technically true. Someone bought the guitar from me, and I used the money to buy an amp.

It was immediate, and my father watching from the back saw exactly the same thing: the judge’s demeanor instantly changed. It was no longer a simple matter of someone having given something away and then decided half a year later that they wanted it back. Suddenly, the judge saw this mean boy–I was 18 at the time–and this poor, impressionable little girl who had left her guitar at her boyfriend’s, decided one day to go get it, only to learn that the ex-boyfriend had spitefully sold it. It did not matter that I could prove the guitar’s value was only $75. The judge said, and I quote, “She can say it cost however much she wants.”

This, of course, is Mississippi, so it’s hardly surprising. This case that should have been instantly thrown out as soon as we both said the same thing–that she’d given me the guitar and then decided she wanted it back–yet I lost it anyway. The very fact that I’d sold it painted me, in the judge’s eyes, as a dick ex-boyfriend being a dick to this poor, sweet little girl. It was the most audacious thing I’d ever heard until he found for the Plaintiff in the amount of $300 and I objected, saying, “Your honor, here is the official listing of the guitar from the manufacturer–it’s a $75 instrument,” and the judge replied, “She can say it cost however much she wants.”

Life is funny sometimes, because I ended up marrying her.

So I know first-hand that stupid, frivolous lawsuits are never a sure thing, and even the dumbest lawsuit represents a very real danger to the defendant, especially since legal costs get exponentially more expensive. I could certainly have appealed the decision, but it would have cost well over the $300 I was demanded to pay–and never did pay, by the way. We ended up getting back together less than 3 months after the lawsuit was over, and neither of us ever mentioned it again. That is how frivolous and obscene the lawsuit was.

Knowing this, I was worried for Jim. I like Jim, and I don’t want to see anyone have the legal system weaponized against them, much less in a way that is blatantly unfair–even by normal societal standards–and aggressively stupid. But I also knew that Jim had gotten a lawyer, while the idiotic James Romine was exercising his right to represent himself.

In a lawsuit for ten million dollars.

And this is where, at least for me, the imminent uprising of fascination truly begins.

James Romine: A Study in Sheltered Delusion

I absolutely cannot believe that no one close to James at any point in this utter stupidity told him that this was horrendously stupid. Watch Jim’s video above for the full recap, but let’s keep in mind that James attempted to sue one hundred anonymous users on the Steam platform, which caused Valve–the company that manages Steam–to remove all of his games from their store. We have to marvel, we rational, thinking, non-delusional adults, that someone who reached the age of adulthood somehow got it into their head that it was not only possible but a good idea to attempt to file a lawsuit against one hundred anonymous people on the Internet.

It’s a downright shocking detachment from reality.

I’m perhaps unusually able to see just how remarkably stupid the lawsuit was. Not everyone got sued for stupid shit when they were 18, of course. Not everyone got to spend a 25 hour period in solitary confinement at the age of 17.

A Story About a Dog

One day, I was called to a client’s–Revid Realty in Memphis, Tennessee. They had this big ass dog who walked the office as he pleased. I’m very familiar with dogs, so I did what everyone is supposed to do: I presented my hand for the dog to sniff. And, for whatever reason, the dog bit me and drew blood. At that very moment, I had a lawsuit against Revid Realty. But I’m not that kind of person. Their employees freaked out, washed out the wound, put some Neosporin on it–no doubt, they were all thinking the same thing: they had to make me very happy, or I was going to sue them. Of course, I had no intention of doing so.

The owner of the realty company, and the person who “owned” the dog, decided to keep the dog in his office. I continued going about doing my job and went into an office to check the network settings. While I was behind the desk connecting the toner to the ethernet jack, I heard growling behind me. I jumped up and turned around, and the big ass dog was right behind me, growling. It attacked.

I immediately left the site. For several hours afterward, the owner attempted to go through who was then my boss to contact me, but I had nothing to say to him. He knew that his dog had attacked me, and yet he let the fucking animal back out to walk around freely anyway. That is not only grossly offensive, it is indisputable, classic legal negligence. Any attorney in the tri-state area would have taken that case, and I’d have owned that realty company by the end of it. Perhaps if the dog had attacked me once, there wouldn’t have been much of a lawsuit, though there probably would have been, in today’s overly litigious system.

However, after the dog had bitten me once, it absolutely crossed a line that he allowed the dog out unsupervised, where it attacked me a second time, this time far more viciously than the first. It not only tore open several bites on my arm, but destroyed my shirt in the process. I looked like I’d been attacked twice by a fucking dog. And I had been. And it was 100% the owner’s fault, and 100% gross negligence since the dog had already attacked me. This was actually such a jarring experience that for years afterward, my sister’s pit bull scared me, even though the pit bull had never done anything even remotely aggressive toward me. For years, big dogs scared me. I’m still hesitant around them.

It only takes once.

Based on that alone, that I’m still dealing with a fear of large dogs, I could probably still sue. We have email records and phone records of how it all transpired, and the owner admitted fault. He attempted to appease me by offering to buy me a video game, and then said the most shockingly offensive thing yet: “Look, kid. I’m a millionaire. I mean, how many times in your life do you think you’re going to have a millionaire apologize to you? So just accept this and let’s put it behind us.”

There, on site at another client’s premises, I replied over the phone, “I don’t give a fuck how much money you have. You’re a piece of shit and your money can’t fix that,” and I hung up.

But that’s what an actual, valid lawsuit looks like. It takes someone being a total dick, and usually not just once. A reviewer saying that your video game is shit… does not qualify. And attempting to sue an independent video game reviewer for a sum of even one million dollars is exorbitant and would never, ever be awarded by any sane judge.

James Romine’s detachment from reality is nothing short of shocking. Not only did he truly believe–clearly, as he not only filed the suit, but he stood against Jim Sterling’s lawyers and amended the suit after having stood before a judge–that he had a chance of winning, but his understanding of finances are so bewildering that I think we can piece together a clear picture of Romine and the background he comes from.

He’s spoiled.

He’s spoiled as fuck.

He’s not simply spoiled, though. He’s also sheltered. One or both of his parents has almost certainly babied him through most of his life. If I told my father that I was going to file a ten million dollar lawsuit against someone who said some mean things about one of my articles on the Internet, once he stopped laughing he would probably finish disowning me. And while, clearly, James is an adult or he wouldn’t have been able to file a suit in the first place, I still have to wonder why he never asked either of his parents about this. One of my parents was murdered when I was 12, and my father is a drug-addicted, pathologically lying amoral sociopath, but even so there are plenty of older, wiser, more experienced people of whom I could ask about this lawsuit, if I didn’t already know that it was completely retarded.

It’s not James Romine that I pity. It’s his brother, who was not a party in the suit, and, though I can only speculate, I would wager these things:

First, the other Romine brother is the older one. This is because younger ones tend to be the babied ones, and I’m sticking with that contention: only someone who was ridiculously sheltered through their life could ever think that “someone saying mean things about my game” justifies a ten million dollar lawsuit.

Secondly, the other Romine brother probably wanted nothing to do with any of this, and has probably taken great care to separate himself professionally from James.

We can’t speculate too much about people based on things they say, but we can make pretty good speculations based on the things people do. And filing a ten fucking million dollar lawsuit against a YouTube personality because he didn’t like your game… That doesn’t even qualify as “delusional.” By the time you reach that point, “Delusional” is twelve miles back in the rearview mirror, and the next exit involves a straight jacket. I am a linguist, and we don’t even have a word for that level of delusion.

Clearly–and I do mean clearly–James Romine does not live in the same world that the rest of us live in. His understanding of the world and the roles that other people play in the world is so James-Romine-centric that his vague and wild conspiracy theories about collusion between a foreign company called ECC and Jim Sterling, and between Jim Sterling and Valve, is substantial enough to be put in an actual honest-to-fuck legal document. You know–to go to court. Where people are innocent until proven guilty. Where evidence is required. Where you can’t just say “Jim is conspiring with Valve. Trust me, I totally know what I’m talking about, and I’m not a lunatic, like totes 4 real” and expect the judge to say, “Ah, well shit. Seems legit, bruh. Pay up, Jim.”

I hate that Jim–one of the few people I consider worthy enough to personally sponsor on Patreon, by the way, to give you an idea of how much I respect the man, his opinions, and his work–had to put up with this, but what is “this?” What, exactly, did Jim have to put up with?

The insane, delusional ravings of a spoiled, sheltered baby who appears to still have no idea of how the world works, or what his place in that world is. I had a clear, easy-to-win, demonstrable lawsuit against an actual fucking millionaire, and I didn’t pursue it. As an aside, we did drop the client for it. Conversely, James Romine acted out his delusion on an epic scale, for all the world to see, throwing a temper tantrum through the legal system and trying desperately to find some way–some fucking way–for baby to get what baby wanted. Because that’s how it’s probably always been for him.

Being just totally honest here, I think we can take it as a given that, if not literally every single person, then at the very least almost every person to whom James Romine talked about this nonsensical lawsuit surely advised him against it, and surely told him that it was the dumbest thing they’d ever heard, that it could not possibly end well for him, and that now was as good a time as any to sack up and stop being a baby. I cannot make myself crazy enough to even fathom the possibility that everyone around him told him to proceed with this. My brain cannot detach itself from the real world enough for me to even imagine the hypothetical scenario where friends and family are saying, “Yeah, man! His saying that there isn’t enough popcorn on Earth–that’s totally libel against you!”

And yet… He did it.

He proceeded with it.

Once he stood down Jim’s attorneys, he continued pressing with it, and allowed the stupid thing to actually go to a court. An actual fucking court. And here the judge’s hands were bound: he could not fully dismiss the case because it could be amended to be compliant, and the judge couldn’t deny Romine the opportunity to amend it. Rather than going, “Oh, shit. I don’t know fucking anything about law, do I? I’ve sent my evidence to the opposing attorney. I’ve initiated proceedings in the wrong order. I’ve sorta asked Jim’s attorney for legal advice, when you really get down to it… And now a judge has told me that I didn’t even properly do the thing right! I should just let this go!”

Rather than doing that, he amended the thing nonsensically, having decided that because he checked the sole proprietor box on PayPal, this meant that he was actually the owner of a sole proprietorship.

No, James. That’s not how this works. PayPal doesn’t have the legal standing to declare you a sole proprietor.

As the sole proprietor of an I.T. firm–with an actual bank account and business phone lines and stuff–I can tell you that it’s a bit more involved than checking a box on PayPal. In fact, the process is so convoluted that I’d recommend anyone wanting to do it to go through LegalZoom. Seeing as I’ve got an actual DBA with an actual EIN and an actual tax identifier, I could sue someone as <the I.T. firm that I own>. You checked a box on fucking PayPal.

The sheer scale of the misunderstandings shown by James Romine–not to even mention how he interpreted “fair use” to mean that the reviewer had to be “fair to the game,” rather than actually, you know, having anything to do with copyright–are absolutely astounding. Granted, I lived a childhood and adolescence bad enough to write an actual book about, so I’m about as far from sheltered as a person can get, but I still cannot comprehend how someone could reach the age of adulthood–but clearly, not actually adulthood–and misunderstand things in such fundamental ways. And not just misunderstanding, but misunderstanding them in a way that is noticeably skewed in his own favor. His understanding of how “fair use” is applied clearly works in his favor. His understanding of how libel laws work is clearly bent in his own favor. His understanding of sole proprietorship is similarly skewed so that he understands it only through the lens of how it benefits him, instead of understanding it as an actual thing with an actual legal existence, which is odd considering Digital Homicide is [allegedly] an LLC.

Jim and Jim’s attorney had to face this sad, pathetic man’s delusions and James Romine-centric understanding of the world head-on.

I have no doubt in my mind that James Romine still believes that he is right, and that the only reason things turned out the way they did is that he couldn’t afford an attorney. Because that’s the end result when someone is so sheltered, and so babied through their entire life, that they honestly think that there is the smallest chance in hell that suing someone for libel because they said on Twitter that there wasn’t enough popcorn on Earth will be successful. I don’t know how else to explain that level of delusion, that level of reckless detachment from the real world, and that level of ego that interprets everything solely through a filter of how it can benefit him.

By the way, James, if you found this by Googling yourself, this isn’t libel, either. But you’re welcome to try.

The Transgender Male Wrestler

Another day, another weird conversation about something that shouldn’t be an issue but is because we threw common sense out of the window around the same time that we decided that simple, descriptive words like “shemale” were unacceptable. So today let’s have yet another conversation about terminology, transgenderism, and all that. I was going to save this for the podcast return debuting on March 1, but since the wrestler won the state championship today, the timing is more important.

So a transgender male wrestler just won the Texas State Wrestling Championship for high school kids by wrestling against girls.

Okay.

Where to start?

This image causes me profound confusion.

How about this simple question? What does it even mean that he’s a transgender male? What does that tell you? I’m transsexual, and even I had to stop and think about what this means. From one perspective, I’m a transgender female; from another, I’m a transgender male. What does it mean that this wrestler is a transgender male? It means that he was born a girl, and that he’s making the F2M transition. Has he undergone SRS? We don’t know. Maybe, and maybe not. Should a person with a penis be taking part in a ridiculously high-contact and notably homo-erotic sport like wrestling against people who would, in those conditions, be members of the opposite sex?

Well, let’s back up a bit more.

Sexual Segregation

To my surprise, my recent article about the transgender bathroom thing caused me to alter my position such that I’m no longer an advocate of any gender-based segregation. I’m a damned good chess player. In high school, there was a good chance that I was going to go on to become at least an IM. When I returned to chess a few years ago, I fell just short of qualifying for IM status.

For males.

Chess is one of the… sports*… where men and women are segregated. In some cases, this is good. There are measurable differences between men and women. But the idea of segregating men and women in an intellectual pursuit doesn’t strike me as right. Are women inherently less intelligent than mean? Less capable of playing chess? If not, then why are they segregated out? I wondered all this when I returned to the… sport… because I didn’t know which category I would be placed in. And in a… sport… where the best women players rank around 2500, the bars for qualifying for titles are much lower; at 2100 I probably could have secured a title. Hell, at 2100, pouring my entire life into chess and seizing the world championship would have been a realistic goal. I fell short of 2100, to be clear, when I lost interest again, as I tend to do, and moved on to other things. However, the gap from 2100 to “best female player in the world” is a hell of a lot lower than trying to take on Karpov, Kasparov, or Carlsen, who are around 2900. It may not seem like it, but that gap from 2500 to 2900 is a huge one. It represents basically a lifetime of dedication and study.

I think physical sports probably should remain segregated, because it’s not fair. I’d like to be able to say that “A good basketball player is a good basketball player regardless of whether something protrudes from their chest or their crotch.” But that isn’t the case. Women are notably shorter than men. Women can’t jump as high, or run as fast. It’s not popular to say it, and for some reason it’s considered bad to say, but these are measurable things. 6 ft, 10 1/4″ is the women’s high jump world record. The men’s high jump world record is 8’0 1/4“. That’s a measurable, quantifiable, demonstrable difference. Not only is the world’s best high jumping man objectively better at high jumping than the world’s best high jumping women, but it’s also true with averages: on average, any given man is likely to be better at high jumping than any given woman.

There’s a simple reason for this.

The Transgender Male is a Cheating Bastard

Testosterone.

Just as the measurable differences in physical capabilities are long-observed scientifically, so are the effects of testosterone, which is something else that I, being transgender, know first-hand. Not only does testosterone increase physical strength, stamina, and dexterity, but estrogen actively inhibits those–primarily by shrinking the testes and thereby prohibiting the production of testosterone, but… Anyway.

I fail to see how pumping yourself full of testosterone, a hormone known to increase physical strength, stamina, and dexterity at measurable quantities, while engaging in a physical competition designed explicitly to test strength, stamina, and dexterity against people who are defined explicitly by their lack of that hormone doesn’t qualify as using a performance-enhancing drug to cheat the competition. Of course the guy won! You basically chopped a dude’s dick off and told him to go and wrestle a bunch of girls!

This isn’t an accomplishment. It would be like challenging my sister to an arm wrestling match. Woohoo, I won! Can I have a congratulatory pat on the back, and maybe a sash or trophy?

No! Because I cheated. I have hormones in my body that make me innately stronger than she is.

How can we possibly be having this insane conversation? What has happened to America?

I’ve been taking estrogen consistently, without interruptions for about six months now. My muscles have only barely started to fade. I knew it was going to take time, because I’ve lifted weights most of my life–I’m skinny, yes, but it’s seriously 100% muscle, no fat or waste. But before the estrogen could begin eating away at my muscles, first the estrogen had to overtake my testes and inhibit and lower the production of testosterone. I could have taken T-inhibitors, but there is a reason that I opted not to do this–the fewer hormones the better, as far as I’m concerned, since my sexuality makes it very helpful for my equipment to continue functioning.

So I know from first-hand experience that estrogen reduces muscle mass and testosterone builds it. Plus, it’s just a scientific fact. It’s basically what the hormones do.

I don’t know who is to blame for this situation. Given that it’s Texas, it’s probably Texas’s fault, for not allowing him to wrestle against other boys. And I’m sorry to say this, but… then do something else. Find something else to do. Don’t cheat all these girls out of their victories and championships because the state’s decree of your gender has screwed you and prevented you from competing in the proper category. Sometimes life sucks. When that happens, you have two options: let it go and move on, or pay it forward.

You paid it forward, man.

Because the state cheated you, you in turn cheated these girls.

I can’t exempt you from blame in that, because no one made you wrestle. When Mississippi jumped on the anti-LGBTQ bandwagon and made it clear that they’re going to land on the “birth certificate” side of things, my options became going into the men’s bathroom at the courthouse, or just using the bathroom somewhere else. So instead of paying it forward by forcing the men in those restrooms to deal with me–which, believe it or not, they probably wouldn’t have much cared for–I chose to let it go. I don’t have to use the bathroom at the courthouse. Maybe I really want to, for some reason. There are countless things that I want to do, but that I can’t, because I’m transgender and this is Mississippi.

I could pay it forward in countless ways. I could cause a ruckus, make all kinds of noise out in the real world. Like when my landlord nearly evicted me simply because I’m transgender. Oh, man. I could have paid that forward in countless ways. The public crucifixion of him, can you even imagine how the wider public would react? But I let it go. And, as it happens, the fact that I let it go and just continued doing my own thing is precisely the reason the landlord changed his mind. “She’s not bothering anything.” In fact, because I was willing to stand with the landlord’s right to evict me from his property, even though I felt it was the morally wrong thing to do, I would bet that if it ever came to it, that landlord would be at my house with a gun ready to shoot anyone attacking me for being transgender.

You don’t change minds by pulling this kind of shit, kid.

You don’t reach people’s hearts by using the fact that you were screwed as an excuse for screwing over other people. You forgive, and you let it go.

Just a kid?

I don’t buy into that. I don’t buy into the argument that “you’re just a kid,” so you bear no responsibility for what you’ve done. You’re 17. You’re anywhere between 364 days and 1 minute away from being classified as an adult. Unlike most people, I don’t place much significance in the arbitrary value that is a person’s age; you’re 17, and that makes you responsible for your actions. You knowingly and willfully continued cheating these girls because you wanted to wrestle and the state cheated you. But did the state even cheat you? You just won a state championship. Looks to me like you’re a wolf and the state just threw you a bunch of sheep. So I’m not even sure the State of Texas insisting you’re a female did you any harm. It looks to me like it helped you, because I’m thinking that you probably wouldn’t have won a state championship against other 17 year old boys.

You had the chance to do the right thing: withdraw.

Sometimes it sucks. No, it’s not fair. Life isn’t fair, and it can’t be made fair by other people. Fairness starts with you, regardless of what has been done to you. If you want life to be fair, then you have to start being fair to other people, even when you don’t think they deserve it, even when they haven’t been fair to you, and even when it is to your own detriment, because that is what fairness means. You are the only person who can directly increase the amount of fairness in the world, and every action that you take that isn’t fair actively decreases the amount of fairness in the world. Life isn’t fair, and you are the reason life wasn’t fair for every single girl you wrestled against.

From a M2F transgender person to you: you know damned well that you weren’t fair to those girls you wrestled against.

And, it bears repeating, that is not how you reach people’s hearts and change their minds. I would have thought people would have learned this from Trump’s victory over the left. You don’t reach people by making them angry, by cheating them. All you achieve, when you do that, is adding resentment to whatever they were already feeling. So congratulations, kid! Now there are probably a hundred girls in your wake that you defeated who are now actively resentful of transgender people, because a transgender person stole their championship from them. You’re not doing anyone but yourself any favors with this kind of shit.

If you want to reach people, you have be better than the people who screwed you over. You can’t just turn around and start screwing over other people and say, “It’s not my fault! I got screwed over, too!” Because it is your fault. You chose to wrestle against girls. You chose to cheat them. You chose to add resentment to the heart of every angry parent of each of those girls who you beat. You’re in Texas, man! You know those parents already were gritting their teeth simply because you exist. And then you went and cheated their daughters. What the hell good do you think that is doing for transgenderism?

You can’t force people to like you. You have to be bigger, you have to be better. You have to rise above it, not reflect it onto others.

Be the man that you want to be. Not the cowardly pussy who cheats other people because someone cheated him.

It’s not supposed to be easy to forgive and let things go, to walk away when you’ve been cheated. Every aspect of human nature demands vengeance, in any way that we can get it. “Fine! You won’t classify me as a boy? Then I’ll wrestle against all these girls who, let’s face it, won’t stand a chance. That’ll teach you a lesson!” But at what cost, man? Maybe the state of Texas will change their position now. I doubt it, but they might. I suspect that the only thing accomplished here is that you won a state championship. Meanwhile, you cheated untold girls out of fair wrestling matches. You made all of their parents, who were probably already predisposed to dislike you, actively resent you because you cheated their daughters. I hope that championship trophy is worth it, because you just set back transgenderism in Texas.

You did that.

Addendum

As Thomas Knapp points out below, the responsibility for this does ultimately fall to the state, and my initial thoughts were just to delete this since much of it is irrelevant. I’m not even sure how to amend this because of that; I was fixed on his choice to wrestle or not to wrestle, not on the nuance that the state created the entire freaking mess and didn’t steal from the kid’s parents in order to fund it. There is that reality, that if we’re going to have “public services” provided by the state, then those services must be available to everyone. I still don’t think that Mack made the right decision, and that his actions could only have increased the amount of ill-will people in Texas have for transgender people, which isn’t entirely on him anyway. I still think the championship is hollow, and I don’t see much difference, within this context, between injecting testosterone and injecting steroids.

One thing that I have been considering is the likelihood that the primary reason he continued wrestling was specifically to win the championship and draw attention to the absurdity of it, which is the sort of thing that happens when the state tells people what gender they are. There’s no way here that everyone could have been happy, I guess, is the place I’m coming from, and the way it played out meant that Mack is the only person truly happy with the result. And now in the list of high school state championships, there will be Jessica, Amy, Sarah… and then Mack. He had to say “fuck them” about a lot of people and disregard a lot of people’s feelings to win the championship. And while the state of Texas forced that choice on him, I think he made the wrong one.

* I love chess. But I don’t consider it a sport.

So Ellison Lost the DNC Chair Race

As I hoped, Ellison, who represented the “progressives,” has lost the race for the DNC Chair to Perez, who represents a more mainstream faction of Democrats. I’m certainly not a Democrat, and so all I was comfortable doing was watching it unfold from the sidelines, but I have to admit that I’m pleased with Perez’s victory. However, it has not had the effect that I hoped it would have.

Progressives–and I’m going to continue calling them “progressives,” though there isn’t anything progressive about them–have a wildly overblown ego and understanding of their own importance and political popularity. This really kicked off and became out of control around Occupy Wall Street, when they convinced themselves that they “represented the 99%,” a point that South Park hilariously dug into by having reporters ask protestors, “Technically, I’m part of the 99%… So what do I think about this situation?”

It’s a real problem.

There are countless Facebook pages and groups professing to be the One True Voice of the majority. There’s “The 99%.” There’s “The Other 98%”. Jill Stein repeatedly stated throughout her campaign that she represented the 99%, even though, no, objectively speaking she represented the inverse of that; she represented about 1% of the people. The actual numbers, though, don’t seem to matter.

I mean… What do you even say?

To a certain extent, it’s only worth it to roll one’s eyes at the almost constant proclamations from progressives that they represent this huge supermajority of people, despite all evidence to the contrary, but there is a bigger problem–they seem to actually believe that they are speaking for a huge, unspoken, mysterious supermajority, and, generally, anyone who states otherwise needs to shut up and surrender their voice to the progressives who represent this alleged supermajority. This incongruity between reality and their imagined self-importance has caused them no end of trouble, and I think it’s going to get worse.

So allow me to be the one to inform you candidly, progressives…

You don’t represent “most people.” You don’t represent 99% of people, 98% of people, 51% of people, or even 49% of people. Based on the numbers, at absolute best, giving you the benefit of the doubt in major ways, we can estimate that you represent about 4% of people. You are not a supermajority; you are not even a majority. You’re a stupefyingly loud minority with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and if you truly believe that you represent anything that is even remotely close to a majority of Earthlings, Americans, young people, or any other division of things or people, then you are hopelessly out of touch with reality.

Progressives went into the Democratic Primaries firmly believing themselves to represent, if not 99% of everyone, then at least 51% of people. As such, they literally could not even when Sanders lost the nomination per the written rules of the Democratic Party to Hillary Clinton. While I’ve lambasted Hillary as much as any progressive and while I firmly agree that the DNC conspired with Hillary to win the nomination, it doesn’t matter, because they didn’t actually do anything against the rules. No one expects the DNC Chair or the RNC Chair to be completely neutral, and progressives don’t expect that, either. Their ire is a result of the fact that Debbie was not a Sanders supporter, not that she wasn’t neutral.

They immediately did what progressives have been doing since the primaries started: bitching, complaining, shouting, and rioting. It was Sanders supporters–progressives–who caused the riot in the Nevada Democratic Primary, and Nevada was not the only state that this happened in. While they did not riot at the Democratic National Convention, they were so boisterous and loud at having lost that Sarah Silverman famously told them they were being ridiculous. And they were, but how could we expect anything else? After all, they firmly believe that they represent 99% of people, or at least 51% of people, so any democratic result must have their side winning–that is their understanding. If the vote doesn’t go their way and they represent 99%, 98%, or 51% of people, then clearly the election was stolen from them. That’s their logic, and that’s how they understand these events.

Their hostility and anger stems from that severe misunderstanding–the fact that they’ve fallen for the bullshit political rhetoric that they’ve been telling themselves year after year. In their echo chambers, all around Buzzfeed and Facebook and Twitter, they’ve been telling each other over and over that they represent 99% of people. Like one progressive who said after Trump’s election victory, “When the top trending tags on Twitter are #AmeriKKKa and #NotMyPresident, that should tell you that this isn’t what America wants.”

Right. The top trending tags on this platform that isn’t limited to just Americans and that doesn’t contain anything even close to all Americans–primarily because Twitter has a notable bias toward banning right-wingers, thereby denying them the voice that might have prevented #NotMyPresident from trending in the first place… are how we should gauge the American pulse. Not by having some day where literally every American adult citizen can firmly and unequivocally state their preference. No, as Sargon of Akkad joked, “What’s Trending on Twitter” is clearly how a government should determine its rulers.

But the point is that they do think that–because Twitter is an echo chamber. And so is Tumblr. The numbers are actually in here, and it’s a proven fact that liberals are far more likely to block people over political views, with over 44% of self-identified liberals stating that they had unfriended or blocked someone over political differences. We have a word for this, when a person or group consistently refuse to associate with people who disagree with them: it’s called an “echo chamber.” And though we can’t extrapolate too much from the studies, if nearly half of self-identified liberals are isolating themselves from people who disagree and demonstrably hold institutional power in places like Twitter, where tweets like this are determined to not be violations of the policy:

… then, obviously, yes. Yes, they’re going to become wildly out of touch. And if, on top of that, they repeatedly tell each other all about how they represent a majority or supermajority of all people, after they have already ensured they won’t even hear the voices of people who disagree with them, then what on Earth could possibly be the result, if not exactly what we see today?

They’re now threatening to revolt because Elliot lost.

So after Sanders lost the nomination, some progressives defected to the Green Party and bolstered Jill Stein’s numbers to the 1% that she ultimately received, while others refused to vote and still others bit their tongues and voted for The Devil in a Pantsuit. The widespread assumption, of course, is that Sanders would have beaten Trump. This, naturally, ignores the fact that Trump didn’t have very good turnout, either, because a fair number of Republicans–among them George H. W. Bush–actively preferred Hillary over Trump. If Hillary had not been the Democratic nominee, then those Republicans who didn’t vote or who voted for Hillary would have had more invested in the outcome. And as much as George H. W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and all the others disliked Trump, believe me when I tell you that they hate Socialism a whole lot more.

So if we assume–which we certainly can–that Stein’s boost came from jaded Sanders supporters who refused to vote for Hillary, and we reduce her numbers back to 0.3%, then we add less than 0.6% of voters to Sanders’ side, while we probably take at least that many Republicans away from Hillary and restore them to the Republican nominee. This sort of speculation is worthless, my own included, especially since the demographics and Electoral College system complicate matters, but my point is just to say that, mathematically, there is no reason to believe that Sanders would have beaten Trump. As many liberals stayed home because they refused to vote for Hillary, just as many Republicans stayed home because they refused to vote for Trump. If you instead offer up a candidate who represents literally the opposite of everything they profess to stand for, then I’m not sure they’d have complacently sat at home.

Take, for example, my uncle and aunt, who considered Sanders such a threat to their way of life that they voted in the Mississippi Democratic Primary, despite being registered Republicans. Or they attempted to. Thankfully, Mississippi requires party registration, so they weren’t allowed to commit such a travesty of voter fraud by interfering in another party’s election. I realize progressives don’t understand that people like that exist–and I realize that I’m preaching to the choir because progressives have long since stopped reading this–but they do, and in shockingly large numbers. Contrary to their proclamations of representing majorities and supermajorities, the reality is that Americans absolutely hate communism–it’s why we fought the Cold War. Well…

Anyway.

And to the average American voter, there isn’t a difference between Communism and Socialism. To them, it’s two ways of saying the same thing: “Fuck you, fuck your liberty, fuck your rights. Do as we say, or we’ll shoot you or throw you in the Gulag.”

And when progressives are out there inflicting violence on people for not agreeing with them, and threatening to revolt because the Democratic Party didn’t “do as [they said],” we can’t really blame the average American for thinking that. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Then chances are… it’s a duck.

At literally every vote that has been held, progressives have lost. They lost the Sanders nomination, they lost the 2016 election, and then they lost the DNC Chair. Yet this delusion of theirs that they represent a majority of people persists, and that is the heart that must be attacked.

You don’t. The numbers suggest that progressives represent, at best, 4% of the American population. This is so obvious that it shouldn’t need to be said. The best we have right now is that roughly half the population even cares enough to vote. Only half of those are Democrats, so we’ve immediately reduced the progressives’ “supermajority” to no greater than 25%. And since evidence suggests that they are far more motivated and likely to pursue political matters than the average Democrat–as the saying goes, the unhappy minority screams the most, or something like that–losses in the nomination and DNC Chair mean that progressives can’t represent more than 12% of the population. Giving you guys a third of that 12% is being extremely generous, because you guys are animated, loud as hell, and extremely disruptive.

Most people are surprised to learn that the average Democrat accepts Trump’s victory. Most people are surprised to learn that the average Democrat didn’t care much one way or another between Trump and Hillary. There’s a reason that Primary turnouts–not to even get started on historical turnouts to vote for a party chair–are so much lower than turnout in the general election: people just don’t care that much. Perhaps because they recognize that the overall impact the state has on their day-to-day life is negligible, and that changing presidents is going to result in fuck all changing. Regardless, it’s certainly the case that the loud, “woke af” progressives are surely going to appear disproportionately to their actual numbers. And this disparity is so great that they believe themselves to be “the 99%” when they actually represent about 2%.

My Advice to Progressives

First, look at the actual numbers to determine what portion of the American population you actually represent. Strictly speaking, you don’t represent any portion of the American population. When a person speaks, the only person they are truly representing is themselves. But let’s put that aside and just say that you represent all people who share your ideology. It won’t be anywhere near 99%, 98%, or 51%. In fact, it will be closer to 1%.

Secondly, stop blocking people who disagree with you. This week, I had a progressive block me on Facebook. When you block people who disagree with you, you insulate yourself against disagreement and completely become disoriented about the popularity of your views in the world. You’re rather like certain anime fans who have been living and breathing their favorite anime for so long that they have completely lost touch with the fact that their show isn’t popular; they insist that it is, because familiarity is generally how we gauge popularity. If you block people who disagree with you, then you’ll obviously end up believing that very few people disagree with you, and you’ll only become more familiar with people who do agree with you, until you’re finally so convinced of your own popularity that you state you are the 99%.

Thirdly, accept that you live in a world with other people, and not all of them agree with you. Moreover, they believe they are right just as strongly as you believe that you are right. And even more over, you aren’t objectively correct. They are just as objectively correct as you are, because neither of you–indeed, no one–is objectively correct. You’re arguing your subjective opinions against their subjective opinions, and I know you feel really, really, really hard that you’re truly correct. But you’re not. You just think you are. And so do the people who disagree with you.

 

When Scientists Become Pimps

Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawking, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye–

I’m looking at you.

I see you; I see what you’re doing, and it needs to stop. Your scientific credibility isn’t a whore for you to pimp you to lend weight to your political positions. There is no correlation between physics and immigration, yet that hasn’t stopped Michio Kaku from coming out and discussing how Trump is wrong about immigration*. The headline for the article? Why, of course! “This celebrated scientist says Trump is wrong!”

And? This celebrated scientist knows no more about immigration than any layperson who has read a few articles or books on the subject. But because he is a “celebrated” physicist, as there’s no such thing as some generic “scientist” except as a catch-all term for people who study a hard science, the media and the public treat his political position as though it has scientific weight behind it, as though being able to say “I’m a celebrated physicist” makes his statements about economics, government regulation, or immigration any more worthy of being accepted.

While obviously, Kaku, Hawking, Tyson, and Nye–and others, of course–it’s not your fault that the media chooses to treat your words in this way, but you know they do, and you know the public does. You know that if you say something about economics or the evils of capitalism–as Hawking has done–that your words will be taken to be truth as a given, and from there will become popular arguments for or against whatever it is you’re advocating. In this way, you have sacrificed your integrity. You have turned your scientific credibility into a whore, to be pimped out at your leisure in support of whatever Popular Opinion of the Day you think will help you sell books.

Don’t bullshit me, man.

There’s a reason that virtually every popular YouTube personality through 2016 came out in support of Bernie Sanders, and the reason isn’t particularly hard to see. Hell, half of those YouTube personalities couldn’t give a single, solitary reason, when confronted, why they supported Sanders. Yet they supported him anyway. Why? Because it was the popular thing to do. They’d have lost subscribers for coming out in support of Hillary or Trump–Stein and Johnson became more or less neutral. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, where your words circulate the most, are overwhelmingly dominated by younger millennials, the same people who cast their lot in with Sanders whether they had any articulated reason to or not.

You’re doing the same crap. It doesn’t matter to me if you can pseudo-rationalize your positions, but I’m willing to bet that most of you can’t. Why? Because “scientists” today, as a class, have totally forgotten what the Dunning-Kruger Effect is, and seem to think that being an expert in physics makes one an expert in economics, politics, and the nature of the state. This, of course, despite the fact that all hard sciences are increasingly specialized, and a scientist in one larger field–say, “physics”–may be only marginally less ignorant than a layperson on some subfield–say, “plasma physics.”

Oh, here’s a shock for you: Bill Nye is pro choice. Well, I’ll be! Who would ever have guessed?

And while I’m pro-choice, too, I’m not out there pimping what little scientific credibility I had–because, let’s face it, Bill Nye is an engineer without an abundance of credibility to pimp out–to cast my lot in with a political side in the hopes of rekindling or enhancing my popularity. When I say something about abortion, I give fair treatment to the other side, and provide a logically consistent explanation for my position. I don’t say, “Hi, I’m Bill Nye the Science Guy. Here are some scientific facts interwoven with arbitrarily defined concepts presented as scientific facts, which combine into a pro-choice position. Good luck separating the arbitrarily defined concepts from the actual science, because I’m going to present this information in such a way as to make them indistinguishable to a layperson. Why? Because I’m Bill Nye the Fucking Science Guy, and if there’s anything worth pimping out for popularity and fame, it’s scientific credibility.”

You remind me of the left-wing media. And I’m curious, actually, whether the four of you would even admit that the dominant media outlets lean hard to the left, with the sole exception of Fox, which leans hard to the right. John Stossel recently wrote about his time at ABC, and reported that he was the only one who was stated to lean any direction; everyone else insisted they didn’t lean at all. Except they did–they leaned hard to the left, and they continue to. But that sort of bias is common–we know people don’t generally see or acknowledge their own biases. My father doesn’t think Fox News leans to the right. A colleague of mine thinks that Fox News is probably “as close to fair and balanced” as any media outlet is. They’re wrong, of course. Fox is right-wing. There’s nothing fair and balanced about any of it.

I would be fucking floored if the four of you didn’t honestly believe yourselves to be neutral politically. But you aren’t. You’ve jumped on the left-wing bandwagon. You’ve engaged in too much “What does my gut tell me about this?” thinking. You’ve mistaken your emotions for rational positions. And even if, by some freak chance, you do end up saying something that isn’t demonstrably false, you end up being right for the wrong reasons, which is only a little better than being wrong for the right reasons.

So here’s what you guys should do–I mean, assuming your scientific credibility and integrity are important to you. You should use some of that fame and popularity you’ve acquired by jumping on leftist bandwagons to remind people that, when discussing areas outside of your expertise, you are no more or less knowledgeable or insightful than any other layperson. You should take the time to remind the public that education and intelligence aren’t necessarily the same thing, and that holding a doctorate doesn’t mean you’re one of the smartest human beings alive.

Maybe you’ve studied some of these matters. That would be fantastic–but it would also show in your words and actions. For example, we know that Hawking hasn’t studied capitalism; he doesn’t even seem to know what capitalism is. However, this has not stopped him from repeatedly waxing on about the evils of capitalism and how it will bring about the destruction of humanity.

But no. He’s not biased at all. That’s totally not an alarmist, radically leftist position based on gut feelings, assumptions, and ignorance. How could he be biased? How could he be an alarmist, radical leftist basing his statements on gut feelings, assumptions, and ignorance? He’s Stephen Hawking! He’s a scientist! Surely he knows what he’s talking about!

* And yes, I agree–Trump is wrong about immigration. But the reason Trump is wrong about “immigration” is that “immigration” is an arbitrarily-defined concept based around arbitrarily-defined borders that don’t exist in the real world and that serve only to divide people. Borders are human inventions; they aren’t real. We simply treat them like they’re real, and they end up doing tons of damage. Trump is wrong about “immigration” because there’s no such thing as an immigrant; there’s only a human being who decided to exercise his innate right to travel.

 

Solving the Transgender Bathroom Thing Once and For All

First, I’m tired of hearing discussions about how transgender people will deal with restrooms, and how wider society will deal with transgender people dealing with restrooms, because the much more serious problems of how police deal with transgender people needs to be addressed first. Seriously, on the scale of priorities, “bathrooms” is way down on the last from “prison” and “jail.” Right now, transgender women are locked away in men’s cells and being treated as men by police officers, meaning that they’re regularly being molested and strip-searched by male officers, not to mention being placed–as women–into cell blocks filled with typically violent, horny men. And we’re discussing bathrooms. Again.

So I’m going to propose a solution that will decide the matter once and for all. It’s easy to implement, and it will permanently solve the problem. However, you’ll have to bear with me, because what will strike you as an extremely radical, possibly insane, idea will take some time to adjust to, but I think you’ll agree it’s the only way. So let’s not beat around the bush. What is the answer?

Co-Ed bathrooms.

I’m not joking.

First, it must be pointed out: what business does the state have recognizing anyone’s gender and forcing them into segregated areas based on that gender? We’ve done all this before, when people whose race was black were segregated off from people whose race was white. It’s just accepted still that it’s okay to do this in regard to gender, but it actually isn’t, and I think you’ll agree with me by the end of this. Just as governments, businesses, and people have no moral authority to segregate people based on race, neither do they have the moral authority to do so over gender. And here is where we meet our first hurdle:

“Ah, but boys and girls can have sex… You put a bunch of naked boys and girls in a bathroom together, and there’s no telling what will happen.”

And… No. That’s wrong.

In the 1890s, a psychologist named Ivan Pavlov did an experiment where he rang a bell each time before he fed his dog. It did not take long–a few weeks–for the dog to begin salivating any time the bell was wrong. It is called Classical Conditioning, and it is the phenomenon that we come to associate one thing with another. In the case of Pavlov, the dog associated the bell with food, and thus hearing the bell caused the dog to salivate.

I hate to break this to you, but we’ve all been conditioned to associate nudity with sex. Now, I’m not a nudist, and though I do enjoy wearing only a bra and shorts, I’m not comfortable enough in my skin to just run around naked all the time. This, too, is conditioning–I’ve been conditioned to think that there is something about my body that must be hidden, and in time I’ve become so accustomed to wearing clothing that not wearing clothing feels unnatural. In fact, there are generally only three instances during which a person isn’t wearing clothing:

  • When about to shower.
  • When changing clothes.
  • When about to have sex.

I would hazard the guess that the average person becomes inexplicably 25% more likely to masturbate or feel the urge to masturbate while changing clothes, but that is just a guess. The sound of running water and the location–the place where we, you know, use the bathroom–being a not-very-sexually-appealing-place surely override the other associations, so it often feels rather natural to stand naked in the bathroom while waiting on the shower to warm up or the tub to fill with water. Again, these feel normal because we’ve been doing it that way for twenty to sixty years. It would be weird if we did it some other way. I live alone, and it still feels weird on those occasions when I’ve removed all my clothes, am waiting on water to run, and have to run into the kitchen because I forgot my lighter or something. On a few occasions, I’ve even put some clothes back on before doing so, simply because it feels weird.

But why should it feel weird? We enter the world naked. If anything should feel weird, it should be wearing clothes. But we begin wearing clothes almost immediately, so any discomfort we experience from it happens when we are three months old. By the time we are old enough to really think about these things, we’ve become more comfortable, simply out of habit, with wearing clothes than not wearing clothes.

It’s my guess that the entire clothing thing began not because our species needed to keep warm–since we originally hailed from the plains of Africa–but because men with “lesser packages” wanted to hide that until after some sort of marriage or mating ceremony had been performed. I’m serious. Because clothing began with the loincloth, and between men and women it’s men who have something dangling out there with something to see. Is it really that hard to imagine that the entire trend began because a select group of men on the smaller side felt insecure, and so began wearing loincloths? I don’t think it’s that hard to imagine; in fact, I really do suspect that is how the entire ordeal started.

I mean, if you were a man in 150,000 BCE with limited machinery, wouldn’t you be quietly seething, angry, and thinking, “We should cover these up! It’s not proper! No one wants to see Big Jim flopping around all the time during his dance around the drum circle!”

Anywho.

My point is that there isn’t anything inherently sexual about nudity. In fact, it’s just the natural way for a human to exist: naked. We could make the case that we wear clothes because of cold weather, and there’s certainly something to that, though it wouldn’t have been a problem in the very, very beginning.

However, the only time you’re likely to see a naked person is either when you’re about to masturbate or when you’re about to have sex. At all other times, you and the other person are fully clothed. Think of “being naked” as the ringing bell, and think of sex as the food. We hear the ringing bell, and because we only hear the ringing bell when we’re about to eat the food, we’ve become conditioned to associate the ringing bell with about to eat. So any time we see nudity now, in almost any context, it brings up sexual thoughts. Don’t believe me?

Don’t even try to say that you felt no arousal whatsoever when you saw the above picture. I did, you did, everyone did. There might even be some 15 year old kid reading this and masturbating to it right now, and why? Because we’ve been conditioned to associate nudity with sex.

So of course, yes, if you took three naked boys and three naked girls and put them in a closed room together, they would almost certainly end up having sex. Because even seeing the other sex naked will make them excited, and the next thing you know, yes, they’ll be having sex. But, again, these people have already been conditioned. We have to think of a world where that conditioning doesn’t exist. We have to think of a world where nudity isn’t automatically associated with sex.

And, thankfully, nudist colonies and beaches provide us with those examples.

I’m not going to find any links because many of these sites show a lot of children and teenagers in completely non-sexual images, yet they do appear naked. But even a fourteen year old girl and a fourteen year old boy who find themselves alone on a nude beach don’t have sex, because that conditioning has already been broken. To them, it’s just like seeing the other person in clothes; it’s not sexual.

So what bathroom should transgender people use? The same bathroom everyone else uses.

Schools across the country should implement co-ed bathrooms on a curve, year by year: the first year, it’s kindergarten. The next year, it’s kindergarten and first grade. The next, it’s kindergarten, first, and second grade. Then, it’s kindergarten, first, second, and third grade. And that should repeat until those kids who broke the association of “nudity = about to get laid” in kindergarten would be college students, and colleges would adopt the same policies, starting with those once-kindergarteners who are now freshmen, and continuing until they graduate. Within only 16 years, we will have completely solved the problem, and done society a tremendous amount of good in the process.

For example, as Jim Sterling points out in one of his videos, penises are considered okay to appear in popular media. There is a game on Steam right now called “Floppy Penis Attack” or something like that, where your goal is to play as a floppy penis putting your head in another floppy penis’s anus while avoiding getting a floppy penis in your anus. It’s considered funny. Haha, floppy penises.

Yet at the same time, Watch Dogs 2 explicitly apologizes and issues a patch because one of the female NPCs in their game actually had a vagina that, if you killed her in the right way, players could actually see. The moral of the story? Penises are okay, vaginas are not. Breasts face the same kind of crap. Men can go totally shirtless and it’s no problem at all, even if they have manboobs that make me feel insecure about my boobs. But a woman with even the smallest cup size isn’t allowed to go shirtless. Again, it’s because of classical conditioning: we’ve been conditioned to associate vaginas and breasts with sex.

If you want to talk true egalitarianism, then this is how it is implemented. It’s not implemented by laughing at the floppy wieners and frothing at the mouth over a poorly drawn vagina.

This is an artificial vagina.

Just like Jim uses artificial penises in his gags quite often, the artificial vagina is perfectly normal, and perfectly acceptable. There’s nothing more sexual about the vagina than the penis. And there’s nothing explicitly sexual about either; it’s only because we only bring them about when we’re about to have sex that we’ve come to associate them solely with sex.

So if you really want to fix the transgender bathroom thing, the double standards on nudity, and all the other silly crap that should really take a backseat to the transgender women thrown into male prisons where they are raped a reported two thousand times, then this is the way you do it. That’s the plan. Co-ed bathrooms, starting at kindergarten, and going up each year until nudity is normalized.

I’m not saying that we should accept people running around naked in the streets. But hey, if they want to, why shouldn’t they be able to? By that point, no one would care, and no one would think, “Oh my god, there’s a naked chick jogging! She must be looking for sex!” because that association will have been broken.

And that association needs to be broken, because we’re talking about freaking bathrooms, where people go to piss and shit–bodily functions that are gross, unappealing, and unavoidable. No one is thinking about getting laid when they’re squatting over the toilet or standing at the urinal. No one. And no one wants to have sex with someone who is squatting over the toilet or standing at the urinal. We would know this, if we hadn’t gotten so far wrapped up in our conditioning that we’ve simply come to accept it as truth and as the way things naturally are.

But things naturally aren’t that way. Break the conditioning, and all of this crap stops being an issue entirely.

I realize that you, the person reading this, have similarly been conditioned to associate nudity with sex, and this may very well make it extremely difficult for you to separate the two things even theoretically. But I promise you that it’s possible, and that we have countless examples of people doing exactly that. Again, I’m not going to provide links, but fifteen minutes on Google will teach you everything you need to know about nudism. And, once more, I’m no nudist, but they’re correct. We only associate sex with nudity because we’ve been conditioned to, just like Pavlov’s dog only associates the bell with food because the dog has been conditioned to.

So just stop conditioning the dog.

Thumbs Up to DRM: The Free Market IP Solution

Before we proceed, you should know that I’m continuing on from this work about how Intellectual Property is Poisoning Video Games, and this follow-up article where I addressed a few criticisms the article received. More specifically, I’m building/reiterating/expanding a comment that I made in response to someone else’s comment that really got me thinking. I touched on Digital Rights Management–Orwellian naming if ever there was one, since Digital Restriction Management would be far more accurate–but I only briefly did. Obviously, any conversation about GOG–Good Ol’ Games–will deal with DRM, but the various conversations and periods of reflection I’ve enjoyed due to the preceding articles has led me to completely 180 my position on DRM. Sort of–there’s a bit of nuance to my position.

Still before we proceed, we have to take into account the previous discussions about Intellectual Property, and the best way to do that is to simply assume that we live in a world where there is no such thing as IP, where there is only physical property and actual ownership rights. If you need further clarification on what is meant by this, then I would point you to this wonderful book by libertarian and patent attorney Stephen Kinsella titled Against Intellectual Property, which is available for free at that link. You can also read my previous articles on the subject, or click the “property rights” tag that exists to the right or to the bottom of this article. Because of this, I’m not going to spend a lot of time detailing what this “No IP World” looks like.

However, my mention of the feelers that were included particularly in early 1980s PC games like the Ultima games is a good example of what the world looks like, as is Tool’s recent album Ten Thousand Days. Both of these items have things that simply cannot be copied. A friend could copy their disks of Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness for me, but I wouldn’t get the awesome map, the coin, or whatever it came with to heighten the experience. Similarly, a friend could copy their disc of Ten Thousand Days and give it to me, but I wouldn’t have the cool bifocal thing that is used to create the illusion of 3D over images that range from creepy to pointlessly abstract. These aren’t things to be scoffed at as inconsequential, and the fact that there exist today people with enormous collections of old music albums, old CDs, old video games, and old movies, even though all of these things are easily available online, makes this point for me: there is just something about having a legitimate, physical copy. Even though I own the entire NES library of games on my PC Sharing is stealing and emulation is piracy, so I partake in neither of these things, I still purchased an NES and numerous games several years ago.

Another personal example. Prior to the release of Ten Thousand Days, the album was leaked, and a friend of mine–then the drummer in my band–burned a copy of the leaked CD for me. Yet I still went out on the day of release and bought a copy. Little did I suspect that I was getting a nifty little package beyond just a music album, and I still did it. Why? Because I [then] liked Tool [this was before I was aware of how absurd the Cult of Tool is, and I’ve since stopped calling myself a fan of the band for exactly that reason–have you ever met a Tool fan? Then you know why I don’t call myself one], and I felt that they deserved money for the enjoyment they’d given me. I’ve owned The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for three or four years now, but I still purchased a legitimate copy of the Legendary Edition through Steam a year and a half ago, paying $40 for it, which is what I’ve always felt the game is worth. I owned Super Meat Boy for two years through piracy before I purchased a legitimate copy. In fact, here is a list of games that I once owned a pirated copy of, but which I now own a legitimate, purchased copy of–it’s not comprehensive:

  • Super Meat Boy
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Final Fantasy VI on PC
  • Final Fantasy IV on PC
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
  • Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures
  • Orcs Must Die! 2
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Mega Man Legacy Collection
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 1, 2, 3, and 4
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location
  • The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings
  • Mass Effect 2 (via Origin, not Steam)

It’s actually eye-opening to look through my Steam Library and realize how many of those games I once owned a pirated copy of. And yet I still bought them. Why? Because I felt that the people who made them were entitled to payment for their work, for my copy of the game. I simply didn’t agree with them on the initial price point, or my trust in the developers/publishers is so low that I refused to purchase the product without first extensively trying it. This is 100% their fault for releasing games that aren’t finished and that don’t work. Civilization V comes to mind, as being one of the last games I bought “on good faith” when it was new, trusting that the publishers would only sell a functional product. The only developers who I let pass on this was Bioware, who shattered that trust in 2015 with the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition, a garbage game that isn’t worth $10.

Once more, we can look to Jim Sterling’s Best of Steam Greenlight Trailers videos and see first-hand how people react when someone attempts to sell something that they didn’t make. My issue with how this resolved is that none of it was necessary; it wasn’t necessary for Valve to step in and remove Greenlight, because the community was doing a fine job of self-policing. People would get honest-to-god angry on Notch’s behalf, on Blizzard’s behalf, on Scott Cawthon’s behalf, because people dared try to sell those creators’ works as their own. It’s not a long-term effect of Intellectual Property in the cultural zeitgeist that causes us to react this way, but simple common decency, the same reason that plagiarism–which is what this was–in the scholarly world will absolutely destroy a career. People innately don’t like it when someone claims someone else’s work as their own. We could speculate why that is the case, but it doesn’t matter; it is the case.

So in this World Without IP, we see something very similar to what we saw with Steam Greenlight. We don’t need Intellectual Property laws and enforcers to keep some idiot from trying to sell World of Warcraft as though he created it, because that will piss consumers off and consumers will not only refuse to buy it but will openly insult and antagonize the person trying. But what if it’s more obscure, some No Name Developer working in his home in his spare time who has his work stolen? This has also happened, and it’s amazing how quickly such things spread. One guy was making a First Person Shooter in his spare time, and he shared it with some people; one of those people attempted to put it onto Steam Greenlight. Despite having fewer followers than I do, the guy who actually created it made a video about the theft, and the video spread like a wildfire, until Jim Sterling finally covered it, and the entire debacle was undone.

So we have countless ways of protecting creators of work without relying on the state and imaginary property rights.

One more of these is DRM.

DRM basically amounts to encrypting the data on the disc so that it can’t be copied and used. When pirates “crack” video games, they do so by cracking the DRM encryption. DVDs once used the same thing, using a laughably simplistic key to encrypt every DVD. Once someone cracked it, DVD copying became widespread. And that is exactly what I’m okay with DRM. It’s a never-ending battle between the content producers to attempt to protect their work, and the pirates on the other side who attempt to bypass it. It mirrors the Virus/Anti-Virus battle, with each side desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the other. If there was just DRM and people attempting to crack DRM, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Of course, things like SecuROM would continue to be a problem, since it was basically a rootkit, and this showcases that there is no Black & White morality here; only Grey & Gray. Motivated by the rightful desire to protect their work, publishers began installing rootkits onto people’s computers. Motivated by a desire to share enjoyable content with their fellow human beings, pirates found that rootkit and brought its existence to the public’s attention. In this way, the pirates serve as a critical check of DRM and publishers who use it, as they are literally out there on the frontlines protecting us from obtrusive, spyware-like DRM. This is indisputably a good thing.

With IP in place, the pirates have a marked disadvantage: they aren’t allowed to work publicly and openly. They aren’t allowed to form businesses that can actually make money from doing what they do; they have to operate in the shadows of the black market. And even though the majority of people who pirate games would certainly be willing to pay $2.50 or whatever for a pirated copy from SKIDROW or 3DM, and even though there probably are some underground methods of doing so, the fact that this can’t be done openly destroys it as a viable business model. Never mind the fact that by tinkering with the DRM in the first place, the scene is violating the IP “rights” of the game publishers and the DRM creators. Not only are they not getting paid, but getting caught would result in a huge legal hammer be dropped on them.

When Company A can use rootkits in their software and secretly put rootkits on everyone’s computers but are still considered the Good Guys, we know we have severe problems and substantial confusion. When the people who call out that behavior face imprisonment if caught and have no real way of being paid for their work and are still considered the Bad Guys, then we know the severity of the problems and confusion are only being compounded by the breakdown of common sense caused by the entire concept of owning intangible, esoteric ideas.

So in this World Without IP, DRM still wouldn’t be enough, because the pirates would be more active than ever. Not only would they finally be allowed to work publicly and openly without fear of being kidnapped by armed thugs, but they could actually make money doing it. People simply making YouTube videos can earn tens of thousands of dollars a month; I absolutely refuse to believe that a huge chunk of gamers out there would be unwilling to throw $1 or $2 a month at 3DM. If they were allowed to. And then the battle is on between DRM and “pirates,” fought openly and without violence, and with each trying to stay one step ahead of the other, while having the tools and financial capabilities to do it. Obviously, DRM would still exist, and I’m okay with that. Under those circumstances, I’d have absolutely no problem with companies that use DRM to encrypt their games. I would take the side of the pirates and would support 3DM and others against DRM, but there’s really no moral hazard in encrypting something you own before you sell it–as long as you don’t send armed thugs to kidnap people when they decrypt it.

Welcome to the world of common sense.

No, you’re right. It doesn’t look anything like our world. Abolishing IP would be the first step in making our world look more like the World of Common Sense.

Since DRM wouldn’t be enough, the onus would again fall to the creators to provide incentives for people to purchase their games, rather than just throwing a bit of small change at piracy groups and playing the games at substantially reduced costs. Of course, the gaming industry is probably the most greed-driven industry in the world, topping out pharmacy and energy. Can anyone explain to me why a new PC game suddenly costs $60, instead of the customary $50? See, console games were always $10 or so more expensive than PC games, because the publishers have to license their games to that console–which obviously would make modern consoles more like the Atari 2600, where anyone could make a game for any console, and this would simply drive down the cost of games further. But there is no license to put a game on PC. I don’t know how much of a cut Valve gets, but it can’t be very high, with games selling at $5 at times.

DRM and piracy would go back and forth, so there would be times when games were effectively unprotected. What should publishers do? Well, they could take the $10 they’re saving by not having to license their games to particular consoles and use it to include really cool things with the games that can’t be copies–feelers. Who wouldn’t want a 2 ft. x 2 ft. cloth map of Skyrim? Or a gross little ooze toy made in the shape of Meat Boy? Maybe even a letter opener in the shape of the Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not only would it be cool as hell, but owning a copy of a game would actually mean something, and people’s gaming rooms would be decked out in cloth maps, letter openers, little toys, and all kinds of cool crap that would only help gamers feel immersed and only make them enjoy games more. I would freaking love to have my wall decked out in random feelers from video games, to have little action figures included with games all around my television. But I don’t.

And Intellectual Property is the reason why.

Movies could do stuff like that, too, but I don’t care about movies.

 

The Politicization and Exaggeration of Reality

I’ve seen President Trump talk about the terrible things that happened in Sweden on Friday night. I’ve seen a video from… Sweden…? Some Swedish government agency…? that reiterated that nothing of much import happened in Sweden. I’ve seen people sharing articles about riots that took place in Rinkeby. And I’ve got to be honest.

I don’t who to believe.

In fact, I believe none of them. I refuse to form any sort of understanding on what may or may not be happening in Sweden, because everyone involved has a vested interest in lying to me. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember reading from a reputable source that police agencies in <some European country> were told to downplay crimes committed by refugees. I also know that Trump and his ilk have a really, really bad habit of blowing everything out of proportion, inflating numbers, and telling outright lies. Everyone is telling a bit of truth, and everyone is burying the truth. So it’s impossible to figure out what is actually true.

It’s not a subject I talk about much because there’s no need to get involved in the controversy, but the Holocaust suffers from the same problem: what actually happened is now forever lost to history. We do know that much of what we were told during the 30s and 40s about Nazi Germany was exaggerated by, yes, Jewish-owned media outlets who were using propaganda to incite the American People into entering the war. See? I can hardly even make that statement without risking being called anti-Semitic. But that Jews controlled most of the media then is a matter of record. While he was certainly no bastion of reliability himself, the problem was notable enough that Charles Lindbergh stood in Congress and spoke about how the media was using propaganda to stir us into entering the war.

Whatever did happen was indisputably terrible and unforgivable, but we do know that much of what we were told was greatly exaggerated, and much of it was blatantly false. For example, claims of the Nazi soldiers incinerating bodies by the dozen in mere minutes are obviously false, yet these provably false statements were admitted as evidence and have entered the official zeitgeist of what happened during the Holocaust. Even though it takes modern crematoria more than two hours to incinerate a single body, and even though this involves crushing the bones–which was never mentioned in any of the testimony–the overwhelming majority of people today simply accept it as fact that the Nazis incinerated bodies by the hundreds.

I’m not making any case for or against anything. I’m just pointing out that the tendency of people to exaggerate to further their political ends has resulted in a situation where all sides are filled with liars and con artists, and the long-run result of that is that whatever “truth” might once have existed is now simply a matter of which side of the argument you fall on. I’ve no doubt that anyone who would instantly reject any talk of Holocaust Denial–which I’m not doing–will probably have stopped reading during the preceding paragraph, called me anti-Semitic, and completely ignored the point. This is because they have fallen on that side of the issue, and it has no tolerance for the arguments of the other side.

It refuses to hear, and so it can’t listen.

Does Sweden have some kind of issue with immigration? I have no idea. It would seem that they do have some sort of problem–everything isn’t great, at least. Is Trump pulling more “alternative facts” out of his ass? I have no idea. Based on his history, I would say “Probably.” Is there an element of truth in both statements? Yes, without doubt. Will one side acknowledge the element of truth in the other side’s statements?

Not before Hell freezes over.

Global Warming faces the same politicization. We know for a fact–thanks to hacked and leaked emails that appeared around 2007*–that the leading scientists who were arguing that man-made global warming was real doctored evidence, concealed evidence, and cherry-picked their data so that their report was colored by their political message. We also know that no amount of 114 degree temperatures in August will cause Climate Change Deniers to say there might be something to it, not as long as one random day throughout the year is unusually cool.

If a person begins from a neutral position and simply follows the evidence to determine what is up with the Holocaust, the Trump/Sweden thing, and global warming, they will end up running in circles and ultimately declaring, “I don’t know. It’s impossible to know. Everyone is lying, and everyone is manipulating the truth to say what they want it to say.”

Over the weekend, some altercation happened at the Students For Liberty Conference when an alt-right dude Something Spencer showed up and set up a booth pretending to be part of the conference. What happened next? Well, Spencer says that he was threatened and forced to leave. Libertarians say that Spencer requested that security escort him out, and that he left of his own accord. Jeffrey Tucker may or may not have been drunk and may or may not have shouted at Spencer. I wasn’t there, and only about 300 people were, so I can’t say what happened.

People who I generally find reliable, like Will Coley, insist that Spencer left of his own accord. However, his posts about it contain comments from people who dispute that account, and who say that Spencer was forced to leave because the crowd was turning violent. Others have said that everyone ultimately had to leave, including Students For Liberty.

Recently, some Conservative group uninvited Milo Yuanwhateverus from speaking at their event. They say that it’s because Milo made comments that condoned pedophilia**. Not being a Milo fan, I only know his reply secondhand, but it was basically something like “No, that’s not at all what I said. They edited the videos to make it appear that way.” Then someone posted the full video unedited. Did Milo condone teen-adult relationships? I don’t know or really care; this is just another example of how truth gets shoved through the meat grinder because everyone is just trying to push an agenda, and will pick and choose parts of the truth that further it while denying or burying the parts that don’t.

Trump said while talking to a reporter that women “let” him do whatever he wants because he’s rich and famous. People took this and ran with it, coming up with the certifiably insane idea that Trump was bragging about sexual assault. I’ve tried, and I can attest: absolutely nothing that you can say to these people will convince them otherwise. Pointing out what the meaning of the word “let” is? It’s a No Sale. They have that in their heads, and that’s just what they’re going to believe. Use an example about how “letting” your nephew play with your pet cat isn’t forcing your nephew to play with your pet cat? They genuinely don’t understand what relevance that has.

But it’s not just the left, obviously–I’ve criticized the right just as much here.

It’s fucking maddening.

Everything gets exaggerated to reductio ad absurdum degrees, but the people exaggerating absolutely refuse to admit that they’re blowing things way out of proportion and are engaging in hyperbole. “Scientific fact” has become both meaningless and a holy grail, thanks to one segment of the population that unwisely believes anything a scientist says is absolutely reliable, and the other segment of the population that simply cherry-picks. The first segment, of course, hides from the science they don’t like–like the measurable differences in athleticism and education between races and genders–and refuse to admit that such scientific facts even exist. The second segment will print out and piss on a paper about climate change but will decide scientists are great if a report comes out that they like.

I just… I really wish people would stop exaggerating and stop lying.

I can already hear the mainstream responses to that.

Conservatives: “Damn straight! Tell them damned liberals to stop exaggerating and lying!”

Liberals: “Yes, please! All conservatives do is exaggerate and lie!”

Because of this, truth just gets eviscerated and swept under the rug, forever lost and with no way to ever recover it. It is impossible now to determine what actually happened during the Holocaust, whether Hitler actually intended to exterminate or move the Jews, whether the Jewish murders were planned or incidental, or anything else. We are doing a great disservice to posterity, who will one day look back on our mess and shrug before saying, “I don’t know. They’re all liars and exaggerators.”

* “The gist” of all this stuff gets logged in my memory, though the details rarely do.

** Widespread acceptance of hyperbole is another serious issue. What Milo is accused of condoning are relationships between teens and adults, not kids and adults. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a -philia label for this, but there actually is a pretty major difference between being attracted to a pre-puberty kid and a post-puberty teenager. I’m condoning neither, but don’t pretend like they’re the same thing.

A Follow-Up About Intellectual Property

As a tongue-in-cheek gag, here is one of my free songs for you to listen to while you read my free article. Of course, I probably don’t count, but here it is anyway.

Most of the feedback regarding my previous article was positive, which is awesome, but one comment in particular here on the site deserves further scrutiny:

Great, just what the world needs, another anti-IP fanatic. The fact is, anyone who takes the trouble to create a game, or anything else, has the right to dictate the terms of its sale (or, if you don’t think the word “sale” covers a contract that stipulates conditions for resale, then use some other word). If you don’t like the terms, don’t purchase the product. It’s that simple.

But nooooo! People like you seem to think you can dictate terms of sale. It’s the attitude of someone who has never created anything others want. You’re like little squalling babies, endlessly whining. I have nothing but contempt for you and anyone else with this attitude.

I’m not going to waste your time, though, so let’s just dive right into it.

“The fact is, anyone who takes the trouble to create a game, or anything else, has the right to dictate the terms of its sale (or, if you don’t think the word ‘sale’ covers a contract that stipulates conditions for resale, then use some other word).”

This seemingly obvious statement is actually of profound importance to the discussion, and the comment accidentally hit the nail right on the head. The very essence of my argument against IP–which you’ll find alluded to in follow-up comments in the above article–is that it turns us from Owners into Renters, much in the same way that property taxes have usurped our ownership of our homes and turned us into renters. And he would hand-wave this entire point away paranthetically, as though it’s not of much significance what we call such a transaction, when this is of utmost significance.

We don’t have to look hard to find the legal definition of sale, and it is provided here from The Lectric Law Library:

An agreement by which one of the contracting parties, called the seller, gives a thing and passes the title to it, in exchange for a certain price in current money, to the other party, who is called the buyer or purchaser, who, on his part, agrees to pay such price.

The first thing we must call attention to is that, despite the comment’s implication that selling something is a one-sided affair, it is, obviously, an exchange between two sides. We’re not actually talking about “buying” and “selling,” not in real terms; in real terms, we’re talking about a property exchange between two people, while one person has agreed to offer up a currency and the other has agreed to offer up literally anything other than currency. The person with the “anything other than currency” up for sale is colloquially called the “seller,” while the person offering up the currency is colloquially called the “buyer.” But in real terms, it doesn’t matter if I offer up $50 or two Dungeons & Dragons books valued at about that; it only matters if the person on the other end of the exchange agrees that my offer meets their price. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if they offer up some form of property–like a video game–or if they offer up $50 in cash, thereby making me the seller. It only matters that each side have something the other side wants.

We lose sight of this because our use of currency allows our economic actions to become pretty circuitous, but if I want to buy a new copy of Grand Theft Auto V, but I lack $50, I might take seventy-six games to Gamestop and sell them for $50, and then use that $50 to buy GTAV. In every real, useful sense I have participated in barter–I have exchange 76 games for one game. Currency allows multiple actors to be involved in this barter transaction, because the universally valuable commodity means that it doesn’t matter that Wal-Mart has no use or need for 76 used games, as long as I can find someone who does.

Nor does it matter if I worked for two hours to earn that $50, having bartered out my labor and time to yet another actor in return for the cash that I use to purchase the video game. Perhaps I cut lawns for a living, and cut two lawns for the $50. Ideally, I could simply cut Wal-Mart’s lawn, and they could provide me with a copy of the game, right? This is literally the issue with the barter economy, because there is no guarantee that “someone selling GTAV” will also “need their lawn cut.” Again, the use of currency allows us to sidestep the issue, by widening my possible customers from “just people who are selling GTAV” to “anyone with money.”

The point of all this is to say that buying/selling are not one-sided agreements. It’s so easy to lose sight of this, because, again, currency masks the true roundabout of our economy, but I’m still putting up something for sell. I’ve probably already sold my “something for sell,” and I probably sold it to an entirely different person, but that doesn’t change the fact that Wal-Mart wants my $50 just as much as I want their copy of GTAV.

There’s a thin line between being pro-market and being pro-corporation, this comment is safely on the “pro-corporatist” side.

“Call it something else.”

Indeed. This is literally the crux of anti-IP arguments, that it is not a transfer of ownership, which is legally mandated in what it means to buy and sell–to exchange property. Going back to our barter economy, if I trade my two D&D books for your new copy of GTAV, I lose any and all ownership rights of those D&D books, because they cease being my property; similarly, you lose any and all ownership rights of GTAV, because it has ceased being your property. It makes absolutely no difference if you don’t want two D&D books, so I’ve sold them to Random Joe for $50, and then I offer you that $50. In that event, my ownership claims of that $50 in currency have ceased to exist, because I have transferred ownership of that money to you.

By the arguments of Intellectual Property, I have just as much right to dictate how EA uses that $60 I paid them for Dragon Age: Inquisition as they have to dictate how I use my copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Why not? I worked for that money just as hard as they worked for that one copy of DAI. In fact, I probably worked harder, when it’s all said and done. But we reject that out of hand, without even taking the time to process the argument. “Of course you can’t tell EA how to spend the money you paid them for that game! You gave them that money! It’s theirs now!”

I mean, that’s it. That’s exactly the point.

So of course EA can’t dictate how I use the game, because they gave me that game. It’s mine now.

Licensing

They might attempt to pull legalese bullshit and sell me a license, instead of selling me an actual, physical object, and they do attempt this sort of thing, but it’s hardly of consequence, and it can be pretty easily dismissed.

For example, when Square-Enix released Final Fantasy IV on Android for $19.99, I contacted them with my proof-of-purchase and proof-of-ownership of Final Fantasy IV on Nintendo DS and requested a code for FF4 on mobile. It’s exactly the same game, with the caveat that some content has been removed. Square-Enix predictably replied that my ownership of the same fucking game on NDS didn’t entitle me to ownership of the game on other platforms. Don’t get me wrong–I knew they’d respond that way.

“Fine,” I replied. “So you won’t mind if I rip the cart to my phone and use a DS emulator to play it.”

Again, predictably, their response was that making backup copies is a violation of their Intellectual Property, at which point they informed me that they would–seriously–be forwarding the emails to some government agency piracy watchdog.

But my argument is unassailable, and that’s why the agency never bothered me. For one, we do have the unfettered and unrestricted right to make any and all backups that we want of anything that we purchase. Not only that, but it’s necessary that consumers have this right, so let me get a little technical on you for a minute.

Playing a Game Creates a Copy

Even if all you do is pop your disc into your Xbox 360 and play Final Fantasy XIII, you are still creating an instantaneous copy of that game. That’s right–simply by playing the game, you are creating a copy of it. This is because the “copy” of Final Fantasy XIII that you’d be playing is a ROM–it is Read-Only Memory. But in order for stuff to happen, it must be moved to RAM–Random Access Memory. Since nothing is ever erased from the ROM, ipso facto, launching a game copies the files from ROM into RAM, where they live instantaneously. It’s not of significance whether you create a permanent copy, a temporary copy, or an instantaneous copy; you are copying it either way.

This is the same reason that Microsoft Office comes with a gigantic EULA that allows you to make copies of the program–it’s necessary in order to even use it. To even use Office, you must insert the disc, which copies the files from the CD/DVD onto your computer.

This is also why I made and uploaded this video to Youtube, specifically to call attention to how abused our IP system is. By all rights, Nintendo should have viciously pursued me over this video, but they didn’t. Here I’ve posted a video showing the actual programming of the NES game Startropics.

That’s it. That’s the actual freaking game being played. That’s Nintendo’s programming that I’ve recorded and uploaded. It’s literally proof of piracy. It’s proof that I made a copy of their game, and didn’t stop there–I made a copy of their game and put it online to share with the entire world.

Picking and Choosing

So publishers regularly pick and choose when to apply IP laws and when not to. We can’t act like it’s this Holy Grail of Certainty and Unambiguity, because it isn’t. Not only does that video remain on Youtube–without being ContentID’d–but it will always remain on Youtube, because Nintendo doesn’t give a shit about their intellectual property. When it comes to the game and IP laws, the code for that game is their Intellectual Property. But they don’t care.

If you don’t like the terms, don’t purchase the product.

If only it were that simple. But, see, because of the state, Intellectual Property has a monopoly on video games, music, television, and movies. This is overlooked by this part of the comment. Intellectual Property wasn’t just “such a great free market idea” that every company adapted and every consumer loved it. No, it was strong-armed onto us by the state, and adopted as an anti-consumer measure to protect corporations who had stifled the competition.

This is a critical free market pillar: competition. Intellectual Property, as a solution to a problem, doesn’t have any. It’s the de facto solution, enforced by the state. Sure, I could sit here in my house and listen to any music, not watch any television or movies, not play any video games, and not read any books–for what it’s worth, reading a book also creates a copy in your head–but anyone who would demand such a thing has totally forgotten what it means to be a human being. There’s nowhere to go to escape from Intellectual Property. Even GOG, which takes a diehard anti-DRM stance, doesn’t fight against Intellectual Property.

This argument is nothing more than “If you don’t like America, then you can get out!

Hey, I don’t like living under the state’s monopoly, either. Why don’t I just choose to go somewhere that I wouldn’t have to live under the state’s monopoly?

Oh, wait.

Because there isn’t anywhere to go. Because the state has taken a monopoly, not just over me but over the entire planet. And so has Intellectual Property, thanks largely to Hollywood lobbyists having the United States Government enforce U.S. copyright laws in parts of the world that, you know, aren’t part of the United States–like in Sweden.

Yeah, it’s that easy. Just avoid Intellectual Property. Why didn’t I think about it before?

Probably because I’ve been awake for about 2 hours, and I’m already swimming in a sea of things protected and covered by intellectual property. Like the song I’m listening to right now. Like the web browser I’m using right now. Like the content platform I’m using right now. Like the social media platforms I was on earlier. Like the song that played on the radio as I drove to the store. Like the Newports that I bought when I was at the store.

Every single one of those things deals with Intellectual Property; it’s no exaggeration at all to say that we’re swimming in a sea of it, and this isn’t specific to the United States. Slowly but surely, everything has come to be protected by Intellectual Property, which, as I’ve said and countless others have pointed out, does nothing more than allowing someone who transfers ownership of an item to continue claiming ownership of an item after the point of sale.

People like you seem to think you can dictate terms of sale.

Garbage hyperbole unworthy of a response. Arguing against Intellectual Property is not even remotely akin to trying to dictate anything. Trying to maintain ownership of property that I have purchased is similarly not akin to trying to dictate anything. This actually reminds me of my post about transsexualism, where I had to actually point out to a Voluntaryist that preventing the state from forcing its definitions onto me is not equivalent to forcing my definitions onto the state, much less onto him.

That said, why don’t I have just as much right to dictate the terms of the exchange as the other party? If the other party and I can’t come to an agreement, then the exchange shouldn’t happen, but what lunacy is it to suggest that I have no right to dictate the terms of my side of the exchange? The only difference here is that Intellectual Property prohibits me from going to Wal-Mart’s competition. If I don’t agree with Viacom’s Intellectual Property terms, I can’t just pop down to the meth-head selling bootleg DVDs without risking the full might of the state coming down onto me; this is what I meant when I said that Intellectual Property has drummed out all the competition. It has. Intellectual Property has given the power completely to the person selling the item, and the person selling the currency is just SOL.

My options become to avoid it or to endure their terms, because there is no competition. And while, on the face of it, that seems at least somewhat reasonable, it’s no more reasonable than telling someone to stop driving on the roads if they don’t want to pay taxes. It’s not how any of this works. You’re proposing a free market solution–boycotting–to something that has long since stopped being related to the free market, thanks to government regulations creating IP and stifling competition. Free Market solutions only work when there is a free market.

Yes, if some company could step forward and say, “We’ll sell you these games completely, and they’ll be considered yours from now until the end of time,” they’ll fun into problems. Even GOG doesn’t go this far. Why not? Because if they tried to go that far, then all of the AAA publishers would stop providing GOG with copies of their games to resell.

It’s the attitude of someone who has never created anything others want.

That’s funny to be posted on a free website that contains access to a free book, free music, free videos, and, until recently, free podcasts. And clearly “others” want it. I once created a script for RPGMaker VX that allowed actors with an Undead state to have healing turned into damage, and it was downloaded some 4,000 times. My old band I Over E had one of its songs stolen by a band in New York. I/E also had its music receive about 20 downloads per day. This site receives about 30 hits each day. I gave an essay to V2: The Voluntary Voice for free. I’ve got a game that I’ve made, but which isn’t finished, available for free right now. I’ve got a book I’ve written that represents nearly a decade of work for free right now.

Yet you’ll also find this scattered across everything I create:

It’s a KoPiMi that means, basically, I waive any and all Intellectual Property claims to any and all of my creations. For fuck’s sake, while I was selling a book on Amazon, I personally uploaded it to The Pirate Bay and gave it away. And yes, it did sell–clearly, people wanted it.

I don’t demand that all creators go as far as that. No creator is really required to personally help people get their content for free. But no creator has the right to stop it, either. If I go through the trouble of self-publishing a book and begin selling it on the street for $8 each, and Dickhead Bob buys a copy, hurriedly photocopies all the pages, slaps the copies into manilla envelopes, and begins selling those photocopies for $2 each, I have no right to stop him. How could I? I was the one who sold him the book. He can do what he wants with it.

I could argue and appeal to people’s better nature. “Look, I was the one who wrote the freaking thing. I’m the one who deserves payment for it!” Evidence suggests that this would actually work. People tend to get pissed off when one person tries to sell something that someone else made. Don’t believe me? Watch how people have reacted to idiots trying to upload Minecraft–which we’ll discuss more in a moment–onto Steam Greenlight, hoping to cash in on its noticeable absence to make a quick buck for themselves.

Note: I didn’t quickly see the Minecraft video, but there it happens to World of Warcraft, to exactly the same widespread response.

Ah. Here we go.

Because the videos are in playlists, they’re not linking correctly. It’s video #112 and #41.

Speaking of Minecraft, if you happen to think that only some Popularity Threshold will warrant a person’s opinions on Intellectual Property as legitimate, then it’s hard to get more popular than the blockbuster PC hit that is and was Minecraft. Maybe my arguments aren’t valid because only 74 people downloaded my game, or because only 112 people have downloaded my book, or because only 2700 people have browsed my free site in the past five days. Maybe that’s just not enough to say, with any certainty, that someone would be willing to pay for it if it wasn’t free. Then again, clearly someone is, and at one point I was actually making like $42 a month through Patreon. So…

Anyway, Notch himself, creator of Minecraft, is on the record as not giving a shit about Intellectual Property. You know what? Ed McMillan, creator of The Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy, both of which are also extremely popular, says exactly the same thing: “We don’t really care.”

Notch stood on the floor of a MineCon event and told people to “just pirate it” if they couldn’t pay for it. His words: “…just pirate it.” On top of that, though, Minecraft freaking has a free demo version. He didn’t say “Download the demo version if you can’t afford it.” No, he said, “Just pirate it.”

If you have some kind of popularity threshold that has to be met before you’ll take someone’s rejection of IP seriously, then you’re not going to find someone who has made something much more popular than freaking Minecraft.

Minecraft.

The game that fucking redefined video games. The game that has sold more than one hundred million copies. It has sold 2/3 the amount that the freaking Sony PlayStation 2, one of the most successful gaming consoles ever, has sold.

For more perspective:

Super Mario Bros., in all its various forms and re-releases and updates and Virtual Console releases, has sold about forty-million copies. Considering that’s probably the biggest game of all time, with an icon so popular that even people who don’t play video games will recognize him, it’s saying something that Minecraft has outsold Super Mario Bros. by a margin of 5:2.

How about Jim Fucking Sterling, Son himself, the person whose videos I was initially building from? All of his content–all of it–is available 100% for free. And though he doesn’t like it if you use an AdBlocker to view his videos, he understands why, and he doesn’t hold it against you if you do. For example, I’ve posted a lengthy response on his video about AdBlockers, and yet he follows me on Twitter. Don’t get me started on ads, though.

Despite the possibility–and the ubiquity, especially among his audience–of someone using an AdBlocker to watch his video without earning him any ad revenue, he still posts them. You don’t have to contribute a fucking penny to view his website, to watch his videos, or to listen to his podcasts. In effect, he relies on the Honor System, and, you know what? It works exceedingly well for him. As he points out, have you seen his Patreon lately?

So the statement:

It’s the attitude of someone who has never created anything others want.

… is certifiable bullshit. If I don’t count, then surely Jim Sterling does. If Jim Sterling doesn’t count, then surely Ed McMillan does. If Ed McMillan doesn’t count, then surely Notch of Minecraft does. And if Notch doesn’t count, then your threshold of “how many people want it” is so high that it’s irrelevant and meaningless, because the only game that has outsold Minecraft is Tetris, and Tetris has been ripped off and bootlegged in so many ways it’s basically a genre unto itself. Repeat: Minecraft is the #2 best selling game of all time.

Although that gap between #1 and #2 is fucking insane. Nearly 500 million for Tetris? Holy sh–

You’re like little squalling babies, endlessly whining. I have nothing but contempt for you and anyone else with this attitude.

Well, considering I’ve done nothing that resembles squalling or whining, it’s hard to imagine why your contemptible, vitriolic comment of insults wouldn’t qualify but a well-received and very successful article arguing against IP does. But there’s nothing here for me to retort, so I’ll leave it at that.

Moving On To Another Criticism

My analogy about replaying the game a second time constituting a violation of the publisher’s Intellectual Property did go too far, and itself became a false equivalence. I apologize for that, and thanks for pointing it out. You are correct–that went too far and didn’t hold up to scrutiny.

Another Criticism Via Reddit

While I agree that IP law needs a lot of improvement, I have to comment on the idea to compare video games to cars.

In my opinion this comparison is utter nonesense. There are two big differences between cars and games:

  1. While you play a game, it’s value for you decreases. Meanwhile the game’s value for other people is not affected by you playing at all. This is obviously not true for cars whatsoever.
  2. While it takes a lot of materials and physical work to build a car, reproducing a game just takes a couple of clicks and a little work for your computer. You cannot just clone a car.

Therefore comparing these two seems rather pointless to me. Even if they would be similar however, I would find the mindset “We should treat X like this because we’ve always treated Y like this.” being far from optimal. What we should think about is why things should be treated in certain ways. What behavior do we want to (dis-)encourage with our treatement/our rules?
Having IP lawas for example can possibly encourage people to create unique and enjoyable content (be it games, movies, books or whatever). It also can encourage people to try to trick and abuse the system.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to all these questions. I just want to point out that it is not that simple as just applying the same laws we use for cars to games (or movies or books etc. especially in their digital form).

To be clear, I am not being cowardly; I addressed the criticism in the Reddit thread. If someone wants to critique something I’ve said, that’s great–it’s how ideas evolve–but this also means that my reply has to be open, too. So I’m just going to copy and paste what I wrote on Reddit:

1. You are wrong here. The moment you drive a car off the lot, its value plummets. Because of wear and tear, each additional mile further lowers the value of the car. They have value to the owner for different reasons (the car because of travel, the game because of enjoyment), but it’s still the case that each moment spent using either one means that is one moment that can never be used like that again.

For example, I’ve often lamented the fact that I can never read the Harry Potter books “for the first time” again, nor can I play FF6 “for the first time” again. Those first experiences were unique, powerful, and special, and no subsequent revisit has come close to capturing it. Their value has certainly plummeted for me, and I’m not even sure I still own all the HP books. This is 100% true for vehicles, as well. Even the best vehicle will only get to about 300,000 miles. It has longer life and its value is larger, but the same rules still apply: every time you drive a car, its value most certainly does decrease.

2. This reminds me of a conversation I had with someone a few months ago about the replicators in Star Trek. Or with 3-D printers, the first real-life version of replicators we’ve yet made. I don’t see any reason that a person won’t be able to 3-D print a vehicle in a few more decades (though tires and other parts might still have to be purchased rather than printed), which will render your point moot. This is mostly a matter of technology. Once upon a time, it wasn’t as easy to just copy a book, either–it took a scribe hundreds of hours to produce a copy. Then the printing press was invented, and the amount of work required to produce a copy became drastically reduced. Now I can make a copy of a book with a few button presses.

2a. That said, the “copy” produced via the computer with a few clicks is a poor copy of what was purchased, which is what my point about feelers was supposed to call attention to. The only copied CD I ever owned–seriously–was A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step, and I went to great lengths to get a high quality label printed for the copied version, and it still wasn’t up to par. Nor did it come with the booklet. Copied/cracked games often create their own problems, too, in addition to not being able to receive patches or purchase DLC, and these downsides have to be acknowledged. It’s not as simple as a couple of clicks to truly produce an accurate copy of a video game. It’s just not that simple. What one makes a copy of are files (which, incidentally, is necessary for installation of the game anyway, since installing a game from a disc literally creates a copy of that game), but those files don’t constitute nearly the whole package that was purchased.

Edit: It replaced all my numbers with “1”. Sorry.

Edit2: Continuing from the actual first point, a car with 120,000 miles on it doesn’t have anywhere near the value that a car with 12,000 miles on it has. Why? Because a car’s value lowers with each usage, and that usage is typically measured in “miles traveled.” Time itself is also a factor, as even a 2003 Mustang that has been sitting in a garage with only 5 miles on it won’t have anywhere near the value that it had when it was brand new. Really, the fact that a 5 year old game has about 5-10% of its initial value while a 5 year old car has about 25% of its initial value completely nullifies your point. If cars didn’t lose value with usage, then a 2007 Chrysler would be worth exactly as much today as it was in 2007, but that simply isn’t the case. Cars depreciate with usage, too, and often drastically–it’s generally said that even driving a car off a lot causes it to immediately lose a few thousand dollars in value, though, having never bought a new car, I can’t verify that. Regardless, it’s demonstrably true that cars depreciate in value with usage.

Edit 3: No more edits, I promise.

Since I’ve defended my points, and fairly represented the criticisms raised–they were copied/pasted directly, after all–I’m going to leave off here and wait on further objections to be brought up, if any are. Thus far, nothing has been said that truly holds up as a dispute to anything I said about IP and video games in the previous article, except that my “second playthrough” argument failed, and I’ve now rectified that. The reason that argument fails is that, while it’s true that we’re colloquially told that we’re sold “an experience,” that is just a colloquialism for saying we were sold “a license that allows us to have the experience.”

What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy, Part 1 of 5

Through the last year, I’ve been working on a book titled What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy.  Since I was also writing (and completing) Dancing in Hellfire, which had a higher priority, as well as daily articles, thrice-weekly podcasts, and weekly videos through most of last year, SGAA (Steam Greenlight and Anarchy) didn’t get much attention, but I did make a fair bit of progress with it–it’s about 100 pages. I’ve actually got several documents that are around that length and in some state of “needing to be finished.”

Unfortunately, Valve is shutting down Greenlight, which immediately made the book obsolete. By the time I finish it, Greenlight will be little more than a bad memory for people, but it’s also eerily pertinent that Valve has, due to community pressure, shut down the anarchic Greenlight to replace it with an alternative that is, without irony, much more state-like, with more power concentrated in Valve’s hands and with Valve employees unilaterally making the decisions that the wider community once made democratically. It basically parallels the rise of the state, and what we would expect to happen in an anarchic society if the underlying mentality is not first eradicated.

The underlying mentality is two-fold:

  • “I don’t approve of this, and therefore it shouldn’t be allowed to exist.”
  • “We have to take these measures to protect ignorant/naive/stupid people from themselves.”

These statements are never said so bluntly, but those are the hearts of the position that we need Valve to intervene in the process and implement some quality control.

I Don’t Approve

It hardly needs to even be pointed out that “I don’t approve of this” is a subjective value statement, and isn’t an objective truth. Even if there is 100% agreement that the item in question is of extremely low quality, it remains a subjective value statement, because widespread agreement doesn’t turn a subjective value into an objective one. We can go back fifty thousand years and find 100% agreement that the Earth is the center of the universe, but that wouldn’t make that an objectively true statement.

As far as I can tell, this mentality is limited pretty much to Steam, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say something like, “This movie is shit! What is it doing in Wal-Mart, where some unsuspecting person who doesn’t know any better might buy it, believing it to be a good movie?” or “This music album is terrible! What is it doing in this record store? It has no business being in this store alongside Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason!

Yet when it comes to Steam, we do hear these sorts of arguments.

In a lot of ways, I agree with the premise. I no longer even check Steam’s weekly sales and specials, because it’s never anything more than page after page after page of bullshit games that no one has ever heard of and are on sale at 19 cents from 99 cents. Here is a screenshot I took a few months ago of exactly this. It has actively discouraged me from browsing Steam’s special, which, in the longrun, hurts Valve because it means they aren’t selling games.

What is all this bullshit?

 

I would have rather seen more advanced filtering options, though. Even something simple like being able to filter out all indie titles or all “games” smaller than 100 MegaBytes would have gone a long, long way toward fixing the problem that is an overload of what I consider to be bullshit, crappy games that aren’t worth 99 cents by a long shot. I wouldn’t download and play this shit if it was free. I don’t want to look at it, I don’t want to look through it, and I don’t want to see it.

So… I don’t.

Rather than demanding that what I consider to be bullshit is prevented from landing on Steam altogether, I find it vastly preferable to check my ego and entitlement and to remind myself that there are billions of people in the world, and that my opinions aren’t objectively right. Rare though they may be, there is surely someone out there who genuinely likes Pajama Sam and wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t on Steam. There’s surely someone out there who likes Temper Tantrum, The Slaughter Grounds, and all kinds of other games that I consider to be bullshit trash. I consider Rise of the Tomb Raider to be bullshit trash, too, and Mass Effect 3. Not to mention Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I have my preferences and you have your preferences. We all know this to be true, and people only get butthurt when they mistake a reviewer’s word as objective truth. But despite the tendency of some misguided people to interpret my or Jim Sterling‘s reviews as irrefutable fact, the only fact is that reviews are opinions and opinions are, by their very nature, subjective. So we need only apply this to our assessment of games on Steam to realize that just because we dislike a game–despite probably never having played it–doesn’t mean that no one likes the game, and that any attempt to remove the game simply because we and 99% of other people like it is nothing more than an attempt to spit on, ignore, and overrule the 1% who do like it.

There’s no escaping this, and constituting a majority necessarily involves power–the power of the mob, peer pressure, and the innate human desire for acceptance through conformity.

This is dangerous.

Some would say that “We’re only talking about video games! C’mon, and chill out!”

But we aren’t just talking about video games, because this same pattern plays out in the real world in very real, damaging ways. It wasn’t terribly long ago that homosexuality was illegal because this minority of homosexuals was overruled and forced to go along with the majority who felt that homosexuality was bad. And while we might say “Yes, but we’re enlightened! We’re on the other side of that argument!” it would be wrong to say that, because right now exercising one’s rights to act in accordance with their religious beliefs is being universally spit upon by the majority. The minority of people who want to live their lives according to their moral values and choose with whom they do and do not associate are being spit upon and, once more, forced to go along with the majority.

The attitude hasn’t gone away. It’s just a new majority tyrannizing a new minority. Nothing has changed beyond which side of the aisle has the power. Tyranny today remains alive and well, such that this woman has lost the right to choose with whom she associates, simply because she is in a minority of people who would choose not to associate with people who partake in behavior that she doesn’t approve of. Of course, we say that we don’t approve of her behavior, don’t we? We don’t approve of her lifestyle choice to not associate with LGBT people, and therefore we won’t even allow her to do it. It’s no different from fifty years ago, when the majority didn’t approve of the lifestyle choice to be LGBT, and therefore wouldn’t even allow people to be LGBT.

Tomayto-tomahto.

Same shoe, different foot.

It’s my contention that this mentality has to be assaulted and addressed everywhere that it appears, because we do readily see it playing out in the real world. It’s not the application to LGBT issues or to video games that is the problem; the problem is the underlying mentality that connects both, that arrogance and ego that suggests, “I don’t approve of this, and thus it shouldn’t be allowed/shouldn’t exist.” How can we say we’re just talking about video games, when we see exactly the same thing happening in the real world, and real people being demonstrably tyrannized and prevented from being free to choose the people with whom they associate, simply because they are in a minority?

We find ourselves arguing opinion against opinion. Bob is a fundamentalist Christian who hates LGBT people, believes they are the product of Satan, and believes they’re going to hell. Tim is what we’d call a Social Justice Warrior, and as such Tim hates fundamentalist Christians. Bob thinks that being LGBT constitutes “abhorrent behavior.” Tim thinks that hating LGBT people constitutes “abhorrent behavior.” Bob wants to make it illegal to be a practicing LGBT person, and Tim wants to make it illegal to be a practicing fundamentalist Christian*.

Once upon a time, the majority agreed with Bob, and homosexuality was illegal and transsexualism was a mental illness. Today, the majority agrees with Tim, and fundamentalist Christianity is illegal in practice. There aren’t too many people who are more impacted by this than I, since I’m an openly transsexual lesbian resident of the state of Mississippi. And yet I stand, and will continue to stand, for people’s right of free association, even when I am the person they don’t want to associate with. It would certainly suck to walk into a gas station and have the owner tell me that I wasn’t welcome there, but it’s the owner’s business and property. At what point did we forget this?

We have to separate ourselves from the situation and recognize that we are arguing opinion against opinion and that neither side is objectively right. Bob isn’t objectively right to say that being LGBT is evil, and Tim isn’t objectively right to say that wanting to disassociate from LGBT people is evil. Why? Because morality is a set of subjective value statements built from assumptions. Even something like murder can’t be definitively stated to be good or evil, so how can something infinitely less destructive be objectively good or evil? The only exception to this might be rape, because, despite many attempts to do so, I have yet to come up with a theoretical scenario wherein rape would be considered morally good. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched our hypothetical scenario is; if we can come up with even one example wherein murder would be the morally right thing to do, then the conclusion must be that murder is not objectively wrong. So, to reiterate, with even murder being morally ambiguous, how could we ever attempt to make the argument that something with consequences considerably less dire and permanent can be absolutely morally clear?

Right now, you and I are on the wrong side of historical morality in countless ways. Two hundred years from now, people will look back on us and will decry us as heartless, immoral fiends, just as we do today when we look back at the ubiquity of slavery, sexism, and racism. We shouldn’t delude ourselves into believing that the set of moral values we currently have are eternal and will never change, because they will, and I can point to at least one specific area where, in a few centuries, you and I both will be known as evil barbarians.

Animal rights.

We are horrific to our non-human brothers and sisters. Not only do we kill them and eat them after they’ve lived their lives in abysmal conditions that we would quickly identify as torture if a human was forced to endure them, but we actively consider animals to be our property. Does that sound familiar? It should, because the arguments people use today to justify their treatment and perception of animals are exactly the same arguments people put forward 150 years ago to justify their treatment and perceptions of non-white people. Even though we know now, scientifically and beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt, that animals think and feel things, we continue to largely treat them like unthinking, unfeeling automatons who are our property.

“‘My’ pets,” people say, claiming ownership of these living, breathing, thinking, and feeling creatures. Even I say “my cats,” though my position on them is clear, and I generally use the expression as shorthand–“my” cats are mine in the same way that my friends are “mine.” But even without going into how we commonly have to do things that animals don’t want “for their own good,” the fact remains that we participate in the widespread enslavement, torture, and murder of, if I recall correctly, eighty-five million animals a day, just in the United States. Society will one day look back on us, having ruled that eating meat is immoral, and call us evil barbarians.

My position is almost identical to Richard Dawkins’ position on this. Strictly speaking, yes, the vegans are absolutely right. It is unconscionable, and it is unjustifiable, yet I continue to do it. I eat meat. I passed through a vegetarian, and even a vegan, phase, but today I eat meat. But they’re right–the vegans are right, and their logic is unassailable. I’m not trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism or veganism, but it’s simply true that there’s no way to justify it in the modern world, and that a rational evaluation of the situation leads inexorably to the conclusion that eating meat and using animal products are immoral things to do.

We Have To Protect People From Themselves

I noticed last year that a scary number of people want to speak for me, to the extent that if I dare try to speak for myself, I was frequently slapped back down and told to shut up. The most jarring example was my video about the Liberal Redneck, where I criticized him for criticizing a fundamentalist Christian woman, and criticized him for asserting that she was a racist, simply because the woman was a white Christian. The response to this video was so bad that I actually took the video down. The video had like 5 likes and more than 80 dislikes, and one comment after the other, it was just “Uh… He’s speaking up for you, you idiot!” and “He’s on YOUR side, dumbass!”

It was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever experienced, because there I was, speaking for myself and expressing what side I was on (neither the Christian’s nor the Liberal Redneck’s), yet people were disregarding that and telling me to shut up so that the Liberal Redneck could speak for me. This continued through all of last year. I remember seeing one Facebook post from Occupy Democrats that I remarked, “This had better have been written by a black female Muslim lesbian. If not, whoever wrote it needs to seriously re-evaluate why they think they have the right to speak for so many people.”

We have divided ourselves into these groups, and these groups demand our loyalty, to the extent that if we dare speak for ourselves or show any disloyalty, then they will turn and hang us alongside the other group. It’s an attitude that is rampant in the United States: “If you aren’t with us, then you’re against us.” Take, for example, how I repeatedly attacked Hillary last year, which led to countless people assuming that I supported Trump. This is especially noticeable on my Quora profile, where nearly everything I said about Trump or Hillary led to someone calling me a Trump supporter. I don’t know why. I have never supported Trump, and never would. His positions are contrary to almost everything I believe.

The recent women’s march showcases this, too, because it wasn’t a “Women’s March,” was it? No, it was a Democratic Women’s March, but no one is allowed to say that. When a Pro-Life group of women expressed the desire to join the march, they were told that they couldn’t. So it couldn’t possibly have been an All Women’s March; it was a Women’s March As Long As You Side With Us Politically. It was the same thing I experienced with the Liberal Redneck–neither he nor the dozens of vicious people who attacked me were interested in LGBTQ people. They were demonstrably only interested in Liberal LGBTQ people.

I’ve written before about how the Democratic Party doesn’t care about women, Muslims, Mexicans, black people, or LGBTQ people. They only care about votes and support. I couldn’t begin to convey how ostracized from the LGBTQ community I am simply because I’m an anarchist, never mind that I choose–for very good reason–to identify as a shemale. They demand that I be quiet and sheepish, that I nod and go along with whatever they say on my behalf, and Cthulhu help me if I dare speak up on my own behalf. No ally would demand you be silent while they speak for you, it’s as simple as that. Anyone who demands you sacrifice your voice to the mob isn’t your friend. Anyone who demands that you conform to what they want and what they say isn’t your ally.

You speak for you.

I’ll speak for me.

The only “group” I speak for are the lesbian shemale anarchists, and, the last time I checked, I’m the only one of those.

More to the point, a few years ago the Russian government made gay pride parades illegal. The reason they gave was that they had to protect children from being corrupted. While I’ve no doubt that the person reading this disagrees with the Russian Government about what constitutes “corruption,” the fact remains that their desire to protect the “innocent children who don’t know any better” from things they deem to be bad is what led them to do it. Again, that should sound familiar, because it is precisely what people have argued in regard to Steam Greenlight–it is necessary, they say, to protect the people who don’t know any better from being exposed to these things that they deem are bad.

If you haven’t seen that mentality playing out in the United States, then you haven’t been exposed to what we call the Social Justice Warrior. This isn’t an insult aimed at anyone who advocates social equality–I’m an egalitarian, after all. No, SJW refers to a specific type of person, like the kind of person who would say something like “I can’t wait for all these people who disagree with me to hurry up and die.”

Scary.

That’s fucking scary.

That should fucking scare you.

And these are the people who say that their positions come from empathy! This guy honestly and truly believes that he came to his beliefs because he’s just so filled with empathy toward Group A–and all this empathy that he feels with Group A just accidentally leads him to talk like a fucking psychopath about the people in Group B. I can barely imagine something more psychopathic than “People who don’t agree with me need to hurry up and die.”

And it’s got a like!

This is the long-run result of the extreme divisiveness that has characterized American society for the last several decades. “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us. And if you happen to have any of these characteristics by which we’ve divided ourselves but you still don’t agree with us, then you’re an idiot who should shut up and let us protect you from yourself and your stupid opinions.”

* Many would instinctively reject this assessment, but they would be wrong. It is currently illegal to live according to fundamentalist Christian values, as the previous link about the flower woman shows. It would be illegal for someone to tell me that I wasn’t welcome in their store because I’m transsexual. We are willing to allow them to quietly believe these things, but the moment they attempt to act in accordance with those things they believe, they are committing a crime, and we will prosecute them. So yes. It absolutely is illegal in the United States to practice fundamentalist Christianity.

Stay tuned for Parts 2 through 5, which will be posted over the next week and are from the actual book What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy, instead of this precursory explanation.

How Intellectual Property Poisons Video Games

I’ve just watched the Jimquisiition video “Circle of Strife,” which I’ll provide a link to here—just… just click that to go and watch it and subscribe to Jim Sterling, if you haven’t already. He does great work for the average gamer and is well worth watching. In his video he discussed the adversarial, mutually parasitic, mutually antagonistic relationship between Gamestop and game publishers, and I have nothing to critique there, of course. I do, however, want to discuss how we got into this situation in the first place, because the root of the problem doesn’t lie with Gamestop; it lies with publishers.

Going all the way back to square one, this mess began because it is simply assumed that publishers are entitled to be paid twice for a single copy of a product. Because they make this assumption, they hate Gamestop, who doesn’t provide game publishers any revenue from the sell of used games. This is a matter on which the gaming public appears to be roughly evenly divided, with some people simply asserting that of course EA deserves a cut from Gamestop selling a used copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition on Xbox 360, and with others… who actually agree with that premise, but who assert that launch-day DLC and later DLC allow the publishers to effectively be paid twice for the product, because DLC isn’t transferable.

Jim Sterling, of course, addresses all of these issues regularly. Launch Day DLC is a particular pet peeve of mine, and I’m in wholesale agreement with Jim about how the abuse of DLC, existence of pre-orders, and incestuous, adversarial relationship between publishers and Gamestop are hurting gamers. Unlike Jim, however, it’s my contention that there is a single root cause to all of these problems.

Intellectual property.

Now, rather than railing against Intellectual property generally—I’ve done this in podcasts that are no longer available, but even so I’m not going to retread the same old ground—I’m going to draw a direct line between intellectual property and the publishers’ sense of entitlement that they are due for two payments for a single instance of a product, and how this mentality, this entitlement, has led directly to the issues that Jim Sterling fantastically addresses.

It’s immediately apparent that no one is entitled to being paid twice for something that they’ve sold. If, for example, I sell you a vehicle for $3,000, and you go on to sell that vehicle to someone else for $4,000, absolutely no one in their right mind would contend that I was due any additional money from you, or from the person who bought the car from you. Having sold that property to you, and been duly reimbursed with an amount that we agreed was fair, our business is concluded and my property claims on the car are null. It is, in effect, no longer my car.

Intellectual Property, as a duplicitous way of allowing people who have created a thing to maintain ownership after the point of selling it, would dictate that, if I had been the one who invented this car—thereby making it my intellectual property—then I would, in fact, be due compensation. It is every bit as asinine as thinking that, if I sold my Chevrolet Impala to you for $3,000, then I needed to give a cut of that to Chevrolet. It’s utter nonsense; Chevrolet has already been paid for that Impala. Whether I bought the car from someone who bought it from someone who bought it from someone who bought if from Chevrolet, or whether I bought it directly from Chevrolet, Chevrolet produced one car, and they were paid for one car. What happens after that isn’t their concern—unless a warranty is transferred, but that’s an unrelated matter—because they made one car, they were paid for one car, and they relinquished all ownership claims over that car.

In what lunacy-filled doublethink could they possibly be entitled to being paid again?

Yet when we take this analogy and transfer it directly to video games, suddenly this simple logic is thrown out the window. But it shouldn’t be, because EA has still produced one copy of the game. There is one disc, one box. The retail world isn’t my area of expertise, but whether you buy the game from Wal-Mart, Gamestop, or some EA storefront directly, the fact remains that they produced one copy of the game, and you purchased it. You became the owner of that game, and EA relinquished all property claims regarding it.

Whether you go on to sell the game to me for $15 isn’t EA’s business, because they have already been paid for that copy of the game. Selling it to me does not create a second copy of the game, because there is still only one copy—ownership of it is transferred from you to me, and in return you have received a payment that we both agreed was fair.

“But you now get to enjoy the game! Hur hur hur! And EA didn’t get paid for two people to enjoy it!”

This is, in essence, the argument of intellectual property, that EA didn’t sell an actual, physical copy of the game, and that they instead sold “an experience.” It’s immediately apparent that this is—how shall we say?—absolute bullshit. So if my wife and I purchased a video game, EA would be entitled to two payments if we both attempted to play it? By this argument, sharing is stealing, under any and all circumstances. It’s as asinine as it is fallacious. If EA sold an experience to me—the experience of playing the game—then what am I selling when I take the game to Gamestop? I’ve had the experience. By this logic, even replaying a game that you own constitutes theft of EA’s digital property, because they sold an experience—one. If you cannot transfer ownership of that experience to Gamestop, or to someone else, without somehow violating EA’s Intellectual Property, then playing through the second game constitutes exactly the same violation.

This is the mindset that EA and other publishers have, even if they wouldn’t be willing to call attention to this gigantic logic pit. They want you, the gamer, to be on-board with the idea that they deserve payment twice for a single copy of a product, because then they can shove all kinds of shit like pre-orders, launch day dlc, obtrusive DRM, and DLC cut directly from the game into your face and you won’t immediately reject it, because, like they want, you’ll begin from the assumption that these are justified practices undertaken to help them curb losses from when the “experience” they sold is unrightly transferred from one person to another. It’s not a conspiracy; it’s not like the big AAA publishers are sitting in board rooms together devising plans to rip you off. They don’t have to, because their interests are all aligned, and because so much of the gaming press is willing to do their work for them.

You see this everywhere, and it takes on forms obvious and subtle. Take, for example, how even discussing emulation can result in a ban from a game’s Steam forum. This has reached a point where otherwise ordinary community members will proudly initiate posts warning everyone that discussion of emulation is against the forum’s rules. Why? It is a perfectly legal solution to a long-time problem. But it doesn’t matter why; it’s just taken for granted, and from there it’s propagated: emulation is bad because it steals money from developers. That’s right, downloading an emulator and ripping your own copy of Final Fantasy from an NES cart steals money from the publishers who are trying to sell you a second copy of a game you already own. And you’re not allowed to discuss it openly, nor are you allowed to call attention to the fact that, with very few exceptions, emulation is vastly superior.

Just look at the Mega Man Legacy Collection. Of course, you’ll find there such a thread warning people that it’s against the rules to discuss emulation. Even though the Legacy Collection is buggy, borderline broken, with terrible controls and graphic filtering options, and even though FCEU and JNES both emulate the six NES Mega Man games faithfully, accurately, and without crashing, you’re not even allowed to talk about how you can rip the NES games directly from your NES cartridges and play them bug free and error free, for free. And obviously a publisher has the right to police their forums—when the people hosting that forum, Valve, have given them that right—but it’s hardly a unique circumstance on the Steam forums.

Watch any YouTuber who does video games, and if they ever mention that forbidden E-word, they will immediately follow it or precede it by saying, “I don’t encourage emulation.” Why the hell not? It’s a perfectly adequate solution to an obvious problem. The reason, of course, is that they don’t want to be crucified by publishers and their attorneys who have convinced themselves and the rest of the world that Intellectual Property is somehow a thing, and that it means that they get to maintain ownership over things that they have sold and ostensibly transferred ownership of.

From that one, seemingly innocuous assumption that is alleged to exist to ensure that developers, artists, and musicians are financially motivated to produce content, nearly everything that has gone wrong in the past twenty years in these industries has directly stemmed. It’s beyond the scope of this article or video or podcast or however I publish this to get into every single result of the intellectual property sickness that has infected entertainment, but people were producing art, music, and plays for centuries before Intellectual Property was a thing. And going all the way back, there were people selling what we would call bootleg copies, but the artists continued their crafts, because that’s what artists do and because there have always been ways for artists, musicians, playwrights, and authors to ensure that they are fairly paid for their work.

Intellectual property is preventing the evolution of the video game industry. For example, musicians throughout the world have repeatedly lost their freaking minds in history. First, it was over blank cassette tapes and the ability of people to record songs aired over the radio. They couldn’t sue there because television studios had already attempted to sue in the 80s against VHS and the ability of consumers to record programs and watch them later; since the Supreme Court ruled that consumers could record television, it was obvious that the legal precedent would result in a lost case for the music industry against blank cassette tapes. Moving forward, it happened again when people began ripping CDs and burning CDs. Then again when Napster arrived and widespread sharing took off. Rather than adjusting to these changes and shifting their focuses to live performances and rather than providing incentives for people to purchase the CDs over bootlegs, the music and movie industries instead went after piracy.

One has to look only to the recent Tool albums to see exactly how this sort of thing can be addressed without overstepping one’s bounds and claiming ridiculous ownership of things that have been sold. Tool’s latest album, Ten Thousand Days, included a weird bifocal thing and a collection of images that produced 3D effects and couldn’t simply be photocopied. It was encouragement to buy the actual album, in the same way that 1980s video games often included “feelers” that couldn’t be so easily bootlegged.

But instead of doing any of this—instead of doing anything to improve the gaming industry and actually entice consumers to buy their products by using feelers and other bonuses not cut from the core game, the video game industry has taken the same path that the music, television, and movie industries took before it. Rather than attempting to evolve and better themselves to present consumers justifiable reasons to purchase games new, rather than used, they find it easier to throw a bunch of bullshit at us.

The video game industry should look again at Hollywood and the music industry to see how well that worked out for them. And then they should come down from their drug-induced highs and accept that they aren’t entitled to be paid twice for one copy of a product and that, if they want people to buy their products new, then they have to offer a valid incentive that makes it worth it to the consumer to buy it new, instead of simply threatening and attacking people who buy used.