PewDiePie And YouTube Are Still Getting Paid

Jacob Clifton writing about the recently publicized (on the WSJ) anti-semetic videos from Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg:

With a celebrity like Kjellberg, it also invokes the idea that, if being a “fan” is part of your identity, any questioning of him is an indictment of you on at least two levels: both as a heroic independent thinker, and as a man with refined enough tastes to like the thing that you like. An exploration of your culture, whether that’s video games or YouTubers or white supremacy, is absolutely an attack on you, from an angle you’re no more likely to see than you are the back of your own head.

The title of the article was “PewDiePie Isn’t a Monster, He’s Someone You Know” before it was edited to “The Downfall Of YouTube’s Biggest Star Is A Symptom Of A Bigger Illness.” I suffer from the same syndrome of changing headlines, but I believe the first title was more appropriate.

There’s a combination of a 27-year-old with money and fame, and a regular theme from gaming culture online that it is standard and expected to say bad things and prove how little you care, that created this. It’s the smug attitude you might expect if you picture a late-90s hacker, or all of the communities on reddit, 4chan, IRC networks, and elsewhere that celebrate hate as a matter of course.

They will be up-in-arms at every attack on PewDiePie and their right to be assholes. I left one of my favorite gaming communities on IRC when it turned into a place where anti-semetic, racist, and homophobic views couldn’t be questioned. My hope came from the others that left first when we met up again in another online place.

Clifton:

Are they monsters? No. But you use the “monsters” to keep yourself from recognizing this about them, to avoid talking to them about it, to keep from opening the can and seeing what’s inside. You’d prefer to wait, and hope that the endpoint of the story in his case is something different. Violence, hatred, and organized activity are for the ones other people associate with, not the ones you know and love.

PewDiePie’s response, besides deleting the videos with anti-semetic messages, is that the reporters are to blame. He spends the first few minutes of the video explaining that because he’s rich, and he pushes back on “the media,” that’s why, he says, they highlighted his anti-semetic videos.

During the video Kjellberg says he’s sorry that although some people thought what he did was funny, others didn’t think like his jokes. His joke was hiring people to hold up a sign that says “Death to all jews.” It’s the kind of apology that a teacher would describe as “Not good enough.”

Kjellberg also complains in the response video that it’s a generational gap that makes people not understand his not-at-all-funny anti-semetic jokes.

Finally, Kjellberg ends the video by thanking the people that support him and flipping off the camera with a sarcastic “Thanks, Wall Street Journal.”

Kjellberg is not a monster, he’s not sorry, and he will continue to receive advertising dollars from every video he puts up. Google’s YouTube business will still get paid, as well, they only removed ads from some of his videos before but declined to remove them from YouTube. If he had actually made a sincere apology, I wouldn’t have a problem with him continuing, but without that he has emboldened his fans to make their own anti-semetic jokes and nothing has changed.

This Was The Worst Possible Time to Start a Site Called Nuclear Monster

During Trump’s 77 minute tirade on fake news about the illegal leaks that didn’t happen and definitely weren’t why he fired Mike Flynn, he happened to drop this bomb. All those hours in Fallouts 1, 2, 3,  New Vegas, and 4, are going to come in handy.

Chris Christie Will Have the Meatloaf

AP, via the Boston Globe:

The Republican governor said while guest hosting a New York sports talk radio show Thursday that Trump pointed out the menu and told people to get whatever they want. Then he said he and Christie were going to have the meatloaf.

‘‘This is what it’s like to be with Trump,’’ Christie said. ‘‘He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want.’ And then he says, ‘Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.’’’

In other Chris Christie news, the official misconduct case against him is moving forward.

Manafort, Flynn, Sally Yates, and Let’s All Take Photos with the Football

Here’s the New York Times’ Andrew E. Kramer, Mike McIntire and Barry Meier way back in August of 2016. They’re describing how Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, was involved with a pro-Russian party in the Ukraine:

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

This was after Russia had attempted to annex part of the Ukraine. Manafort was forced to resign a few days later on August 19th.

Today, Trump’s national security adviser Michael T. Flynn resigned. Here’s the Times again:

But on Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.

In his resignation letter, which the White House emailed to reporters, Mr. Flynn said he had held numerous calls with foreign officials during the transition. “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” he wrote. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology.”

The Justice Department was helmed by Sally Yates when it warned the White House about Flynn. Trump got rid of Yates when she wouldn’t enforce his illegal ban on Muslims from 7 nations that he doesn’t do business with (because he lied about divesting himself of anything) and they aren’t terrorists.

Flynn was one of the lunatics encouraging an audience at the RNC to continue chanting “Lock her up!” in regards to Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. Flynn was giving information to Russia regarding sanctions, and that’s why he resigned. It’s more than “incomplete information.” It’s the height of hypocrisy on his part, and terrifying considering that national security agencies are supposedly (can’t find confirmation at any big paper) witholding information from the Trump administration because the agencies are said to believe the administration can’t keep secrets secret.

I wonder why.

Let’s Intimidate NASA

Image via NASA

Loren Grush for The Verge:

Two weeks ago, Sidd Bikkannavar flew back into the United States after spending a few weeks abroad in South America. An employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Bikkannavar had been on a personal trip, pursuing his hobby of racing solar-powered cars. He had recently joined a Chilean team, and spent the last weeks of January at a race in Patagonia.

Bikkannavar is a seasoned international traveller — but his return home to the US this time around was anything but routine. Bikkannavar left for South America on January 15th, under the Obama Administration. He flew back from Santiago, Chile to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas on Monday, January 30th, just over a week into the Trump Administration.

Bikkannavar says he was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol and pressured to give the CBP agents his phone and access PIN. Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device.

Read the full article.

My conspiracy theory/guess is that it wasn’t his name (as the rest of the article supposes) that caused the detention. The detention was just a tool getting more access to JPL and NASA through the CBP even if it was temporary. The CBP has defied court orders in order to continue enforcing Trump’s constitutionally illegal ban on Muslims from seven countries. It wouldn’t be surprising if the CBP were being used to access information from (and intimidate) reality-based agencies of the government that won’t collaborate with Trump’s administration.

PS4 Pro Boost Mode

When Sony’s upgraded Playstation 4 Pro shipped it only offered performance improvements for games that were updated to support it. That’s a manual process that costs money (in wages) on the part of the developer to support. Not every game is going to get an update. It’s an impossible task for games that have had their development teams disbanded, or small studios that don’t have time to go back and retest and resubmit their updates to Sony.

An upcoming firmware update (4.50) is to resolve this issue, partially. Boost mode will offer enhanced performance for all older games. With the caveat that there is no guarantee they will support it.

Richard Leadbetter has thoroughly tested the new mode for Eurogamer:

In short, boost mode will work best in stabilising performance closer to target frame-rates and should prove interesting on unlocked titles, but you can’t expect game-changing miracles. Games like Destiny that stick doggedly to their 30fps cap will see no improvement, and titles certainly won’t break their performance limits and suddenly run at 60fps. However, there are plenty of games out there that glitch badly or run nowhere near their theoretical limits. In this scenario, boost mode could be revelatory.

Enhanced performance isn’t everything, and I’d be surprised if Sony didn’t eventually blacklist games that don’t work well with the boost, but this is huge news for anyone that bought a Pro and a disappointment for anyone that bought the regular Playstation 4 before this functionality was announced.

Into The Breach Announced

The FTL developers, Subset Games, are working on a single player turn-based-strategy game that looks a bit like Advance Wars. Into The Breach has no release date yet, but it will be out (not simultaneously) on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Here’s their description:

The remnants of human civilization are threatened by gigantic creatures breeding beneath the earth. You must control powerful mechs from the future to hold off this alien threat. Each attempt to save the world presents a new randomly generated challenge in this turn-based strategy game.

I’m pretty disappointed that Nintendo hasn’t announced a new Advance Wars, but I’m willing to bet that Subset has a good spin on it.

Steam Has Over 3000 Linux Games

Liam Dawe:

Steam has hit another milestone for Linux games. We now have over 3,000 Linux games to fill our time with. The exact count for me right now is 3,008!

An impressive number of games with Linux support. I wonder how many are native ports versus Windows pretendulation.

My search comes up with 3164 for Linux and 13433 total games on Steam.

Goodbye Greenlight, Hello Direct

Valve is replacing Steam Greenlight. Alden Kroll:

The next step in these improvements is to establish a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct,” is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.

While we have invested heavily in our content pipeline and personalized store, we’re still debating the publishing fee for Steam Direct. We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.

Steam Direct sounds like Valve is moving a little bit closer to the free-for-all of itch, which is good but $5000 is a bit much. They should have had the dollar amount straight before going live with this.

Valve are also still making money off of software that encourages rape. That shit needs to go.

How will this work for free games? They wouldn’t recoup a fee unless it can be done after a certain number of downloads.