Friday, March 31, 2017

YouTube is Demonetizing Users

      PewDiePie is the largest YouTube user on the site with over 50 million subscribers. He typically streams video games, but he has lately diversified to performing comedy bits. In January, pewDiePie was reviewing the website Fiver, a site in which users offer $5 for people on screen to do anything asked, when he asked the two people onscreen to hold up a sign saying “Kill all Jews.” The two complied. PewDiePie apologized in the same video, claiming he did not think the two would do it.
     Nevertheless, PewDiePie attracted the attention of The Washington Post. The paper went through six months worth of PewDiePie's videos to find any objectionable content. If you have never been around young gamers, but they tend to cuss, insult, and use sexually suggestive language while playing. You would be hard pressed to find a streamer who does not. But other streamer do not have 50 million+ subscribers, so PewDiePie put a bull's eye on his back. Because of the negative press, Disney ended its business partnership with PewDiePie. The disillusion of the partnership will cost PewDiePie millions.
      It is no coincidence companies have begun expressing concern over not only their advertisements appearing on potentially offensive videos, but ad revenue being split with the content creators. YouTube's response was to establish new guidelines for monetizing videos. The new rules forbid profanity, sexually suggestive content, violence, and any sort of prejudice among other restrictions. On the surface, this may sound fine, but note two things. One, users are finding videos discussing political or religious topics being demonetized and two, corporate sites are exempt. So a vlogger who makes a video about a Christian bakery that refuses to make cake for a gay wedding is now demonetized, but everything from CNN and FOX News is okay, as well as official music videos from artists with parental advisory labels in stores.
      The end result is to push out individual content makers in favor of deep pocketed companies. This is not too much of a surprise. YouTube, which now offers movies for a price and original television content for a subscription fee, has been moving away from a base of community of small time vloggers to just another television networks. Many of the non-corporate, large subscriber YouTube channels are basically using a television format.
      I assume it goes without saying my YouTube tastes lean toward the controversial political and religious content than funny cat videos. (I am a fan of felines, though.) It has been interring in recent days watching the content creators I frequent scrambling for solutions to their revenue streams now being reduced as much as allegedly 70%. Most are choosing various forms of e-begging. I am not terribly concerned with where their money is going to come from in the future, but I am curious whether there is much validity to the claims there is a conspiracy to push out controversial content creators or if there is a legitimate claim companies should fear associating their brands with these creators.
      As a free speech advocate, I would like to be sympathetic to the former claim. Who would not be suspicious of corporate big dogs squeezing out the subversive? But after watching many of these creators, sometimes for years, I am leaning towards the latter. Why would corporate advertiser want to associate some of these ding-a-lings? There is also the question of why, if their opinions are so darn important, why are they requiring payment for them? Opinions are quit worthless. I also have a tough time overlooking the fact the creators are angry they cannot take corporate money which most probably think is a corrupting element in public discourse in the first place?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CGI in a Galaxy Far, Far Away


     In case you missed it, I reviewed Rogue One on my movie review blog. Spoilers abound over there, so be careful if for some peculiar reason you have not seen the movie yet. It has made over $1 billion world wide, a box office total which ensures a myriad of future Star Wars Expanded Universe films to come. As long as there are no Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks, I am game.
      There is one point about Rogue One I wanted to address that could not comfortably fit within a film review. Fortunately, I enjoy a broad scope on Gods & Monsters to wax poetic on any topic I choose. So there is a space for me to talk about the uneven quality of the CGI recreations of Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin and Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia Organa.
      First things first, CGI re-creations of deceased actors do not bother me as long as the deceased's family or estate approves. (Yes, I know this is not applicable in Carrie Fisher's case, as she died after Rogue One rendered her younger appearance wish CGI.) The practice seems to creep people out because the re-creations are more are more accurate than another actor in disguise or an impersonator. As the practice occurs more often, the unease will pass.
      If anything bothers me about the CGI re-creations in Rogue One, it was how uneven they are, Judge for yourself with the screen caps above while taking into account my poor eyesight. I think Tarkin is nearly spot on. Princes Leia, however, is not. Is it just me, or does she look more...artificial? Or is it just hr likens is off? Maybe it is a little of both. Regardless, her less than stellar rendition firmly puts me in the camp of not using a CGI Princess Leia to replace the late fisher in the final installment of the current trilogy. It does not feel right for aesthetic reasons.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Source for Moral Authority

     Ever hear of the Drunken Peasants? It is a popular podcast airing on YouTube starring what is left of the atheist community still standing from its heyday circa 2006-10. This means The Amazing Atheist, his brother Scottie, and PaulsEgo. As with virtually every other YouTuber monetizing their content, the Drunken Peasants have turned their personal vlogging into a pseudo-television. After sampling a few installments, I have come to the conclusion the philosophical debates are far more vanilla than they used to be before advertising dollars were a factor. Nevertheless, I did pull out one gem from a free for all between the Drunken Peasants and a trio of Christian apologists.
      A Christian posed the question to the Drunken Peasants where does moral authority originate if there is no God? The Drunken Peasants agreed moral authority comes from society. We have agreed, as a society, that certain things are moral and others are not. This answers brings two realities. One, morality is an opinion without any general principle guiding it. Two, what is moral can change back and forth based on social mores. The Christian attempted to discuss the point morality is based on opinion in the atheist worldview, but the discussion devolved into God's morality as demonstrated in the Old Testament. There is a discussion for another time because it is touchy in nature. The touchiness of probably why the Drunken Peasants shifted the discussion into that direction to inflame Christian passion to avoid any elaboration on their weak answer to moral authority.
     Let us take the two points above in order to see why the Drunken Peasants diverted the discussion into another direction. One, morality authority come from opinion without any general principle guiding it. This situation amounts to an appeal to populism—a numbers game. If100 people move to a deserted island to build a sovereign community and decide pedophilia is allowed, then pedophilia is moral within their society. There would be no general principle involved. What about polar opposite morals in different societies? Female circumcision, for instance, is considered cruel in the western world, but widely practiced in undeveloped ares of Africa and South America. So is there a standard upon which to judge female circumcision or can it be both moral and immoral depending on where one lives?
      The other problem is what is considered moral can change over time with social mores. Social mores could cause a progression or a regression. Fr example, slavery was general considered a oral practice in the 18th century. In the 21st, it is considered evil. What is circumstances change to a point slavery is deemed an acceptable practice in the 23rd century? By the Drunken Peasants' claim morality comes from society, the concept of slavery under the hypothetical I just laid out would go fro moral to immoral and back again to moral with the viewpoint being equally valid in all three time periods.
      Taking the Drunken peasants' assertion morality come from society out to its logical conclusion destroys their argument no eternal moral source is necessary. No, there must be a general, guiding principle. This is why I am a natural law theorist. While man is corrupt and fallible in interpreting the general principles of the natural law, we must do so to avoid the pitfalls of moral relativism.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Selfie

     There is no snazzy title, but there is a snazzy photo.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Gamecocks Are in the Final Four

     I wrote about my annual, 100% accurate prediction for the NCAA March Madness tournament. The prediction was I wold not fill out a bracket. While the prediction remains accurate the spirit of it has arguably changed. It is still true I could not care less about college basketball, but home team loyalty has emerged.
      My beloved alma mater, the University of South Carolina, defeated the University of Florida Gators to advance to their first Final Four in school history. My Facebook time line lit up all afternoon in celebration. Even the most obnoxious Clemson fans are in the gamecocks corner. So I am in good company for rooting for Gamecocks' basketball.
    The Gamecocks are enjoying a Cinderella post season with improbable victories. They will face their toughest challenge in Gonzaga University. Gonzaga has been favored t go all the way, so a Gamecocks win would be the upset of the century. Keep those fingers crossed, folks. Regardless of what happens net weekend, I am proud of my Gamecocks. Collegiate sports in South Carolina in recent time. Coastal Carolina baseball, Clemson football, and now—perhaps—USC basketball are champs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Walking a Wire

    Outside of blogging, my largest online presence is on Twitter. I signed up in 2010, but have never been terribly dedicated about it. My Twitter is for sarcastic quips, live blogging events, and the occasional hashtag game when there is an interesting one going on. It goes without saying I shamelessly self-promote my blogging endeavors, too. While I have tweeted for nearly seven years—minus the long hiatus of my Oak haven stint—I never go above 323 followers. I was fine with that. Twitter as never as serious to me as blogging and a small audience offers the freedom of catering to no one.
      But the times, they are a'changing. Beginning with the rise of Donald Trump's presidential campaign in spring 2015, his supporters began following my Twitter because I live tweeted the Republican candidates' debates. My numbers continued to go as I covered primary results, too. I might believe a small audience offers freedom, but that does not mean I would not mind adapting to a larger audience. I am certainly getting one now. My twitter has grown fro 323 followers to 3268 as of this morning with an average of 15 new followers a day. It is twitter, so I am getting a small army of fake bot accounts, but the majority are genuine followers who respond, like, and re-tweet my stuff.
      I am now fighting the urge to cater to ardent Trump supporters in order to keep the followers coming. While I am a Trump supporter, I am a snarky observer of politics, society, and pop culture as a whole. How well is my irreverent observations on those topics going o go over with laser focused Trump supporters? It is always open season on any topic, Trump included, as far as I am concerned. So how long can I maintain my lofty Twitter perch? It depends n how long I can safely walk this wire.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Social Balkanization

      One of the most important problems I want to avoid in blogging is creating an echo chamber. When you discuss your opinions on the internet, particularly on the hot political matters of the day, you wind up preaching to the choir. What is wore about blogging is you tend to gather n audience of other bloggers who are not only like minded, but have crafted similar posts from the same sources you utilized. If your intention is to preach to the choir, then that is fine. There is nothing wrong with ministering to the flock. But do not expect much growth from the free exchange of new ideas. New ideas with rarely penetrate.
      There ha been much discussion since the election about people living in political bubbles It has been mostly directed from the right toward the alleged liberal elite in major cities in the two coasts. But really, flyover country is just as much a conservative bubble. It I hypocrisy for one to point finger at the other. Tribalism is in human nature. People seek to interact with others who think the same way they do. I like to avoid this sort of insular behavior when blogging. It is one f the primary reasons I prefer to objectively look at political science as an academic field and less so as news coverage of current events.
     More to the point, the internet is not resisting the move toward creating insular environments for like minded people to safely engage in a circle jerk. You may snicker at safe zones on campus where student can be free from exposure to “offensive' speech, but you do not see much interaction between groups of differing philosophies on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. hose venues are safe zones every bit as much as those on campus except wore. Worse because they are self-inflicted.
      This social Balkanization is exactly what the powers that be in the information industry want. The mainstream media, who were almost completely in the tank for Hillary Clinton, lost out because the grassroots effort to elect Trump were successful. Trump's grassroots effort was headed by alt right online news organizations and boosted by social media. The media is rapidly losing its influence—and rightly so with its left wing bias—compared the free exchange of ideas on social media Hence the efforts by Facebook to weed out “fake news” and Twitter's banning of hate speech. With Facebook and twitter deciding what is fake news and hate speech. But of course the effort amounts to limiting conservative views, driving conservatives back to their own areas on the net and allowing no exchange of contrary ideas. 
     The effort to divide and insulate is the plan to weaken any further grassroots efforts that might dare help another anti-establishment candidate get elected. Just be aware this is happening, who is behind it, and why so you will not be complicit.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Flotsam & Jetsam #3

      Chuck Berry, one of the founders of rock and roll, died yesterday. I aw a headline saying something to the effect of “Chuck Berry Tragically Dead at 90.” Can someone who makes it to 90—well passed the Bible's allotted three score and ten—can die tragically. Maybe I am being harsh here, but the headline struck me funny. One thing not striking me funny is y belief black singers of the '50's and '60's did more to integrate America than any marches or protests. You cannot force people not to hate, but it is certainly difficult to hate something as fun s rock and roll or rhythm and blues. Change he culture and you change the country.
     At the beginning of March Madness, I tweeted my annual, 100% accurate prediction. The prediction was, as it always is, I will not fill out a bracket. I do not follow college basketball, so I have no interest in the championship tournament. Yet I am still subjected to friends griping over their brackets having been ruined by an upset. My Facebook time line was filled with such travails as I learned y beloved University of South Carolina Gamecocks unexpectedly knocked the Duke University Blue Devils out the tournament. Way to go, Gamecocks!
      We are going to look back on self-identifying as a gender as a silly fad, but the psychological damage it caused will sadly remain.
      I knew of Lorde, but could not name any of song songs if my life depended on it until I saw her perform on Saturday Night Live last week. I liked both her songs from the show. I looked up more f her songs on YouTube and liked most of them. The same for Father John misty a couple weeks back. It is tough for me to become interested in new music thee days. Whether music is generally bad thee days or I am simply at the age at which I do not like new things was not clear. Now it is nice to know there is still some good stuff out there I can appreciate.
      I do not understand the intense interest in Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo's future. He is over the hill, fragile, and never lead the team to a Super Bowl. Mayer Romo is the final piece a team like the Denver broncos or the Houston Texans need to seal the deal on a Super Bowl run, but I doubt it. Especially not with Romo's bloated salary. He would probably be wise to seek out a broadcasting career instead of chasing a long shot championship ring.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Colin Kaepernick is Kaput

     Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has a couple problems. The first is he hates the United States. According to him, the country is abominably racist. To protest against the racist oppression, Kawprnick used his status as a black man who became wealthy playing a kid's game to conspicuously kneel during the national anthem before every game. Kaepernick's second problem is now that he is a free agent, no team wants to sign him because of his protest.
      Kaepernick saw the writing on the wall, but a bit too late. He announced near the beginning of free agent signing he was willing to now stand for the national anthem. Whether Kaepernick now understands actions have consequences changing your mind cannot always stave off is a question only he can answer.
      I am not naive. There are plenty of NFL players suiting up every week with drug arrests, domestic violence issues, and assorted other criminal problem, including murder. Michael Vick even went to jail and came back to play. The NFL will look the other way on just about any baggage a player has as long as he can play at a high level. The fact is Kaepernick is not much of a player in the first place. The anthem protest baggage is simply enough to discourage an on the fence team fro signing him. What team wants to face unnecessary fan backlash over signing a mediocre player?
     On the pus side for Kaepernick, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says all immigrants are welcome. Should Kaeprnick decide to be one of the few—maybe the only?--celebrity to actually move to Canada because of last November's election results, he will be welcomed with open arms. But would he be a good fit for the CFL? He must can the vegetarian diet his radical girlfriend forced on him. In the NFL, you cannot compete without protein meat.

I Have Returned to Vlogging

     I have returned to vlogging, but likely with my usual slack dedication

to making videos on topics rather than writing about them on Gods &

Monsters.  At least I am giving it a shot, folks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Taxing Situation

     Rachel Maddow, a key player in the collapse of MSNBC's prime time line up, tweeted shortly before eight PM she had a copy of Donald Trump's tax returns and was set to reveal it on air. The eventual reveal—eventual meaning after a twenty minute conspiratorial rant speculating over what financial shenanigans Trump might employ to minimize hi tax bill—was underwhelming.
     The tax return was two pages from Trump's 1040 from 2005. It revealed Trump earned $150 million dollars and paid the legally required $38 million in taxes. The only thing we learned from the twelve year old 1040 was Trump earned a lot of money and paid his fair share of taxes on it. Not exactly hard-hitting journalism there.
      Even liberal commentators are playing the reveal down. There are more important issues, such as the Republican healthcare plan which is universally disliked. This translates to an admission Maddow had nothing at best and boosted Trump's credibility at worst. A $33 million tax bill when the narrative has been Trump utilizing shady accounting to pay none casts doubt on much of the unfounded criticism Trump receives. Trump' supporters are comparing Maddow's stunt to Geraldo Rivera's live opening of Al Capone's vault to find nothing some thirty years ago. The comparison is a stretch, but the point is valid. Maddow's dramatic build up was much ado about nothing.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mulls a Senate Bid

     Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering a run for the Senate after engaging in a twitter scuffle with Donald Trump over the president's request for National Prayer Breakfast attendees to pray for Schwarzenegger because of low ratings for his Celebrity Apprentice. Schwarzenegger recently opted not to return for another turn as host. Now he is looking for something else to do as he enters his 70's.
      The good news is Schwarzenegger is the only Republican who can win in California. The bad new is Schwarzenegger is the only Republican who can win in California. Hindsight says his turn as governor was a huge disappointment. After a decent start attempting to implement conservative policies, he ran into liberal opposition and caved. He was so bad, voters decided hi successor should be 840 year old relic Jerry Brown. The more realistic view is Schwarzenegger is a man without a party. He is too liberal for Republicans and the Democrats have too deep a bench to bet it all on him.
      Schwarzenegger could be planning to run as an independent. It is a move unlikely to work. Considering the beginning of a trump feud, he might be banking on the unpopularity of Trump, who only managed about a third of the popular vote in the Golden State. But that will not be enough when you consider the baggage coming with the candidate. The biggest being the illegitimate son from his former housekeeper.
     But I say Schwarzenegger should go for it, anyway. A Senate run as a Republican will force Democrat to spend money on a Senate seat they believe is in the bag. A run as an independent might split the vote enough for him to win with a plurality. A moderate independent who caucused with Republicans would still be better than anyone the Democrats will run.
***
UPDATE: (March 14th) Arnold nixes a Senate bid.  Maybe he read my   post?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Translator (SNL)

      Just when I thought Saturday Night Live was going to do a skit unrelated to Donald Trump, the skit turns out to be about Donald Trump. But that was not the only surprise. As it turns out, the skit makes a mockery of liberal hypocrisy. Now does that not beat all?
      Three scientists build a device that translates pet thoughts. I will not beat the heck out of the premise so as not to spoil anything, but watch for the bonus humor when the dog decides he ha had enough of the shenanigans and rebels. Voice actor Beck Bennett and host Scarlett Johanson improvise quickly to save the day.
      A trigger warning is probably in order for the satirically impaired. Some of the jokes re risque, as well. Viewer discretion is advised.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Two Years Later

     It dawned on me late in the day it is the second anniversary of y escaping Oakhaven Nursing Center. I usually obsess over the time and development between events—I am an avid history buff, after all—but the occasion sneaked up on me. For it to do that, Oakhaven must have faded into memory or else I would have engaged in some serious ax grinding over the last few days.
      If you have been reading my blog for a decently long period of time, you will recall I ground my a so much on so many occasions one could circumcise a mosquito with the blade. I see no reason to rehash those dark times here. It is quite clear the demons lingering from y dark days there have been exorcized. But feel free to look up the relevant posts. Make sure you have plenty of time. The whole story adds up to a decent sized novella.
      What is more interesting about the anniversary slipping my mind is the frequent gossip I still hear from staff past and present. Kendra was fired after some brouhaha and wound up working with Michelle and Aysa at the ombudsman's office. Brock was transferred to another facility a few month's later. Chrystal took over Oakhaven while Wilson Senior Care searched for a replacement. They finally found one who was—I kid you not—still learning English. The new executive director did not last long, either. A bad DHEC review in 2016 probably spelled her doom. Pretty much every on the management side departed at some point. Many took job that were a step down from what their positions at Oakhaven. But jumping ship is worth the loss, I am certain.
      I still maintain many friendships from the better side of Oakhaven. Courtney is the most important, of course. We consider each other siblings. So there is no way I can consider y tie at Oakhaven a total loss. Just the part in which I was forced to deal with the incompetent boobs who recklessly ran the place. Even a six figure DHEC fine courtesy of your truly did that fix that. At least they are gone now. I hope, in some small way, I helped make their departures happen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Small Victories

     Here is the latest hair growth tracking selfie. It will probably be the final one. Please keep the applause down to a polite golf clap. By this point, my hair has grown back enough to make my mistakenly near shun noggin an unnoticeable error. While I am inclined to believe you ought not deny any parts of your past self—learn from what you do not like—there is no sense in bringing your old self back up again and again when the lesson has been learned. The lesson here is always enunciate fr the barber.
     Adding several Ensre to my daily diet has not been as arduous as I feared it might. One of the main reasons I am so thin in the first place is I cannot force myself to eat when I am not hungry. The problem is even wore when am sick. When I fell deathly ill a few years ago, I wound up with a feeding tube, for heaven's sake. I am not sick now. Just throwing it out there to illustrate how tough it is for me to gain wait. For he last few months, I have stagnated. Eating more would be tough, but drinking calories is not that bad.
      All that to say I have gained three pounds in three weeks. Yes, the average is a pound a wk. Most people can add and drop more than that in a day. I am not most people. The rate and amount of gain suits me. Or at least it will until I hit the inevitable wall and must regroup with something else. Until then, I shall enjoy the small victories.

Friday, March 3, 2017

What Scooby Doo Taught Us

     The villains were never ghosts, but the mysteries were always
groovy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Periodic Reminder

     One may insist the spirit of this post runs contrary to the general advice to “let dead leaves fall,” but I did vow months ago to make a periodic reminder of the status of my personal belongings. While it is important to let go of the little things, it is also important to keep your word. I weighed the two concepts and decided keeping a vow is more important under the circumstances. What good is a person who fails to keep his promises?
      You may recall when I intervened in the Darlington County sheriff's race I had been abandoned to a nursing home by Team Chavis while they kept all of my personal belongings, surrogate for the campaign said all of my belongings were actually boxed up. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows this claim is false. No reason exist to keep any of y stuff if Team Chavis has no intention of ever contacting me again. But I called their bluff and will continue to do so. I have friends in Hartsville who are willing to retrieve my stuff. All they need is the go ahead fro Team Chavis. It is a go ahead that will, of course, never come.
     This is the character of your new sheriff, Darlington. He does not care about doing the right thing. He only cares about the sense of self-worth he derives from wearing a uniform. I will continue to serve as a source of truth for this matter.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Marching On

     It is the first day of another month. February was a fairly steady blogging month, but till not a steady as I aspire. Topics really are not lighting y fire as they once did on my old blog. Of course, I also intend to differentiate my blogging philosophy now from then. Chalk the slow going up to growing pains. If there is one thing I have learned over the last four years, change is painfully difficult.
      I reluctantly admit day to day politics. It was certainly boring for the longest time before Donald Trump was elected. Goodness gracious, folks. Trump, who may or may not be a true conservative, is certainly towing the conservative line thus far. He hate the establishment hates him. It s all a ball to watch after years of an ineffective, post-modern president and his fawning press. So yeas, so day to day politics is likely to play a big part of the blog even though I would like to write about some deeper topic.
      We will see what comes up as the days go by. I intended to map out some time insensitive posts to fill out the topics come up during my daily travels, but I actually fumbled the ball on that one, too. I am going to fly by the seat of my pants with those. It is always fun to roll that way, no?