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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm on vacation

And that's it. Christmas burnout has collided with mid-month blues, so I'm putting this blog to bed.

Don't worry, I'll still be doing Blue Collar Prepping, and Salem has at least one more entry to his GamerGate analysis.

Have a merry Christmas everyone; I'll see you in 2015 if I don't come back before then.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #17
This week on GBVC:
  • I talk about prepping for pet owners.
  • Nicki Kenyon explores foreign aid to Israel.
  • Special Guest Ben Berry from The Triangle Tactical Podcast tells us why we should all be shooting competition.
  • Barron B. tells us about future developments in more secure credit cards.
  • Weer'd rounds out his "Gun Death" series with the very serious subject of suicide.
Don't miss the show. Download, listen, and subscribe. And make sure to tell your friends!

You can listen to the podcast here, and the show notes may be found here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 4: Factions Form

Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: A History Lesson 
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form

In Which I Take a Look at All Sides

When I mentioned in  Part 1 that there were more than two sides to GamerGate, I was simplifying the issue. Even now, I'll be forced to simplify the issue yet again, as there are degrees, sliding scales, and sub-factions that complicate the mere effort of even trying to tell who is on what side. To the uninformed on the outside that are getting their news from Huffington Post or The Verge, it's pretty cut and dry:

There is an army of cis-hetero white dudes living in their mothers' basement that are harassing and sending threats to poor, defenseless female developers and critics, trying to drive them out of the industry. Standing up to this wave of immoral darkness are brave souls, trying to drag the industry kicking and screaming into a loving and inclusive future.

But is it that simple? Of course not. It's never that simple. And I'm not going to parrot the same things you've read elsewhere. I'm peeling back the bandage to look at the sides that don't get shown.

I. GamerGate
It's important to remember that there are no leaders when looking at this side of the debate. There are voices that are louder than others, but they come and go; someone you might see as a spokesperson one week is gone the next. But some of the more prevalent myths need debunking:
  • GamerGate is a bunch of white dudes: This was one of the first myths to emerge, even before the hashtag was created. The gaming press itself has debunked this one, with its celebrated articles claiming that over 40% of gamers are women, and shortly after the initial firestorm of August 28th, #NotYourShield was created by a black games developer as a rebuttal to this. The response was... unpleasant. Female and minority gamers were called sockpuppets at first, then once they were compelled to prove their female/minority status, were called “Uncle Toms” and “house n******” by people claiming to fight racism and bullying. Willful misinterpretation that these were no different from claims of “But I have a black friend...” was thrown in as well. Eventually, the hashtag's creator was fired when pressure was put on his employer by the opposing side.

  • GamerGate only uses the excuse of journalistic ethics to harass women and minorities: I'm willing to concede that, early on, some harassment may have come from the Pro-GG side, especially prior to the hashtag's creation. But those people moved on. They're long gone, if they were ever there. It's been over three months now, on an internet whose attention span can be measured in seconds. I've watched the hashtag on twitter. I've lurked on the chans and irc channels, and a few of the sub-reddits, and I've never seen any concerted attempts at harassment.

    But, more telling, I've seen things like the GamerGate Harassment Patrol: a group dedicated to reporting twitter accounts that are actually harassing; and its complementary party, the GamerGate Hug Patrol, which has provided kind words to both pro- and anti-GGers who've expressed exhaustion and emotional distress. I've seen too many posts chiding people for getting off-track when discussing people instead of digging for ethical issues. (I'm beginning to suspect that people are defining “harassment” as “disagreeing with me” and don't understand that Twitter conversations are public.)

    Most importantly, this is a group with no membership requirements. Even the threats that have had their screenshots on national television haven't been using the #GamerGate or #GG hashtag. 
  • GamerGate is an MRA/Right-wing conspiracy: I think it's telling that this one is frequently used to slur a consumer revolt. In all honesty, I've seen people all over the political spectrum on both sides of GamerGate. Yes, I've seen conservatives and Republicans, but I've also seen liberal progressives; I've seen MRAs, but I've also seen feminists. Religious, non-religious, races, genders, etc, this is one of the more diverse groups that I've observed (see #NotYourShield). Also, if you're one of those people that uses a politico-ideological stance to slur somebody, consider not doing so... you won't win anyone over to your side that way.
  • GamerGate has clearly and obviously targeted non-journalist women: Look, Zoe Quinn got a shit-ton of attention, but objectively speaking, it was her relationships that were the proverbial straw on a camel's back. I feel bad for her. But then there's this to consider:

    From my observations, the usual suspects that get trotted out as the major targets simply aren't. In fact, I have a hard time not considering them 3rd party trolls, as they involve themselves every chance they get. The best explanation for this misconception is that most of the male journalists targeted for scrutiny tend to keep their heads down and not engage, while a few people actively engage, and then loudly complain about all the messages they get afterwards.

II. Anti-GamerGate
I've written three separate drafts of this section that named names before deleting them all. This is mainly because there are people on this side of the debate (that are already public figures with trust funds and far less to lose) that have released names, addresses, and personal information, siccing thousands of followers on people for the horrendous crime of disagreeing with them publicly.

Yes, there is a rather vocal contingent of people who are vehemently against GamerGate. From what I've observed, they think they're the good guys. They think they're fighting some great evil. I have a hard time believing this when I see Twitter blocklists that are in the tens of thousands of users, and include such known harassers as KFC restaurants and actor Taye Diggs, not to mention syringes and knives mailed to neutral reporters as well as GamerGate supporters.

For my own safety I'm not going to mention the names of any of the Anti-GamerGate side, as some of them have a documented history of considering merely mentioning their names as harassment, and that's a headache I don't need. Besides, you've probably already heard their names and voices on television and in internet stories, not to mention in previously documented articles. From some of the things I've seen, I'm rolling the dice here with the risk that I'd get doxxed for even trying to remain impartial.

I mean that. I'm genuinely concerned, and picking my words very carefully here, as even with my piddling view count, I've gotten messages 'politely' suggesting that I should let this topic drop.

I simply cannot muster the cognitive dissonance required to believe that the people who are vocally against GamerGate are people who, like they claim to be, are against bullying, against harassment, against doxxing people and exposing them to actual, literal, physical harm, and against racism and sexism, especially with the way people using #NotYourShield have been treated. I will say that by focusing on identity politics and leveraging a small amount of fame (with press connections, no one should be surprised), the Anti-GamerGate side has a louder voice. The BBC, MSNBC, and others have regularly engaged with them, giving them a much more powerful weapon: Control of the Narrative. 

I also don't have the cognitive dissonance to believe that these people want GamerGate to just stop and go away when I look at their twitter feeds, because they talk about it more than the people who are Pro-GamerGate.

So I'll leave this section with a quote and a link. “There are no bad tactics, only bad targets”- Bob Chipman, aka MovieBob

III. Third Party Trolls
But I know that neither side, despite my trepidation in even speaking about one of them, is responsible for the worst of this. As Alfred said to Bruce in The Dark Knight, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

There are several groups at play in the battlefield that are on neither side. The GNAA allegedly admit involvement. SomethingAwful's GoonSquad has also claimed involvement, if not outright starting it. Pro-GamerGate even tracked down the man behind some rather particularly nasty harassment of critic Anita Sarkeesian, as even Kotaku admitted. Beyond that, it's hard to tell, due to the nature of third-party trolls, but even the more reasonable Anti-GamerGate voices recognize the presence of a third party at work.

IV. Misinformed Celebrities
So Joss Whedon, Adam Savage, or Seth Rogen came out against GamerGate. Honestly, I can't blame them. Just reading the mainstream media and not looking too closely at it, it seems to be a good argument. Besides, celebrities are busy people, they can't dedicate the time to look past the headlines most of the time, and feminism is trendy these days. Especially for famous white dudes. Especially for famous white dudes that live in California. Especially for famous white dudes that live in California who want to look like good people. They're still just people, and they're still capable of having an uninformed opinion, and I'm not saying that people in Hollywood tend to be self-serving... but people in Hollywood tend to be self-serving.

There's more to it than this, but there are certain things that I'm not willing to, at this time, go into. Partly because I don't want my own life invaded, and partly because it's just too exhaustive and would take a month's worth of daily articles twice the length I usually write to cover it all.

Next week: The Curious Tale of David Pakman

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WNW: Santapoop

I've been a fan of Poo-Pourri videos for a while. Anything that shows a posh Ginger talking about poop in a delicate British accent is, to me, utterly hilarious.

Then I saw their latest video, and knew I had to share it.  Merry Christmas, one and all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Still Alive

Yeah, I'm still here. Sorry for missing a few days. Let me bring you up to speed:

On Sunday, Oleg posted a casting call for models in Apopka, FL. I immediately emailed him with
It's only an hour's drive for me. But I expect you'd want someone prettier?
And he replied with
You would do fine, plus we'd get to socialize!
Which surprised the heck out of me, because I figured Oleg could make pretty models materialize out of thin air. But hey, I like the guy, so I packed up my stuff and drove to meet him.

As it turns out, Oleg CAN make pretty models materialize out of thin air, because he bumped into the manager of the hotel that he was staying at, and not only is she drop-dead beautiful, she's also a gunnie (has a CWP, shoots trap & skeet).

And she has this amazing ability to go from "sweetly adorable" to "I'm going to kill everyone in this room" and back in the blink of an eye.

So I wasn't really needed that night, but I don't mind. She really knew her stuff (she modeled as a child) and it was a pleasure to watch her work. She also laughed at all my corny jokes and got all of my nerdy references. We talked about Star Trek, Babylon 5, MacGuyver and Walking Dead.

Unicorns exist, folks. I met one that night. I shall not see her like again in my lifetime...

(I apologize for my face in that link, but it was necessary to prove that I was in her presence.)

So that was Monday. Today was less pleasant:  my allergies were really bothering me, so I took a Benadryl on top of my regular allergy medicine. It worked, but it also made me very tired... combine that lethargy with the onset of my my mid-month blues and Christmas overload, and I just felt the need to hide in my room for most of the day.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #16
This week on the Gun Blog Variety Cast:
  • At the request of new father Adam, I talk about bugging-out with a baby. 
  • Nicki Kenyon talks about how one of our allies designated two U.S. groups as terrorist organizations. 
  • Miguel Gonzalez gives us some lessons learned from Ferguson. 
  • Barron B. Explains Phishing.
  • And Weer'd Beard gives us part 2 of his "Gun Death" files, Domestic Violence.
All that plus Felons Behaving Badly, Strange Laws, Fun with Headlines, The Quest for Sharpshooter, and Things that Grind My Gears.

Download, Listen, and Subscribe. It's a treat for your ears.

You can listen to the podcast here, and the show notes may be found here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 3: Born In Fire

Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form

In Which I Make An Analogy

In the year 2013, the video game industry raked in over $66 billion. Gaming regularly dwarfs other forms of entertainment, like movies, TV, the music industry. People who buy and play video games are a very large, very diverse, and very influential demographic.

The industry itself, though, is very young, and has faced relatively few of the trials that other mediums have faced, but the ones it has faced have come in rapid succession. From (disbarred attorney) Jack Thompson to (indicted for corruption) Leland Yee, from invasive Digital Rights Management software to politico-moral crusading and cries of “think of the children,” gamers have been fighting one battle for respect after another for a few decades now. And in the meantime, the gaming medium has grown: it's become more mature and more inclusive, and most gamers have embraced that. So if you think that video games aren't “a big deal,” you might want to rethink that.

As I've discussed previously, the relationship between gaming press and gamers has been tenuous at best, but when the medium you write about is approaching the status of being the officially largest form of entertainment in the world, you really should feel some duty to be a consumer advocate. But, to quote Destructoid now:
“That said to me that this "gamer" term has some inherent power to it. It makes people feel something, for better or worse. Compare it to terms like "golfer" or "golf journalism." Imagine if golf pros and commentators were to declare that the term "golfer" is dead. The collective golf community would likely raise an eyebrow, shrug, and get back to golfing. That's not what we're seeing in the "gamer" community right now. “
Would they? Would they, really? I mean, excuse my ignorance (and I know a large number of Erin's audience are gunnies, so also excuse me if I sound a bit repetitive) here, but if Guns & Ammo declared gun owners “obtuse shitslingers, wailing hyper-consumers, or childish internet-arguers” and declared the term “gunnie” dead, would they really just raise an eyebrow, shrug, and go back to the firing range?* Would you really want them to be the public voice advocating for and representing your hobby, that important chunk of your life, or how you choose to spend your free time and income? Would you want them as the loudest voices defending your passion when the U.S. Government turns its eye towards you, with new legislation on the purchasing, ownership, or registration/licensing of firearms?

What if all that you and your friends at the range wanted for years was for more people to understand how satisfying firing off a few rounds was, and the pride of a well-maintained firearm, and then American Handgunner decides to publish a piece about how more new people are discovering firearms, and the people that were already at the range are just mad about “all these scary new people enjoying their pastime?” What if a self-professed gun owner called gunnies “misogynistic losers that are making all gun owners look bad?” What if a disturbingly large number of news outlets started referring to gunnies as people that just want to see children dead because of “muh secin ammenment?”

Now imagine if a dozen such articles dropped inside of a 48-hour period on a dozen different firearms-enthusiast websites, like what happened here:

Obviously, in no way, a coordinated strike.

One would think that if all of this was just about an attack on Zoe Quinn, then articles about it would have come out immediately after the incident went public. But they didn't; two weeks passed between The Zoepost (August 16) and the day in which the gaming press carpet-bombed their own readership (August 28). Two weeks is a long time on the internet, especially in a trade that has a 24-hour news cycle. It took two weeks for the immature blow-out that was the “5 Guys burgers and fries Quinnspiracy” to blow over and for people to start noticing links between developers, journalists, publishers, and publicists, and to start asking questions.

It's been argued that these gaming sites are not talking about all gamers, but they make little to no effort to differentiate between any gamers that might (and I say might, as no one has any solid proof) have been involved in any harassment that may have taken place and those that might not have been.
In fact, some go so far as to say things like “Let's say it's a vocal minority,” only to follow up in the next paragraph with “those people do represent your community” and how “so much of gaming culture is howling and flinging shit like a death-metal festival in the Monkey House.“

In short, the unfortunate incident that revealed some ugly details about a relationship also shined a light on some things the gaming press apparently did not want seen and, when questioned, decided that instead of taking a second look at their policies and procedures, went on the full offensive. (This list doesn't repeat any of the links found elsewhere.)

Imagine my above scenario again, with the firearms-enthusiast press attacking gunnies left and right. Now imagine that, in the rough world of online journalism, where your revenue lives and dies on clicks, pageviews, and ad revenue, you find out that competing websites are colluding on a narrative. And sharing that information with representatives from weapons manufacturers. And no matter how many questions you might ask, even from a neutral perspective (yes, I'm bringing my own experience in here), you're told that even questioning the narrative makes you a woman-hating misogynist. Imagine discussion forums where 25,000+ comments are deleted. Where accounts are banned for questioning what's being presented as irrefutable truth. How would you know who stands where?

And this is where we find ourselves: in the fiery ground left in the wake of a sect of entertainment press that chose to to carpet-bomb their own readership rather than address the appearance of impropriety and earn the trust of the consumers they should have been advocating for. And in that fiery ground, in the ashes left behind by the immature and frankly embarrassing reaction to the Quinnspiracy incident, is where GamerGate was born.

Next week: Factions Form

*  Erin says:  As a culture, gunnies probably wouldn't care if some pundit stated that the term "gunnie" was dead. But as for the rest... well, one only needs to Google such luminaries as Dick Metcalf and Jim Zumbo to gauge our response. 

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