Sunday, July 26, 2015

Alexander Jacob - Richard Wagner: Parsifal

Richard Wagner: Parsifal Alexander Jacob, piano Richard Kleinmichel, piano transcription Numen Media, 2015

Played with a gentle interpretation of Wagner's bombastic style, Richard Wagner: Parsifal shows pianist Alexander Jacob converting epic Teutonic opera music into a gentle ambiance which peaks in mesmerizing renditions of classic themes, avoiding repetition by carefully texturing different motifs into a gentle background sound that insinuates itself into consciousness so deftly that without drawing attention to it, it takes over like soundtrack music to the life of the listener, bringing out all in Wagner that is evocative of the challenges and heights of life.

Converting from full orchestra and voice, this piano score avoids rendering the music simplistic as a soundtrack might have done, and preserves the complex interweaving of melodies that tells the story in each of the nine scenes or transitions rendered here. Smaller themes become jazz-like background riffs which expand into vision and then rise to full power, and epic themes appear only when the groundwork has been set, making this a subtle infiltration of musical ideas through a pleasant, almost innocent backdrop.

Kleinmichel's score preserves what is most powerful about Wagner, which is his theatrical ability to pile motifs onto one another like a well-crafted poem, creating scenes of unforgettable richness and clarity. Jacob tackles the keys with confidence and avoids the technique-heavy "overplaying" which is unfortunately so common in contemporary classical music. For new listeners to Wagner, Richard Wagner: Parsifal provides an excellent compact introduction, and longtime fans will appreciate its tribute to the original and depth of nuance.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Occasional profundity from unusual sources

He makes a good point: a god that tells you whatever you want to hear is not a god, but yourself. It is like the television advertisements that tell you what you wish were true so that you buy the product. Seriously, this beer will turn you into a sexy hunk, which would normally require working out two hours a day and some plastic surgery. But this beer? It'll do it right away. Same with gods. You either get one that is timeless truth, or one that is a television commercial.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

White House search engine bomb

Many of you remember that late 90s practice of search term bombing, where you and a few dozen friends would all link to the same site with some derogatory word, so that when someone searched for that word, up came the site you were defaming.

Recently another type of internet protest has become popular which is the "search engine bomb." In this, you and a few dozen thousand friends all type the same search term into popular sites, creating a ripple in their statistics -- or, in some rather nasty uses, slowing their site to a crawl.

People read log files and watch statistics, so the former seems more effective than the latter. With that in mind, in protest of the recent political correctness pouring out of the White House, I suggest this be implemented:

This string searches the White House website for "overthrow government." Enough hits on this pipe, and the White House will be wondering why people are so interested in removing them.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

An ideal Reddit replacement

As Reddit circles the drain, many of us are wondering if the nature of Reddit itself led to its downfall. It allows only one subreddit per keyword, and those are controlled by mods who invariably negotiate with that power. Its upvote/downvote system guarantees abuse and brigading. Clearly a better system is needed. Is there a way around these problems?

I came up with a quick series of ideas on how to do this. These are not fully-fleshed, but they cannot be until the other elements of the new system are clear. Here is my basic approach however:

  • Reputation vouchers. One huge problem on Reddit is the high frequency of throwaway accounts. These encourage users to not worry too much about their behavior, since there is no point to retaining any particular account. In a reputation system, each user must be vouched for by an established user. This would enable them to be given votes of more power and allows the community to reward actual contributors instead of mere participants. This distinction is at the heart of this system: 90% of people are only participants, meaning they show up and do what is expected. 10% of the user community rises above and deserves an increased caste status to reward that beneficial, above the call of duty participation.
  • Tags not subs. Reddit faces a difficult task because if people are interested in animals, there can be only one /r/animals and it will be controlled by one group of mods, which naturally leads them to treat that as a property which they use as a bargaining chip with others. This in turn encourages defensive behavior and makes mods into little tyrants. Tags are better because they allow for content to focus on the topic, not the topic as envisioned by the mods. In this stream, or the list of articles produced, content from vouched users would come first, allowing that status to take the place of mod-status without the abuse tendencies therein.
  • Personal news. To take the place of mods who curate an independent community by keeping content orderly, non-duplicative and on-content, users would be able to create news streams of articles they have "liked" (equivalent to Reddit's "save"). One of the biggest problems on Reddit, and in any tag stream, is the presence of duplicate articles including links on the same topic from multiple sources. This would enable users to go through and produce personal streams which, unlike subs with mods, would be entirely associated with the user by design and eliminate any pretense of objectivity.
  • Streams. Streams are like a Facebook timeline or Twitter flow. They consist of articles coming up in the order of number of votes balanced by newness. Streams can take any form: groups of tags, friends of the user, their personal stream described above, or a combination of the above. Users could make these public so that people get what is actually the point of the site, which is the best content available, and compete against each other for those to produce the best stream.

While the days grow short for Reddit, much as they did with Digg and Myspace, users are looking for the next incarnation of this form of social media software. Reddit was basically an extension of Del.icio.us with Digg's Fark-style upvoting, and maybe something like the above can be the next level.

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FOSS community under assault with "contributor covenant" that justifies censorship

A group of SJWs has decided to attack F/OSS software by demanding that projects sign up for their well-intentioned "contributor convenant" which is hard to oppose because it makes all the right noises, invokes warm happy fuzzy feelings, and seems to be a sociable, generous, compassionate and self-flattering outlook for any modern person to adopt:

We are committed to making participation in this project a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of level of experience, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, personal appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, or religion.

Examples of unacceptable behavior by participants include the use of sexual language or imagery, derogatory comments or personal attacks, trolling, public or private harassment, insults, or other unprofessional conduct.

But then it quickly makes the meat and potatoes clear: this is not just a normal "code of conduct," but an agreement to censor anything which does not fit within its narrow confines of "safe spaces" speech:

Project maintainers have the right and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject comments, commits, code, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct. Project maintainers who do not follow the Code of Conduct may be removed from the project team.

This code of conduct applies both within project spaces and in public spaces when an individual is representing the project or its community.

Not only that, but it applies outside project spaces in "public spaces when an individual is representing the project or its community." As we saw with the ejection of Curtis Yarvin from the StrangeLoop conference, this is a tricky issue because a known personality always (can be construed as being in a state where he) represents the community. Looks like the SJWs have found another way to backdoor in their censorship.

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Reddit attempts to control Voat.co as defections increase

For those who do not know it, social media is big business: it gets links into search engines, which in theory delivers profit. (It is probably wise not to tell them that most of the people using social media are simply wasting time at their jobs or schools because these are horribly boring, and have no intention of buying anything).

For this reason, a cabal of people on Reddit -- the moderators who occupy the default subs, apparently with the blessings of the admins -- have begun to attack the competitor that has emerged, Voat.co. First, there was a prolonged and intense DDOS attack on the Voat.co servers, the type that is organized on IRC -- as I have always felt the SJWs are organizing -- that took it offline for several days.

Then, a surge of complaints prompting the provider to remove the account:

Our hosting provider, hosteurope.de has terminated all our contracts and shut down all our servers without issuing a warning or trying to talk to us. This includes my private server which was only used to host my girlfriends blog. She is a scientist. She published her research papers on that blog (pre-formatted papers to which she owns the copyright). That server contained no other data whatsoever.

The reason they gave us when they notified us that they have cancelled our contract is "...we have received significant information that the content on your server includes political incorrect parts that are unacceptable for us." and "Due to the fact that we cannot keep bond of trust to you as our customer...".

Luckily, we have managed to move our databases to a cloud platform mere hours before they shut down our servers. Ladies and gentlemen, my eyes have been opened by this. I don't know about you, but we are living in a weird world. We will have to carefully evaluate our long term options of providing a platform of free speech if we are to stay online. Your donations are what keeps us afloat.

Also, I am back in Sweden from my post-graduation vacation, currently packing my things and I will be driving (moving) to Switzerland tomorrow or day after tomorrow.

Edit: just to clarify, I have been a hosteurope.de customer for well over 5 years, always paying my bills and never hosting any illegal content.

Edit 2: thank you all who donated. I removed info on how to donate as I feel we have received enough to help us survive for quite some time. We will publish a detailed report about how much money we have received through donations (all bitcoin transactions are already public) and what the money will be used for. I can already say that we have received around 8000 USD since our call for donation went up a few days ago. This money will most likely have to be taxed, but a detailed report will be published asap. I have received interview requests from several major news agencies but responding to these agencies will have to wait. A voat which runs smoothly and satisfied users is my #1 priority. It would feel wrong for me to be spending time appearing in the media while there are plenty other more pressing issues to deal with right here.

Then, as if this were not enough, Reddit mods from /r/SRS -- the heart of the cabal that controls Reddit with the blessings of the admins -- infiltrated /r/oppression, and set into action their new method of subverting Voat.co: ban links to Voat.co from Reddit unless those links go to a sub on Voat.co that is controlled by the Reddit cabal. This coincides with the seizure of a number of high-profile Voat subs by accounts linked to Reddit /r/SRS mod accounts.

Here is how this was announced:

/r/Oppression has grown and become a thorn in the side of SRS, the Admins and the power moderator clique. However, the scale of this sub and the rule of Pao has created new challenges that we moderators have no choice but to address.

Accordingly, we have audited the content and moderator practices of the popular website "voat.co" . Our conclusion is that voat's freedom is incompatible with our own freedom (as defined by reddits's rules). Therefore, it is with great regret that we are going to have to have to remove all posts and comments featuring voat.co . This is due to our safety concerns corresponding with reddit rules.

Because we fight censorship, we have established a loophole whereby we can allow direct links to some subverses. As a result of negotiations, we are pleased to announce that subverses where a "trusted" reddit moderator is in control and actively curating content are safe enough to be posted to this subreddit.

This coincides with a discovery by other mods that many subs are already filtering Voat.co links:

I also just discovered that /r/JusticePorn is auto-filtering any links to Voat. My comments linking to an article discussing it on Voat never showed up. All additional comments I tried to make in that thread also didn't show up. As this is the first time I commented there, I can only conclude that they ban users who link to Voat.

While this behavior is not uncommon, it fits within a new framework offered by Reddit mod-cabal SJWs: they are no longer trying to ban opposing thought, but to remove all who are not ideologically obedient to their agenda. When Reddit was banning links to articles about Ellen Pao's $276k judgment in favor of Kleiner Perkins, they were not trying to hide the article, which could be found by anyone. The point was to stamp out those who think it is a good idea to post such an article, and affirm the SJW principle that facts do not matter, but ideological obedience does, so anyone who is anti-Paoism is an enemy of the state. That, apparently, includes Voat.co for no greater crime than being a slow, unreliable alternative to speech-filtered Reddit.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Paoism creates ripple effects on Reddit: following admins, mods get trigger-happy

Writers often talk about trickle-down effects as well as chilling effects. The former refers to what happens when people at a lower level in a power structure start emulating those above, the latter to the situation when people are afraid to speak their minds because of what happened to others. Under Ellen Pao, Reddit has combined the two: since admins have declared censorship valid, and threatened subs that fail to implement it, the Pao regime's censorship of non-SJW thought is now being done by admins out of fear for their own forums.

While the screenshot above shows a user being banned for a flippant comment that may be in poor taste, the phenomenon is nowhere near confined to /r/worldnews. Other subreddits have picked up the hint from the mods and started banning more people for trivial infractions, both because they now know they have support of the admins in doing so, and because they fear having their subreddits banned like /r/fatpeoplehate.

Most examples go unreported for the usual reason, which is that people become disgusted, frustrated and feel powerless. The implication of the seemingly arbitrary nature of these bans is that they are applied selectively. This allows mods to filter out anti-SJWs if not simply all non-SJWs. When fringe behavior overlaps with lack of ideological conformity, the solution is to boot people.

This seems to be the intent behind Reddit's recent very public purges. To the mods, this says "Go ahead and kill off the troublemakers; we've got your back." To subs with edgy content, it says that any fringe behavior in addition to the offending content will constitute a justification for their removal, so they should crack down twice as hard. To normal subs it says that if too many fringers take up residence there, removal may be imminent.

Much as under Joe Stalin, Adolf Hitler or Chairman Mao, terror rules through a powerful central force that removes opposition under the guise of regulating bad behavior. In this case, it takes advantage of the already fanatical and power-hungry nature of SJW mods, as detailed in this post:

Back in the day, I had an alt /u/Totes_Mcgee and I had been using it to get an idea of how cancerous the cancer is. I had built up an ideological profile posting comments in SRD, SRS, AskWomen, Metanarchism, and using all the idiotic terms and political views that are based on vacuous post-modern college Humanities degree talking points. Long story short, it's very cancery.

Anyways, the mod running /r/Feminism is some dude /u/demmian who is pretty much the only active mod on there. Everyone else is pretty much a dormant account or they are super fresh newbies getting "trained" by him. This guy is a total asshole. No truly, he is the quintessential example of an asshole. When I got my alt in as a mod, he asked for my schedule, my beliefs, how I feel about SRS and SRD (Pro is the correct answer), he would watch every moderator action I made and critique them. He would ask me why I didn't ban a certain user or remove a certain comment. And he must literally spend all fucking day on the site because I would randomly get on at 1AM in the morning and I would perform some kind of visible moderator action and he'd be on it in less than 5 minutes.

I toed the line and banned people for absolutely no reason. I removed comments for ridiculous things and acted like the world was against me. Most users were polite and asked me why I had banned them and to be honest, I couldn't give them an answer as to why. So, I just retorted with something snarky.

I discovered that I couldn't answer legitimate arguments with facts or theories that made sense. The only thing I could rely on was a fake display of feelings. It was the only way to feel victorious. Well, that and removing comments helped...after a month or so of modding, I couldn't handle it anymore and so I took a break. What got me booted was the fact I was gone for about 3 days. 3 days was enough for him to say bye bye. I wasn't taking the mod seriously enough he said. And just a reminder for y'all, this is fucking unpaid work.

I actually feel sorry for the guy...but only a little. He just seemed pathetically lonely and neurotic, taking his anger out on Reddit's userbase and exercising such a need for control that I can't see how this person functions in the real world. It still escapes me that someone would spend an inordinate amount of time pissing in the wind to control something.

So when you guys talk about shitty mods. It's true. Its not just retaliatory speech.

Reddit's latest move has been calculated to not exclude these people, but recruit more of them and give them more power. That way, Reddit can continue its longstanding habit of simply giving people with the "right" ideology a pass on their infringing behavior. This policy has for years allowed brigades like /r/shitredditsays and /r/subredditdrama to operate with total impunity despite their demonstrable effect on other subs.

It was this tendency that originally prompted observers to ask "Should Reddit’s powerful mods be reined in?":

Casual browsers of Reddit often assume the platform relies solely on a one-user-one-vote system, that whether a post makes it to the front page of the site rests entirely on if it receives enough upvotes from logged-in users. They would be wrong. Yes, the voting plays a large part, but there are likely thousands of posts and comments submitted every day that are never seen by more than a handful of people before they’re removed from public view, often because they violate at least one of the thousands of subreddit rules spread out across the entire site.

[...]In 2013, the mods at r/politics were widely criticized when they released a list of URLs that were universally banned from the subreddit; the list included the Huffington Post, Salon, Mother Jones, and Gawker. The mods claimed this was because these domains regularly produced subpar content, nevermind the fact that Huffington Post had recently won a Pulitzer for its investigative reporting and Mother Jones had broken arguably the biggest story of the 2012 election cycle—Mitt Romney’s 47 percent video. Then, in 2014, a gumshoe redditor, after noticing a paucity of front-page r/technology posts concerning certain topics, published a list of what he suspected were banned keywords within the subreddit. This included the words “NSA” and “Snowden,” meaning any news relating to arguably the most explosive and far-reaching tech story of the year was not allowed on the largest tech forum on the Internet. When another redditor discovered that the word “Tesla” was banned from r/technology, that redditor was then summarily banned from the subreddit entirely by one of the mods without any given reasons.

The voting system has two fatal flaws: if a subreddit keeps a static audience, people stop up and downvoting in a type of electoral entropy. If a subreddit grows, new users crowd out and statistically displace the original group, then change the subreddit to the same old stuff one finds everywhere else through their expectations and choices of the same, which might be seen as Darwinian degeneration. Entropy creates a lack of pressure for content improvement, but degeneration creates a downward pressure, as described here:

Darwin’s work on evolution and heredity made evident the potential for retrogression as well as evolution. Darwin's idea was that because of natural selection, only the fittest survived. However, the entire process of evolution implied that mankind's development was no longer fixed and certain. Mankind's development could evolve or degenerate into an unknown future. In Darwinian terms, evolution did not necessarily mean progress and improvement.

This provides a model for how Reddit's admin-to-mod pressure works. The admins set up a situation where rules can be enforced capriciously on anyone who is not on the good side of the admins, which usually seems to include ideological conformity (a form of the entropy described above). The admins then apply the same pressure that is pushed onto users, forcing the mods to apply that as well to the users, with the caveat that they will not be punished for enforcing ideological conformity. This creates a situation where the evolutionary pressure rewards only that ideological sameness, and in the ways Darwin described, gradually eliminates everything else. The catch is that instead of making a better site, that makes one more likely to suffer entropy, as if inbred or unmotivated.

As others have observed, Reddit is a dead man walking. Not for the loss of a few angry 4channers hanging around in /r/fatpeoplehate, but because of the ecosystem it has now created in which evolutionary pressures toward quality have been inverted through their replacement by a political filter against non-conforming ideology. Over time, this means that users with any thought outside the hugbox will be eliminated, and the community will be oblivious because its users will only see others who agree with their opinions, and to them, things will appear just peachy.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Positive effects of bigotry and harassment

As the drama over Reddit deleting /r/fatpeoplehate wound up, user MyAssAblaze wrote a somewhat impassioned post, which was then promptly deleted by cuck mod allthefoxes, defending the use of shaming -- what Reddit considers "harassment" and bigotry -- to encounter people to better themselves:

I've been surrounded by sycophants and enablers my entire life telling me I was fine. I had to look to the internet for honest feedback. 80 pounds later and I can start to live normally. FPH and similar forums saved my life!

While I find cruelty to be distasteful, and bullying to be an instance of taking a good thing too far, they serve their important roles. When I was a geek, it was good that other kids pointed this out. "Get your shit together, man!" is the message behind a lot of bullying, but not all of it. Some of it is just the products of broken homes taking out their own frustration on others, but much of what gets filed under bullying/harassment is enforcement of social standards. As long as those standards are good and important, such as avoiding the health holocaust and medical care price bomb that is obesity, this could be a good thing.

As another user offers:

I would run on a treadmill while browsing fph. It was very motivational to me. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now, it was the habit I had formed. I don't strive on praise, I better myself on criticism alone. - AjayKilkenny

Shaming hits us where we are raw and stings, sort of like screwing anything up. What stings is the screwup, not the shaming, and the stinger is us realizing that we are indeed falling short.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

#RedditRevolt keeps going strong

Reddit continues to field a massive wave of discontent from the people who make the site interesting. The uprising, called #RedditRevolt, draws its support from people who are dismayed at how a policy against "harassment" is in fact being used to harass those who disagree with the "safe space"-friendly SJW ideology of Reddit admins.

Earlier today, a site naming itself after the shorthand for the /r/fatpeoplehate banning extravaganza, "The Fattening," went online with a list of offensive subreddits not yet banned. You can find it here. While Reddit's official line is that behavior is banned, not content, it has offered no evidence that /r/fatpeoplehate did anything more than make fun of pictures of fat people.

Speaking of /r/fatpeoplehate... the Reddit revolutionaries did a good job of creating dozens of alternative subreddits in response. The most recent banning is of /r/fatpeoplehate15 which attempted to circumnavigate the ban and did so successfully for almost 48 hours, rising rapidly in popularity. A smaller respawn has occurred in /r/fatpeoplehate18 but it has only attracted about 450 subscribers at this point. Reddit seems to target them when they get large.

In the meantime, the action has moved to Twitter where #RedditRevolt continues trending with a steady stream of messages. Many of these point to https://voat.co/v/RedditRevolt as a new command and control for the insurgency, but at this time it remains mostly decentralized.

Speaking of Voat, it appears to be down for maintenance after a flood of users have left Reddit. Some speculate that this was what Reddit desired all along, namely the removal of 4chan-style independent thinkers so that more of the social justice audience would attend instead. If that is the case, the strategy is both working and failing, as many virtual rioters have also stuck around Reddit to create more chaos.

A short list of Reddit alternatives:

And if you want to run your own Reddit alternative, some software options:

Adding this functionality to Wordpress:

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Reddit and GamerGate: how the hugbox eliminated dissent

Before GamerGate had officially launched, Reddit showed its true colors when a mod in /r/gaming who was a friend of Zoe Quinn deleted thousands of messages in a thread about Kotaku collusion with Rock Paper Scissors. The reason give for the deletions? They might be "harassing" Quinn, who was unhappy with the fact that she had become a public figure once the extent of her sexual favors for promotion scheme was revealed.

Normally, this would have been a minor scuffle. Someone posted a criticism of a public figure; the white knights will foam and the trolls will erupt, but otherwise, life back to normal. Not so when people can click on a single link and see the kind of massacre which resulted, then learn about the connections between mods, Quinn and the gaming industry. The rage was forthcoming, and prompted the same response that made GamerGate and now #RedditRevolt powerful.

You can see the full thread here.

As #RedditRevolt explodes into full gear, and alternative sites like Hubski, Snapzu and Voat are buckling under the weight of people fleeing the sinking ship that is Reddit, the curve of history -- not the "right side of history" but its path -- shows a pattern: people try to control information by creating a "safe spaces" type argument under which they can ban dissent, and the user community then rises up against them, tired of being played.

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