Science literacy is important for more than not looking like an idiot.

A recent United Nations report warned that up to 1 million species are facing extinction thanks to the impact humans are having on the planet.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” Watson says. He emphasizes that business and financial concerns are also threatened. “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” he says.

The report lists a number of key global threats, from humans’ use of land and sea resources to challenges posed by climate change, pollution and invasive species.

“Insect pollinators are unfortunately an excellent example of the problems caused by human activities,” Scott McArt,an entomology professor at Cornell University, says in a statement about the report.

“There’s actually a newly coined phrase for insect declines — the ‘windshield effect’ — owing to the fact that if you drove your car at dusk 30 years ago, you would need to clean the windshield frequently, but that’s no longer the case today,” McArt says.

1 Million Animal And Plant Species Are At Risk Of Extinction, U.N. Report Says – NPR.org


There’s a very real danger at this point that if this high number of extinctions does to come to pass that we’ll end up going down with them. So the folks at Jimmy Kimmel Live went out on the street to ask people if we should save ourselves. Specifically, they used the scientific term for humans, Homo sapiens. These are some of the replies people gave:

To be fair, these segments only ever show you the clueless replies and the sample size here is very small, but humans being classified as Homo sapiens is a basic scientific fact that we were all taught (or should have been taught) in grade school. It’s similar to how a lot of folks don’t know that Dihydrogen Monoxide (H2O) is literally water, but that one is a little easier to understand folks not knowing if they didn’t take basic chemistry — not completely understandable as I never took basic chemistry and I know it, but a little more understandable.

I’ve ranted previously about the sad state of science literacy in America and things really haven’t improved much. Periodically the folks at the Pew Research Center conduct a survey to find out what Americans know about science. Their latest was done on January 7th to the 21st, 2019 and consisted of 11 fairly basic questions:

Americans give more correct than incorrect answers to the 11 questions. The mean number of correct answers is 6.7, while the median is 7. About four-in-ten Americans (39%) get between nine and 11 correct answers, classified as having high science knowledge on the 11-item scale or index. Roughly one-third (32%) are classified as having medium science knowledge (five to eight correct answers) and about three-in-ten (29%) are in the low science knowledge group (zero to four correct answers).

The biggest factor in determining how well someone does is the level of education that have managed to acquire:

Americans with a postgraduate degree get about four more questions correct, on average, than those with a high school degree or less education (9.1 of 11 questions vs. 5 of 11). Roughly seven-in-ten (71%) Americans with a postgraduate degree are classified as high in science knowledge, answering at least nine of 11 items correctly. By contrast, about two-in-ten (19%) of those with a high school degree or less perform as well on the scale.

And on each of the 11 questions, those with a postgraduate degree are at least 27 percentage points more likely to choose the correct answer than those with a high school degree or less.

There are also large differences between different ethnic groups which you would think could be tied to the fact that minorities often don’t have the same educational opportunities are whites, but it appears that may not be the case:

Whites are more likely than Hispanics or blacks to score higher on the index. Whites get an average of 7.6 correct out of 11 questions, while Hispanics average 5.1 correct answers and blacks 3.7 correct answers.4 Roughly half of whites (48%) are classified as having high science knowledge on the scale, answering at least nine questions correctly, compared with 23% of Hispanics and 9% of blacks.

Differences by race and ethnicity on science knowledge could be tied to several factors such as educational attainment and access to science information. However, differences between the racial/ethnic groups on science knowledge hold even after controlling for education levels in a regression model.

In a society that is increasingly reliant on technology and understanding the complexity of things such as the climate it’s more important than ever that folks have at least a basic understanding of science and the methodology of the scientific method. This survey suggests we have a long way to go. It’s no wonder we’re letting the planet burn.

You can take the quiz used for this survey yourself by clicking here. My own education level isn’t fantastic; I’ve had some college but I’ve never finished a degree. Yet I managed to get all 11 questions correct which is better than 83% of the public.

There were two questions I had to stop and think about before answering (and, no, I didn’t cheat and Google the answers), but the vast majority of these questions were answerable off the top of my head. That should be true for most people.

On the bright side, at the least I don’t have to worry that I’ll end up on one of Kimmel’s idiots-who-don’t-know-basic-science videos.

Brain supplements are a waste of money.

If you’re getting on in years you may have noticed that a lot of web advertising these days consists of pitches for supplements that are supposed to improve “brain health” and prevent things like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The industry that makes these products pulls down $3.2 billion every year showing that there’s lots of folks worried about falling victim to these conditions as they age. There’s just one problem with these products: None of them have been demonstrated to do a damned thing other than drain your wallet.

“This $3.2-billion industry … benefits from high-penetration consumer advertising through print media, radio, television and the internet,” the neurologists wrote. “No known dietary supplement prevents cognitive decline or dementia, yet supplements advertised as such are widely available and appear to gain legitimacy when sold by major U.S. retailers.”

Are brain supplements a big waste of money? – MarketWatch.com
Image by Melanie Simon from Pixabay

It’s bad enough that these bullshit products are sold alongside legitimate medicines at your local pharmacy, but apparently there are also licenced medical personnel that are pushing pseudo-medical treatments:

“Some of these practitioners may stand to gain financially by promoting interventions that are not covered by insurance, such as intravenous nutrition, personalized detoxification, chelation therapy, antibiotics or stem cell therapy. These interventions lack a known mechanism for treating dementia and are costly, unregulated and potentially harmful,” the article states.

There are a lot of companies out there that are eager to cash in on your fears. According to the MarketWatch article, the FDA ‘issued a statement saying it posted 17 warning and advisory letters to domestic and foreign companies that illegally sell 58 products — many of them dietary supplements — that claim to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions. […] “These products may be ineffective, unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.”’

Unfortunately, the MarketWatch article takes a nosedive in the latter half by talking with a naturopath who proscribes Homeopathic treatments which is another big woo-woo bullshit industry. To her credit she agrees that using dietary supplements that aren’t backed by solid research is a problem, but that’s about the only credit she deserves. Homeopathy is an even bigger batch of nonsense than the dietary supplement industry. At least the supplements contain actual ingredients.

Don’t fall for the bullshit. The causes of Dementia and Alzheimer’s are complex and promising research is ongoing, but so far nothing has been shown to be an effective preventative of these conditions. Not only are brain health supplements just a waste of money, but they’re also potentially harmful and could end up interacting with other prescription drugs you may be taking in negative ways.

Hell, this is true for dietary supplements in general. Most do nothing other than cost money. Some are dangerous when taken with other prescription medication. Vitamin supplements are arguably useful, but only when your doctor says you actually need them. If you’re already getting all the vitamins you need from your diet then you will literally piss away anything extra you get from a supplement.

You can take your fandom too far.

I’ve said before that I do appreciate it when the Trumpsters self-identify because it makes it easier to know who to avoid talking to, but you can overdo it:

He's more 'MURICA! than anyone else he knows!
They’re more ‘MURICA! than anyone else they know!

Dude, we get it. You’re a raging asshole who is apparently willing to risk traffic tickets to tell the world whose dick you’d be more than happy to ride on for a few hours, but you could’ve saved time and money with just a couple of those on your bumper. That’d be all it would take to insure anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together would leave you alone.

Perhaps you should consider taking up a hobby. May I suggest meditation? In a straight-jacket?

New vlog: Why I hate Fortnite.

So I spend about 20 minutes in this video trying to articulate why I hate Fortnite that has nothing to do with how the game itself plays (I’ve never played it) but the bad influence on monetization it’s having on the rest of the industry. This is completely unedited, badly argued, probably riddled with factual inaccuracies, and plenty of profanity, but, hey, it’s content!

What is it about America that makes you proud and why would you think that’s racist?

The following bit of idiocy has shown up on my Facebook wall twice now and it has annoyed me to the point of insomnia. So here I am, awake at 1AM when I should be asleep, writing a blog post about it because I’m not dressed enough to vlog it. 

Also, not sure I could vlog about it without losing my temper.

Wait, what?

The second person to have shared this is a family member, I won’t say whom, that I normally would assume would see the flaw in that statement. Being the sort of person I am, I couldn’t let it pass by without commenting on it. My reply in both cases was: “America isn’t a race so it’s not a racist statement to make. Unless what you really mean is that you’re proud to be a “White American” which is what a LOT of people mean when they say this. In which case, yes, it’s racist as fuck.”

A few hours later I saw I had a notification of a reply to my comment. It was from a friend of my relative who tried to keep her comment simple. It read: “Les Jenkins see shut up”

My, but what a compelling counter-argument that is. This reply to me is what has me so annoyed that I’m up at a ridiculous hour in the morning typing away at my keyboard when I should be asleep. Hell, if the original message had simply read “I’m proud to be an American, share this if you agree” then I’d probably would’ve let it pass without saying anything. The addition of the “they are scared to be called a racist” bit is just baffling when you take the statement at face value. The only people who could possibly be worried someone would see that statement as racist is someone who actually meant “proud to be a white American”, which is exactly the unspoken intention many on the Far Right mean when they say it.

For whatever reason when I woke up around 12:30AM to use the bathroom, my thoughts while sitting in the dark came back to this post and the barely coherent reply to my comment I got. The more I thought about it the more questions I had. Questions like:

What, exactly, makes you proud to be an American?

Is it that you were lucky enough by random chance to be born here? Is it that we have the largest military? Is it our economy? Our criminal justice system? Our legislative system? What, exactly, is it that you think is worthy of pride for the simple status as a citizen of this country?

Is it the self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, callow former reality-show host of a President that makes you proud to be an American? Because, honestly, I find that to be a bit of an embarassment. We’ve put an inept, self-absorbed ass in the White House whose biggest motivation is cultivating unwarranted praise and some of us are gleeful about the damage he’s doing. That’s nothing to be proud of.

Is it our policy of family separation of migrants looking for asylum that you’re proud of? We pulled upwards of 12,000 kids 18 and under — 2,400 of which are 12-years-old and younger — from their parents and put them in cages. We then did a piss-poor job of reuniting them with their parents even after a court order to do so. We still haven’t completed the task in spite of being well past the 30 day deadline. Some of them may never be reunited having been sent into the foster/adoption system where the government lost track of them. 

Are you proud of how our current Administration has managed to alienate long-standing allies? How about the trade wars that are causing everyone from Harley Davidson and GM to America’s soybean farmers having to make hard decisions about what to build where or, in the case of the farmers, allowing their crops to rot in the fields because the countries that used to buy them have slapped them with high tariffs in retaliation?  The trade wars have impacted our farmers so much that Trump has promised to bail them out with taxpayer money when they could’ve just made money by selling their products as they had been. How is that something to be proud of?

Maybe you’re proud of how out of the 35 major countries that comprise the OECD, we rank 32nd in the mortality rate of children under-5 years old? Only Chile, Turkey, and Mexico are below us.  In the CIA’s list of 223 nations our under-5 mortality rate puts us at the 56th spot. Fucking Cuba is in the 43rd spot. 

Maybe you’re proud because of the rampant wealth inequality in this country which was only made worse with the massive Trump tax cuts that were passed in the last year? The tax cuts that were supposed to “pay for themselves” and result in “higher employee wages” and which haven’t done either thing, but has exploded the deficit to record levels which the Republicans are now trying to use as an excuse to cut Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. I suppose if you’re part of the 1% that might be reason to be proud to be an American. That’s assuming you pay much in taxes in the first place.

Perhaps you’re proud of how we’re ignoring the growing climate crisis and the resulting shitty world it’s going to leave for your children and grandchildren once you’ve kicked the bucket? Hell, we’re not just ignoring it, we’re actively rolling back policies that would help to mitigate it while trying to hide or destroy any science that suggests it’s an actual problem. But at least you won’t have to drive one of those sissy Prius cars, am I right?  

Personally, I love my country, but I’m not very proud of it most of the time as of late. The above are just a few of the reasons why. None of the above is anything to be proud of. 

This just in: FOX News is stunned that smartphone cameras can be used to record the police.

Help me out here, the year is still 2018, right? I only ask because apparently the folks at FOX & Friends First are very alarmed by the fact that smartphones have cameras on them. Cameras that can record video clips. Cameras that can record video clips of police officers. Almost like, *GASP!*, BODY CAMERAS!

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

To be fair, they’re freaking out over a shortcut some dude came up with for the iPhone that makes recording an encounter with the police very easy by simply saying  “Hey Siri, I’m being pulled over.” 

Here’s why this is stupid: First, cell phones have had cameras capable of recording video since at least 2005, though video recording capabilities wouldn’t become commonplace until a few years later. The original iPhone, for example, had a 2MP camera and couldn’t record video. Still, it’s easily been doable for over a decade now. 

Second, being able to start recording a video with a voice command has been a thing since at least 2014. With my Pixel 2 in my shirt pocket all I need to say is “OK Google, record a video,” and it will launch the camera app in video mode and start recording immediately. In most of my shirt pockets the phone is just tall enough to peak over the top of the pocket. This makes it trivally easy to start a recording without making it obvious that I’m doing so. At least so long as the target is out of earshot as I have to issue the command and the phone acknowledges that it’s launching the app. Once I stop recording my phone is set to immediately back it up to my Google Photos account. The one drawback to this is that if it’s been awhile since you unlocked the phone then you may need to unlock it before it’ll start the app, but with the fingerprint reader that’s pretty easy to do.

Third, this isn’t something that can only be done on the newest iPhones as the report above suggests. It’ll work on any iPhone running iOS 12 and the Shortcuts app. It’s not even the only shortcut that’ll do this. The I Got Pulled Over shortcut is also available. 

The big innovation here is that the Police shortcut pauses music you may be playing, turns down the brightness on the iPhone, turns on “do not disturb” mode, starts recording with the front facing camera and sends out a text message to a friend letting them know where you are and that you’re recording a police encounter. Guess what? There have been apps that will do similar things for quite some time now.

On Android there’s Legal Equalizer which will text a contact of your choice, record the encounter and upload it to cloud storage, advise you of your rights and what to say, and even help find a lawyer.

Also, there is the Mobile Justice app developed in association with the ACLU which has been around since 2012. There are multiple versions of this app as each is specific to a state (here is the link for Mobile Justice: Michigan on Android and here’s the iPhone version). This app is more for activists as in addition to recording video and uploading straight to the local chapter of the ACLU, it has the ability to let you know when someone else is involved in a police encounter nearby so you can act as a witness.

That’s just two examples of dozens of apps. The point being that this isn’t anything new. So why is FOX acting like this is some shocking new affront to the police? Well, it turns out that lots of news organizations are reporting on it because the shortcut has shot up to become the third most popular one available at the moment. Business Insider did an article on it where they even show you how to make the shortcut yourself, USA Today wrote about it, Car and Driver got in on it, etc. and so on. The difference here is that FOX & Friends First decided to play it off as something bad because it’s FOX News: Propaganda Arm of the GOP since 1996.

Video gamers are so spoiled today.

As many of you know, I cut my video gaming teeth on the original Atari 2600 — or at least the Sears branded version of it — so I remember the good old days (ha!) of 8 bit gaming. Had you shown 10 year old me what current generation video games would be like, I wouldn’t have believed it possible. 

These days, video games have advanced to the point where highly detailed 3D worlds full of NPCs and tons of interactive objects are the norm. Naturally, our expectations of what a game should look and play like have risen accordingly, but there are times when I think we’ve gotten a little spoiled by the riches of modern gaming.

Take, for example, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Which has a brand new game launching on the PS4 today. I’ve been licking my chops waiting for this title to drop as the E3 demo from last year looked fantastic and it’s going to be a bit before I can get my hands on it. Probably not until Christmas as we’re at that point in the year that I tend to stop buying games for myself lest I screw up someone’s Christmas gift for me. It’s gonna be difficult to be patient because the demos I’ve seen are amazing. Which is why I’m surprised to find out some gamers are complaining that the game has been downgraded. 

Apparently, it all started with a post on Reddit that was just the screenshot I’ve included below. As you can clearly see, Spider-Man’s suit isn’t as shiny in the shot from the release version of the game as it was in the E3 demo. Also, where’d all that water go? 

It’s a Spider-Scandal! Click to embiggen.

Thus started the conversation about how the release version of the game had been “downgraded” graphically. Presumably for performance reasons. I say “conversation”, but that’s probably being way too generous. Basically, some fans went apeshit and proclaimed loudly that they were going to cancel their preorder and so on and so forth.

Eventually someone took to Twitter to send the screenshot to the developer, Insomniac Games (who are responsible for some of the best Playstation games ever including the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series) and asked why they downgraded the graphics to which Insomniac replied that they didn’t downgrade anything.  Which didn’t really help and the “debate” raged on. 

To be fair to the folks crying foul, there is a rich history in the video game industry of final releases that didn’t live up to the demos that developers had used to build up hype for the game. Probably one of the best known examples, that also helped sell a lot of PS4s in anticipation of its release, was Watch Dogs which allowed players to live out their super-hacker dreams in a GTA-style open world. When it was unveiled in 2012 the graphics in the demo were amazing, but the final release looked more like a port from the PS3 than the next gen title it was supposed to be.

Another example is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The initial footage wowed gamers in 2014 so gamers were surprised when the 2015 release had graphics that had been pared back. It was still an incredible looking game and it went on to great success, but there was no denying it didn’t live up to the initial footage even after developers released a patch that improved things. 

Maybe it’s because I’m old and I come from a time when ads for games often didn’t use actual screenshots or had simulated representations on TV, but even with the examples above I think folks are being nitpicky and this is especially true with the just released Marvel’s Spider-Man. Sure, I was underwhelmed by Watch Dogs once I got my hands on it, but that was due more to the fact that the gameplay wasn’t quite as varied as they had suggested. As for The Witcher 3, I had no problems with the release version’s graphic fidelity, but that hasn’t stopped me from only playing it for a few hours. For fuck’s sake, I played Spider-Man on the Atari 2600 and it looked like this:

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does some of the things a spider can.

Granted, that’s an 8 bit game written in just 4K memory circa 1982, but it wasn’t half-bad for what it was. It played a bit like the arcade game Crazy Climber in that it had bad guys showing up in windows who would cut your web lines and bombs from the Green Goblin you had to defuse while scaling the building. By comparison, the amount of detail and just sheer things you can do in Marvel’s Spider-Man is insane. Who the fuck cares if it isn’t quite as detailed as the E3 demo from last year? You get to swing from spider webs around a detailed 3D recreation of New York City beating the shit out of bad guys, finding collectables, and enjoying a narrative story that is more than a blurb on the back of the box the game came in. OH NOES! THE PUDDLES AREN’T AS DETAILED AS THE DEMO! I’M NOT PLAYING THIS CRAP!

There’s a group out there called Digital Foundry that came together in 2004 specifically to analyze video games and settle arguments such as the one about downgraded graphics in the final release of a title. A couple of days ago they released their video on Marvel’s Spider-Man and they argue that not only is the final release not downgraded, but it’s an improvement over the E3 demo in a lot of areas.

I don’t watch a lot of their videos, but I thought I’d check this one out given all the noise that’s been made about it. It was during that viewing that it occurred to me that video gamers have gotten spoiled. The DF folks do an amazing job of pointing out all the details that are in this game and the methods used to achieve those effects. You don’t have to fully understand what a Cube Map is to appreciate what it adds to the visuals when it’s pointed out to you. For a game that expects you to spend a lot of time swinging between buildings high in the air, there’s an amazing amount of detail at street level when you opt to just walk around a bit. From the number of unique and varied NPCs to the amount of traffic to the various storefronts, this looks and feels like a living world.

The DF folks show where you can see how the underlying game engine works to compromise between realism and playability in areas such as the reflections of other buildings in the windows of the one you’re climbing up and it’s the sort of thing you’re only likely to notice if you were looking for it. In the heat of gameplay it’ll probably never catch your attention and it shouldn’t matter that much if it does if the gameplay is fun. That stupid Atari 2600 game was as basic as you can get, but it was Spidey’s first video game and it kept us entertained for awhile and it’s nothing compared to this. Here, check out Digital Foundry’s video for yourself:

Holy shit! We have come a long way since 1982.

Isn’t that amazing? The detail on his costume alone is something that would’ve been impossible 10 years ago. It’s also a detail you’ll probably notice once before your eye is overwhelmed by all the visual candy on display. Now we’re on the verge of having real-time ray tracing in video games that only looks to make for another big leap in visual quality as it’ll help to eliminate some of the limitations current games have to work around. 

All of the reviews I’ve read for Marvel’s Spider-Man have it pegged as arguably the best Spider-Man game ever made.  So quit yer bitchin’ and appreciate what you’ve been offered here. While you’re at it, get the hell off of my lawn!

Thoughts on the Call of Duty: WWII PC Beta and Activison’s problem with cheaters.

This past weekend Activision gave fans of CoD on the PC a chance to try out the upcoming Call of Duty: WWII game in beta form. This was open to anyone with a Steam account as opposed to the console beta tests, which were limited only to folks who had preordered the game. I suspect this was in part because the last few CoD games have had very limited player populations on the PC compared to their console counterparts and the hope was that by allowing anyone to try it out they may convince a few more folks to slap some money down for it. At one point there was over 35,000+ players checking it out mid-day Sunday according to Steam Charts.

Overall I thought the game felt pretty good for being a beta. It ran smoothly on my machine and it looked pretty good doing so. It was a big adjustment to go from the wall-running jetpacks of Infinite Warfare and Black Ops 3 to the limited sprint and boots-on-the-ground of WWII, but it only took a few games to get acclimated. There were a number of graphical flourishes I noticed that enhanced the immersion a bit. On one of the maps with a lot of trees if a grenade went off next to a tree the tree would actually shake from the explosion.

Here’s a YouTube video I made of one of the matches I did pretty well in:

One annoyance that I hope gets fixed before the final release was that I couldn’t hear my own character’s callouts. As you run around the map you and your teammates will automatically call out enemies they see such as “Sniper in the upstairs window!” which can be helpful, but there were a couple of times where I thought I had snuck up on someone only to have them whip around and kill me. I couldn’t figure out why until I watched the killcam and realized my character had made a call out about the dude I had just tried to sneak up on alerting them to my presence. Other than that I have no real complaints about how the beta played.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have any additional complaints. One of the drawbacks to playing games like Call of Duty on the PC is that there will always be people who cheat at the game. On consoles this is usually limited to people who exploit glitches to get outside or under the map so they can get kills while being more or less immune. On the PC it goes a step further with third party programs called aimbots and wallhacks that allow the people using them to see where you are through walls and automatically aim and fire at your head with a simple button press.

Because each iteration of CoD is built upon the versions that came before it’s often trivial for the folks who create such hacks to modify them to work with the next game in the series. It took less than a day for an aimbot to show up in the WWII beta and in a 24 hour period I literally got placed into 5 different matches that had an aimbotter in it in spite of there being tens of thousands of people playing at the time.

I made a YouTube video of the first aimbotter I came across. You’ll note that for the first couple of minutes I don’t realize what’s happening and don’t bother to watch the killcams, but if you pay attention to the text chat in the lower left hand corner of the screen you can already see people arguing over whether or not someone is using an aimbot:

It takes until about my fourth or fifth death to watch the killcam and realize what’s going on. What really amazes me about this clip isn’t the guy cheating, it’s the person on his team telling others to shut the fuck up about it and go back to playing Minecraft if we don’t like it. As though he wouldn’t be upset if he were on the opposite team. I didn’t stick around long after realizing there was a cheater which is why the clip is so short.

Remember how I said the PC beta was open to anyone who wanted to check it out? Turns out this was a terrible idea because anyone who wanted to cheat just had to set up a brand new Steam account and install the beta with the hack and have at it without fear of repercussions.

A little later in the same day I was in a group with Giddy Wraith, who I often play CoD with these days, when we came across another aimbotter. I’m not sure if the cheat was using a crappy hack or if he was overseas, but you can see his character stuttering as he moves around the map. Before the end of the round he ends up timing out and being kicked from the match which allowed us to rally and end up winning. I had my mic on for this one so you get to hear me bitch about it:

I didn’t upload that video right away. I ended up having some minor insomnia and got up around 1:30AM Sunday morning and decided to edit the video and upload it to YouTube. Then I thought I’d see if anyone was playing the beta.

Literally the first match I got into after uploading the above video had another aimbotter in it. I decided to play out the whole match so I could record as much of it as I could. Again, I do a fair amount of bitching about it in the video and you can also hear the cheater laughing about it at one point:

As a PC player none of this is unexpected. There’s always gonna be some assholes out there who are willing to ruin a game experience for other people. Activision maintains an enforcement team specifically to deal with cheaters like the ones above. The folks who make the cheats are always working to improve them and there are enough people willing to purchase stolen game keys and the hacks that the ability to eliminate the problem completely is probably nil, however, this wouldn’t be a big deal if Activision did a decent job of policing their games.

On the PC they don’t seem to be doing much of that at all. In Infinite Warfare there’s an asshole who goes by the name “xihucoatl” who has been aimbotting for months without repercussions. He’s never bothered to set up his Steam profile probably because he assumed he’d be banned pretty quickly, but so far that hasn’t happened.

I first reported him in-game back in April and then I contacted Activision’s support folks on Twitter about him a month later. Their response was to report him in-game, which I and a lot of other people have done. I’ve contacted them repeatedly since then and they always give the same response. It’s now October and here he is still aimbotting away:

Anyone who watches the video can clearly see he’s cheating. At one point I use an ability called “phase shift” that puts you into an alternate dimension for three seconds making you impervious and invisible unless someone phase shifts at the same time. You can clearly see him following me and firing in the killcam while I am phase shifted and he gets a headshot as soon as I phase back in.

He’s been doing this for months. He’s managed to reach Master Prestige 11 with this account which suggests he’s got at least a hundred hours into the game. I have 759 hours in the game and I am Master Prestige 21.

To be fair, there are other aimbotters in IW that we have reported who do appear to have gotten a ban, but it took months for it to happen. When the game is only averaging 802 players world-wide a day that becomes a big problem. There are days where it can be difficult to find a match that doesn’t have a cheater in it which results in my not playing the game for long that day. I don’t know if cheating is so rampant on the PC that Activision is overwhelmed trying to deal with it or they don’t bother with the PC as much because we have such low player populations.

It didn’t help that when Infinite Warfare was released it was incomplete. Standard features such as leaderboards and the emblem editor didn’t come out for a couple of months and a number of challenges weren’t registering properly. Add in the rampant cheating that goes undealt with and it’s no wonder the player population dropped off so quickly. At its peak just after launch there were 15,312 players on the PC with a daily average 4,995 for the month of November. Certainly not a record number, but not bad. The daily average for December was only half that with a peak of 5,496. It’s only gotten worse from there.

I stopped playing the WWII Beta mid-day Sunday because by then I had ended up in an additional two matches with an aimbotter in them and it seemed unlikely that I was going to find many matches that didn’t have someone cheating. For a while I considered canceling my preorder of the game which would make it the first CoD I didn’t play. In the end I opted to stick with it as it is my favorite FPS series and I’ve yet to find another that I enjoy as much. At least when I can find a match that doesn’t have someone cheating. I hope Activision does a better job of policing cheaters on the PC, but given the example above, I am worried they won’t.

Why Christians are seen as the bad guys: Santa isn’t real edition.

Meet Christian pastor/asshole David Grisham of Last Frontier Evangelism. David isn’t happy with parents telling their kids that Santa Claus is watching over them and judging whether they’ve been good or bad and then rewarding them appropriately because that’s Jesus’ job. That’s why he took it upon himself to head to his local mall where parents and kids were lined up to visit Santa and tell everyone the truth about how he’s not real:

Of course the irony here is that Pastor Asshole is insisting that folks should substitute one myth for another. Regardless, he’s another example of a Christian who isn’t happy that some folks are celebrating Christmas in a manner he doesn’t approve of and he’ll be damned before he lets anyone get away with that.

He’s not all that different from the Christians who demand that people say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” Upset that someone, somewhere isn’t acknowledging the Christ is CHRISTmas, they post indignant Facebook memes insisting “Merry Christmas” is the only acceptable greeting as though there aren’t a multitude of religious holidays that take place this time of year and that someone might be something other than Christian.

Christmas is one of the best bits of PR Christians have going for them. It’s been embraced as a national holiday in a number of countries and is seen as a celebration not just of the birth of their imaginary friend, but as a celebration of peace and goodwill towards others. It encourages folks to reconnect with friends and families, to be kind and generous, and to aspire to being better people. Regardless of whether anyone buys into the idea of Jesus, the holiday goes a long way to making people be better than they usually are.

At least up until some Christian gets annoyed because they think the people celebrating aren’t putting enough emphasis on the Christ part and decides to ruin the goodwill by pissing all over how other people choose to celebrate. You guys need to realize this is as much a secular holiday as a religious one and has been for a very long time. More importantly, you should stop to think about how you look like an asshole every time you insist others should conform to how you think the holiday should be observed.

You can say Merry Christmas all you want and most folks you say it to are going to take it as a gesture of goodwill. There’s no need to ruin that by insisting everyone must celebrate the holiday the way you do.

Conservatives seem to have a bad memory of their own behaviors.

I keep seeing this meme pop up on my Facebook wall:

republicanriotmeme

I’ve already been blocked by one die hard Conservative for daring to reply to it when they posted it and I’ll probably be blocked by a few more before I’m done.

Yes, this is technically true. Republicans didn’t riot when Obama won in 2008. They did rush out and buy a shitload of guns because they were scared shitless that Obama was going to try take away their second amendment rights — something he never even so much as tried to do in all of his time in office — but they didn’t technically riot. They did the same thing again when he was re-elected in 2012 driving gun sales to record levels in the process.

However, this meme ignores an important distinction: Obama’s wins in no way threatened the well being of white people. Unlike President-elect Trump, Obama never threatened to deport white people or ban Christians from entering the country or take away white people’s right to marry. Obama didn’t insult and denigrate his opponents constantly or talk about how he would like to punch a heckler in the mouth. He didn’t talk about imprisoning his political rivals despite the fact that a good case could have been made that George W. Bush was guilty of war crimes. In fact, he made a point of saying he wasn’t even going to look into the idea of prosecuting anyone involved in the disastrous Iraq war. He ran a campaign not based on fear, but on hope and change for the better. Whether Conservatives want to believe it or not, they faced no real threat from Obama winning other than having to live with some policies they didn’t agree with. So why would they protest in the streets?

Which isn’t to say they didn’t protest. How many years did we have to put up with Conservatives whining about how Obama wasn’t born in America so he shouldn’t be eligible to be President? Hell, there were books written on the topic and even Trump himself kept questioning Obama’s status as a citizen right up until he started campaigning. The fuckers are still screaming he’s a socialist/Muslim/dicktator/fascist/traitor every chance they get.

On social media Republicans are crying about folks using the #NotMyPresident hashtag ignoring the fact that many of them were saying the same damned thing about Obama for the past eight years. Suddenly the act of declaring Trump as “not their President” is offensive to Republican sensibilities.

Then there’s this:

WE'LL TAKE TO THE STREETS IF TRUMP DOESN'T WIN!

WE’LL TAKE TO THE STREETS IF TRUMP DOESN’T WIN!

And then this:

Why I do declare, I don't understand why people are taking to the streets in protest! We Republicans would NEVER do such a thing.

Why I do declare, I don’t understand why people are taking to the streets in protest! We Republicans would NEVER do such a thing.

There was no shortage of Conservatives threatening armed revolt if Clinton won the election. We’ll never know what would’ve happened had Clinton won, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it were Republicans in the streets crying “Not My President” because the irrational hatred of Clinton among those folks is deep after 20 years of demonization by the Republican party. For fuck’s sake, you shiftless bastards were talking about impeaching her as soon as she took office before the election was even decided.

And don’t cry to me about how some of the protestors are rioting when this sort of shit is coming from your side of the divide:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

I could go on and on, but you get the point. So, yes, technically the meme I posted at the top of this entry is correct. Republicans didn’t take to the streets to protest Obama’s election wins. That doesn’t mean the folks protesting Trump’s win don’t have good reasons to do so. If you honestly can’t understand why folks, particularly minorities, are upset about Trump winning then either you haven’t been paying attention or you’re just a heartless bastard.

And before you even suggest it, no, I’m not saying they should be rioting and committing crimes, but by and large most of the protests have been peaceful. Yes, some have turned violent. That happens sometimes when a lot of emotional people are gathered in public. We can’t seem to get through a national sports championship without some idiots setting shit on fire, which is an infinitely stupider reason to riot than what is motivating these folks.

At the very least, if you’re going to bitch about it then try not to be such hypocritical fucks while doing so.