Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I'm Disappointed in Revolution 60

Don't get me wrong: I was hardly super-excited for Revolution 60. I've never planned to play the game, and I certainly have no plans to buy it.

But all the same, I had high hopes for Revolution 60. Well, perhaps more for the idea of Revolution 60 than Revolution 60 itself.

Many women insist that video gaming, if not a hostile environment for women, is at least not inclusive enough of women. They claim that not enough games are made that attract women to gaming. They insist that more games should be made that would appeal to women.

In the latter point, they're not wrong.

In fact, many of the people we refer to as "social justice warriors" believe that more games should be made that would appeal to people of any number of different identity groups.

They're not wrong.

Where they veer into untenable territory is when they demand that AAA companies make such games, and that they only make such games. No one has any business attempting to dictate to any games developer what types of game they should or should not make. That is what the market is for, and it works well.

Games that are more inclusive of such various identity subgroups is what the independent market is for. As a subgroup of the video game industry, robust and healthy indie gaming is the key to ensuring that video gaming is, and remains, inclusive.

Breanna Wu says she doesn't believe video gaming is inclusive enough. She says she believes it's hostile to women. Or so she says. She's certainly willing to lie in order to make it seem that way.

And if she really believed that, Revolution 60 could have been part of the answer to demands for more inclusive games. That is, it could have been if she had actually delivered what she promised.

Wu essentially promised that Revolution 60 would be true to its name. She promised a game inclusive of women, mixing empowering female characters with inventive gameplay in a way that would transform how women are portrayed in gaming.

Instead, Revolution 60 is the mediocre product of a mediocre developer. By all accounts, vast gaps in its gameplay are filled in with banal QuickTime events. Her female character designs are the most hackneyed and typical -- yet unappealing -- imaginable. And Revolution 60's graphics are reminiscent of the worst eyesores of the PS1 generation of games.

In the midst of all of this, Wu's constant wailing to the press about "harassment" and her self-aggrandizing behaviour cannot be ignored. It forces upon me the impression that Wu, whose game is achingly substandard (if not antiquated), is fully aware that her work is substandard, and so insists on injecting herself into the #Gamergate discourse in hopes of using the controversy to coverup the terminal flaws in her work.

In doing so Wu actually becomes the embodiment of the journalistic ethics issue that remains at the root of the #Gamergate discourse. Wu isn't getting coverage from NBC, CBS or CBC because her work is newsworthy, or even because her stunts -- such as "pulling out of PAX East" -- are newsworthy. She's getting coverage because she's connected.

If Wu spent the amount of time that she spends pulling stunts such as suggesting that #Gamergate supporters threatened PAX East with Sarin gas -- it was in fact a #Gamergate opponent who mused about using Sarin gas against gamers -- working on her game, then perhaps Revolution 60 could have become the game she promised it would be.

But instead Wu would rather create threads on Steam message boards asking if she's a terrible person -- only to delete them when she realizes she did so using her own account -- than doing the work giving Revolution 60 the polish that would make it a passable product.

In other words, Brianna Wu is too busy actually being a person to produce a product that deserves people's money.

I can't help but conclude that Wu's plans to not show up to PAX East has more to do with avoiding having to answer any questions about just how awful a product Revolution 60 is, and why it's so awful, than it does any belief that there are any credible threats against her.

After all, the whole Jace Connors debacle did turn out to be a #Gamergate opponent attempting to give other #Gamergate opponents more ammunition to use against #Gamergate. A lot of #Gamergate opponents managed to fall for that, too. Sam "Bring Back Bullying" Biddle even declared Connors "all that's left" of #Gamergate.

How very droll.

Thus, the heartwrenching disappointment in the overwhelming lousiness of Revolution 60. When SJdubs are told to go make the games they want to see made, lousiness of this magnitude is unequivocally not what anyone means.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thinking the Inadvisable: TV's Newest Most Uncomfortable Moment Ever

What went wrong? First impressions tend to be lasting impressions. Most of the time, anyway.

Barbara Kean seemed so grounded a character. That was the first impression. But that impression began to slip as the series wore on. Within a few episodes, it was gone entirely. Barbara was what you may call a girl with a history: drugs, lesbians, possibly even crime, and the series' writers only know what else.

But last night's episode of Gotham hit a pop fly into left field.

There were plenty of shocking and/or uncomfortable moments in the episode. In case you haven't seen the episode I'll refrain from spoiling most of them. But it's necessary to spoil one in particular: an extremely-uncomfortable exchange between Barbara and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova).

Barbara -- still reeling from her discovery that James Gordon has moved on -- tells Kyle she's growing into "such a lovely young woman." She tries to touch Selina, but Selina shies away from contact.

She then takes Selina inside and offers her fancy clothes.

I instantly became a good deal more uncomfortable, but decided to sit on the particular thought that sprung to mind. Until I received a Tweet:
It turns out I was far from the only one to pick up this particular unwelcome vibe.

Why is this so interesting? Well it turns out that pedophilia isn't something that is associated with lesbians. A quick websearch turned up evidence of only a single study attempted into the subject. The study argued that pedophilia is more common among homosexuals than among heterosexuals, but this particular study strikes me as something not to be taken seriously.

At the risk of committing a genetic fallacy, it was published in the Regent University Law Review. What is the Regent University Law Review? "Regent University Law Review seeks to present academically excellent scholarship on relevant issues facing the legal community today from the perspective of a historic Christian worldview."

I'm not the type of person who is ordinarily dismissive of anything said by a Christian on the grounds that they are a Christian. That being said, socially-conservative Christians have hardly been welcome or accepting of LGBTQ people. So my first impulse is to take anything published in the Regent University Law Review which refers to "the homosexual movement" with a grain of salt.

The study garnered great interest on a number of fringe websites with track records I would consider questionable.

The other focal point of discussion on the subject of lesbians and pedophilia seems to centre around MRA (Men's Rights Activists) websites. While I have limited sympathies with MRAs (although I'd consider "men's studies academia" to be preferable to "men's rights activists"), this is not a discussion that I feel they've approached from a constructive perspective. From what I've seen, discussion of this subject on MRA websites has been more grievance-based than public interest-based.

That's just how I see it.

For their own part, MRAs seem to blame feminism for preventing any discussion of lesbians and pedophilia -- or, for that matter, homosexuality and pedophilia -- as a deliberate means of creating and/or maintaining an association between pedophilia and heterosexual men. In the case of toxic radical feminists, they may even be correct.

In the seeming absence of any serious study into the subject matter, no conclusion can currently be drawn.

A controversial 1999 study by Dr Harris Mirkin ponders, among some deeply objectionable ideas, one that is far more interesting.

The abstract of Dr Mirkin's paper reads as follows:

"There is a two-phase pattern of sexual politics. The first is a battle to prevent the battle, to keep the issue from being seen as political and negotiable. Psychological and moral categories are used to justify ridicule and preclude any discussions of the issue, and standard Constitutional guarantees are seen as irrelevant. The second phase more closely resembles traditional politics as different groups argue over rights and privileges. Feminist and gay/lesbian politics have recently entered the second phase, while pedophilia is in the first."

It stands to reason that in order for such issues to be considered "negotiable" there must be some sense of normalization. Discussion and good faith academic studies of these issues is necessary for that normalization. In the first phase, the battle to prevent the battle is waged by attempting to prevent discussion and study.

Let's make one thing crystal clear: pedophilia should never, ever be normalized. Ever. But key to preventing pedophiles from abusing children -- such as, say, through therapeutic means -- is a thorough understanding of it.

So while the goal cannot be to "normalize" pedophilia, serious study of it is obviously in the public interest, even though the subject alone is revolting and generally discouraging. I'd suggest that a problem that wreaks social and personal damage as deeply as pedophilia befits study through various methodologies, even if from limited perspectives, would be of tremendous societal benefit.

Dr Harris Mirkin credits feminism with the advancement of women's issues and LGBTQ issues from the first phase to the second phase.

In this he's definitely not wrong.

If "The Red Hood" episode of Gotham serves as a jumping off point tor second-phase discussion of pedophilia, an interesting detail is that Erin Richards, the actress who plays Barbara Kean, is a self-professed feminist.

Time, and how far Gotham is willing to take this uncomfortable moment, will tell just where this awkwardness leads.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Will Mike Colle Run in Englinton-Lawrence?

So, is Mike Colle planning to run federally for the Liberal Party?

A step into the not-so-way-back machine to only February 15, 2015 seems to suggest an answer. Upon hearing that "prized" defector Eve Adams was planning to run against Finance Minister Joe Oliver in Eglinton-Lawrence, Colle declared that would happen only over his dead body.

So is he planning to contest that nomination against Adams?

That's a very good question. For everyone involved.

Recently, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was stood up at a party fundraiser by Luo Zhaohui, China's Ambassador to Canada. Just what was the Ambassador supposed to be doing at a Liberal Party fundraiser? As the guest of honour?

Your guess is as good as mine. But it does raise some serious questions about the growing coziness between the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of China.

Just how cozy are they getting? There are numerous links between the Liberal Party, both provincially and federally, and various Beijing-friendly groups which are essentially proxies in Canada for the Communist Party of China.

Mike Colle himself is something of a central figure in that growing coziness.

In 2007, Colle was the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship in the Ontario provincial government. Or at least he was until the end of July that year, when he resigned following a report from Ontario's Auditor General that found he had issued citizenship grants in a manner that was "not open, transparent, or accountable."

The report found that many organizations given grants by Colle's ministry had political ties to the Liberal Party, and that many of these grants were not based on the applications of the group. In one case the Ontario Cricket Associaton -- applying upon the Minister's invitation -- asked for $150,000 for a project but instead was granted $1 million.

In one case, the Chinese Professional Association of Canada -- a group that has echoed the Chinese Communist Party's stance on every matter imaginable -- was issued grants totalling $275,000.

CPAC board member Michael Huang was, at the time, employed as a policy advisor in Colle's office. No fewer than twelve members of CPAC had attended a fundraiser for Colle's reelection campaign just six weeks before CPAC received a $25,000 grant.

Much more recently, CPAC championed a partnership between the Toronto District School Board and the Confucius Institute, an institution known to act as an espionage wing of the Chinese Communist Party.

“Confucius Institutes are essentially political arms of the Chinese government,” explained Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk. “They restrict the free discussion of topics Chinese authorities deem controversial and should have no place on our campuses.”

It would be very interesting indeed to know just what the Chinese Professional Association of Canada used that $275,000 for. That $275,000 Mike Colle granted to the organization while one of its board members worked in his ministry.

Almost as interesting as whether or not Mike Colle plans to run for federal office.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Update on My Challenge to Amy MacPherson

Bad Company readers may recall a challenge I issued to Free the Press Canada's Amy MacPherson, wherein I challenged her to register her blog with the Ontario Press Council, whereupon I would file an ethical complaint regarding her Jian Ghomeshi coverage.

Today, I phoned the Ontario Press Council and inquired about Free the Press Canada's status with the organization. Executive Director Don McCurdy was aware of no such application.

He did advise me that FTPC could be considered eligible for membership in the OPC if it was judged that they (MacPherson) were judged capable of conducting themselves according to professional standards.

Based on her handling of the Jian Ghomeshi story, I don't think that's the case.

More specifically, I did ask Mr McCurdy's opinion about MacPherson's famed "civilians won't substantiate the Star's claims, but the army will" remark regarding Lucy DeCoutere coming forward. He didn't consider it to be reasonable or accurate.

It took an awfully long time, but I'm getting the sense that MacPherson does feel embarrassed about that particular column. As I noted previously, she flushed it down the memory hole prior to deciding to pursue ethical complaints against Jesse Brown which turned out to have very little basis.

I noted previously that Google residue remains which prove the article's existence. Upon that being reported MacPherson set out to attempt to purge that residue, but she won't be able to do that this time.

For the record, I've seen no sign of a genuine apology to Lucy DeCoutere for this conduct. I've seen MacPherson try to harass DeCoutere into granting her an interview -- all while trying to pretend that her original smear of DeCoutere never happened -- but never any real, genuine or sincere apology.

Intriguingly, and comically, MacPherson revealed last week that she has decided to take her complaints regarding the Toronto Star's refusal to take her complaints seriously to the Ontario Press Council.

I wonder where she got that idea from?

If you ask me, it represents the utter height of hypocrisy. Amy MacPherson, who declines to answer to any independent arbiter of ethics, runs to that very same independent arbiter of ethics because the Toronto Star won't take the baseless complaints of a common crank seriously.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kimsgman Smashes Deep Green Ecology

For a guy who speaks with a lisp, Valentine is a scary dude.

Samuel L Jackson chews the scenery with the best of them and perhaps has more fun doing it than any of them. In Kingsman: The Secret Service he looks like he's having more fun doing it than he's ever had before.

In Kingsman Valentine essentially serves as the backdrop for the story of the transformation of Gary "Eggsy" Unwan (Taron Eggerton) from down-and-out urban lowlife into gentleman spy. Acting as his Fairy Godfather is Harry Hart (Colin Firth), known within the Kingsmen as Galahad.

Hart recruits Eggsy to replace Lancelot, a Kinsman killed by Valentine at the beginning of the film. By film's end Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong giving his most singularly awesome performance to date) are all that stands between Valentine and the destruction of nearly all human life on Earth.

Valentine, you see, is a deep green ecologist who believes that humanity is a virus, and that the planet can heal itself after humanity is mostly extinct.

Of course he doesn't plan to exterminate himself, his friends, or a very select group of international celebrities and dignitaries who are going along with his plan.

They never do.

And I say that because the premise of Valentine's role in the film is not entirely fictional. Deep green ecologists -- who literally believe that a decrease in the human population is necessary in order for the planet to flourish -- really do exist.

Not all of them believe in exterminating human life. Some of them do. Some observers have even adopted a separate term for people with such beliefs: dark ecologists. Dark ecologists exist as a deranged and violent subset of deep green ecologists, who venerate eco-terrorists such as Ted Kaczynski or Wiebo Ludwig.

What separates deep green ecologists from dark ecologists? In my opinion, one thing: deep green ecologists are willing to wait for human life to be reduced through attrition. I disagree with this, but I don't consider it especially threatening. Dark ecologists are not content to wait for such things, and are perfectly willing to kill.

There are only two things that separate dark ecologists from the villain of Kingsman. First, the obvious cartoonishness of the film -- something that characters in the film brilliantly remark about throughout the film. Secondly, dark ecologists are so far removed from any kind of power that a global mass slaughter is simply not plausible for them.

But if they were ever permitted to attain power, the results could be absolutely catastrophic.

The deep green ecology movement will always be a bunch of Malthusian whackjobs. They can at least earn themselves some moral and ethical capital by rooting out, isolating and expelling any dark ecologists in their midst.

If they instead shelter these dark ecologists, deep green ecologists should be treated as no less psychotic than their more murderous compatriots.

After all, it isn't Valentine's lisp that makes him scary.

Friday, February 13, 2015

This Isn't a Defeat; It's an Opportunity

I'm not especially distressed to see that Sun News Network is going off the air.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm far from happy about it. It's a shame, really. It's very unfortunate for a lot of people, no less for the Canadian viewing public than for anyone else.

In attempting to enter the television news market, Sun News was attempting to wade into a hostile market. Their competitors showed their hostility time and time again by attempting to deny them access, and by jealously guarding all the benefits that were helping them sustain their own operations.

There are numerous reasons for this. Some are doubtlessly political, others were financial. But they don't matter.

Television news is a fading, perhaps even dying, model. Not a year goes by without these networks laying off hundreds of employees. The big difference is that these networks enjoyed years of preferential market access that stabilized their operations enough for them to survive these annual shocks, and Sun didn't.

Too bad there's no other broadcast model other than TV.

Oh, wait. There is.

The number of means for people to fund the independent media of their choosing are numerous, and constantly growing. It's dawned on me that Sun News wasted a great deal of time and resources trying to barge its way into the traditional media market, when new media is growing unabated.

Between YouTube ad revenue and services such as Patreon -- which allow interested media consumers to directly support the media they wish to see on a monthly basis, sometimes in exchange for perks -- a Canadian conservative online news network is within our grasp, far more easily than you may realize.

This is something we can do. All we require is the will to do it.

Sun News Network shutting down may be sad, but it's not a defeat. It's merely a setback. It's not game-ending, no matter how the far-left may desire it to be.

This is an opportunity. Can we find it in ourselves to grasp it, or will we let it slip away? That's in our hands to decide.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

In Their Own Words: Amy MacPherson & Glen Wosnock...

...On L'affaire Ghomeshi, Israel, and Jesse Brown being Jewish:
You would think that someone who has had guests withdraw from his podcast because of Wosnock retweeting anti-Semitic remarks (on Christmas Day 2013, of all days) would be more careful.

But then you'd have never dealt with the intellectual trainwreck that is Glen (@CanadianGlen) Wosnock.

Monday, February 9, 2015

No, Promoting Anita Sarkeesian is NOT Education

The internets are alive with the sound of grumbling, as the Anti-Defamation League has released, for public consumption, a lesson plan entitled "Is Gaming a Boys Club? Women, Video Games, and Sexism."

It's a classical example of so-called "social justice education" in all of its ideology fervour, ruthlessness and factual paucity.

Intended for grade 11 and 12 students, the lesson plan is meant to deliver the message of Anita Sarkeesian into high school halls where it can warp the minds of impressionable youngsters and mold them into fatuous social justice warriors... that is, if it can actually be done within its 60 minute time limit. Which it actually can't. (More on this later.)

Putting it most simply, this lesson plan is an absolute mess.

The lesson plan provides 20 "vocabulary terms" students are to learn, and directs educators toward the ADL glossary in order to define them.

This matters because critical theorists routinely seek to redefine common words in order to suit their agenda. So the definition intended by the progenitors of this lesson plan very much matter. But unfortunately of the 20 vocabulary terms listed by the lesson plan only one -- sexism -- is defined by the ADL glossary.

Their definition reads as follows: "Prejudice and/or discrimination against people based on their real or perceived sex. Sexism is based on a belief (conscious or unconscious) that there is a natural order based on sex."

I have no objection whatsoever to the first portion of this definition. The latter, however, seems designed to implant notions of "patriarchy" into students, and accordingly skews the definition of sexism to apply only to sexism by men against women. It seems intended to preclude sexism by women against men. That's likely not coincidental, as radical feminists constantly declare that there's "no such thing as sexism against men."

It's also not coincidental that those who express these views are some of the most enthusiastic and self-satisfied sexists a person could ever hope to not meet.

Sexism isn't the only term that appears on ADL's vocabulary list that critical theorists have often set out to redefine. Also on the list are the following words:


To leave these key words undefined is a serious issue for this lesson plan, particularly as each of them could be defined -- or re-defined, as is far more likely -- to deliberately create a power dynamic within the lesson plan that is solely to the benefit of the Cult of Sarkeesian.

A case in point is a now-infamous tweet in which Sarkeesian complains about abuse at the hands of "angry YouTubers." As it turns out, those individuals had merely exposed the factual shortcomings of Sarkeesian's work. Yet Sarkeesian chose to mischaracterize this as abusive, solely because it's to her benefit to do so.

So this is a serious problem with the ADL's lesson plan. But it's not by any means the biggest one.

No, the biggest problem with this lesson plan is that it's structured in such a way as to make the voicing of a dissenting view impossible.

The following is a screencap from this PDF:
Notice that there is no option for those who have not witnessed what they would consider sexism in video games, nor is there any option for those who do not think sexist things have been said or done to them through video game interaction.

The message is clear: this lesson plan will not permit you to disagree with the assertions being made at any point. Students are to "listen and believe" and for God's sake, do not allow them to think for themselves.

This lesson plan also proposes a common tactic in so-called "social justice education": dividing students up into smaller groups. As other "social justice education" resources make clear, dividing students into groups is a means by which targeted students -- frequently described as "privileged learners" -- can be isolated from one another, and reduced to a minority among students who are thereafter being agitated against them.

In the case of the ADL lesson plan, this is compounded by the application of peer pressure. As students watch their peers place sticky notes on the "I have witnessed sexism in video games" and "people have said or done sexist things to me through video game interactions" signs, they will feel pressured to do likewise.

The lesson plan eventually moves into force-feeding the students Sarkeesian. This is unsurprising, as Sarkeesian seems to exist as a public figure not on the merits of her work -- her work has been found to be entirely lacking merit by everyone who has actually examined it on a factual basis -- but on the will of high-profile and privileged individuals to stuff her down peoples' throats.

If forcing students to sit through brief unmediated readings of Sarkeesian's work isn't enough, teachers are actually instructed to force her ideas down students' throats.
Apparently the one thing instructors cannot permit is for Sarkeesian's insipid "tropes vs women" to be discarded by students as unimpressive or unconvincing.

And while the lesson plan does theoretically provide for some time for students to discuss these concepts -- and perhaps even how they openly contradict one another -- it's worth pointing out that by the time this portion of the lesson arrives, the instructor has used up no less than 49 minutes of a 60 minute lesson plan. (Yes, I tallied it up, but not by much.)

There's still two more segments of the lesson to go: reading a Pew Research paper about online harassment, then discussion of it afterward.

Interestingly, teachers are pressured to emphasize harassment of women as part of that post-reading discussion, when in fact the study indicates that men experience more online harassment than do women. Of all the modes of online harassment discussed as part of the Pew study, only two -- sexual harassment and stalking -- are experienced more by women. That's of six modes of online harassment mentioned in the study.

It's worth noting that of all the resources used to formulate this lesson plan, the Pew study is the only one that is meaningfully peer reviewed. So the one and only meaningfully peer-reviewed source in the entire plan is misrepresented within it.

That's the kind of "lesson" this is. It's not really meant to educate students at all. It seems to me that the sole purpose of this lesson plan is to promote Anita Sarkeesian and help her settle her grudges by forcing her ideas onto high school students, thus helping to further fill the ranks of her "army."

That's not what classrooms are for. This lesson plan has no place in any classroom anywhere. Any teacher who willingly attempts to teach it is eminently unqualified to be a teacher, and should consider seeking a career better suited to their talents and temperament.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Good Gawd, I'm Bored With Alexander Knight...

...bored to the point of disinterest, in fact.

In a week of questions about whether or not Alexander Knight funneled donations intended for a non-for-profit "eco-drone" into his own private for-profit business, Knight has promised answers, but produced none.

I'm starting to think there's a reason for that. But earlier today, Knight came up with this:
Apparently these are screencaps from Amazon proving that Knight did, indeed, purchase a Tarot T-2D gimbal and a GoPro camera.

That was never in dispute.

What is in dispute is whether he purchased it for his so-called "eco-drone" project, or if he purchased it for his @SkeyeFoto drone. This picture doesn't answer that question. I'm really starting to think that he won't, and I think under these circumstances a refusal to answer is, in itself, an answer of sorts.

Your mileage may differ.

But here's the remarkable thing about it: even if Knight did purchase these components with funds donated to what he promised was strictly a not-for-profit project, and then used to build a drone for his for-profit business, I'm not the person to whom he owes redress.

That would be his donors.

And suppose that his existing donors are okay with him doing such a thing? Well, fine. But at the very least Knight ought to edit his GoFundMe page in order to indicate that the drone is for dual purpose. So that at least future donors may not be misled.

It could be that simple.

That's what's so remarkable about this to me: there are so many easy ways out of this for Alexander Knight. But they involve answering questions to account for how he's conducting himself, and correcting whatever misconduct may be afoot.

Instead, Knight is trying to preen about his alleged victimhood.

And so, I'm bored. Bored to the point of disinterest. Unless Knight decides he'd like to actually answer the relevant questions, I'm pretty much done with it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reject vs Reject

As much as I hate to give Jace Connors any kind of attention whatsoever, my attention was inexorably drawn to the spectacle of an interview between him and SJdub "gonzo journalist" (read: not an actual journalist) Reuben Baron.

What emerged was perhaps one of the most disturbing incidences of a cripple fight I've ever witnessed.

I say this not to cast aspersions upon disabled people, but because the entire affair bore the lack of dignity characterized these kinds of contests: two people, each with their own personal afflictions, wailing away on each other for the meagre entertainment of others.

But this one bore a deeper element of indignity which made it hilarious, agonizing and saddening all at the same time: the spectacle of watching two deeply defective people devastate one another.

Let's be clear on what makes each of them defective, or rather what doesn't. For Connors, it isn't (necessarily) his mental illness that I consider to be his defect. I myself have been diagnosed with, and treated for, severe depression. I sympathize with many of Connors' struggles because I myself share them.

For Baron it isn't his stuttering, or even his egregiously-annoying voice that I consider to be his defect. In fact, I know numerous people with speech impediments and I understand the struggles they can impose upon people. I sympathize with his struggles because I've seen my friends go through them. In particular, stuttering has been described to be as "literally physically painful" by one particular stutterer I know.

No, I consider the defects of each individual to be defects of personality, defects that each could correct if they so chose.

At least, Connors could potentially correct his if he were undergoing a full treatment regimen (medication, counseling, and appropriate support) for his schizophrenia. The appearance of Connors' mother during the interview indicates that she may perhaps be acting as Connors' enabler, even taking the blame for the carwreck observers have spent the past four days believing he instigated.

Here is the base indignity of what unfolded during that interview: one individual, Reuben Baron, claiming to be acting as a journalist when in fact what he was clearly doing was attempting to extract comments from Connors that would be useful to the agenda of his friend, Brianna Wu. At one point, while Connors is out of the room fetching his mother, he even expresses clear frustration with his inability to get comments out of Connors that he could use against him.

He clearly wasn't aware that the interview was being recorded by Connors, who would eventually use it for his own agenda. I find it hard to feel sorry for Baron in this regard.

Then there is the other individual, Jace Connors, who constantly lies, self-aggrandizes, mocks Baron's speech impediment, utters anti-gay slurs at him (Baron self-identifies as bisexual), and attempts to weaponize each individual's religion against him.

The nadir of the spectacle emerges when Baron asks to speak to Connors' mother, apparently eager to tell his mom on him. Connors mother, however, is a breed not of the internet age in any way, shape, or form. She sucks the wind out of Baron's sails by taking responsibility for the wreck -- calling it a little "slip-slide" -- by telling Baron it was her, not Connors, who was behind the wheel.

Is she just covering for her son? Or was she really driving? At this point I don't know what to believe. While Connors does seem to indicate early in the interview that he was driving the blue Prius -- honestly, who the hell street races in a Prius? -- he's also lied about threatening to shoot guns at Brianna Wu. Why would we take him at his word now, knowing he's a confirmed liar?

Some of the interview seems to confirm what some people have suspected -- that many, or perhaps all, of the so-called "threats" made by Connors against Wu are simply not serious threats. Connors castigates Baron for not realizing that a YouTube video in which he talks about dressing as Batman and doing "Assassin's Creed-style moves" on Wu were a joke. Looking back on it, this seems obvious, but the Connors mythos -- yes, he has a mythos, I'm sorry to say -- was enough to convince some people that these were the genuine words of an obvious madman.

Baron is dead on the money when he says these jokes weren't funny. He was brandishing what appeared to be a real knife while he did them, so no one's laughing. His tortured mental gymnastics trying to dictate Connors' intentions back to him were not necessary. Being unfunny was quite enough.

As for Connors declaring himself the new leader, the "commander" of #Gamergate? That's laughable. And while I fully expect the contemptible Sam "Bring Back Bullying" Biddle to latch onto that in some future hitpiece against the movement that caused his bad behaviour to cost Gawker seven figures in advertising revenue, that doesn't make it any more credible.

(Seriously, Mr Biddle. You should just be happy to still have your job. I suspect it's the last one you'll ever get.)

No one at #Gamergate is following him, and certainly no one is taking his orders.

As for Reuben Baron, someone in his journalism classes should sit down and explain to him that "Gonzo journalism" is not real journalism. Real journalists don't leave their cognizant readers trying to puzzle out how much of what they've been told is real, and how much of it was made up at the "journalist's" whim.

Also, preparing himself before an interview is usually a good idea. It's called "research." Also, when a journalist essentially rage-quits an interview, it's a good sign that this is not a story they should back away from.

In fact, his career will be much better off were he to correct his obvious character flaws and conduct himself like an actual, professional journalist. His agenda may suffer but his work will not.

In future, perhaps we could hope that at least one of these two individuals will not actively seek to participate in a reject fight.

Monday, February 2, 2015

All Eyes on Alexander Knight's Eye in the Sky

Readers of High Noon are well aware that Alexander Knight's recent decision to target me has resulted in a harvest of fact-based counter-punches, mostly regarding his bizarre predilection for venerating eco-terrorist and murderer Wiebo Ludwig.

In the interest of journalistic ethics, I'm going to disclose something here: Mr Knight has chosen to make matters between him and myself personal. He chose to be the aggressor. Next time he should think better of it.

Because, as it turns out, there may be reason to suspect that Mr Knight may not quite be the environmentalist activist that he's making himself out to be. In fact, I've received detailed tips that he may be using his so-called "environmentalist activism" as a cover to enrich himself.

The matter revolves around a GoFundMe project he started in order to pay for what he calls an "eco-drone." He says it will take aerial camera footage and even non-descript "samples."

But it turns out that there's reason to think that what Mr Knight has really asked people to crowdfund is a private business, called Skeyefoto.

Skeyefoto's Twitter profile IDs its purpose as the following: "Photographer for commercial and residential real estate. Serving the GTA and Southern Ontario. Negotiable flat rates. Aerial photos possible in rural areas."

Now certainly, there's nothing wrong with a man starting a business. In fact, I personally encourage anyone with an idea and this ambition to do just that. So no, this isn't about Mr Knight starting a business. It's about possibly deceiving his crowdfunders in order to do it.

Here's a relevant snippet from his GoFundMe page:

"AN FPV system will permit safer operation of the drone and allow far more accuracy when obtaining footage and samples. The onboard OSD will monitor and display battery level, altitude, speed, direction, and distance from operator.

With the donations already received I have purchased a GoPro Hero3+ Black (FPV capable), the Tarot T2-D gimbal and an IOD (FPV functionality). For this new frame I have also purchased a NAZA-M V2. In the event of an ESC, motor or prop failure this new NAZA will allow me to perform an emergency landing instead of losing the entire rig as I did last December. What I need now are at least two 10000+mAH 4S LiPo batteries to extend flight times up to and over 20 minutes. Currently I am working with old cheap 3S LiPo batteries that will only last for roughly 60-90 seconds--that is not a typo.

I simply do not have the budget for these items and am asking the public for help. This project will be solely dedicated to environmental initiatives meant to benefit everyone.

Sorry to say that Mr Knight starting a business to film or photograph commercial real estate properties from the air doesn't "benefit everyone." It benefits Mr Knight. It may even benefit the real estate companies in question. But that's hardly "everyone."

My anonymous tipster was kind enough to send me a link to this:
It's proof that Alexander Knight is the owner of this theoretical business. Moreover, Mr Knight doesn't even deny it.

Mr Knight did object to any discussion of Skeyefoto and his role as its proprietor -- I have yet to find any evidence that this business exists as anything more than a website, or that it has done any actual work for any actual real estate companies -- as "blackmail."

(This is kind of amusing considering that he's believed to have created numerous sockpuppet Twitter accounts to "threaten" him on behalf of the "oilsands lobby.")

Particularly amusing is that the individual questioning him in this instance isn't asking him for anything. Mr Knight may want to familiarize himself with the meaning of "blackmail" before using the word.

He insists that the drone being used for his activist work and the drone being used for his business are not the same drone. As in, there is or may be more than one drone. This doesn't dispel any suspicions regarding the propriety or possible impropriety of his GoFundMe as much as he seems to think it does.

In fact, it begs a question: if Alexander Knight already has a drone for his business, why does he need to crowdfund another drone? Could he not just be using that drone for his activist work? And if not, why not?

If he's going to crowdfund a drone from donors, he ought to at least have a good reason to do it. A second drone to play around with -- when/if he already has one -- doesn't seem like a great one.

Can Alexander Knight provide any kind of proof that the drone he crowdfunded in order to build has not been used for any kind of for-profit activity? And what kind of assurances can he provide that it won't be?

If I were the following people, I'd be raising these questions with great aplomb:

Sam Choukeir - donated $10
Karen Gauthier - donated $15
Diane Smith - donated $50
Jeff Couillard - donated $20
Angela Bischoff - donated $25
Billy Nobels - donated $50

As well, there are a number of anonymous donors who could very well ask the same question.

These might not be overwhelming sums of money. But fraud is fraud. And while I don't think there's quite enough evidence afoot here to solidly accuse Alexander Knight of fraud, it seems to me that there's certainly cause for suspicion. Certainly enough to ask questions about it.

And let's make no mistake about it: if Knight is using this drone that he crowdfunded promising it would only be used on a not-for-profit basis for his for-profit business, a case could be made for fraud. After all, if that isn't a person misrepresenting themselves for monetary gain, what is?

Alexander Knight has some 'splainin' to do. I invite him to do it without accusations of "blackmail." No one's asking him for anything other than the truth.

Update, 02/ 03/14 - Well, Mr Knight is declining to answer any questions. Which was predictable.

Which is really a shame. He's provided plenty of fodder for anyone who may be suspicious regarding the sincerity of his GoFundMe page. There is, for example, the following:
Pictured right is a screencap from Knight's GoFundMe page. It reads as follows:

"With the donations already received I have purchased a GoPro Hero3+ Black (FPV capable), the Tarot T2-D gimbal and an IOD (FPV functionality)."

Pictured left is a Tweet from Mr Knight's @SkeyeFoto Twitter account, making reference to Transport Canada regs on commerical UAVs and boasting that a Tarot T2-D gimbal has just arrived.

Did he buy that piece of equipment for @SkeyeFoto with donations received via his not-for-profit crowdfunder? Mr Knight has yet to answer this question.

Update, 02/04/14 - Alexander Knight is promising to answer questions -- hopefully, the very specific question of whether or not he purchased a Tarot T2-D gimbal for his private business with funds donated for the construction of a not-for-profit "eco-drone."

Mr Knight has also accused me of accusing him of fraud. I think this is a very telling accusation, when you consider how I've phrased any remarks regarding Mr Knight and the possible presence of fraudulence in this matter:

"...while I don't think there's quite enough evidence afoot here to solidly accuse Alexander Knight of fraud, it seems to me that there's certainly cause for suspicion. Certainly enough to ask questions about it.

And let's make no mistake about it: if Knight is using this drone that he crowdfunded promising it would only be used on a not-for-profit basis for his for-profit business, a case could be made for fraud. After all, if that isn't a person misrepresenting themselves for monetary gain, what is?"

Notice the "if?" The question of whether or not Mr Knight is doing anything fraudulent is prefaced on the matter of whether or not he used crowdfunded donations for his for-profit business.

I think that a person could potentially take his bombastic response to the questions raised in this blogpost as confirmation that he's done just that. I personally don't, but I think a person potentially could.

Which is why Mr Knight would do far better to drop the Ghomeshi tactics and just answer the questions.