Category Archives: Pondering Infinity

A Taste of my mind. Anything from Sociopolitics to Religion to Philosophy in general goes.

The risk of workers

Remember in the past when I wrote how the idea that capitalists deserve profits because they’re taking on the “Risk”, is nonsense? Well,in another installment of ‘Why “Anarcho”-Capitalist apologia is always bullshit”, here’s the Google developers for the Stadia game studio being laid off, a year into their contract.

This is one of the biggest and most well known IT companies in the world, hiring people for something that typically takes 3-5 years. Imagine for a bit how “safe” the bet they were making was when deciding whether to take this job. Some people had to relocate state, if not countries to take this job. Which means massive expenses and huge opening for disaster if they are left without job.

But this risk the workers take, is not actually compensated like the capitalist’s is. It’s reversed!

The developers who put their neck on the line for this job, are not going to see the full profit of their work or have any decision-making rights. Instead, if it were successful, Google owners were going to skim a very good portion of the income as profit and the workers were going to get a portion of what their work achieved. Now that it’s unsuccessful, Google owners lost a bit of money (effective chump change for rich people) while the workers face a very real prospect of economic devastation during a global pandemic and a massive downturn in the economy.

You tell me who is taking the higher risk here. The owners, or the workers?

Capitalism laid bare

The Coronavirus pandemic is making painfully clear to everyone what socialists of all sorts have been pointing out for years: Capitalism doesn’t work!

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the response to the crisis where the “invisible hand of the free market” did absolutely nothing until it was too late and the costs of handling it have become prohibitive. Instead what is actually working is mutual aid. With people springing to the front and volunteering their life, health and even their very lives to help others.

You might see it in all those news about this or that celebrity donating so many millions to the Coronavirus response (we should of course not be praising a billionaire that if effectively giving what amounts to chump change for them, but mass media is gonna propagandize), but it is primarily the thousands of health workers and grocery store employees who are continuing to work with minimal wage and massive health risks because nobody else will. Sure the threat of homelessness is certainly making some people continue to work in life-threatening conditions, but from what I’ve seen, most do it out of a sense of duty. And even if it was the threat of destitution that made doctors and clerks for to their job during a pandemic, it would not exactly be a high praise for the system.

And the free market even now continues to malfunction. Sure a lot of companies are switching only now production to critical provisions, but either they’re doing out of sense of civic duty again (or at least, that’s how they’re portrayed in the media en large), or under pressure from their respective states. Not to mention that the pressures of the capitalist system are putting pressure to non-essential companies to continue operating, putting their workers and the general populace in danger, in order to not collapse.

This situation also makes it blatant on how illusionary money and monetary policy is. When things are going well, it’s all important to save money and “be responsible” and whatnot. But when a crisis comes, money is not important anymore, rather workers are expected to self-sacrifice for the common good, while companies get bailed out and CEOs can just take month-long vacations on their private yachts.

Think about it: For the world, nothing critical has changed. You’re still living in the same house and are getting food and supplies. The people providing supplies are also getting the same things, so they can stay alive and keep working. Now take money out of the equation: Nothing changes.

The only thing that money does in this situation is support the parasitic class of Landlords and Capitalists! We can plainly see that the world will keep turning without them but our ancestors were forced into a fool’s game and people have been running in that wheel out of sheer momentum ever since.

Now that suddenly so many people don’t get any income while their parasites still continue asking their due, people are starting to ask the question: “Wait a minute, why am I even having to give you money?”. And this is why as the bills are coming due, rent strikes and organized action are suddenly becoming widespread. And it’s beautiful!.

And believe me, Capitalists and their bootlickers are shitting their pants right now. The propaganda campaign is going in full-force in places like the /r/coronavirus subreddit whenever posts about rent-strikes rise to the top, but they can’t control it anymore. Governments are dumping trillions (fucking trillions! You can’t even comprehend how big a number that is) into people and companies, hoping to keep the illusion of the monetary system going until thing go back to normal. They literally give money to the workers to pay their landlords so that the workers who don’t have any money left, don’t question why they’re having to pay a landlord in the first place. That’s how desperate they are getting. Last time anything close to as massive happened, they ended up with The New Deal, and they remember!

But this is not going away soon, and the more plutocrats print money to throw at people to pretend the situation is still normal, the more people are going to start to wonder: “If money can just be made out of thin air like that, then what’s the fucking point of pretending it’s necessary?”

Sadly, disaster capitalism can’t let a good crisis go to waste, so we’re already seeing autocratic governments use this opportunity to take as much control as they always wanted. Just take a look at Hungary becoming a full-blown fascist dictatorship, or the Trumpian USA straight-up disemboweling environmental protections as they always wanted (and I fully expect Trump will try to postpone elections indefinitely once things get sufficiently worse, just as well). And on top of that, misinformation is taking advantage of the epidemic news coverage to reinforce denial of climate catastrophe. It’s completely fucked up.

Due to this, if we miraculously manage to contain Coronavirus fast enough, and “save the economy” (i.e. maintain the illusions of the working class) then we’re going to find ourselves in a much worse system. Much more authoritarian and much more dystopian than anything we’ve experienced until now.

However, as is looking much more likely, the endemic corruption of the capitalist class has become so terminal that it has stymied any effective response they might have taken and Coronavirus is set to last for months, if not years. And for the current system based on the absurd concept of infinite growth, this is fatal. And the more this takes to get under control, the more working class consciousness will grow as direct action for mutual aid will replace the state and market (non-)response. And if it grows fast and strong enough, when the system inevitably collapses from abject stagnation, we might just replace it with something wonderful just soon enough to start the massive global work we’ll have to undertake to stave of climate apocalypse.

Coronavirus has come at the worst time for the global capitalist system but as counter-productive as it sounds, the longer it takes to run its course, the better it might be for the future of humanity as a whole, as it lays the species-ending flaws of capitalism bare for all to see.

The interesting times begin

For Humans, Coronavirus by itself might not be as bad as other diseases like the black plague, but for the global capitalist system it might just end up being terminal.

It started by slowing down the productive capacity of the largest owner of means of production, China. It then progressed to disrupting the routine functions of wage-slavery in densely populated city centers. Soon it’s going to cause immense pain due as the landlords demand their parasitic rewards from people who have not earned any money for a month and have no safety net to fall back onto.

All these effects, are like vital organs in a human patient starting to fail. This, along with some other unexpected “inflammations” (such as the Oil trade war), and the people observing and taking bets on the patient’s recovery start to panic.

Which has now caused an unprecedented stock market crash. Faster than even the Great Depression crash of 1929 where we replicated the same percentile loss in less time. And it’s nowhere near the bottom yet, as the Coronavirus has not even fully taken hold of the US yet.

The cancer of the propaganda channel of Fox News and pretty much the rest of the Murdoch empire has weakened our global immune system enough in the past 3 decades that it managed to create the orange malignant tumor known as Trump, who proceeded to accelerate the dismantling of capitalism’s immune system even further. And now, the first real shock has already sent the global system into cascading failure.

The few million deaths due to healthcare systems becoming overwhelmed during Coronavirus are going not going to be nearly as disruptive as the repercussions of a stalled capitalist system supported by central banks which have no more measures to jump start it anymore and bad acting world leaders.

The situation forming right now will probably end up being the biggest Capitalist crisis the world has ever experienced.

Our Coronavirus reaction is like a test run to the climate catastrophe

It amuses me darkly to see the reaction of the so-called “civilized world” turn from schadenfreude at the plight of the Chinese, to denial and worry, to full-blown panic in the past month, as the Coronavirus spreads unchecked to our own communities now.

However I can’t help but see similarities in these reactions to the ones we have to the climate apocalypse, albeit at something like 3 orders of magnitude faster pace.

Like the climate catastrophe, nations not yet affected have been assuming nothing bad will come out of the Coronavirus and that business as usual should continue. Any steps of preparation were sporadic and isolated, from a few “doomers”, often ridiculed by the smug people who assumed this epidemic would simply fizzle out like the Ebola, or SARS.

They don’t realize, of course, that those diseases might have only fizzled out due to an immediate and good response. But it’s on our nature to label any successful attempt to prevent the worse as an “over-reaction” to something that “wouldn’t have been a big deal”. Frustratingly I see this daily in how many companies perceive investment in their IT departments as an overall loss.

The calls of “climate panic” of climate deniers map very well to the denials and conspiracies created by people when Coronavirus first appeared on the scene. It is for this reason that Europe and US have completely squandered all the time and lesson bought by the Chinese response. And by the time the effects of the pandemic were felt in the western cities, it was way to late to mount an effective response, and the cost of that response is likewise orders of magnitude what it could have been had measures been taken early enough.

Likewise, by the time the real effects of the climate catastrophe start being felt in an undeniable manner, it will be way too late to salvage it. The cost to the existing sociopolitical systems will be prohibitive and thus nothing significant will be effected.

The people in power assume that they will be spared the worst of a catastrophe, but as Coronavirus spreads indiscriminately and the old plutocrats realize their money cannot shield them, so will the collapse of modern civilization from climate catastrophe make their power vanish into thin air as their private security forces realize who has the power in an apocalyptic situation.

The worst thing in my opinion is that we cannot even use this epidemic as an effective wake-up experience because of the timescale of the climate. To mount an solid response to the global warming, we should have started 30 years ago, but like Coronavirus, we simply squandered out rime into business as usual because “it hasn’t happened yet”.

In the scale of climate Catastrophe I speculate we are at the phase Coronavirus was two weeks ago. Some isolated nations have felt the brutal effects, but they were either not significant enough, or those nations themselves could somehow be blamed for it. By the time the climate catastrophe finally manages to panic as many people as Coronavirus has today (5-10 years I expect), it will be too late to do much about it.

On celebration

Ever since I left school I remember I was not big on celebrating my birthday. I don’t say this as any sort of boast, but rather because an event today made me realize something about the concept of celebration and by extension, birthdays.

You see, I just passed an IT certification exam that I felt was fairly difficult. I did the usual and posted about it on Facebook and LinkedIn and whatnot because I was overjoyed I made it. Naturally I wanted people to interact with me about this achievement which is why I broadcasted this online, so I obviously I have the drive to want to share things about my life. However I’m not the kind of person who wants to try and rub it in people’s faces to make them interact with me, so that’s as far as I usually go.

Anyway, at the semi-humorous advice of a colleague on chat, I decided to anyway bring some croissants to work to mark the occasion. What natively happened is that everyone who stopped by to pick one up, also congratulated me about the occasion. and some also asked for more details and ended up having a nice conversation about my experience. Naturally this was very pleasing to me, as I received more positive attention than usual. Certainly more than I would have gotten if I simply came to my desk as any other day.

This is, I expect, normal. People don’t much care about other people achievements and if I went around just announcing it to people unsolicited, it would sound boastful and forced. People might even resent me for thinking I’m trying to rub it in their faces. Typically this is why I tend to not to play up any of my achievements.

In that sense then, me buying a round of croissants for everyone, is sort-of like paying for their attention in a socially-acceptable manner. The croissant is free, but there is an unwritten expectation that you positively interact with the person that brought it!

This has probably been consciously or subconsciously obvious to most of you, but it never really clicked for me until now. I bring snacks now and then, like everyone, but it was more of a guilt-thing. “Everyone is bring stuff on occasion, so I guess I should be doing that as well”. The dynamics of the situation are simply more clear to me now and I felt I had to share.

As I mentioned, this led me to thinking a bit further about birthdays as well, and why I don’t really care to celebrate them. The birth of concept of celebrating birthdays is lost in history, so I’ll guess we’ll never truly know, but It feels to me that birthdays must effectively be tradition that begun when human life was much more easily ended than it is today. Especially since children mortality was sky-high before the advent of modern medicine. Thus surviving for a whole year into your life, especially as a child, is a noteworthy event, and naturally, an occasion on which you might want to reminisce about the past year as well.

Therefore, I think I instinctively stopped caring about my birthdays because they in turn do not feel like an achievement. At this point of my life, it’s not difficult to survive another year, and thus I feel no reason to make it a big deal.

To wrap it into the concept I explained above, I see no reason to “bribe” people to interact with me about something I have nothing to say.

And yes, I realize I sound like a robot learning about human emotions 🙂

On Game Design motivation

There’s been quite a bit of progress on my game engine since the last time I posted about it. I now have playable cards, building placement, effect automation, ability to manipulate elements on a hex map and a research pile. All in all, it has taken me approximately 35 hours to reach this stage which feels pretty decent for someone who’s never used Godot or built a video-game from scratch before, but I think a lot has to do with my time building card game plugins in OCTGN.

I even created a Godot demo on how to merge hexagons into tilemaps, which is the question I was asking last time 🙂

Unfortunately, while my coding has already caught up to the rudimentary design I had drafted, I feel like I’ve been procrastinating from furthering the existing design by losing myself into the code. I even started making Unit Tests rather than progress the game’s design.

Funnily enough, I initially thought that the game design would be the easy part, and actually making the engine to run it, was going to be overwhelming. However now that my basic code has provided me a platform to create fast iterations on design (which is why I wanted to start with the engine before I has a working prototype), I find that when I’m going back to complete the design game, I find that overwhelming.

I have to make it interesting? And exciting? And variable?” Uuuuugh! Can’t I just code existing mechanics instead? At least then I have a tangible goal and I’ll know when I’ve achieved it.

My stupid internal monologue

I’ve always been much better at expanding what was already there than making something from scratch, and it is a “muscle” I’ve never trained before. It will take me a while before I’m not instinctively afraid of the amount of work I have to do. That’s my main procrastination trigger.

I have to keep reminding myself: I do have experience in game design, did tons playtest organizing, got ~25 years of boardgame experience, and now I know enough of a video game engine to perform game design iterations at a speed others can’t match. This is doable for me, damnit!

And yet, every time I open my design document, my brain tries to run out of my head.

Anyway, here’s a random screenshot.

Slowly, but surely, we’re becoming cyberpunk.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and saw cyberpunk stuff first at middle/end of the nineties. A lot of the cyberpunk imagery back then was taking current technologies and attempting to extrapolate them. The Internet was still new back then, so a lot of people thought it would evolve into some sort of virtual reality interface or use some direct feed into the brain, possibly something involving a large spike and wires, ala The Matrix. A lot of the other trappings,  as envisioned by books like Neuromancer or RPGs like cyberpunk 2020, tended to involve bulky machinery, like a cyberdeck, or cassettes and whatnot, as those worlds were imagined in the 80s where computing was a much “bigger” affair.

Cyberpunk, for those who don’t know, is a science fiction setting, which typically merges near-future high-tech, along with dystopian societal themes. As such, what feels “cyberpunk” tends to change as time goes on, as our current technology catches up to the imaginations of the authors. Some  trappings that looked possible 30 years ago such flying cars and monofibers, stubbornly fails to materialize, while others take their place which the authors didn’t imagine, such as widespread smartphones, instead of decks.

And it sometimes, you get some tech that actually matches cyberpunk imagination. For example the recent breakthrough in cyber/implant technology is still mind-blowing to me. We’re now at a level where we have people using mechanical extremities where scientists are effectively actually making neural connections between machinery and brain. We have the internet combined with mobiles phone in the form of affordable smartphone and tablets, widely reshaping how society behaves and organizes, much more than what we would expect even just twenty years ago.

As someone who’s seen many of my early cyberpunk imaginations come to life, I still couldn’t declare now is cyberpunk, because there is an important piece missing.

You see, cyberpunk is not just near-future tech + dystopia. Otherwise every generation would merely be the previous generation’s “cyberpunk”. Rather cyberpunk is how high-tech (and more specifically transhumanist tech) is implemented in a world to enhance its existing dystopian themes.

We have literal themes out of Black Mirror playing out in places like China, with their Orwellian surveillance and mandatory social credit system. We have actual crimes and even genocides (!!) being commited due to false news being spread via unchecked social media. However the thing that made me say “hold up now” and write this post, was reading this article about one of the most notorious “IRL streamers”: Ice Poseidon. This is like a caricature out of goddamn Transmetropolitan!

From my perspective, the tech that we have now, fits absolutely into my idea of what tech would look in the near-future of my childhood, and not only that, but this tech is widely being used to make the world a darker place. All the pieces fit!

Tell me which other examples of technology used in the service of dystopianism have you noticed yourselves.

 

The many questions on the death of Zak

Recently there was a horrific incident of public lynching in broad daylight in the middle of Athens. Part of the event was captured on video but there was a lot of details missing, like, how did he end up inside the shop, why did the police did an atrocious job collecting evidence (not closing the scene, moving things around etc).

Media nevertheless immediately jumped to label the victim as a junkie thief who got caught breaking in1. As we only saw the part of him being already in the shop to begin with, it was difficult to oppose, but still, much of this narrative doesn’t make sense. Zak was obviously very addled and barely able to move, nevermind break in alone and leave quickly.

Quickly the medical judge announced that he didn’t die from the beatdown, but that the cause is “unknown”. Media further promotes this. Popular greek forums quickly promote all narratives painting Zak as a thieving junkie.

As days go on however, more and more details don’t add up about this story. Zak was apparently being involved in some altercation before entering this shop. The Shop itself looks like it was broken by the owner. The other assaulter was a rabid-homophobe who went home after the lynching and started posting anti-gay and victim-blaming texts on twitter.

And today another bombshell breaks. The police is caught on camera continuing the assault on an unconscious and bleeding Zak. The visibly seem to be carrying knife in their bare hands, disrupting any chance of investigating it and opening fears that they planted it themselves. They are visibly doing very dangerous assaults on the body, like stepping on its neck and violently jerking a bleeding person around, while the EMTs around are not being used. Simply barbaric stuff.

And the medical judge tells us the beat-down had nothing to do with his death? Right.

The media and right-wing social media onslaught is reaching peak levels as we speak. I posted the video of the police assault on reddit and it was burried with extreme prejudice. The reddit comments are swarming with right-wingers blaming the victim and praising the police for their actions, which shows the is an active campaign of disinformation here. I suspect because of fears of another “Grigoropoulos incident” are very real.

Given the amount of disinformation, evidence and witness testimonies that keep cropping up, and the character of Zak,  my suspicion is that this is a case of some sort of very obvious hate crime against LGBT, which was further exacerbated by brutality of the police who simply believed the perpetrators. So now we’re seeing a desperate and collaborative effort by the state and the right-wing to cover it up, and character-assassinate Zak, to avoid riots in the streets and justice for the victim.

This is a very raw story and I suggest you start paying a lot of attention and don’t let the right-wing command the narrative. There is a lot going on behind this event that is attempted to be covered up.

  1. same way they tried to label the death of anarchist P. Fyssas as a football-related fight? []

Can Overwatch one-trick drama be a good simulation of microaggressions for privileged people?

Yet another Overwatch flamewar is ongoing about the classic question of whether someone “one tricking” a hero1 in competitive should be a bannable offense or not. As always the “ban them” camp has the loudest or more numerous voices, even though the Overwatch design team has publicly stated that they disagree with this approach. This latest drama round was only started because an ex-Blizzard/Overwatch employee has publicly stated the opposite. Check the thread sorted by “controversial comments” to witness some nerdrage if that’s your thing today.

However as someone who habitually plays primarily “off-meta” characters2 who’s spent significant time improving my skills with them, I’ve been often lumped into the “one-trick” corner by raging team-mates. In fact, playing off-meta characters is a more likely indicator that your team-mates will turn against you, rather than one-tricking as a practice, since if you’re tricking an in-meta characters, nobody bats an eyelid; but I digress.

What I want to suggest is that the experience of someone who plays off-meta/one-tricks in OW is going to be like a very very mild experience of microaggressions that marginalized people experience regularly. What tends to happen to people who make such choices in competitive play, is that there is a constant level of hostility and bothering that other players just don’t experience. From the mild, such as someone asking you very politely to switch your choice at the start of the game, to the overly hostile, such as someone flaming at you, or deliberately throwing the game to spite you.

On their own, each of these might not be an issue at all, or just a hilarious occurrence, respectively. Howevever where these situations start to approach the microaggression territory is when one experiences some form of them in almost every game they try to play. If in almost every game you play someone politely or aggressively tries to make you switch characters at some point in the match, then at some point even the most polite phrasing is not going to help the effect they have on your psychology.

While there are other games with hero choices, Overwatch is uniquely positioned to act as a “microaggression simulator” due to its mechanics which support a constant change of each team’s roster. Other games might have “off-meta” characters, but often due to the locked-in nature of each once the game starts, people tend to not rage on this issue that much. However in OW, people will keep annoying the off-meta choices for this exact purpose, with the comments often escalating in vitriol when the game is going bad and the off-meta player refuses to switch.

Now, reminder that I don’t think they are anywhere on the level of microaggressions a marginalized person receives, but they are a really good way for someone who otherwise would have too much privilege to even understand what a microaggression even is, to get a mild sampling themselves. Perhaps is might be something on which an understanding and respect for actual microaggressions might be built?

  1. This is the practice of only choosing that hero, regardless of map or opposing heroes []
  2. This means characters which the “competitive scene” is not using, and as a result the  majority of OW players take to mean they are weak choices []

Meh

So…yeah

The janky mods of the Anarcho-Communism group in Facebook decided to ban me because I vented against U.S. Imperialism in a thread venting against cis people, in the same style the OP did. They piled-on me trying to prove that privilege-don’t-real if you’re poor, and deflected criticism by pointing out they’re not U.S. citizens themselves. Eventually I pissed one of them enough by applying the same logic to my arguments, that they muted me and asked one of their buddies to ban me.

Unfortunately this is par for the course for anarchist organizing on shit platforms like Facebook and that group had just devolved into the anarchist version of purge-bait. Here, I’ll give you a sample of the daily quality of posts:

“All people not in my oppressed class are crap!”

You now have seen 90% of the “content” posted in this group.

Unfortunately in too many public anarchist spaces, this kind of venting (that should normally be reserved for your affinity group) is par for the course, and then mods fall on top of each other trying to prove who is the best ally by banning whoever tries to use this as a springboard for discussion.

It’s all just immature fucking posturing by immature people who just discovered anarchism. Followed then by more posturing by the resident in-group who has 5% more power than the rest and wants a reason to exercise it. This shit is what passes for activism for many, and the reason why I have lost a lot of interest in trying to contribute as much as I used to in /r/anarchism.

The funny thing is how the people who are ban-happy when they think they’re on the right, cry foul when they end up on the opposite side, like a mod in reddit who whined about me oppressing them for reverting their deletion of a post1.

Now to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with banning or venting online, and neither of these acts, nor being a ban-happy fuckhead is isolated to anarchists, in fact right-wingers seems to be naturally more complacent and glad to fall in-step to a leader-figure. However there is something wrong when most online discourse on this subject is dominated by immature anarchists trying to prove how radical they are. Even more frustrating when they are stumped that they go digging into your profile and attempt to start an oppression olympics with you as a silencing tactic.

It had gotten so ridiculous at times that I managed to avoid getting banned for the longest time because I am Greek (and therefore “non-white” somehow? Dunno how that works, but whatevs) and could speak with some experience about U.S. imperialism. But someone from mainland U.S.A. making the same arguments would be banned without a second thought if they didn’t “win” at the oppression olympics at some other area. I.e. it stops being about what you say, and rather about who you are.

So, meh. Probably for the best as the group had just devolved into people daily calling each other “trash” and high-fiving each other about it in a group-masturbatory celebration of how progressive they are.

  1. It was nothing reactionary but rather a silly anarchism-related game they didn’t personally like []