The past four months, and the next chapter

… and we’re back!

Blogging is hard. Digital responsibility dictates that tackling the tough issues is social and career suicide, no matter which side is taken, and I, for one, don’t believe I’m self-centered enough to drone on about my life for hours on end.

Okay, maybe I am, but I’d never leave traces of it on the Internet.

*ahem*

I made myself the most divine ham and cheese sandwich today, complete with crinkle-cut kosher dill pickle chips and French’s classic yellow mustard. I can’t wait to drive to the store and pick up a gallon of milk — last time, I saw a classic car on the way. God, I’m so important.

Anyhow, I’ve been really busy for the past few months. I’ve been doing IT consulting for RT Software Systems full time, as well as a retail job at a Spirit Halloween in Troy. However, none of that captured my free time and my passion more than the Data Behind Bars project — earlier this year, my father acquired the Detroit Police Department’s 6th Precinct building in southwest Detroit — from the minute my feet hit the ground here in August, we’ve spent just about every shred of free time we’ve had shoveling debris, knocking down ceilings, and building doors and gates.

Along the way, I’ve had the unique opportunity to unearth history within the walls of the 1930s original building — we’ve found police records, memos, newsletters, and even shell casings from the indoor gun range. It’s been pretty awesome, actually — I have this kind of love affair with the city and its history, and I’ve discovered things that will eventually end up in the building’s mini-museum.

Next Friday, I leave for my first semester of college at MTU — and while I’m happy to be moving forward with my education, I feel like I’ll miss the 24/7, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of lifestyle I’ve been leading. (I’m sure my friends and family won’t miss me complaining about my perpetual exhaustion.)

What happened to patriotism?

us_flagLet’s talk about patriotism.

Patriotism is, generally speaking, cultural attachment to one’s homeland or devotion to one’s country, although interpretations of the term vary with context, geography and political ideology. It is a set of concepts closely related to those of nationalism.

That’s Wikipedia’s current (30 Sep 2014) definition of the word. Like just about any other subject nowadays, it carries a tone of caution, and almost politically tiptoes around the idea. In recent years, national pride, whether cultural or political, has become a controversial subject. Images like American bald eagles and the stars and stripes pictured above have become the subject of satire and mockery by the general public, with their image tied to fringe conservatives. (and, apparently, Nazis. Godwin’s Law, I guess.) Look at the recent reboots of Captain America — ever notice how drab the red, white, and blue has become? For that matter, even my involvement with the Boy Scouts has drawn questions, to the tune of “But you’re not Republican enough for that!”

Why must I be a “backwoods, fat, snaggletoothed drunk Republican from Texas” to care about my country?

Clearly, there is concern for what blind patriotism has done in recent history. Great atrocities have been done throughout mankind’s history “for the glory of <country>!” Propaganda, fear-mongering, and global big-sticking (and the suffering it has created) have tainted the image of the US, in particular. On the other hand, though, mass media sensationalism, radical individuals, and corruption of power can be held equally to blame.

Despite this, Old Glory seems to have taken the fall for just about everything bad we, the people have done. Contemporary cowardice has driven us away from our nation and the great things it has done (rather, what we have done), simply because, as a society, we are unable to own up and admit our mistakes, and have become very quick to shift the blame onto the country that we, on some level, don’t want to be associated with.

So, when I say I’m proud to be an American, that doesn’t mean I support everything my country’s people have supported, nor does it make me fat and bigoted.

All it means is that I’ve come to love the slice of the world I was born in, and the people that live around me. I don’t love any other people less for it, and by no means do I support my government in all cases.

In short, I’m nothing more than a man who loves his country. Label me how you will.

NPR misses the point on #gamergate

NPR recently did a bit on GamerGate, a movement calling for greater accountability and integrity among video game journalists and “gamer news” sites.

In a nutshell, GamerGate has its origins in a controversy surrounding Zoe Quinn, indie developer of Depression Quest, a game-let centering on living with depression. In 2013, when DQ was placed on Steam Greenlight, a user-driven game submission service, the response from Steam users was unsavory at best; rape jokes, death threats, and the rest of the spectrum of e-harassment the Internet is infamous for followed.

Fast forward eight months, and a disgruntled ex-boyfriend of Zoe’s airs their dirty laundry on a WordPress blog. “The Zoe Post” details, among other things, allegations that Zoe cheated on her boyfriend on several occasions. The rant was published to little effect — that is, until the names of several men listed on The Zoe Post are matched to journalists, bloggers, and devs in the gaming industry. (The Five Guys name and logo quickly became a humorous moniker for the controversy.) The Internet at large cried foul at the implication that Zoe traded sexual favors for favorable publicity for her game.

While the rumors about Zoe eventually turned out to be just that, the controversy sparked questions about the integrity of games journalism. Over the next few weeks, several discoveries were made:

  • Journalists from Kotaku, RPS, and several other sites were contributing to game developers through a donation service called Patreon, creating a conflict of interest in their reporting — in theory, journalists could give positive reviews to games they have financial interest in. Polygon and Kotaku have since revised their policies regarding Patreon.
  • On August 28th, nearly a dozen gaming news sites published very similar articles surrounding the controversy, with many proclaiming that “Gamers are dead.” A few weeks later, a leaker published information about a private mailing list used “to mold and manipulate game industry attitudes towards pertinent events,” which has been tied to the aforementioned articles.
  • #NotYourShield, a banner under which women and minorities in support of GamerGate rallied, was systemically attacked by journalists and game devs, including Quinn herself. (No concise or unbiased source on this, check out this article on GamerGate as a whole for more info — keep in mind that this article has a very clear bias, and doesn’t always cite good sources. Read at your own risk.)

As time goes on, GamerGate garners more attention from bigger names in the entertainment industry. So when I heard GamerGate ring over the radio on ATC, my ears perked up. To my dismay, however, the focus isn’t on the controversy itself, but is instead on the vocal few that have displaced Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, a YouTuber behind FeministFrequency, a channel which has garnered controversy of its own in the past. (Here’s a link dump from various viewpoints, read for yourself.)

In my opinion, the fact that NPR (or any major news outlet, for that matter) has yet to address the concerns on journalistic integrity surrounding GamerGate is of great concern — across the board, the focus of reports on GamerGate has been on every subject except the breaches in integrity themselves. Yes, the doxxing, harassment, and threats toward Quinn, Sarkeesian, and the others is newsworthy, but that doesn’t marginalize the significance of the outright corruption in the gaming news industry. If this trend continues — that is, if our journalists continue to ignore what GamerGate seeks to expose, then the only legacy of the movement will be the unsavory minority that has threatened to rape, kill, and harass these men and women — exactly what that NPR report laments.

 

I encourage you to read more on the subject, as there’s much that I haven’t covered (or don’t care to cover) here. As always, understand that no source is unbiased.

A million miles an hour

… *exhale*

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a turbulent month or so. I returned from camp on the 16th of August, after an amazing trip to Michigan’s UP. (Facebook friends, there are some excellent photos to be seen.) Since then, a few things have occurred.

  • I moved – I’m shelving up in Berkley, MI for the next few months, leading up to a move into college.
  • I got a job – I’ve begun subcontracting IT services through RT Software Systems, Inc., my father’s company.
  • I got another job – a close friend of mine brought me in to work at a Halloween store for the next few months.

It all sounds pretty tame on paper – a little packing and unpacking here, a few appointments there, some part-time work spaced in between, etc etc etc. But, for lack of a better description, my pants have been on fire since the minute I came downstate. A lot of all-nighters and odd hours, some car trouble, and a lack of sleep have left me unable to update my humble little blog here (which, I’ll have you know, just surpassed two hundred and seventy-five page views) – so, for that, I apologize.

However, there may be some interesting stuff in the works over the next few days.

Stay tuned.

Polishing an image

The other day, I stumbled across a deviantArt account I made six years ago.

Let that sink in for a second. Done?

In the wake of that discovery, I embarked on a noble quest to erase every trace of my 12 and 13 year old identity from the face of the Internet. While most of what I found was mundane and utterly ordinary, I can safely say that, at this point, no trace of the embarrassing and terrifyingly awful fanfiction I wrote in middle school remains, and that no soul shall ever again see YouTube comment wars and Internet fights with my name plastered all over them.

In case you’re ever motivated to do the same, a combination of deleting accounts, updating email addresses and changing passwords did the trick for me rather well.

And to answer the two burning questions:

  • There was no content on that deviantArt account.
  • No, you can’t read that fanfiction. The only digital copy remaining (I hope) is being analyzed by top men.

Top men

So, that happened…

Yeah, that happened.

As fate had it, a cable got loose on the server for the humble timsteele.com about a week after I left.

So, in short, I haven’t existed for three months. Sorry about that.

 

Expect a big update on life, the universe, and everything sometime in the next few days.

Some new additions

Quick news update, no frills.

  • Divided Bio section into “personal” and “tech
  • Fleshed out External Links section
  • Added a Minecraft server running vanilla 1.7.9 to the Web Services
  • Started working on SEO on the backend (y’know, so I can get more site traffic and further inflate my ego)

I’m disturbed at how quickly I racked up 9 NoScript entries — I’m gonna look into replacing my social buttons plugin and Disqus to remedy the issue.

A Question of Time (and news!)

By this time on Thursday, I’ll be innawoods. It seems I swam through an endless ocean of 0s and 1s to call forth a blog from the netherworld (well, more accurately, it was something like this), just in time to let it die over the next two months.

The reality of the situation is that, although I will be largely cut off from everything that isn’t trees and Boy Scouts, I will still have sporadic Internet access. As a result, everything you hear from me (here or otherwise) will, by and large, be sent between the hours of midnight and 6a.m. — but, for that matter, did you expect anything else?

So, for practical purposes, I won’t exist again until early August — get your fill of me while you can. I’ll have Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, but I’ll invariably be too busy to review email, social media, etc.

Don’t get any ideas, though: I still have two solid days to rot your brains.

News: Check out my Mumble VoIP server here. It’s one of a few miscellaneous services I plan to offer through the site — it’s free to use.

((The primary reason for this otherwise meaningless spot of banter was to test Twitter syndication: did it work?))

I made a thing

Turns out I’m not all talk.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen (well, not ladies, I guess), the moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here. Enter timsteele.com, your definitive source for all things minute-rice-guy. Just like that, my plans for world domination are one step closer to fruition — I’ve finally built the soapbox from which I will warp and mold the minds of the unknowing masses to my greater design.

or I could just jam the intertubes with unwarranted (and invariably undesired) perspectives on net neutrality and anonymity, poorly rehashed jokes, and pictures of cats — in short, I could write a blog.

Let’s do that.

I mean, yes, I have the ability to deliver concise and relatable commentary on modern political issues that could, in theory, help my readers understand the ever-changing landscape of contemporary politics,

BUT LOOK AT THIS CAT. IT’S SO TINY AND AAAAGHcat_napper-wide

Aside from that, I haven’t the slightest idea where this whole ordeal will lead, but self-importance and vanity dictates that I simply couldn’t not make it.

So yeah.

Signature.

EDIT: I’m going to apologize in advance to anyone who actually clicked that TVTropes link, and now finds themself drowning in an ocean of tabs.