Attack of the Marxists

Summary and author's notes of the fanfic Comrade Skywalker: Episode III: Revenge of the Capitalists by An Aroused Koala (user's avatar is Anakin Skywalker wearing a red Che Guevara t-shirt)

"Episode III: Revenge of the Capitalists by An Aroused Koala

Karl Marx's birthday is May 5th. Star Wars day is May 4th. Coincidence? I
think not. This is the story of Anakin Skywalker - the legendary Comrade destined to seize the means of production and bring equality to the galaxy - as he discovers his Communist calling. (Please read this in the same voice as the Clone Wars opening narration)

Palpatine and Dooku Corporately Collude

AN - This is the third installment in the Comrade Skywalker series. It follows on from COMRADE SKYWALKER: ATTACK OF THE COMRADES, which in turn is the sequel to COMRADE SKYWALKER: THE PRIVATE PROPERTY MENACE. Please consider reading said fictions first, as together they form the most efficient path to Marxist enlightenment.

Happy reading Comrades! May the Revolution be with you!"

It’s wonderful to find something as deranged as this fanfic.

Episode III: Revenge of the Capitalists by An Aroused Koala

Karl Marx’s birthday is May 5th. Star Wars day is May 4th. Coincidence? I think not. This is the story of Anakin Skywalker – the legendary Comrade destined to seize the means of production and bring equality to the galaxy – as he discovers his Communist calling. (Please read this in the same voice as the Clone Wars opening narration)

Palpatine and Dooku Corporately Collude

AN – This is the third installment in the Comrade Skywalker series. It follows on from COMRADE SKYWALKER: ATTACK OF THE COMRADES, which in turn is the sequel to COMRADE SKYWALKER: THE PRIVATE PROPERTY MENACE. Please consider reading said fictions first, as together they form the most efficient path to Marxist enlightenment.

Happy reading Comrades! May the Revolution be with you!

The Internet lately has become smaller and smaller, a thing circumscribed by the consolidation of media and the demands of website and app owners. But there are still people out there keeping alive the anarchic and chaotic spirit of the early web.

I mean, rewriting the Star Wars movies so that Anakin Skywalker is a communist? Who would think to do that? This fic writer, that’s who. And good lord, they’ve also written a fic about Trotsky?

How great a thing it is to feel so powerfully that you must unleash your emotions to share it with the world. I feel nostalgic for those noisy days of yore.

Facebook surveillance PS (Post-Snowden)

Anyone ever downloaded their Facebook data? I did that a couple of days ago and the zip file was around 100 Megabytes.

I’ve skimmed through the data dump and there’s nothing surprising in my posts and whatnot. When I signed up for Facebook I was a grad student researching online communities so I was always reading about how Internet messages can come back to bite their users in the ass. One must always be careful what one puts out there for public consumption. There are entire folders in my data download that are empty thanks to me having gone data paranoid a full decade before most people did. I think I set Facebook to maximum privacy settings in 2007 and have kept it there ever since, plus I use ad blockers like crazy.

I was, however, reminded that Facebook was a lot bitchier about hiding messages and that there were a few from people that I didn’t see until years later (mostly people I met overseas while backpacking so I guess they thought I was being the bitchy one and ignoring them).

The part that had the most surprises was the section outlining which advertisers know about me (around 50 groups). Some of them I can figure out – the California Republican Party, for example, probably got my email from my conservative relatives in the US – but there are others that are just mysterious.

Why, for example, are there like 10 different Turkish musicians that have my info? It’s possible they learned about me through Spotify, but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Turkish music on there, or ever. I guess I could email those people but I’m almost positive the individual musicians themselves don’t know what’s going on and it’s their marketing company that’s responsible. Plus I don’t really want to read machine translated PR speak. Anyway they’re wasting their time since my ad blocker means I get zero ads online.

I also requested a download of all my Google data, which comes to 9 Gigabytes. This is unsurprising considering how tightly I’m enmeshes in the Google data ecosystem. I think skimming through this will be a project of several evenings and weekends.

Thank you, Clickhole

I don’t read Clickhole regularly, but I acknowledge that when this absurdist satire of clickbait articles is on point, it is on point. Sometimes I have trouble breathing from how much I’m laughing. My latest favourites:

Making A Difference: These Barely Legal Teens Got Together And Cleaned Up Their Local Park

Whether they were pigtailed petites with daddy issues, all-natural Latinas, or twink teen boys, every single one of them showed up bright and early to make a difference. No matter their background, these barely legal teens united to clean up over 100 pounds of waste and install a new plastic play structure, and Modesto residents took notice[.]

Think Bullying Is Okay? So Do I. Let’s Be Friends.

Remember: By doing nothing, you are personally contributing to a culture of bullying. You are complicit. And that’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about, because I actually don’t really care about whether or not I’m part of the problem.

Quiz: Will You Make A Suitable Bride For Oscar Isaac?

This last one is a brilliantly bizarre fairy tale disguised as a Buzzfeed quiz. I don’t know who writes these things, but they’re goddamn geniuses.

Russia’s department of trolls

Your reminder that we’re living in the 21st century:

The Agency

From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.

Around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 last year, Duval Arthur, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, got a call from a resident who had just received a disturbing text message. “Toxic fume hazard warning in this area until 1:30 PM,” the message read. “Take Shelter. Check Local Media and”

St. Mary Parish is home to many processing plants for chemicals and natural gas, and keeping track of dangerous accidents at those plants is Arthur’s job. But he hadn’t heard of any chemical release that morning. In fact, he hadn’t even heard of Columbia Chemical. St. Mary Parish had a Columbian Chemicals plant, which made carbon black, a petroleum product used in rubber and plastics. But he’d heard nothing from them that morning, either. Soon, two other residents called and reported the same text message. Arthur was worried: Had one of his employees sent out an alert without telling him?

If Arthur had checked Twitter, he might have become much more worried. Hundreds of Twitter accounts were documenting a disaster right down the road. “A powerful explosion heard from miles away happened at a chemical plant in Centerville, Louisiana #ColumbianChemicals,” a man named Jon Merritt tweeted. The #ColumbianChemicals hashtag was full of eyewitness accounts of the horror in Centerville. @AnnRussela shared an image of flames engulfing the plant. @Ksarah12 posted a video of surveillance footage from a local gas station, capturing the flash of the explosion. Others shared a video in which thick black smoke rose in the distance.

Dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians, from Louisiana to New York City, found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster. “Heather, I’m sure that the explosion at the #ColumbianChemicals is really dangerous. Louisiana is really screwed now,” a user named @EricTraPPP tweeted at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Heather Nolan. Another posted a screenshot of CNN’s home page, showing that the story had already made national news. ISIS had claimed credit for the attack, according to one YouTube video; in it, a man showed his TV screen, tuned to an Arabic news channel, on which masked ISIS fighters delivered a speech next to looping footage of an explosion. A woman named Anna McClaren (@zpokodon9) tweeted at Karl Rove: “Karl, Is this really ISIS who is responsible for #ColumbianChemicals? Tell @Obama that we should bomb Iraq!” But anyone who took the trouble to check would have found no news of a spectacular Sept. 11 attack by ISIS. It was all fake: the screenshot, the videos, the photographs.

The end of the world and what happens after

Archive of Our Own recently discussed something that I’ve never given much thought: what happens to our online presence after we die.

Okay, say you get run over by a bus. Hard luck, but death is that greatest of levellers which brings low the mighty and the weak. But there’s that Facebook account, the Gmail address, the blog, that thing of yours on Tumblr, the YouTube Let’s Play videos you’ve uploaded, and all the rest of the digital works that you leave behind as an online reminder that the world once contained you. What happens to all of that when you’re gone?

Nothing consistent, that’s what. Different sites have different policies, and it is likely that they won’t match exactly what you would want to be done after your death.

Well and good. This is the 21st century, after all, so why not write a social media will? Your executor will need to do all sorts of things that you’ve instructed them, after all, so why not include a few lines about your Facebook account on your will?

But there’s the rather sensitive sticking point of fanfiction. Maybe your executor isn’t someone you want reading your embarrassing works, which you were only comfortable sharing with anonymous people online instead of the aunt who knew you when you were in diapers. Even if you’re not leery of having the person responsible for selling your possessions handle your Transformers fics, they won’t necessarily be a fan of the same things you were and won’t understand exactly what to do with your stuff.

Enter the fannish next of kin. They’ll understand which fics you wanted deleted and which fics you were okay with leaving for future generations to peruse (and maybe laugh at). It’s a nice idea, and it’s one I’m glad Archive of Our Own came up with.

For myself, as someone who’s studied history I say preserve my fics until the heat death of the universe. I admit that they aren’t great literature, but there’s something to be learned even from the most unassuming of writings – linguistic quirks, the zeitgeist of a specific era, how ideas are propagated, and many more things I am unable to imagine.

Enjoy my fics, future people. I poured my heart and soul into them, once upon a time.

Our enemy is our lack of funding

You may know that Studio Trigger went to Kickstarter to fund a new installment for their anime, Little Witch Academia. It seems other studios have followed in their wake, with Under the Dog being the next anime to join the crowdfunding ranks.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this turn in the industry but not overly enthused. There’s a chance that studios will end up marketing to ever smaller niches, for example.

Of course, there’s also no guarantee of quality or originality. This Under the Dog thing is apparently about child soldiers drafted by the UN, for instance. I’ll wait until the reviews come in, but I’ll keep an eye out in the meantime.

How Crunchyroll works

So, Crunchyroll: you pay the subscription fee and you get to watch the shows in the catalogue that are licensed in your region, right? Simple enough. But how exactly is your money divvied up among the different studios whose work Crunchyroll streams?

Apparently, your subscription fee is allocated according to the anime you watch. Quoth Crunchyroll’s CEO, “[T]he money is split proportionately among those shows depending on which ones you watch the most”.

What this means for me, personally, is that I’ve paid money to support right wing military porn, a show about Lovecraftian monsters if they were teenage lesbians, and one where antisocial shut-ins prove their superiority as leaders and as human beings.

Sorry, everyone. I’m the reason the industry sucks.

KISS discovers anime

Via Crunchyroll, it seems that Gene Simmons of the obscure indie band KISS has discovered anime. Specifically, he discovered LoveLive!, which seems to be about high school girls forming a pop group to save their school from dissolution. The particular screenshot which piqued Monsieur Simmons’ curiosity was from an episode where the characters dress up as a certain group of white-faced leather queens.

Gene Simmons tweeting a screencap of the characters of Love Live in KISS makeup asking,

Of the anime I have nothing to say, as I’ve never seen it and I’m getting moe* vibes from the summary. I do find it hilarious that when Simmons asked Twitter where a screenshot of the anime was from, one smartass gave him the name of a pornographic direct to video series about underage male crossdressers.

We now return to your regularly scheduled program.

*Moe: slang term for a subgenre of anime and manga. I would define it as the fetishization of female helplessness, which is exactly as off-putting as it sounds.

The language of Narcissus

Two warriors cleaving a goblin in two in Dragon's Dogma

So I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned I’m into Dragon’s Dogma. I’m at that particular stage of video game obsession where when I’m not playing it, I’m thinking of playing it.

A related obsession has sprung up for me, though, and that’s the obsession of posting screenshots. You can take and upload screenshots directly from the game. This is not such a big thing for computer players, but trust me when I say this feature is fairly novel for this generation of video game consoles.

See for yourself how much I’m uploading to the official video game website (the answer is several pics everyday). It’s fun to document your fictional adventures and put them up for strangers to view. It’s fun even when no one sees your pics, but it’s even better when random people on the Internet actually compliment you on them.

I did notice, however, that the majority of the screenshots posted are from Japanese players. Not only that, but the uploaders often write a short blurb to which other players respond. I can’t read Japanese but it’s obvious that there’s a community of Japanese players carrying on conversations and connecting with each other through their enjoyment of the game.

However, there is no similar community of English speaking players on the game website. There are anglophone players, but compared to the number and visibility of the Japanese players they’re a drop in the bucket.

It’s not as if the narcissism of the screenshot is unknown outside of Japan. Do I even need to mention that the word “selfie” exists?

I would theorize that the dominance of Japanese players is due to a couple of reasons. The first is that the Japanese Internet is more centralized than that of other linguistic communities. A gigantic amount of Internet traffic in Japan goes through one website, 2ch. It’s my understanding that it’s basically an old school BBS with a few modifications and apparently still has that terrible web design from the 1990s that oldsters might remember. Even if they’re not on it, a Japanese Internet user will at least have heard of the site.

No equivalent website exists for the English Internet. Players would be on several different message boards, blogs, and gaming sites, so one single service would not dominate.

Of course, the Dragon’s Dogma site is integrated directly into the game, so players should at least be discovering it that way. Thus, the second reason I would say that so few English speakers can be found on the game site is due to is popularity – namely, its popularity with Japanese players. An English-speaking player might share a few screenshots and go to the game site hoping for some discussion, then discover that most of the existing conversation is in another language. They might make a few attempts at connecting with other English-speaking players, and a few die hards might stick around, but the majority will retreat to their own gaming forums or even just give up on connecting at all.

There might be all this rhetoric about the Internet allowing one to connect with a yak herder in Nepal, but in truth the Internet is a very segregated place. Users talk mostly to people in their own country. This does make sense, after all – how many Korean TV shows are shown in the USA, for example? Who else would Korean fans talk about their favourite TV show with but with other Koreans? Of course, there are languages with international reach and emigrant diasporas, so there’s still a bit of internationalism online. But not as much as all the ads back in the 90’s would make you think.