Thursday, 23 February 2017

Button-Mashing 'Tekken' Players Rejoice, Eddy Gordo Is Back

Leaked images from a press event in Brazil suggests that Tekken 7, the upcoming entry in the definitive 3D fighting game series, will feature Eddie Gordo. Fittingly enough, Gordo is a Brazilian character and uses the fast-paced Capoeira fighting style in the ring.

That isn't why some players may be excited, or horrified, to learn that Gordo will continue to keep up appearances in the Tekken series. Ever since his introduction in 1997 with Tekken 3, Gordo has been the ideal warrior for people who just generally suck at the game.

Every fighting game has one or two of them. From Cable to Captain America, the Marvel vs. Capcom games have more than their fair share. These are characters who cater to crude button mashers, players who don't know what they're doing but can get away with murder by pressing all the buttons at random.

Button mashers aren't invincible by any means, but move sets that are fast, flow well, and don't require a lot of technical finesse can create unpredictable situations. If you were a chess player, you might get a little nervous if you found out your next opponent was a chess-playing dog that just rolls around on the table and likes to eat bishops.

Fighting game fans don't exactly adore those characters or that style of play, but for the hopeless fighting game fans who enjoy playing more than winning, Eddy Gordo has always meant so much more. I, for example, a guy who sucks at Tekken, am a big fan!

Eddy Gordo has had disciples in the series, Christie Monteiro is the daughter of Gordo's master and took his slot in Tekken 4 (Gordo was still unlockable), but he's largely a constant. Gordo isn't just effective with button mashing, he looks pretty damn good doing it. He almost looks like you know what you're doing. He's a bit of wish fulfillment for the kinds of people who imagine themselves able to rise to the occasion without ever practicing for it. Those who imagine themselves master fighters, socializers, debaters, heroes, and video game players entirely in their imagination. Gordo is the rare manifestation of that in the real world. To everyone else he's a spinning top made of sweeping legs.

from Button-Mashing 'Tekken' Players Rejoice, Eddy Gordo Is Back

It Begins: Trump’s FCC Launches Attack on Net Neutrality Transparency Rules

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to eliminate open internet transparency protections for millions of consumers, in the Trump administration's most overt salvo yet in its nascent campaign to dismantle net neutrality protections.

As a result of Thursday's action, "thousands" of small and medium-sized internet service providers (ISPs) around the country are no longer required to give their customers detailed information about broadband prices, speeds and fees, according to the FCC.

The newly-rolled-back disclosure requirements, which were designed to help consumers make informed decisions when selecting an ISP, were a key part of the FCC's 2015 policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible.

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who was installed by the Trump administration to lead the agency last month, framed Thursday's action as a move to "relieve thousands of smaller broadband providers from onerous reporting obligations."

Pai, who has claimed to be a champion of "transparency," asserted that removing the disclosure requirements would allow ISPs to save money that can then be used for broadband deployment.

But consumer advocates blasted the move as a brazen attempt to undermine net neutrality protections that open internet advocates say are essential for economic growth, civic empowerment, and free speech.

"This represents yet another in a series of steps being taken to jettison pro-consumer initiatives, and we should not stand silent as consumer protections 'go gentle into that good night,'" Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a longtime open internet advocate who voted against the move, said at the agency's monthly meeting on Thursday.

"Consumers deserve truth in pricing information."

"Consumers deserve truth in pricing information," Sen. Edward J. Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement. "Instead of allowing ISPs to hide pricing information, the FCC should promote transparency so subscribers have all the background they need to make educated decisions about their broadband service."

FCC Chairman Pai has made no secret of his distaste for the FCC's net neutrality policy, which prohibits ISPs from favoring their own services or discriminating against rivals. Earlier this month, Pai halted the agency's inquiry into zero-rating, a controversial practice in which ISPs exempt certain services from data caps, effectively favoring those offerings at the expense of rivals.

Open internet advocates say such zero-rating practices violate open internet principles by creating the kind of discriminatory online environment that the FCC's net neutrality policy was designed to prevent.

Thursday's FCC action is the clearest signal yet that Pai and his Republican allies in Congress are determined to undermine net neutrality protections, an outcome that would hand a major victory to the nation's largest cable and phone companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

"Here's how cost-benefit analysis works in the Trump administration and at the Pai FCC: If any favored lobby like the cable industry claims that rules cost them money, the agency will zap those rules—without any regard for their benefits," said Matt Wood, policy director at DC-based public interest group Free Press.

Broadband providers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers were already exempt from the net neutrality transparency requirements. But Thursday's action boosts the exemption limit to companies with as many as 250,000 subscribers, a substantial increase that could affect as many as 9.7 million consumers, mostly in rural and underserved communities, according to Sen. Markey's office.  

By increasing the exemption limit, Pai has eliminated the transparency requirements for many firms that are actually local or regional subsidiaries of the nation's largest broadband companies, which remain subject to the disclosure rules, according to FCC Commissioner Clyburn.

"Many of the nation's largest broadband providers are actually holding companies, comprised of many smaller operating companies," said Clyburn. "So what today's Order does is exempt these companies' affiliates that have under 250,000 connections by declining to aggregate the connection count at the holding company level."

In other words, although Thursday's action does not overtly affect the nation's largest broadband companies, it could have the effect of covertly eliminating disclosure rules for smaller companies in which the broadband giants have a financial stake.

Not surprisingly, the American Cable Association, an industry trade group that represents hundreds of smaller and medium-sized ISPs around the country, praised the elimination of the transparency rules, which the group had long been lobbying against. "ACA thanks Chairman Pai and Commissioner O'Rielly for acting so swiftly to remove the uncertainty small ISPs have lived under for the past two months," ACA CEO Matthew M. Polka said in a statement.

Thursday's FCC action represents just the beginning of the Trump FCC's assault on net neutrality, according to tech policy experts. Public interest groups and open internet advocates are bracing for what could be an epic political battle over the issue, with some activists pledging direct action in the streets to protect the principle.

from It Begins: Trump’s FCC Launches Attack on Net Neutrality Transparency Rules

That Viral Video of Tigers Chasing a Drone Is From a Slaughter Farm, Folks

This morning, a video of Siberian tigers playfully hunting (and disemboweling) a drone was everywhere on the internet. A tweet from ITV News, a British television network, quickly made an appearance in dozens of stories.

"Wow, it's such a good video. All the beautiful tigers look up at the sky and run around. Eventually they get the drone, and get their heart rates up in the process. Good for them. Good for me," wrote The Verge.

But like so many good things online, this viral video is actually… bad.

John R. Platt, a science journalist, was the first to recognize the true origin of the footage: a tiger slaughter farm in northeast China called "Harbin Siberian Tiger Park." The full video was uploaded yesterday by Russia Today.

The tiger farm, according to Big Cat Rescue, has operated under the guise of an animal rescue for some time. Busloads of tourists are given the rare opportunity to gawk at fearsome felines that would otherwise rip your face off.

But Harbin Siberian Tiger Park also specializes in contraband like tiger bone, meat, pelts, and a speciality called "bone wine." A visit by McClatchy investigative reporters "found animals in deplorable conditions… merchants openly sold bone wine, despite a 1993 ban by China on bone products sourced from both domesticated and wild tigers."

Breeding captive tigers for the illegal trade of parts was condemned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2007. As a member of CITES, an international treaty that aims to protect wildlife and fauna from exploitation, China was strongly advised to shut down its remaining tiger operations.

Approximately 200 tiger farms are currently active in China. Only 20 Siberian tigers—perhaps less—exist in the wild in China.

In 2015, Harbin Siberian Tiger Park claimed to house 800 tigers on its property. It also keeps captive African lions, white tigers, and leopards.

Earlier this year, the Born Free Foundation, an animal welfare organization, raised concerns about photos of obese, "sick" tigers at the park.

"These tigers appear very obese, indicative of a wholly inappropriate and unnatural diet, woefully inadequate opportunities for natural behaviour and exercise, and the constants of captivity. In my view, this is not funny or 'cute.' These animals are ill," Will Travers, president of the Born Free Foundation, told

So before you smash the share button, reconsider whether you want to drive more attention and tourism to a tiger farm. Chances are, if you felt a modicum of joy after watching that video, you probably don't.

from That Viral Video of Tigers Chasing a Drone Is From a Slaughter Farm, Folks

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