Facebook Games: the 90’s called and MSN Messenger wants its users back

Facebook has decided to roll out games on its app.  We are reliving the technological cycle that came with MySpace and MSN Messenger in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

In the latest version of the app, open a conversation with a friend (or friends!), tap on the game controller icon just below where you type your message, and choose a game to start playing right away. After you finish a round, people in the conversation will see your score and will have the opportunity to challenge you back.

Game On: You Can Now Play Games on Messenger

If anyone remembers MSN Messenger back in the day, it had this exact same feature with its set of supposed “classic games”.  Since then, it has been obsoleted by Skype, which does not feature games in its app.

Is the idea to make its users spend more time in app, which supposedly will increase advertising or micro-transaction revenue? If history dictates anything, this fad will be short-lived. What makes Facebook less immune to a collapse like that of MySpace and MSN Messenger?

After all, I entered the online “classic game” arena with GameSlush.com after seeing the disappearance of Yahoo! Games and MSN Games. These behemoth companies, Yahoo! and Microsoft, have already cut their leisure gaming divisions because they simply don’t make enough return on investment for their upkeep and development costs.  On the other hand, it really does just take a staff of one (e.g. myself) to replace that niche market, resulting in a nimbler game venue that can pivot easier to what the users want.

If Facebook wants to pile on money hiring dozens of graphic artists, game developers, and software engineers for their new gaming division, that’s their choice. I’m not sure if they did their research on what happened in the past with Microsoft and Yahoo. Let’s see how investors react and whether they can recognize that history may be repeating itself.

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If supporting small business and classic games pique your interest, GameSlush.com might be for you. If you want to support Zuckerberg and his desire to build a tech monopoly, that’s up to you too.

Rising Hydro: Wynne and Trudeau tag team to put Ontario into poverty

Climate change, carbon taxes, green energy, rebates.  For a province and country so rich in natural resources, such that it has a large surplus to export to the northern United States, its own citizens are getting ripped off badly for using their own natural resources. The current government, with its entire arsenal of buzzwords to justify raking its citizens over the coals regarding energy usage, continues to demand more money in the form of carbon taxes and rising hydro prices, only to squander it on their ineffective green energy projects.  The cost has increased so much that in some cases, monthly hydro bills have exceeded monthly incomes:

Hucul’s monthly bill is $309, even though she doesn’t heat with hydro, doesn’t have a dishwasher, dries clothes by her wood stove and doesn’t leave lights on outside. Eight years ago her bill was $80.

Food bank users unable to afford hydro: group

While the government creates the problem, it simultaneously proposes itself as the solution to the problem — an effective strategy to stay in power and continue siphoning money from the peasants. Offering “rebates” and other forms of “tax relief” is a sick joke on Canadian taxpayers.

Man-made climate change, if real (and that’s a big “if” considering all the religiously fanatical environmental propaganda floating around), isn’t defeated with carbon taxes and levies on energy bills. Energy independence is best achieved if that money is kept by the people, energy costs are minimized, so that private enterprises have more finances and flexibility to discover sustainable, clean energy solutions.

Instead, everyone is forced into a rut, with all the cash of taxpayers and small, private businesses funneled through the incompetent, technologically inept and unskilled government that supposedly knows the solution to solving the problems of global warming (now known as climate change, or global cooling in the 1970s, or whatever they decide to label their fabricated problems these days).

Canada, having a population of less than 3% of China’s, shouldn’t even be meddling with carbon taxes and higher electricity prices. Focus on enterprise and sell the solutions to China. That would make a real impact both economically and environmentally. Canadian taxpayers are now encouraged to live a 19th century lifestyle to make ends meet, and any reduction of so-called “carbon emissions” and energy usage achieved is infinitesimal compared to China’s daily environmental impact.

Canada, and Ontario particularly, needs to take a stand and tell the government to take a hike on their tax hikes. Stop feeding the monster before it demands more.

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You only have to pay for your hydro to play at GameSlush.com. Just be sure to turn off all the lights and the heat in your home while you’re there.

Black Friday as an economic indicator, mainly because only garbage is on sale

The iconic sight of long lines at 5 am, filled with desperate consumers looking for a deal marks Black Friday, the day immediately proceeding U.S. Thanksgiving. It is on this Black Friday, and every other Black Friday, where consumers get a hold of substantial discounts … on garbage stores are desperately trying to get rid of.

A lot of the electronics on sale are of the refurbished kind: initial product failures and returns that have been cleaned, repackaged, sometimes re-branded, and sold at a deceptively deep discount, if you compared the price to a brand new non-refurbished version of the same product. Carried by the hype of Black Friday, these inferior products, which would normally be passed by more cautious consumers during almost any other time of year, sell out quickly.

Other products, not just electronics, show MSRPs well above what it should be outside of Black Friday. A normal, if not mediocre sale price, gives an illusion of a deep discount. Again, carried by the hype of Black Friday and signs promising “50+% off”, items that would normally be passed by more cautious consumers during almost any other time of year, sell out quickly.

Currently both the Canadian and U.S. governments paint a rosy picture for the economy and Black Friday sales will test the health of the consumer-based economy. Disposable income will dictate how much garbage these stores can unload to the blind consumer. If sales are good, then it’s safe to say that people are still feeling somewhat confident of the economic situation, and can afford to be reckless with their money. If sales are in decline, then consumers are probably pinching pennies. In today’s low interest rate environment, if it is indeed the latter, it is safe to say that in the economy is doing much more poorly than imagined.

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Avoid the rush at the shopping malls. Stay home and play a game at GameSlush.com instead.

Canada’s phony housing-based GDP paints a bleak picture

What can you get for $500,000 today?  You could buy one “cozy” shoe box condo in the sky in a gentrified neighbourhood in chilly Toronto, or two detached houses on huge lots beside a golf course in sunny Florida. The strange thing is that Americans think that their prices are reminiscent of 2008 and they think that they are back in a housing bubble.

That’s a scary thought.  Here’s an equally scary graphic:

Housing is by far the largest contributor to Canadian GDP, and that’s a bad thing.

 

Houses, which generally produce nothing in the long run, is the largest contributor to the government’s phony GDP numbers. Of course Canada’s economy looks great, if you base it entirely on housing, a sector propped up entirely by artificially low interest rates leading to massive speculative bets that even your risk averse grandmother takes part in.

Real economic growth comes from producing wealth from close to nothing or very little. Extraction of resources, research and development, and then production of goods is what leads to real growth. It leads to real exportable technology and products that can be traded for other goods not easily manufactured in Canada. It results in money being made, and time being saved. Houses trading for higher and higher speculative prices do none of that, and do not belong in the government’s GDP report.

Couple the phony inflation numbers with this phony GDP report and the reality is that Canada is not doing as well as the government says. Until that speculative housing money is pushed into real industry, Canada will not see a real booming economy any time soon. The more the housing bubble gets inflated, the more capital that is squandered and put into the hands of global lenders through future interest payments on giant loans, rather than to local industry.

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If you don’t like scary graphics, you’ll probably enjoy more aesthetically pleasing graphics at GameSlush.com.

Echo chambers: Facebook and social media need to be scrapped

Social media is perhaps the biggest misnomer today. Social media has played a major role in the rapid ascent of cultural Marxism that has enveloped academia, television, the press and urban centres in the past decade. The term “echo chamber” accurately describes this phenomenon, and illustrates a good reason to rename Facebook and the like as anti-social media:

Excerpt from Jordan Peterson’s Nov. 16, 2016 video (full video link)

 

The algorithms behind “Trending topics”, personalized Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds and YouTube video “Recommendations” are the driving forces behind social media technology. They will show only material that aligns with the user’s opinions, effectively filtering out any opposing viewpoints. Technologically and economically speaking for the social media companies, this business model works well in gaining repeat customers: users become addicted to the positive stimuli, hearing their viewpoints affirmed by thousands of friends, followers and others sharing similar sentiments. Socially and long-term economically speaking for society, however, these algorithms are nefarious, because it becomes extremely difficult for users to step back and analyze ideas from an independent, objective, and rational perspective. The current trend we are on, particularly now with these companies identifying and blocking what they deem to be “fake news”, is being forced to live in their echo chamber: a chamber that echoes the values of cultural Marxism, political correctness and economic socialism. This is not far from the propaganda campaigns that led to the rise of murderous Communist societies in the past.

Coupled with the fact that social media has also bred high levels of narcissism and hedonism, I would say the cons of social media significantly outweigh the pros. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites need to be scrapped. Get rid of the recommendation and social media feed algorithms. Better yet, get off Facebook, step back into reality and get to know the rest of the world.

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Playing a game at GameSlush.com is one way to escape the social media echo chamber.

Vancouver Passes Tax on Empty Homes, Canadian Annual Inflation Rate Reported at 1.5 percent

Despite the Canadian Press reading more like opinion pieces than objective news nowadays, these two articles are objective enough, and when taken at face value, paint a picture of the government supposedly doing their job.

Annual inflation rate 1.5 per cent in October, in line with expectationshttp://www.thecanadianpress.com/english/online/OnlineFullStory.aspx?filename=DOR-MNN-CP.d6fa08c6972f4982a6d273c258d0dcfd.CPKEY2008111303&newsitemid=39501401&languageid=1

City of Vancouver approves empty homes tax: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/city-of-vancouver-approves-empty-homes-tax-1.3853542

1.5% inflation already sounds like B.S. to most Canadians. The government alongside the Bank of Canada does its best accounting to manipulate the numbers so that it gives the impression they know what they’re doing with regards to interest rates. Reality paints an obviously different picture. The cost of housing and rent, excluding some parts of hard hit Alberta, have skyrocketed throughout most of Canada, with double-digit percentage increases being posted in the Toronto and Vancouver areas. The rising cost of groceries ($8 cauliflower?), have been popular water cooler talk, particularly at times when the Canadian dollar hit new lows against the U.S. dollar. Oil, despite trading in the 40 USD range, pegs the cost of gas nowhere near where it should be during similar times in the 1990’s when oil reached a similar level.

This is thanks to even more government intervention in the form of taxes and regulation in the past two decades. Its interference with the free market has lined the pockets of bureaucrats with taxpayers’ money. Trusting the government with its inflation reports is like trusting a mischievous student that wrote his own report card. There’s more intervention in the works that will continue the current trend of bad economic policy: carbon taxes and this new “empty homes tax”.

Rather than addressing the root cause of skyrocketing house prices, that is low interest rates backed by taxpayers’ money through the CMHC which allow banks to lend recklessly, Vancouver has decided to add a new tax. Despite the mayor saying the tax is not a cash grab, like any drug an addict gets his hands on, the government will not be able to let go of the tax so easily, even after a correction in housing prices. It figures any new “sin tax” becomes permanent once their budget revolves around the added income collected from the new tax. Get rid of artificially low interest rates, get government out of the way of the free market, and have prices correct to where they belong. At the moment the only winners to come out of this bubble are the banks and the government. Taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

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If you’re sick of paying more taxes and more for everything else while the government says you and the economy are doing just fine, you might like playing a game at GameSlush.com to escape reality.

Google Aims to Block Fake News, but who determines what fake news is?

In the wake of complaints about rampant misinformation affecting the presidential election, Alphabet, Inc. (GOOGL) subsidiary Google announced on Monday that it is working on an update that will restrict ad-selling software from appearing on fake news sites.

[…]

Social media giant Facebook, Inc. (FB) and to a lesser degree Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) have also come under fire for what critics perceive as enabling questionable and unverified content that appears on news feeds. And that’s a big deal, given that the Pew Research Center says almost half of Americans get their news from Facebook as opposed to established media entities. But Google’s decision to restrict ad selling on fake news sites could be about preserving its own credibility.

Read more: Google Aims to Block Fake News (GOOGL, FB) | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/news/google-aims-block-fake-news-googl-fb

“Questionable and unverified content”, according to whom? Those that do the verifying — aren’t they questionable themselves?

In an effort to stifle free speech and the open market of ideas, technology companies are taking a partisan stance and siding with the corrupt mainstream media, to act as filters of information for “half of Americans”. That does not bode well for these technology companies. They should instead be focusing on simply being the means of transporting the message, but not as biased moderators of the message.  Leave it to the public to determine the credibility of their sources. If the public does not learn how to critically think about the material they read, then they will be more susceptible to brainwashing. Brainwashing, perhaps, is the intent of Google, Facebook and Twitter all along?

Here’s an example from the article itself:

On Sunday, the advertising juggernaut was accused of serving up its own brand of fake news in the form of search results for “final election numbers,” which yielded a false news story claiming President-elect Donald Trump won the popular vote.

False? Who said with complete veracity that Trump lost the popular vote, and why is that particular view considered factual? At the time of publication, there were legitimate arguments on both sides regarding the popular vote. If all the votes were tallied from Michigan and other states whose unreported counties were probably going to be voting in favour of Trump, there is an argument to be made that he may have won the popular vote. At the same time, he may not have won the popular vote merely taking into account the reported numbers after the election was called. However, the popular vote does not make a difference in the outcome of the election (electoral college votes are the ones that matter) hence why the accuracy of the popular vote should be contentious, and why it should be open for debate. If they plan on censoring such arguments, it becomes clear the ones who control what is fake and what is real will push their biases on to the populace, preventing people from discovering what they perceive to be factual on their own. The Ministry of Truth, a.k.a. the established media entities, will reign supreme.

Google, Facebook and Twitter will do technology and everyone a huge favour by being as non-partisan and apolitical as possible, before setting precedent on censoring and limiting free speech on the Internet, before becoming another propaganda outlet for the Ministry of Truth. It may be time for newer social media sites to take over, like gab.ai over Twitter, in order to preserve open dialogue.

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If the U.S. election and this article stresses you out, de-stress a little and play a game at GameSlush.com.