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Report: Google wants to bring the Steam game store to… Chrome OS?

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Pictured: a hotrod gaming device.

Enlarge / Pictured: a hotrod gaming device. (credit: Valentina Palladino / Ron Amadeo)

We have a wild report from Android Police this morning, as the site claims that Google is working to bring official Steam support to Chrome OS. Yes, Valve's Steam. The gaming platform. On Chromebooks.

The story apparently comes from a direct source: Kan Liu, the director of product management for Chrome OS. During an interview with Liu at CES, the site says Liu "implied, though would not directly confirm, that Google was working in direct cooperation with Valve on this project." The idea is that, according the Liu, "gaming is the single most popular category of downloads for Play Store content on Chromebooks," and Steam would mean even more games.

Anyone can put Steam on Chrome OS now. Chrome OS supports Linux apps. Steam has a Linux client and sells Linux games. You can install Steam and use it as a Chrome OS game store right now. You wouldn't get the entire Windows collection of Steam games, but there is a modest-and-growing collection of games that support Linux. No one does this because Chromebooks are not gaming hardware. They usually have just enough GPU power to run YouTube, scroll a webpage, and that's about it—3D graphics are not really going to happen. To make matters worse, Chrome OS' hardware acceleration for the Linux sandbox is actually pretty bad, and nearly identical hardware can run games at a higher FPS using Windows or a real distribution of Linux.

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freeAgent
1 day ago
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This could actually be ChromeOS' killer app given that it's already used by so many students who are also likely to be into video games. However, they will have to overcome the main challenge of game availability and performance.
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Bolsonaro, Under Fire, Dismisses His Culture Minister For Giving a Nazi Speech, But It Is Still Representative of Brazil’s Governing Ethos

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, under severe pressure from multiple corners, on Friday fired his Culture Minister, Roberto Alvim, for recording and publishing what can only be described — with no hyperbole — as a Nazi speech about Brazilian art. Indeed, the speech, published by Alvim on Thursday, plagiarized Hitler’s Minister of Culture and Communications Joseph Goebbels and deliberately copied his style and aesthetic when decreeing what Brazilian art must be in the years to come:

“The Brazilian art of the next decade will be heroic and national. It will be endowed with a great capacity for emotional involvement and will be equally imperative, since it is deeply linked to the urgent aspirations of our people, or else it will be nothing” — Roberto Alvin, Brazil’s Culture Minister, January 15, 2020.

“The German art of the next decade will be heroic, romantic, objective and free of sentimentality, national with great pathos and equally imperative and binding, or nothing” — Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Culture Minister, October 8, 1933.

The Nazi content, style and aesthetics of the 6-minute speech, set to the score of a Wagnerian opera, are impossible to overstate or even adequately describe in words. It has to be seen to be believed. For that reason, the Intercept has translated the video of the speech and is publishing the first English-subtitled copy of it because it should be seen by everyone:

Brazil’s O Globo newspaper featured this surreal headline on its front page: “Bolsonaro fires Culture Minister after he copies Nazi speech.” The German paper Deutsche Welle featured the photo of the 1933 speech of Goebbels which Alvim copied next to the one delivered by the Brazilian Culture Minister to juxtapose how similar it was on all levels, beyond just the words:

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Deutsche Welle

The content of Thursday’s speech was nothing new for Alvim, once a respected theatre director who re-invented himself as a far-right religious fanatic. In his short stint as Bolsonaro’s Culture Minister and in the months leading up to his appointment by the Brazilian president, he has issued a series of similarly shocking comments, just not quite as shocking as blatantly and deliberately mimicking the speech, style and mannerisms of Adolf Hitler’s most notorious propagandist. 

On social media, he has declared himself fighting a “cultural war” in favor of “conservative artists”; denounced one of Brazil’s most beloved actresses, the 90-year-old Fernanda Montenegro, as a “dirty liar” for whom he harbors “contempt”; and attacked the Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa, whose documentary “Edge of Democracy” was just nominated for an Academy Award, as a leftist propagandist disseminating lies.

Notably, Alvim was fired only after the embassies of Germany and, far more importantly to Bolsonaro, Israel issued condemnations containing harsh language rare for diplomatic communications. The Israeli Confederation of Brazil said: “Such a person cannot command the culture of our country and must be removed from office immediately.” The German Embassy in Brazil said: “The period of National Socialism is the darkest chapter in German history, bringing infinite suffering to humanity….We oppose any attempt to trivialize or even glorify the era of National Socialism.” The center-right presidents of the Brazilian Senate and House also demanded Alvim’s firing, leaving Bolsonaro with little choice. When announcing the firing, Bolsonaro called the speech “an unfortunate pronouncement.”

But it is difficult to believe that absent those reactions, Bolsonaro would have fired his Culture Minister, whom he has repeatedly defended and praised, including in a Facebook live chat immediately prior to the instantly notorious Nazi speech, hailing him as representative of “the real culture.” Sitting with Alvim prior to his speech, the Brazilian president said: “Beside me, here, Roberto Alvim, our Culture Secretary. Now we do have a real Culture Secretary, that serves the interest of the majority of the Brazilian population, conservative and Christian population.”

Whatever else is true, Alvim’s speech, though more stylistically extreme and indelicate in how crassly it copied pure Nazisms, is consistent in content with the posture of the Bolsonaro government toward artistic expression and cultural norms generally. Bolsonaro — though currently on his third wife while still claiming to be devoutly Catholic — has also adopted a form of evangelic fanaticism, a rapidly growing political force in the country, as part of his public identity and ideology (his current wife is evangelical).

Bolsonaro, somewhat ironically in light of the current controversy, has also made unyielding devotion to Israel critical to his political and religious identity (he has traveled to Israel repeatedly, offered unstinting support for the Netanyahu government against Palestinians, and was baptized in 2016 in the Jordan River while the Brazilian Senate voted to impeach the center-left president Dilma Rousseff). 

 

While all of this has caused many of Brazil’s small Jewish communities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to support him, it has little to do with affection for Jews. Like many evangelicals, Bolsonaro appears to believe in some form of the Rapture (which, in its crudest form, holds that Israel must be united in order for Jesus to return and send all non-believers (including Jews) to hell), and like many authoritarians, adores Israel’s capacity of military and intelligence superiority and its animus towards Muslims, and wants as much of its surveillance technology as he can get for domestic purposes. As is true of many far-right leaders, Bolsonaro worships Israel but not necessarily Jews.

Aggressive and harsh public morality is a central prong of Bolsonaro’s political appeal. He featured as part of his 2018 campaign cultural themes similar to Alvim’s speech — including a false but highly effective warning that elementary school teachers were using something he calls “gay kits” to convert young children in order to allow homosexuals to recruit them as sex partners — and generally has waged a war on any art or artists who diverge from Bolsonaro’s vision of what pure nationalist art is. One of Alvim’s predecessors as Culture Minister resigned after the Bolsonaro government cut funding specifically to LGBT-themed art. 

Earlier this week, Academy Award nominations were unveiled and one of the five contenders for Best Documentary was a Netflix film by the Brazilian director Petra Costa called “Edge of Democracy,” which warns of the dangers faced by Brazilian democracy. Though the film principally focuses not on Bolsonaro but on the impeachment of Dilma and imprisonment and election-barring of Lula, it has become a target of contempt by the Brazilian Right. After it received its Oscar nod, both Alvim and Bolsonaro publicly denounced the film as leftist agitprop “fiction” (though Bolsonaro, when asked, acknowledged he never saw it).

A far graver assault on artistic expression occurred on Christmas Eve when a member of the right-wing party to which Bolsonaro belonged until recently threw a Molotov Cocktail at the building that houses Porta das Fundos, the production company responsible for a Netflix film that features a gay Jesus with a boyfriend. Bolsonaro’s Congressman-son had inveighed against the film as “trash.” Last week, a Bolsonaro-linked right-wing judge stunned the country, and Netflix, by issuing a censorship order forcing Netflix to remove the film from its streaming platform, a ruling overturned by a Justice of the Supreme Court.

Nazi-style nationalism and crude public assaults have been repeatedly featured by Bolsonaro in his remarks to journalists. On Thursady, addressing a new book critical of his government by a Brazilian reporter of Japanese descent, Thaís Oyama, Bolsonaro said he does not know what she is doing in Brazil, adding: “This journalist … In Japan she was going to starve to death.”

Last month, in response to a reporter’s question about the still-unfolding scandal involving his Senator-son’s corruption and the family’s links to violent paramilitary militias, the president said “you have a terribly gay face,” and told another reporter to “ask your mother about your father.” When questioned earlier this week about a scandal involving his Communications Minister who has private contracts with the same television outlets whose public budget he is responsible for determining, the president responded: “are you talking about your mother?”

A report issued earlier this week by a press freedom group documented that Bolsonaro is directly responsible for the majority of the attacks on journalists and media outlets. It cited, among other things, Bolsonaro’s repeated public incitements against journalists as well as his public threats that I might be imprisoned for the series of exposés published this year by the Intercept about his Justice Minister and his accusations that my marriage to a Brazilian Congressman and adoption of Brazilian children was a fraud.

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro pronounced that books in schools have too much content and need to be made “softer” and warned that “beginning in 2021, all the books will be ours,” proclaiming that they will have the Brazilian flag and national anthem on their cover. He added that “they will be made for us. The country will vibrate…. There will be the Brazilian flag on the cover, there will be the national anthem there.” He claimed that the “idiots” who have been in charge of Brazilian education have been propagandizing children with the “gender of ideology” that “encourages boys to wear skirts” and “other things that I don’t want to talk about here.” On Thursday, he said leftists “do not deserve to be treated like normal people.”

In sum, Bolsonaro has spent years spouting classically fascist ideology. The manifestation of undisguised Nazism by his Culture Minister was just a slightly more crass and naked expression of his ideology and mentality. Many Brazilian elites who supported Bolsonaro largely because of their admiration for his Chicago-trained, austerity-loving Economics Minister Paulo Gedes and his corrupt law-and-order Justice Minister Sergio Moro (the subject of the 2019 Intercept’s exposés) are now feigning shock and outrage. But Alvim’s speech simply shined a light on the true face of the Bolsonaro movement — one which all to many political and media elites decided to ignore, or pretend was just a game, because they were eager for the parts of Bolsonaro’s ideology that served their interests.

The post Bolsonaro, Under Fire, Dismisses His Culture Minister For Giving a Nazi Speech, But It Is Still Representative of Brazil’s Governing Ethos appeared first on The Intercept.

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freeAgent
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Brawny Disneyland guest removes park's sword in the stone

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Using sheer brute force, a Disneyland guest successfully removed Excalibur, the "sword in the stone," from its anvil in front of the King Arthur Carrousel. It was first reported that the sword was removed as part of a planned refurbishment but then a guest stepped up to share what really happened.

WDW News Today:

The sword is not removed for refurbishment. My friend Sam broke it last week on the 8th when we went to Disneyland. He literally ripped it out. The staff said that it was really old and that’s why he was able to do so. It was his first time at Disney and he’s a pretty buff dude, I told him if he pulled it out he’d win a prize and he just used brute force I guess lol. It was broken and jagged. The staff said they taped it off so no one would stick their fingers in and cut it on the broken piece left inside.

Unfortunately, the poor fellow didn't become King, as legend dictates. And a brand new sword has already been placed in its (freshly polished) anvil in its central Fantasyland spot. See photos of it at WDW News Today.

screengrab via Disney's Sword in the Stone Read the rest

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freeAgent
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India's largest state adopts new tactic in its crackdown on Muslims

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Rather than face accountability for using excessive force, authorities in India's largest state are directing residents to pay for damage resulting from antigovernment unrest.



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freeAgent
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Transgender Writer Forced to Retract Trans-Themed Science Fiction Story

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Clarkesworld, a well-regarded science fiction and fantasy web magazine, recently published first-time author Isabel Fall. The title of her story, "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter," alludes to a meme typically used to delegitimize transgender people. But the tale is anything but anti-trans: It's a surreal, mind-bending war story that turns the meme on its head. It was read and approved by sensitivity reviewers—some of them trans. Its author, Fall, is herself trans.

As far as I can tell, most of the social-media reaction to the story was positive. But a small number of militantly unhappy people attacked the story for offending them. Their harassment of Fall was so unpleasant that she asked Clarkesworld to un-publish the story, and the editor complied. "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" is canceled.

Clarkesworld editor Neil Clarke published a lengthy note about the removal that politely objected to the critics' most unreasonable claims. Some had apparently claimed that Fall's stated birth year—1988—was an alt-right dog whistle, since the double eights could be seen as referencing H.H. (H being the eighth letter of the alphabet), or "heil Hitler." This, of course, is conspiratorial nonsense (though I was also born in 1988, so some people will probably think the conspiracy just runs a little deeper).

But for the most part, Clarke accepted the criticism and apologized for publishing a piece that had offended a group of pathologically unreasonable people:

Even with ownvoices authorship [authors writing about their own race, class, sex, etc.] and ownvoices sensitivity reading, it is still possible to miss something. In this case we can see two groups of trans readers with directly opposing views that are deeply rooted in their own experience and perspectives. In some cases, what made the story speak to some is also what alienated others. Neither perspective is wrong, but they appear to be incompatible with one another on some level. Knowing that this was a potentially controversial story, we should have employed a broader range of sensitivity readers. This is not to say those we worked with failed, but rather that they only represented a slice of the community and additional perspectives could have helped inform us of a potential conflict. It may not have "fixed" things but it would have provided opportunities to better prepare ourselves and our readers for what lay ahead. This was an oversight….

That we didn't understand enough about trans politics to properly advise a new author who was wading into the deep end. I'm not suggesting that we tell an author what they can and can't say, but had the previous two items be done correctly, we would have been in a better place to prepare her. Because of those failures, our knowledge gap contributed to the problem….

In the meantime I offer my sincere apologies to those who were hurt by the story or the ensuing storms.

Clarke began his note with this statement: "This is not censorship. She needed this to be done for her own personal safety and health." An author self-canceling due to venomous harassment from a tiny cabal of ideological activists may not meet the strict definition of censorship, but it's certainly a blow to the spirit of artistic freedom. A stronger defense of Fall and her work was merited. This is capitulation.

Writing in his newsletter, Jesse Singal astutely summarizes the problem with Clarke's statement:

Clarke could have easily published a short statement with the general shape of, "Unfortunately, the author of this story, Isabel Fall, received a wave of harassment after it was published. She requested it be unpublished and I have regretfully agreed." Instead, he chose to stoke the idea that because people were offended by this story, there is something wrong with it. How else can one interpret his claim that someting was 'missed' and could have been 'fixed'? This is what I mean when I say he's pretending to support Fall but throwing her under the bus: He's absolutely accepting the framing of the hysterical online critics when he didn't have to at all.

But nowhere in this almost 1,400-word-long statement will you find a clear explanation of exactly what is wrong with the story. That's because the only accurate answer to that question is something like "Some people have very superficial but dearly held ideas about what gender is, and because this story took a more complicated and fraught and creative approach to its theories of gender—one which challenged those ideas—those people became deeply offended." That's why a story in a major sci-fi outlet had to be unpublished.

This episode demonstrates one of the most salient and oft-overlooked facts of cancel culture: The people most vulnerable to canceling belong to the very marginalized communities that the cancel-culture enforcers are purportedly protecting. These attacks on wrongthink do not help the oppressed. Indeed, it's often weaponized against them, attack-helicopter style.



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Family Sues DEA and TSA After Elderly Man's Life Savings Were Seized at Airport

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Terrence Rolin kept his life savings in a Tupperware container, but all that money now belongs to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), even though the 79-year-old retired railroad engineer hasn't been charged with a crime.

When Rolin's daughter, Rebecca Brown, tried to take her fathers' savings—$82,373 in cash—on an airplane, a DEA agent seized it simply because large amounts of cash are considered suspicious by the agency.

Brown and Rolin are now the lead plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, challenging the DEA and TSA's practice of seizing large amounts of cash from airline passengers without any evidence of any underlying crime.

"Flying with any amount of cash is completely legal, but once again we see government agents treating American citizens like criminals," Institute for Justice senior attorney Dan Alban said in a press release. "You don't forfeit your constitutional rights when you try to board an airplane. It is time for TSA and federal law enforcement to stop seizing cash from travelers simply because the government considers certain amounts of cash 'suspicious.'"

Rolin and Brown's trouble started last August. Rolin had asked his daughter to take his money and open a joint savings account, the Washington Post reports:

Rebecca Brown was catching a flight home from the Pittsburgh airport early the next day and said she didn't have time to stop at a bank. She confirmed on a government website that it's legal to carry any amount of cash on a domestic flight and tucked the money in her carry-on.

But just minutes before departure in late August, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent met her at the busy gate and questioned her about the cash, which showed up on a security scan. He insisted Brown put Rolin on the phone to confirm her story. Brown said Rolin, who is suffering mental decline, was unable to verify some details.

"He just handed me the phone and said, 'Your stories don't match,'" Brown recalled the agent saying. "'We're seizing the cash.'"

The DEA then notified Brown that it was seeking to permanently forfeit Rolin's life savings. Neither Rolin or Brown have been charged with a crime.

In the meantime, the lawsuit says the loss of Rolin's savings has left him unable to fix his truck, which is his primary means of transportation, or get needed dental work.

"My father and his parents worked hard for this money, and the government shouldn't be able to reach into his pocket and take it," Brown said a press release. "We did nothing wrong and haven't been charged with any crime, yet the DEA is trying to take my father's life savings. His savings should be returned right away, and the government should stop taking money from Americans who are doing something completely legal."

In cases like Brown's, the DEA seizes cash using civil asset forfeiture, a practice that allows police to seize cash and property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is not charged with a crime.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement seize millions of dollars in cash every year in drug interdiction operations, much of being transported along highways and through airports. In 2016, a USA Today investigation found the DEA seized more than $209 million from at least 5,200 travelers in 15 major airports over the previous decade.

Police groups say civil forfeiture is a vital tool that allows them to disrupt drug trafficking by targeting its illicit proceeds.

However, civil liberties groups say there are few safeguards to protect innocent owners, who bear the burden of challenging the seizure to get their property back.

The Institute for Justice lawsuit claims the DEA has a practice or policy of seizing currency from travelers at U.S. airports without probable cause simply if the dollar amount is greater than $5,000. This practice, the suit argues, violates travelers' Fourth Amendment rights.

In 2016, Reason profiled the case of Charles Clarke, a college student who was robbed of $11,000 dollars at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport by a local police officer who was deputized by the DEA. The officer claimed Clarke's suitcase smelled like marijuana, although no drugs were found in it. Clarke, helped by the Institute for Justice, got his money back in an agreement with the Justice Department.

A 2017 report by the Justice Department Inspector General found that the DEA seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of drug activity over the previous decade, but $3.2 billion of those seizures were never connected to any criminal charges.

The report reviewed 100 cash seizures and found that only 44 of those were connected to or advanced a criminal investigation. The majority of seizures occurred in airports, train stations, and bus terminals, where the DEA regularly snoops on travel records and maintains a network of travel industry employees who act as confidential informants.

A 2016 Justice Department Inspector General report chastised the DEA for recruiting a TSA screener as an informant and promising the screener a cut of the proceeds from forfeited cash that he discovered.

A DEA spokesperson, per the agency's policy, declined to comment on ongoing litigation.



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freeAgent
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