Archive for May, 2011


May 31, 2011

“According to figures from the China Internet Centre, nearly [$2 billion] of make-believe currencies were traded in China in 2008”
Gold Farmer

In 2006 I wrote about the gold farming industry in massive multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft. These games are a very popular multi-billion dollar industry with more people playing them in America than work in agriculture, and players like to get things in them that are difficult or expensive to obtain. Gold farmers go and make as much money as they can with often dull and repetitive actions, then sell that gold.

This is game money, non existent units of fake gold in a game setting, consisting of nothing more than 1’s and 0’s on a server farm. People pay real money for this fake money, exchanging dollars and lira and yen for gold in various games.

Some of these farmers are young players who make a living playing games to earn gold which their employers sell online. The New York Times interviewed one who said:

“For 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, my colleagues and I are killing monsters,” said a 23-year-old gamer who works here in this makeshift factory and goes by the online code name Wandering. “I make about $250 a month, which is pretty good compared with the other jobs I’ve had. And I can play games all day.”

They aren’t paid well but they get room and board and for a kid, playing a game all day is just fine. Not all of these gold farmers are voluntary, though. Recently the UK Guardian ran an article by Danny Vincent about forced online labor at Chinese prisons:

As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.

Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp.

They’d earn about $700 a day off these prisoners, either earning money or running about advertising in populated areas. The idea that prison bosses in China might use this free labor to earn them some extra cash on the side isn’t exactly shocking news.

It isn’t very surprising, as a WoW player, to learn that at least some of these guys are grinding out money at the point of a gun either, as they’re some of the most rude, uncaring, unresponsive jerks to ever walk the planet, even beyond not speaking English.

I feel bad for these guys, though. I’m sure most of them belong in prison, even in a totalitarian bloodthirsty dictatorship like China, but they work all day at hard labor then have to put in hours grinding out money for bosses playing a games that, were they let free to do what they want, are rather entertaining.

It is actually illegal to import goods produced from forced prison labor into the US, but Europe has no such qualms, and they’ll buy things from Chinese prison labor then send them to the USA. This sort of labor goes straight through over the internet in a strange, virtual economy where online banking sends credit to china for fake money in a game in the US. This one slips through the cracks because the world is still figuring out the new economy with the internet involved.


May 31, 2011

“Soon, hardly anyone will be able to afford to fly willy-nilly around the country or globe. You will breeze through the maze of airport checkpoints.”

For most people, watching gas prices raggedly rise over the past year has not been a welcome sight. Higher gas prices means not just greater personal expense refilling the car, but everything delivered by gas powered vehicles gets more expensive. Yet there are some who are trying to spin higher gas prices as positive.

The attempt to spin bad news in the Obama economy as not so bad, or even good, isn’t new. When the official level of unemployment pushed over 10% in America, Stories about “funemployment” started to show up in 2009:

Buoyed by severance, savings, unemployment checks or their parents, the funemployed do not spend their days poring over job listings. They travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen.

Unemployed college graduates were portrayed as having more time to travel and relax! Losing your job meant that you had more time to volunteer and do those things you kept putting off! Natalie Portman thought the recession was exciting:

“I think it’s kind of an exciting time. I mean, everyone is cutting back. It’s happening in every industry – including our own. All of a sudden, people are doing jobs that they hate and they’re not making as much money as they thought they would or they’ve lost their jobs entirely. I’ve started to see people looking more toward their own passions and what really excites them.”

Now, with gas prices pushing up toward $5 a gallon, the spin has already begun. MSNBC ran a piece entitled Why you should love $5 gas recently, with bullet points about why high gas prices are great, ranging from how fewer people will die on the road if we drive less to how airline prices will go up, shortening security lines at the air port, to how wars will get too expensive to wage and tyrants will topple when we stop buying their gas.

The writer “doubleace” is particularly optimistic about this, to the point of absurdity. The idea that a critical commodity becoming too expensive will somehow result in less conflict is difficult to believe. And if this person truly wanted tyrants to stop being propped up by gas dollars, wouldn’t they be first in line calling for domestic oil production?

This kind of writing is not surprising from MSNBC, a news organization that has made its enthusiastic support of Democrats in general and President Obama in specific abundantly clear over the years. It is sad to see such a transparent and weak attempt to make the miserable seem positive.

To be certain, the left tends to view cheap gasoline as an evil, particularly academic leftists such as President Obama, who has made it clear he prefers higher prices to reduce driving and push people to buy electric cars or ride public transportation.

Its just hard to imagine this sort of reporting by anyone under a Republican presidency. It isn’t hard to find the stories of woe and condemnation of President Bush when gas prices were this high in 2007. But then, inconsistent economic coverage of Democrat and Republican presidents isn’t exactly new.

*This originally ran on the Washington Examiner Opinion Zone.


May 31, 2011

Courtesy Ace of Spades HQ, the color chart to women, and to men. At least, normal guys.

Quote of the Day

May 31, 2011
“When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.”
-Prime Minister Harper

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