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King of Kong: High-score gamer has his records stripped

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How about a break from geopolitics. If you’ve never seen the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, it’s about one man’s attempt to set a new world record on the classic arcade video game Donkey Kong. In the film, Steve Wiebe, a middle-school science teacher, literally comes out of nowhere and sets a new record after spending months practicing the game in his garage. But before Wiebe can claim the title, the previous record-holder, Billy Mitchell, submits an even higher score on videotape. That score is immediately accepted by Twin Galaxies, the group which maintains classic video game records.

Mitchell was such a great villain in the documentary that many have suggested he inspired the character Fireblaster (played by Peter Dinklage) in the Adam Sandler film Pixels. But ever since King of Kong came out (it’s really a great film through the producers took a few liberties) there have been questions about Billy Mitchell’s high scores. Many have noted that Mitchell never sets his best scores live, but only submits tapes. Why is that?

There’s an answer to that question though it requires a little bit of detail about how arcade hardware works. The original arcade hardware found in any Donkey Kong machine builds the elements on the screen in a very specific way, working from both sides inward until all the pieces are in place. It does this very quickly of course, so it’s not perceptible to the naked eye, but if you film the transition between levels and then examine it frame by frame, you’ll see the hardware building up the elements on the screen from the outside in.

There is a modern piece of software which allows you to run hundreds of retro arcade games on a home computer called MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulation). MAME emulation is pretty good but not identical to the original hardware. In MAME, Donkey Kong builds the elements of the screen slightly differently. If you film both the original hardware and MAME and slow them down frame by frame, you can actually tell which game is running on the original hardware and which one is running on the emulator.

In February of this year, someone looked closely at the video of Billy Mitchell’s record-setting games and found that they were created on MAME, not on original hardware. And after weeks of furious discussion about this among people who care about these scores, Twin Galaxies announced it was stripping Mitchell of all his records, not just on Donkey Kong but on every game. And that meant that Steve Wiebe, the protagonist of King of Kong is now recognized as the first person to ever get one million points on the game. In a sense, it changes the end of the movie, albeit belatedly.

While we know for certain that an unmodified original DK arcade PCB did not output the display seen in the videotaped score performances, we cannot definitively conclude that what is on the tapes is MAME…

From a Twin Galaxies viewpoint, the only important thing to know is whether or not the score performances are from an unmodified original DK arcade PCB as per the competitive rules. We now believe that they are not from an original unmodified DK arcade PCB, and so our investigation of the tape content ends with that conclusion and assertion…

With this ruling Twin Galaxies can no longer recognize Billy Mitchell as the 1st million point “Donkey Kong” record holder. According to our findings, Steve Wiebe would be the official 1st million point record holder.

Steve Wiebe spoke to Variety this week about what it meant to finally have his effort recognized and to finally beat Billy Mitchell:

“The more I thought about it from the ‘King of Kong’ days, it all seemed to make sense now,” Wiebe said. “All the things that were happening at the time… like why he didn’t come out and play me, and why he was inciting whose records were going to be authenticated and who’s were going to be dropped. ‘King of Kong’ referenced that that he was a referee and on the board of directors. When that leaked out, it started to make more sense.”

While Wiebe is no longer the reigning king of “Kong” (Robbie Lakeman scored 1,247,700 this past February), he’s now the first player ever to score one million points in “Donkey Kong.”

“I’m not the champ any more, but getting recognition for being the first to a million is a great consolation,” Wiebe said. “That’s what I was really bummed out about 11 years ago.”

Renewed interest in this story and in the 2007 documentary mean that some alternative versions of the story may finally get off the ground. There is already a script for a feature film version of the story and the producers of the original film have also developed a Broadway show based on the storyline.

If you’re interested, this 15-minute clip describes in more detail how Mitchell’s use of MAME was discovered. You can get a taste, even from this, of what a character Billy Mitchell is and why he made such a compelling villain in King of Kong.

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You won’t have Maggie Haberman to kick around anymore (on Twitter, anyway)

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Another voice on Twitter is falling silent (at least mostly) but it has nothing to do with the recent Great Twitter Purge. New York Times columnist Maggie Haberman is throwing in the towel for the time being, while allowing the possibility that she may return after a break. The first indication of her imminent departure came, ironically enough, on Twitter.

I’m not sure how “no reason or prompt” fits into the explanation, but Haberman expanded on her decision in a column yesterday.

I woke up last Sunday morning feeling anxiety in my chest as I checked the Twitter app on my phone, scrolling down to refresh, refresh, refresh. There was a comment I started to engage with — I opened a new post, tapped out some words, then thought better of it and deleted the tweet. The same thing happened repeatedly for the next two hours.

The evening before, I had complained to a close friend that I hated being on Twitter. It was distorting discourse, I said. I couldn’t turn off the noise. She asked what was the worst that could happen if I stepped away from it.

There was nothing I could think of. And so just after 6 p.m. last Sunday, I did.

After nearly nine years and 187,000 tweets, I have used Twitter enough to know that it no longer works well for me. I will re-engage eventually, but in a different way.

Haberman goes into greater detail than simply saying it “wasn’t working for her” anymore. She describes at length the, “viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism” she regularly encounters. In a sweeping bit of generalization, she describes the platform has having become, “an anger video game for many users.”

Having been a user of the system for eight years now, and not wanting to come off as too much of a jerk, all I could really think to say is, “welcome to Twitter.”

People leave Twitter all the time, some permanently and others just for a break. And yes, if you allow it to absorb your life it can definitely be an overwhelming experience. But as I said, that’s only if you let it. The fact is that Twitter is what you make of it, particularly in terms of how much time you’re willing to invest and to what purpose. Many of us (including yours truly) went through a period during their early days on the internet where our entire evening could boil away because… Oh My God… Somebody Is Wrong On The Internet.

I can remember some of my first online community interactions on the web. For a time I enjoyed participating in some USENET newsgroups. Since we’ve always kept pets I spent a brief period participating in the alt.cats community. What could go wrong in a group that enjoys talking about cats, right? Let me enlighten you. I ran into some Brit who was virulently opposed to keeping cats as indoor pets and thought they should all live outdoors. And yes, I spent weeks in a flamewar with him on that subject which sometimes kept me up until the wee hours of the morning because of the time difference between us. To this day I’m not sure which one of us came off looking more like the troll.

The point is that I eventually learned that I didn’t have to do that. Twitter is no different. If you’re getting so much hate and trolling that you’re losing your mind you can always simply shut down (or ignore) your mentions. It’s easy enough to set up groups of people you actually want to hear from. If you’re a relatively famous blue checkmark person (and Haberman definitely qualifies) you can also tone down the noise by filtering your mentions to only show verified accounts. Mute is also a wonderful feature if those other filters don’t do the trick.

But mostly it’s just a question of how compelled you feel to engage or how much weight you assign to some anonymous user who wants to call you names, impugn your reputation or otherwise haunt you. Personally, I find that my eyes are the best filter of all. After enough time walking through the maelstrom of the various social networks, you can quickly skim past the comments that aren’t going to add to the experience and simply engage with the ones who are either positive or at least offering constructive criticism.

I’m sure Maggie Haberman and I don’t see eye to eye on much but I’ve been following her on Twitter for some time. She frequently highlights and links to articles which I at least find worth my time to read and possibly even respond to here. I hope she comes back.

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Rep. Mark Meadows Calls For Carter Page FISA Docs to be Declassified, Unredacted

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On Saturday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced documents related to the FISA warrants on Trump’s former campaign advisor, Carter Page were released by the FBI — and arrived at JW headquarters.

Fitton said Saturday evening Judicial Watch received the requested documents and even though they are heavily redacted, they confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts.

Obama’s Deep State DOJ and FBI withheld information about Hillary Clinton and the DNC being behind the information used to obtain the FISA warrant.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) called for the FISA docs to be declassified so “Americans can know the truth.”

Meadows tweeted: Potentially groundbreaking development here. The Carter Page FISA docs should be declassified and further unredacted (protecting only sources and methods) so Americans can know the truth.


If the previous admin was funneling campaign research toward surveillance, we need to know.

Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe and Sally Yates all signed the FISA applications even though Hillary’s fraudulent Russia dossier was used as a pretext to obtain the warrants.

Obama’s Deep State FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant on Carter Page in October of 2016 and three subsequent renewals in order to spy on Trump’s campaign and transition team.

By law, the FBI must present to the FISC new, compelling information gathered from current monitoring in order to get a FISA warrant renewed every 90 days…

However, the applications filed to renew the Carter Page FISA warrants simply recycle old Christopher Steele/Yahoo information [Michael Isikoff’s Yahoo article on Carter Page] from the original application, reported Paul Sperry.

The newly released docs also reveal Peter Strzok did indeed provide information which was used to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page, directly contradicting his sworn claims to GOP lawmakers.

And President Trump isn’t allowed to question our intel agencies after all of this corruption??

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Nikki Haley: For peace, we need to tell the truth about Hamas

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UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, along with presidential adviser Jared Kushner, ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and assistant to the president Jason Greenblatt, published a piece today at CNN arguing that peace in Gaza will require telling the truth about Hamas. Haley recounts a recent vote in the UN when it seemed, for the first time, a majority of other nations might actually agree:

On the surface, everything about the General Assembly session on June 13 appeared to be business as usual. Algeria offered a grossly one-sided resolution blaming Israel — and Israel alone — for the recent violence in Gaza. The resolution blatantly ignored the facts.

Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, has been inciting the violence at the Israeli boundary fence for months, using Palestinian civilians as human shields. And Hamas and other terror groups have fired more than 100 rockets and sent untold numbers of flaming kites, some displaying swastikas, into Israel in the past month, hoping to kill as many Israeli civilians and destroy as much property as possible. And yet the Algerian resolution not only failed to hold Hamas terrorists accountable for their role in the violence, it failed to mention Hamas at all.

In response, the United States proposed a simple amendment to the resolution that called out Hamas for its role in the skirmishes. A minimum fealty to the truth demanded that the United Nations condemn Hamas by name for firing rockets into Israel and for allowing other terror groups to do the same…

When the amendment came to a vote, a miracle by UN standards happened. Although the measure ultimately failed for technical reasons, more nations voted for holding Hamas accountable with the US amendment than against it.

For the first time in the United Nations, more nations than not acknowledged that peace between Israel and the Palestinian people must be built on a foundation of truth regarding Hamas.

Haley goes on to say that this kind of realism will be part of any U.S. sponsored peace proposal. If you haven’t been keeping up with what is going on in Gaza, Israel unleashed a string of attacks on Hamas outposts after an Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper:

On Friday, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier along the border — the first casualty it has sustained in four years — and Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters. Four Palestinians were killed, of which three were Hamas militants.

“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’s training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”…

In a brief statement early Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.

So, further escalation of the conflict has been avoided for now but there’s no telling how long it will last. While Hamas lacks the military strength to make significant strikes on Israel, its leaders continue to talk in terms of ethnic cleansing. It’s difficult to imagine making peace so long as these people are in control:

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