Sep 14, 2022Liked by TracingWoodgrains

"What are you listening to?"

"A podcast."

"What's it about?"

"It's.... um.... it's about the Queen. And the reaction in Northern Ireland."

"Yeah? How do they feel about it?"

"Very sad."

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Christ, Tenet was easier to follow. Nonetheless, it eventually made a strong case that Cloudflare probably acted too rashly plus I'm a sucker for stories involving journalists being rubbish.

Still though, who do you root for in a story about an asshole who uses an asshole to direct negative attention to a website full of assholes? Free speech? Yeah, I guess free speech. *sighs, hits the shower*

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Am I the only one listening to this thing fully expecting Teddy to end up being a Keffals alter-ego?

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Long time BAR listener turned premium through the Kiwi Drama. Long time 'farmer' too, though that's not a title I relish in having. Also extremely into the emulation scene, so the Near drama is a niche I feel fairly confident talking on.

David "Near" Kirk Ginder, formally known as Byuu, is a fascinating figure. As I've defended many times, even on the farms, he is one of the most talented reverse engineers the emulation scene has ever seen, period. There's a term called "Cycle accurate" which, in layman's terms, means completely accurate emulation of a system, down to it's 'cycles'. In example, if a game for Super Nintendo had lag in it on the original console, a modern emulator running on a modern PC could compensate for this and remove the lag, as modern PCs are far more powerful than the older systems. A cycle accurate emulator means that it will run identically to how it ran on those systems - if it lagged on a Super Nintendo, it will lag in the emulator regardless of the PC.

This is all to say this is incredibly hard to create and only a coding wizard would even attempt to take on something of this scale. Near not only created Higan, a cycle accurate emulator of the original Nintendo, but then went ahead to start Ares, which is a multi-system multi-platform emulator focused on accuracy. In short, Near was a coding genius when it came to emulation with Higan being a crowning achievement for the emulation community worthy of all of the praise it's received.

Near was also a semi-complicated figure in the emulation scene. He started a preservation project where he would both purchase and 'borrow' old and rare games and 'rip' them (read: back up their data to a HDD). When he announced he wouldn't be publicly sharing his extensive archive with the public, the online community responded harshly. There's some drama about a large shipment of games going missing, and lots of other odds and ends to this story but the core of it is: Near (Byuu at the time) wanted to preserve games and didn't want to face any legal repercussions for sharing, and this is where the drama begins.

Byuu roughly translates to "mistake" in Japanese, which is how he saw himself. This is to say, depression and anxiety riddled his past and there's lots of examples of him saying he is permanently leaving emulation, only to come back with a project more mind blowing than the last. In 2014, with hopes of changing bringing him some sort of relief to his depression, Byuu moved to Japan.

And this is where the furry arc begins (if you're a BAR listener, you must have seen this coming). Near starts to go by they/them and joins the 'Baby fur' community, which is to say he and his online friends would represent themselves as toddler furries, wearing diapers or with binkies in their mouths. I'll let you, dear reader, make your own assessment of this information. In 2018, the Kiwifarms thread is made to document his weird online behavior. In 2020, Near drops the handle 'Byuu" and decides to go by Near, trying to leave his depressed past behind.

In a twist you may not have seen coming, Near joined the Kiwifarms and posted to his own thread. You can see his posts under the account "Near Throwaway" on the following archived link: https://archive.ph/FJw0B - this account was verified.

I personally think he does a great job defending himself and seems fairly reasonable. In his own words, he wanted to thank the OP of that thread for making it and acknowledges his odd past and his desire to move past it and focus on emulation. This is on page 6 of the thread, fairly close to it's origin, and he posts a few more times before eventually leaving. The thread reaches a whopping 16 pages before it fizzles out. For non Kiwi's, 16 pages is basically a nothingburger.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, Near demands Josh "Null" Moon to remove the thread via the extortion that you mentioned. To be clear: there was never any dox of Near/Byuu, nobody even knew his real name until post-mortem, let alone his address or other identifying information besides he proclaimed to be living in Japan. The reasoning behind their demand of the removal of the thread still remains a mystery, as they proclaimed to be thankful for the thread at one point The Streisand effect happens, the thread begins to explode in popularity, and then his suicide is announced via a Google doc from an anonymous friend of Near's. In this, they show text logs of Near talking about killing himself and the anonymous friend states they stayed on the phone with Near as he did the act until he heard nothing but music playing in the background, with Near going completely silent.

Grim stuff. Hector Martin, another brilliant programmer and supposed friend of Near, tweets out about his suicide. According to him, Hector verified this the validity of this with Japanese police himself. Due to these tweets, Hector has been placed as the defacto point of 'reliable news' for information regarding Near. But this is also where things become incredibly suspect.

For one, there is no proof of any of this. Many believe that Japanese police would never discuss the details of a suicide with simply a friend of the deceased, though this is impossible to prove. To date, the person behind the Google Doc have not been discovered. The final nail in the coffin (no pun intended) for the people of Kiwifarms and Near Suicide Denialists was that the US Embassy produces a list of deaths overseas and Near wasn't listed. At the time of his suicide, the list was debatably not up to date, and Hector proclaimed as such, saying the Kiwi Farms trolls were attempting to prove a faked death with out of date information. Months after it was supposed to be updated, June of 2022, it was finally updated... and there is still no record of any suicides in Japan during the time of his supposed death. Hector says something to the tune of "lol imagine trusting the government for being accurate about death records" and blocks any dissidents.

There's a lot more to this story I could go into - USA today wrote an article sourcing an alleged co-worker of Near, but there has never been any proof shown that they knew each (or that he was even real) other besides a few previously unseen pictures of Near being released. The internet at large took Near's suicide at face value and blamed the farms for causing it. The same person who reported to USA today supposedly created a Kiwi Farms account (impossible to prove if it's the same user or a troll a la JSingal69) and posted a picture of an Urn with David Kirk Ginder written on it. Anyone could have a custom urn made however, so this didn't add any proof to the story.

This entire essay is to say: it's very complicated. Near was flamed from all sides of the internet; from preservationists angered by his 'selfish' ways of not sharing his collection to the trolls of KF for being a 'babyfur' (I hate writing that.). As with Keffals, it's impossible to say the origin point for the trolling he received in person, but it is clear his thread was miniscule and most people were laughing at him instead of being angry, which is an important difference imo. His death is as mysterious as it gets, but even mentioning the possibility it might be faked will get you blocked and reported on any emulation board or even general gaming board. I personally have been blocked from reddit.com/r/emulation for questioning things, even though I have nothing but the highest praise for his work and I truly couldn't care less what got his socks off. It's incredibly frustrating and I've been waiting a long time for a real journalist to cover this story. Happy to provide any additional information about Near/ the Farms in general... back to finishing the episode now :)

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Sep 14, 2022·edited Sep 14, 2022Liked by Lexer

I haven't listened to the episode yet but I did skim through the notes and I want to point out that State Department records prove that near isn't dead. No American citizen died by suicide in in Japan the months in which Near could've killed himself.

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This whole thing was wild to listen to and admittedly I had a hard time following. I am not really all that online beyond listening to podcasts about the internet. I have no social media accounts other than substack and this is the only place I comment on anything. This story made me feel like a crazy person and I can’t imagine being Jesse and having the stamina to investigate any of this. Like, good God there truly is this entire alternate world with its own rules and politics that exist solely on the internet. I know that’s an obvious observation and is very much at the core of this podcast, but Jesus Christ this was like listening to a work of dystopian Si-Fi. The characters involved are so messed up and detached from reality. It is impossible to put myself in the minds of any of these fucking people their behavior is so foreign and incomprehensible to me. Totally entertaining to listen to, but this paints a pretty bleak picture.

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So, are we all racing to get the name jsingal69 once Kiwifarms registration re-opens?

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Extremely minor nitpick, but "your file is too powerful" or whatever around 1:34:00 IS the message Discord displays if you upload a file that's too big. Seems less trolly than clueless on his part.

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Sep 14, 2022Liked by Lexer

I had to stop lurking and go full primo for this story. Honesty is in short supply out there

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Okay I don't believe the replacing Union Jacks with the Trans flag is true because there's no way Keffals wouldn't have posted about it

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as for Pless' comment that KF has incentive to muddy the water regarding the veracity of Near's suicide, it should also be said that #DropKiwifarms has incentive to not welcome investigation on the chance that KF's theory on Near being alive because it ultimately weakens their cause (and puts Near back into the spotlight which they have been trying to escape).

KF is a den of weaponized autism, they've spent over a year contacting Japanese authorities and trying to find a shred of evidence which would substantiate Near's death and came up with nothing, meanwhile on the other side all it took for confirmation was a third-party confirming the death which they refused to elaborate on.

as with the other deaths people are very desperate to attribute them to KF regardless of the extraneous circumstances at play, it is why it didn't take much for Near's death to be accepted despite there's very little to corroborate it, the campaign benefits from Near being dead, not from Near being alive still.

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What the hell? The trigger warning for this episode would need a trigger warning.

You guys have hit the mother lode of internet bullshit with this one.

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How the fuck is this only five dollars a month?

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Jesse should get a Pulitzer for this.

At least two alleged journos who work for Jeff Bezos and Jack Donaghy should be fired.

Null should sue the living snot out of said alleged journos and use the proceeds to retire to a castle on the Dalmatian coast. Preferably a place with a big dovecote.

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This whole episode made me feel so disappointed that a site went down over something they didn't even do.

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Reporting on this -- *actually* reporting -- took some courage (fr fr). Thanks to you.

Also, I’m so glad I am not Gen Z. Growing up in this stew must be... stressful.

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