A Picture of Petty Tyranny

Office Space is a 1999 film directed by Mike Judge and loosely based on his Milton animated shorts. I previously reviewed Idiocracy and intended to come back and cover this at some stage which I am now doing. Though I love the film, the first time I saw it I didn’t really enjoy it. In hindsight I think that is because I had no frame of reference as I’d never been in full-time work and the work I did do was not in an office environment. As said, it was only on re-watching the film a few years ago — many years after my first viewing — that I really “got it”.

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A Short Guide to Modern Love

I unfortunately need to state that I do not approve of any of what follows and though I’ve endeavored to write with a neutral tone — it is somewhat acerbic. This is somewhat related to something I previously wrote on marriage.

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The Games of 2022

This is the third time I am doing this after last year and the year before. The difference this year is I played very few new games and all the ones I did were on Nintendo Switch. Though looking over what was released elsewhere, I really can’t seen anything I missed out on. There was Elden Ring I suppose but I played Dark Souls and while I appreciate why people enjoy these games, they don’t really appeal to me. There are a couple of other games that I would like to have played which are Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge — which I’m sure I will get to at some stage. I was aware of both but didn’t go out of my way to pick them up. I also considered Splatoon 3 but ultimately didn’t get it as I don’t spend much time on multiplayer games these days. I spent very little money this year on games and as a result, got around to playing a few I already had and I have included the two most notable at the end.

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A Brief Analysis of the Analects

The Analects of Confucius translated by Simon Leys
Norton, April 2nd, 1997

Something definitely missing from my endless list of reading material is Chinese literature. This is something I’ve somewhat remedied recently by reading The Analects of Confucius but I also just received The Water Margin and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms for Christmas; the former of which will be the first book I take up in the new year. My translation of the Analects is by Belgian sinologist Simon Leys who called Australia home for the second half of his life. Coincidently I was reading his essay collection, The Hall of Uselessness this time last year and quoted from his essay on Don Quixote in a post on the same work in November.

A quick note for pedants: what follows is not strictly speaking even a “brief” analysis but I like alliteration and I’m not changing the title.

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Commentary on Western and Japanese Role-Playing Games

Western and Japanese RPGs are clearly distinct but share the same origins. The pioneering titles were the Ultima and Wizardry games which saw many sequels and many more imitators but both series have long been dormant.  These titles were influenced by Dungeons & Dragons and other board games and fantasy works. The former was heavily influenced by Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories among a number of other works. The Japanese took influence from these games which led to Dragon Quest and then Final Fantasy which are the two most well-known with the former preceding the latter. These two series arrived in the late 1980s  and a clear difference between Western and Japanese games then emerged though generally speaking they derived from the same source.

In this post I will hereafter use the initialisms “WRPG” and “JRPG” to distinguish them. The latter is well recognised but the former is not and Western Role-Playing Games are usually distinguished as “Western RPG” or “CRPG” (C for Computer). I am not attempting to set any new or consistent standard here — it is just easier for the purposes of this post. I am also aware that there are earlier titles and could go into more depth but the four series I’ve mentioned are definitely the titles that popularised the genre in both East and West. That so-and-so made this one game in 1977 on some university mainframe that three people played isn’t really relevant here. I should also state that a lot of this knowledge came later for me as I was too young to have played most of these games at the time. I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons and have only more recently become familiar with some of the other influential fantasy works. I’ve not played any Ultima or Wizardry games as of writing and only played later titles in the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.

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2017: The Best Console Launch Year Ever

In the history of video game consoles, very few launched with the best games or even games that would come to define the console within the first year of release. There are a number of notable exceptions to the latter though such as Super Mario World on Super Nintendo, Super Mario 64 on Nintendo 64, Sonic Adventure on the Sega Dreamcast and Halo on the original Xbox. These particular games certainly came to define their respective consoles but few would argue that the launch year was also the best year for game releases overall. 

In the case of the Nintendo Switch which is now nearing the sixth year since its release, this could well be argued as it had both an impressive launch library and a an amazing first year of releases. This will be a brief discussion of how and why this happened but it should be clear that I am not saying that there were no good games in the years that followed. I am simply pointing out that not one year following saw a similar combination of quality and quantity though I am sure there are plenty who would argue to the contrary.

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The Source but never the Solution

It is no great secret that a certain types of personalities tends to gravitate towards power and influence. Whether it is status, wealth or outright malevolence, these people will go where the power is. Today, we know where the power is and it isn’t in religious institutions though there are still some scraps to be fought over in that realm. In the past, the Church did hold a lot more power and so attracted power-seekers along with the genuinely pious. Our Lord Jesus Christ knew this and warned his followers about it a number of times.

When Christianity was dominant, anyone who sought power of any kind had to do so within the church as it was and had to at least appear to accept the tenets of the faith. Nowadays, that is not necessary but the people that point to the corruption in the church as reasons for it being “bad” are generally speaking, the same type of people who caused all the corruption in the past. The same is true for the actions of governments of all stripes too.

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A Jesuit on Japan

An infrequent topic on this blog has been Japan and the Japanese who for a variety of reasons remain fascinating to me. The main being that I am married to a Japanese woman with whom I have children and I lived there for just shy of ten years. Though this reason doesn’t entirely explain my fascination.

Of keen interest to me is the culture of the Japanese which I last considered in my review of the late Michael Crichton’s 1992 novel Rising Sun. This imparted knowledge of Japanese culture through the character of John Connor. I took issue with a number of the fictional Connor’s observations but overall, I got the impression Crichton had done his homework well before writing the novel. The topic of this post will be the Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano’s 1580 report on his experiences in Japan. This is quoting from The Christian Century in Japan 1549-1650 by C.R. Boxer which I am in the middle of reading. 

Before proceeding I want to state that while my previous commentary (and no doubt some of what foll0ws), might show some distaste for aspects of Japanese culture, I am on the whole, very fond of them. In fact I would consider a lot of my criticism in the familial sense as we are all more acquainted with the shortcomings of those we love and so too — their virtues. The Japanese have the latter in abundance but the former certainly exist too.

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Standing Athwart History, Yelling “Cuck!”

Going back to when I first started this blog, I was writing about my distaste for conservatism and my support of Donald Trump. If I had critics, they would probably take joy in pointing out that I’ve been rather silent on him for the last two years since the stolen election and my incorrect prediction on that subject. Well, if making predictions that turn out to be wrong irreparably damages your reputation, then most political opinion columnists should have lost their jobs many years (and many more predictions) ago — as I noted. But they haven’t and they won’t be. Equally, I think considering all that happened in 2020 that my prediction didn’t get a fair shake and likely never will.

Come to think of it, I’ve also been rather silent on immigration which was also a preoccupation of mine when I started writing here too. Why? To quote Dr, Stanley Goodspeed, “well gosh, kind of a lots happened since then.” Apart from taking an interest in writing about other things, the socio-political context has taken a rather big turn as well and the main reason for this is because of what Donald Trump came to represent.

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Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope Review

I reviewed the original and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and the Donkey Kong Adventure expansion a number of years ago around the time of release. It has been just over five years since the release of what turned out to be one of the best games of 2017. The sequel, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope has finally been released this year and was probably the title I was most looking forward to. My thoughts on the game follow below.

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