The Continuing Decline of Big Tech

This will be something of a sequel to this post last year about breaking away from big tech. Though, I will focus more on how bad so much big tech software has become and some alternatives I’ve begun using. What makes is actually making it easier to breakaway is that so much software is getting progressively worse at doing what it is supposed to do. What ties people to much of this software is a mixture of familiarity and dependence. The former is more for products such as Microsoft Office and the latter with so much being tied to mandatory accounts connected with these companies. This is not so much to do with the “cult of free” as many of these products do still cost money but this still comes into it to some extent.

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Robert E. Howard in Film

Robert E. Howard’s writing has been a source of inspiration for countless works across all forms of media. Though he wrote extensively in his short life, there have been relatively few direct film adaptations of his work. What makes this surprising is that fantasy films and television shows have seen multiple surges in popularity. Since Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy released twenty years ago, they have remained consistently bankable. Comic book films also continue to be popular and Howard’s stories have been appearing in comic form for around half a century now. Yet there are very few films based on Howard’s work and all but one have been made within the last forty years.

What follows will be short reviews of each of the live-action films based on Howard’s work as well as one based around Howard’s life. Some general observations before proceeding are that most of these are origin stories except for the one direct Conan sequel. In Howard’s writing, his characters were seldom given origin stories with the one exception I know being Sword Woman who is part of the inspiration behind the character Red Sonja. Howard generally thrust readers into the action and readers learned what details they needed about the character efficiently in flow with the narrative. Another is that none of these films directly adapt any of Howard’s work. They all use ideas, characters and general themes but not one of these films is purely based on one of his stories. This is hard to believe especially since so many could make for an excellent 90 minute fantasy action film. As many have been adapted directly (and quite faithfully) as comics already — a lot of storyboarding has also already been done too. Yet, amazing as it seems, this has not happened even in more recent history with both technology and consumer tastes being otherwise aligned for success.

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Setting Goals and Failing

As I write, I have been recovering from an illness and had a week away from work with a lot of idle time. Most of this time I wasn’t feeling well enough to focus on anything productive but I am feeling much better now though I am not as lucid as I would like to be. This is only a short post but one I want to write so I can re-focus my efforts beginning in May. 

Just a few months ago I set myself some new goals for this year which I am already failing. One in particular is one I need to be particularly careful with. I have noticed over the last few years I’ve gotten weaker with keeping to these promises. While I am well aware that making a hash of new year’s resolutions is a running joke, I tend to take them more seriously. The two I have failed thus far are the least important and the most important. 

The most important is my promise to abstain from alcohol. I let this go at a wedding I recently attended and then again over the last few days. The least important was my promise about buying new books as I have already broken this and bought a few this year. In both cases, what is interesting is the way I rationalised these things to myself. I continue to wonder at the human ability for rationalisation no matter how explicit a command, rule or law. In reality, what I have done is not lived up to promises I set myself and if I can’t keep to small things, I wonder how I will keep to big things. 

As I am quite opinionative on this blog, I want to use this post to remind myself and any who read that I am a sinner and as prone to moral weakness as anyone. I don’t intend to just give up though as trying to live up to these promises has at least meant I’ve done both less. This is more to remind myself and to re-commit to sticking to these promises for the remainder of the year. 

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Fisking Feser

On or around the same day that I published my last post, Dr. Edward Feser also put up a post on his own blog dismissing what he calls “Benevacantism” by which he means the very subject of my post: that Pope Benedict XVI is still the Pope. I did not see the post before I published my own though I have Feser in my blogroll and highly recommend his blog. I also have a copy of his introduction to Thomas Aquinas book and have been meaning to read his book The Last Superstition for many years. The timing was interesting and I feel compelled to respond though I do not believe at all that he was responding to me or even knows this blog exists. 

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Benedict XVI is still the Pope

This is a post I’ve contemplated writing for a while but have been very reluctant to do. The title alone should indicate why but rather than just make this statement, I want to give some background to my thinking on this issue and how I have come to this conclusion. Pure reason works on exceedingly few minds and I would humbly include my own among the multitude. I freely admit that this post will be much more personal than academic (when are blogs ever otherwise?), though I will do my best to thread it together with my reasoning. 

In short, I no longer believe that Benedict XVI validly resigned and therefore believe that he remains the Vicar of Christ — the Pope. It follows from this that Pope Francis is an Antipope and every official function he has performed since his election in 2013 is invalid.

From here I will do my best to explain how I came to this conclusion.  

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The Evil of Contract Law

Any society featuring rules and mores based on contract law is inherently evil and is inevitably bound to devolve into rule by charlatans and thieves.

It is not an accident that Satan prefers to operate by binding contract.

 

Contract law is literally demonic. It amounts to rule by corruption and fraud.

What sort of madness is required to make contracts the basis of both a) societal economics and b) societal morality?

Vox Day (taken from SocialGalactic)

 

The observations above as well as recent personal events have led me to think more carefully about contract law than I ever would have otherwise. After all, it seems perfectly reasonable as an idea. Two parties make a written agreement that both sign on it. Most of the time the parties follow through n this agreement and if one doesn’t, the wronged party seeks some sort of legal arbitration to settle it. A major function of the state then is to enforce contracts between individuals. We are taught in the West that this is all a very good thing and a sign of the superiority of our society over others. Indeed, the written constitution that my (and many other nations) have is considered to be of so great benefit to us is a contract. 

The problem of course, as observed above, is that contracts actually favour the most ruthless and dishonest. The spirit of the agreement is broken down into semantics and the dishonest will take every advantage they can while the honest party — that is one who is unwilling to deceive — is left at a distinct disadvantage. This isn’t always the case as many people will obey the spirit of agreements made without getting into technicalities or trying to reinterpret the agreement to their advantage. One doesn’t have to look far to find plenty of counter-examples though.

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Beyond Donkey Kong Book Review

Beyond Donkey Kong: A History of Nintendo Arcade Games by Ken Horowitz, McFarland, November 30th, 2020

I have previously reviewed Ken Horowitz’s first book Playing at the Next Level and also been a long time (though not regular), contributor to his website Sega-16. I also read his second book The Sega Arcade Revolution and enjoyed it just as much though I didn’t write a review. Beyond Donkey Kong is his third book and his first to focus away from Sega’s legacy in the home console and arcade business.

Most histories of Nintendo or video games in general will dwell briefly on the early history of the company with playing cards, toys, mechanical games and then once they get to Donkey Kong will jump straight into the history of the home console market. But as the title implies, there is a lot more to Nintendo’s arcade history than this and this book sets out to cover it in detail from the early beginnings to the company’s quiet exit in the early 1990s. Continue reading

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Fisking Dreher and Skojec

As with a previous fisking of mine, this one is coming almost a year later but I felt compelled to do it given the subject matter. It will mostly be taken from this response by Rod Dreher to a highly emotional post by Steve Skojec who is the founder of the Catholic blog One Peter Five.  It was already responded to in a timely fashion by Edward Feser here and then again when Dreher briefly responded to his first post. This was all over a few days in late May, last year. 

Before moving forward, I want to comment in general on Catholic writers, journalists and anyone who has a prominent position whether paid or not in the church. Feser, Dreher and Skojec all fit into this category. And even I do at a lower level and in a way, everyone who is a Catholic also bares witness to the faith in their own way however small. This is especially the case for public figures though who I would say are putting themselves under similar judgement to priests with their very visible status within the church. What they do and how they behave in public can cause far more scandal than the average layman can.

You may love Catholicism and want to promote and write about it but it isn’t hobby writing like I do with video games or others do with train sets, stamp collecting, crafts and so on. It has significance beyond even that of  political and social commentary. I should hardly need to emphasise how important it is. And I believe that the very public way that both Dreher and (it seems Skojec), have left the church have greatly discredited them in my eyes and caused immeasurable scandal.

I am not in a similar position to them but I imagine if I had similar misgivings that led me away from the church, I should keep this all as private as possible for the sake of the audience I had. Of course, as I am not in such a position, you can only take my word for it.

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Is the bare minimum enough?

I have mentioned the Mike Judge film Office Space once before here when reviewing his film Idiocracy and I shall have to do a deeper dive into the film at some stage. Perhaps after the next time I watch it. For this post, I’m taking a memorable scene to work into a religious angle. The scene involving an employee requirement to wear bits of “flair” in a restaurant is posted below for context.

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The Importance of the Scouring

Homeward Bound by Alan Lee

I have recently re-read the The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time in a decade — this time to my son who had really enjoyed The Hobbit. When getting to the end I was reminded of a brief post Vox Day wrote about The Scouring of the Shire, which is the final major event of the novel. When I first read it many years ago, I found it a surprising turn of events but I didn’t give it much thought beyond that. In re-reading there is certainly foreshadowing with Sam’s vision in the Mirror of Galadriel and in smaller ways such as with Merry and Pippin’s happy discovery of halfling pipe-weed in the ruins of Isengard.

Vox says it is “a minor flaw, but it is a flaw nevertheless”, and suggests this is an early example of message fiction through Tolkien’s famously luddite-lite views on the modern world. Having had this in mind on re-reading, I disagree and consider it an important and logical end to the events though I do allow that the time-frame in which Saruman could have accomplished all this was perhaps implausibly brief.

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