Adventures in the Gamma Quadrant

Will Save the Galaxy for Food
by Yahtzee Croshaw
Dark Horse Books, February 14th, 2017

A few years ago, I reviewed Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw. It was set within an online multiplayer game or a MMORPG and consciously referencing World of Warcraft — cover art and all. I was neither unimpressed or very impressed with it and it was about the standard for the paperback market of Star Wars, Star Trek and many video game tie-in novels in series like StarCraft, Halo and Gears of War.

My review went on more of a tangent and I had no intention to read more of Croshaw’s novels though I did praise it for what it was. However, after finding Will Save the Galaxy for Food was listed in the catalogue of my library, I decided it might be worth a read to see if his writing had improved in the eight years since his debut publication. 

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An Ignoramus Opines on Economics

Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences
by Steve Keen
Zed Books, July 1st, 2001 (2007 Reprint)

I have read very little on economics. So little that I think I can list every book I’ve ever read on the subject with less than one hand:

Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell 
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek
The Return of the Great Depression by Vox Day

I read The Communist Manifesto once but I’m not sure that quite counts. I did listen to about an eighth of Wealth of the Nations as an audio book but not nearly enough to claim that I have read it. Along with these I’ve read a lot of articles as well as few books on the subject but always at the level of a layman. I have heard of Keynes, the Austrian School, Milton Friedman, Ricardo and many other names but don’t ask me for summaries  on their perspectives or anything they’ve said on the subject. And let’s not forget that reading isn’t the same as understanding and I’ve never formally studied or gone very in-depth on the discipline. The author of the latter work on the list has highly recommended the subject of this review but it has been a decade since he recommended it and I’ve only recently got around to doing so. 

I want to emphasise my ignorance here because I found this book (more so than the others), a rather difficult read and my level of understanding may be poor. This review is something of an exercise at synthesising what I have read. In case it wasn’t already clear — I’m the ignoramus. Continue reading

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China is in Charge

Something that feels like it has come on suddenly over the last few years has been not only the rise in power of China but also its rapid increase influence and assertiveness on the world stage. The Chinese economy has been growing rapidly for my entire life but the nation generally wasn’t considered a world power until the turn of the century. This is when people in the West began to notice that their manufacturing base had gone overseas and that they were now almost completely dependent on Chinese made products. This was pacified by the assurance that China was turning towards a liberal-democracy just like us despite many indications this wasn’t the case going back decades. 

As Vox Day has continued to document, the reality is that China is now the leading world power with control over immense industry and wealth. It now has enough power (especially in co-operation with nations like Russia and India), to cripple the Western world. Despite how obvious this might be, it seems to be lost on both Western leaders and the general population — one of the few things they have left in common. 

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The Curse of the Scary Shoulder Pads Lady

From 1980s to the early 1990s, women wearing jackets with large shoulder pads was a fashion that was hard to miss. This fed into the empowered woman/feminist architype of the time and can be seen in a number of films and television shows including Mr. Mom, Working Girl, Mrs. Doubtfire, Die Hard, Home Improvement and Top Gun. I am only scratching the surface here as there are plenty more examples I could find if I was inclined to look. In all of these you have variations of a woman trying to break into the corporate sector or a mum working some office job (likely of questionable utility). When a husband is present, the woman always rules the roost. Most of these films/shows are now painfully out of date and indeed some of them would now be criticised by the same sort of people who would have lauded them for their forward thinking at the time. It is worth noting that this is also around the same time you saw more films with men dressing as women beginning with Tootsie — Mrs. Doubtfire had both!

This post will cover three of these. 

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Shattering Idols

I have shattered many idols out along the dusty track,

Burnt a lot of fancy verses — and I’m glad that I am back.

Henry Lawson, Up the Country

I have had a number of posts over the years discussing the ongoing destruction of many popular culture franchises beginning with some brief commentary on the all-female Ghostbusters reboot back in 2016 when I first began writing this blog. I never watched it but by all accounts that matter, it turned out to be just as bad as it looked. This destruction has most often been in reference to Star Wars though I noted in the linked Ghostbusters post that what anything you liked before can’t be ruined by new and inferior products with the same name. The same trend has also been happening with video games as I noted in my review of GEARS 5 in 2019 which I  compared to the terrible Disney Star Wars films. By chance, XYZ had published a related post on the gaming industry in general before I started writing this post.

By now it is as clear as can be that there is a conscious effort at play to subvert and wreck popular media franchises. This of course is denied every time it is noticed and it is claimed merely that these properties are just being made more “inclusive” or words to that effect. This is a lie as nobody has ever been stopped from enjoying anything nor is anybody is really left out if a major character in a story doesn’t share their race, interests or sexual proclivities perversions. And for most of my lifetime, people have been free to create almost anything they like if they had found what  a genre wanting. Countless popular as well as niche works of fiction have been created for these very reasons. Ironically, it is only very recently that this has changed and it is because of the very people who claim to be doing the opposite.

I have also commented on the unhealthy obsession people have with media franchises. A recent example is seeing adults fantasising about Marvel characters joining the fight in Ukraine. Or the evil nasty Putin being compared to Voldemort, the main antagonist from the Harry Potter children’s stories. It is clear that whatever the merits of modern fiction that modern popular culture has had an infantalising effect on people and this is not healthy for society.

Yet there is more to this destruction than is generally observed. Most commentary either complains about it or defends it. I just didn’t watch it. What is a more interesting question is to ask how God’s plan is unfolding in all of this?

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The Obvious Investor

The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape, John Wiley & Sons,
December 1st, 2020 (first published in 2016)

Despite sharing my misgivings about the type of books you find in airports before, I have been given (gifted this time), another book from the same source. Though unlike last time, there is some genuinely useful advice to be found amongst corny pop culture references, dad jokes and regular digs at Donald Trump.

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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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