Demon-Haunted History (Part 2)

The delusions of which I have written so far are, unfortunately, not a thing of the past alone. They continue to evolve into new idiocy, such as young-world creationism or world-conspiracy theories. As it tends to appear as backwards evolution, I am tempted to call it devolution. Ironically, while there are more sources of knowledge and manners of obtaining knowledge than there have ever been before, large parts of humankind appear to get more ignorant by the decades. The sadest thing about this is that ignorance goes along not only with stupidity but also with confidence. Ignorant and stupid people are usually the most outspoken ones, and, even worse, they appear to be immune to doubt. Both politics and religion (I tend to think that the latter is only a variant of the former) teach people not to question the authority of that which they are told and of those who tell them so – a strategy that has been successful for as long as we can trace it back in human history.
Let me introduce to a case of which I have not been fully aware till recently. You know how it works when you look something up on the internet and click yourself from one link to the next till you end up somewhere that has more or less nothing to do with that which you were origially trying to look up – and you cannot even remember how you actually got there. Well, this recently happened to me, so that I cannot even provide you with any reason for which I came to the website, but here is the link nonetheless: Occult Symbolism in the Music Industry that is Hidden in Plain Site. (By ‘Plain Site’ they most probably mean ‘Plain Sight’.) What this article says in a nutshell is that at the Video Music Awards 2009, the songwriter Taylor Alison Swift became part of the Illuminati, a secret order of a select few who secretly rule the world – or, on a side note, not so secretly any longer according to this website: http://www.illuminatiofficial.org/.
While it may be true that there are agendas to entertainment – such as selling products and making profits –, people who believe as the article linked says got extremely carried away. Ironically, the Bavarian Illuminati, an organization which was founded in the Age of Enlightenment, opposed, inter alia, superstition and religious influence over public life. Apparently, interpretors have got carried away into extremely different directions since then. They see hidden symbols and signs everywhere, and there can be nothing to disconfirm their hypothesis because everything necessarily confirms it. Behold a classic case of selective perception. How intriguing it can be to imagine secret orders behind everything is demonstrated by the sheer amount of conspiracy theories (in the broadest sense) that has been formulated over time. There are quite a few people who sincerely believe that the Bible contains hidden code, for example, when the world is going to end. A case in point is this website: http://www.understanding-the-bible.com/hidden-codes-in-the-bible.html. At least this site admits that ‘[t]o some extent it comes back to faith: you will try to prove what you want to believe.’ Unfortunately, the author appears not to take this possibility too seriously in their own case.
All of these cases share a common fault. None of them actually gives us good reasons to believe them, nor does any supporter of those would-be theories provide us with actual evidence. Instead, in order to be convinced of those systems of beliefs, you need to be in a preconditioned set of mind, which means nothing more than that you already believe in them (at least partially). For instance, the author of http://www.understanding-the bible.com/ writes, ‘Firstly as we examine these codes, we will see that they are from a supernatural source and could not have been devised by any human, as they require knowledge not available to us.’ This statement alone is at best problematic as to several aspects. Both this statement and everything that follows draws conclusions at which you can only arrive by ignoring several facts.
First of all, the Bible is a conglomerate of stories originating from several different cultural backgrounds which used to be handed down from generation to generation orally before they were even so much as written down. And even when those stories were finally written down, the texts changed significantly over time. Not only were words exchanged for other words, but entire stories were added, removed, added to, removed from, and so forth. Even today, there are several versions of the Bible, and the authority of the texts has remained as arbitrary as ever.
Second, if a supernatural being with the ability of foretelling the future would want us to know about said future, why would it go to such lengths as hiding the information in religious texts, that is to say, texts the truth of which is allegedly a matter of faith rather than knowledge? And if the hidden code refers to the future, why hide it in texts that refer to the past and are basically inaccessible to most people in their original language? A supernatural being of such enormous power would certainly be able to communicate this vital information in a more convenient and more easily accessible manner.
Third, randomly or arbitrarily starting at a word, then skipping several words, may or may not lead to something which may appear meaningful in its own right. It does not prove anything, however, especially not that it actually was put there on purpose and with the meaning ascribed to it. Consider the following example:

You of all people should know better. Are you not the one I trusted? Most beautiful are the stars tonight, behold!

I make this up as I go. There is no hidden message or code in the text above, but if you try hard enough, if you look hard enough, you may find something. For instance, each of the three sentences consists of exactly seven words, and the number seven has been deemed a lucky number for ages. And if you connect the first word of the first two sentences, respectively, with the first two words of the third sentence, you get the following: ‘You are most beautiful’. Yet even though all of this is true, it neither proves that today is your lucky day or that you will be lucky henceforth, nor that I intend to tell you that you are (most) beautiful.
Besides, it is nothing more than an historical accident that it takes as many letters and words to say or write something as it does. Furthermore, many aspects are simply the result of errors and grammatical constructions that faded away over the course of time.
But as I said, nothing is ever going to convince someone that their system of beliefs is not only unsubstantiated but also incoherent and implausible, if not absurd, if everything counts as a confirmation. If you try to point out to someone that the world is most likely not ruled by the Illuminati or any other secret order, they are going to take that as a confirmation of their hypothesis, just as much as they would if you were to tell them that the world indeed is ruled by the Illuminati or any other secret order.

[To be continued.]

Demon-Haunted History (Part 1)

There has always been this borderline between amusingly stupid, ignorant, or delusional, and dangerously paranoid or delusional. All of us are stupid or ignorant or delusional to a degree, and while it may be comic in many cases, it can evolve into a cause soon to get out of hand. Outstanding historical examples are, without a doubt, crusades, the witch-hunt, and German fascism. Interestingly, the second is most often construed as a part of medieval culture and life, yet it actually culminated in the modern era and continued well past the Age of Enlightenment. And just as popes had repeatedly drawn on the power of mass delusion and the urge of the majority of people for a common cause and a scapegoat to blame for all social and economical issues alike, fascism found the most furtile grounds in Germany for the exact same reasons. The difference between Italy and Germany consisted mostly (albeit not only, of course) in weak and strong leadership, as well as economical power. Again, it would mean to oversimplify the situation to say that it only took one man. It goes without saying that Adolf Hitler was not alone, he was not the sole cause of the catastrophe to come. And he could not have succeeded without help or, even more importantly, without the conceptual seeds sown decades, even centuries before. A single cause to unite us all, one leader, one nation, one enemy, one goal: those are the words that have always led into the abyss. They promise both glory and safety – they bring but doom and despair.
In the Western countries, crusades, the witch-hunt (as a historical event), and fasciscm faded away into the obscurity of an awkwardly remembered past that appears to be less and less relevant to the current age. In fact, however, these events keep returning and repeating themselves in different shapes and shades. The fantasy of world domination, of a single ruler, of a single nation to rule them all, has been kept close to mother’s teats and nourished well. And when it grows larger, it will find futile ground again. Gullible masses cheering for it to come down on them, eagerly sucking up the poison raining from its open veins. And as it burns inside of them, eating them up till they are but shadows, it marches them on again to their shallow, nameless graves. And those who survive the madness will use these graves as a foundation for their next futile attempt of building a flourishing society upon the denial of the horrors they caused, supported, or tolerated.

Life & Love, & Other Irrelevant Stuff

Life is an illusion – lucky you if you can mould it into a delusion working in your favour.

Love is a form of cancer – it devours you from inside and slowly decays.

Religion is a tool – making profit for the greedy and keeping the foolish in line.

Despair is a pale rider – it chases you all day to tire you and strikes you down at night.

Death is a number – the zero of all concepts.

Thoughts Concerning Human Non-Understanding

Nothing is definite, but these days, it seems, many people are defiant. If we took this seriesly, how many episodes should we have to watch?  I wonder, furthermore, whether we should have to take the arrival of the new ‘your – you’re’ (k) in Old York into account. For who’s to say whose idea it was to say that they’re staying there during their holidays?

Regardless, in the United States of America’s attempt to create a definite world order, they keep encountering unexpected defiance by the primitive, communist, homosexual barbarians (all non-American peoples in the world). Apparently, the ingenious underestimated the ingenuous, although applying the concept of innocence to either side would, at least for my money, be nonsense. You get a rapper for 50 cents, but sadly, only a dollar or more will save a child’s life. Unserious attempts in series to do so are legion. In other words, all attempts to change the world – and especially the human condition – in a positive manner have been either illegitimate or hindered by legislation. Legal corruption to a society’s core whose core principle consists in burying the answer to the question, ‘Who’s who?’, under a mountain of public apathy, assissted by a pathetic horde of mindless zombies worshipping the demigod irrelevancy. Their sermons are everywhere, here, there, and they’re not going to stop there till their infestation drowns the voice of conscience beneath the towers of death and despair which support the tops of abundance and decadence.

Where eating is a sin and not eating a disorder, where fake and fact become synonymous, where shallowness surpasses personality in esteem, happiness is sacrificed at the altar of conformity. – And we acceptantly pay the price.

Gaming Then and Now (Part 2)

In the first part of this article, I wrote about people’s attitudes to video games and about the way video games used to be. I now shift the view to the developers’ and publishers’ side of the equation.
Video games have doubtless become far more complex than anyone could have dreamed in the 1980s and 1990s. Many modern games feature fancy graphics, easier controls, and streamlind mechanisms. On the other hand, many, if not most, of the aforementioned games suffer from unacceptably high amounts of errors (mostly known as ‘bugs’ or ‘glitches’), including continual crashes (due to a variety of issues, often enough without any explanation; the notorious crash to desktop [CTD] without error message comes to mind), clipping errors, detection errors, physical object/line of sight/cover issues, and many, many more. While clipping errors may be funny unless they happen too often, game breaking issues are annoying and frustrating. If, for instance, a game keeps crashing, while it does not even save your progress, or video settings keep being automatically reset to levels a computer’s hardware cannot handle, not only is there no point in playing, but also does it mean that you wasted your money unless these issues get fixed – which, often enough, they do not, or if they do, long after release. To be sure, I am not referring to indie games, which are often surprisingly good and polished, so much as to the so-called AAA titles. The latter are developed by professional developer teams and published by big publishers such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Nintendo, Sony, Sega, Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namico Games, and others. It is quite ironic that especially these games suffer from the most and the most devastating issues. Now, I do not claim for the following analysis to be completely correct. I consider the chances of its being correct very high, however. (Feel free to disagree, either in the comments or via private communication.)
Being professional (that is to say, doing something for a living, which does not necessarily entail competence) and highly funded unfortunately by no means guarantees a good, let alone a great game. The major resources are time and money, yet it is obviously quite easy to mismanage both. And this is, so I claim, the case with AAA video games.
On the one hand, the developers get a very small amount of time for developing the game, with some series, such as Assassin’s Creed, getting a new title every year. Considering the amount of time it takes to program a video game, a year is next to nothing. And at this point, we have not even included profound alpha- and beta-testing. Although every year, the hardware requirements take leaps of faith, since the graphics (attempt to) outdo everything that has been there before, the result more and more often will be an unplayable, broken mess instead of an enjoyable activity. Huge parts of the budgets are directed into graphics development and hyping the games long before release, on pain of the games’ mechanics being neglected due to lack of profound testing. It usually (and at best) takes months to get such games into playable, albeit still broken, states, which many people sourly and justly so call ‘paid beta testing’. In other words, people pay full prices (50–60€/$, up to more than 100€/$ for special editions) for an unfinished product.
In order to comprehend how absurd this is, just contemplate the following. People pre-order a car because of the promises made in advertisments. When the car is delivered, however, the customers notice that all the fancy stuff is somehow there, but the car has several malfunctions as to its basic equipment. The brake shoes are insufficient to stop the vehicle at a speed higher than ten miles per hour, the steering wheel is somewhat loose, the fuel tank is leaky, the headlights are dead, only the left indicator works, and a tyre is missing. Our customers paid the full price for an unfinished and broken product. Would anyone accept the manufacturer’s weak apologies, accompanied by the promise to fix these issues within the next six months, and that this would not happen again in the future? I think not. In most cases, we should rather demand a refund, and the manufacturer’s reputation would be severely damaged with economical consequences. With respect to video games, different standards appear to apply, though. Publishers can deliver broken messes of a products repeatedly without people actually ceasing to give them money. Furthermore, jurisdiction seems to be far behind the status quo (correct me if I am wrong). Not only is false advertisement as to video games not persued and punished as the fraud that it is, but also can vendors get away with no-refund policies (yes, I am looking at you, Steam/Valve, even though you are certainly the best platform out there right now). This is basically like saying, ‘As soon as you give us your money, it will remain ours regardless of what you get in exchange’. So, buying video games has become some kind of gamble – you never know what, precisely, you will get!
To be fair, developers cannot win, anyway. Unless they side with a big publisher, they will need to find another manner of funding their project, which not only may take several years but also may end in the middle of nowhere, the project being abandoned in the end. At the same time, if they do side with a big publisher, they will be given deadlines of which they know in advance that they cannot meet them. And there will always be those who complain regardless of the content of the game: either people complain that the developers did not make the same game twice, or they will complain that the developers did make the same game twice. If game mechanics are as they used to be in other games (or similar to them, for that matter), it is considered a copy-and-paste project or a rip-off; if something new is introduced to which people are not accustomed yet, it is considered stupid or inconsiderate. There certainly is no solution to this particular problem. There is, however, a solution to the aforementioned problems, I dare say. It is high time for people to put their money where their mouth is – that is to say, keep your wallets shut in order to punish those who have deceived you time and again. Do not pre-order, let alone pre-purchase, especially not from those who delivered video game atrocities like Total War: Rome 2 and Assassin’s Creed Unity (yes, I am looking at you, Sega and Ubisoft).

Draft for Chapter 1 (Part 1/many)

The following is the first part of many to come of a draft for the first chapter of my planned novel. This chapter is supposed to follow the prologue I previously posted to this weblog. I have literally just written this within a few minutes, so it is very rough and unpolished. I am not particularly happy with it right now, both because of lacking descriptions of the surroundings and because of the dialogues. But perhaps it this will change when I return to this. Any kind of constructive comments and suggestions are welcome.

Fifteen months earlier.

‘What is this place, Damien? I thought we were heading for a monastery… This looks rather like a fortress’, produced Carlisle, a girl of eight and ten, taken by surprise, as their cart slowly moved towards the entrance gate.
‘It is a monastery, to be sure, though not of the religious kind.’
The guards at the gate stepped aside when Damien and Carlisle approached it without so much as a look.
‘Are they not supposed to…’, began Carlisle.
‘Look you in the face, ask questions such as who you are and what your purpose may be?’, interrupted Damien with a slight smile which was barely visible under the hood of his robes.
‘Aye, is this not what guards do?’
‘Nay,’ replied Damien calmly, ‘guards do not ask questions or investigate. Guards guard. At least that is what they are supposed to do here. They know me, and thus it is out of the question for them not to let you enter while you are in my company.’
‘So, you said this were a monastery, but not of the religious kind’, continued Carlisle while they headed for the inner courtyard of the monastery. ‘What, exactly, did you mean by that?’
‘My brethren and I are, for want of a better term, scholars. Within these walls, we do not concern ourselves with faith so much as with knowledge, knowledge passed on through the ages by those who would rather look for truth than comfort.’
‘Oh, but will neglicence of the godly not bring about godly wrath?’
‘I assure you, the perils for this world are of and in this world rather than from any place outside it – if that is even an intelligible concept. Yet I did not bring you here so as to make you a new apprentice. I promised you a warm meal and a bed for the night, and those you shall have.’
They had barely spoken these words, when one of Damien’s brethren came running across the courtyard, almost tripping over his own feet with every other step because he was a bit too short for his robes. Excited, with a red face, and completely out of breath, he cried:
‘Mentor, mentor! Mentor, I… Mentor, we have found… we have found… we have found…’
‘For goodness’ sake, Cain, would you mind catching your breath and then tell me that which you wish to tell me?’, interrupted Damien, but it was meant in a friendly manner. He lifted Cain up and supported him, while the latter tried to catch his breath.
‘We have found… ah, that’s better, thank you, mentor. We have finally found the scrolls for which you were looking. It was hidden away in one of the elder archives behind a secret…’
‘You are aware that we have a guest standing ride beside you, brother; and though she is certainly most welcome here, I think she need not be concerned with the details of our research’, interrupted him Damien again, this time in a less friendly tone.
‘I beg your pardon, mentor, I did not intend…’
‘We shall discuss this topic further once we are inside.’
‘Aye, mentor, as you wish.’ He was about to back away.
‘But before we go inside, brother Samuel here will guide our guest to her room for the night, will you not, Samuel?’
‘Aye, brother, that I shall do’, replied Samuel, coming forth from the shadow in which he had stood for some time now, without being noticed by Carlisle.
‘How did you… Whence did you come?’, asked Carlisle in a tone between surprise and fear.
‘I watched you come from one of our towers. I noticed that Damien had a companion with him, so I gathered he had promised you the usual.’

Update

I am currently working on a draft for the first chapter of the story I began with my entry ‘Draft of a Prologue to a Possibly Longer Story’. It will take some time, however, before it will be ready to be published (I had almost accidentally written ‘punished’ – for whatever reason). Should you wish to make suggestions, feel free to do so either in the comment section or via private communication, as you have done so far.

Part 2 of ‘Gaming Then and Now’ will be published within the next couple of days.