abounding with verbosity

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Getting Trolled By Video Game Music

I listen to a playlist of video game music at work or when I’m writing. Like film scores, most of it is designed to be unobtrusive enough to help someone maintain focus on something else. There are two songs in my playlist that intruded into my attention the other day though, through tiny idiosyncrasies like pinpricks onto a balloon.

The first is the “super arrange” version of a song that’s appeared in all of the Wanderers from Ys games. It’s normally called “The Trading Town of Redmont” but this particular version was ambitious enough for the producers to give it the title “Prelude ~Prelude to the Adventure~ Town of Redmont.”

At around 1:30, the main melody begins, and about halfway through there’s what sounds to be a time change from 4/4 to 7/8, for one measure. You can hear it a little more clearly at 2:10 when the “orchestra” is a little more con fuoco and there’s an accompanying tambourine. The tambourine, playing syncopated or “on the and” in between beats, does the “7/8 stutter” with an accompanying cymbal crash, and ends up playing on the actual beat after the time change. Later on in the melody there’s another cymbal crash on the beat, so I had assumed somewhere there was another measure of 7/8 to bring the tambourine back into syncopation.

I spent a dedicated 20 minutes on the bus, in between chapters of Madame Bovary, trying to figure where the other darn 7/8 measure was, even wondering if the strings and brass sections kept in 4/4 the whole time, producing a polymeter. I pretty much abandoned hope until I listened to some of the different versions of the song from other Ys games, in particular this one, from Ys III. You can tell from the more straightforward rock drumming that there’s no one-measure change to 7/8—the music simply starts “early” on the and beat of the 4 count. Without the drums in there it’s easy (for me) to think it was something more complicated.

The other song in question—”Quatera Woods” from another Ys game, Ark of the Nepishtim—wasn’t nearly so maddening. I just had noticed the main melody (starting at 1:07 and ends at around 1:30) never joins in the resolution, instead it just leaves off the last note. I think I had mentally filled in the last note because I was expecting it.

Photo: Whitin Reservoir – Douglas, MA

I’ve been on vacation for the week, visiting family in Massachusetts, so there haven’t been much activity. The week preceding vacation I was working on finishing up a redesign of the Mission to El Salvador site, so there was even more time away from the ol’ blog.

Here’s a photo of the Whitin Reservoir in Douglas, a town in south central Massachusetts. At the reservoir there’s a tiny beach and some water slides. When we went it was fairly well-populated but I was able to get a shot of the pond away from all the activity.

Whitin Reservoir photo

“Look at Me. I Did It Too.”

God’s not in the business of sticking around only to cover up for your stupidity or hubris, though I am sure there are provisions sent that can account for that. To a certain extent God honors what a church body corporately focuses on—their “mission,” if you will—at least insofar that the body adheres to God’s character and not a cheap, passing cultural type. Paradoxically, with mass communication as a norm, signals will get distorted: is a church’s goal something God put under their dominion or is it the sweep of culture and that’s driving action?

There’s an issue when we fulfill a role or conform to an image set for us by a church culture that holds no accountability to the outcome of adhering to the role. With very few exceptions, if someone else isn’t vested, personally and materially, into the outcome your mission, you’d better be gosh darn sure it’s really your mission. A random person on Facebook doesn’t count as accountability, and neither does the glom of “likes” you can secure get for unlocking the right cultural achievements, to borrow a RPG gaming term.

Consider something pastors don’t really mention when in sermonizing mode, if they acknowledge it at all. There’s a danger in patterning your life after Biblical characters. The people who were written about in those 66 books were quite literally one in a million, and those Old Testament prophets that acted as God’s mouthpiece lead strange and often miserable earthly existences. You, however, aren’t so special. There were countless people who lived from Adam to John who lead very holy but very ordinary lives—lives that many of us would dismiss as not “radically transformed” enough for us to consider exemplary of Christian life. By nature we can’t all achieve fame. We should remember that this response is this fallen world’s sentiment, amplified by the boredom that comes with safe living and affluence: that the worst hell is an unremarkable life.

Being Necessary to Create God

I’ve mentioned it before on here plenty of times, but I note the not-very-groundbreaking, Voltairean idea that a disbelief in God will necessary a man to find divine attributes in the physical or abstract—not metaphysical—universe (as such, Volataire’s quote is more accurate if we put “find” instead of “it would be necessary to invent him.”). Just Thomism explicitly defined that as idolatry:

Since idolatry is imputing divine characteristics to nature and to human art, we can replace this definition with the word. Put this way, the first three steps are well known:

It fits, though for some reason I’ve been passing it over. Basing idolatry solely on scriptural instances doesn’t help since most of those were the worship of other (supposed) gods. No one cares about pagan gods anymore, and accusing people of idolatry nowadays is on the same social relevance level as gluttony.

On a related note, I have a forthcoming post about paganism and modern science. No, I’m not calling scientists pagans and you’re not a secret pagan if you think science is cool.

How to Stay Sane

It bears repeating: God doesn’t owe you a damn thing. That He doesn’t owe you anything doesn’t mean He doesn’t offer anything. It’s self-evident in many ways that, if you are reading this, there are some things He’s already given to you, and continues to give. There’s a reflection of this duality in the two forms of logic we have with us, deductive and inductive. The Greeks and Islamic scholars formalized it, but everyone works it out informally, every day, without thinking of the process. It’s the nature of our minds and how they interact the material universe.

Deductive logic involves categorization and math—the hard facts of life. If it’s a crow, it’s a bird. 2 + 2 = 4. These sorts of evaluations are true no matter what kind of word games we try to play. The object of a “crow” is such as it is because any human anywhere will perceive it with their bare senses more or less “as it is,” and will place it under the category of “bird,” or whatever label is chosen. It can also fall under many other categories and it will fall under most of those categories, cross-culturally, always. The one in question here is what English speakers designate as “bird.”

Inductive and predicate logic aren’t as rigorous and accounts for errors and gaps in information. It involves degrees of certainty: “some” and “most” are key words that we use to express the varying widths of wiggle room we have. 2 gallons plus 2 gallons equals 4 gallons some of the time. If you add 2 gallons of rum to 2 gallons of motor oil, you end up 4 gallons of something but it’s not 4 gallons of rum or motor oil. From certain perspectives you get zero gallons of anything useful for human consumption or engine life. This is an odd example but I use it to illustrate the accounting for quality in this form. The more materially wise among us know when to express things as induced, uncertain knowledge and nearly-always certain, categorical knowledge.

The recent happenings with Puerto Rico and the ongoing drama with the Greek economy are indicative of the current trend of the last few centuries of forcing the inductive into the deductive realm. The dictates of bureaucracies and banks can’t change basic math, or even the ability of a group of human minds to continue to jerry-rig the backwards-reverse Sudoku game of centrally planned economies. Eventually the numbers won’t come out right no matter how many rows or columns you add. People simply don’t have the mental capacity to account for all things a group of rulers need to account for, neverminding the two ethical issues of crafting the economic environment for millions based solely on the interests of people who will not bear responsibility for the nightmare they birth, and the issue of levying future taxes on incoming generations of producers of wealth. In either case, the people affected have no say in the matter.

Read that last sentence a few more times. “Having no say” in things is really the relationship we have with reality. In my case and for many others, reality is usually synonymous with God, but you don’t need to believe in God for this. For sure, there are some things, really inconsequential in the long run, that we as limited agencies can decide upon, but God, as the ultimate knower of Himself as objective reality, can only give us a peek of what that is. And only a peek is not enough to fully comprehend the whole, even inductively. We weren’t designed (or, if you wish, “evolved”…it works with either concept) to control things that are outside of our natural charge: like ourselves, family, some concepts here and there and objects with which we are able to interact regularly. Outside of that, you’re risking more and more uncertainty, and “teaming up” just compounds the problem. 1 bureaucrat’s mind plus another’s doesn’t equal more than 2, and it usually equals much less that.

My advice, distilled from my hundreds of years of living on earth: acknowledge your expertise in the few things that you a inclined to know, be humble enough to acknowledge degrees of uncertainty as you move outward concentrically from your realm of expertise, and when you see things coming down the pike don’t pretend you can control completely when it lands in your lap. You owe it to your own mental health state to not ignore reality. You’re going to be setting fires that will consume more than you think.

EDIT: I wrote this mentally a few days ago, but Ed has some similar thoughts on the subject here and here.

When Marnie Was There – Ending Analysis


If you’ve already read the post title, do I need to provide a spoiler warning?

Marnie, who turned out to be Anna’s grandmother, had told her about her life at the mansion and her relationship and life with Kazuhiko during one of Marnie’s bed-ridden bouts with her chronic fevers (note that Marnie’s caretaking duties put a secondary spin on the film title).

Anna wouldn’t be able to recall the specifics of old Marnie’s stories since she was so young and on the verge of delirium—and there wouldn’t really be a story if she knew who the child version of Marnie was, prima facie. Marnie couldn’t have passed on her “story” to her daughter, Emily, since they were separated when Emily was young and had a strained relationship afterward, and Marnie was only 1 year old when Emily died. Anna’s memories of her now-late grandmother and her stories expressed themselves through Anna’s mild narcolepsy and the various micro-traumas of teenage life.

There’s a bit of a curveball in the beginning when we are told through Anna’s internal monologue to expect something magical. But the fact that Anna’s experiences with young Marnie can be attributed to sickness-induced dream expressions, doesn’t necessarily exclude the play of ghosts. Marnie could have worked through Anna’s episodes if she wanted to help spark remembrance. This could be linked to the strong tradition of east Asian culture’s “veneration of the dead” customs and ensuring that the memory of ancestors carry on in their descendants (I believe Anna would be Marnie’s only living descendent).

Also note the inclusion of the Tanabata celebration scene in the film, an event in which two deities are able to meet for a certain very brief time period. This festival is also closely related to the Obon festival, which is celebrated in honor of a family’s ancestors.

Kowloon Walled City Was Not An Anarchy

I’ve been reading Chasing the Dragon and read up a bit on Kowloon Walled City. Here’s a blog post that claimed KWC was an anarchy. Sort of:

However, for about 50 years after the end of World War II, there was an experimental, if you will, Libertarian paradise, just outside of Hong Kong, known as the Kowloon Walled City. The area was governed by no government. There were no building permits, no regulations, no utilities (or very few), no safety standards, no licensing of doctors or dentists, no food standards – nothing.

And it is interesting what happened there. The area thrived, to be sure, but the standard of living was one step above squalor. Residents had to work long hours and manual labor, just to have a small, airless room to live in, and a modest amount of food. And for the first 30 years, drug gangs ran the place, exacting bribes from nearly everyone there, and doling out punishment to those who disobeyed them.

And part of the comment on the post:

Note that even though Kowloon was an area of anarchy, it was able to survive only because the government of Hong Kong did provide some water outlets and electricity. Also, the outside world provided a market for products made and services sold in the walled city – so it was not truly independent.

And it was government again, who cleaned out the Triads during the latter part of the existence of the Walled city.

A government “cleaning” out the mafia is another way of saying a government put a competing government out of business, to refer to Murray Rothbard’s famous quote.

So if there was a police presence claiming a right to the initiation of force, as well as a mafia claiming a right to the initiation of force, then calling it an anarchy at all is a category error, twice over.

Regardless, Kowloon Walled City wasn’t an experiment at all, at least not in the way something like the Free State Project is an experiment—unless you think World War II refugees squatting a former military outpost is a conscious effort in agorism. You’d be wrong.

Like Mexico trying to adopt a U.S.-style constitution, libertarianism has to be consciously chosen. You can’t airdrop a new social system into a geographic area an expect it to work as planned. That’s just as silly as expecting a piece of paper with words written on it to restrain people who hold power and authority.

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