October 24th, 2003

Illuminati

Yes! (punches air triumphantly)

Ducker.org.uk is back up. And I won't be leaving it in the hands of the incompetent fuckwits at www.zetnet.com for longer than it takes to transfer the domain to someone more competent. Like a herd of sex-crazed Wildebeeste. Or Nathan. Whichever is cheaper.
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    Soundtrack - Leonard Cohen/Waiting For The
Illuminati

No, this doesn't mean I think it was a good thing

Schwarzenegger won by an impressive 3:2 margin despite the opposition playing the sexual harassment card as their last, best hope to stop him. Which bit
of tactics now means . . .

He has crushed his enemies, seen them driven before him, and heard the lamentations of their women.

- John Schilling
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    Soundtrack - Leonard Cohen/Waiting For The
Illuminati

Bushido

This came out of a discussion today over email concerning honour and duelling from the game Legend of the 5 Rings, set in a mythical Japan-type land. Rob was aruging that Samurai would avoid duels if they knew they would lose, as they would be pointless - Gordon was arguing that a Samurai would never back down when they knew they were right. The following was originally two separate emails, but they seemed to combine pretty well:

It should probably be pointed out that the honour duel _does not make sense_. It is used to 'prove' who was in the right and who was in the wrong and to force people to back down, but it obviously has no basis in reality. It's a result of the skewed values of the society it originates in and the rules don't have to actually make any sense on a rational basis.

Rob is in fact correct, and it's a not infrequent basis that more skilled duellists will wander about the place insulting anyone they feel like and killing those who dare to stand up to them. Miromoto himself was famed for his bad temper and habit of challenging anyone who irked him. It normally takes a command from their superior to bring them into line.

Gordon is also correct, in that it doesn't actually prove anything. But the vast majority of Samurai are kept in line by the honour system, and it's necessary to have something that's very strict and very lethal to do so when you constantly have thousands of highly trained armed warrior standing about. Otherwise they get bored and start talking about dangerous things like coups, democracy and how much better life would be if they didn't spend all their time guarding paddy fields.

It should also be noted that not only is the Empire not concerned with "rightness" so much as with "face" and "politeness", but that it takes very little to deviate from the line of ultra-politeness.

There are several occasions in every session when things are said that _could_ be taken as insults and used as the basis of an honour duel. They aren't because (a) we're enjoying ourselves and (b) a person would have to be unreasonable to take them so seriously. But if a person so wished, they could remain in the right and still pick a fight with almost anyone they chose to.

Being "right" isn't being "nice" or being "reasonable" or even necessarily acting in the best interests of the Empire - it's following a strict set of rules laid down over hundreds of years. There are many cases of Samurai doing the obviously moral/just act, and then committing Seppuku, because they have acted in a way that is dishonorable, despite acting in what we would all see as the best way. These are the choices that sometimes Samurai must make.
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    Soundtrack - Peter Gabriel & Nusrat Fateh A