November 20th, 2005

Illuminati

Magic

communicator makes a very insightful summation of Harry Potter here:

The idea of Harry Potter is that the story portrays a bad world, which the p.o.v. character takes as a good world. Harry in book 1 is rescued from an abusive family life into a world where he is a celebrity, and has power. What could possible go wrong? The reader, and to some extent Harry, realise over the course of the series that this is actually a world which is sick - not just with the infection of the death eaters, but with ingrained class and race prejudice, judicial torture, official lies, indifference to suffering. I think fans who read it as a portrait of a healthy, lovely, magical world are quite mistaken.


And this is one of the things I've been enjoying more and more as the series progresses - it's about the journey to adulthood, and realising that the world isn't "good" or "evil", but just full of people.  Order of the Phoenix did a good job of showing that Harry's Dad and his friends (who Harry effectively worshipped) weren't necessary all that nice, and Half Blood Prince managed to make me feel sorry for the young Voldemort.
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Belief

There's a terrible article in the Guardian on belief here.  I was vaguely incensed by various bits of it, but particularly by

If we truly believed that life was meaningless, we would have no reason to get up in the morning - ultimately, the most rational thing to do would be to jump over the edge of a cliff.

I've seen this kind of thinking before.  And never an explanation of _why_ jumping over the edge of a cliff is more rational than going for a long bath, having sex, or saving children from starvation.

The answer is that none of these is inherently rational - all of them are choices, based around our emotions, and just because we don't have a 'reason' it doesn't suddenly make us stop caring about things.  It just means that our emotions are rooted in ourselves, not in some kind of universe-defining primal cause.

On the other hand, it can mean that if what really, truly drives you is TV, beer and Nachos, then that's fine too:
devil

Urgh, Yuck, Bleurgh, etc.

I had chicken legs and salad today for lunch - I'd picked up the chicken legs cheap at the supermarket, and a couple of bags of mixed salad.  The salad came out of the packet slightly wet, and soggy, which was a pain.  I tried some of it, but it was fairly inedible - so I assumed that it had been too close to the back of the fridge (which is slightly dodgy and tends to freeze things if you leave them touching the back).  I left the rest of the salad, slightly annoyed that having only bought it yesterday it fell apart so easily.

And then I went to the fridge to make some dinner, and discovered a different pack of salad.  Well, I say different, I mean "The one I bought yesterday.", as I have just discovered that the one I tried for lunch was a pack that Ed must have bought and left in the back of the fridge - the date on which was the 29th of October...  The salad from yesterday is actually still fine, and nicely crunchy.  So I'll be eating it for dinner...

In other news, the weekend has involved much boardgaming.  dalglir phoned me last night around 8-ish, on his way back from dropping dalglivk off at work, and spirited me away to his place, where he introduced me to Carcassonne: The Castle, which was an interesting variant on the Carcassonne premise.

Today, I was chatting to Hugh at midday, and talking about games, when he said that he had nothing planned for the afternoon.  I suggested I drop round for a game of something, he phoned a couple of people, and in the end we spent 5 hours playing Britannia, a game with a play mechanic I've not seen before - you don't necessarily score points for gaining the most territory, but for claiming specific, historically accurate territory.  So there's no point having your Belgae tribe sweep north into Scotland and steal Pictish lands, they gain victory points for fighting the Romans.  Oh, and each person controls multiple different tribes, which come onto the board in different turns, as different groups invade Britain.  The game starts with Julius Caesar in 45BC, and works up to the Norwegian and Norman invasions of the 11th century.  Of course, individual tactics and dice rolls don't tend do go according to plan, which may explain why the Welsh were squeezed into extinction between the Saxons and the Irish, and the Picts managed to successfully beat back the Scots.  Well worth a look, and you might even learn something.