||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Far Cry 5
During the rages of Gamergate, certain developers opined:
So the same developers, or the next generation thereof, is going full Bioshock Infinite.
I didn't buy FC4 but unfortunately my brother, bless him, bought it for me on his own as a gift. So I will be asking him not to buy FC5 on the grounds that I never played FC4 and won't ever buy anything else by this studio.
Why Rogue won
This weekend's upcoming releases are awful, so The Federalist is suggesting to catch the tail end of Guy Ritchie's Arthur. Personally, last weekend I'd raided the library for Rogue One.
I wasn't going to pay for this. The Right side of the 'web told me that here was another multicultural cast backing up British Mary Sue in a fight against the white man. One Right column (I forget whose) noted that this movie may well have been intended to back President Hillary in an intervention on Qaeda's side of the Syrian war. The trailers did little to disabuse me of any of this:
I agree with most of this. But I'll point out that the narrative of the first Star Wars is incomplete as well: this, too, has Darth Vader and Moff Tarkin, and we're never sure who is giving the orders. Sure, there's an Emperor somewhere. But Tarkin seems to be running the military on his own and maybe making a play for the purple himself. Darth is a "Lord of the Sith" but we're not even told that order's agenda; Tarkin may or may not be "holding his leash" but Vader acts like it's pretence on his own part. And the Emperor is probably not on the Death Star anyway; he's interacting with a Senate far from the outer Rim planets. So when the Death Star is destroyed, the Empire isn't. In fact the Emperor and the Sith both are now in firmer control of their own (weakened) military. So you can see, in 1977, why we had to have another movie.
As for Rogue One I am told that it was edited harshly in postproduction. Some of this shows. We have one scene where Jyn kicks the ass of a whole platoon of Stormtroopers. Based on how she behaves for most of the movie, this scene doesn't fit - at all. (Kind of like the Owl's and the Specter's super-heroics in Watchmen.) The camera often cuts to Jyn gazing off to the upper left of the camera: sometimes in worry, sometimes in arrogance. It's as if one movie wanted her to be Mary Sue and another movie had a character-arc, and the second movie absorbed the first in gestation like a hungry twin foetus. And the digestion didn't come to completion: there should have been a better explanation of the Force and, also, more banter between Jyn and (especially) Cassian. Perhaps Jyn and Cassian did have more lines together; but they were lines from the Mary-Sue edition of the movie, which lines had to be scrapped.
I guess what made Rogue One work is that the second movie, which is the movie this movie almost became, was a good one. It was original where The Force Awakens was not; it offered likeable characters (despite itself) where I viscerally hated everyone involved in TFA to the point I audibly cheered when Ren permanently grounded Harrison Ford.
Oh, and dat Vader doe.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Here's Quillette's open letter: Industrial Animal Farming Must End. And yes, the cant word "sustainable" does make its appearance.
So here's my open response: have fun with the social-justice brigade, Quillette editors. I wasted enough time on the original Little Green Footballs to know when NOT to stick around to see where you're taking us next.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Impolite to mention
It wasn't Americans who've just bombed her fans.
Before hailing Seth Rich as a martyr
Seth Rich got himself shot in Washington DC, and the assailant beat feet. People are panicking and stories are floating around about what happened in the hospital.
Before going VINCE FOSTER!! ARKANCIDE!! (which worked so well against Bill Clinton, 1993-2000) let's all just step back, chill out, and watch a movie first. I can recommend Burn After Reading.
A botched robbery followed by gross incompetence, along with "let's cover all this up just to be on the safe side", can explain a lot of this without resort to a mass conspiracy. Not that I can put a premeditated hit past any of our sociopaths in office and along K Street. I just don't think the various DC cabal(s) are competent enough and united enough to pull it off.
To me it looks like a President Garfield situation. The medics were over-pressured, so applied their care poorly and too late.
Afro-Asiatic is losing ground
In 1998, Allan Bomhard wrote:
the Afroasiatic parent language must be placed as far back as 10,000 BCE, or perhaps even earlier, according to some scholars. is extremely ancient date notwithstanding, the major sound correspondences have been determined with great accuracy (cf. Diakonoﬀ 1992; Ehret 1995), excellent progress is being made in reconstructing the common lexicon (cf. Ehret 1995, Orel & Stolbova 1995)
Robert Ratcliffe is now going back through Ehret and Orel & Stolbova. He notes that here we have a controlled experiment, if accidental: take two sets of (good) scholars, give them each equal access to the current Afro-Asiatic literature, and sequester them from each other. Will they come up with the same conclusions or at least compatible conclusions about the ancestry, nature, and origin of Proto Afro Asiatic?
The answer will disillusion you, if you think Proto Afro Asiatic is still a thing. Ratcliffe still tells us he still thinks it is, but he's signalling hard that ... well, let's just say that if it is proven not a thing, he's covered.
Personally I was done pretending it's a thing back in March. At least not until we have better understandings of proto Berber and proto Chadic.
I've been talking up R1b around here, especially M269, but that's not the only lineage associated with the Pontic steppe. So let's discuss our prominent cousins, from R1a - especially M417 and its successor Z93.
R1a-Z93 is associated with the south Slavs, the mainland Greeks (now), and Andronovo. Andronovo is an ancient Bronze Age site in the middle of southern Eurasia, generally thought to be the Aryan homeland - that is, the basis of the Vedas and Iran. This is not to be confused with Afanasievo (spelling varies); they're R1b.
It is of some interest that the Slavs, too, are R1a. Is this from the Alan (Ossete) aristocracy?
Saturday, May 20, 2017
About seven years ago, when I was still on Facebook, I had "Friended" my cousin still in England. At one point I got in a spat with one of her Left friends. He went personal pretty quick, said something like - I hope you don't breed so your ignorant genes don't spread. Since I know what "ignorance" actually means, I made much merry with that particular idiot. My cousin, likely embarrassed, then shut down that thread.
In the middle 1990s the super-evil Charles Murray and a dead guy whom everyone has forgotten, Herrnstein, collaborated on an unholy tome about statistics and genetics. This foul necronomicon was The Bell Curve. It proposed that IQ was real, and that IQ rested mainly upon a single factor it called g. This factor correlates highly with mathematical test scores, and should be treated like the CPU cycle on your PC; it is not the whole of intelligence, but it's the basis. g is also genetically transferrable. At the time The Bell Curve was controversial; today you're flat-out not allowed to read it.
Since races tend to self-segregate, one implication is that IQ will differ from race to race. Murray and Herrnstein did note that, but it's not what they cared about. What they cared about is that the high-g people around the world were not going to stick to race. Taking a cue from Marx, they predicted the smart people were going to cross frontiers and declare themselves an aristocracy. Everyone else was going to get pegged as stupid. Or, because stuck in their own ancestral homes, yokels in flyoverland. Or, because not transracial, racist.
Since the aristocracy pretends to deny IQ, and could afford to go to college, for their inferiors they prefer the epithet "ignorant". If you don't accept their Higher Truth, you are less than they. Gnosticism is their racism.
The death of Downtown Music
When you get to the ripe age of 29, and I've been that age for well over a decade, you start noting some changes in your surroundings.
In the early 1980s USA (and Australia), popular music for whites had a proletarian theme. Rick Springfield posed as a Working Class Dog, and the Hooters hosted a dance in the union-hall. Billy Joel, member of the Tribe but Downtown, desired that Uptown girl, but he knew he was going to have to settle for Hollywood. The movies were similar: Caddyshack, Bachelor Party. Once upon a time the urban Vaisyas and white Helots were a powerful force in American history, and at least the nostalgia for their America lasted well into the 1980s.
My background was in that upper middle class which, Murray and Herrnstein predicted, would take over the planet. The Downtown music never made sense to me: we didn't live in the tenements; the unions weren't heroes, instead were a nuisance (were in fact why we'd fled 1970s London); and my parents didn't work, they went to work. (Wholly different concept.) For me, I could relate instead to mostly-British music, dealing more with psychology and relationships (and international politics): Tears For Fears, Pet Shop Boys, the Cure, U2.
I don't believe that I've heard a single new Downtown song since leaving for the UK in 1987. (No, "workers unite!" agitprop from The Housemartins does not count.) What I've heard, instead, is country music, pushing in from hinterland towns to the suburbs.
Urban Vaisyas and white Helots no longer exist. Instead we got the people who think they're smart, who listen to whiny androgynous adolescents; and we got the people whom they've shut out of the culture, who listen to country.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Off goes another Charles Johnson link, this time in the key of C. No more "Got News" here.
Johnson had founded, with Pax Dickinson, the WeSearchr journalism-bounty site. WeSearchr appears to have failed. We have conflicting reports between Dickinson and Johnson, but overall Dickinson has the better of it.
As to what went wrong with the business model: the temptation in a site like this is to float clickbait as questions, gulling people to shipping in a lot of cash up front. WeSearchr promised not to do that, only to pull the cash when the bounty "went live". But some clients claim that WeSearchr did do that.
The Other Gods
I've mentioned here some subversive sequels: in-universe critiques in the form of literature. Aliens and Gremlins 2. The Last Ringbearer, "The Problem of Susan", Psychohistorical Crisis, Shrek, and Silverberg's expansions to "Nightfall". Arguably The Magicians. I've even written such a tale myself.
I do believe I've found an example where HP Lovecraft dabbled in this: "The Other Gods". This story has humanity's gods literally retreating before the advance of human knowledge - so far, so Dunsanian. But at those gods' last redoubt, the other gods reveal their hand. It is hardly a spoiler to reveal that things then start to go sideways (literally).
Lord Dunsany, then, had a thesis, or at least Lovecraft thought he did. Dunsany's thesis was that gods don't exist, except as reifications of human ideals and of human ignorance. Lovecraft's counter-thesis is that when man finally disproves enough gods, he will come up against problems he cannot solve. And these gods will be indifferent to man except to swat him down as a threat.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
The Coming Of The Greeks, and all that
Oliver Dickinson recently posted an essay with that sardonic title The Coming Of The Greeks, and all that. Greek is an Indo-European language, but it has a sizeable stock of words inexplicable as independent formulations from the Greek base. These are assumed to be loans. This means that Indo-European isn't the native tongue. Hence, the portentious Coming Of The Greeks.
Not so fast. All those loans would also mean that the Coming Of The Greeks was a slow and careful process and not the genocidal conquest that marked - for a start - the Bronze Age scouring of Britain. The Greeks when they Came at least stopped to ask directions.
So now the genetics are in. The island Greek remnants and their southern Italian colonies are, indeed, mixed populations, not purely Indo-European.
The Cornish gene
S145 clusters in Brittany (62.5%) and, to a lesser extent, in England and in other bits of northern near-coastal France. I am told M529 / "R1b1a2a1a2c" is also common in Ireland. Here I'm interested in Brittany as a time-capsule of ancient southwestern Britain.
My understanding of Brittany is that it got swamped by Cornishmen during the Dark Age and then didn't change much. The Breton language is, well, British and not a descendant of old Gaulish. The genetics seem to back this up: back when Cornwall was mostly S145, their men came to Brittany. Only after this, has Britain's S145 population diluted (to 46%). I'll bet you S145 remains more common in Cornwall than it is in the rest of Britain.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
In 2011, OldKentuckyShark proposed a definition of existential horror:
You all do realise that this means that Asimov's Nightfall is existential horror.
It certainly cannot be science fiction. Its world of eternal day was always impossible, would have been known as impossible in 1941 or even in 1741. (Fuckin' Three Body Problem, how does it work?) Asimov's job was to wave off the physics, and to worldbuild on that assumption. His worldbuilding (in such a short space!) is what made the ending believable.
Because Nightfall, ultimately, was about mortal understanding faced with a sudden knowledge of reality that mortals cannot abide in sanity. Just like how Lovecraft based his stories. We don't care how the Necronomicon actually works.
UPDATE 5/20: My cheat-sheet.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Marxism as sociological theory of class
Karl Marx made a number of mistakes in his "science". The labour-theory of value is wrong, invalidating him as an economist. As a psychohistorian, to use Asimov's term, Marx took a side: an antiscientific error, which Asimov subtly undermined when he drew up Hari Seldon who was not taking sides except for order and truth. This, added with biases from the Jews, led Marx to a Whig view of history. But the facts cannot support this March Of Progress. As a result since Marx's death "Marxism" has become a culture, or even a cult.
Having said all that, I do not rule out all Marx's work. For instance I think his extreme materialism is the best possible starting-point for any theory of historical-prediction and for most theories of historical analysis. Bernard Lewis used to agree.
Marx was also right in diagnosing that a bourgeois class exists, and is evil - much more worthy of a good man's ire than are "conservatives" or "the alt right". Marx in his own day could watch a class of businessmen reaching across borders, as the kings had done before them, and siding with the kings to maintain order. He could also witness them colluding with each other to crush the working classes of each respective country.
Marx's solution was to unite a pan-national working class. The workers weren't interested in that. They formed unions instead. Who then turned to politicians. Who then ... reached across borders, like the bourgeoisie had done. And justified this at first in Marx's name, now in terms of social-justice.
Whatever Marx wanted, what we see now is the international bourgeoisie co-opting the soi-disant leaders of various "victim" groups, and turning them against the workers. Look at Google, going out of their way to police Gender Equality in movies - turning our own women against us. Thus the spectacle of high class Marxist ways.
UPDATE 5/22: Apparently there was something in the air last week because now we got Michael Lind's article (via VD). For more on this idea, which is not new: Murray and Herrnstein, The Bell Curve; David Lebedoff, The Uncivil War.
Monday, May 15, 2017
No-platforming Linda Sarsour
I hadn't blogged about Linda Sarsour, extractor of vaginae, mainly because I hadn't yet seen the point. Better bloggers than I have dealt with her. For the purpose of this treatment, I just need to point out that she supports the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement against Israel - the "Boycott" part being relevant here. This includes not allowing Israeli academics to speak outside the Zionist Entity.
Some of the smarter non-Leftists, like whyevolutionistrue, agree that Sarsour is awful. But some also say it's hypocritical for Milo Yiannopoulos and Pamela Geller to recommend a boycott. Without touching that, Razib Khan says (twice)
I say that only a Christian can possibly think it hypocritical to call for the no-platforming of one who has, herself, called for no-platforming others under the name of "boycott". Jesus had a thing about "hypocrites" (or "phonies", as the Jesus Seminar translated it) and also told his disciples not to strike back at those who strike them. To a Christian, someone who struck back at an attacker risks an accusation of hypocrisy. To one who, like Geller, is not a Christian, this accusation makes no sense. Of course you fight back. Of course you use the same tactics which your opponent has used first.
The roots of Islamic ṣala(t)
Ahmad al-Jallad's “Was it sūrat al-baqárah?” was teased last March in Marijn van Putten, "The development of the triphthongs in Quranic and Classical Arabic", Arabian Epigraphic Notes 3 (2017), 47-74. Al-Jallad’s paper is now out. Besides Al-Jallad’s revelations in pronouncing words in Qur’anic Arabic (which was not classical Arabic!), I find in it that the suras borrowed from Syriac independently from Safaitic (and from Sabaic).
Intelligent peoples think by abstraction, and often find themselves requiring a linguistic means of adapting a noun or a verb into a concept. For that, several languages use suffix. In English, we use –ness or –hood, or at least we should use these. Latin and Romance have –tio(n); Greek has –ism. Among the Semites, the Syriac nations tag a noun with –uta. But Semitic builds up from abstraction, from triconsonantal roots. As a result, many such languages just salt those roots with strategic vowels. Especially if a definite-article prefix is available: like Arabic for "war", al-harb.
In English we still live in awe of the French (Romans less so), and of the Greeks, and so we find ourselves taking –tion and –ism from them or, worse, from both (-isation). The game Star Control 3 (admittedly flawed) had much fun with this, as the blustering bullies the K’tang kept misusing those suffixes. As for the Arabic suras, some slipped into Syriacisms, especially for religion; accordingly, the Qur’an often has “malakut” for the Kingdom of God where an Arab with more self-respect should prefer mulk (also found in the suras).
Al-Jallad teaches us that the Safaitic Arabs were no exception. For praying, they too used a Syriac loanword, ṣalla. The word of an act of prayer was consonantally *ṣl[w]t but assuredly pronounced ṣalōt. The same were borrowed in Sabaic in the Yemen. But we do not read ṣalōt(a) anywhere in the Qur’an; we read ṣalōh (van Putten’s pronounciation).
So Safaitic and Sabaic borrowed both “to pray” and the abstract “prayer” directly from Syriac, but those Arabs who gave birth to Qutham borrowed only the word for “to pray”. This root, the proto-Muslims re-adapted in an Arabic way.
Thus the first Muslims informed themselves and the other Semites, even other Arabs, that the Muslims were to pray like Arabs, where the Banu Ghassan had been praying like Syrians and Yemenis.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
On not announcing stuff
No Man's Sky and Mass Effect Andromeda were each released in an unfinished state, and are both well on the way to be remembered as epic flops. Perhaps they were announced too early. Woolie's got a PSA on youtube concerning that: "STFU". Mainly concerning derivative games, but the same applies to new IP.
When I am working on something, I try not to announce it until I am done or near-enough. Mind you I'm not a professional, I'm not like Sean Murray and Manvier Heir.
The tragedy here for space-exploration gamers is that for these developers' arrogance the whole genre will suffer.
The Sasanian theory of Islamic origins
Emmet Scott in September 2013 floated:
NERP is dangerously close to a vanity press and its site struggles with bursts of traffic. Vox Day last night linked Scott's 2013 essay, for discussion, thus causing some overflows over at NERP this morning (so I've saved the article locally). If that NERP site is breaking for you, here is VD's excerpt.
There isn't much early-Islamic archaeology, but some has survived. The Dome of the Rock over the Jewish Temple ruin is dated "72", by consensus agreed to be 691 AD. This structure is in the octagonal, domed form of a Byzantine-Christian martyrion. Also in Egypt the Arabs took over the old Greek pagarchal administration wholesale, only later phasing it out with Arabic. So when we read of Sasanian-type coinage, keep in mind that this is Eastern only. In the West, Damascus struck a coinage involving Syrian themes of palm-trees and Saint John Forerunner's head. And there are plenty of Byzantine-type coins as well, mirroring Constantine's coinage with his two brothers, or the cross-on-steps. Even Scott, earlier on, notices
The garble is all over Scott's essay, such that the reader wonders where to erect the boundary between mistakes and revisionism. Did Yazdegird's death in 651ish AD occur in Mu'awiya's "Caliphate", as the essay writes? But the essay also has 'Umar ruling until 664 AD. Whuu...?
Also, the Qur'an existed as well. As an aside, Scott won't allow it before the 80s / 700s. The Dome (72 / 691 as noted) already quotes sizable extracts from the text, including sura 4. Sura 4 had, itself, quoted from several suras before it, mainly suras 3, 6, and 17. This means that these suras, at least, were already in the canon, generations before the Dome. Also there's hearsay evidence that Ibn al-Zubayr relied upon suras 14 and 22 in the 60s / 680s; I'm willing to credit it, as some of the hearsay is embedded in poetry (I've argued for this in mine own book, House of War).
As far as the Sasanian theory applies to the study of Islam-as-body-of-text: all are agreed that the Qur'an is a Samaritan / Jewish based document, with heaviest reliance on Moses. Further, the remnants of Christianity, mainly Syriac, litter the suras, with a grudging acceptance of Jesus always explained (away) as a prophet. This implies that the Arab religion over the first / seventh century was accommodating itself to Near Eastern Christianity. Even modern Muslims are coming around to this, cf. Mustafa Akyol, The Islamic Jesus.
Scott instead posits that the first Muslims lived in the tottering Sasanian court, seeking to bring basal Mosaists into harmony with the Aryan Dên. We now know what this Quranisation process looks like for Christianity; so in that light - if Scott is right - I would expect to see some religious Arabic or Middle Persian texts trying to rehabilitate Zoroaster and maybe Mazdak into the Ishmaelite schema. Exactly such texts were composed in shu'ubi and heretical contexts... in the third Islamic century. But we don't have such texts in the first decades, and I don't even see in what we do have the intertextual strain showing where Iranian-themed texts even used to exist.
To sum up, Scott's model fails to explain Western seventh-century AD archaeology and also fails to explain the Qur'an we have. For that, the Crone / Hoyland / Holland model works better: a Palestinian and Syrian movement led by Arabic-speakers that beat its alternatives, especially once it was able to draw resources from Egypt. By the time of Islam's re-orientation, so to speak, Islamic dogma was already deeply entrenched in pan-Semitic populations (former Aramaeans mainly), and pan-Semitic dogma (i.e. the Bible and midrash) was deeply entrenched in Islamicate culture.
Add to this that Emmet Scott believes that we're living in 1717 AD on account of three centuries mistakenly added to the historical record, as he has doubled-down in A Guide to the Phantom Dark Age (also 2014). Scott is an overly-excitable fellow with a penchant for conspiracy-theory. His theories on Islamic history should be addressed on their own merits, of course. But it remains a bad idea to cite them in a paper.
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