Tuesday, January 21, 2014

gaming my winter

If you're wondering why there's a picture of a fantasy air ship here rather than one of my pictures it's because a few days ago I began playing one of the best games I've ever watched someone else play, Final Fantasy IX. Years ago when I first acted as co-pilot (for puzzle solving) and general passenger, numb played it through the television on our old Play Station 2. It was great for a number of reasons then, but I find it's equally enjoyable now playing it (with frequent assistance) on the little hand held PSP*. The story itself does a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life. For all the action packed moments Final Fantasy IX has just as many quiet heartfelt ones. The strength of the narrative lies in the fact that its characters deal with real human emotions: fear of death, loneliness, identity, self worth and belonging.

Apart from painting pictures of Zen stories I feel I haven't had much to say in general recently; and Crow mostly keeping stchum about his opinions of continuing world events makes it difficult for me to illustrate his more amusing anecdotes. Naturally my preference is to write posts about good things. Yet for every tidbit I find that looks cool I find at least ten more that go from being worrying to downright catastrophic. Perhaps I can do a weekly post of one each of a positive and negative  news item. It may not turn into a regular blog habit, but here's a start (and just for fun I'll let you decide which is which):

From the Guardian: According to Oxfam the 85 richest people in the world are as wealthy as the poorest 3.5 billion put together - that's half the world population.

This hardly needs more comment from me but it's interesting to note that the World Economic Forum opens in Davos, Switzerland this week. I wonder what else they have up their sleeves?

From New Scientist: A sprinkling of stardust is as magical as it sounds. The dust grains that float through our solar system contain tiny pockets of water, which form when they are zapped by a blast of charged wind from the sun. Combined with previous findings of organic compounds in interplanetary dust, the results suggest that these grains contain the basic ingredients needed for life. As similar dust grains are thought to be found in solar systems all over the universe, this bodes well for the existence of life across the cosmos.

This is nice simply because it means there's a good chance there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe.

I'm not sure just how far I'll get playing Final Fantasy IX, but while I wait for inspiration it's much more entertaining in general than reading the news (which I'll continue doing anyway).

* I've been reminded it's a PSVita - not that anyone would care :)


The Crow said...

"This is nice simply because it means there's a good chance there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe."

Had to read that twice - thought to myself, "Oh, she forgot a word," which thought was instantly followed by "Oh, no, she didn't!"

Ah, I love coming here, though I rarely leave a comment. I visit because I need what you have to say.

Thank you, Susan. My fondest regards to Crow, Best Beloved among my many Beloveds.

Tom said...

The point made by the Guardian is shamefully mind-boggling. As for the point made by the New Scientist, that is both welcome and fascinating. It has long been thought that life on Earth might have come from space, a conclusion that may be substantiated by the findings of the Rosetta probe, launched on behalf of the E.S.A. Finding intelligent life (or any life for that matter) in the universe beyond the Earth will be one thing; convincing the average Earther will be quite another.

I look forward to developments on this blog site with anticipation.

Sean Jeating said...

Quite a few years ago, in the past millennium I interviewed the man Asteroid 5097 is named after.
I asked if he considered the existence of an earth-twin possible, with humans like you and me.
Cutting his (brilliant/wonderful) answer short:
"Perhaps. It makes sense having two eyes, two arms, two legs, doesn't it? Therefore, probably they won't have three eyes. However, the possibility that we meet eachother, is low. See, the universe exists for 15 billion years, the earth for but 4,5 billion years, human beings for about one million years. And intelligent we are ... but what means intelligent? That there do exist other galaxies we learnt only 80 years ago. Alone the next star is so far away that Voyager in 80 years will have got closer by but one thousandth. . . . If the others are as intelligent as we are, it does neither help them nor us. And if they are more intelligent [he smiles] why should they contact us?"

May you fantasy never end, Susan. :)

susan said...

I couldn't resist purloining a line from Monty Python's Galaxy Song - still one of my all time favorite movies.

I'm very glad to know you come by to visit, Martha. Just for that I'll try to post a bit more frequently than I have been doing of late.

Crow asked me to send his particular salutations your way.

susan said...

That so very few people control such vast power over the rest of us is something more than disgusting. Just recently I've re-read a couple of John leCarré novels (Mission Song and A Most Wanted Man) as well as having re-watched the Constant Gardener. His skill with first person characterization forces us into shoes we'd fear to wear ourselves.

Ever since I first read the panspermia theories I couldn't help but be convinced of the essential logic. As for convincing the average Earther about intelligent life elsewhere I think nothing short of a Douglas Adams wrecking crew or an Arthur C. Clark Childhood's End scenario would do the job.

We shall see what we shall see insofar as blog direction.
It's always good to see you.

susan said...

Would that be Herr 5097? I was wondering what he'd been up to lately.

Numerically speaking of the physical universe we're aware of those numbers are certainly true, but there's still the possibility that Kardashev was correct about civilizations much further advanced than we can currently imagine. Another idea worthy of some thought is the multiverse one where there could be other versions of our very own planet just a short dimensional step away. Our doubles, who could be infinite, may have done everything we never did. Scary thought, eh?

All phantsies end, Sean, but I'll keep this one going as long as I can.

Life As I Know It Now said...

"deal with real human emotions: fear of death, loneliness, identity, self worth and belonging" yep, that about covers it

I know I've pretty much stopped blogging and I know I see lots that is worrisome and then some but I do like coming over here to learn about something neat or new or inspiring that I didn't know about. Thanks for all that! :)

Claude said...

I have a great admiration for many of us. I'm watching my grandson grow. At 10 years old, he is such a decent little fellow. It gives me much pride, and also great faith in the future.

I do hope (and I am nearly certain) that there are other beings in the beautiful universe. I believe that we will communicate one day. If we have survived until that moment, it will be because we have finally reached our full potential, and we have learned to live in peace and have accepted our many differences. We will be able then to welcome other Beings with the same generosity and equanimity. If they are enemies bound to destroy us, we would die with honour. If they have a superior intelligence, I'm convinced that, as most intelligent people do, many of them would wish to bring us to their level. As many of us try presently to give a chance to learn to people who know less than we do.

Et voilà! Bonne Chance et Bonne Santé, to the faraway future and to my present friends.

susan said...

I'm happy to know you've been popping by for a read now and then, Lib.
You know I'm always delighted to hear from you :)

susan said...

I have great admiration for many of us too; it's the very few who cause so much trouble for all the rest. Your grandson sounds like a wonderful child, and not unlike my own son, who, although he's now in his 40s, is still a very decent fellow.

I love what you have to say about other beings in our infinite and magnificent universe. Not only do I believe they're there, but I also believe (and perhaps so do you) that we'll meet them ourselves someday.

Good luck and good health to you, dear Claude.

marja-leena said...

All fascinating! The bit about so few so very rich isn't news to me but is most disgusting. So much more interesting, and hopeful I think, is that there may be life beyond this messed up Earth. Some dream that we can go live on Mars or further if this Earth doesn't survive, but I doubt if we could survive in other environments without significant changes via evolution. I find that a scary thought but it's certainly food for the imagination - and for games. Have fun with those, Susan!

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
Good to see you’re enjoying your cool gaming whilst we welcome respite from our heatwave.
I can’t get too excited about discovering any life forms in outer space considering Voyager has only just entered deep space from outside our solar system. But I must say the pictures sent back are breathtaking though don’t you think?
On a brighter note to the continued inequitable imbalance of income and the need to address this and high youth unemployment at Davos, globally there are some positives. People are living longer, healthier lives, and extreme poverty rates have been cut in half in the past 25 years. I think many more aid dependant nations will emerge as self-sufficient in the decades ahead. I notice this even in my small area of interest in Malawi, and on other parts of Africa.
Best wishes

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Those rotor blades are too small. They just are.

susan said...

I can't help but think that people who crave vat wealth and power have got to be mentally ill.

I agree with you that the likelihood of human beings living somewhere other than Earth is slim to nonexistent. We're part of this particular biosphere and no other. That isn't likely to change.

The game is fun now that I've learned what most of the buttons are for :)

susan said...

As video games go this is a very old one; I'd have no patience for newer ones with more bells and whistles visually, but no story to speak of.

The Voyager pictures have the same effect on me as those early ones taken from the moon in that I marvel at just how small is our planet in the vastness of space. We really ought to be taking better care of our world.

I'm glad you have good news of your friends in Malawi. I'm also happy to hear your heatwave has abated.

Best wishes, Lindsay.

susan said...

Of course they are. That's why the game is called Final Fantasy.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

I know.... I was trying to be silly clever... Perhaps too clever for here as I am from another planet very far away. And as for Sean's reference to the issue of why we should visit... well you lot do study bugs and slugs don't you?

susan said...

Subjectively speaking, we're pretty much all from other planets. I get your point about bugs and slugs in it being not unlike teaching the cat calculus, only even more hopeless.

Claude said...

Well...Cats don't need calculus to own our world with none of the problems. Maybe Andrew's brainy aliens will find some of us cute enough to adopt us and to give us the same love and comfort we give our cats. I've been learning how to purr just in case a Space Being finally appears in front of me. It might stop him from crushing me with its foot as we do to little bugs who are often far more clever than us. We could learn a lot from the bees' communal living.

susan said...

Yes, it's definitely true that long ago cats (and dogs as well) learned to manipulate us to their advantage. I'm going to spend the afternoon practicing my purring; maybe I'll try sitting up to beg since I'm not equipped for tail wagging.

You're right that we could learn much from bees, Claude. It's funny to think we're so interested in alien intelligence when we don't collectively recognize the other in our midst.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

"We could learn a lot from bees"? ... Right, that's it. I'm heading down to London to eat my Queen.

Claude said...

Bon Appétit!

Sean Jeating said...

Nah, Susan, that would be Sir Ian Axford, and he refered to exactly those 'much further advanced' civilisations.
Of course, Andrew makes me wonder, if . . .
Phantasy that! :)

susan said...

Well, Sean, I'd never heard of Sir Ian Axford until just now. It must have been fascinating for you to meet and interview him. There have definitely been a number of scientists and philosophers who have posited the implausibility of a meeting between us and an alien civilization. Enrico Fermi had some fairly well known thoughts about the conundrum of why we haven't met any intelligent ETs. I'd like to think there are and that they'd feel compassion for us and all the life on our planet. Maybe they're on the way or maybe the society of Andrew's Aileen is the norm. Meanwhile, though, we're stuck with wishing the powers that be would spend more time developing creative science and less with the destructive sort. We aren't even close to interstellar travel but we could destroy ourselves in many ways.

susan said...

Andrew, I don't think bees eat their queens. It would be counterproductive.

Claude :)

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

I checked and found "When a new queen becomes available, the workers will kill the reigning queen by "balling" her, clustering tightly around her and stinging her", so instead of eating I will need to gather some assistants for the journey south...

susan said...

Yikes! I'll check around to see if anyone I know wants to go along with you.

Rob-bear said...

I'm glad you keep indulging your phantasy life. And even without Crow around, you do very well with the important stories of the day.

Think of this as well. Star/sun energy comes to our earth, and is absorbed by our bodies, vegetation, and animals, and everything else. When we eat, either vegetation, or animals, we are quite literally eating "star stuff." When we stand outside, we are bombarded by "star stuff." In the end, we are the "children" of the stars. End of philosophy lesson.

Blessings and Bear hugs, susan! Regards to Crow.

susan said...

Thanks for that Rob. Crow is just next door in his library mulling over some ideas he may wish to share soon. He sends you his regards.

That's a lovely thought that all we are is star stuff. Joni Mitchell sang about it beautifully too.