Too Much To Sift Through.
Even for a philhellene, the copious list of places long gone became too much.
The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #36/100
During the last summer off for the rest of my working life, I consumed about thirty books, more than half of which were about Ancient Greece. Just like previous descendants of western civilization, I became enamored with the mythology, culture, and philosophy from the peninsula that changed everything. These books were mostly interpretations and commentaries, so reading the actual source code was quite the change.
Within the first chapter, it is clear to see why this book is so important. Thucydides leads with several big ideas, the most important one being that history can actually be accounted for and objective. The rest of the book is his personal attempt at doing this. I don’t care about whether he actually succeeded — it’s more his aim and scope that I applaud.
The big ideas stop early, however, and the book is mostly a long list of people and places long gone from existence. Running to Wikipedia every other sentence soon grows tiresome. Past his bold opening proclamations, historical accounts based on his work narrate a much more focused and interesting story.
Continue reading “Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #36 – The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (431BCE)”
Figuring out maps, finding key cards, and solving puzzles. It doesn’t take much to impress me on NES.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
It’s fun to play Kojima’s original Metal Gear. It has all the motifs and feel of the 3D versions but none of the bloated, hour-long cutscenes. With such sparse space, Kojima couldn’t sink into indulgent, convoluted narration that plagues the later Metal Gear Solids. Regardless, you still feel the imposing gravity of the situation: you are a sole infiltrator against every odd to save the world.
Another plus of Kojima not being able to go crazy with flair is you see how good he is at actually making a game. There is nothing to hide behind except the basics, and he passes with flying colors even though this is a port he isn’t exactly happy about. Of course, the NES likes to ruin a good time (plenty of cheap things to get pissed about) but the core is everything you could want from a game this old.
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #19 – Metal Gear (1988)”
Adam Smith is to economics as Isaac Newton is to physics, but there are problems.
The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #98/100
I made a deal with myself: when reading a book, it was okay not to finish and acceptable to skip less intriguing parts. I’m a drill master with much of my life as I timely complete things, seeing them through till the end. I was worried if I would feel satisfied taking this nonchalant attitude towards reading and whether it would effect what I could imbibe from it.
Consider me converted! Maybe I should be more shiftless with the other parts of my life (except my social life — I got that down).
The Wealth of Nations is one of those seminal books that as you read it, images of others pop into your head: founding fathers, economic professors, entrepreneurs. This book is endless, edifying prose explaining the basics of capitalism. It lays out the foundations for many principles that, just through observation, Adam Smith was able to uncover. With that said, he was someone writing in 1700s; I think he got a few things “wrong,” and he occasionally speaks out of both sides of his mouth.
And yes, you can skip many of the 700 pages and still be alright.
Continue reading “Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #98 – The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1776)”
Great For Listening to Podcasts.
I couldn’t keep playing a game where I needed to be doing something else to stay interested.
Ape’s Ranking: #87/100
I’ve owned this game since 1999, and I wanted it to be my first post for the top 100 PS1 games. I am older now, more disciplined and mature. I could set my mind to it and see it through! NO. NO I CAN’T.
In the spirit of Lufia and The Fortress of Doom for SNES, the final straw with Legend of Legaia (or LoL, which the game is kind of a joke) was another senseless and artificial fetch quest. This was the kind of pointless plot that you expect a few hours in to learn game mechanics, not after twenty hours into the story.
Things were already not going well. While playing, I listened to the following;
The reason? The main focus of this game (the battles) become frequent, long protracted affairs that didn’t need my attention. They were a waste of time. I couldn’t ethically use my gift of consciousness on them without dual-tasking something more important. The story, quests, and characters all followed suite with their own quirks and problems. While this game is interesting to talk about from a historical/cultural perspective (after all, it is a FF7 clone that speaks to what gamers were looking for and how developers tried to create it), the game itself sucks.
Continue reading “Top 100 PS1 Review – #87 – Legend of Legaia (1999)”
Every Rap Artists’ Favorite Sample.
I used to like rap until I realized their contribution is so shockingly little. Bands like Sly deserve all the credit.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #60/100
Rap music is a sham — a few lyrics over hooks, lines, and beats from the actually great musicians of the 60s and 70s. It doesn’t deserve the accolades it receives. I realize everything is inspired by what came before in the long lineage of artistic output. The difference with hip-hop/rap is that there is no attempt to build on that inspiration; it’s blatant theft that’s out in the open for all to see.
Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise is really Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise. Warren G’s I Want it All is really Debarge’s I Like It. Cardi B’s I Like It is really an old-time hit from Rodriguez’s I Like it Like That. Let’s be honest about the format: producers pay a price for a sample because it’s cheaper and easier than actually going through the artistic process. Then, they introduce the song to audiences young enough they don’t know the song is an imitation. This slight of hand perpetuates the fake talent of the artist.
If you add up all the samples used from songs from The Greatest Hits by Sly and the Family Stone, it totals to 697. So much for the trailblazing Dr. Dre, Tupac, Digital Underground, Biggie, Jungle Brothers, or anybody else you can think from the rap industry.
It’s time to give the true artists of creation credit: welcome to one of the best albums of all-time by Sly and the Family Stone!
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #60 – Greatest Hits, Sly and the Family Stone (1970)”
Bone Crushingly Rational.
Machiavelli does not care about the virtue of actions but the rewards from outcomes.
The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #4/100
This short treatise on bad acts within the royal court reads more like the rules of engagement from a political intrigue novel. Backstabbing is permissible. Cruelties okay if justified. Fear is a better tool than love.
The measuring stick for Machiavelli is whether it works. It promotes egalitarian rights only in so far that it helps The Prince stay in power, not whether it is the “right” thing to do. What it leaves out is more deafening than what’s available: no talk about virtues, ethics, or morals. While it is never so clearly stated, the colloquial summary of this book is correct… “The Ends Justify The Means.”
Continue reading “Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #4 – The Prince, Nicollo Machiavelli (1532)”
The Logical vs. the Abstract.
The cultures and characters are stereotypical, but the false dichotomy does allow for things to be explored.
Click here for TIME Magazine’s list.
Funny how time affects views. Originally, people didn’t like this book because it showcased inappropriate relationships between conquerer and colonized. Forester made India too knowable and too relatable. Now, those “relatable” details are viewed with scorn as every -ism gets piled on this book: sexism, racism, imperialism. Somehow the firebrand that was disliked for showing the humanity of India is now denigrated because he didn’t show the humanity of India. You just can’t win.
Yes, the book has the air of a western, ego-centric flair from a writer in imperialistic 1920s. There is a silly division of labor: the British are always logical to a fault while the Indians are willy-nilly mystical. However, there is some insight to how this view still lives with us today, and how as a westerner myself I yearn for the mystical viewpoint Forster puts in the mouth of his Indian characters.
Continue reading “Top 100 Novel: A Passage to India, E.M. Forester (1924)”