Brexiting as they’ve Brentered

Like the project it is splitting away from, Brexit is sui generis.

If you’re not into the lingo of EUspeak, what with its mutatis mutandis, acquis communitaire, and Copenhagen criteria, sui generis just means something is unique and in a class by itself. For the first time, an actual Member State of the EU has set up the means to break away from the supranational entity, and through the ballot box no less. Yet, since this is the FIRST time, a lot of thought has been put to paper on whether or not such a divorce will be good for the UK. As much as I am on the “Leave” side, I understand when people ask with curiosity how the UK benefits from leaving the EU. Well, you can probably speculate until you’re blue in the mouth about how leaving will be a definitive detriment. On the other hand, there’s this:

“But above all, I am motivated by an ardent belief in self-determination, self-definition and the inalienable freedom to go to hell on one’s own chosen path without intervention by self-appointed mentors.” – Nigel Farage, Flying Free.

That’s the kind of mentality that colours (and will colour) any and all beliefs that Britain will be better off out. It is not merely about the money, it is about the ability for a country to allow its citizens to vote for its own representatives, to enact their own laws, and to make their own decisions without having an anti-democratic entity breath down their neck. This does not just include the good decisions but also any and all mistakes. Mistakes at the local level can be owned and fixed, but when mistakes are made by a foreign power that’s run by a menagerie of bureaucrats from 28 other Member States, the ability is lost, especially when laws at the EU level are only proposed by an unelected European Commission and then passed by said Commission. Again, Brexit is also about the freedom to go to hell on one’s chosen path.

It does not do the UK any favours to be part of that union which has snubbed democratic votes a number of times, like in 2005 and 2009, removed national heads of state from power, and to top it off: only contributed 26% of world GDP in the year 2015 and looks to DECREASE in time. On that final part, life may not always be about money but then again: 1) If you’ve been there, Europe can be pretty expensive and 2) Tell that to Greeks and Spaniards who still have to deal with 25.6% and 22.7% unemployment respectively. Of course they can’t do anything about it, because they have to deal with Brussels diktats and an occasional visit (especially if you’re Greece) by what is known as the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission, and the IMF). So what is the point of democracy or representative government when that fabric of consent is broken?

The result is a technocratic nightmare of busybodies making it their business to mind other business from the innocuous like olive oil containers to the insidious like the European Arrest Warrant. The march of progress in that regard never recedes, it only grows. As it does so, it not only makes everyone less free, but more hostile to each other’s neighbours. In fact it has already metastasized towards refugees and migrants. The Member States of the EU did not merely give the combination of their personal safe away, but the ability to open or close their gates toward any and all people who are escaping (or ‘escaping’ anyway) from conflict. One can argue this is necessary for we have a common humanity, but that mentality is only for minds who think a nation is merely a flophouse of aggregates, rather than a manor held by families for generations, places where its inhabitants share their own chosen traumas and chosen triumphs. You’ll never value the year 1956 as much as the Hungarians do, just as they’ll never value independence from the Ottomans in the same way the Greeks do. To neglect this for some historical and economical harmonization under any artificial demos is misanthropy writ large, and squanders the charity of people, a resource not easily rejuvenated.

Nations matter, people who ascribe to the nation matter, and their ability to self-determine matter:

“‘Whatever your vision of the future, you are not going to be able to attain it or even aspire to it unless and until you are free to go your own way. For as long as we are part of this intrusive and ever more powerful Soviet, we can’t make decisions for ourselves or determine our own future. What we do with our freedom once we have won it remains to be seen, but we are demanding that we be allowed to take that first step and reclaim responsibility for our own lives.’”

Words from Farage that Churchill himself would be proud of, for if the worst case scenario for the UK means going through a bit of Hell, this is the kind of spirit that would remain steadfast and keep going.

What if they’re alone?

Well…

verywellalone

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7,000 RTs and I’ll be wanting to Make America Great Again?

“I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that “issue” I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity. Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience. With McCain, the “experience” is subject to sharply diminishing returns, as is the rest of him, and with Palin the very word itself is a sick joke. One only wishes that the election could be over now and a proper and dignified verdict rendered, so as to spare democracy and civility the degradation to which they look like being subjected in the remaining days of a low, dishonest campaign.” – Christopher Hitchens, 2008.

I was priming myself for a possible “Vote For Trump” article in the near future, where I would essentially paraphrase that entire last paragraph by replacing Obama with Trump, McCain with Hillary, and Palin with Sanders. I bided my time, and would have continued to do so even after Iowa and New Hampshire. Then this tweet came into my life:

7000rts

Now I feel a deep welling inside of me. It is a kind of fury that I do not usually see myself having from day to day life. Against what I think is my better judgment and my desire to make an informed choice this election, all I can think after looking at that picture is…

I wanna make America Great Again.

It seems odd this threat of property destruction would goad me to fully back Trump 100% in the game, but then came the news he had physically assaulted the girl. Then came this thought: What political persuasion would Clifford Durand be inclined towards? It would DEFINITELY not be Trump, and by extension any Republican Party candidate. No he’d probably be a Hillary Harpy or a Bernie Bro (I’m leaning towards the latter because well… if I know my Bernie Bros, property rights aren’t exactly kosher to them). Then came THIS thought… an epiphany no less, especially in light of how Trump fuels fear, violence, and aggression! What’s that thought you ask?

THE OTHER SIDE DREW FIRST BLOOD.

Think about it. Trump has been pilloried like he was a Clint Eastwood with an Orangutan vehicle, and despite all the fears about backlashes, nothing on the level of a KKK Kookout and Lynch Square Dance has taken hold. No, the first act of political violence in the 2016 Election Season is from a certain left winger. Instead of going the usual route and ridiculing a girl for the audacity to put a Trump sticker on her laptop, he riles up a crowd in the hopes of making his essentially pedestrian act of disgust (You hate Trump!? Get in line!) a viral sensation, gets caught by said girl, and then assaults said girl. No two ways about it. I’d be charitable and would consider a counter narrative, but this article will probably be 24 hours after the fact, and nothing of the sort has occurred. Hell, he even has SUPPORT because of his actions.

I don’t know about you guys, but right now for a vote for Hillary’s feeling like a vote for people like Clifford Durand. A vote for Bernie feels like a vote for people like Clifford Durand. Hell… a vote for ANY OTHER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE feels like a vote for people like Clifford Durand. The only type of punishment he has faced was a suspension of his Twitter account, and has not been duly punished by the university he goes to. Revenge politics of the highest order? You bet it is! Outside of any dire consequences for this action (which may NEVER occur), the only possible way to correct this is a President by the name of Donald J. Trump. Anybody else is a piker and essentially lets him go scot-free.

“OH!” some of you say. “Not all of us are like that. We condemn such attacks on a person, even somebody who supports Trump!” I guess so, if you wish to appeal (NOW for some reason) on the basis of good faith regarding the controversial candidate. Yet again though, we don’t live in a society of good faith anymore, do we? And besides, after Elliott Rodger, Dylann Roof, and the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino where some of you blame EVERYBODY but the actual killers? Pft.

Please, any and all other Clifford Durands out there show yourselves and your works. At this rate, it will help prove my point that 2016 is the year the Frontier pushes back. When it gets really testy as the months toward Election Day end…

…Remember who drew first blood. I will.

Square’s Remake of a Classic game for PS4 should not have been Final Fantasy VII

Aya_Brea_PE1_concept_art
Now that’s MY kind of femme fatale.

It ought to have been Parasite Eve.

I missed the original PlayStation era due to the follies of youthful fanboyism, instead opting for the Nintendo 64. Now, in my older age I on occasion try to keep up with what I missed. Recently, I beat Parasite Eve, a veritable if imperfect game that helped set the PS1’s library apart from the N64’s. Long review short: I liked it. It did what it could with the limits of game technology; it had a solid combat system, an interesting story, and topflight music. However, it was a bit too linear for my tastes, a bit too sparse, a bit too much when it comes to all the weapons the game gives you, Miss Brea ran at the speed of glaciers, and that last part of the final boss blew. Thus, it begs the question: With such a lukewarm opinion, why would I prefer it over an actual classic game for a PS4 remake?

Well… I believe in second chances, and it’s probably a better use of Square Enix’s time when it comes to testing whether remaking Final Fantasy VII in the fashion they’ve chosen’s a good idea. Why blow the load there, when there’s perfectly suitable guinea pig by way of a strange tale about evil mitochondria? While I welcome a Final Fantasy VII remake I never thought if only the technology were more advanced it’d be an improved experience. Parasite Eve? The complete opposite.

Ambition Screaming to Get Out

Parasite Eve was released ahead of its time when it comes to its aesthetics and storytelling. When those facets are paired with the many grotesque FMV sequences throughout your playthrough, like this one:

You know you are seeing not just horror and terror, but ambition SCREAMING to get out. It goes without saying an HD remake would work wonders on them, and introduce new gamers to a world they would not have known unless they dig through the PS1’s archives. I know there are fans out there who would want to experience the ‘majesty’ of seeing the evil fetus monster in higher resolution, and they need to be satiated.

The ambition also screams every time you take control of Aya and interact with your NYPD cohorts never mind the rest of New York City. The game is the product of a time where Square was not inclined to give its titles voiceover work, and as you trod through the cutscenes and bits of text dialogue I’m sure I would not be thought of wrong to think a bit of voice acting would’ve augmented the experience tenfold. Remix the Yoko Shimamura soundtrack and retool the graphics to make a more intriguing picture of New York on Christmas Day 97, and the ambition that screamed so loud back in the day can be fulfilled.

A Second Chance on Gameplay

While rough around the edges, the combat system of Parasite Eve is a highlight, combining turn-based strategy with active participation on whether the player has Aya engage or avoid combat. That can remain; it is elsewhere where the change is needed. While the combat is engaging, New York City is not much of a character in the game. Sure, granted the context and budget of the game the streets must be empty, but when compared to the prerendered background games of the Resident Evil trilogy, it’s a desert. In the PS1 Resident Evil games, each background had its own personality, and item variety while sparse quantity-wise is memorable and just enough to get your by with what matters. In Parasite Eve, you come across a bit too many types of armour and WAAAAAAAAAY too many guns.

For a near eight hour game (plus a bit more if you go through the Chrysler Building), you have 30 types of pistol, 12 types of rifle, and nine types of submachine gun to name a few. While that extensive inventory works well in say… a game like Final Fantasy VII, it’s overkill in a game like Parasite Eve. Whittle down the inventory to a select few number of guns, augment the already solid customization systems, and add a bit more non-guns to find in the world and I think we’re solid here.

The remake also allows Square Enix a chance to fix that awful first final boss battle. I don’t mind fighting through four forms of the same final boss, but to switch to a chase sequence right after where if you make the wrong turn or take too long, you die and have to restart from the first final boss form? That’s just shitty game design right there. Get that outta the way and redeem yourselves, Square Enix!

Works Better On the Chapter Format

I’m not gonna lie; once it came to light the Final Fantasy VII Remake would be released piecemeal I immediately was turned off. Sure, the developers promise that each released segment of the game will have just as much content as a full game… it’s still a lot to offer. I am sure the fervent fans will eat it up anyway, but what of the populace who are curious about the game and decide to take it up? I’m wary of this because well… Between you and I?

Those first few hours of Final Fantasy VII are fucking boring.

Yeah, Midgar’s a pretty unique place and it is where the story starts, but mother of god it takes forever just to get out of it. The game hits the ground running once you’ve jumped past the wall and saw the rest of the world. If ONLY Midgar is going to be Part I of the FFVII Remake experience then pass.

Parasite Eve on, a game split into six different ‘chapters’ (or days), is a more fitting game for that kind of release. It’d be like how Capcom handled the Resident Evil Revelations games to better effect. The game can be savoured chapter by chapter without TOO much investment in time, not just for the player but for the developers. You probably wouldn’t have to wait long for the next chapter of a Parasite Eve remake game than you would a Final Fantasy VII remake I think.

But even with all this, it doesn’t matter

Since I’m too late to the party, and Square Enix is way too balls deep in developing Final Fantasy VII Remake, this thought of Parasite Eve being the testing ground on the efficacy of such a release style will probably fall on deaf ears. Even so, I cannot help but dream of such possibilities after playing a game that could’ve been a great contender in some “Best HD Remake Ever” competition. My hope now is if you feel the same way regarding Parasite Eve’s potential in that regard, so I do not feel alone in the world. Alas, Square Enix truly has to follow the money, and a remake of that legendary 1997 JRPG is a more lucrative project than say… a primogenitor whose most recent  ancestor isn’t a spectacle like Advent Children or an adventure into the past like Crisis Core… but a mere ‘spiritual successor’ called The Third Birthday.

Mark Twain’s full of shit regarding travel

Now that’s a shocking, click-baity, title for an article. How can anybody find something… problematic from the father of American Literature? Well, it all starts with this picture that a former grad school acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook:

twaintravel

When taken at face value, I guess that’s true. Travel DOES open you to new people, ideas, and venues of charity. However, based on my experience I’m hard pressed to be enthusiastic over this quote, even if I’ve traveled my fair share in life. This article does an interesting job trying to dismantle the quote by way of positing that if it is the case, then the rich would be the least bigoted people on Earth and the poor would be the most. Of course in an age of budget air travel (especially in Europe) and hostel culture, the point kinda drops like a lead balloon. Yet the author hits on something when he talks of how despite all the culture those rich acquire from going to places like Lisbon or Barcelona, won’t extend to kindness of whoever is in ‘flyover country’.

That’s exactly what I think happened to my cohorts in my graduate school programme.

Like me, these people took the risk of traveling to an unknown country to learn new things, meet new people, and acquire new experiences. However, as time winded down and people were preparing for their return stateside, I had a conversation with one of my classmates. We opined about the rather magical (for youth at times is very magical) year behind us, and lamented we would have to leave where we were. Then, I stated that it would be a pity really, because after all this time learning to be more open towards other people different from us, they would resume the prejudices they already had of America once they hit the tarmac.

They would resume what I would call their: “Petty Little Bigotries”.

That’s the tragedy of it all. You travel the world, you do all these things, you meet these new people, get these new ideas, and then you go back and resume business as usual holding contempt for a good portion of your home country.  It’s even worse since we all majored in CONFLICT RESOLUTION, and what better way to apply what was taught to how you interact with people back home. But nope, let’s go to DC and take jobs there, advocate and enact policies we know is good for the masses even if we dare not to go out into the world of commoners. The only time we would deign to interact with them is if we have to drive through them on our road trips.

If I didn’t know any better, that kind of travel doesn’t destroy bigotry, it inverts it. The other is no longer the foreigner on a distant shore, but the neighbor at home. What I would assume to be feelings of alienation and melancholy of domestic life (I know the feeling), is ameliorated by the excitement only travel can bring, leading people to wonder why home cannot be like somewhere else. It doesn’t only happen with well-to-do 20-something college students studying abroad, but also people like these guys:

Tashfeen-Malik-and-Syed-Farook-998x749

Remember them? That’s Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who murdered fourteen people last December. That’s a picture of them moving through customs at Chicago O’Hare after traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2014. Clearly such travel to Saudi Arabia, a country which won’t even let Christians, Jews, or any non-Muslim enter into it, must’ve slaughtered their bigotry. Yet it didn’t, it just inverted and allowed them enough gumption to plan what they planned and killed who they killed. Then there are those who participated in slaughtering Parisians last November too.  A good number of them did some traveling too, and their bigotry? Clearly still there, and again inverted to inflict harm on their neighbours. Spare me the alienation bullcrap, because I don’t remember any Honky who studied abroad invert their bigotry enough to shoot at their fellow Americans.

I COULD say that’s an extreme version of what I saw in my cohorts, but I think their version brings forth much more sinister undertones. You know those European countries that no doubt contributed to the destruction of their bigotry? Well… they are currently being overrun by individuals who indulge in magical pastimes like Taharrush and murder.  In turn, it’s compelling local governments to tell their citizens to dress appropriately, fine those who defend themselves, set up safe zones at festivities, and national governments to censor news online. Those individuals I speak of? Well, they’re pretty goddamn silent about all of those things, and invert their bigotry once again. Now the migrants are the others they shouldn’t be prejudiced to, but the locals in those countries. Yes, those very locals that have paid into those systems and societies are now the ones they must be bigoted towards. Any grievances on social media will be looked at, any protests will be dispersed, and towns no matter how small must deal with the influx of migrants. Do they honestly think that these developments will allow them the same exhilarating experience their first time? What of future progeny? They may not have that luxury; in fact it may even be worse. It may not do anything to destroy their bigotry.

And in the meanwhile, the Frontier everybody from the political establishment and the media neglected and never took seriously? It’s pushing back. It’ll be an unfortunate battle between ne’er do wells who have vegetated in one corner of the Earth all their lifetime.

When it comes to travel, Mark Twain? You’re wrong and full of shit.