Every year, I write a post for my birthday. I talk about the things I’ve accomplished in the past year, what I hope to do in the next, and generally use the time as a chance to get some weight off my chest or some ideas out of my head.

This one, however, wasn’t supposed to happen.

That’s not a joke or a flippant comment. I really, truly did not believe I would be alive on my 40th birthday. As recently as two weeks ago I was still somewhat unsure whether I would wake up this morning. With my depression, my lack of income, and the generally declining state of things in my life over the past few years, I spent a lot of time wondering how (not "if" or "when"; I already knew the answers to those) I should end it.

The intermittent and cryptic posts on here in 2021 and 2022 were part of a countdown that started in my head almost a decade ago and would have ended last Friday. And, if things had turned out differently, I would have ended then, too.

I obviously didn’t. Part of me is glad, but a much smaller portion wonders why. I don’t have am actual job, or any legitimate hope of getting one in the near future. I don’t have any visible path forward for the life I want to live. I remain in an occupied country, where I live as a persecuted minority and an effective second-class citizen.

At some point, anyone rational will wonder, after facing such hardship and privation for so long, whether to keep going. It’s only natural. And I’ve heard plenty of so-called motivational speeches trying to urge me forward. "Find your path," they often say. Well, the simple fact is: sometimes there isn’t one. Or if there is, it’s blocked by forces beyond our control.

I’ve been a developer and an author. I’ve been a freelancer and a business owner. I’ve worked for nothing, and I’ve worked at the C-level. I’ve worn a lot of hats, sometimes too many at once. In every case, however, I’ve only ever seen work as a means to an end, a way to help me become what I really want to be. A husband, a father, and a creator.

Some people want to change the world, to leave a mark that lasts throughout history. I’d be content with something much smaller, something that I feel too many take for granted. But what holds me back from that future is not of my own making. In every case, it’s society, or the world at large, that stops my progress.

I don’t believe in fate or destiny, or in some grand conspiracy stacked against me. In my mind, these problems are not the work of some cabal—though they may be caused by the actions of one—but simple bad luck. I was born in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, to be successful. Every little scrap of good that I’ve found in my life has been earned only through herculean levels of effort. I’m living proof that pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is an antiquated notion that no longer applies to the modern world.

Since I never planned to reach this point in my life, I don’t know what I’ll do next. I still have a few projects I’m working on: Borealic, the Godot games, Concerto, and so on. I want to get back into writing at some point, to finish On the Stellar Sea and Pitch Shift. And who knows? Maybe my old boss will finally give me the rest of my back pay, so I can start up that gaming shop I’ve been wanting for the last 5 years.

Whatever it is, I’m in uncharted territory now. The terra incognita of life, as far as I’m concerned. Whether it’s a "Here be dragons" kind of mystery place, a bounteous land of opportunity, or an "Abandon all hope, ye who enter" type, I can’t yet tell. I guess I’ll find out along the way.

Crux Eternal

I’ve finally done it. I’ve made a game.

Okay, okay. It’s just a demo for now, but it’s complete in that regard. It’s called Crux Eternal (the name is an inside joke, I’ll admit) and it’s a simple puzzle game based on the “Kakuro” or “Cross Sums” puzzles I’ve worked since I was a kid. They’re a bit like Sudoku mixed with a crossword, and they can be surprisingly difficult.

This demo version includes 15 puzzle configurations, all in the smallest size that made sense to me. There’s a timer, and the game does track your best times for each configuration. Puzzles are randomly generated to fit the pattern, so there’s some replayability, as well.

I’d certainly love to flesh out Crux Eternal into a full-fledged game. This was the first time I’d brought a Godot project (or any gamedev project, for that matter) from inception to completion, and I’d like to keep it going. I also have a few other game ideas rattling around in my head, though, so maybe I’ll work on them instead.

Anyway, you can play Crux Eternal online in your browser, or you can download local versions for Linux and Windows. The source is available over on my Gitlab, and it’s MIT-licensed.

Window of opportunity

One of the biggest problems with the world today is propaganda. And one of the biggest sources of propaganda is media. Of course, that’s something which has happened pretty much forever, but the scale of it is so much greater today. Movies push communist and other anti-human agendas. TV shows parrot progressive talking points without a hint of irony. Video games give our virtual characters a choice not between male and female—the only two biological sexes for humans—but between "Body Type A" and "Body Type B", yet never explain why only the first is allowed to be topless.

It only goes downhill from there. Rap is essentially the only genre of music that is advertised nowadays (with the minor exception of anti-American "country" pop music), while also being the only one to have no recognizable evolution in a generation. Sports leagues spent the summer of 2020 showcasing their support for a terrorist organization, and continue to promote child predators and genital mutilation. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

There’s a growing pushback among viewers, listeners, and players. Starfield’s launch was disastrous, and the game was rightly criticized by gamers for not only its antiquated graphics, but also its unrealistic demographics. The NBA is seeing its lowest TV ratings in decades. Disney is churning out bomb after bomb at the box office. And even mediocre musicians like Jason Aldean and Oliver Anthony are hitting the top of the charts solely because they’re willing to take a stand against the narrative.

Of course, the problem lies in the gatekeepers of media. Hollywood isn’t going to stop putting out woke garbage until Blackrock goes under, which isn’t happening anytime soon. AAA studios don’t care how poor the reviews are for their newest recycled PS3 franchise, because they know the games themselves are loss leaders at this point. And major sports literally have government protection for their monopolies.

Thus, we have to turn to the indie scene in every case. That’s where the innovation is. That’s where the pro-American, pro-Enlightenment, and pro-human media can be found. Indie authors are writing stories that lift us up and let us escape, instead of the same dreary racial metaphors. Indie musicians are creating tracks in every genre that bring to life the emotion that music should make us feel. Indie video games, even when they’re based on a timeless formula, show off new tricks of gameplay while also telling compelling stories.

It’s only going to get better.

The new hotness these days is AI. And that’s also the current target for the powers that be. Big business and established interests hate AI because of the potential it has. Ignore the complaints about copyright and consent. Those are red herrings. The real fear of generative AI is that it will give us a chance to create media without having to go through them. For instance, that’s why Steam, never a fan of freedom in the first place, is banning indie games which use AI content.

If a dev can use AI to cut out the time needed to hire artists, voice actors, and so on, that means so many more indie games will get past the demo and alpha stages. If an author uses an AI tool to generate story seeds or mines an LLM for dialogue inspiration, he might just finish that novel he’s been working on for years. And the tools are only getting better with each new release. Soon, much more of the media pipeline will be accessible to those of us without the means to break into the industry. Low-budget films used to be a laughingstock. In a few years, they might be indistinguishable from a Hollywood blockbuster. (Well, not exactly. You’ll be able to spot the indie movie because it’s the one with a straight white man as the protagonist.)

It’s been over seven years since I wrote Democratization of development. In that post, I argued that game development was reaching a golden age because of the availability of high-quality tools at a price affordable to the average person. That’s even more true in 2023 than it was in 2016, even if Unity has decided it no longer wants an audience. And you know what? Almost all the games I play now are indies. (The only exceptions are Nintendo’s licensed titles, which you can’t play on PC anyway.)

Let’s get other kinds of entertainment to that same level. With the free tools available now or in the near future, it’s a no-brainer. Blender, Godot, Synfig, GIMP, Inkscape, LMMS…these are only the ones I’ve used. Not one of them costs a single dollar. So the software is there. AI will add the assets for those of us without artistic talent.

Elephant in the room

That only leaves one last thing: distribution. It’s the hardest aspect, and it’s the one that doesn’t have a good solution. Patreon is a far-left wasteland little better than OnlyFans. Steam is owned by a company that uses practices deemed illegal in at least 3 countries. Crypto just isn’t the silver bullet its proponents wish it was.

This is where we, as indie creators, need to step up and let our voices be heard. Rich conservatives talk a big game about creating alternatives to woke business, but they never follow through on their promises. Rumble, for example, calls itself a haven for free speech, yet still bans many of those who seek to exercise it. And there just aren’t any right-wing or libertarian distributors out there—whether for movies, music, books, or video games—willing to seek out the indies who are desperate for a platform that respects them.

We have a moment, however. The backlash against progressivism is growing. Hollywood is crippled by its unions, and the video game industry may follow in its footsteps. Big Media is burning through cash at an unprecedented rate, and its outright hostility to its core customer base is keeping it from replenishing its coffers. If anyone with the means would take that next step, that pivotal step of reaching out to us indies and saying, "We’ll work for you," then democratization would get the boost that might just launch us ahead of the soulless corporate entertainment empire.

We’re ready. We’re waiting.

Release: Homeward From Afar (Orphans of the Stars, Book 3)

You didn’t read that wrong. This is a book release post. I know, right?

Earth is the cradle of humanity, but everyone outgrows the cradle.

The children and teens of the Innocence have seen things no one else, no matter their age, has ever lived to tell. Out of billions of humans scattered among hundreds of planets, they alone have the best knowledge of how vast the galaxy truly is. Now, it’s time to take a break, and where better than the birthplace of humanity, the center of human space?

For some, it’s a chance to return home, to see the changes time has wrought. For others, it will be a first impression they will never forget. Yet tensions are rising throughout the human worlds, and the Innocence is unwittingly fueling them. The youngest crew in history might be celebrities, but that fame also brings them into a brewing battle for hearts and minds of humans everywhere.

Homeward From Afar is the third book in my Orphans of the Stars sci-fi series, and it definitely hits the hardest of any so far. I started it in 2019, back before it was obvious that the world had gone mad. In fact, when I started writing it, I still believed it would release on Patreon! Now that the so-called elites have shown their true colors, this has become more of a private release. For now, you can only get it on Amazon in paperback or Kindle versions. (If you ask nicely, I’ll probably send you a proper EPUB in exchange for…something. I haven’t decided what yet.)

I’ve already finished the draft of Book 4, titled Time in the Sun. I’m about halfway through writing Book 5, On the Stellar Sea, but…I don’t know how much I’ll be able to finish. And the final three books in the series (Horizons Unseen, The Cradle Earth, and Suspended in a Sunbeam) probably won’t get done. I have a few notes for them, and I would love to write them. I just don’t think I have time before I enter a much longer sleep than anything the Innocence kids endured.

Summer Reading List 2023: Final

Coming in under the wire yet again this year. I have my reasons, though. The woman I love had a lot of…misfortune this summer. A man I’m beginning to despise has denied me a fortune of my own. And then we have all those other trifling things happening in the world, but I digress.


Title: Dawnshard
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Year: 2020

Before I start talking about the book itself, I need to tell the story of how I got it. This was not just something I picked up on Amazon, you see. In fact, I thought it was an ebook-only release, since I’d only ever seen it listed with electronic versions. That, to me, meant that I’d have to give it a miss.

I prefer physical copies for multiple reasons. One is simple texture: I love the feeling of a real book in my hands. That’s why I was so excited to be able to get real paperbacks of Nocturne, Before I Wake, and my other novels. The pleasure of reading real words on real paper is something no screen can match.

Beyond that, I avoid purchasing ebooks because I know that I wouldn’t really be purchasing them. Because of DRM and other nastiness, electronic media sidesteps the traditional first sale doctrine, which basically states that once you buy something, you own it. Publishers, greedy leeches on society that they are, hate this, so they long ago introduced artificial scarcity into online shopping. (It’s not only in books. Steam turned gamers into a culture of renters. TV and movies are now primarily streamed, where their very existence is ephemeral and fluid in a way no physical copy could ever be.)

So I thought I’d never have a chance to read Dawnshard by "legal" means. But then my partner and I went on vacation.

We went to Gatlinburg in April. If you don’t know Tennessee, Gatlinburg is the closest thing we have to a mountain resort. Definitely not an Aspen or Lake Tahoe, but maybe a very slimmed-down Vail or Snowshoe. It’s a beautiful place for a mountain-lover like me, and it’s only about a three-hour drive from where I live. Ahem. Where we live.

In this little hideaway, far from the ski lifts that were closed for the season, the nature park with its four-hour line (and 60 dollars I’ll never get back…), and the bustling town next door, there’s a back road that leads through the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community. We went there searching for fudge on the one rainy day of our trip, but there was something even better across the street from the mediocre fudge shop.

Indie bookstores are a dying breed everywhere, but this one seemed almost perfectly placed in our journey. I’d seen it on the map, so I knew I wanted to check it out, but I thought it’d be a quick little peek and nothing more. Instead, my partner found no fewer than six books that interested her, plus the self-guided journal I talked her into getting.

As my tastes are more eccentric, I doubted I’d find anything worth buying. Indeed, the fiction section was mostly full of woke nonsense, as is common throughout the industry now. What was left after I ignored all that didn’t leave me enthused: multiple copies of A Song of Ice and Fire books, way too much Stephen King, and a handful of oddities. And Dawnshard, in a pocket hardback format. I was so surprised that I showed it to both my partner and the bookshop’s sole employee—he seemed almost as amazed by its presence. And now I had something to remember The Next Chapter besides the freebie bookmarks.

That’s the story behind my copy of this book. What about the story itself, though? Well, it’s a typical Sanderson tale, really, just in a much condensed format. This is the first time I’ve read one of his shorter works—Dawnshard is basically an oversized novella, about the same length as one of my mainline Otherworld stories—and I have to say that the pacing is dramatically different.

The plot is kind of a side quest for the Stormlight Archive series. It follows a couple of random B-team characters (Lopen, the one-armed guy whose dialogue has a lot of made-up words that make me imagine him as Hispanic; Rysn, who was so forgettable that I can’t even remember which book she’s from) as they search for…various things. It’s a Pirates of the Caribbean bit of swashbuckling, in a way. Almost the entire story takes place at sea, far enough from the main series’ action that it isn’t necessary to read it.

Of course, knowing Sanderson, he’ll find a way to tie it into everything else. And I don’t just mean the Stormlight Archive, either. This is a part of his own little cinematic universe, after all, and there are vague references to the Mistborn books and probably others that I missed because I haven’t read them. These don’t overpower the story, because there just isn’t room for much more than name-dropping.

What I like best about Sanderson’s works is the worldbuilding. Even in its meager 280 pint-sized pages, Dawnshard delivers on that. As always, the world of Roshar baffles with its sheer alien nature. Now that it’s canon that this world is being affected by beings from other worlds in his shared universe, though, that takes things up a notch. Now we get to see his take on the old "ancient guardians protecting something too mysterious for mere mortals" trope.

As you may expect, I utterly detest that trope, and that’s because I reject its very premise. There is nothing in this world (or any other) that is too dangerous to be known. Knowledge is power, but knowledge is also humanity’s birthright. So you’ll never catch me rooting for the guardians, even if their intentions are shown to be completely honorable. In this case, they aren’t—that would make for a boring story, to be honest—and they’re thus the bringers of conflict.

All told, Sanderson handles that conflict well. He doesn’t get bogged down in the minutiae of battle (as he did in Rhythm of War) or lose himself in intricate plots. The pacing is swift, and the action flows in a way that even Mistborn couldn’t manage. Either he’s grown as a writer over the last 20 years, or this format suits him better than thousand-page doorstops. Of course, the prose is still a little clunky, but even that is improving. (On a side note, can somebody out there teach him how to make a proper conlang? From the names and the few words he tosses in, I assume Rysn and her people are supposed to be some kind of Slavic analogue, but the sheer lack of vowels hurts my head.)

Dawnshard is a good read, and a good way to wrap up an eventful summer. It’s nothing special or spectacular, because it just isn’t big enough for that. Instead, it’s…cozy. And yes, that opinion is very much colored by the circumstances by which it came into my life. For a book where supposed fate is a major plot point, that makes sense.

Summer Reading List 2023: Second / Great Books 05

Here’s a nice little bit of synchronicity or kismet or whatever you call it. The second entry in my Summer Reading List challenge for this year also gets to cover one of the slots in my Great Books challenge!


Title: Tartuffe, or The Hypocrite
Author: Molière (Jean-Baptiste Porquelin)
Genre: Theatrical Comedy
Year: 1664

Yep. I read a play. First time I’ve done that since high school, and the first time ever that I’ve done it willingly. Since I neither understand nor like French, I used the modernized English translation available from Project Gutenberg. I’m sure there are a lot of translation errors and cases where the original meaning of the text is lost, but…whatever.

Anyway, Tartuffe is basically the French Enlightenment equivalent of a sitcom. It’s a five-act play about an aristocrat of the time who has been swayed by the words of a so-called holy man (the titular Tartuffe) to the point where he’s willing to give this charlatan his estate and even his daughter. The patriarch, Orgon, spends the first three acts defending Tartuffe as his family and servants call out the man’s hypocrisy. Only his mother has his back, seemingly for her own ends—her intentions are never made clear.

As the story progresses, Orgon’s son hides in a closet to overhear Tartuffe attempting to seduce the lady of the house, Elmire. The young man then confronts his father with evidence of the hypocrite’s ill will, only to be cast out of the house and, in effect, disinherited. Elmire (who is actually Orgon’s second wife, and thus the boy’s stepmother) then goes as far as possible in letting the impostor seduce her while her husband is watching from under a table. That finally gets Orgon to see reason, but by then it’s too late: Tartuffe already has the deed to the house.

The final act is all about this bit of trickery, and it ends with one of the most blatant uses of deus ex machina imaginable: a royal officer (this is pre-Revolution France, remember) stops the eviction of Orgon’s family, saying that the king himself saw through Tartuffe’s lies. Then follows a classic "no, you’re the one being arrested" scene and a bit of moralizing about moderation from Orgon’s son.

All in all, it’s a very modern tale for being 350 years old. The scenario of a hypocrite or just a stranger with ulterior motives enthralling someone beyond reason with his words is commonplace in modern books and movies. (The first example off the top of my head is the character of Gríma Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings, but others abound.) And the fact that Tartuffe is supposed to be a man of God only brings to mind the actual hypocrisy of so many evangelists.

But the comedic elements are what make the play shine even in written form. There’s this tension between wanting to be serious about the situation and wanting to tell it in a humorous way that just works and makes the whole thing a delightful read. It’s also pretty short—170 double-spaced screen pages on my ebook version—without a lot of digressions. Imagine it as a two-hour comedy movie, but one of those British-style comedies. While it goes for low blows on occasion, there’s a cerebral quality to it. Well worth checking out, if you ask me.

2023 Projects

I’m constantly dreaming up new ideas for side gigs and hobby projects. Anyone who read my posts before April 2021 knows that all too well. Lately, as my current job has begun to wind down and my relationship seems to be nearing a plateau, my brain has decided to kick back into high gear on this front. So here are some of the things I’m thinking about with my spare mental cycles. Some of them I’ll get to eventually. Some I’m already planning out. A few will likely never see the light of day.


I haven’t done much with conlangs in the past couple of years. A few months back, I had another aborted start on an "engineered" language, this one based on a ternary number system. (The idea was to make something philosophical but also easily representable without words. I’m weird.)

Now, I’m doing serious work on what is my first real attempt at an auxiliary language. There are plenty of auxlangs already out there, of course: Esperanto, Lojban, and so on. Mine is slightly different, however. Instead of drawing on Latin as the primary source of vocabulary—or being some sort of amalgam of the world’s major languages—I’m developing a conlang intended as a pan-Germanic interlingua.

The core vocabulary is derived from actual Proto-Germanic roots, most of which are shared by at least two of the six major Germanic languages spoken today. Those are English, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, for those of you keeping score at home. Icelandic, Frisian, and the other "minor" Germanic tongues also get their due, mostly as additional confirmation of a meaning that has drifted over the past 2500 years or so. (Gothic has been extinct basically forever, so I exclude it from consideration.)

In terms of grammar, "Borealic" (the external name; it calls itself "Altidisk") mostly follows the general pattern of West Germanic and North Germanic languages. Where these differ, I look for common ground, and I try going back to a common ancestor for inspiration. The basic word order, for example, is V2: verbs always try to fill the second slot in a sentence if possible. That’s a common theme throughout the Germanic world. So is a two-way tense distinction between past and non-past, with the future tense instead being indicated by an auxiliary verb.

My goal isn’t necessarily to create a conlang for everybody to use. No, this one is explicitly intended for purposes best described as nationalistic. Borealic is for the Germanic peoples of the world. It’s a way to connect with our shared culture, a culture that is increasingly under attack these days.

Borealic is what I’m working on as I write this post, so it’s the one I’ll probably be sharing soonest.

Word games

I still want to be a game developer, and I’m still working towards that goal. I have two concepts I’ve been fleshing out in my head, and I’m getting ready to start making something more concrete out of them.

First is "Fourwords". At its core, this is going to be a simple little fill-in word puzzle. Instead of a crossword, however, you get a chain of four different words. The last letter of one word is the first letter of the next, and all the words in a chain are connected by a theme which the player will see while working the puzzle. You get points based on the length of each word (they aren’t fixed, but are variable between 4-12 letters) and the perceived difficulty of the chain: more generic categories are considered harder, as are those for very specific niches.

I envision Fourwords as a mobile-first game. In other words (no pun intended), there will be sets of puzzles that unlock as the player progresses. I’ll have plenty of gamification elements thrown in there, and—as much as I hate it—probably some kind of builtin ad or IAP support. I’ll build it using the new 4.x version of the Godot Engine, which will be my first real foray into its new features. I imagine also needing a server to store player data and all that. Lucky for me, my "real" job requires me to learn AWS.

The second word game is much simpler, yet also much more complex. This one doesn’t have a name yet, and it’s little more than a Wordle clone at heart. It’s a Mastermind-like game using words of five or six letters; I haven’t decided which would work best. You have a secret word, and you have to try to guess what it is. If you’re right, you win! If you’re wrong, you get to see which letters are correct, and which ones are in the wrong places. Scoring is based on how many guesses you make and how long it takes you to get to the right word.

Since there are only so many words in the English language, this one necessarily has a well-defined endpoint. But I figure I can add in a timed mode with randomization to keep things a little fresh. Beyond that, the format doesn’t have much else going for it.

But here’s the kicker. This one isn’t going to come out on mobile. It’s not going to be on desktop, either. No, I want to make this game for a console. And not just any console, but a retro one. I must be getting crazy in my old age, because I am seriously considering making a game for the NES. That means 6502 assembly, low-res tile graphics, music that is more code than notes, and all those arcane incantations that game devs used to do. It’ll be a monumental undertaking, but what if I can pull it off?


I’ve started writing again in recent weeks. Time is short, but I’ve been able to find an hour here and there to get back to On the Stellar Sea. Those poor kids have had to stay on that planet too long!

Writing on Orphans of the Stars has made me want to go back to the project I had originally imagined would accompany it. This one is almost another game dev project, but of a different sort. The Anitra Incident is technically a prequel to the novel series, but it’s one I plan to write as interactive fiction. In other words, you are the protagonist. The setting is about 200 years in the future, when humanity’s lunar and Mars colonies are up and running, and we now turn our eyes outward. A strange Main Belt asteroid catches our eye, and a manned mission is sent to explore it. What they—you—find will shock everyone.

That’s the gist of it. It’s kind of a CYOA game, kind of an exercise in descriptive writing, and hopefully a lot of fun. And the books have already referenced this particular era of the setting’s history, so part of me feels I have to write it. I’ll need to relearn Sugarcube, I suppose. Graphics should be a lot easier now, thanks to Stable Diffusion. I may even be able to do character portraits, something I never imagined I would be capable of. (That’s no joke. I’ve had great success generating portraits of some of the Innocence kids, and they make good writing references.)

Never enough

There are plenty of other things my brain has decided to focus on. Pixeme, my community-based language learning web platform idea, is starting to take shape. Concerto is another one I want to play around with some more; it’s a microkernel OS written in Nim, a language I’ve found that I really enjoy. Another one I just named yesterday is Stave: the goal with this one is to create a long-term stable virtual machine. As in really long term. I want to make a VM that will stand the test of time.

But I’ll get to that later. Right now, there’s so much to do, and nowhere near enough time to do it all.

Summer Reading List 2023: First

I’ve had a hard time reading lately. My relationship took a disastrous turn last week, which put me behind even further than I’d like. But I’ve managed to push through the adversity and finish one of the goals I’d set for myself. Here we go.


Title: Now the Chips Are Down
Author: Alison Gazzard
Genre: Tech History
Year: 2016

Now the Chips Are Down is another entry in the MIT Press "Platform Studies" series. The series started in 2009 with Racing the Beam, a deep dive into the Atari 2600 and how its very peculiar implementation shaped the American video game market. Since then, a variety of authors have written about a variety of creative platforms. Most are game consoles, such as the NES (I Am Error) and the Wii (Codename Revolution), while some are home computers like the Amiga (The Future Was Here). A few don’t seem to fit in, such as Macromedia Flash (Building the Interactive Web) and the Amazon Kindle tablet (Four Shades of Gray), but there’s a cohesion to the series despite that.

This book falls into the "home computer" category, but it’s a very specific one that I’ve never used and never even seen in real life: the BBC Micro. As its name suggests, this was a computer built—well, contracted—by the British government.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, the BBC was well-respected as an impartial presenter of the news. Today, of course, it’s a leftist propaganda outlet little different from the New York Times or Washington Post, but the Thatcher era was a different time. This was back when governments cared about building up their constituents, making them more informed, not less. As the UK was a technological backwater, missing out on many of the advances taking place in the US at the time, they needed something special to create the kind of digital literacy we now take for granted.

Their answer was the BBC Micro, a fairly large and expensive 8-bit home computer. Built by Acorn—the creators of other also-ran computers like the Atom and Archimedes—using the same 6502 processor that almost everyone else used, the BBC Micro had a few additions that made it unique to its time and place. Open, accessible expansion ports encouraged tinkering. Manuals described programming, an absolute necessity for computer owners in the years before I was born, in better detail than most of the competitors’ offerings, and the included dialect of BASIC is still regarded as one of the most advanced. The thing even had an adapter for Britain’s early attempt at a nationwide on-demand streaming service: Ceefax.

All this was part of the UK government’s attempt at getting its citizens, especially children, both interested in and comfortable with computers as tools. And that’s admirable. Too often today, we see the opposite: computers are expected to be black boxes, mere appliances that do whatever their creators tell them. The hacker spirit is actively discouraged through social and even legal means. But again, Britain circa 1981 was a different place. This was a country afraid of losing what little remained of its status on the global stage.

Gazzard harps on this point repeatedly in the book, always trying to paint the BBC Micro as innovative because of its intentions. It was used in education, for gaming, and as a way to connect people together. Okay, that’s great. The thing is, all that was happening with American home computers, too. And minicomputers in academia, and…well, you get the picture. The fact of the matter is that Britain really was behind the times, and no amount of praise for a government program can change that.

The book itself is light on details, and completely devoid of screenshots. The text has a few obvious typos, formatting errors, and grammatical mistakes. This is not the level of quality I expect from a Platform Studies book. The veritable fawning over the platform is a little over the top, though it is a welcome change from Super Power, Spoony Bards, and Silverware, which was written by an author who let his apparent hatred of the Super Nintendo shine through in his introduction and the tone of the book as a whole.

It’s good to be a fan of something. There’s nothing wrong with a nostalgic love letter. In this case, however, the nostalgia is just too thick. Any developer or even gamer who knows even the first thing about Elite knows it started on the BBC Micro, yet Gazzard feels the need to remind us of this on multiple occasions in the chapter about the game. She also dedicates full chapters to a low-budget educational adventure game and a Boulder Dash clone, acting as if these were innovative. But the truth is different. Oregon Trail came out years before Granny’s Garden, and it’s still played today. In the Repton chapter, she even admits that games with level editors already existed.

Overall, that’s the glaring flaw of Now the Chips Are Down. It’s actually too nostalgic, and that nostalgia gets in the way of the history. There aren’t enough whys or hows in the narrative, and I feel that’s where it falls short. Racing the Beam set the gold standard for the series. I Am Error and The Future Was Now both met it, and even exceeded it in places.

Here, there’s just no substance. The final chapter, for instance, combines Acorn’s future after the BBC Micro—they went on to create the ARM architecture, a curse for developers everywhere—and the Raspberry Pi, which started as an attempt at recreating the educational aspects of the platform. But the text is just so rushed. It feels like Gazzard is bored and wants to get through it so she can work on something else instead. And while this book, written in 2016 as it was, is mostly free of wokeness, there’s way too much emphasis on the sole female engineer on the Acorn team.

I did learn from this book. For that, I’m glad I read it. It makes me curious about a platform I’ve never used. I wonder why it was special, and why it’s so loved 40 years after its release. But Now the Chips Are Down doesn’t give me any answers except the author’s 200-page statement that boils down to, "I love it, and so should you."

LIVing it up

I don’t often talk about sports here on PPC. (As an aside, my original not-a-blog had a dedicated sports section. My, how things change in a generation!) The problem with major American sports is, like so many other parts of America, due to wokeness. The three major sports leagues—MLB, NFL, and NBA—all openly support a domestic terrorist organization. The NFL wanted to blacklist its best player for not getting an experimental and deadly gene therapy treatment; the tennis US Open actually did. NASCAR peddled a hate crime hoax and banned its biggest demographic from displaying symbols of their heritage. And the NHL might have backed off its requirement for players to support anti-human practices such as grooming and castration, but it never apologized for pushing them in the first place.

One of the few sports where the woke haven’t fully taken over is golf, and that’s for a few reasons. One, it’s an individual sport with low popular appeal, so Blackrock and the other ESG pushers just don’t see a need to inject idiocy into it. Two, golf is, unlike most professional sports played in the US, truly a global game. Many of the players are Asian, and Asians in general just don’t have time for the alphabet soup crowd. (And they hate “racial equity” nonsense. That’s something that’s common to Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans, as far as I can tell.) Yes, one of the greatest golfers of all time is black, but almost nobody cares about that. To anyone watching golf to enjoy the spectacle, Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods. He’s easy to pick out of a crowd, sure, but we’d much rather remember, say, his performance in the 2008 US Open than his response to George Floyd’s death.

Of course, the PGA Tour is an American institution, and thus it is vulnerable to woke influences. Over recent years, they have crept in. They still aren’t very noticeable, compared to other sports, but they’re there. Pride Month celebrations and rainbow logos are the main illustration, but being woke isn’t just about supporting those who hate humanity. It’s also about supporting the global neoliberal order. Much like in tennis, where the Australian Open tried to censor supporters of Russian players, the PGA has it out for anyone who doesn’t swallow the US-EU-NATO narrative. And that’s where our story begins.

Rock the casbah

Saudi Arabia is one of the most barbarous regimes on the planet. That’s indisputable. Their treatment of women, for example, is heinous by any standard other than their own deranged one. They use their leverage as one of the world’s major oil producers as a bludgeon to prevent their crimes against humanity from being investigated or prosecuted. True, they aren’t the worst, but they’re definitely near the top of the list.

But they’re also filthy rich. Much like the United Arab Emirates, the Saudis have begun investing in sports. Part of this is image rehabilitation, but the rest is just simple good business sense. The oil won’t last forever. (Well, it will, because abiotic methane production is a thing, but that’s a different post.) Investing in other ventures is a hedge against the future, and sports are always popular. They also draw huge crowds; even Qatar managed that for its ill-advised World Cup last year.

Thus, it’s no surprise that the Saudi government’s slush fund decided to get into golf. The problem is, they’re Saudis, and the woke hate Saudis. Now, this isn’t for the normal reasons you and I should hate them. Oh, no. Progressives will instead point to the execution of the journalist Jamal Kashoggi a few years ago, as well as the Riyadh regime’s religion-based stance against homosexuality. To the left, these are crimes far worse than torturing political prisoners or imprisoning rape victims.

Even though woke mind virus hadn’t infected the PGA to the point of killing the host, the Tour’s leadership wanted nothing to do with Saudi “blood money”. So the princes decided on the Bender plan: they’d create their own golf tour with blackjack and hookers. They called it LIV Golf, and they hired one of the game’s greats, Greg Norman, to build it.

LIV promised a refreshing change from the staid formula of the PGA. They announced that their tournaments would be 54 holes instead of 72, with no cuts and a team-based format that encouraged every golfer to carry his weight. Oh, and the purses would be massive. In all, it would be something like a Champions League of golf…assuming anybody joined.

Of course, they offered huge contracts to the world’s biggest names. Tiger Woods reportedly got an offer of nearly a billion dollars just to sign. He refused, but others did not, and the LIV roster filled out with a host of top-tier players, quite a few blue-chip golfers, and some younger stars who likely wouldn’t be able to make a name for themselves in the crowded PGA field.

The PGA leadership, as well as those who didn’t take the offers, called this treason. They accused the LIV supporters of selling out, taking dirty money, and (worst of all for a progressive) supporting an enemy of America. Never mind that the Saudis are technically our allies. They’re enemies of the woke, and that’s all that counts here.

Alien vs. Predator

The PGA and the progressive monoculture did its best to fight LIV. Mainstream media closed ranks, issuing hundreds of press releases disguised as news articles, all talking about the heroic PGA golfers fighting against the “defectors” of LIV. They mocked the small schedule, as if a nascent tour could manage more than 10 events on such short notice. They most likely interfered in negotiations to keep LIV off American TV networks, and apparently banned any coverage of the tour on their websites.

In every case, the reasons were the same, and the columnists repeated the talking points almost verbatim. LIV was “sportswashing”, a made-up term that goes back to the woke distortion of the concept of original sin: to the left, some crimes can never be forgiven, only avenged. No matter how many years pass, we’re not allowed to forget that the Saudis killed a journalist! They don’t support gay marriage! These two facts, according to progressive logic, mean that Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights.

It’s okay if the US imprisons political protestors without trial or charge. It’s fine that Israel operates the world’s largest open-air prison. Child trafficking is just part of the Ukraine’s culture, apparently. And locking people in their homes, closing their businesses, and seizing the assets of those who didn’t comply? Just par for the course, if you’ll pardon the pun. But anything other than total obeisance before the protected classes is truly unforgivable.

A few years ago, sports columns rarely delved into politics. Lately, of course, they’ve been getting worse and worse about not staying in their lane, but golf was one of the few exceptions until LIV came along. And it got especially bad when the Saudi tour announced its schedule, and the progressives saw that it included courses owned by Donald Trump. That, I can only assume, was the final straw, and the reason why so much vitriol was poured into reporting for a sport whose usual scandals are drunk driving and divorce disputes.

A whole new world

Earlier this week, all that ended with the surprising announcement of a merger between the PGA and LIV, as well as the European tour that is so unimportant that I don’t even care to look up its name for this post. In the agreement, all three tours get to keep some measure of autonomy, but they’ll be overseen by a board that is, for the most part, made up of Saudi picks. And the PGA gets a Saudi on its policy board. Oh, and whoever’s running the princes’ sports fund has right of first refusal for any future investors into the PGA Tour.

That’s not a merger. That’s a buyout. And it’s hilarious.

All the talk about blood money and sportswashing and human rights abuses went up in flames with this announcement. The reams of digital paper spent trying to convince golf fans that they should care about a random journalist who died years ago were wasted. Vilifying Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau backfired, and now we get to watch Rory McIlroy, probably the most outspoken supporter of the PGA status quo, cry about it.

Progressives on sports news sites are so shocked that they can’t even write a coherent article about it. All they can do is parrot the usual phrases as if trying to recite warding spells. They’ve even expanded this to include the mainstream falsehoods about the 2020 election (which was rigged) and the 2021 US Capitol protest (which was not an insurrection), thanks to the Trump connection.

But all their objections are hollow. They’ve been exposed as hypocrites and liars. They never really wanted what was best for the game of golf. I’m not saying that LIV did, but it’s certainly willing to try new and interesting things like, you know, not destroying a sport for political gain.

The woke mind virus is our enemy. In that, we take the allies we’re given. Whether that’s Russia fighting to prevent the globalist cabal from completing their villainous agenda or the leaders of random African countries giving their lives to expose the truth of the so-called pandemic, those of us on the side of right, on the side of humanity and Enlightenment, will accept any aid. For this instance, it is the Saudis with their near-infinite pool of money that has put the progressives in their place. I’d still hold a gun pointed at them—trust is earned, not bought—but I’ll at least shake their hand while I’m doing it.

Summer Reading List 2023

Here we go again. Sorry for being a little late on the post this year, but real life is increasingly becoming a factor. Once again, it’s time for my favorite annual tradition, the Summer Reading List challenge. I’m hoping to complete it for the 8th year in a row, and I’ll eventually get anyone else join in.

The rules haven’t changed from the beginning. They’re so unchanged, in fact, that I’m just going to copy them verbatim from last year’s post. The only added wrinkle for me is that I’m also doing my “Read 12 Great Books in 2023” challenge, so I’ll limit myself to only counting one of those for the Summer Reading List.

Really, they aren’t rules, but more like guidelines. This isn’t a competition. It’s a challenge. What’s important is that you’re honest with yourself.

  1. The goal is to read 3 new books between Memorial Day (May 29) and Labor Day (September 4) in the US, the traditional “unofficial” bounds of summer. (For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere reading this, it’s a winter reading list. If you’re in the tropics…I don’t know what to tell you.)
  2. A book is anything non-periodical, so no comics, graphic novels, or manga. Anything else works. If you’re not sure, just use common sense. Audiobooks are acceptable, but only if they’re books, not something like a podcast.
  3. One of the books should be of a genre you don’t normally read. For example, I’m big on fantasy and sci-fi, so I might read a romance, or a thriller, or something like that. Nonfiction, by the way, also works as a “new” genre, unless you do read it all the time.
  4. You can’t count books you wrote, because they obviously wouldn’t be new to you. (Yes, this rule exists solely to keep me from just rereading my books.)

As always, I’ll search for something new (at least to me!) and share it with you when I’ve finished reading it. I’ll post it over on the fediverse (mikey@freespeechextremist.com is my main account there for the time being) and in more depth here at PPC, but feel free to discuss your own reading adventures wherever you like.

Have fun, and keep reading!