There’s a game coming out on 11/11/11 called Skyrim. It’s the fifth game in a series of role-playing games (RPGs) called the Elder Scrolls series.

I always used to hate role playing games with an unsually passionate loathing, until Ms [info]rhapsody9 showed me how they worked. It was at that point I started to enjoy the sheer richness of the content of games like Morrowind and the general feeling of immersion in a world where one can read notebooks and scrolls, create spells, craft weapons, generally do your own thing and wander where you will.

As an exercise I installed the last Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion. Sadly the programmers, Bethesda, who are a brilliant development group, rather buggered the fourth Elder Scrolls game by making it far, far too easy.

What happens in these and other RPGs is that typically your character starts off a bit wussy, and gets stronger and more powerful as the game goes on. Unfortunately a well-intentioned miscalculation by Bethesda meant that all the other characters in Oblivion did exactly the same thing, so there was never any sense of challenge. Worse, the loot you could nick and the rewards for quests would also scale regardless of where you were in the game to fit around your character.

This sucked the life out of the game, and after messing about with it for a bit I just gave up on it.

Anyway, a little while later I discovered something called ‘Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul‘. This is a modification (mod) that one can apply to the game to fix it. This has made a huge difference, and gives the game a much-needed edge.

As such, I’m now replaying Oblivion and thoroughly enjoying it (though it’s still nowhere near as good as Morrowind!), and am now hugely looking forward to Skyrim…


Just got back from the South West, Noss Mayo to be precise.

Spent a happy few days there, did some rambling, saw some ponies on Dartmoor, and decided that I love the Great Outdoors.

Being outside in hilly landscape, watching the weather systems change and evolve, seeing wild animals in their natural habitat and generally breathing fresh air beats a day of shopping hands down, even in heavy rain. I have a few photos, but not many, because I simply forgot to take them.

I have also decided that I prefer travelling by coach to train. It always used to be the other way around, but these days rrains are dirty, stupidly expensive and full of screaming chav kids. National Express, by comparison, was very inexpensive, comfortable, and reasonably enjoyable to boot. The only downside was the fact that it was 5 hours from Plymouth to Victoria, and four hours from Victoria to home. Ah well… Can’t have it all I guess. Still, comfort plus saving £200-odd was worth it.

I’d like to go back, this time with a mountain bike, a map, a compass and some other stuff. Maybe next spring. I’d also like to hike around the Lake District at some point too, perhaps rent a cabin for a week.


You know those situations where you can see why someone has done something, but disagree with it nonethless?

That’s how I feel about the rioting that’s been taking place around the country: that I can see why they did it, but in my view they’re going about everything the wrong way.

The whys and wherefores seem pretty obvious to me: no work, even if they do find work they’ll never be able to afford their own homes, cuts to youth clubs, football clubs and so on just because we bailed the banks out and got ourselves into debt over wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if they do find work, having to work longer than parents generation with no guarantee of pension, university will collar them with debt for the rest of their lives.

All round them is a toxic combination of advertising and media telling them they’re nobody unless they have an iPad, and an older, richer generation that’s had free university education, decent jobs and affordable housing. A generation that’s been buying up housing under buy-to-let programmes, retires at 65 and is living very comfortably thankyou.

Their view is that  that no matter how many peaceful demos they go on, no matter how many letters they write to their MPs, none of that will make a jot of difference. They’ve been ignored by the media, called ‘feral’ and ‘scum’ for years on end, and the worst thing is we’ve all known that the young have a generally shitty end of the the stick, and we’ve done sweet fuck all about it except kick them more.

We’ve ignored the starving dog at the table for too long, and now it’s bitten us.

"A riot is, at bottom, the language of the unheard"
– Martin Luther King, 1967

Riots are, I believe, ultimately self-defeating. They just give the Government an excuse to ‘crack down on the thugs’ and ‘restore law and order’ by granting extra powers to the police and restricting the right to protest. OK, you may loot a bit and grab a free iGadget, but I’d rather forgo the cheap consumer electronics and trainers and carry on living without curfews, spot-checks, ID cards and checkpoints, thankew.

Revolutions have often led to tyranny: the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution etc. This is because the ‘new’ ruling order will need to consolidate its position over the population via use of force in place of popular mandate. The Stockholm Syndrome may lead to the appearance of popular support, but this is likely to be transient and illusory once the reality of the situation kicks in and the secret police start bundling people away in the middle of the night.

So, what to do?

Gandhi popularised the concept of Satyagraha, peaceful civil disobedience, and managed to get the British out of India. The Indians basically stopped doing as they were told by the British, and carried on doing their own thing. When the nightsticks came out, it was the state that was the aggressor, not the Indian folk. After a while, India became practically ungovernable.

Gandhi’s goal was actually to convert, not destroy or defeat, the ‘wrongdoer’. He knew that rioting and violence would just make matters worse, either by forcing crackdowns by the British, or by ushering in a far more undesirable system of Government.

Strange as it may seem, but even in our case the state, society and the way it works is actually pretty optional. there’s no point in paying overinflated house prices, so don’t buy them. Stay away from University, and save yourself £40k of debt. Avoid credit cards, stop buying crap you don’t need, ignore (or better still subvert) advertising, that kind of thing. That’s just a few things off the top of my head, there’s far more that could be done to show up, embarrass and generally bugger up the status quo without endangering life and property.

But ultimately, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the riots, we still have a situation whereby a man was executed by the state without trial or jury (something that has been conveniently forgotten by the Press), and a whole generation of utterly pissed off youth who have been crapped on from a very great height.

"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth" – (alleged) African Proverb that everyone and their dog has been posting all over the place