03 April 2010
Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-nigology. He could prove to wonderful effect that there was no effect without cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, His Lordship, the Baron's castle was the finest of castles and the Ladyship the best of all possible baronesses.'
It is demonstratable,' he would say, 'that things cannot be other than as they are: for, since everything is made to serve an end, everything is necessarily for the best of ends. Observe how noses were formed to support spectacles, therefore we have spectacles. Legs are clearly devised for the wearing of breeches, therefore we wear breeches. Stones were formed to be hewn and made into castles, hence his Lordship's beautiful castle, for the greatest baron in the province must perforce be the best housed; and since pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all year around; consequently, those who argued that all is well have been talking nonsense; they should have said that all is for the best.
This was a dinner last year with old friends at the Tanglin Tree at Tanglin Road. There was once a charming little house which housed the Tanglin Post Office here but it had been torn down decades ago and replaced by a modern structure which houses Friven & Co., the Tanglin Tree, HSBC, and a few other shops today.
02 April 2010
I met Leon at Borders this evening. Later, I met Charles. I picked up a few volumes by A. C. Grayling at Borders. I had enjoyed his writing in the Guardian and I had wanted to explore more of his thought.
I was also at Kinokuniya where I picked up some Sherlock Holmes volumes.
I also finished four sketches and I would be putting them up in the near future.
As good ol' Brian rightly pointed out, tactics does not exist in isolation from strategy.
In Brian's own words on Facebook:
"I'm surprised that you haven't cited three of the four seminal texts to understanding Chinese warfare. Art of war is obvious, but what about Three Kingdoms, Water Margin or the 36 Strategies?"
"How can you understand the tactics without understanding the underlying strategy?"
The Three Kingdoms. This is easily the most celebrated period in Chinese warfare. The most well-known. Many people of Chinese descent would be able to tell specific stories from that period. There is, of course, Records of the Three Kingdoms and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, both of which are worth examining.
The Water Margin. This consisted of a series of tales, some totalling seventy while others totalled a hundred and a hundred and twenty. These tales told of different campaigns by the group of bandits to put right the empire.
36 Stratagems. This, of course, consisted of thirty-six Chinese idioms which had specific events behind them, some dating back two thousand years. The Warring States Period. Some are on the level of strategy while others are battlefield tactics.
01 April 2010
An letter to all DuneMUD players by Dan aka Paradox expresses his thoughts on the game.
Here are a few quotes:
"It blows my mind that the goal of half of the playerbase when engaging in PVE combat is to actually keep their enemy alive as long as possible."
"Most of the issues are a result of horrible decisions made by other people long before Mreh, Clutch or myself had the ability to stop them."
"The oft raised issue of “balance“ is hilariously oversimplified by players with no real insight into the mechanics of things. Consider for a moment that Dune was created in 1993, and since that time has been staffed by volunteers of varying age, skill, nationality, and goals. "
"Presently exactly one person has a shell account: Mreh. It is also a non-root shell account. What this means is that we can’t easily do anything especially advanced. I can’t search the mudlib (thousands and thousands of files) for where old code is used or not used. We can’t set up test instances of the MUD or upgrade the driver easily."
and the most important bit:
"There are more issues, there are likely more fixes. All of them require tough chocies. All of them require a metric fuckload of boring work."
Is DuneMUD on the threshold? Possibly. I have not played for a few years. The DuneMUD that I know somewhat and even then not well is that of the mid-nineties. Even then, my knowledge of that game is limited. It will take me a while to pen my thoughts. Dan has raised important issues. I do not know as to the audience and if there will be any replies to his thoughts.
*Yes, the fonts in this post are messed up. I cut and pasted the quotations. It is not worth the time doing something about.
This was a dinner with old friends who were old colleagues. We had dinner at Fish & Co. and Bakerzin last year and we would usually meet up a few times a year.
We had last been in the same office over a decade ago, suffering the same frustrations. All the same, it was great when one finally left that hotbed of politics and favourites. A most 'Dilbertesque' workplace. I remembered a pre-meeting to prepare for a meeting. It was surreal.
31 March 2010
I had seen a number of popular history volumes on the Chinese Civil Wars which had included 'detailed'* operational maps of the campaigns in bookstores in Shanghai. I had not seen English language equivalents yet. What I would like to see in English are the following:
1. An operational study of the Chinese Civil War campaigns 1948-1949.
2. A study on the transformation of the People's Liberation Army from that of one conducting guerilla operations to one conducting conventional operations and having the ability of the destruction of KMT army groups in 1949. Apparently, the lightning campaigns were something to behold.
3. A study on the KMT 'search and destroy'** offensives, the planning, the operations, the PLA's reaction, the impact on the peasantry, the
4. A study on the casualty figures of the Chinese Civil War. The study should include desertion rates, civilian casualty rates and equipment loss rate.
5. A study on the engagements between the Japanese Imperial Army and the People's Liberation Army, both perspectives.
6. A study on the political dimensions of the war including propaganda and the conduct of the combatants towards civilians.
* Up to an extent
** Of course, it wasn't known as such then.
30 March 2010
29 March 2010
My favourite Front Line Assembly tracks:
4. Columbian Necktie
5. Everything must perish
8. Electric Dreams
If you listen to Front Line Assembly, what are your favourite tracks?
I have new sketches to post and I will put them up soon. I have been doing a lot of studies. I want to do a series of studies on people on the streets and buildings soon. For the latter, I would need references. The modern skyscrapers here? Well, they are not good material, at least, not what I want.
'Sun Pin Military Methods', translated by Ralph D. Sawyer. Sun Bin was another known strategist who lived during the warring states period. A partial text of his military manual was found in 1972 after being lost for 2000 years.
'War, Politics and Society in Early Modern China 900-1795' by Peter Lorge. A thin volume which explores the relation between war and society in China for 895 years.
'Soldiers of the Dragon: Chinese Armies 1500 B.C. - A. D. 1840' by C. J. Peers. An Osprey hardcover, being a compilation of three volumes which explores Chinese armies. Lavish illustrations.
28 March 2010
Sūn Zǐ's 'The Art of War' is, of course, a collection of maxims which needs no introduction. There are numerous translations, some diluted or co-opted as popular business and management texts, some are merely average and a handful are as faithful as they can be based on the surviving Chinese text out there.