We are nearly at the end of another year and it’s certainly not lacked for crazy. Idiot in Chief Donald Trump has continued to lower the bar, stunning us all with just how low he can go. He supported misogynists, racists and neo-Nazis through his silence, just when he could have used his voice to actually condemn them. He’s taken the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, stoked fires with North Korea and given huge tax benefits to his rich chums whilst hurting the people who need help the most. Apart from that, he’s doing a great job…

Enough of him. On a personal level, how has 2017 been? Well, it began with me firmly entrenched in my job selling bathrooms. It began with me eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Nintendo Switch and virtually drooling over Breath of the Wild, whilst the year also saw my daughter make the transition from infant school to junior school – a big change and one that only underscores to me how my baby is growing up. I wish she could remain my little girl forever, but that’s not the way of things. I will always be proud of her though.

As the year moved forward we had a great time up in Scotland for a family wedding, which involved a week in a beautiful holiday home. Whilst there we took a trip on a gorgeous, rustic steam train and I went canyoning, which involved jumping into cold pools of water and walking down waterfalls (sort of). It was an amazing time that concluded with a wonderful wedding!

Later on came a trip to the Harry Potter Experience, a birthday treat for my step-daughter but also for me. Seeing up close how these films were made opened my eyes to the sheer scale of the work involved, with so many amazing contributions from so many people. It was during this time that I was a little distracted, for I was making a decision that was going to be of huge importance to not only my future, but that of my wife and of my daughter. I was enjoying my job with bathrooms, but I needed something that could bring in more money. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave, however it ultimately wasn’t about me. It was about my family’s needs, so I took the chance and moved on to a new job, closer to home. Each new day is a new experience to learn and grow, so my mantra going forward is very simple.

Be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Be better today than you were yesterday. This is not simply for work. This is for everything. I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Do we want to have a look at what an apparently hardcore defender of conservative values thinks of one of the US Constitution’s most important elements? For the record, if you think democracy is not enshrined in the Constitution, take a look here:

Here’s the key bit…

Section 2

1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

You’ll see the word ‘election’ come up a few times too. I guess the principle of having the people choosing their representatives via a process of voting only applies when the people choose representatives that fit a specific niche. In other words, democracy only works if the ‘right’ candidate wins.

Cast your minds back to a discussion I had on the subject of guns and Constitutional rights. It appears that the Constitution is to be used selectively – we can apparently ignore it when it comes to support for representative ideals. The same person that I sparred with on that occasion is the person responsible for this article.

I quote:

Democracy:  A system of “government” characterized by unwashed masses of leftists indulging in mob rule.  Typically, this system includes destructive impulses turned into law, persecution of those the majority deems worthy of such treatment, and deciding who is entitled to what rights, and who loses their rights, to make the unwashed masses feel better about themselves.  It is also not uncommon for democracies to experience great violence, when a faction doesn’t get what they want, and decide to take it from those that do, by force, up to, and including, premeditated murder.  Another characteristic of democracy is that the desires of the people commonly supersede the word of law, in favor of whatever desires they have at the moment.  Democracy is a system that morally bankrupt – and outright amoral – people gravitate to, using it to empower themselves at the expense of others.  It is not uncommon for the mobs to use democracy and “vote” themselves the “right” to victimize those that are an even smaller minority, than themselves, or unable to defend themselves against the mob.

It appears the opening gambit is to accuse anyone who favours a system of representative rule of being an ‘unwashed leftie’, which, quite aside from being quite the insult to anyone who identifies as left wing, rather ignores all the right wing individuals who consider democracy to be a cornerstone of freedom. Whilst Virus-X is keen to suggest that Trump is left wing (he even went as far as to assert Trump is a communist in one article of his), the fact remains that his support base is composed primarily of right wingers. After all, Trump ran as a Republican, the GOP has traditionally been associated with the right of the US political system and Trump played to that audience. It is understandable that some on the right wish to distance themselves from Trump and the Republican Party he now leads, but it is dishonest to place the blame at the door of the left of the spectrum.

The bottom line is, Trump is an egomaniac, who will use and exploit whatever element of the spectrum he needs to further his own interests. He is not necessarily right wing, but not necessarily left wing either.

I’ve digressed. Returning to the quote above, what can we take from it? Well, the idea of the majority persecuting more vulnerable groups is not native to democracy and in fact, democracy tends to offer the best safeguards against the persecution of minorities. Whilst democracies can experience violence, these events are nothing like the violence that erupted during the Arab Spring, or the era of religious persecution under monarchies during the Dark and Middle Ages. Here we had a set of very conservative, religiously motivated dictatorships, that sought to rule through fear and the idea of God-ordained leadership. This was not a good era for humanity.

Another concept is that the desires of the people somehow override the rule of law – well, in another forms of government (such as a theocracy or monarchy) the rule of law is heavily dependent upon interpretation of texts and the whim of the successor. Neither options are going to offer any meaningful protection under law for the vulnerable or minorities.

It isn’t made clear by Virus-X who the ‘mobs’ are victimising, but to take an example that’s popular with the religious right, they have argued (all around the world) that the advent of LGBT rights is an affront to their freedom. It matters not that the religious right in the US greatly outnumbers the LGBT community, it matters not that everyone is still free (under the Constitution no less) to practice their beliefs – apparently it is unfair that the religious right doesn’t get to force its beliefs upon a minority that doesn’t share them.

I would be curious to know what alternative form of government Virus-X has in mind.

Socialism:  A system of characterized by unwashed masses of leftists taking it upon themselves to decide how much of the fruits of your own labor you should be allowed to keep, and how much they should just take away and give to somebody else they deem more worthy of the fruits of your labors.  The government is virtually all-powerful, and the people are virtually all powerless.

There’s another way of looking at socialism. It provides equality of opportunity and outcome and bases what a person receives from the system on what that person puts into the system. In other words, it (provided it functions properly) rewards hard work. Virus-X is following the classic trap of mixing up socialism with elements of communism – whilst the two ideas do share some values, they are certainly not one and the same.

Democratic Socialism:  A system of “government” characterized by unwashed masses of leftists indulging in mob rule.  Typically, this system includes destructive impulses turned into law, persecution of those the majority deems worthy of such treatment, and deciding who is entitled to what rights, and who loses their rights, to make the unwashed masses feel better about themselves.  It is also not uncommon for democracies to experience great violence, when a faction doesn’t get what they want, and decide to take it from those that do, by force, up to, and including, premeditated murder.  Another characteristic of democracy is that the desires of the people commonly supersede the word of law, in favor of whatever desires they have at the moment.  Combined with socialism, democracy transforms into a system of government characterized by unwashed masses of leftists taking it upon themselves to decide how much of the fruits of your own labor you should be allowed to keep, and how much they should just take away and give to somebody else they deem more worthy of the fruits of your labors.  When unwashed masses gain this kind of power, the result is the creation of “nanny states”:  nations filled with, and governed by, people that believe that their rights are a function of government, as opposed to Natural Law, and that they are entitled to everything that they have a desire for. Things government should never be relied upon to provide, democratic socialist works to provide, even if it means virtually enslaving producers, by telling them that people are entitled to their goods and services. To this end, unwashed masses of leftists indulging in mob rule raise taxes higher and higher, especially targeting the biggest producers unfortunate enough to have to live in their society, as their biggest cash cows, from which they can wring the most resources. The government is virtually all-powerful, composed of unwashed masses of leftists indulging in mob rule and the people are virtually all powerless. As is the penchant in democracies, socialist democracies are also very prone to taking advantage of the weak and powerless, even to the point of taking it upon themselves to legislate ways to legalize their mass murder, or outright extermination.

Much of the above is simply the first two paragraphs mashed together. However it is quite telling that the expression ‘Natural Law‘ should come up. Natural Law should be based on morals and ethics, but whose morals and ethics? Whenever I have seen this expression used, it is almost invariably linked to religion. ‘Natural Law’ is the Word of God, for example (which ironically, makes it supernatural and not natural law). It is a personal view of mine that if you possess the power to help someone, you help them. If governments possess the means to help their people by providing health care services, they should. No one should end up bankrupt or having to choose between medical bills and food. ‘Natural Law’ (we could go as far as to apply true nature and survival of the fittest) leads only to the powerful dominating the weak, affording no protection or help for society’s most vulnerable. It props up people like Donald Trump. Is that really what we want?

My little girl is poorly, right before Christmas – typical! She is asleep, right next to me, having been up all night, being sick. So far today she’s been better, but clearly not herself. I think the sleep is doing her good though – slowly but surely she’s perking up!

So far, my new job has seen me bounce from place to place and take part in a couple of gruelling early starts. I have been to Cambridge, Doncaster and Enfield in London. I’ve been out on the delivery lorries and out with the service team. Twice now (including today) I’ve been involved in what’s called a ‘change over’, where a number of sofas are swapped out for new models. When there are twenty suites to move, each with various pieces, this can be exhausting. Needless to say, I am shattered.

All of this though, is in preparation for the big winter sale, which kicks off in earnest on Boxing Day. This is where I will earn my keep, so to speak, by demonstrating my prowess as a salesperson. I’ve always been good at sales – I did it when I sold laptops, printers and office furniture. I did it when I sold bathrooms. I will do it when selling sofas – however, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to get stuck in and actually do so, which is proving quite frustrating. The more I do, the more I learn – so all I want to do now is get cracking.

This is important, as cue Boxing Day the expectation is that the store will get very busy and continue to be busy for several days. There is the very real chance to make a lot of money, more money in fact, than I have earned in any previous job. I hope I can be disciplined in how I use it, but first, I want the chance to sharpen my teeth!

Two years on from the triumphant return of Star Wars in the form of The Force Awakens, we have finally been graced with the continuation of the saga, with the hotly anticipated The Last Jedi following on almost immediately where The Force Awakens ended. People have been theorising about this film from the moment the previous one finished, with countless ideas as to what would be revealed. Would we learn of Rey’s true parentage? Would she turn to the Dark Side? What would become of Finn? How would the film handle the return of Luke and would he and Leia be reunited?

I dare say this film did not play out in the way I expected and it was ultimately a smaller film in scope than The Force Awakens. It’s very intense, what with the Resistance fleeing a large, aggressive First Order Force and being constantly under threat. From the moment the movie starts the Resistance is under attack by vengeful First Order warships that seek to avenge the loss of Starkiller Base.

Rey and Luke play out their own story, with Rey desperate to understand the Force and Luke, bitter from his past experiences, reluctant to help her. Eventually circumstances lead Rey back to the Resistance, just as their light is about to be snuffed out for good.

Rey and Kylo Ren have quite a few ‘one-on-one’ conversations via the Force, which reveal the anguish both characters are going through. They are both yearning to belong, with Rey seeking to learn of her parents and discover who she really is, and Ren trying to throw off the shackles of his family.

What’s quite fascinating is that, whereas the original and prequel trilogies span several years, this new trilogy spans, from the beginning of The Force Awakens to the end of The Last Jedi, no more than a week by my reckoning. It remains to be seen if Episode IX will follow this trend, however so far, the scope of the sequel trilogy could best be described as ‘intimate’. This is certainly a theme present in the relationships, with Finn and Rose partnered up to try and take care a tricky mission, Luke attempting to teach Rey and Rey and Ren emotionally sparring. What with the limited setting (the film feels quite claustrophobic at times), this all sets up a story that is full of heart.

There are plenty of surprises. Leia reveals the extent of her own Force abilities in spectacular fashion, Ren unveils a ruthless side and more than one character dies rather unexpectedly.

The Last Jedi is not perfect. There are several scenes on a casino planet that feel somewhat shoehorned into the movie, as though the writers weren’t sure what to do with Finn and Rose. Gwendoline Christie steals every scene she’s in as the villainous Captain Phasma, but she is criminally underused. In respect of both these elements, I would have loved to have seen things done differently. Despite this, The Last Jedi manages to be somehow small and yet dramatic at the same time, demonstrating a very different nature to The Force Awakens. There are some incredible battle sequences, that I am keen to see again, whilst the film’s ending leaves all sorts of possibilities open for how Episode IX will go.



I am away from home, learning what I need to know in order to be the best possible sales advisor in my new role, and last night was my first night in the hotel. Whether it was being in a hotel or whether due to the long day, I had not one but two rather unusual dreams.

The first involved being in a house in desperate need of repair, in the middle of the night, with a bunch of complete strangers with flashlights, investigating a supposed alien abduction hotspot. There was an eerie quality to this one, what with having no idea what was lurking in the house and the interplay of light and shadow creating some spooky effects.

The second dream involved a series of recreations of The Lion King musical, except they were in a small community hall and each performance got progressively worse. What this has to do with anything I don’t know. It was completely left field and I don’t know how to fully process either dream.

I’m on a long train ride and I need to occupy my mind, so here goes with some more thoughts on Star Trek Discovery and the attitude towards the show of some elements of the fandom.

I recently started stumbled upon an article written by a Twitter user by the name of Skrishna. https://twitter.com/skrishna/status/937793666093023232

Now, the article in question does a great job of drawing attention to the false dilemma idea of ‘true Trek’, in particular along the lines of racist and homophobic stances. It is painful and frankly pathetic that there are fans out there who seriously resent the presence of a black woman as the lead character, and the existence of a same-sex relationship. Star Trek has always been about the message of bettering humanity and one’s self, of working together and understanding our differences. It’s the core principle of the show. If you’re going to rally against Discovery for doing exactly the same thing that every Star Trek show has tried to do, then Star Trek isn’t for you.

There’s also a very interesting little segment regarding ‘gatekeepers’. Self-anointed champions of the franchise, guardians of the ‘true Trek’ mantle, people who place a greater emphasis on canon than stories and ideas and ideals. The article infers (and I dare say it is true in some instances, albeit it not all) that this activity – the noise about canon and continuity – is a cover for the resentment and bitterness over the positive racial and same-sex relationship messages in the show. It is used as an excuse to get fans to turn off Discovery and to create doubt over whether fans of Discovery are even fans of Star Trek. There are some fans that seek to create this divide regardless, purely over the continuity issues – that in my view is petty; the ones doing it to support their racist, homophobic, misogynist agendas are just horrible.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that this article met with a bit of backlash. It’s worth highlighting the tweet (you may need to click on it to see the (now deleted) comment, but it’s a telling insight into the (in my view) over-the-top attitudes of some fans who feel they can dictate to other fans what Star Trek is, and who are proving just as good at creating a divide as anyone else, through the obviously obnoxious and divisive ‘true Trek’ rhetoric.

In one sense I get it. People do invest a lot of time and energy into the things they love and they want those things to have meaning. However, emotional and philosophical connections to a show are, to me at least, more important than the design of the Klingons or the presence of the weird technology on the USS Discovery. I don’t find it reasonable to tell other fans they’re not really fans of Star Trek if they like Discovery. I don’t think harbouring a divisive attitude then fighting tooth and nail to lay all the blame at the feet of Discovery fans, even going as far as to use a term intended to imply links between Discovery defenders and the radical ideology of the Taliban, is fair or reasonable. That’s just gifting the racists and homophobes ammunition.

Let’s return to Hyrule for the second part of the DLC for Breath of the Wild – this time, we’re going to delve into memories and face some fiendish trials – with twists.

Whilst I was skeptical about download content for Breath of the Wild (the history of DLC is that usually you need to buy it in order to have a complete game experience, or even to simply complete the game), Nintendo wisely ensured that their DLC merely enhances and adds to the game. If you decide not to bother with the DLC, you can still thoroughly enjoy everything Breath of the Wild has to offer. For me… I wanted the extra experience. The first half of the DLC added a Master Mode (for those pyschos who want an extra challenge) and the Trial of the Sword, which I am two thirds of the way through (more on that another time), as well as adding several new pieces of equipment, such as masks. One of these, Majora’s Mask, would prove most useful for the first part of the Champions’ Ballad.

Now, it goes without saying that there will be spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to know anything of this, stop reading. If you want to follow my adventure as it unfolds, read on!

It all begins simply enough. I was contacted by Princess Zelda, who asked me to return to the Shrine of Resurrection. A quick teleportation later and I’m right back where the game started, wondering what’s in store. Zelda spoke to me again, speaking of how strong I’d become and of the chance to awaken yet more power. A four-pronged trident – the aptly named ‘Obliterator’, appeared, as a gift for me.

Except, this is a Zelda game and things are never that simple. When I took hold of this weapon, my hearts – previously maxed out, were reduced to just one quarter of one heart – in short, one hit from any enemy and I’d be dead. Therein lay the key feature of the Obliterator – it could kill any enemy with one hit, but if you got hit, even once, you’d die. The map directed me to certain points, scattered around the Great Plateau, with a number of enemies – thankfully straight forward ones (no Lynels or Hinox to contend with here!) to fight. Killing the enemies would reveal a shrine – one with a slightly different appearance.

I decided to clear all the enemies and reveal all the shrines before tackling the shrines themselves – a combination of Majora’s Mask (that convinces enemies you’re not a threat) and the Stasis ability of the Sheikah Slate allowed me to clear the baddies without too much trouble – though I ended up using quite a few Ancient arrows to take care of a Wizzrobe that was loitering in one particular area. Once all the foes had been slain, it was time to dive into the shrines.

At this point I still had the Obliterator in hand, so I was still vulnerable to the slightest injury. It was therefore prudent to be careful when crawling through the shrines. The very first one was pitch black and involved both lasers and Guardians – once again Stasis proved my friend when fighting, whilst it was important to be nice and cautious when moving around all the traps that the shrine offered up. There was also a surprisingly easy combat trial and a trial involving using Magnesis to grabbing a specific orb from a bunch of random orbs and spikey balls that kept rolling down a couple of platforms. Once again this proved quite straight forward, but the worst trial was still lurking.

I’d actually had a couple of goes at this trial, before deciding to move on for a bit. It would not be wrong to say this was probably the toughest trial so far, with the idea being to use Magnesis and Stasis to make my way over spike pits, spinning cogs and moving platforms – with spikes surrounding them. Finally, for an added ‘thrill’, there was the pursuit – a wall of spikes pursuing me as I navigated other spikes. Yay. I don’t mind declaring this the most annoying trial thus far, but eventually I got through it and was able to move on.

Upon stepping out of the shrine the Obliterator in my hands shattered, sending four different bolts of light in different directions. Four unique pedestals appeared, signalling the next part of my journey.

I decided to start with the champion whose beast I’d conquered first – Vah Ruta, with the Zora.