15/06/2015

Some time ago I borrowed the book “This Perfect Day” (or “De Dag Der Dagen” as it is called in Dutch) by Ira Levin from a colleague. She and I had a discussion about what possibly the future of the world could/would be. She suggested to read this book and as I could not find it for sale on any Dutch webshop, she borrowed the book to me.

Ira Levin is known for his books “Rosemary’s Baby” (1967) and “The Boys from Brazil” (1976). “This Perfect Day”, the book I was reading, was written in 1970.

Yesterday I finished reading this book. And I have to say that I am impressed. A very well written book that keeps your attention and triggers you think and ponder about things.

In short, the books is about a soceity completely controled by the government (a supercomputer and a group of programmers, in this book). The citizen of this soceity get every month a treatment, which is a combination of drugs that makes them obedient. There is no crime or hate anymore, but there is also no love or friendship. All emoties are controlled by the drugs they get every month.
The main characters manage to skip this treatments and start to think and feel again. This leads to a rising against the government, which succeeds (of course) in the end.
This is the story in a nutshell. The book is very detailed and links all perfect together. Go read the book I would say!

The main question here is: Is such future possible to happen?

With a very persimistic look, I say yes, it could. Specially when I look at the country where I live. We Dutch call ourselves indendent, but we are not. A majority of the Dutch people would not mind to have camera’s on every corner if that would help against crime. I hear very regulary the famous, and easily to refute, “I don’t have anything to hide” (every human has something to hide). The care for privacy seems to be absent, until you make clear what privacy really involves. People are really not aware what privacy is and that it is about things very close to them.
The ““Those who would give up Freedom, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Freedom nor Safety” seems to be in place, because remember freedom and privacy are very related to each other. By the way, this qoute is said to be from Benjamin Franklin.

But I tend to go for the more optimistic view. I think what is going to happen the next two generations will be of big influence if such a future might happen. I see organizations as “Bits of Freedom” (The Netherlands) and the Chaos Computer Club (Germany) that make their stand on matters involving privacy and related matters. And with rather some success as well.
There are Internet providers that make a stand against the (illegal) data retension. Specially now it shows over and over again that it almost doesn’t help with fighting crime and terrorism.
Secret Services that were way too powerful are getting limited in their power and are getting strictly controlled.
The more I see people starting to realise that too much power and control with an goverment is not a good thing, the more I have hope for a brighter future.

Sadly specially my country seems to be lacking on this. We have a big mouth and are complaining about everything the government does…. and there it stays, we have become a country of complainers without the dare or care to really stand up…. and this was so different in the past. We had our share of demonstrations for labor rights, rights for women, against nuclair power, against discrimination. I hope that seeing that what starting to happen in the countries around us, will make the Dutch people wake up as well.

Anyway, it is all up to us….


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Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

by Rob on

“This world doesn’t need a Hero.
It needs a professional!

One of the games that I really like to play currently is the recently released “Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt”. I really have to say that it is one the best standalone games I played for some time. It beats “Dragon Age Inquisition” and “Grand Theft Auto V” by far! And yes, I know this is a personal judgement…

The game is based on the books by the Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. There are also a film and a television series about the witcher. These (books, film and television series) are now on my wish list).

This game places the story first, but that doesn’t mean the game-play is bad. Far from that. It is challenging and daring. The combined story-line and game-play makes this game awesome.

The game plays in an vast open world with incredible good graphics. There are multiple ecosystems the player can move between at will. Each region has a distinct feel and deep cultural references. And very nice is that you can travel around unspoiled by extra loading time.

The world is shaped by the decisions of the player, but which, left to itself, goes on living. The day and night cycle is very realistic. So is the dynamic weather system.

Combat complexity is based on a variety of actions at the player’s choice, unlikely as with other games not a correct attack sequence. The Witcher senses system bringing new tactical depth to combat. Monsters, each with their own lore, are a challenge to battle and may need their own strategy to fight them.

So what is a “witcher” anyway?

(source: Witcher 3 Compendium)
“The witcher caste came into existence a few centuries ago. Created through magical experimentation and controlled mutations, the witchers were humanity’s answer to the constant threat posed by the monsters and magical beasts which have plagued this world since the Conjunction. For years they have roamed the land as professional monster hunters, taking money in exchange for exterminating dangerous creatures that threaten humans. However, the prejudice and wild rumors surrounding this trade have also made witchers the targets of persecution and outright hatred. At various times, they have been hunted down or lynched by frenzied mobs, and their schools plundered and burnt to the ground. Although the time of open hostility has ended, witchers are still widely distrusted and ostracized. Despite all this, and though they are now few in number, the last of the witchers still ply their trade, striving to remain neutral in the face of the wars and discord ravaging this world.

Witchers are trained from childhood. Their bodies age much more slowly than those of ordinary humans, are immune to diseases, and can shrug off almost any poison. Witchers can also see in darkness and, thanks to the many modifications to their metabolism, are able to regulate the speed of their pulse and the flow of adrenaline, giving them unparalleled reflexes and strength. During their gruelling training, witchers learn both to master the sword and to use simple, yet highly effective magic. They also have a great knowledge of monsters, lifting curses, and dispelling charms, which allows them to more effectively face the magical beings they are hired to deal with.”

And Geralt of Rivia, the main character of the game, is such a witcher.

The introduction to the story behind the game:

(source: Witcher 3 wiki)
“The world is in chaos. The air is thick with tension and the smoke of burnt villages. The fearsome Empire of Nilfgaard has struck again, ravaging the helpless Northern Kingdoms. The once mighty who tried to use Geralt for their own gain are now gone. In these uncertain times, no one can say what fortune holds in store, who will bring peace to the world and who will cause it only misery. But a force darker and deadlier emerges. The petty men and women commanding tin-plated armies fail to understand that their conflict is child’s play compared to the Wild Hunt, the otherworldly threat which now looms. These ghastly spectral riders have for ages plagued humankind, bringing misery to the world. Yet this time the Wild Hunt seeks one person in particular: the one individual Destiny itself bestowed upon Geralt, the one soul Geralt considers kin.”

And this person that Geralt considers kin is Ciri, a girl that he raised and trained (although she is not a witcher).

In this game The Wild Hunt plays a major part. The Wild Hunt is a group of specters, led by the King of the Wild Hunt, which is considered to be an omen of misfortune and death. It is said to appear mainly, but not exclusively during the winter. The Wild Hunt can appear in the sky as a harbinger of war and other misfortunes; some believe it to be simply a magical phenomenon and not a horde of specters; elven sources refer to it as the Red Riders

Geralt and Ciri have both come into close contact with the King and his specters, either directly or through dreams. The Wild Hunt will attempt to find and capture Ciri (I will not tell why as this may spoil the story-line for who hasn’t played the game yet)

The Wild Hunt originates from European folklore and possibly myth. There are many legends of the Hunt, but notable among them is that the cavalcade is led by the god Odin.

What I noticed that there are a lot Dutch names used in this game. Maybe this because the game is based on Northern European folkore. Dijkstra, Jonkheer, Leeuwarden, Bloedzuiger. And it is fun to hear how some names are pronounced. Such as the name Liesje (in game it is pronounced as “Li-esje”, while it should be “Lies-je” ;-).

There have several complains about the game that it contains too much nudity, sexual references and bloodshed for children. It turned about that often these complains came from parents who allowed young children to play this game. In my opinion these parents are themselves to blame, because if they just had a slight look into what their children are doing, they would have noticed the next:

But whatever, I think this game will keep me for a long time entertained :-)


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More updates…

by Rob on

Time for some maintenance and tonight the first step to that (there will more steps to follow). There is small list of blog that I regularly read. I already noticed that this list was not really up to date. Time to change that. I have updated the list. It kinda sad to see how many blogs good inactive or just go completely black.

Anyway, below the changes I made the weblog-list.

Added to the weblogs that I regularly read:
The Skepitcal Writings of David G. McAfee, a blog of an wellknown atheist.

Removed that list the weblogs:
Jamelah because of long time of inactivity.
Rop Gongrijp because of long time of inactivity.
This is my life because it is not public available anymore

Updated the name of the blog I, Cringely, the Pullput to its new name I, Cringely … on technology
Updated the link to the blog of Miss Aniela (she has now a website that also includes a new blog)

Changed all the links to the weblogs so always a new window or tab is opened.

And oh yes, I am still looking for a good working Flickr widget-plugin for WordPress. For some reason that one I have right now stopped working some updates ago.


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