In Memoriam: Roger Ebert

By Jin-yeong Yi

“We are masters of life and death, we rationalists. It has been a fine adventure, this half century of conscious existence, with all its labor and trouble and injustice. Huxley once sincerely replied to Kingsley, who sympathized with him on the death of a child, that they were proud and happy to have had the child just those few years with them. That is the spirit. An hour of sunlight is better than none. To have been born and lived and died is, for the man who knows how to live, a privilege and an opportunity that he might never had had. You have had the joy of seeing your children slowly rise through the phases of blossoming and ripening around you. You have known the fragrance of wine and flowers, the delights of art, the fascination of science, the joy of battle in a good cause…. How can any man have the effrontery to grumble that the feast is not eternal?”

—Joseph McCabe, “The Myth of Immortality”

Another day, another death. Roger Ebert passed away this morning at age 70, ending an 11 year struggle with cancer. I admit I was surprised, because I had been going by a vague assumption that he would manage to pull through somehow.

His last words to his readers, which were penned not two days ago, could hardly have been more fitting: “I’ll see you at the movies.”[1][2]

His death is one of countless reminders that everyone is on their way out.

It may come as a consolation to some that he was prepared for his fate well before it came.

From ABC News:

“After a series of surgeries and painful recovery, in 2010 Ebert mused about death, writing, in part, ‘I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.’

He added, ‘What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.'”

That’s the spirit, Mr. Ebert. Thank you for all the reviews. See you at the movies.

Notes

[1] “Roger Ebert, renowned film critic, dies at age 70” by Alan Duke 

[2] “A Leave of Presence” by Roger Ebert

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Long-Awaited StarCraft Writeup Released

By Jin-yeong Yi

Ma Jae-Yoon salute

Part 2 of Ver’s writeup on sAviOr (Ma Jae-Yoon), “God of the Battlefield,” was released last Wednesday, ending a wait that lasted nearly 2 years.

If memory serves, Ma Jae-Yoon, perhaps the most popular and successful Zerg player of all time, has been compared to Adolf Hitler on a number of occasions, not only on account of his career as a ruthless Zerg warlord, but also on account of his appearance. Given his role in the notorious match-fixing scandal that may have been the primary reason for the decline and fall of the professional Brood War scene, one might say that the comparison was only made all the more fitting.

In 1945, the Norwegian novelist and Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun wrote an infamous obituary for Hitler:

“Adolf Hitler
I’m not worthy to speak up for Adolf Hitler, and to any sentimental rousing his life and deeds do not invite.
Hitler was a warrior, a warrior for humankind and a preacher of the gospel of justice for all nations. He was a reforming character of the highest order, and his historical fate was that he functioned in a time of exampleless [unequalled] brutality, which in the end felled him.
Thus may the ordinary Western European look at Adolf Hitler. And we, his close followers, bow our heads at his death.
Knut Hamsun”

In 1977, American paleoconservative politician and political commentator Patrick Buchanan praised what he regarded as Hitler’s redeeming qualities:

“Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him… Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.”[1]

Ma Jae-Yoon, who was once one of the most beloved StarCraft progamers in the world, is now one of the most despised and reviled progamers in the world. Many if not most fans turned their backs on him after the scandal. But few, if any, deny his achievements and legacy. What if there was a parallel universe in which Knut Hamsun and Patrick Buchanan were Brood War fans and sAviOr devotees? It is quite easy to imagine what these two men might have said in defense of the Maestro:

Knut Hamsun:

“Ma Jae-Yoon
I’m not worthy to speak up for Ma Jae-Yoon, and to any sentimental rousing his career and deeds do not invite.
Ma was a warrior, a warrior for the Swarm and a preacher of the gospel of justice for all Zerg. He was a reforming character of the highest order, and his historical fate was that he functioned in a time of exampleless [unequalled] avarice, which in the end corrupted him.
Thus may the ordinary StarCraft player look at Ma Jae-Yoon. And we, his close followers, bow our heads at his ejection.
Knut Hamsun”

Patrick Buchanan:

“Though Ma was indeed unprincipled and avaricious to the core, a man who without compunction could commit fraud and embezzlement, he was also an individual of great courage, a Bonjwa’s Bonjwa in his prime, a tactical organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of StarCraft, who possessed strategical brilliance that could awe even those who despised him… Ma’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the incompetence, the mechanical flaws, the weakness masquerading as prowess that was in the hearts of the progamers who stood in his path.”

“God of the Battlefield: Part 2” seems like a fantastic read, by the way. Not that it’s any surprise; Team Liquid writeups, while free, are of such quality as to be fit for commercial publication. Take a gander at the final two sentences:

“For Savior, there somehow always seemed space for something special, something solid, something stable. He saw that the spectacular, the stunning, and the striking are rooted in simple, subtle movements.”

Whew, how’s that for some alliteration? The man sure knows his English—and his StarCraft.

Cheers to all sAviOr fans!

Notes

[1] “A lesson in tyranny too soon forgotten” by Patrick Buchanan

The Moral Neutrality of Mother Nature

By Jin-yeong Yi

CNN presents some grave news about the Earth’s oceans:

Many marine scientists consider overfishing to be the greatest of these threats. The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing.

Upwards of one million sea turtles were estimated to have been killed as by catch during the period 1990-2008, according to a report published in Conservation Letters in 2010, and many of the species are on the IUCN’s list of threatened species.

The ocean has become 30% more acidic since the start of The Industrial Revolution in the 18th century and is predicted to be 150% more acidic by the end of this century, according to a UNESCO report published last year.


One morning while I was sitting in church, contemplating the dinosaurs, something occurred to me about their fate and the future of humanity: in spite of the fact that they were far better stewards of the Earth than humans will probably ever be, they still became extinct.

It has been noted how the rhetoric of radical environmentalists resembles that of religious apocalypticists, full of threats that the Almighty will sooner or later “judge” and “punish” the human race for its “sins.”

Since dinosaurs didn’t have houses, fences, fast food restaurants, factories, cars, roads, airplanes, nuclear missiles, etc., they were incomparably more environmentally friendly than all radical environmentalists and conservationists combined.

The supreme irony was that, as we all know, they were still mercilessly wiped off the face of the planet. Funny how life works out sometimes, eh? It wasn’t divine judgment, just an unfortunate accident. They didn’t get so much as a “whoops” or a shrug. Their spotless 225 million year environmental record counted for nothing in that they didn’t receive any special reward for it. Their only “reward” was to survive as long as they did.

From PBS:

Hypothesis: Asteroid Impact

Did a collision with a giant asteroid or comet change the shape of life on Earth forever?

It is widely agreed that such an object — 10 kilometers across — struck just off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago.

According to scientists who maintain that dinosaur extinction came quickly, the impact must have spelled the cataclysmic end.

For months, scientists conclude, dense clouds of dust blocked the sun’s rays, darkening and chilling Earth to deadly levels for most plants and, in turn, many animals. Then, when the dust finally settled, greenhouse gases created by the impact caused temperatures to skyrocket above pre-impact levels.

In just a few years, according to this hypothesis, these frigid and sweltering climatic extremes caused the extinction of not just the dinosaurs, but of up to 70 percent of all plants and animals living at the time.

Nature simply doesn’t give a damn. Never did, never will. And I see little reason to think that it will be any different for Homo sapiens.

Of course, this isn’t an excuse to sit back and continue on in the current direction; it’s merely a reminder that whatever we end up doing, Mother Nature won’t be paying attention; she will be, as always, too busy creating and destroying.

In Memoriam: David Parland

By Jin-yeong Yi

The former guitarist of Necrophobic and Dark Funeral died last Tuesday. He was 42 years old. His cause of death has not been revealed, but I am guessing it was suicide, judging from Mikael Svanberg (Lord Ahriman)’s comments:

“During the last couple of weeks, I was in close contact with David. He was going through an extremely difficult time of life, whereof he contacted me to ask for my help.

“Even though the two of us had a bit of a complicated relationship over the years (much excessive in the media though), he knew that he could ALWAYS call or visit me when needed, which he also did once in a while.

“Last time I talked to him was when he called me on March 15. From what I could understand, things were going in the right direction. I also had some very good news for him, which he was very happy to hear about. What happened after that I simply can’t understand. And I cant understand WHY he didn’t call me (again).

“So close, so fucking close to get back on track, brother.

“Why?”[1]

I knew very little about Mr. Parland, except that he wrote and performed the guitar riffs on one of my favorite albums, The Nocturnal Silence. For me, he was and remains one of the greats in heavy metal, being among the most creative and inspiring guitarists I’ve ever heard. He may be gone physically, but as far as I’m concerned, his spirit remains alive and well in his work.

He goes to join the pantheon of Swedish metal legends, which includes Per Yngve Ohlin, Thomas Börje Forsberg, and Jon Nödtveidt.

You are missed, David Parland; see you on the other side of the fence.

Notes

[1] Quoted from http://www.blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=187878