specularium

Rebel Physics

Peter J. Carroll

Latest Blog Post

  • Lughnasadh

     

    Lughnasadh

     In this season of Harvest Festival a number of items seem to have come to fruition.

    Tarot. I recently received a copy of the Chaos Magic Tarot direct from the printers but with no indication of who authorised its dispatch to me (but thanks anyway).

    http://www.chaosmagickgroup.com/

    If a camel consists of a horse designed by a committee then what do you call a tarot designed by 47 artists? Well it looks CHAOTIC. Some may find it creatively chaotic; others may find it a rather random entropic mess. I remain doubtful about it. The coordinators of the project have stuck to the traditional 4 suites and court cards and 22 trumps and the continuing influence of antique and discredited ideas of the classical elements, astrology, and kabala remains vaguely apparent. Well I suppose occultists can continue to use it for the same old attempts at tarot reading without seriously challenging any paradigms. Overall it looks rather like someone bought 78 different tarot packs and selected one card from each, a lot of bother for no real improvement in principle, plus it doesn’t seem to have the usual accompanying booklet to broaden the users’ appreciation of the images with written exegeses, and some of them seem to have arisen from minimal thought and effort.

    I feel a little disappointed that a bunch of self-professed modern Chaoists has fallen back on the old formulaic structure rather than boldly creating something new and imaginative.

    Just how much of a hand the Ineffectualists Of Transgression XI0 had in this remains unclear, nobody seems to have claimed responsibility.

    Graphic images on moveable cards can certainly prove useful for a lot of esoteric purposes beyond sortilege for divination, they can additionally function particularly well as an aid to visualising forms for invocation and evocation, and for this reason Matt Kaybryn and I decided to break with the old tarot structure and do something completely different with EPOCH.

    http://www.esotericon.org/

    Brexit. The sky has not fallen in since we voted for Brexit, cocked a snook at the Synarchy of big-business and the political class, and demanded back the right to address the challenges of globalisation on our own terms. The export side of my little enterprise has achieved a magnificent harvest over the last weeks as a result of the currency correction.

    Frequency. Hypersphere Cosmology on this site has clocked up nearly 1/3 of a million reads with some sign of argumentation or agreement but no sign of a refutation in sight.   For this month’s Ouranian meditations on Arcanorium College I took a fresh look at Cosmological Redshift from the ‘other side’, and it provided an interesting clarification. Redshift of course refers to the increases of wavelength that we can readily observe with spectroscopes and the simplicity of that observation has led to the fundamental misconception underlying standard cosmological models; that the expansion of the underlying spacetime has led to the observed increases. If we had chosen to focus on the accompanying decrease of cosmological frequency shift instead we might have ended up with a very different explanation. Frequency decreases in proportion to cosmological distance, implying a deceleration and this appears quite clearly if we rearrange the Redshift equation to show the Frequency Shift instead, we get the more intuitively obvious: -    

    fo/fe = c – (dA)1/2/c

    Where fo = Observed frequency, fe = Expected frequency, d = Astronomical distance, A = Acceleration due to the small positive curvature of the universe, as appears in the residual Anderson deceleration.

    Sculpture. As I have already fashioned a ‘bronze’ of Lugh, this year’s summer sculpture consists of a figurine of The Morrigan. (I need the long hours of natural daylight to work on small fiddly constructions in dark materials).

    The Morrigan represents the Celtic Ishtar, goddess of love and war, sex and death, so in the absence of authentic historical Celtic iconography I’ve borrowed a bit from Babylonian and Greek imagery and given her a Raven’s headdress and mask, an instrument of war, and a suggestive fruit in the form of a peach (debate rages over whether the ‘golden apple’ of Eris actually implied an orange or an apple, or another fruit). Inside her milliput form she has skeletal reinforcements of steel and copper wire for war and love, and some sheet aluminium (the Ouranian metal of magic, flight, and extreme amphoteric chemical reactivity) in her headdress. I might arrange a limited edition in bronze if anyone has an interest, they will come out at around a couple of grand each, admittedly rather more than the JV tea towel, but they will last for millennia. 

    Written on Tuesday, 26 July 2016 19:09 in Blog Read 365 times

Latest Games Post

  • Favorite Games

    Herewith a list of games that have particularly intrigued me over the years, some remain in print, some you can find easily on the net, others remain personal creations or in development. Games have made a considerable contribution to my thinking since an early age, not perhaps as much as books, yet interesting games function a bit like a books, and not only do they have a stories to tell in their structures but you can evolve stories as you play them or adapt them.

    Careers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Careers_(board_game) I came across this at about age 12. I knew little about the world in those unsophisticated times and attended a grammar school where the English Master (a wily and provocative old cove) would occasionally announce ‘You are here to be educated as clerks, like your fathers’. Fortunately the school also had a science department, although nobody had a clue what you could do with a science education except become a science teacher. The school gave no career advice, it assumed you would either take one of the plentiful clerical jobs available at the time, or go to university and think of something whilst there. The game of Careers thus seemed an astonishing eye opener. Choose Wealth, Happiness, or Fame, join a whole series of professions, buy a yacht, in short; choose an Identity! All this seemed to sit in my subconscious till the mid-1970s, an era of plenty when career-anxiety seemed to give way to the search for personal identity in my peer group. I guess that I have always looked at life as a sort of board game. A lot of the assumptions built into the Careers game now seem simplistic but eventually it would perhaps have some influence over what I wrote in EPOCH, but more of that in a following article.

    The Game of Nations. This came out in the 1970’s to model the then current oil crisis. Players control abstract Middle –Eastern oil producing territories and vie to get wealth that they can spend on oil extraction, tankers, and pipelines, or on taking over adjoining territories. The game system does not involve dice but it does have uncertainties built in with event cards. Players can buy Politicians, Secret Agents, Monarchs, Dictators, and Guerrillas in an attempt to subvert or conquer additional territories. Today we should perhaps consider adding Theocrats as well, and making the map less abstract and updating the events cards.

    The Russians currently seem to play a strong hand in Syria. The West has perhaps made a mistake in supporting the ‘moderate’ rebels. Both sides need Iranian cooperation and support but if the Iranians come out of this on top then all hell may break loose if they go head to head with the Saudis.

     Diplomacy. This classic game of early 20th Century European alliances represents one of the few games which model WW1 in an interesting way. Apart from the naval battle of Jutland the battles of WW1 mainly got settled by terrible attrition rather than by interesting tactics and manoeuvres. In Diplomacy we see the bigger picture as nations make secret alliances and agreements off board and then simultaneously reveal their strategies to see what results. Historians argue constantly about the causes of WW1, but in this model scenario, war seems virtually inevitable if the game represents the actual diplomatic system of the time. The game however does really need 5 or more players, but you can play it over many days with perhaps a move a day, and with secret diplomatic notes passed around at tea and lunch breaks.

    Axis & Allies. The basic Axis & Allies game models WW2 from after it has started and Japan has attacked Hawaii and the Germans have attacked Russia. It can accommodate five players but it works well with just two. Basically it works a bit like the simple strategy game of ‘Risk!’ where you get extra forces for conquering more territory, however the forces consist of various types of land, sea, and air units which makes it far more detailed and engaging. Subsequent versions have striven for yet more detail and realism. The initial game suffered from the structural quirk that Japanese commanders with any sense should disengage quickly from the pacific and attack Russia in the east, thus virtually ensuring an Axis economic victory. However for historical reasons, notably the Nomonhan Incident, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and an Oil Embargo, they adopted a Pacific strategy. The critical role of oil supply in WW2 does not seem well reflected in the basic rules.

    Buck Rogers – Battle for the 25th Century. This quirky game never became very popular but you can get second-hand versions quite easily. It has an Axis and Allies type strategic structure but set in the inner solar system with spaceships and spacefaring troops disputing the control of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, the Asteroids and various orbital facilities. It has the extraordinary feature of a variable geometry board. The Planets move around the Sun and you need to plan spacecraft trips accordingly. The basic game has some complications that I don’t find worthwhile; I have preferred to adapt the rules to make it more like Axis & Allies and also to use the Risk 2210 sci-fi pieces to provide more choices of troop type. 

    Discworld. Ankh-Morepork. Something extraordinary happened here and then a tragedy occurred. Perhaps by some happy chance a really good game got cobbled together in Ankh-Morepork, (two attempts to make sequels to it fell badly flat) but then after the death of Sir Terry Pratchett something went wrong with the rights and the publishers had to stop making it. Sets can now fetch several hundred pounds. The game has a bit of everything, it seems a bit like turbo-monopoly with assassination and magic, although amassing property may not necessarily win you the game because you don’t know which characters your opponents play. It works best with four players and it contains enough randomness and pageantry from the books to make it surprising and enjoyable for aficionados and beginners.

    Space Raid.  Interstellar board game design presents two major problems, firstly how to represent 3D space on a 2D board, and secondly how to allow for the vast distances and speeds involved. The designer needs to invoke or invent some reasonably credible but as yet undiscovered physics.

    In designing Space Raid, I opted for sheets of black board with numbered or named stars on them joined by pale green lines representing possible jump routes between them of lengths of up to a few parsecs, to produce a sort of spider web or network of jump routes with the stars at the nodes and with most stars connected to between 2 and 4 others by jump routes. On the board the jump routes have different apparent lengths to represent the reality of the stars not all lying in exactly the same plane, but perhaps lying in the thickness of the plane of a spiral galaxy.

    The starships move using (hypothetical) gravity focussing devices. By focussing the gravity drive exclusively on a nearby star, a ship accelerates towards it and achieve an immense velocity fairly quickly.  It then performs a slingshot manoeuvre around the star and as it hurtles away it uses the gravity focussing drive to brake against the star to eventually bring itself more or less to rest around another nearby star. Thus each time a ship makes a jump it leaves one star system, hurtles through another without stopping, and ends up in a third. Two further quirks of relativistically dubious speculative physics also occur in this scenario, initiating a jump sends out a non-local gravitational hyperwake through the system so all ships know when another has jumped, but not to where, plus all jumps take a very similar amount of time, irrespective of differing distances.

    Rather conveniently this leads to the situation where all ships on both sides can jump simultaneously but commanders don’t know the destinations of their opponent’s ships. So both sides secretly write down the next destinations of their ships and then both reveal them and move their ships and see if any have arrived at the same star systems, in which case combat begins. Plus ships passing through a star system in the middle part of their two star jump have such an enormous velocity that interception and combat remain impossible, however they can deploy kinetic energy weapons in passing, basically dropping rocks on very large targets like planets to create massive devastation. No defence exists against this except to intercept them well before they get within jump range of a star system with a base or colony on one of its planets. This does not seem unreasonable, the capacity for flight soon brought with it the capacity to wreck entire cities; the capacity of interstellar travel would probably bring with it the capacity to wreck entire planets. Players may agree to a treaty forbidding such tactics, or a severe loss of victory points if they break it.

    When opposing starships end up in the same system they can attempt to engage or evade each other using a variety of sensors, cloaking devices, and evasive tactics, force shields, particle beam weapons, and missiles. Each ship has a variety of factors for these and duelling proceeds through the use of asymmetric combat polygons. Ships can also exchange fire with orbital bases or with planetary bases.

    Written on Monday, 22 February 2016 14:34 in Games Read 1094 times

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