Michael McMillan

La historia se escribe latido a latido.

It's hard to believe that 14 years have passed since I saw the Rolling Stones in Madrid. Charlie Watts, who had been treated for throat cancer shortly before A Bigger Bang was recorded and toured, was as incredible as ever back then, and carried on giving us all some of the finest drumming imaginable in the years since.

Music has lost a real class act.

Otra forma de entender la vida.

¡Campeones partido a partido!

Ikaruga

My first introduction to bullet hell shmups came through a friend's recommendation. They couldn't stop singing the praises of Ikaruga and extolled all and sundry to try it out. Try it out I did, and I immediately saw the attraction.

Truth be told, however, much as I loved the game, and despite the hours I dedicated to perfecting my runs through it, I hadn't given it a second thought for years. So why am I writing this now? A couple of days ago I saw Ikaruga on sale in the Nintendo eShop on my daughter's Switch, and, surprised at how long had passed since I last played it, decided to pick it up for old time's sake.

What can I say? Right from the opening sequence I was enthralled all over again. The sweeping visuals, the music, the perfectly choreographed patterns, the score chaining and, of course, the polarity switching mechanic, so original back in the day, and which has aged as perfectly as the rest of the game. Every aspect of the game, of the experience, is absolutely perfect.

It is hard to believe that Ikaruga is approaching its 20th anniversary. It is hard to believe that it is almost 18 years since I was first enthralled by it. It is hard to believe that picking it up again brings all the same emotions flooding back as if I were playing it for the first time.

Ikaruga truly is a masterpiece.

When I wrote about Keybase a couple of years ago, I mentioned my uneasiness regarding their funding model. Of course, I was right to feel uneasy! I should have had the sense not to use Keybase at all, but nonetheless use it I did, proving the old adage that we are the only species to trip over the same stone twice.

I am sure the venture capitalists are well-pleased with Keybase being purchased by Zoom. Suffice to say, next time, I will follow my instincts!

Quise hacer una reflexión sobre la vida del músico vasco Rafa Berrio, fallecido ayer, pero la verdad es que hay poco que puedo añadir al obituario por Fernando Navarro en El País:

Demasiado indie para los cantautores y demasiado cantautor para los indies. Demasiado librepensador para los rockeros y demasiado rockero para los bohemios. Rafael Berrio era su propio género, como esos poemas que riman sin reglas. Muerto hoy martes a los 56 años en San Sebastián a causa de una enfermedad que padecía, este músico de voz acuciante era un enfant terrible de la canción de autor, un verdadero francotirador que no dejaba títere con cabeza para denunciar la decadencia de una sociedad, la española, entregada a una cultura de consumo fácil y desprovista de valores.

Es nuestro tiempo, tan extraño y violento, parece que es el fin y solo es el comienzo… — Amaral

Today has been a day of small victories. Small victories which have come from persistent insistence and refusing to compromise values. Small victories which have come about because some are prepared to stand up for others.

Sometimes it is the apparently insignificant which makes all the difference. Never compromise what matters. People matter most of all.

“Follow Friday” is a concept popular with users of the corporate “social” platforms, where success and legitimacy is measured by the number of followers one has. One becomes an “influencer” not thanks to their skills, abilities or personal qualities, but because they are followed by a sufficiently large number of users of the same platform.

Why am I writing about this today? It is not to present an argument against the cult of celebrity which is rendering us increasingly morally bereft as a society. Indeed, Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle already does an admirable job there. No, I am writing this because one morally bankrupt Friday has lent its name to another. Today is Fat Cat Friday.

An article published in the Guardian highlights the fact that, in the few days since the start of the year, top executives have already “earned” what an average person must work for during an entire year. Stop and think about that for a minute. The discrepancy between one and the other is, whichever way you look at it, impossible to justify.

Twenty years ago, top UK executives were paid around 47 times the average wage, now they are given 133 times as much as the working person. Figures in the other large European economies are similar, whilst in the US the difference rises to 312 times. They didn't even need to wait for Friday across the Atlantic.

The system is broken and yet we allow it to perpetuate. We create the celebrities and passively participate in a labour market where a handful of people are given in days what others struggle all year for. Have we really lost all sense of value and decency?

Maybe it's better you don't dwell too long on that question. It's so much easier to let the corporate algorithms feed you information instead…

We enjoy playing board games at home, and the simplified “junior” versions have been popular as the family has grown. Today we decided the time had come for a full-blown game, and chose Forbidden Island, which was a great success. Unlike most games where players are pitted against one another, Forbidden Island is a co-operative game where you work together to win, or all lose together. Apart from the obviously positive values this embodies, we were especially taken with how much discussion and reasoning the game play provoked. Hearing the youngest player justify the best way to pool our resources and organise our turns was perhaps one of the highlights of all my time spent playing board games. I'm looking forward to more over the holidays!

What a wonderfully eloquent, wonderfully direct condemnation of how through indifference so many adults have failed to take action to stop, or through greed have actively profited from, the abuse of the weak and the destruction of the very planet which supports us all.

Reflect on what 15 year old Greta Thunberg says, that “… you are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.

… Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money… It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

… We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again… We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.”

It is a simple message to understand. Stop abusing others for your gain. Stop destroying the only home we have. How long will it be before people understand it, and stand together to defend one another against the exploitative interests of the few? After years doing next to nothing, will we do anything before the changing climate forces change upon us?