MaW's Musings

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Well, it's been a while, and I've not written any Musings for two weeks in a row now. However, my life has now calmed down considerably, and I think it's about time I began to prepare what will be a fairly large column compared to previous weeks. As I write this paragraph, it is 1900 GMT on Poets, the 21st of December 2001. So as you can see, I'm laying in some words nice and early, in case Christmas sneaks up and steals my time. However, because it is the 21st of December I have something to write about, and write about it I will.


The 21st of December is generally recognised in the northern hemisphere as the date of Yule, the midwinter Sabbat. Celebrated on the shortest day of the year, it is the time when darkness is at its peak. But in the depths of winter comes a spark of light, and pagans celebrate as the Goddess returns to the world and the God is reborn, heralding the return of light and warmth to the world1.

Yule is celebrated in different ways by different people. Some celebrate alone, others in groups, and the rituals people follow are all different and usually very personal. The meaning, however, is the same. The Lord and Lady, the God and Goddess, are with us and in our hearts, and even in the depths of winter they offer hope of life and light returning to the world. Mistletoe and holly, so vividly green in the winter-gripped world, are symbolic of this time, and have also become traditional at Christmas, which is in many ways a celebration of midwinter in itself. That the birth of Christ is celebrated at this time of year is greatly symbolic, for a saviour is born in the hour of greatest need, and brings the return of light. This sentiment is also shared by other religions, with the recent Hindu festival of Diwali and the Jewish Hannukha also celebrating light.


It's now 1245GMT on Thing, 27th December 2001, and I'm late submitting my article again... but the Post isn't up yet either, so I think I've got a chance of getting this in on time. The reason for the lateness is that Christmas this year has been extraordinarily good. Highlights of the presents received include a cuddly duck from FABT, and in a rather unusual move my uncle bought me a copy of How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. This is an excellent book, filled with cakes, pies, cookies, chocolate and comfort food, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I was also fortunate enough to receive a complete set of Harry Potter books, a wonderful new rucksack and a very nice hat which, if you're lucky, might make an appearance at the h2g2 party in January. The duck definitely will - he's a Beany Baby which his label names as Dinky, but I think that's a silly name for the official Dancing Duck, so I'm looking for suggestions. All welcome, please post on my Space or here if you have any ideas.

Christmas was also good because the presents I gave seemed to go down very well indeed, and even FABT liked her copy of How To Insult, Abuse and Insinuate in Classical Latin, available from your local Past Times shop if you happen to be lucky enough to have one. Many excellent presents can be found within, along with many drool-worthy items which are clearly out of the reach of the budget of the majority of people.

New Year

And so now the new year approaches. What will my new year's resolutions be? Not telling!

Actually, to be perfectly honest, I don't usually subscribe to that tradition. However, there are still a few days to go so I might change my mind, who knows? Before then, delight is due to visit the house in the form of one of FABT's friends who I also get along with. It should also come in the form of my new graphics card (a present from me to me) - a Creative Labs 3D Blaster card which is powered by the excellent and surprisingly cheap nVidia GeForce3 Ti200 chipset. Not as powerful as a GeForce3 proper, and nowhere near a Ti500, the Ti200 gives a great balance of price and performance - or so the sales literature says! I'll let you know how it goes. This of course leads me on to my next topic...

New Games

New computer games are of course crawling out of the woodwork at this time of year, with more due in the new year that weren't finished in time for Christmas. One game that caught my eye which is due out on the PC next year (and is already on the PlayStation 2) is Grand Theft Auto III, a truly worthy sequel to the previous two games and a marvellous expansion of the concept. I won't mention any more about it because it's an 18-rated game and the concepts it embodies aren't the kind of thing you want people to be taking seriously. I, of course, don't take them seriously. I mean, come on, I want to be a cop!

On a less socially-destructive note, the other new games that have caught my eye lately are Unreal II and WarCraft III, both of which I expect to make good use of my lovely new graphics card. Unreal II has become so sophisticated that it's got smoke that dissipates realistically when you fire rockets through it, and reportedly all 2D objects are totally gone from the game - everything is computed and rendered in full 3D. Wow.

WarCraft III is the much-delayed continuation of the popular fantasy strategy game, and looks very good - but perhaps the launch delays will mean it looks less impressive alongside the competition, especially Emperor: Battle for Dune, which has been around for some time and seemingly displays many of the same innovations in the game engine.

The End

Since I seem to have turned into a computer games critic, I think I'll stop here and wish you all a very happy new year. Until next time!


27.12.01. Front Page

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1Of course, in the southern hemisphere, pagans are celebrating the midsummer Sabbat, but that's because it's summer there. Nobody ever claimed to be globally consistant, and the whole thing totally falls to bits around the equator where they don't have winter or summer.

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