Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Death does not always mean change

The city changes and I feel nostalgia, I am starting to understand why it becomes such a big thing when one grows up and sees everything slowly change or go away, Tijuana is changing at a fast rate, there are medium sized buildings showing up everywhere around the west side of the city, the place where I grew up has most houses building a second floor or fixing it to a more modern standard, the old fad of imported cars is almost gone, people are driving newer cars but the streets are becoming full, even the highway is starting to look too packed for a city that was never intended to grow this big, downtown is also changing fast, the old 90’s downtown of two dollars for one beer is going out, most buildings have mysteriously burnt down and being replaced by larger buildings that can take up half a block, Plaza Rio is getting a five story parking section when twenty five years ago you would not half of the original floor parking full at any given time.

One thing that has not changed, even if newspapers don’t talk too much about it, are the violent crimes in this city, from the late 80’s to this date it has been a common occurrence, the level of gore and explicit sadism became something that headlined newspapers during one of the most violent waves of crime from 2008 to 2010.

Why all of this? Because the city, this country and Mexican culture have shown me that death is an everyday thing and I have become somewhat desensitized.

The first time I saw someone die was in 2004, I was going to work and dropped near Plaza Rio, when I was about to cross from one side of the avenue to the other a man ran, all of a sudden a Honda crashes with him as the man is running through the other side of the avenue, the man flew a couple of meters, his shoes came flying out, I just remembered that back in the 90’s I saw a lot of shoes hanging from wires around the place where I lived and school, not sure why. So the person flew, shoes off, he dropped and cracked his head wide open, I was about to run to drag him but when I saw this I stood there, staring at the corpse, it didn’t take long for an ambulance to come over and declare him dead on the spot, the man driving the car had stopped and was horrified at what had happened, probably out of shame, fear or any other reason but he remained there until they took the corpse away and then the police took him away, I was late to work for about an hour but I gave no explanation.

Some time later I was going back from work, probably somewhere around 2008 or 2009, and I was walking close to a taco stand that has been there since the beginning of time, the place was empty, the street, everything was quiet, the guy serving was alone and looked nervous, I asked him what was wrong and he said someone had been gunned down just half a block away where a mechanics shop was, I asked him if someone had called the police, he wasn’t sure and he wasn’t about to start doing so, I asked for some tacos and walked to the place, metal doors had been shot through, at least forty bullet holes, I could make a silhouette of what looked like a body and what looked like bullets holes in the bricks at the end, I got back to the taco stand and called the police from a payphone next to it, I didn’t give my name, police came a couple of minutes later and were doing their thing, I was eating tacos.

During that same period I was working at a factory that was doing medical devices, I was in the IT department and sometimes I would stay late to fix something that could definitely not be fixed during normal hours, that day I was with a co-worker who was finishing something else and we lingered for a while until we noticed it being far too late, we moved out and found a group of production engineers outside the plant who were having a smoke and coffee while chatting about some pending items, we joined them for a while, then we heard it, rapid firing from a couple of blocks away and a truck speeding away hauling ass, we also hauled ass but for whatever reason we walked down to the main boulevard and there it was, a police blockade and three police pickup trucks lined one against the other, we had to go around and once we did we were in front of the police trucks, by chance the blockade ended there and we were staring at eight corpses of police officers, the gruesome scenario shocked us both, I can still remember one of the police officers missing half of his head with everything splattered on what was left of the back window, another officer was leaning against his door trying to pickup something, probably his rifle, and was twisted in the most disheartening way, I can still see the image in my head clearly, these people were living human beings and regardless of who their were, their profession, if they were clean or not, they were dead and had been left as terrifying sculptures to prove it.

In another instance we were returning to work from lunch, as we were going up hill from the same street where we had previously seen the dead officers we saw a car crashed against a light pole, the person inside was leaning on the steering wheel, the person was obviously gone and it was not the crash, someone had got to this person and crashing there had been the end result.

On the rare occasion when I was at my desk someone noticed that there was a military truck down on some of the houses below the industrial park, at first the military had done nothing, some police officers were in the scene but were also waiting for something, after a while the military went into a house in the middle of relatively empty lot, we assumed that they were rescuing someone from inside the house, it took them some time to get back out, once they did they came out with corpses covered in white sheets, a lot of corpses, all being loaded into the military truck, we never saw any hostages.

Another co-worker back then was hanging with the wrong crowd, he was a good person though, recently married, had bought a new motorcycle and was visiting this guy at his mechanic shop, this guy in particular had worked with narcs and supposedly he was out of it, but everyone knows that you can’t go out of this without paying a hefty price, so our co-worker had gone with this person at the end of his shift on a Friday, other co-workers were to join him but for one reason or the other they never got there, from what we understand the person in question was not at the shop that day, only his assistant, and our co-worker, some henchmen went into the shop and started asking for the owner, the mechanic, and something about drugs that were owned to their boss, long story short the assistant was burnt on the backyard of the shop and our co-worker was shot thirteen times in the face, when we were informed of his death and eventual funeral we thought it to be a joke only to find him on the coffin a couple of days before Christmas.

              A friend, I knew him briefly, who made the original iron front logo for a metal bar, El Divan de Alivia, that does not exist anymore, only in our hearts, but this person had a heart of gold, this man would help anyone he could, a true friend but a person with problems, with debts, his choice was eventually to go do the wrong thing, apparently he was successful in his task but was shot in the back of the head at the end of the heist, the owner of the bar knew something was up but did not suspect that something like this was to happen, when the funeral was done I did not attend because I felt I did not know him well enough to be there, a lot of people went though, that’s just me.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Death to all Tyrants

The man with the hat and the kid ride Justice to the statue of mother Leucippe, a marble statue standing on a large pedestal, standing on her right foot, left leg extended back, on her left hand a large piece of cloth with something written in it, on her right hand a large spear extended forward as if trying to pierce something or someone, her head looking forward with a face of pain and wrath, on her left cheek a tear rolling down halfway.

As both got close the man with the hat read the plaque: “Here you find what is left of mother Leucippe, mother to all kings and empress of the world. What she has given only she can take”

“What does that mean?” Asked the kid at the man with the hat

“What part of it all?” Asked the man with the hat back


“It is split in three parts, the first part talks about what is left of her, no one knows where Leucippe rests” The kid looked intrigued at the statue

“So how do they know that this is how she looked?”

“No one knows, this is an assumption, if you look closely her face has little details on her, she is the unknown mother of the world”

“Why is she the mother of the world?”

“Legend says that she gave birth to the first king of all men, if this is true then she is mother to all kings and the empress of the world, in other words she has given birth to all of those who control the world”

“But aren’t those bad people?”

“Some of them, but the way to hell is paved with good intentions so I can’t tell you, you need to use your own judgement, what I can tell you though is that she is a vengeful mother and one that does not take lightly on tyranny, she is said to have given birth to the first kill but also of killing him, the first regicide of the world”

“Is that why she carries a spear on her right hand?”

“Most certainly, it is symbolic too you know? To signify that no one is out of her reach, that is also why she carries that piece of cloth with her, so that all that sees may know that from the very cloth of that same king she killed she wrote a letter to the world”

“What does it say?”

“A mothers last wish is the death of her own son, but when her son kills all others there is no choice, a mother must do what she will, from her ripped to life has come a tyrant and all tyrants must be put to death, by her own hand back to other fields to bring health to other wombs, it is by my own hand that this and all tyrants are to rest, death to all tyrants”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

There's shadowmen on the beach

There's shadowmen on the beach,
watching from twirls at the edge of sight
Lost lives at sea, finding full dread
in a mirror world, they howl and scream
The guardian, the thousand eyes
monolith beast smirks from afar,
translucid sight lost in the seas
where shadowmen cry

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Resumen del capítulo Arqueología e Historia de las Ideas: La Arqueología del saber. Michel Foucault

Arqueología e Historia de las Ideas. –
Foucault plantea las diferencias entre lo que se denomina la Historia de las Ideas, este sistema que no parece estar bien definido o suena como algo demasiado engorroso y complicado para poder ser trabajado apropiadamente, sumido en miles de posibilidades que están atadas directamente a las mentalidades que estudian, y la Arqueología, que define un aparato que no fuese formalizador ni interpretativo.

La Historia de las Ideas. –
Se puede describir la Historia de las Ideas como la Historia de las mentalidades, como la disciplina de las interferencias, la que estudia los comienzos y los fines, describiendo las continuidades oscuras y de los retornos, de la reconstitución de los desarrollos en la forma lineal de la historia, atravesar las disciplinas existentes para tratarlas e interpretarlas, es más un estilo de análisis y un sistema de perspectiva en donde se habla del fondo empírico y no reflexivo, describe el paso del no-ser al ser, habla de nacimientos sordos, de génesis, continuidad y totalización, de aquello que está mal fundamentado y no tiene sistema formal, la filosofía espontanea de aquellos que no filosofaban[1].

Un ejemplo que explica dentro de esta sección da a entender cómo es que la Historia de las Ideas funciona en práctica:

Existen tres pasos que toma este conocimiento que viaja del saber científico, al filosófico y eventualmente a las obras literarias[2], aunque consideremos que también puede viajar del conocimiento filosófico al científico y ahí a la literatura, no debemos tampoco entender que ese modelo está escrito en piedra ni que la literatura no pueda fungir como iniciador o intermediario, este es simplemente el ejemplo que Foucault presenta.

Un ejemplo mas palpable es el de la Ciencia Ficción como Literatura, en su momento tuvo un auge considerable y hoy esta ramificado y vive al margen, el estudio de esta rama nos demuestra que su nombre deriva, de manera algo obvia, de ciencias mas duras que en algunos casos pasaron por otras ramas, como la Historia (Asimov y su antología de Fundación), Política, (Heinlein y Tropas del Espacio) o Filosofía (Heinlein y Forastero en tierra extraña), la escalera presentada funciona de arriba hacia abajo y viceversa al realizar un análisis sobre estos temas que en su momento fueron una novedad y hoy viven generalmente al margen a excepción cuando algo quiebra el paradigma o el modelo sobre el cual fue construido para, eventualmente, caer hacia el borde.

Desde este meta, alejado en la temporalidad y espacio en el que fue construido, se estudia esta trinidad, la trabaja el Historiador, Antropólogo, Sociólogo o quien sea que tome el interés en esta rama, estudian algo caduco, su propósito es encontrar todo aquello que esta oculto, tratar de obtener nuevos significados que se nos han escapado.

Pero no todo es tan glorioso en este mundo de lo marginal, y si somos honestos el trabajar o vivir con lo marginal no siempre ha sido bien visto en la historia de la humanidad, el hecho de buscar trabajar con este tipo de material presenta varias dificultades, mas allá de que buscamos hablar de un discurso que puede o no existir y que se está forzando sobre el objeto de estudio, por lo anterior debemos poner en la mesa la complejidad de aterrizar una idea apropiadamente, la delimitación y discriminación de fuentes puede ser complicado debido a la posibilidad de abundancia de ellas, tal vez Foucault peca de esto en Vigilar y Castigar, y parafraseando al mismo Foucault la Historia de las ideas estudian un objeto incierto, con fronteras mal dibujadas y métodos tomados de acá y allá, sin rectitud ni fijeza[3].

La Arqueología. –
¿Qué es la Arqueología que menciona Foucault? A través de La arqueología del saber ha explicado una serie de nociones, que incluye la formación discursiva, positivad y archivo, y un dominio, que son los enunciados, el campo enunciativo y las practicas discursivas, si bien menciona que es algo pretensioso agregar un sistema más para el estudio del discurso cuando ya existen varios antes que este. El propósito de liberarse o distanciarse de la Historia de las Ideas, sobre la cual el mismo ha caído, es una de las razones de la existencia de lo que él denomina Arqueología.

La razón mas importante expuesta por Foucault, o la única tal vez, resuena profundamente en mi ser Historiador, no puedo condenarlo ni juzgarlo, aunque sé que varios debieron hacerlo en su momento, la porción que menciona puede reducirse apropiadamente en el siguiente renglón:

La extrema fidelidad del Historiador hacia lo que añora, la gran sombra de otro tiempo.[4]

Si esto no hace temblar a un Historiador es por una de dos razones, es muy ciego y mantiene una fe muy cerrada sobre lo que estudia o no comprende lo que está haciendo, aunque lo pretenda, por ende, este tipo de Historiador tiembla cuando le preguntan: “¿Para qué sirve la Historia?”

A falta de espacio los cuatro puntos que define Foucault para diferenciar la Arqueología de la Historia de las Ideas se definen de la siguiente forma, estos se encuentran de la página 233 a la 235 de la obra anteriormente citada:

1.     Estudia los discursos propiamente, en tanto que prácticas que obedecen a unas reglas. Se dirige al discurso en su volumen propio, a título de monumento. No es una disciplina interpretativa: no busca “otro discurso” más escondido. Se niega a ser “alegórica”.

2.     Definir los discursos en su especificidad, mostrar en que el juego de las reglas que ponen en obra es irreductible a cualquier otro; seguirlos a lo largo de sus aristas exteriores y para subrayarlos mejor, lo anterior me hace recordar la microhistoria italiana en donde el objeto de estudio es descrito por medio de lo que le rodea, un ejemplo sería el cuadro de La Mona Lisa.

3.     No trata de captar el momento en que esta se ha desprendido del horizonte anónimo, ni psicología, ni sociología, ni más generalmente antropología de la creación. Define unos tipos y reglas de prácticas discursivas que atraviesan unas obras individuales, que a veces las gobiernan por entero y las dominan sin que se les escape nada.

.     No se proponer tratar de restituir lo que ha podido ser, no trata de repetir lo que ha sido dicho incorporándosele en su misma identidad. No es la vuelta al secreto mismo del origen, es la descripción sistemática de un discurso-objeto.

[1] Michel Foucault, “La Arqueologia del Saber” (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI Editores Argentina, 2002) p. 230 - 232
[2] Ibid p. 231
[3] Ibid p. 229
[4] Ibid p. 232

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Ensayo de Las Palabras y las Cosas, Michel Foucault

Las Meninas. -
No tomo el primer tema porque sea lo primero que aparece en el texto de Las Palabras y las Cosas, lo tomo debido a que las consideraciones realizadas por Michel Foucault respecto al cuadro de Las Meninas, el cuadro de Velázquez, son importantes para el Historiador en la actualidad y durante mi carrera he tenido la oportunidad de comprender algunas de ellas.

La relación que sostiene el ejemplo presentado con la realidad del Historiador se puede descubrir en una pequeña porción de lo que menciona Foucault al principio de este capítulo, “podría adivinarse lo que el pintor ve, si fuera posible lanzar una mirada sobre la tela en la que trabaja; pero de esta solo se percibe la trama, los montantes en la línea horizontal y, en la vertical, el sostén oblicuo del caballete”[1].

El deseo oculto del Historiador jamás será cumplido, el conocer la Historia en si es una imposibilidad que le somete a analizar constantemente su objeto de estudio por medio de diferentes herramientas, métodos y procesos, la burbuja temporal que observa, ese fenómeno del que tanto esta enamorado, es solo un reflejo cada vez más lejano de la realidad que se presentó, y en este caso se plasmó.

¿Sera acaso un pesimismo el que absorbe entonces al Historiador, para que trabajar entonces en un tema que jamás puede llegar a conocer en su totalidad, o es acaso algo más que le aferra a continuar buscando en significados, interpretaciones y etimologías lo que es este, su objeto de estudio, ante el resto del mundo? Una opinión muy personal del tema es que el Historiador es como el Clérigo, estudia y trabaja su religión y confía en que su Dios existe, aunque jamás lo ha visto, de la misma forma el Historiador es ciego en este sentido al estudiar y trabajar lo que es su ciencia, o arte, o cualquiera que sea su denominación, y confía en que la Historia existe.[2]

Dejando el pesimismo de lado consideremos entonces el cuadro, podemos llegar a comprenderlo de diferentes maneras, como lo hemos mencionado anteriormente, y esto se deriva del método de observación, metodología o procesos involucrados, pero a esto no podemos agregar el trasplantar nuestra psique al siglo XVII para comprender en plena totalidad lo que se trató de hacer implícito en el cuadro y que desde el siglo XXI se nos oculta y que por más que tratemos de evadir es donde nos encontramos posicionados para mirar hacia el pasado. 

El cuadro de Las Meninas es uno de muchos ejemplos en los cuales podemos basarnos para hablar de este tema, todo lo que existe lo hace en este momento, no existe un ayer para el cuadro ni un mañana, es un hoy en el que esta presente, en el cual se interpreta, el objeto no ha cambiado de ninguna manera, aunque puede estar conservado o encontrarse en un peor estado del que se encontraba originalmente, esto no le hace ser mas diferente de lo que es por sí mismo.

¿Qué cumple entonces el cuadro para el Historiador o la Historia? Es un espejo o reflejo, en el caso de Las Meninas es un doble-espejo debido al cuadro reflejado de los reyes Españoles Felipe IV y Mariana de Austria, aunque según Foucault: “no es como tradicionalmente se manejaba en la pintura holandesa en la cual se podía descomponer y componer bajo una ley diferente”[3]

El problema reside en que un espejo no es necesariamente claro, le podríamos llamar un espejo de obsidiana debido a lo oscuro y esotérico que puede volverse el interpretar un cuadro, su significado, la razón de su existencia, los actores o cualquier objeto relacionado a este, en el mundo queda oculto su significado ya que mientras crece y progresa el lenguaje se pierde una parte del bagaje que carga y a su vez lo que pudiéramos interpretar a ciencia cierta de este.

¿Qué nos presenta el cuadro, removiendo esta sensibilidad del Historiador que queda plasmada en este ensayo? Que las figuras representadas en el cuadro están atadas a la realidad de su momento, existe un complejo contexto histórico el cual ha llevado a la existencia del cuadro y los actores u objetos en este caso, el pintor es un pintor, la infanta Margarita de Austria es eso nada más, no es el objeto del deseo de una Corona extranjera ni una pieza importante en el complejo escenario político del siglo XVII, en el punto más absurdo podríamos poner sobre la mesa que es una niña en un cuadro, capricho de su padre que exista dicho cuadro, los que le rodean son sus sirvientes o allegados, familia, amigos, el hombre que mira desde el fondo puede ser alguien que simplemente quiere observar lo que hace el pintor, o tal vez este saliendo de la escena, su pose no permite conocer su dirección a ciencia cierta y con esto las posibilidades quedan abiertas a interpretación al igual que la locación del cuarto en donde se pinta el cuadro, Foucault indica que es el Escorial, el palacio Real Español, donde esto sucede pero de no saber esto podría ser cualquier lugar en el mundo.

El autor no es Diego Velázquez, es una figura que queda plasmada a un lado del cuadro, aunque por consideración podríamos decir que al no tener precedente que el autor se representa a sí mismo en una obra que le fue encargada podría ser el centro de este. A ultima consideración de Velázquez es que es como el cuadro de René Magritte llamado Esto no es una pipa en el cual representa a una pipa mas no lo es propiamente, un ejemplo de una limitación entre el lenguaje y los objetos que trata de representar, Velázquez en el cuadro no es Velázquez, aunque el lenguaje así lo indique.

¿Que observan los actores de este cuadro, acaso es el cuadro de los Reyes Españoles frente a ellos o Velázquez, pensando en aquellos que verían el cuadro terminado, figuraba a todos estos actores para que a la vez que observan a los Reyes también puedan observar de la misma manera a aquellos que visitan esta burbuja temporal? Considerando esto podríamos decir que Velázquez inconscientemente le ha heredado el poder de los Reyes a todo el que posa sus ojos sobre este cuadro, aunque sea por un instante.

El enfoque del cuadro es de igual manera claro, más allá de la Infanta o Las Meninas, sus sirvientes, o Velázquez, es el enfoque sobre los actores del cuadro y no sobre el lugar que los rodea ya que debido al manejo de claroscuro no es muy evidente pero si se presta atención el lugar está rodeado de cuadros los cuales no se pueden apreciar de manera correcta, solo es aquello lo que está en primer plano y el hombre que visita o se aleja al fondo del cuadro los que están visibles, dando a entender que lo importante está en el frente de la obra, incluso en perspectiva el hombre al fondo pertenece al cuadro debido a la iluminación, son el presente, todo aquello que esta alrededor es un pasado oscuro que no tiene importancia en este momento de representación.

Por último, lo único que nos queda es, por contradictorio que suene, continuar estudiando el cuadro desde el punto en el cual nos encontramos, el hecho de que no podamos conocerle tal cual fue en su momento no nos impide continuar esta labor de usar nuevas herramientas sobre un objeto que previamente ha sido investigado con tanto deseo.

[1] Michel Foucault, “Las Palabras y las Cosas” (Mexico: Siglo XXI Editores, S.A. de C.V., 1968), p. 14
[2] Que esto sea cierto o no va mas allá de este ensayo, aunque queda abierto a debate, si es obstinado o ciego también queda a debate, aunque puede ser más importante debatir la fe ciega que se le puede tener a un documento, independientemente de su validez, a lo anteriormente mencionado
[3] Ibid p. 17

Monday, May 28, 2018

El hombre de la montaña

El hombre de la montaña nos ha dejado claro algo cuando ha bajado al Mercado de la Plaza, ha aprendido algo en su viaje- El hombre del sombrero menciono al niño que viajaba con él, ambos observan con detalle al hombre de la montaña quien a su vez les observa con el mismo detalle de vuelta, les había abordado ya que veía en ellos una mirada diferente a la de los demás, esos ojos estaban llenos de curiosidad y vida al contrario que el de la mayoría quienes podían verse un vacío oscuro reflejado en sus ojos.
Es debatible lo que uno aprende cuando sube una montaña- Menciono el Hombre de la Montana quien apunto hacia su izquierda. -Una montaña es piedra que fue formada por acción volcánica, eso nos ensena que el mundo está vivo, que podamos escalarla es inútil discutirlo, es más por un mérito o buscar presumir algo, la montaña te ensena modestia, moderación, pero sobre todo te ensena perseverancia.
            Puede ser, pero existe un significado oculto de la montaña cuando lo observamos desde aquello que este mundo trata de explicarnos- Menciono el hombre del sombrero quien observo la montaña y suspiro, no mostraba el menor interés en subir algo tan alto simplemente por hacerlo.
            ¿Qué secreto nos oculta según usted? - El Hombre de la Montana levanto la ceja derecha y cruzo los brazos.
            La montaña representa el conflicto interno en el que vivimos, el llegar al pico y observar desde ahí prueba definitivamente que hemos perseverado en algo que puede verse desde abajo como el mayor reto de nuestras vidas, pero una vez arriba entendemos que ha quedado atrás, fue lo más sencillo que pudimos realizar en nuestro tiempo- Mientras mencionaba esto el hombre del sombrero tomo un pañuelo y limpio su frente sudada, lo mantuvo en su mano por el momento y observo pensativo la montaña. -También habla de un proceso de purificación, después de pasar por un momento tan difícil en nuestra vida donde solo podemos ver nubes, de pronto, el sol hasta arriba, iluminándonos con su infinita sabiduría y hasta abajo, el valle, donde podemos contemplar la serenidad con la que debemos llenarnos mientras pasamos por este momento de calma completo.
            Usted habla de meditación- El Hombre de la Montana hizo una mueca y levanto ligeramente su ceja derecha, no parecía impresionado por lo que mencionaba el hombre del sombrero.
            Si, pero mi punto se pierde con su viaje ya que usted no lo hizo por ese motivo, creo que nadie lo haría por ese motivo- Continuo el hombre del sombrero a lo que el Hombre de la Montana asintió, pero a su vez alzo el dedo índice derecho.
            Claro que nadie subiría una montaña simplemente para meditar, el proceso entero de subir y bajar la montaña es la meditación y aprendizaje más complejos por los cuales uno puede pasar, el hundimiento en la nieve y eventual transformación en agua nos deja claro que eventualmente todo se desvanece en el aire, nosotros también- El hombre del sombrero quedo pensativo con la última parte del enunciado y no dudo en preguntar.
            ¿A qué se refiere con eso? - El Hombre de la Montana hizo otra mueca y se limpió la nariz sin importarle quien lo viese o escuchase.
            El hielo pasa a un estado líquido, agua, y el agua pasa a un estado gaseoso, vapor, para después volver a caer en la montaña. Nosotros pasamos por un proceso parecido al aprender, somos duros, creemos saberlo todo, eventualmente algo quiebra y fluimos con ello, aprendemos algo, nos evaporamos ya que nos hemos extendido tanto como hemos podido para aprender y nos volvemos sólidos para cementar ese conocimiento adquirido, la montaña somos nosotros y viceversa, eso es lo que he aprendido de ella. -
            Quisiera decir que he aprendido algo del desierto, pero no creo tener algo tan poético e importante como lo que acaba de menciona- Respondió el hombre del sombrero, el Hombre de la Montana suspiro y paso su mano derecha sobre su rostro.
            Claro que tiene algo de que hablar, todavía no se da cuenta de ello al igual que yo no me di cuenta de la importancia de la Montana hasta que hablé con usted en este momento- El hombre del sombrero parecía sorprendido por la mención. -Que? Nunca le ha pasado que aprende simplemente por hablar con alguien más, no necesariamente tiene que ser un tema filosófico, uno aprende de todo lo que le rodea si escucha, observa y calla antes de decir una sola palabra, no había puesto en consideración todo lo que la Montana me había ensenado ya que nunca tuve el momento de meditarlo propiamente, el hablar con alguien más abre un momento de meditación para aprender que es lo que está mal con uno y con el otro.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Imperator: Rome, a sequel to Europa Universalis: Rome

At last, after so many years Paradox Interactive has decided to push out a new Grand Strategy game in the Roman Era, their previous development was called Europa Universalis: Rome and the expansion, Rome – Vae Victis, sure added something to the game but at the time I felt it lacking, needing much love and a revamp of some of the awkward mechanics inherited, from my own perspective, from an earlier version of Europa Universalis III and a limited engine, if memory does not fail me there was this great improvement on the Europa Universalis III engine that made it look fantastic from the original blob it presented itself like.

Something that stroke me as interesting when trying Crusader Kings II back when it came out was the fact that it shared some of the mechanics of the Rome game, it had individuals with their own goals and ambitions which could lead an army, govern, rebel, plot murder, all the goody stuff CK2 players enjoy so much nowadays was inherited and polished (after a couple of expansions, mechanic revamps and other things in between) to what we know today of it. From the side of Europa Universalis, I am unsure how much it was inherited but I can be sure that with the current version that is coming out, Imperator: Rome will greatly benefit from the Europa Universalis IV mechanics and the now polished Crusader Kings 2 mechanics.

At the time the images that have shown up look great and remind me so much of the original Rome games, there is no need to go for battles such as Total War, Total War is there for those huge epic battles on the ground that you can enjoy from the shoulder of the Legions you send down to cause havoc, no, we are here to enjoy the massive intricacies of the military (with hopefully improved upgrade mechanics that do not tie you to one update whenever the game feels like it and research that was arbitrary as hell), political (I can already see the civic faction breaking oh so many games, they broke so many of mine and caused so many rebellions I would change the people in power five times before I got to understand how the hell anything worked), diplomatic (hopefully as Rome you can get some sweet casus belli to expand your Empire all the way to Asia and also interesting decisions with your neighbors so they don’t eat you alive from the get go such as that little devil Pyrrhus breaking hell all over the shores of southern Italy) and religious system (some of the bonuses were really broken and the fact that you could get the total opposite to what you wished really made you think if you should even consider it on your to-do list but if you did not do it then you were asking for the religious faction on breaking your back every single time) of the Roman Empire.

Other mechanics that are coming back to my mind were the Legions your provincial Governors or Legate would command a Legion which in turn would start to become loyal to him, on one side this would be good because your treasury would be released from the much needed money during the early state of the game, on the other hand these men had become loyal to him so in case he rebelled they would stand by him no matter what, this would lead to some very interesting battles in which Legions would be fighting on the same square against other members of the same Legion who had fought with them side by side.

The sea battles were horrible, and I could never understand why the Romans would not capture more ships once they had discovered the retractable arm they could throw onto other ships, in real life this would give the Romans the advantage they needed over their much larger Carthagian foes as their sailors were not ready to face the might of the Roman Legion from ship to ship. The mechanics were oddly clunky and I was always praying my transported troops would make it to wherever they had to go because losing one of my Legions, any Legion, could cost me a bunch of territory.

Those barbarian invasions were also a hell of an adventure to deal with, I would leave regional legions (attached them to a local Governor who could be so useless at times) to defend tracts of land such as northern Italy (the alps mostly and using the bonuses of the mountains to my advantage) and fight the massive mothballs of up to 100K barbarians, sure the slaves and money I would get from them would be absolutely great and with the right politics you could get freedman and citizens in a considerably breeze (quite some time to be honest) which would in turn help Civilization push further out and bring the rest of the territories into being gloriously Roman (because what else is better than to have 100 Civilization and be the center of all European civilization, eh?)

As a Historian with a formal education one of the things that drove me to study History were the Total War and Europa Universalis games, I was amazed by the Roman and Medieval eras and to this day they continue to be some of my interests as a Historian, I also believe that teaching through videogames is one of the best ways for the current generations to learn about the many interesting aspect of Humanity (even if this vision is eurocentrist).

Now, if only Paradox Interactive would take their time to rework that Sengoku game they made, I know that would be another really interesting period to visit and while we are at it, a Victoria 3 game, anyone?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back during the recession (2008/2009) in San Diego

Back when the economic recession started I had just gotten a job, mere chance actually, doing IT Desktop Support for a large medical manufacturer (not sure if the largest in the city and if not the case then second largest). The recession hit us hard down in Tijuana, downtown quickly emptied from the usual American influence it had seen for decades and crime was at an all time high (if memory does not fail me it was either 2008 when we had more than one thousand murders related to drug dealing). All of this made it very clear that we were in for a rough ride yet I could not fully understand the level of the recession until I went to San Diego somewhere in 2009, I was going to see Testament at the House of Blues in Downtown San Diego, for whatever reason the ticket I had paid for did not go through (no charges to my credit card though) and I had to buy them on the spot, the concert was not as full as I had expected but this was in a way understandable seeing the current situation.

During my ride on the trolley I saw two things that was so ingrained in my mind that even to this date I cannot forget them.

The first was this lady wearing a very expensive coat and a pearl necklace, she was carrying around a large trash bag but I could not see what was inside of it and then I see her moving next to a trash can, opening the thing and picking up and smashing aluminum cans and plastic bottles, the contrast of what I was seeing at that point made me think that even the mighty can fall hard and that humans will do everything they can to survive.

The second thing I remember was a sort of architects office inside Downtown, there was something akin to a rent for using a table on a weekly or monthly basis and the place was full of drawing tables all over the small place, when I looked slightly closer I could see some kind of bulge sitting on top of one of the tables, a coat maybe, and focusing on this particular object I noticed it was a person, but it wasn’t just one, it seemed other people had taken the same alternative of sleeping there, this got me thinking that they had probably rented the table and slept over the table because, well, it doesn’t matter what you use the table for if you rented it…

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Random Memories | Old Videogame Guy (May 1st, 2018)

I once met an old guy who worked at a flea market, one of the old ones, down at the last line of small locals, or was it the new one?

The old man had his store packed to the brim with old games, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Master System, he even claimed to have a Sega Neptune but I never saw it. The old man sold games at a super cheap price, even when I informed him on the prices on eBay for some of the games he didn't care because "he was a gamer at heart and wanted newer generations to try out what he had loved so much", this man was around 60 when I met him.

What surprised me more is that he had some of the original tools to open the consoles and cartridges, he knew them in and out like no one else apparently, but what surprised me most was that any old game that did not work or was not selling he would change for a PCB of Super Mario Bros. 3, when I asked him why they were in a plastic bag he told me that that's how he had bought them, at that point he baffled me with what he said.

"Back in the early 90s I met a Nintendo representative here in Tijuana, he was selling me a lot of 1000 unused PCB boards for Super Mario Bros. 3, I thought the offer was good and took him up for it, that is why I have so many copies left and that's why they are all still in the bag, unused".

So basically he had a lot of those boards in the back of his shop (I saw them, they were in unmarked boxes, they all looked brand new) and here I am wondering what this man thought he could achieve by doing this, sure he had the boards but not the cases yet here he was, removing old labels from the games, printing new ones and giving them away when he sold or fixed NES consoles.

I have not seen the old man in many years now.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Random memories (April 28th, 2018)

When I worked in one of the many Call Centers here in Tijuana I had to chance to meet this lady who was a killer top model employee doing collections for several agencies, from what I heard back then from the co-workers, team lead and supervisor she was always in the top bill and had managed to once collect more money than all of her team mates combined, and from what I heard once she “couldn’t do it, she didn’t have the heart, it wasn’t for her”.

Turns out it was for her, she made very large bonuses for this and got paid in cash, dollars, no taxes in between.

After she got her bonus she would disappear for a couple of days then come back and keep working the same pattern, when I asked the supervisor about it he said he did not care, as long as she was making the numbers way above everyone else the company could care less about this.

Years later I found out that the reason she was missing work was because she was getting high on crack, this really surprised me but apparently her daughter in the US who was studying college (who may have or not existed for this matter) was not getting that extra money she was making.

The way they found out about this was because they found her at some sort of picadero, a place where junkies drop and pinch their shit in (whatever it is). Aside from finding her there it turned out she had ripped a little bit of her face (I confirmed this by chance when I found her randomly on the street), this was part of the high and drop down from the crack.

Tijuana sigue cambiando

Los días pasan rápido y sigo conociendo cosas nuevas, sigo observando como la ciudad cambia y se mueve al ritmo del mundo, como culturas chocan y “negrito” baila en el mercado de la Villa, vendiendo café y juntando dinero para traer a su mama desde Haití; en el centro las caras cambian, ya no es tener dos cervezas por un dólar, mares de gente pasando por toda la calle Revolución, bares abiertos las veinticuatro horas todos los días, bares en decadencia que incluso después de cobrar nueva vida con la calle sexta, la Plaza muere y revive en un lapso de diez años, nuevos turistas “inteligentes” nos visitan, no compran nada, toman fotos, no hablan ningún idioma de este continente pero aun así los vemos por las calles, la gentrificación cada vez mas obvia, la vieja Tijuana sigue y sigue muriendo, cada vez mas lejana a todos los que la conocieron, la ciudad global y moderna crece pero ahora lo hace mas hacia arriba que a los lados, lo obvio se ha vuelto más obvio después de tantos años de crecimiento sin control, si buscas con suficiente cuidado en las calles y en la gente podrás encontrar todos sus secretos, en el mundo están los pedazos de lo que fue alguna vez y que unidos son como la arena de playa, y cuando mas les duele recordar es cuando menos cosas quedan porque:

1.  def valor_cosas(cosa):  
2.      valor =3D 0  
3.      print("%s vale %s [nada]" % (cosa, valor))  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Slap Card

When playing TCGs some… maybe 15 years ago (around 2001/2002?) I remember this tendency of throwing cards at the table, not throwing them off the table but rather on the table itself, to represent anger or frustration with your opponent's action, we even made fun of it by getting a random card from the opponent or anyone and doing the same thing, that slap it produced (when inside the plastic foils) is priceless but it would wear it down and then you needed new foils, so someone came up with an idea (I think it was Edgar but simply because he could, not because we needed it).

Enter the Slap Card

The slap card was a random card, any trash card would do, which would be wrapped in black electric tape until it was completely covered. Once this was done you could maybe go for a second round and then there it was, a slap card. It sounds stupid enough to try and do it, watch the video and you will understand why.

The Atlantean Thrones and the Valve

I can’t sleep, again. I see them all over me, figures that look like demons, human with horns of all kinds, twisted and spiraling in differ...