Monday, February 27, 2017

To Fight Crime

I'm not a religious man. I'm not a superstitious man. But why am I looking for you now? Sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

What I am is a simple man. I don't know any complicated theories, or possess any advanced thingamajigs. I only know what I know- my two fists, and on occasion a low kick. I just do what I can, whenever I can. That makes a difference.

I fight crime, or so I've always convinced myself. A quick jab to knockout a robber on Monday, a side swipe on a molester on Thursday- these are the results of my actions. Every day, every week. Small steps, but steps all the same. But deep within me I knew that it wouldn't work. Not today, not next week, and not in the end. 

You see, I wasn't fighting crime. I was fighting criminals, and there's a difference. Even if I could fight all the criminals in the city, or in the world, it wasn't the same thing. It isn't possible to fight crime, to punch it in the face, or to floor it with a kick. There's nothing to punch or kick. Crime isn't a thing, or a person. It's something else altogether.

Now, I've said in the beginning that I am only a simple man. I only know what I know- my two fists, and on occasion a low kick. But if something can't be punched, and when kicking doesn't work either, what do I do? I don't know any complicated theories, or possess any advanced thingamajigs. I can only keep on jabbing my fists, and striking with my boot. 

That's why I need you. I know what you can do. You can speak with Gods, and dance with Devils. Maybe not on the same day, but that's none of my business. My plan is simple, and easy to handle. I need you to summon Crime, and make him real. I'll do the rest, with my left and my right.

It sounds ridiculous, but it might just work. And if it doesn't, I'll just have to finish Crime off with a low kick.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Something Bought at a Convenience Store

Nowadays, you can buy a name at any local convenience store. Fairly good ones too, certified auspicious according to the various nomancy guidelines. Those names are not customized, but they'll do fine in a pinch, and at their mass-market price point there's not much to complain about.

In fact, I just bought a name as I was buying breakfast on the way to work earlier this morning. Certainly, it's not something that's an absolute necessity- with this new addition, I have about seventeen names in total- but we can't always live on the basis of necessity, can we?  In any case, the new name happened to be a middle name, which could easily be inserted into my existing names. 
What a thoughtful product! It was certainly an improvement on earlier versions, where only first (or worse, last) names were offered, leading to complaints from confused customers.

While nobody was looking during work, I logged on to my favorite nomacy website and keyed in my updated name. Immediately, countless complex calculations were performed remotely and their results transferred and displayed onto my screen. The predictions on various types of luck were indicated in green and red, foretelling fortune and misfortune respectively. 

My new name, it seemed, did not affect my fortunes in a manner that I had hoped. There were some minor improvements in luck here and there, but on a whole the effect was marginal at best. It was well known that there were diminishing returns to adding further names. There were examples of people who benefited significantly from having thirty or even fifty names, but many of those people employed experts to design their names. I would just have to be happy with my convenience store-bought name.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Importance of Regular Maintenance of Property

The president was waving an origami sword at me in a menacing fashion. Although he was left-handed, he was wielding the deadly weapon with his right hand; immediately, I understood that he was reserving his true power for a later moment, and that he was not yet being serious. There was still a chance for me to get out of here alive. 

"I will give you a chance to learn why you must die here," he said while moving his sword into an attack stance.

I could have performed a sudden sneak attack at this moment by flexing my legs and launching my shoes at the president, but it would most probably have failed. Because I had taken a shortcut through a muddy footpath on the way to the clubroom, my shoes were weighted with mud, and thus any attack made with my shoes, although more powerful due to the added weight, would also be too slow and easily blocked or deflected.

W-wait- did the president anticipate this, and chose this particular date and time to attack? But he could not have known that I would take the shortcut across the muddy footpath.

"You bastard!" the president spat, "It seems like you think you have done nothing wrong. It looks like there's simply no way we can coexist. I can't forgive anyone without a proper sense of time. "

I looked at my watch. What was he talking about? I had arrived five minutes in advance of my club meeting. Could my watch be wrong- oh no!

In the moment that I was glancing at my watch, he had started his attack sequence, and was now moving impossibly quickly towards me! I had made a fatal mistake! I tried to dodge, but it was too late to avoid his well-practiced strike!

The origami sword crumpled against my the pocket of my uniform, but the weapon had done its job and inflicted untold amounts of piercing damage to me. I collapsed to the floor. 

"There are only two times in life. Now, and too late. You can only blame yourself.

Time of death- 310pm. 310pm !?"

As my consciousness faded, my last thing I saw was the president staring at the clock mounted on the wall of the clubroom.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Secrets of Heaven are Not to be Revealed

Every day, the fortune teller peddled his trade in the same corner of the park square, right beside the fountain. His tools were but a worn pack of playing cards packed in a paper box that had long since lost its cover, and a cardboard sign propped up against the fountain edge that announced in a loud marker red, "$5 for a fortune."

As far as I knew, his readings were uncannily accurate. There was, however, a catch to this prescience. Before he would tell a fortune, the fortune teller would begin with a well practiced warning.

"The secrets of the diving are not to be learned, not without cost. Each time that I would read into a future, your fortunes would be correspondingly reduced."

It was a chilling statement that undoubtedly increased the sense of mysticism to his practice, but I could not help but think that he would have been more successful if he had adopted a different pitch, especially one that did not discourage repeated business. Once, I did mention this poor marketing decision to him, but he only shrugged in response.

"More business would be good, but that sentence is not something that I can afford to change. It's something that's necessary in this line of work, you know? Without it, who would suffer the price of leaking Heaven's secrets? Me. Which does makes the profession impractical as a business, right? Well, historically it was so, and most prophets and seers did tend to meet unfortunate ends.

But if the risks were transferred- if you think of it as a sort of mystical contract, not unlike a transfer of liabilities- then it becomes possible to deal in fortunes."

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Guild to Save the World

At some point in history, humanity realized that there were too many threats to their continued survival. In a moment of collective enlightenment, an organization was formed, peopled by talents from each and every corner of the known world, and funded by all the human kingdoms in the realm.

Moved by such noble ideals, I entered The Guild to Save the World when I finally reached the minimum age for joining.

Unfortunately... I quickly learned that the number of humanity threatening crises that the Guild had resolved was... zero.

Surely you'll go, "What! This must be a mistake?", as I exclaimed many years ago when the Grand Custodian mentioned this fact.

With the impenetrably solid logic of a bath sponge, he explained that it was simply too difficult- impossible, in fact- to combat all crises at once. Attempting to do so was folly. Instead, by temporarily reassigning the least urgent threats to be addressed at a later date (and with more resources), all the resources could be focused to achieve greater results. In any case, it was impossible to predict the timing of world-threatening events, and each crises required a different set of measures to address. A demonic invasion could be fought off with an army, but would be useless against a magical plague. Simultaneously planning for all threats was logistically impossible.

The Grand Custodian then brilliantly extended this argument repeatedly, and by a clever process of induction, managed to save the Guild quite a bit of work.

He called it "the principle of maintaining maximum readiness and flexibility (soft mumble)by doing nothing(soft mumble)".

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wise Words of a Fee-losopher

You can do it. Not talking about me, I'm talking about you. Whatever you want to be, I believe you can do it.

It's true.

One caveat: You must choose to act.

Those were the words of wisdom taught to me by a fee-losopher. Unlike normal philosophers, fee-losophers charged dearly for their insights. You get what you pay for, and thus the advice of fee-losophers was held in higher regard than that of the amateurish philosophers. 

I did not initially believe the smooth-faced man before me. Belief alone was insufficient. I knew- I had tried many times believing, but no change was wrought. My goals were not being met. It was precisely this desperation that I had sought out the help of the fee-losophers.

"How do I become a ninja turtle?" I had asked the wise man. And he answered, though I was reluctant to trust him.

"Very well. I shall demonstrate," he spoke, sensing my hesitation. 

His preparations were meticulous, to say the least. Dabbing his face with generous globs of green camoflague cream, and then putting on a turtle shell costume, the fee-losopher quickly began to resemble a ninja turtle in appearance. 

"Now watch closely, as I will begin my demonstration."

It was a miracle. Before me no longer stood a human, but a ninja turtle performing all sorts of advanced martial acrobatics. 

And then he stopped, and once more became a green-faced man dressed in a funny suit.  

"H-how did you do this, MASTER!?"

He only grinned. 

"Did you not listen closely? One caveat: You must choose to act.

You must hone your acting skills!"

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Short Note on the Origin of Magic Power

Though exceptions exist, a person's attunement to magic appears to be largely inherited. The existence of the so-named mage families, not to mention the royal bloodlines, are strong proof that magic capacity is a factor inherently tied to blood.

At least, that is the understanding that is promulgated as absolute truth. I have my own doubts about the matter.

The greatest unresolved question in magic theory is that of the "unblooded prodigal"- a mage of exceptionally strong capability who does not have any ancestors of remotely notable magical power. The number of such individuals, while not large, is sufficient to hint at explanations of magic ability other than blood.

Allow me to indulge in a moment of heresy- perhaps it is that magic power is not actually inherited?

It is not a secret that the mage families are notoriously reticent. Most sons and daughters of famous mage bloodlines only attend magic academies after the age of 16 (if at all), at which point their magical abilities are already largely developed. Could it be that the key to their abilities is some method of special training during the formative years? If so, this would explain their reluctance to openly share the secrets to their fame and power.

Needless to say, these are dangerous speculations.