First the news, then the muse. This update was started two weeks ago and it’s been bumped down the priority list. 

Griffin Quiz: Not even a top 3 finish. Nasty, nasty questions asked. I was the only one eating and my teammates were eyeing up my chips avariciously. I was ready with fork in hand, just in case I needed to wield it like a trident.

Some of the gang and I were playtesting a board game version of the Plague Inc game (see blogs passim for my slow progress through the iPad version). It was being overseen by the developer/founder of Ndemic, James Vaughan. Although we were allowed to take pictures etc, I didn’t. So no teasers today. Like the video game, the board game sees you as a bacteria attempting to take down the world although global annihilation isn’t quite your goal this time. No, you’re competing against up to three other viruses to see who can score the most DNA points through mutations, wiping out countries etc.

It’s a work in progress but visually, it looks good with nice, 3D pieces, extra detail on cards and a quality map. Players of the video game will notice immediately the similarities in the board game, references etc. That said, I didn’t entirely enjoy it as much as the others. I felt the gameplay needed a bit of work as it seemed there was only one strategy you needed to pursue to victory and everything else was happenstance (i.e. the right combination of trait and event cards). Granted, I felt utterly hosed as we played as I had a lousy starting position and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do to mitigate it. Also, that strategy (I won’t spoil it) gave the same reward as focussing your efforts in one particular area which meant that you didn’t really have to do much to be able to win.

I gave the game the weakest score out of the four players – whilst the game has a lot of potential, I feel it has a few more bugs to work out before publication. Would I buy it? Depends on what the game looks like after the extensive playtesting, I guess. Can’t decide just yet but there’ll be a few months to decide.

Rest of last week was fairly unremarkable though the weather saw definitely improvement. It was shorts-inside weather but not quite enough outside to want to switch to t-shirts from long-sleeves. Though there is still a tendency for the occasional chilly wind to blow in from the north. Weekend was spent on my second game/profile of Fallout 4, trying to catch up. Rather than the slow, gradual process, I made straight for downtown Boston, getting in my quicklinks with places such as Diamond City, Goodneighbor et al. I’ve probably logged 1/3 the same gametime now, own half the settlements that I did in the other game but conversely, there are several elements of progress made that I didn’t achieve in the other because I was more amateurish. And I think I’ve come across the perfect formula for building additional houses in my settlements so unhappiness should be a thing of the past. Much enjoy.

The muse bit: a two parter muse – linked by the grasshopper mind, leaping from once concept to another. 

I was thinking about a blog post on dating apps where you swipe left to disapprove/reject and right to approve; not just Tinder. But it got me thinking on an age old mental problem about an accident from the French Revolution which might have inadvertently shaped modern democracy – that of left and right wing politics.

That one first. Why are radical, reformists (with a socialist bent) called left-wingers and traditional, conservative types called right-wingers? Hopefully, you know the answer stems from the French Revolution. When the Estates General met in 1789, supporters of the King sat on the right of the speaker/president whilst the supporters of the Revolution sat on the left. It was quickly noted that those on both wings had a lot of common ground with each other and could readily identify with one another. These grouping was reported on in the media and the names stuck.

But for an accident of seating, could things be different today?

What do I mean by this? Well, it comes down to semantics really and the words “left” and “right”. Does human society and democracy naturally favour “right” over “left”? Certainly there is some evidence for this – in English, “right” can mean correct, accurate, even truthful. “Left” can have connotations of omitting or rejection – left behind, left back, left out, left on the shelf. Even the sound of the words has significance. The e in “left” is sort of flat sounding whilst the i and the gh in “right” give the word a slightly more uplifting note. It’s not in English that we can see a dichotomy; Latin gives us “sinister” and “dexter”, the former having more negative connotations, the latter more positive. French has “gauche” and “droit”, both of which have equivalents in English (though it’s adroit rather than droit). Even German has “links” and “reichts”, again with similar connotations. Perhaps this is down to the fact that 90% of the human species is right-hand dominant and this has spilled out into linguistics via religion, at least in the European family of languages.

What I’m saying is that there is a very heavy bias towards right over left and the biggest beneficiaries might well be political parties. Often the phrase “right-wing” is used as something of a negative adjective/noun when used by a left-leaning person but when used by a fellow right-winger, isn’t is possible that it’s employed knowing full well that right also means “correct”?

So imagine if you will, a world where the seating in the Estates General was reversed and that the revolutionaries sat to the right of the speaker. Would this translate into greater political dominance for the progressives over time? I think it would. Oh I grant you, taken on its own there’d be little noticeable difference but 230 years of political reporting using precisely the same terminology I feel, surely would have resonance with the public. The negative connotations of the left would now echo with and stick to the small c conservatives. This might cause a small dip in support over time or at least prove more of a challenge to persuade people of the argument.

What this means is…that I have too much time alone with my thoughts. And I’m sure someone with a degree or three has written extensively on the subject.

Anyway, back to the original premise of today’s article: swiping left and swiping right. It occurs to be that my left to right ratio is probably 15:1 and I was wondering am I being far, far too picky, finicky or just subconsciously destroying any chance of general happiness (what sort is left to your own imaginations, folks). I guess I’m kinda Sith, I do deal in absolutes. I’d give the full list of gripes but I realise how pretentious/anal that’ll make me sound. I’d like to think (or delude) that much of it is benign, for example: if someone states that they’re a huge music fan always going to gigs and concerts then it’d be a swipe-left situation, regardless of other, lesser criteria. Ditto sport.

Thing is, these types of apps are tailor made for today’s consumer society. Like the look of someone? Swipe right. Don’t like the look of someone? Swipe left. End of consideration. Which I guess is my point, there doesn’t appear to be much consideration or I don’t think there’s much evidence to support that hypothesis. Thing is, there’s no neat and tidy answer.