The Didact's top ten posts of 2014

This year is fast drawing to a close, so I figured I'd take a few minutes to post my personal favourite posts (of mine) from this year. I am well aware that this is navel-gazing of the highest degree, and I do apologise for that. I'm not normally given to narcissistic tendencies- I've got too much facial scarring for that.

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Uh, dude, you realise there's a hot half-naked chick right next to you?
I managed a decent level of output this year, though admittedly I actually wrote one fewer post than I did in 2013. (I was hoping to hit 365.) The difference this year is that I got settled into the groove of writing a bit better, and got to be better at it. I managed to refine my style a bit more, and I found no end of topics with which to keep myself entertained.

I didn't manage to do everything I wanted, and it's quite evident that there are things I could do better. I wanted to write the equivalent of one post per day, but for various reasons that didn't happen. I'll look to improve on that in 2015.

And I'm aware that my writing could be tightened up a bit, and my analysis could be a lot sharper in certain areas. I don't intend to be a Vox Day clone- which is technically impossible anyway, the dude's ridiculously smart and a great writer to boot- but if you've been to Vox's blog, you would have valid reasons to criticise this one as being somewhat derivative of his.

Even so, apparently I've done something right, because if you look at Blogger's own stats, in 2013 I had over 88,000 pageviews in one year- which was my first year of blogging.

In 2014, my all-time pageviews (again, according to Blogger) went past 210,000. A roughly 140% increase in traffic year-on-year is not bad at all.

I'm nowhere near the big leagues, and probably will never be. That doesn't bother me much, I like it here in the corner and I don't intend to monetise this blog.

I'll also be rolling out a few changes over the coming weeks, which I'll announce, and some requests for feedback from readers. (I actually don't have high expectations for the latter- most of my readers are lurkers- but this is one case where I'll be happy to be surprised. Normally, I hate surprises.)

With all of that in mind, if you're new to the blog (or you've been coming here a while and just want a few highs/lows), I've compiled a list of posts from this year that I liked the most in hindsight, along with a short excerpt of each to give you a flavour of what's going on. These aren't necessarily posts that generated a lot of hits, nor are they in any particular order, they're just the ones that I liked the best upon re-reading them.

Thanks for visiting. Thanks for reading. Thanks for keeping me honest. And if you have favourites of your own- all 2.5 of you- stick 'em in the comments below.

1. Ghost Rider

In every way, I am as different from those around me as a man can be and still call himself human. Indeed, during my most misanthropic moments, I have often wondered whether I could even reasonably be called human, as my capacity for dealing with other people beyond a certain point appears to decrease with the passage of time, and Man is nothing if not a social animal. 
I am not alone in this regard. As far as I can tell, most of the readers of this blog are introverts to varying degrees. All of us know what it is like to be outcasts, to be without a real sense of home, of belonging, of security. As Tempest put it, we know what it means to be at the fringe. 
We know what it means to be alone. 
And oddly enough, most of us like it that way. Most of us would not change even if we could. 
Being a ghost rider means travelling the path that few others have the strength to take. It also means having to face certain very hard choices. It means that you'll pay a fearful price for choosing to live life on your own terms. And it means that you'll have to face up to the possibility of hurting those you care about the most, simply because you choose to live as you please.

2. The Phalanx

An apt metaphor for the workings of the 'Sphere would probably be the classical Spartan phalanx. The Spartans were the most feared soldiers of their- and possibly any- era precisely because while they were individually terrifying warriors, when banded together, side by side, they were virtually unmatched. They fought for what they believed in- for ancient rights and freedoms, for martial virtues, for their lands and their people. They lived lives of honour and discipline (yes, I realise I am glossing over certain ugly details here). An individual Spartiate was a citizen-soldier who was a truly formidable opponent in battle- but when banded together with his brothers in the impenetrable unity of the phalanx, he became unstoppable. 

 3. When N > 10,000...

Now I'll be the first to admit that I love mucking about with numbers. I do it for a living, it's a lot of fun, and I'm trained to do it well. 
But looking at these specific numbers, you know what I feel? 
Pity. 
And not just for Ms. Montenegro herself. She probably would reject the notion of being deserving of pity, but I suspect that deep down, before she was gang-raped and tried to escape the hell that she had entered through drugs and sex, she was just like most other young women, looking forward to a life full of promise and happiness. 
But now, just like every other woman with a high N, she is irreparably damaged. 
Looking at her pictures, you can see that she has aged terribly. 
I know a few women in their mid-thirties; none of them look like they're in their early fifties.

4. The point of sex in gaming

The best game franchises either subtly incorporate sexual escapism into games that are a hell of a lot of fun to play, or ignore it altogether. 
When sexuality is used to enhance the quality of an already solid game, it works- often brilliantly. But when it is used to sell the game, you can generally bet that the game itself won't be great. 
Game of War might be a good game. It might even be a great game. But if it is, why is the company selling it spending so much money focusing on Kate Upton's appearance in it, rather than on the gameplay itself? 
Truly great games use sexuality to make the player's experience better. They don't put the women front and centre just for a cynical exercise in marketing.

5. Moral Government, Pt. 1: Rights are earned, never given

There is perhaps no more ridiculous exemplar of the risible notion of "moral" rights than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the United Nations tries (and singularly fails) to promote as one of its greatest achievements. If you read the document, you'll find a lot of supposedly unobjectionable language about how you have "right" to an education; about how you have a "right" to get married, and how spouses have equal rights in that marriage (God's Teeth, what a joke); and perhaps most absurdly, how you have a "right" to security and medical care (and presumably rainbows and dancing bunnies too) in the event of ill health, unemployment, disability, sickness, or widowhood. 
One can only presume that the people who authored such pabulum were smoking weapons-grade crack when they wrote this. I know weed-smoking philosophy and art majors in college who can come up with better ideas when they're baked than this nonsense. 
Why do I write this? Simple. Go back up a bit and read about how rights cannot come without a price. The UDHR would have you believe that these rights can be secured without cost. Moreover, this document would also have you believe that you have the right to another's labour and profit without lifting so much as a single finger to earn it.

6. "Congratulations. Now prove that you've earned it."

Never stop seeking to improve yourself. Never stop trying to better your life, to beautify your life. Never stop trying to see through the lies that others tell you. Never stop seeking the truth. This world is deeply unfair, very tough, quite unforgiving. It rewards only persistence and hard work. There are no shortcuts to getting what you want. You have to be willing to endure great pain and suffering in order to reap great rewards and joys.

7. Didact's Mailbag: No bullshido allowed

You see, it's all well and good to start studying a martial arts style. If you're anything like me and you actually enjoy exercise, you'll soon come to love doing an art because it will make you move and exercise in ways that you've never experienced before. Sooner or later you'll reach a level of proficiency that will make you very confident in yourself and your ability to conduct an intelligent street fight. This is a very dangerous point for a lot of aspiring students, where they think that their skills are sufficient to let them survive on the streets. 
However, if you have never sparred or studied takedowns or gotten choked, you are going to be in for an extremely rude, and probably incredibly painful, awakening the first time you get into a real fight. 
As I said in my post about sparring, if you have not sparred, you don't know how to fight. So in my opinion the first question that you should ask of any prospective school of any art is, "when can I start sparring?".

8. Because they don't do the work, that's why

This is the fundamental lesson that Americans seem to have forgotten in this day and age. No matterwhat field you want to pursue, success comes from work. There is simply no other way to get good at something. If you want to get good, you have to put in the work.

9. The Holy Land

There are parts of Israel that appear as alien to the human eye as the surface of Mars, and every bit as inhospitable to human life- and yet somehow, through inhuman will and unbreakable faith, the Israelis have created a land that not only permits life, but lets it thrive. 
The result is a country unlike any other on Earth. In the forge of God, the hammer of War and the anvil of Destiny have created the only truly advanced nation in the region. This is the only nation in the Middle East that actually practices religious tolerance- in Saudi Arabia, for instance, not oneChristian church is permitted to exist. Other nations in the region have been blessed- or cursed, depending on how you look at it- with abundant mineral resources, but were completely incapable of exploiting those resources without Western help; by contrast, tiny Israel, with almost no real resources of its own, has found ways to tap into the wealth of the land through ingenuity, perseverance, and sheer guts. Her neighbours remain enslaved to a totalitarian political ideology in the guise of a “religion” that embraces a world-view that remains mired in the backwardness and folly of the 7th Century, and that offers nothing but war, slavery, and death; Israel is a modern nation that pushes the boundaries of what is possible every single day, seeking resources, wealth, and knowledge in places and ways that the rest of us could not even begin to imagine. 
The Star of David flies high and proud in its simple glory once again over a God-kissed country.

10. Crossing the Rubicon

If we want to spend Sunday mornings zerging each other over Battle.net, or playing Advanced Squad Leader with our friends, or creating online mayhem in TitanFall, or playing 8v8 deathmatches inCall of Duty, that's how we want to spend our time, and as far as we're concerned, people like John Scalzi and Nick Denton don't have a damn thing to say about it. 
We will not retreat. We will not give in. We will win this war because they need our money, and without it, they have nothing. Our most powerful weapon is one that they cannot take away, no matter how hard they try- because they cannot make us buy what they're selling. 
Finally, we will win because, as is always the case with progressive idiots, we are strong, and they are weak. They believe in an ideology that is completely bankrupt, that preaches equality over reality, and that has been proven a false god more times than I can even begin to count. 
We stand for the inalienable and God-given right of game developers to write, code, and develop games as they see fit, and for the right of gamers to play the games that we want to play, the way we want to play them. 

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