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Recent wastes of time

Webcomics: I started looking at The Midlands, some weird alt-dim urban-fantasy with elves comic I've been seeing people recommend. Interesting, though I'm still not sure what's going on. At the same time I read Casey and Andy, kind of like another Sluggy Freelance -- a couple of mad scientists and supporting cast; lots of gag strips, some story arcs, some cheesecake. Fun stuff. The same author has moved on to Cheshire Crossing, an Alice Wendy Dorothy Mary Poppins comic, updated as he finishes each issue. Interesting start.

I re-read The Scar. It held up.

My kanji study linked up with shogi, the Japanese version of chess. I've never gotten to play the game, but it looks, um, interesting. Using that word a lot. A 9x9 board, so more space then chess, and most of the pieces are puny -- knights can only go forward, generals move like kings but with fewer options, there's one rook and one bishop. OTOH captured pieces can be dropped in on your own side, so the game's actually a lot more complex. A silver general on the board has 5 moves; in the hand, it has 40. Even a unblocked queen in the middle of a chessboard has 27 options, I think. And it doesn't matter how many moves queens have if they self-destruct, but that doesn't happen in shogi.

But that's not the point. The point is that you "should" (though it took me years) be wondering why a Japanese piece is called a bishop. Japan doesn't have bishops, except for the <1% who have wandered into Catholic religions. So why call it a bishop? Well, it moves like one, unlimited diagonal movement -- that's a good reason. Still, I started wondering what they actually call the thing, and fortunately the Web quickly provided. Apparently they call it an angle goer, and it, along with the Western bishop, descend separately from the Indian "elephant" piece, which probably moved by jumping two squares diagonally. All the old pieces sucked -- except for the 'rook' (Persian rukh, chariot), aka chariot, which always had its unlimited horizontal movement. And in shogi is called the flying chariot.

That site also shows the two-character form of the various pieces, which I got to look up, or reverse lookup, on JDIC. Yay for some of the characters making sense. Though the lance looks like "incense chariot" and the "honorable horse" (aka knight) looks like "cinnamon tree horse". And the "king" is called the jade general -- but the characters for king and jade are the same, and the Chinese Heavenly King is the Jade Emperor. There's a connection there!


Damien Sullivan

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July 2018


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