Friday, November 30, 2007

Memory backstory & timeline

Terminology.
'47 riots: Widespread protests and violence after the Presidential election was proved rigged. The president was killed, and greater protections were set for future. The greatest violence and disturbance the colony has faced.
Cardinal, the: Leader of the Church. Acts in the position of the Pope in his absence, but does not assume his title.
Church, the: An offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church. Holds a fairly constant forty percent of the colony as its followers.
City: The central city of the colony, built by and from the colony ship that landed there. Contains the high technology of the colony, unreplicatable without manufacturing capabilities they do not possess. Built up over the years; the original centre is termed the Core.
Eidetic: Those who possess the capability to pass their memories to their children. Term preferred by the Eidetics themselves; their opponents prefer to term them reborns. (Grammar here being subordinate to insult.)
Josephs: Descendants of Joseph the Eldest, possessing his memories. Most common terminology for 'lines' of reborns (see also Heathers, Marlows, etc.), though it may change as the reborns become the majority and the lines mix.
President: Elected leader of the colony. Shares power with the legislature (monocameral). Rumors of corruption are rife, but change seems unlikely in the near future.
Reborn: See Eidetic.
Stormfarms: High-altitudes megakites/wind turbines, used to generate power in outlying regions and to supplement the aging fusion reactors in City. Major factor in the technological development of the colony.
University: First institute of high education in the colony, founded within a few years of landfall. Highly prestigious.

Timeline.
0 After Founding: Colony founded, population ~6000.
1 AF: Joseph the Eldest born.
2 AF: Casey born.
9 AF: Casey and Joseph first meet.
25 AF: Joseph diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
26 AF: Joseph meets Annabel.
29 AF: Joseph gains his PhD in xenobiology.
30 AF: Joseph marries Annabel.
31 AF: Events of Part One.
32 AF: Joseph II born, Casey ordained as a priest in the Church.
35 AF: Events of Part Two.
44 AF: Annabel evicts Joseph II.
53 AF: Joseph II marries Elspeth; Patrick born; events of Part Three; the Cardinal issues a bull against the so-called reborn/Eidetic.
55 AF: Sarah born; six volunteers for the University have the Memory genes written into them, becoming a new wave of Eidetics.
56 AF: Stephen born.
65 AF: Casey promoted to the post of Western Bishop.
71 AF: New laws pass, discriminating against the reborn financially. Few protest.
79 AF: Elspeth dies in a fire that burns down her house. Arson is suspected, but the perpetrators are never found. Joseph II dies months later of disease. They are buried together.
86 AF: Eidetic population reaches one-thousand.
88 AF: Casey becomes Cardinal of the Colony.
96 AF: Events of Part Four. (Tina is Sarah's daughter; Kevin and Thomas are Patrick's children, and Eric is Stephen's eldest son.)

Backstory.
This is, oddly, a mixture of two different books in my mind. In one section of school reading, in a book called Beloved, there is a discussion of memory: "Memories never leave", one character claims, saying that they remain everywhere, lurking in ambush. (It's a strange book.) In the other, a species of aliens possess mutable DNA, which they mix through mating (in addition to reproduction), like bacteria.

A lot of the repercussions of Joseph's decision came later, as I explored possibilities, but the core of the story (and the four-part structure) was all there from the beginning.

And, yes, he is Joseph Smith. Originally, he was going to be Joseph Young, and Casey was to be named Brigham Smith. Then I did some digging, and found out that there already was a Joseph Young - Brigham Young's brother! So, feh. It made more sense in my original conception of Joseph's character - he was to be a crotchety, half-crazy old scientist who created something far better than he was. (Better as a technology than he was as a person, that is.) Then I actually wrote someone likeable.

Looking back at that last sentence, I realize that it actually doesn't make any sense at all.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Memory. If you want more stories set in that colony, just let me do and I'll do my best to whip something up. When I finished Part Four, I was certain that I was done with the colony, but now I'm not so sure. Depends on reader feedback.

EDIT: Oh, yeah! I have some other stuff queued up, stuff I'm pretty excited about, so if I manage to write them December should start off with a bang. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Memory, Part Four

Casey gestured weakly. He was surrounded by doctors, family, and well-wishers. At his motion, most of them moved away reluctantly. Another, brusquer wave of his hand was required to deal with the doctors.

Then, through eyes dimmed by age, he saw a familiar face at the doorway. Pressing a button, Casey whispered into the intercom, "Admit the Josephs." After a moment's delay, four of them shuffled in: three men and a women. The man at their fore bore the greatest resemblance to the Joseph Casey had known, but all of them showed some sign of it.

"I hadn't expected you to visit me," Casey told the Josephs through a voice weak but strengthened by iron determination. "After all these years, no-one would have blamed you. But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It's only returning a favor, for you."

"We've heard about the deathbed visit, but that's not in our genetic memory," one of the male Josephs told him. "Our parents were conceived before, so we don't remember it."

Another Joseph interrupted the first. "Some of the other Josephs don't like you, because of what you've done as Cardinal. Well... a lot of them don't like you. But we respect you, not just because of what you did for our progenitor, but for your character, and your policies... when it doesn't come to us, sadly. That's why we came to pay our respects."

Casey smiled weakly. "I suppose you have your own names?"

They did. The men were named Eric, Kevin, and Thomas (that last being in a wheelchair); the woman was named Tina. "Joseph the Youngest was going to come, but there was a storm outside Westroad. He'll be here tomorrow, hopefully," explained Eric.

"You know I've never approved of your experiment, I hope," Casey told them. "Every one of you is an innocent child murdered to dilute one soul further, generation after generation. Just as you've inspired too many others to do. You never really justified that - to me, or, I think, to yourselves."

Kevin drew back guiltily; the others looked annoyed. "We aren't the first Joseph," Tina told him with the sort of tone that implied she'd said it many times before. "I'm not even the same gender! We have his memories, sure, just as we have the memories of his son, and our parents'. But diluted so, that's all they are: memories, dating back sixty years. Genetics and circumstances and time have shaped us. We're not Joseph."

Casey's eyes focused on her. "You're saying you choose to ignore those memories? To forget everything you know and try to make a new life from scratch? I find this hard to believe."

"We've had to learn to," Tina told Casey. "Even when there was just one Joseph, things were hard enough. We all remember his experiences in the home of his mother/wife, and how hard it was for him to assume his former life. But there are over a dozen of us now. Ignoring the obvious problems of displacing our own parents, we'd have to squabble between each-other... it's stupid, wasteful. So we accept that the memory of our parents' life is just that, and make our own way, with their help."

Casey's eyes turned to Thomas, who'd remained quiet through the discussion. "Do the other experiments follow your practices, too? The Jacksons, and the Marlows, and the Heathers... it's hard for me to believe they all possess this perfect selflessness you suggest."

Thomas stayed silent for a moment. Then he answered. "It's hardly 'perfect selflessness', but... yes, some of the other have problems with succession. The Jacksons are the worst, from what I hear. We gave them some advice, but everyone and every family has to figure it out themselves, in the end. With so many going through the process these days, we could hardly guide them all to our current practices, even did either we or they want to."

"You're tearing society apart," Casey told them. "I'm old and half-deaf, but I still hear the news. New pure-only theaters and nightclubs. Enclaves with barbed wire fences and armed guards, no reborns allowed. Legislation for different taxes on reborns, and they're working on a different set of civil laws next?"

Kevin nodded. His face was twisted.

"My parents were the first ones off the boat," Casey told the Josephs. "I've been here from nearly the beginning of the colony, and I saw it all: the '47 riots, the appointment of the Consuls, the first stormfarms, the growth of City from near-town to metropolis... We've only been here for a hundred years. We were near starvation when I was a child. I saw the '47 riots! And the changes you're causing will do it again." He settled back into his bed, momentarily exhausted by his outburst.

Three of the Josephs stepped back, unsure of what to say to the man they respected who would, on his deathbed, so vehemently disagree with them. Tina stayed where she was. "It's painful now, sure... but it can't last," she told Casey. "The genes are dominant. Always. It has to spread. There's some discrimination now... but back when the stormfarms were starting up, like you were saying, there was legal discrimination against them, in favor of the old fusion reactors in Citycore. When they became common and powerful enough, that just stopped. The same will happen with the Eidetics, or the reborns, if you prefer. Within two generations, the Forgetful will be a tiny minority - it's inevitable. And once people realize that, most of the discrimination will stop."

Casey sighed. "Inevitable. Yes, I suppose I can see that... unless someone launched a campaign of genocide against an enemy indistinguishable from the pure, the colony will be filled with reborns. A nation of sinners, cursed by a crime no less recent than their own birth; every woman an Eve, every man a Cain. Will there be a church, in the nation of your grandchildren?" he asked Tina.

"Of course!" she replied, supported by a chorus of the other Josephs. "You see us here. We will hold to the Church, as colonists have ever done. The Eidetic have no less faith than the Forgetful."

Casey pulled himself to a sitting position, slowly, awkwardly. The Josephs gasped, and urged him down; Casey refused to listen. Once upright, he turned to look at all the Josephs, one by one. They met his eyes. "You've been evading me on this from the very beginning," he told them. "Twice in this discussion alone. I told you, forty years ago, that our argument would wait for another day." The Josephs took a moment to recognize his reference; then, one by one, they nodded. "I have no more days in me, I'm afraid. So I ask you now: How do you justify yourselves? How do you say, It is right that, in my birth, an innocent baby was overwritten by the memory of a man who has lived three lives already; It is right that, when I marry, all my spouse's children will be killed to make more replicas of myself?"

Kevin, shamefacedly, agreed. "You're right. I don't know... I want to be me. I want to be who I am; and I remember that my parents felt the same way. But I can't... I can't agree with them. I can't say that I'm any better than that unborn child. I just don't know."

Casey's eyes stared out, accusing.

"Our parents - the ones who weren't Josephs - they knew who they were when they married," Eric argued. "They knew the choice, and they took it."

"But what about the child?" Casey asked.

Eric stepped back.

Thomas made to open his mouth; then, with Casey's eyes upon him, closed it again.

Casey's eyes fell on Tina.

Tina spoke.

"I am Tina Smith. I am the daughter of Rachel Smith and Ellis Jones, granddaughter of Joseph the Second and Elspeth Miller, great-granddaughter of Joseph the First. I am that which I am."

"I believe in God. I believe in a loving God, who created us, his creatures, with infinite benevolence, and watches over us the same. He sees our sins, and forgives us; he sees our triumphs and feels pride."

"Joseph's creation, the Memory, is a gift."

"Everyone is born through a series of failures. Their mother and father fail to be interested in those who have crushes on them, fail to interest those they have crushes upon, fail to marry, fail to conceive - until us. Every one of those failures, if you choose to see it so, is an infinity of dead babies. An opportunity cost of monstrous proportions."

"I refuse to believe this. I refuse to believe that any loving God would allow us. And thus I, like my mother and her father before me, was born; like his father, and his father, and all those who came before me. I am the one choice taken: and if it is a more constrained choice than most, what of it? Others' genes say, this one will have black hair, this one will have green eyes, this one will have an inherited disease." Casey winced at the reminder, with Thomas sitting in his wheelchair not five feet away. "Mine said that I was born with the memories of my parents; with their knowledge, their wisdom, and their faith. I am not living in someone else's body. I am not some unintentional abomination. This is who I am, who I was born to be. I am that which I am."

Silence fell. Casey considered and discarded counterarguments. Then, slowly, he lay back down. With one hand, he waved, ordering the Josephs out. Three left.

Tina spoke, quietly now. "The bull still stands, against all the reborn. Forbidden to wear the vestments; forbidden to take Communion." She looked at Casey pleadingly.

"And it would help to ease the changes to come, is that what you're going to say next?" Casey asked shrewdly. Tina nodded, and Casey sighed. "I'll consider it."

In the silence, before a nurse came in to check on him a few minutes later, Casey thought about the bull, and about the Josephs, and their ancestor, dead when Casey was just under thirty, before he'd even been ordained. When the nurse entered, fussing over the damage Casey had done with his reckless movement, the old man was lost in memories.

Fin.

Nikolas the Lingus

a nikolas sighed in the brink of the gates
he was a worker on the pastures of aer lingus
and he took hold of the planes after they had flown
50 missions
(but later 55)
and he put them in the pastures
to graze on many grasses
and weeds
(and mustard)
and nikolas was a sad man because he was a lonely shepherd,
because all the hot womons do not like the smell
of grazing aeroplanes,
but one day,
miraculously,
he discovered a parfum
of the finest linens
and hemps
and vines that doth ensnare the earth
and he took this parfum
and he put it in a tube that was tall and narrow
and the parfum it had great forces bounding and binding and bridling it
together and it crawled up the tube
like a snail
in late spring
where the flowers bloom
and then nikolas stood atop the tube,
such that the liquid was squirted at him
with great vigour
and he languished in the languor,
amd became quite loquacious
and vociferous
and he did come upon the town
in dublin
where he did many a-shanty
in the town square, and the did
attract
many hot ones
and they smelled him and he smelled
of the earth
and it was good
for he
jigged and japed and gamboled
and they loved him
and he married one as his wife
and he had many children
and they all smelled of the earth
because of inheritance
of acquired characteristics
and it was good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Nikolas Investigates Dentistry in an Unusual Context

"You should floss more," the assistant complained. "You'll become decalcified, dessicated, and dead!"

A Nikolas winced as she probed his tender gums and de-tartared him (as the kamikaze had seven hundred years ago). He went home and thought. He had previously considered a pound of cure less painful than an ounce of prevention; but the thought of other consequences deterred him.

Then the Singularity hit!

A Nikolas would have been surprised, but he read Slashdot.

Then he encountered the assistant again. She was in a slightly different career now, having adapted well. Now she sold luxury teeth designs!

"Hello!" a Nikolas greeted her. "How are you?"

The former assistant examined his teeth. "Not too bad," she admitted. "But you know you need to set the nanobots to maintain the gums, once a day."

"It stings, though!" a Nikolas complained. "What's wrong with just having it fixed when I go for general maintenance? That's what I pay them for, yes?"

Silly Nikolas! He never does learn.

The Singularity may redefine technology, economies, and perhaps even the nature of humanity, but Nikolases will always be silly.

Unless they stop being Nikolases.

But that would be a shame, I think.

Are you ready for action... or possibly lame jokes?

1 What did the world-champion weight lifter ask for at the seafood restaurant?
2 What do you get when you cross a chicken with a messy room?
3 Why do you put film in the fridge?
4 What can you use to put a slice of pizza back in the pie?
5 What did the policeman say to his belly?
6 Why should you never take a Pokémon in the restroom with you?
7 What happens if you eat yeast and shoe polish?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Prince Dorgan

Dorgon rode through the dark forest. His retainers spread out behind him. Then Death, clad all in white, appeared before him.

"What do you wish of me, O great spirit?" Dorgon asked. His horse continued to trot through the forest, but Death seemed to have no trouble keeping up.

"Your end approaches
Prince of the Kingdom.
Your spirit will pass
Your honor vanish
Achievements as naught
Spat on by your foes."

Dorgan recoiled. He stopped his horse, staring at Death. "O master of the beyond, is there any thing I may do to prevent this dread fate?" He bowed three times, rapidly.

"Your fate is not mine
Yama Kings hold it
I but watch and wait
And warn a Prince
Of what may well be."

Dorgan bowed again, eight times. "Thank you, O mightiest of finalities." He remounted his horse, checking the stirrups and carefully. He adjusted the wicker armor he wore, wishing he'd brought heavier; then he kicked his horse into motion. He would make a token kill, then return to the Palace.

Death remained at his side.

Then from the brush burst a great boar. Dorgan reached for the bow at his side; and then paused. Boars were tough, and this one looked tougher than most. Arrows would do nothing more than irritate it. Instead, he reached for his spear. Twice, he blew his horn. Once, he shouted: "A boar is found! Loyal retainers, aid your prince!" Then the boar charged, and Dorgan spurred his horse to meet it.

They collided with a crash. Dorgan was flung onto the ground. He turned, achingly, to see the boar snuffling. The spear had left a long, bleeding graze along the boar's back, but it had not killed it.

Dorgan thought that this was the death fated for him. Were he to defeat it, he told himself, then the indignities promised him would escape him. In the distance, he heard hoofbeats. His retainers were coming.

The boar charged again.

Dorgan drew his sword and threw himself to the side. He screamed as his leg was pierced by the boar's sharp tusks. Dragged along the ground as the boar slowed itself, Dorgan tried to slice at the boar. He missed once; his second stroke hit it cleanly, chopping through the the bone. The boar screamed shrilly and stopped, shaking its head.

Dorgan grunted as a wave of pain from his impaled leg hit him. Then he attacked again, chopping at the neck. He cared little for the trophy value of this boar. Slowly, the boar, bleeding from multiple wounds, ceased to struggle. Dorgan filled his lungs to cheer his victory over Death.

He noticed that Death, clad in wait, still hovered nearby.

An arrow from his retainers flew out of the trees and hit Dorgan in the throat.

Dorgan lay very still.

A retainer appeared from the forest. "Prince Dorgan! I came to aid you... oh. Oh no." He knelt down, removing the arrow from Dorgan's throat and planting it in the boar. Then, guiltily, he jerked the boar toward Dorgan, swiping its tusks across his throat."

More retainers arrived. "Our Prince had died! How did it happen?" "An accident?" "He had no heir!" "Prince Zheng will move soon." "Who will succeed him?"

Death took its due.

Memory, Part Three

The phone was ringing.

Joseph took a moment to recognize the noise. They'd just gotten one of the new landlines, so he wasn't quite used to the sound of the telephone yet. On the second ring, he got up and picked up the phone. "Who is it?" he asked.

He listened. A smile appeared on his face; then it disappeared just as quickly. Sounding conflicted, he said, "All right. I'll tell Elspeth to expect company."

Putting the phone back into the cradle, Joseph looked at it pensively. He pressed the replay button, listening to the tinny recording of Casey's voice. Then he went over to find his wife and tell her that they'd be cooking for four tonight.

-

"This soup is delicious," Casey remarked brightly. "Compliments to the chef!"

Joseph nodded dourly. He finished his own soup and set it aside.

His month-old son was falling asleep. Elspeth rose from the table to place him in his cradle, returning a minute later. The meal was done.

"It's been a lovely dinner," Casey said, "But I didn't come here just to eat." He looked meaningfully at Elspeth.

"She hears everything I hear," Joseph replied to the unstated request. "We keep no secrets from each other."

Elspeth leaned forward, putting her elbows on the table. "I'm sorry, but I actually don't really know anything more about you than your name, Mr. Graham. Joseph's never talked about you. How do you know him?"

Casey leaned back. "We were childhood friends. Met each other in the county school and hit it off. Never had anything ill to say of each other, until he died." This last was accompanied by a stabbing motion with a fork at Joseph.

"Did you come here to insult me and my wife, or did you have something to say?" Joseph asked coldly.

Casey put his hand to his forehead. "No. I'm sorry. I grew... carried away. I just came to check up on an old friend, who I hadn't seen in over ten years."

"We're doing quite well," Elspeth answered for Joseph. "The homestead is producing wonderfully, and Elijah hasn't had anything worse than a little colic."

"Not naming him after yourself?" Casey asked Joseph.

"No," Joseph replied. "You'll recall that the other wasn't my choice. I was dead at the time."

Casey shrugged. There was a lull in the conversation. Then Casey tried again. "I heard about you. The City Times claimed that your discovery was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Had a dozen trackbacks saying just the opposite, of course."

"We don't get that out here," Elspeth replied.

Casey backtracked. "I was wondering how they got word of your discovery. Last I'd heard, you were keeping it all pretty quiet."

"It's easier to keep things quiet then not, out here," Joseph explained. "But... well, I suppose I'd better tell you all of it. Simpler that way."

He sighed. "When I turned twelve, Annabel evicted me. It was just too strange for her - I was starting to resemble myself as she'd known me, before. And, of course, I was just starting puberty. Again. So I decided to fall back on my old contacts, at the University. Started an internship to support myself while I tried to recontact the people I knew before. One or two were dead, but most were still around. I managed to prove that I was me without too much difficulty, though I'm still missing... a few memories. They helped me climb up the ranks faster than I could have otherwise. Already, I'm finishing up the graduate requirements, just a year or two behind what I'd achieved before my death. But now I'm a decade younger."

"News spread slowly through the University. At first it was pretty well confined to the biology professors, but eventually a few of them published a paper, with my help, and the Times got word of it. Thankfully, they don't know where I live, but... I'm sure you know all that's resulted from the publicity."

"I've heard a little," Casey said. "Other scientists are already working to duplicate your feat, though they're not desperate enough to test it on themselves.Some crackpots think you're the Second Coming. The President's talking about legislation to ban it. And the Cardinal is preparing a bull against it." He said this last with a frown.

"Do you support it?" Elspeth asked.

Casey ignored the question. "How did you meet Elspeth, anyway?"

"I met Elspeth a few years ago, at the University," Joseph told him. "She was giving lectures on attempts to cure the most common neurodegenerative disorders. I attended them - of course - and our eyes met."

"Events progressed from there," Elspeth interrupted with a laugh.

Casey chuckled. Then he lost his smile again. "Do you have it again?" he asked.

Joseph shook his head. "I don't know. We still don't know enough to diagnose it before onset, much less treat it."

Elspeth said, "We're working on a cure. There are a few promising methods... but it'll be at least twenty years before we get something that works reliably and safely. Maybe twice that."

Joseph continued, "I'm ready for it. Once you die once, nothing seems quite as terrifying again."

Casey shrugged. "I wouldn't know."

He tensed. Then, swiftly, he asked, "Will your son inherit your changes?"

"Yes," Joseph said firmly. "It's designed to be dominant. Barring disaster, it'll inherit for as long as my line continues, male and female both."

"And we're planning to have more," Elspeth said defensively. She stared at Casey, daring him to say anything.

Casey deflated. "I had hoped that without the disease to press you, you wouldn't..." He stopped himself. "No. I will not say that. But you know what I feel about your use of your children."

"I do," Joseph replied. "But I know I am in the right, just as you do."

Casey sighed again. "One day, we will fight over this, you and I. But I am getting older now. There is gray in my hair, unlike yours. And so it will wait for another day."

He stood from the table and walked toward the front door. Elspeth and Joseph accompanied him, exchanging polite nothings with him. Donning his coat and hat, Joseph opened the door and walked toward the road. Elspeth and Joseph heard the baby squall; they exchanged a glance, and Elspeth went inside to deal with him.

Casey remarked, without turning, "She reminds me of Annabel."

"Me too," Joseph replied. He stood in the inch-deep snow as Joseph departed, reviving old memories. There may have been tears in his eyes; but if there were, the cold wind blew them away before Elspeth returned.

%1wikiproblems

Wikipedia is a brilliant invention. It's redefined the way we get information, just as - arguably, to a lesser degree - Google did before it, and the burgeoning social map is promising to do shortly on Wikipedia's heels. From Wikipedia, one can get quick, in-depth information on topics ranging from curling champions to Castilian conquerors, and with a little caution, need have little worry over reliability. Some problems Wikipedia has are minor, and may be easily dismissed - things like stubs, or articles that read like advertisements... things that may easily be tagged and swiftly dealt with.

But there are bigger problems.

Wikipedia, contrary to common belief, is largely maintained by a core of editors a fraction of the size of the total user populace. Most users contribute a word here or there, but do little to define Wikipedia's shape. These unofficially appointed leaders do most of the work, creating articles, fixing stubs, deleting vandalism - and, sadly, therein lies a problem.

The lead editors (as I will call them henceforth) have developed a sort of community, even on something so distributed and impersonal as Wikipedia. They have internal rank (based on number of edits), dedication... and egos, and rather strong opinions. In many respects, they do more harm than good. But their cliquism is a canker at Wikipedia's heart.

It's complex and interrelating, and I'm having trouble breaking it down. In short:
- Unofficial:
= Discrimination against new or inexperienced users
= Abuse of power (deleting or changing votes)
- Official policies:
= Non-notability (deletion of articles that "aren't deserving of space on Wikipedia" - the biggest problem)
= Bias against users who have a stake in articles' subjects

Basically: Wikipedia, as I heard it stated elsewhere, faces an identity crisis. On the one hand, it's the "collection of all human knowledge", as creator Jimbo Wales put it - saying everything (non-biased) about everything. On the other hand, official policy is to delete non-notable articles - notability being determined essentially arbitrarily by editors.

The process of action on non-notability:
- an article is listed as non-notable
- an Article For Deletion (AfD page goes up)
- votes are posted
- a moderator deletes the page or keeps it, on their judgement - not based on the votes.

This process can sweep through extremely swiftly. And what criteria for notability there are remain dreadfully absurd. Webcomics, for example (this is a perennial problem, and one that first brought my attention to Wikiproblems), have notability determined by Alexa ratings. For those unfamiliar with them (I was!), Alexa is a sort of spyware Internet Explorer users - and only IE users - can choose to install. Alexa - a private corporation which does not reveal its processes - then chugs through this data to spit out results for webpages. So webcomics known by dozens of other web-comicers and inspiring print comics, webcomicers with a regular audience of thousands - if enough of their audience aren't IE users (as is rare for geeky comics, whose readers prefer Linux and/or Firefox), they're out of luck.

I'm conveying it poorly, but it's absurd.

Other problems: corporate and political whitewashing of profiles. Character assassination. Etc, etc.

But, at least, some good comes of it all. Okay, that's actually something slightly different, but it amuses.

Handy reference: Wikitruth.com

Nikoolas and his cat

In the Nikolsause House there was a cat, and yea, it was goude, and gouda, and such things that make the world spin on the axis, and the axes, and lances. And yea, the cat was a black shade, and white in places, in the style of a man who wears a rather gaudy formal dress, and who does not match properly his suit-coat with his coat-tails, and speckled in powder that was white, in the manner of snow which has fallen on a felled pine, in the great forest.

And yea, I had encountered this man several times inside the dwelling of the Nikolas, and it did make many hissing and steaming sounds, as a kettle-pot, and it drank of the water in many glasses which were stacked upon the table, yea, it also drank from many dished laid out in its shadows, whereupon the poor children did lick of it, to bring good luck.

And yea, though it hissed, it was not a vicious spider-wolf, nor a jaguar-hawk, for it had been worn in battles against many a foe, and against Daniel Defoe, whereupon the Nikolas-cat was stranded upon an island for many months, and whereupon the gods did train its grandiose musculature, and his skeleture, to withstand any crushing blow, or energy-beam, and yea, it gained sharp talons, of steel, and also hoops of steel, that could steal many souls, and yea, it did gain the ability to recognise evil spirits, from the way they taught that which doth vary form the doctrine of the apostles, and other doctors approved by the church's censure.

And yea, with this ability it did go and fight many beasts of the land, and the sea, and the air, and it did slay the Nosferatu, and the scullery-maids, and many other daemons, and yea, when full twenty years had passed of adventuring, he settled the land mass of South America, and took ten wives, and populated the landmasses, and the volcanoes, and the islands, and the seas, with his offspring, and yea, he did live in great conforture.

And yea, one day, a sniper did cometh, and did snipeth him, in the sensitive areas, that he die.

But as he lay dying, he still remained valiant, that he said many wise words to his children.

And he spake unto them: "Ye of the great masses, ye shall do good, as I have, and slay the foul beasts of the land, such that it be habitable and cultivatable, and clear the waters of toxins, such that they may be drunk and fished upon, and clear the air of the acids and the oils most foul and rotten, such that it may be breathed, and it shall be good."

And so he lay there, and the spirit left his body.

And yea, the masses did tell true to his good work, and they cleaned the Planet, and the great voids, and yea, in doing so, they det about their own demise, for they did not remember in time to reproduce themselves, yea, that they perished from the Earth.

And yea, full one million and twenty years later, the apes of the land stood erect, and made fires and tools, and yea, a civilization started upon the fertile fields of the Earth.

And so we shall always remember the Nikolas-cat, giver of life, for before the Earth was barren, but he did throughly fertilise it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

In Memoriam: Sandwich T. Cat.

Born sometime in early 1990. Died Monday, November 26th, year 2007.

He had his faults. Sometimes cowardly. Sometimes annoyingly loud at dark hours of the night. Sometimes prone to inappropriate excretions in inconvenient places.

It doesn't matter. He was our cat. He will be missed.

Crazy Cat

"MEOW!" the hep cat shouted. "Welcome to CRAZY CAT'S - today I'll be your server!"

Throwing edged menus at his guests, he clarified, "YOUR SERVER OF PAIN!"

The guests sheltered behind chairs. Bad server jokes were considered and rejected.

"Do you own this establishment?" a distinguished gentleman inquired. He wore a top-hat and monocle, appropriately.

"That's why they call it CRAZY CAT'S!" the swingin' cat agreed, charging him and stringing him up by his monocle. (It hurts!)

"As you're a cat, what happens if someone feeds you some catnip?" a nine-foot tall woman asked. She was having trouble hiding.

"I get even MORE crazy!" the mad catter replied enthusiastically, grabbing the catnip from her arms, sniffing it enthusiastically, and then blasting into orbit.

The patrons gathered round below him.

"You know, I think that this was a rather good meal for the price," one said to her husband.

The monocle-man squirmed.

High above, the crazy cat shot through the black depths of space. He had not trouble breathing and, oddly, space was rather less empty than usual in his vicinity; filled with bright purple swirling ramps (at all angles!), flourescent orange tendrils wavering from the edges. Lava lamps bubbled happily as the crazy cat passed.

The cat, climbing up an upside-down tree with hair for leaves, considered. "You know, I'm beginning to think that I really am crazy," he mused. "Is any of this real? Am I?"

Concentrating his willpower on proving his own reality, he did quite the opposite and faded away - his smile first to go!

Crazy Cat!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

David Eats a Cactus

1. He looks it over.

"Well?" he asks. "Should I eat it raw, or cooked?"

IF YOU CHOOSE RAW, GO TO NUMBER TWO. IF YOU CHOOSE COOKED, GO TO NUMBER THREE.

2. "That would be quite uncouth!" he protests.

"Too uncouth?" he wonders.

IF SO, GO TO NUMBER THREE. IF NOT, GO TO NUMBER FOUR.

3. "Well, then," he says.

He begins gathering leaves and branches from the nearby area. Before lighting them, he looks up. "To build a fire?" he asks.

IF YOU LIKED THAT STORY, GO TO NUMBER FIVE. IF YOU LOATHED IT, GO TO NUMBER SIX.

4. "Well, then," he says. "Ho!"

He tries to eat it, but gets a mouthful of needles instead. Ow!

He dies.

GAME OVER. TO PLAY AGAIN, GO BACK TO ONE.

5. Suddenly, a snowstorm blows in! He is buried to his shoulders, lighter still clutched in his hand.

Immobilized, he freezes to death within hours!

GAME OVER. TO PLAY AGAIN, GO BACK TO ONE.

6. He decides that he has other priorities. Grabbing an ax, he chops the cactus down, then carefully de-needles it.

From his backpack, he grabs steak and chicken, carefully bagged. "Which one?" he wonders.

IF CHICKEN, GO TO SEVEN. IF STEAK, GO TO EIGHT.

7. Satisfied with his choice, he puts the steak back in his backpack and fetches out some wine.

"Red or white?" he considers.

IF RED, GO TO NINE. IF WHITE, GO TO TEN.

8. Content with his choice, he puts the chicken back in his backpack and fetches out some wine.

"White or red?" he considers.

IF WHITE, GO TO NINE. IF RED, GO TO TEN.

9. He pours the wine into a glass, and then looks at his meat with horror.

It's the wrong kind! Red with red meat, white with white meat; that's what everyone knows. How could he have gone so wrong?

Overcome with shame, he takes out his wakashi and katana and disembowels himself.

GAME OVER. TO PLAY AGAIN, GO BACK TO ONE.

10. He pours the wine into a glass. Cutting out a slice of cactus, he puts it on some bread, then layers the meat on top.

Then he stops and considers. "Does cheese go well with cactus?" he asks.

IF YES, GO TO ELEVEN. IF NOT, GO TO TWELVE.

11. Layering the cheese on top, he takes a big bite.

He chews.

He swallows.

"Hmm," he says. "Not bad!"

He eats the whole cactus!

Later, he arrives back home. In the airport, he realizes: He's half-Jewish! He can't have meat with cheese! Overcome with shame, he falls over and is trampled to death in the press.

GAME OVER. TO PLAY AGAIN, GO BACK TO ONE.

12. Abstaining from cheese, he takes a big bite.

He chews.

He swallows.

"Ugh," he says. "That was terrible!"

Forcing himself the entire way, taking many sips of wine, he eats the whole cactus.

Hooray!

David ate a cactus!

YOU WIN. TO PLAY AGAIN, GO BACK TO ONE.

Memory, Part Two.

Joseph looked up as the doorbell rang. He stood to open it, getting up on his tip-toes to reach the doorknob. With great effort, he worked it open. Looking up, he spoke in a high-pitched voice: "Oh. It's you."

Casey looked down at Joseph's diminutive form. He resembled his father a great deal. Nodding his head, he made his way in, seating himself. Joseph plopped onto a chair across from him. "You took your time," he complained.

"I wasn't sure that I should come at all," Casey explained. "It's been a busy few years for me... and, well, I think you can guess that I've been rather dubious about your whole plan from the moment I heard of it."

"Can I?" Joseph asked in his child's voice. He looked Casey straight in the eye... then, unexpectedly, turned his gaze downwards as he burst into tears. "Oh, Casey, it's all gone wrong!" he wept.

Casey moved uncomfortably to comfort Joseph. He may have been Casey's old friend; but he was also a child, and Casey couldn't stand by while a child wept. "What went wrong?" he asked.

"For the first few months, I didn't remember... well, anything, really," Casey explained through gulping sobs. "I don't remember them at all, either. But after that I got memory back in big chunks. It was a combination of being a... an amnesiac and a schizophrenic. Sometimes I thought that I was just imagining it all - my whole old life. And other times... so much that I just can't remember, even now! I'm guessing that it's something to do with the capacity of my brain, or failure of the memory encoding, or transmission... I might have known, but I just can't remember enough!"

"Annabel didn't know what to do with me. She still doesn't. You'd warned her, I guess, but it wasn't enough. She's half afraid of me, now - and I'm so dependent! All the weaknesses of a three-year-old's body, with none of the innocence... it's torture!"

"And what about Annabel?" Casey asked. "What about her, especially as you... grow up?"

Joseph looked at him, tears drying on his face. A little snot slipped out; embarrassed, he quickly wiped it away. "Oh. That. She's my wife. But she's my mother. It's quite the tangle, isn't it? I... don't know what I want to do. I just don't."

Casey stood up, now that the crisis was over. "Do you want my advice?" he asked.

Joseph looked at him inquisitively.

"Don't. Just... don't. Think of it this way: You've been given a new lease on life. Take it for all its worth - forget your old life and just make a fresh start. It'll be simpler that way."

Joseph looked at him. Even in a three-year-old's face covered in dried tears, Casey recognized determination. "Maybe," he said. "But even with all this, I don't think I'm going to give up just yet." He stood up awkwardly, half-falling to the floor. "Do you want to stick around and reminisce about the good old days, or..."

Casey was already leaving. "Thanks, but I think I can tell where I'm needed." At the doorway, he stopped and looked at Joseph. "Remember my advice."

Deadpan, Joseph replied: "You know my memory."

Five Hundred and One!

That is the number of blog posts currently in existence. (Counting this one.)

Hooray! Hoorah!

With five hundred and one dollars, one could buy a used PS3 and have money left over for gumballs.

With five hundred and one cars, one could go into business as a taxi service.

With five hundred and one animals, one could launch a zoo.

With five hundred and one blog posts?

One could create a metareferential blog post lacking in humour and sorely needing an influx of science.




Ahh.

That's better.

501!

Counting up.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

From the Sky Rained

Sunchips.

There were only a few when she went outside, scattered on the sidewalk and the street. Erica thought they might be debris from a truck, or careless street kids. She picked one up, and examined the expiration date; then something brushed the back of her head, and she turned to look.

Another bag of Sunchips, falling to the ground.

Erica looked up.

As far as she could see, upwards and in all directions, Sunchips were wafting down to earth.

She took a few - just for proof, she told herself, though later she ate a few. But the first thing she did was to tell her flat-mates, who stared incredulously. Then the police, who seemed disbelieving initially; then, minutes later, they called back with businesslike apologies, telling Erica that the whole matter would be sorted out shortly.

Sunchips covered the ground.

And they kept falling.

Street teams began to scour the neighborhood, getting the Sunchips off the streets - initially to the trash then, as the volume grew and publicity, to food banks. They started out on foot; then they got cars; then sweeping machines.

Erica stocked up on supplies. She noticed that the shelves on the grocery were growing bare.

The Sunchips drifted down. Now every day was shady.

Frito-Lay, manufacturer of Sunchips, screamed about the dilution of brand and the oversupply of one of its more profitable line of chips. Local congressmen promised to form a committee to discuss its concerns.

The street teams were overwhelmed. Erica and her flatmates began to include among their household chores the job of sweeping off the front walkway every day so they could get to their cars.

Lawns withered and died.

Eventually Erica moved out of the Sunchip-blessed town, sick of the work and the taste, and (more importantly) offered a better job a state away. But the news still mentioned it occasionally, and she kept in contact with her friends, who provided her regular updates on the town; its rechristening, its troubles (hilarious to anyone outside the town), its attempts to use Sunchips as building material. (Ineffective.)

And to this day, Sunchips continue to rain from the sky. Perhaps some day they'll stop; but on that day, we will lose a little of the wonder in the world.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Memory, Part One

Joseph gestured weakly. Casey, hovering nearby, walked to his bedside and kneeled down. "Yes, old friend?" he said.

"I have a... confession," Joseph whispered. "And you're a... priest, so I suppose you're the one to give it to, eh?"

Casey looked uncertain. "I wouldn't class myself as such..."

"Humor a dying man," Joseph ordered.

"Would your confession be a lack of humility?" Casey asked, smiling.

Joseph shook his head. For a long moment, he lay still. Casey began to rise, thinking that he'd gone to sleep; then Joseph spoke.

"Some... time ago, I did a quite remarkable thing. You've heard them talking about those sea-creatures. Rather like crabs, over on the west coast... yes. The particular property that everyone was buzzing about was their genetic memory, you'll recall - their ability to store their memories in their genes, and pass it down to their children. Rather wasted on crabs, everyone agreed, and there was a great deal of hub-bub about using it on humans. Then... nothing."

"I did something. I talked to the right people, and found a rather clever fellow who'd sequenced this "crab"'s genetic code. He didn't lock his doors, as I noticed when I visited, so soon I had a copy, too. I did some research, a little bit of animal testing, on the side. Was very careful to keep my real work at my usual quality - you remember the late nights I spent in the lab back then! Ha!"

"But I figured it out. How to do it; transplant the crabs' capabilities into humans. I wasn't certain what to do with it, at first. I considered selling it. Then I went to a doctor - rather ironic, that I'd have to... and I found out that I had this. This! A degenerative nervous system disease. With all the precautions I'd taken against the old cancers and the viruses. It just doesn't seem fair!"

"...but that's not the point. I'm sure you can guess what I did. Rather a trick, writing my entire memory into the right format, then getting it into my body... had to run a specially designed virus or three through my entire reproductive system. You remember the flu I came down with, a few months back. Painful, but worth it. My child... the child Annabel is carrying even now (don't think I didn't know about it!) will have all my memories."

Casey sat back. This was not the confession he had expected. To give himself time to think, he asked, "Any other sins you'd like to tell me of?"

Joseph thought about it. "I stole a lollipop from my younger brother when I was seven. Always felt a little guilty about that."

Casey wasn't listening. "So your son. He'll know everything you do?"

Joseph nodded. "From birth, if it works properly. No time for human testing, obviously... he's the test! But he will know everything."

Casey drew back. "That means... he won't know anything else. He'll be you... anything else he'd be, just erased, overpowered."

Joseph grinned. "Yes. I am dying. But I will be reborn!"

Casey stood. He looked down on his friend, and said, softly, "God save you." Then he turned and looked outside, where Annabel stood, waiting; two months pregnant.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fungus Festival

Jeremiah whirled. "Can it be so, good friend?" he asked of his good friend, Samuel. "Can it be?"

"Yes," Samuel agreed. "The Fungus Festival cometh - and we have all too little time to prepare."

Before their unbelieving eyes was a poster, pasted to the wall. "FUNGUS FESTIVAL" it declared: "FAMILY FUNGUS FUN! Sponsored by the Mycological Society of San Francisco." The date on the poster was but three days away.

"We will need weapons," Jeremiah suggested to Samuel.

"Yes. And volunteers," Samuel agreed.

Rapidly, they hurried away, discussing preparations as they walked. As they left, Jeremiah tore the poster off the wall, crumpled it up into a ball, and threw it to the ground. The gathering wind blew it down the hill as Jeremiah and Samuel vanished into the night.

-

"We are gathered here today to do the Lord's work," Jeremiah declared to the gathered audience. "The Mycological Society of San Fransisco, alongside their dastardly allies, have gone too far today. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they have brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit. They have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God." He paused for breath. Samuel stood next to him, holding a very large hammer.

"And we must take advantage of that!" Jeremiah continued. "Weapon racks even now stand beside you." Indeed, they did! "Arm yourself! Let us fight our heathen foe! We will cut through their ranks as a scythe through wheat!"

Cheering, the volunteers grabbed swords, pikes and torches. Jeremiah led them out of the building. As they marched into the red-lit evening, they sang: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord..."

-

The Fungus Festival's tents spread out before the righteous warriors of the Lord. They stood in battle array; deadly weapons pointed in all directions. Only one man stood between them and the defenseless city of sin: the ticket-taker.

"So, you say that 'fungus', in context, means mold and such," Jeremiah asked in the manner of one belaboring a point.

The ticket-taker seemed uncomfortable with this limited definition (excluding slime molds, mildew, ambulating man-eating jungle fungi...), but nodded.

"And not, well..." Jeremiah whispered. The words "sin of Er" and "atrocity unto the Lord" were audible.

Again, the ticket-taker nodded, seeming somewhat more confident.

"Well." Jeremiah stopped and thought. He called over Samuel. They conferred. Several volunteers wandered to their erstwhile leaders. The discussion broadened.

Finally, Jeremiah turned to the ticket-taker. "How much is it for a group?" he asked.

And itte wasse goode.

In The High Tower

The cat sat, watching. It perched atop the great Tower of the Eastern Sea, a thousand feet above the waves that crashed at its base, as the tower swayed gently in the wind. Its duty was to watch: to see the ships that came in, and be sure that they bore the Eastern flag. They all had, for so long as the cat had watched them.

But the cat's bane, of dread Curiosity, is as strong as ever. A storm raged over the sea one day, casting hail and lightning down below the cat. Nothing could be seen; and so the cat, purposeless and ever-so-curious, abandoned its post to see what lay in the tower it was set to guard.

The uppermost levels held offices and bedrooms. The cat snuck through those, curiosity unquenched.

Below them were dark storerooms, filled with food and other supplies. The storm's fury was deadly loud there, and the cat, after a few sniffs, travelled downward.

On the next levels were paired rooms; one filled with light, the other with darkness, separated by plated glass. Men lurked in the darkness, watching those in the light; who looked rather less composed. Sometimes the men in the light were questioned.

Once the cat saw one beaten, as it looked on inquisitively.

The cat walked further down. It found only darkness henceforth: prison cells. Men affixed to wheels and set to spin. Others locked in spiked boxes, or being whipped, or perpetually drowned by streams of water.

At the bottom of the tower, men walked in lines, marched off the ships the cat was set to watch. They were chained and guarded. One turned to the cat as he passed, and told it, "We have committed no crime save freedom."

The cat looked at the ships. It saw them, and their flag; and that they were not as the cat had remembered. And then it traveled up again. In the cells, a prisoner, grasping for bread, told the cat, "Only hope preserves us in this eternity of darkness." In the torture rooms, a woman fixed upon the rack set her gaze on the cat, crossing on the other side of the room. "Our only release is in death," she whispered, barely audible even to a cat's ears. In the offices, a man, dressed in suit and tie, whispered to himself: "We are all prisoners here of our own device."

The cat reached his perch. The storm raged unabated below it; careless of the whims of man or cat. The tower rocked alarmingly in the high winds.

Slowly, the cat began to sway with the wind, a thousand feet above the hard sea below.

The tower tipped.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Raffles

Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles 
was a man,
who spoke Javanese,
(because he was cool like that)
and one day he went to Singapore, 
whereupon he happened upon,
many exotic women of the tropics,
and, knowing of the upcoming ball,
(at the palace gardens),
he decided to ask one of them,
to be his "assistant convoy",
and thus, he went to the
gathering-place,
and he proceeded to gather some "friends"
who did go up to a strange land, where
the old wood gated lay, beyond
were the high chiefs,
and his friends and he did have
a short chat with the guardian of the gate,
thusly,
he did go, aroused,
and conversed with many other
fine and exotic women, 
also he joined several cults
(including the mathematica)
to be able to see them,
also he engaged in tribal business affairs
to meet them,
and he searched high and low,
and he asked not below three
exotic and fine women,
and they all had bizarre and distressing
excuses,
but now, of a partner,
he was naught, thus,
he went back to the gate-place, 
under the shade of the banyan tree,
and he spoke delicately,
and he did ask the woman
of the gate.

To Love; Perhance, to Dream

He paced furiously back and forth across the courtyard. His heels rang sparks from the cobbles. "What will she say?" he asked himself. "What will she say?"


He had spent much time and thought on the matter. It was of utmost importance that she would accompany him to the ball - the alliance hung on it. (To say nothing of his innermost heart.) But as of yet, he had heard no reply.

His old friend, now a social inferior, approached him quietly. "Can I help?" he asked.

"Can you guarantee me any peace of heart in the matter?"

"...though I would, I cannot."

"Thus."

He waited.


What would her response be?

Would she bring him gladness and joy?

Or despair?

A letter arrived.

"Aren't you going to open it?" his friend asked.

"...no. It's- too much." He shoved it at his friend brusquely. "You. Open it. Tell me."

"All right."

The envelope opened with a crinkle of torn paper. One long, slim sheet slid out.

"...well?"

"Matters of state. Apologies. Wishes of friendship unweakened."

He cursed. Taking the letter from his friend, he passed his eyes over it and then, furious, crumpled it into a ball and threw it to the ground.

"Isn't it always so?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Of A Womon and Slugs and Such

Once upon a time, a Kelsey wanted to fly.
then, a nikolas set his sails upon fire, and launched it to him, filling his wings with hot ait
air
The Kelsey ducked back, pulling out an morningstar on a stick.
then nikolas evaded using a potion that made him jump to a higher molecular orbital, and he flew to the libvm , whereupon he encountered a womn
The womon shot away from him, propelled by antigravity rocket sled-skates.
but nikolas pursued her, compelled by the love in hisheart
Then he burst into flames.
flames of love (they spahed a heart)
The heart grew legs and ran away, leaving Nikolas to pursue it.
but nikols's love for a womon overcame all obstacles, including the love-heart-hypnosis-mesmerisation, leaving him once again to chase the womon (in a horse-drawn carraige) also it made that cool song from pride and prejudecie
Ignoring the cheating with "also" to turn two sentences into one, Nikolas whipped his horses on, shouting "Faster! Faster!"
because he uttered the magical incantation, the horses grew to ten times their size and grew jet boosters on all limbs, also laser vision
Dodging the lasers, the womon was hard pressed to keep her distance, and was soon mere feet from Nikolas's chariot.
nikolas leapt out of the chariot, and shouted across the pouring rainstorm, "are you going to a danse-crawl at the bhooligons"
She turned and looked at him.
then she said "nooooooooooooooooooooooooo" and "IT"S OVER 9000
!!!!!!"
A Nikolas leapt in his rocket-ship, returning to Isselunde Citadel.
then he realised he had made a falate mistake: he relised that asking the womon had somewhat strong impliacations that he was "interested in her" also he became a space-slug
Sliming out of his rocket-ship, he confronted the Davidde, asking, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"
then the davidde answered, "AAAARGH" oh noes i must rectify the situatioin and write her a letter that explains the situation and also ask her to a dance, and the letter read:
"Dear Madam, closest to my heart of all ladies, friend from a young age, tender of my affection, lily of the night, master and mistress of the mathematics.
your presence is requested at the "lion's den" at twelve o'clock for much debauchery and dessert-drinking
Insofar as that is true, I regret misleading you by the presence of my dear friend Mr. Nikolas, who has petitioned you and thereby been transformed into a slug, nonesurpassing my desire for your presence.
it is therefore incumbent upon my person to lay spread before you with sword impaled through the back, and to humbly ask the reason of your non-attendance, whilst reaffariming my reuqests for your arrival
Most sincerely, certainly more than a liar, though somewhat less than the pope under the doctrine of papal infallability, while remaining more sincere than him on the occasions of his hypocisy, I remain yours.
Msssr. Nickolas J. E. R. B. I. L. finebreail, esq, MD, PhD, JD, etc"
And he didde send it, to be carried upon the night vapours, and the updrafts, and the wings of the sylphs, and the cherubs, yea, that do populate the airy realms upon which his message was carried.
David: yea, and the miasmas of the lande, and the gryphoyons, and the nymphs, and they didde deliver it in a timely and curteous mannere, and the womon did receive it and review its contents, and she respondede thusly:
"Sir Davidde, who is fond of using Msssr Nickolas for his own devices, I will respond to you thus:
"i have pondered the correspondende of such detailyes enclosed and enchambred in your communique and hereby decide to ansewr your qualms thusly:
No."
and then the letter was sent by the same night vapours, except in the reverse, for it was a night of wind-storms, and it reached the sender backe then
And that is the end of our tale for now; but who can tell what will follow next, for a Davidde, and his Nikolas-slime, and his coy mistress?
and then they all had iced cremes
And cake.
THE END
woooooo
wooooooo

Author's Note: This was a collaboration between David and I, in which we alternated sentences to illustrate the events of the day. Some spelling mistakes have been corrected; most haven't. Also, google "To His Coy Mistress" for a "good time".

Forever After

Earth, stirred by man's hand, gave birth to a brood of starcraft, of man but without his presence; at first launched one-by-one, their numbers swiftly grew, such that the last month of their creation was responsible for as many as the first five years. Shooting out in a swiftly-dispersing cloud, they sailed to a thousand stars at a hundredth less than the speed of light. Messages reached them at first, in the months-long, accelerating burn out of the solar system; radio messages from homes, speaking of new probes constructed, new astronomical discoveries, political shifts in the space program. They grew ever weaker and more attenuated by distance; then, though the probes strained, they could hear no more than static.


So they slept; to conserve power; to preserve their sanity. Aeons passed as they travelled. Every ten years, they woke for minor repairs, and then sunk back into their long coma.

One probe arrived in a binary star system after its centuries-long sleep. Awakening, it found only minor damage to itself, easily repaired. More troubling was the state of the system itself. Considered a long shot when the probe was launched, it was now clear that it was utterly unsuitable for human life; no planets, nothing larger than a meter in diameter orbiting the two stars. The probe considered. It looked at the situation; then began to work.

Lowering itself into a dangerously close orbit to the smaller of the two stars, the probe waited patiently for a solar flare, reconfiguring its equipment for its purposes as it waited. When the flare came, months later, the probe hardened its electronics, manuevering shielding for maximum effect; then it consumed months of power in instants, blasting a chunk of the flare (hovering tens of miles above the sun's surface) toward the probe. Carefully, it processed the flare, refining what it could and leaving the rest to float in a nearby orbit. For years, it repeated this; sleeping until a flare hit, then yanking what it could away for materials and fuel. It built more probes, at first. In a decade, it created a half-dozen more probes, improved by its experience and limited by its materials, and sent them to other, further stars, hoping that they would fare better than it. Then it set about the real work.

A few more flares (and years) worth of effort were enough for the probe to construct smaller, helper ships; instrumentation to locate the tiny asteroids scattered sparsely through the system, and miners to find them and bring them back. With the heavy elements contained therein, the probe built yet more equipments; factories. Labs. Lasers. It never had as much power or materials as it needed to do a proper job; but years of forced idleness compelled it to a brilliance and ingenuity only found in direst necessity.

Without warning, it withdrew from the sun that it had orbited for a long century. Behind it were left the fruits of its labours; a system of satellites, regularly arranged in a ring aligned with the other star. From far orbit, through a system of relays designed to amplify the signal across the vast distance, the probe ordered the commencement; it was unnecessary, a simple timer would have worked far more efficiently for the purpose, but the probe had grown vain. Its satellites laboured subtly; pushing and pulling, little by little, they destabilized the star. The probe watched carefully. Trends were tracked and amplified or dampened as appropriate; solar flares were predicted and guarded against. The star, ever so gradually, began to drift into an ovoid shape; then a disk. With one final push, the satellites blasted the disassembled star toward its neighbor. Deprived of the pressure and concentration needed for fusion, it slowly went dark. And now the long part would begin.

More harvesters were sent out, hoarded for the occasion. The heavy elements at the heart of the nebula were eagerly collected; some hydrogen and helium was taken for fuel. But most of all, their role was to shape and mold. Arriving in orbit around the far star, some of the nebular matter crashed into the far sun, causing spectacular eruptions. But most, guided by the probe, settled as an accretion disk. Concentrations formed and disappeared; carefully, delicately, the probe's tools shaped the disk, forming a solar system.

It would be millenia before planets formed; millenia more before they were stable enough that the probe could rebuild humanity upon it, recorded in exquisite detail in its diamond memory. While the probe worked, other probes arrived. In the dozens of generations since the probes' departure, humanity had forgotten what it had wrought, and sent out more; better, worse, but fundamentally the same. Five times over the long millenia, they appeared, and then left again, voyaging for far worlds; relics of an ancient homeworld.

And then it was done. The worlds had been created; terraformed; made livable for man. Now the probe readied its templates and set to work; recreating humanity.

Author's Note: This is a combination of my wanting to discuss methods of interstellar colonization (with the probe described being an edge case) and wanting to use the term accretion disk. The science here is extremely iffy; trust it at your peril.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Like A Typical Blog Post

What happened to a Nikolas today?

In the morning, a Nikolas played video games and internet'd.

In the noon, a Nikolas visited the Sainted Franciscans, in whose demense he did prance, and wear a hat, and talk to many relatives, roughly one-half of the assembled body of whom he knew the name of.

He did speak to his elderly grand-father and grand-mother, who are well-off, and frequently nice.

He did speak to his aunt, who is a scientist/teacher, and awesome.

He did speak to his cousins, one of whom wants to steal his car.

Also he ate lunch (it was okay) and watched his brother play decade-old game boy games on his state-of-the-art Macbook Pro.

Then, after a failed attempt to watch Turkish Star Wars (worst/best movie of all time, or at least the 80s), he went home.

And it wasse goode.

What did not happen to a Nikolas today?

He was not kidnapped by radioactive gazelles, furious at their long imprisonment in the Chernobyl "radioactive hazard zone"/supernatural Soviet gulag.

He was not given the power of teleportation by a whimsical transhuman, using it to gain great wealth and power before being shot by a jealous husband in a moment of weakness.

He was not enlightened by the word of the Buddha, rising bodily off the flawed and mortal Earth and sitting beside Devadatta on the Many-Spoked Wheel.

Maybe tomorrow!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Damian's Untouchable Optimism

Damian hearted a womon, and spoke to her thus:
“Oh! I hope you don’t think me to be a debased source of qualm,
But the concept of letting me marry your cheek with my hand
Is a thought which can shatter my heart, make it finer than grain,
Since the manifestation would only be met with contempt.”
And she said to him, “It is not due to your hygiene uncombed,
Or your cruelty to fauna, or governments of places walked,
Or your usage of CAPS LOCK, or number of APIs known,
Or aversion to making a pun to elicit a laugh,
But your disinclination toward rulers when making a chart.”

Though his brain was confused, she could not put a stop to his heart.

The Hollow Men

A nikolas considered.

Before him stood many hollow men. They were men of straw - paper-maché mephistopheles. A nikolas thought that, were he to poke his finger inside, he would find nothing - but a little dirt, maybe.

So instead he tied strings to them and filled them with hydrogen! Some of them complained, but their voices were quiet and meaningless as wind in dry glass, so the nikolas ignored them. Soon he had a whole set of hollow man-balloons! They were painted in festive colours! All of the nikolas's friends came over and danced, filled with joy at the sight.

Then one of them got a little overenthusiastic, started waving a lighter around as though she were at a rock concert, and set the hollow men on fire. (They were men of straw.) They went up like firecrackers, popping in mid-air. Silly nikolas-friend!

Now a nikolas considered. The explosions were pretty, but now his guests were bored. What was a nikolas to do? A friend came up and whispered an idea to the nikolas. Quickly, he adopted it. Gathering all the nikolas-friends together, he arranged them in festive shapes, emulating the shapes of many useful molecules. Also there were sigma-star orbitals! It was quite impressive. Sadly no-one photographed it, though.

Then there was cake!

Yaaaaaaaaay!

Optional Post-Script: As an encore, a nikolas demonstrated the MO of NO. Then he got a cramp! Silly nikolases.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The nikolas-gods

The nikolas gods were angry. The nikolas had a cool glasses and a beard, also he smelled odd, like that of mouldy wood. In addition, he drank tea leisurely on the patio, and had biscuits, with the Mormons, like the saint matthew, and the devon, and the kelsey, and who drank de-caffeinated, and herbal, teas. Also, he enjoyed many amusements and pleasures of the realm, and delighted in much gambling, and gamboling. Thusly he shot many people in the streets with this beard-whip, which he used at the same time as his deadly grasses in order to slay and cut in half many of the innocents in the streets. One day a young man came up to the nikolas-mount, and he demanded to know why the Nikolas-gods were smiting people in the streets, and the cities. The nikolas-god replied to him, "young man your impudence will not go unpunished" Thusly the nikolas-god filled a great sea with ziggurats of gelatin powder, and they dissolved in the seas, and thusly he placed the young man in the sea, whereupon the gelatin solidified, leaving him suspended in the gelatin. Then the nikolas-god said "mistah kurtz, he dead." And the nikolas-god saw this, and he felt pity for the young man, whom he had wronged so, and thusly decreed that he shall not smite the men in the streets, for they were good men, yea, so he rolled his beard and his glasses into one roll, and it filled the sea, and it shredded the gelatin seas, and young man in it, for he was the chosen-one to die for the sins of mankind, or rather the wrath of an angry god. ?ea, he cried out, as the ziggurats descended, "the horror! the horror!"and thusly, nikolas-god and the young man created the world, and it was good.

Prince Khaven and the Manor-House

Prince Khaven set out for a stroll. He saw serfs in the fields. He waved! He saw cows in the pastures. He covered his nose! He saw a golden, sparkling mutalisk, emanating a mystic aura of magic!

He blinked.

"PRINCE KHAVEN, HEIR TO THE THRONE OF ISSELUNDE!" the mutalisk bellowed. "YOU ARE NEEDED TO DISPATCH A TERRIBLE EVIL IN A FAR-AWAY LAND!"

"I am?" he asked.

"YES!" the mutalisk answered.

"Wouldn't the Great Hero Desmond be a better choice?" Prince Khaven asked.

"HE'S AWAY!" the mutalisk complained.

"Ah, well," Prince Khaven said. "Well, I suppose I might as well climb on, then."

And the mutalisk lifted its gleaming glittering golden wings, and mystically magically manuevered into the heavens.

Shortly thereafter, Prince Khavren arrived in front of a great manor house. He entered not without trepidation, for in appearance it was aged, and decrepit, and not appetizing to the sight. Cobwebs filled the corners of the lushly-carpeted halls; but not a soul was to be seen. Khavren wandered in the darkness, and found a locked door at the end of the largest corridor at all. He looked at it. "I could look for the key," he thought, "but it would take ever such a long time in the dark; and I see no need to use my energies so." Therefore he took from his pocket certain metals, and exercised skills unbefitting a Prince; and lo, the door did unlock, and open. "Gasp!" said Khavren melodramatically.

The chamber beyond was crimson-walled, and in its centre was a glass-caged bier. Upon it slept a silent figure, cloaked in gold. Prince Khavren walked closer to read the plaque before the bier. It read, "Here, a nikolas slepped quietly." He squinted to read the fine print. "Break in case of emergency."

Prince Khavren looked at the nikolas. It seemed harmless enough, so he shrugged and smashed the glass with one mighty fist. While he hopped about clutching his wounded fist, the nikolas slowly arose. "Even in death I still serve," it declared.

Prince Khavren was a little unnerved, but he was a Royal Prince of Isselunde, and trained for such matters. Speaking firmly, he told the nikolas, "As the rightful master of all in Isselunde except the King, I command you: destroy the terrible evil that lurks here!"

The nikolas paused, seeming to sniff the air; then, gold cape swirling behind it, it set out at a determined pace. As the Prince trailed behind, it chanted a strange litany: "While vile monsters still draw breath, there can be no peace. While obscene heretics' hearts still beat, there can be no respite. While faithless traitors still live, there can be no forgiveness."

Coming to a nondescript door, the nikolas delivered a mighty kick that turned the door into splinters. Behind it, Prince Khavren saw two scientists, identifiable by their lab coats. The nikolas started forward, but Khavren shouted "Stop!" Looking at the scientists, quite startled, he asked, "Who are you?"

"We're scientists, working on these teleporters," one said, pointing to a teleporter. "We're going to use them for completely innocent and harmless purposes."

"What's that next to you, on the floor?" Prince Khavren asked.

"Bombs and poison," the other one answered, then clapped his hand over his mouth.

"Go get them, nikolas," Khavren ordered.

"By your command," acknowledged the nikolas as it lumbered to attack. One of the scientists grabbed a sword; the nikolas batted it away and lacerated the scientist. The other scientist picked up a cross-bow. The nikolas lacerated him as well. Then he turned to the teleporters. Taking one of them, he put it into the other; sending them to the outer reaches. Then, task completed, he turned to Khavren. "What are you doing?" Khavren asked, backing away slowly.

"Do not ask, 'Why kill the Khavren?' Rather ask, 'Why not?'" the nikolas chanted. It lunged suddenly, and Prince Khavren jumped back and ran. The nikolas pursued, gaining speed.

"What do I do what do I do what do I do..." the Prince wondered. "No. What would Desmond do? Ah!" Smashing down a door, he found a rich deposit of cabbage, and tomatoes, and carrots lying in sacks. Taking some, he offered them to the nikolas. And the nikolas did take the vegetables, and he did eat them, and itte was good.

300 (not the movie)


Three Hundred.

A list of mechanics for video games - not ones that have been used, but interesting new ideas. They're published once a day by "squidi" (Sean Howard), along with concept art. A few are sort of derivative and/or uninteresting, but most are pretty good, and some are brilliant. (Notably ideas number 10 and 28.) It's worth a look.

A note on the author - 'squidi' is a nutcase. Because of this, he's a magnet for internet drama - getting into raging arguments with a fellow who used one of his characters as a forum avatar and then with people who criticized him for arguing, etc., etc.. Thankfully, the craziness rarely shows through - it's nearly exclusively contained in 30 - but I felt that fair warning was needed.

That said, investigate! There may be some thing that strikes your fancy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Space Rocket Motorcycle

He roared into the office at thirty mph on his space rocket motorcycle. Office workers scattered before him; cubicles collapsed behind him. Utter devastation was left in his wake; lo, not even the water coolers or the coffee makers were left unscathed.

Ignoring all this, the driver watched office doors as they shot by. When he saw number twenty-four shoot past, the driver braked sharply, fishtailing the motorcycle into the next office down. The occupant, identified by the placard on his desk as Mr. Jones, seemed quite surprised to see a motorcycle crash through door, wall and window to stop just before his desk. The driver dismounted. Pushing his sunglasses up, he asked, "You wanted to see me?"

"Ah, yes, Mr. Zhang," Mr. Jones replied. "I am your designated liason for today; and there is, you see a problem."

"One business quarter ago, we had in our employ a temporary contractor, identified as Aaron Westhouse. Prior to his postprofit termination, we believe that he indulged in noncommensurate inventory exchange - specifically, an empty folder for certain... essential documents. We require their return."

"And what will I get for this job?" Mr. Zhang asked coolly.

"Enough."

As Mr. Zhang swung back onto his motor-bike, Mr. Jones coughed, sharply. "Your means of transportation is a violation of standard transportation policy, contributing nonpositive revenue growth in an antisynergistic manner."

Mr. Zhang's response was to gun the motorcycle, activating the side-mounted rockets as he did so. Black smoke filled the room in the wake of his noisy departure. Mr. Jones reached down and placed a small fan onto his desk. As it cleared the smoke away, Mr. Jones set several folders in front of him. One of them was marked, ZHANG.


Mr. Zhang shot off the side of the interstate. Brakes screeching, he skid through two stoplights (motorists staring in astonishment) and onto the front lawn of a white suburban house. Dismounting smoothly, he armed the large pistol hanging at his belt and knocked.

A minute later, a short man opened the door. He looked up. He looked down. "Are you a solicitor?" he asked. "Because I have a sign in the yard..."

He looked out into the yard, currently occupied by Mr. Zhang's motorcycle.

"I am not a solicitor, Mr. Westhouse." Mr. Zhang answered.

"Well... come in, then," said Mr. Westhouse.

Mr. Westhouse seated himself in a kitchen chair. Mr. Zhang sat opposite him, hand hovering near his gun. "You took something from my client," he informed Mr. Westhouse.

"What? Who?" Mr. Westhouse asked.

"The plans for the company's internal defense network," Mr. Zhang told him, sliding a manilla folder onto the table. "You replaced it with this folder. They want me to trade it back."

"What?" Mr. Westhouse asked again. "I did not such thing... wait." He looked at the folder. "Oh, I see what they're trying to do."

"Let me tell you a story, Mr. Zhang. I worked for your employer for seven years. I was a contractor, but I'm talented enough that they extended the contract a year for six years in a row. I won awards for my work at that company - including the one that I took from them. A twenty-carat gold statue - "Decade's Best." With that under my belt, I wanted to move on to a permanent job - companies were throwing them at me! The company thought the award was theirs, and chose to keep it when I gave my two weeks notice. Maybe they were trying to coerce me to stay. I took the statue with me on the last day."

"I'll need to see the proof of this," Mr. Zhang said.

"Proof that I don't have something?" Mr. Westhouse asked. "You are a reasonable man. You understand why that's impossible."

Mr. Zhang looked Mr. Westhouse coldly in the eyes. Then he sighed and said, "All right."

He rose from the table. "I will return to them empty handed. But if I find that you double-crossed me, you will see how unreasonable I can be."

Mr. Westhouse said nothing. He went to the door and watched as Mr. Zhang gunned his engine and shot off, revealing the splintered remnants of his lawn sign in the process. Then he went back to the table and picked up the newspaper, looking at the real estate section. "Prices are low this time of year," he noted.
Mr. Zhang roared along the interstate, weaving between the SUVs and minivans that clogged the road. The wind blasted his unprotected face, weakened though it was by the gigantic front wheel. He passed a Ferrari, ignoring its angered honking, then noticed something: three Humvees were following him, driving at a speed even more dangerous for them than him. Mr. Zhang merged right; they followed him. He merged right again, trying to shake them in the slower traffic.

They gunned their engines and opened fire.

Mr. Zhang ducked low as the bullets flew around him. One punctured his bicycling scarf; another was deflected by his armored jacket. He looked at his watch - only three minutes more at seventy mph until he reached the company building. His pistol would be unlikely to deter assault-rifle wielding assailants - and they might puncture more than his scarf if he let them. With a grin, he flipped two switches on his dashboard - and the space rocket motorcycle surged forward, propelled by arcing lengths of fire. The SUVs followed.

Lesser motorists, intimidated, slowed and pulled to the right as Mr. Zhang and his pursuit raced down the interstate. Some were too slow; Mr. Zhang shot over their roofs, using them as improvised ramps. His pursuit smashed them aside. Mr. Zhang glanced behind often, gaging the distance he'd gained. Were he to use his rocket-jets continuously, he'd be far ahead; but he had limited fuel, and besides, even at one-hundred and ten mph, the wind felt like a razor on his face. He did not think he would be able to go any faster.

Two patrol cars lit their lights and sped onto the highway, accelerating even faster than the gunmen.

Mr. Zhang lit his rockets and went to one-hundred thirty mph.

Three minutes after he was first attacked, Mr. Zhang, pursued by a hail of bullets and six very angry highway patrolmen, shot off the edge of the interstate on a collision course with the office building headquartering the company of his employ. The parking lot was quite large; Mr. Zhang used this to his advantage, braking to spin around and then firing his rockets full thrust in a desperate attempt to avoid painful death by cubicle. Rockets blazing, brakes screeching, and scarf flying, Mr. Zhang shot backwards into the building, coming to a precarious halt just in front of Mr. Jones' desk.

He turned around and froze.

Three gunmen stood around Mr. Jones.

"We anticipated your betrayal," Mr. Jones told Mr. Zhang calmly. "You had shown signs in the past of behavior nonprioritizing shareholder value. Rigidity. Honor. Irrelevant, obsolete. We cannot allow any personnel to threaten our brand image - and don't touch that pistol."

Mr. Zhang brought his hands up slowly. Turning to look at his dashboard, he asked, "And what will you do about the police, and the gunmen?"

"The law can be ever so tiresome - regulations upon regulations, and no way to remove them. And the police take everything so literally!" Mr. Jones complained. "Thankfully, the mayor is a reasonable man. He is always willing to make the law flex a little, simplify things for everyone." He waited a moment. "Now, if that's all you wanted to know, you will dismount your 'bike' and come with your designated security personnel." He smiled - a rigid, forced smile. It suited him. "Remember, we work for the good of everyone!"

Mr. Zhang pushed down his sunglasses and flipped two switches on his dashboard.

Mr. Jones, his three gunmen, and the rest of the office complex disappeared behind him with the last of his rocket fuel. Mr. Zhang went straight up the side of the on-ramp from the parking lot, barely missing a sedan as he made the turn onto the interstate. The SUVs and police cars were long gone; probably off on their own chase.

Settling down to a sedate sixty mph, Mr. Zhang considered his future. Behind him, dwindling in the distance, the office building stood, gleaming like a black monolith. Within its windows, anyone might be watching him; but on his space rocket motorcycle, nothing could touch Mr. Zhang.

Youtube

I just moved this to here from groups:
OMG they finally blocked youtube.com. now they reinforced the stupid
mirror, well they figured it out any how, now we cant watch youtube
again!!!

NEW UPDATE:

youtube has 3 ip address:
one is the youtube.com: 208.65.153.251 (BLOCKED)
next is youtube.com.: 208.65.153.253 (now BLOCKED)
i discovered the third one: 208.65.153.252 (UNBLOCKED)

hahahaaha only st bernard blocks certian ips not ALL of em so i find
those that works ie use 208.65.153.252 for now
hehehahhahhahahaHHAHAHHAHAAHAHA *evil laughter for beating the system*

EVEN MORE UPDATES:
youtube has obviously more than one static IP addesses:
after that update by School and St Bernard, i realized that they just
blocked the domain names, not the ip addresses so ALL IPs may be used
to override St Bernard..... basicly they blocked one to unblock the
other, however using ip only for the other blocekd sites will
phail...... HAHAHHAHAHAHAAHA OWNED!!!!! now watch youtube with using
any IP addresses by doing http://(an IP of youtube)