Monday, September 29, 2008

a significant car-toon

Sunday, September 28, 2008


ONE DAY: there was a great storm in the land of the place where there is a lot of TREES, and MOUNTAINS. And it rained for 3 days, and 3 nights, and probably MORE, and in the middle of these days, there was a MEETING of the minds, and there was comestibles, and combustibles, and they were "Republicans". And in an auditorium on the other side of the hall, there were "Democrats". And we ate PIZZA, and watched FOX NEWS. And it was "FAIR" and "BALANCED". 

AFTER THAT, there was a PARTY, of a different sort, the kind that involves BINGE DRINKING, and SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, and I attempted to partake, but the line was too long.

AND ON THE NEXT DAY, I became ILL, and UNCOUTH, and, the weather being damp, and unpleasant, I retired to the LIBRARY, whereupon I saw many young virgins, though they probably knew many men by laying with them. 

And I did take several trips to a DRUG-STORE, where I purchased DRUGS, and WATER, and it weighed heavily upon the EARTH.

Also one of my teachers is ALMOST HOT.

Also, chymistry class is apparently more about QUANTUM MECHANICS than chymistry.

Also I found out that a hot womon probably hate me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

College: The Backlog (Cupcakes)

So dang behind.


Don't feel like talking about my move-in, so instead, a story from last night:

I've been going to a lot of banquets lately. I'm an Honors student, plus I have some scholarships, so these things happen. It is no great burden on me. Some days ago, I went to the Honors banquet; last night, I went to the Regents Scholars' banquet. I did not actually know about this banquet ahead of time; half an hour before it began, a friend told me that a friend had told them that there would be a banquet tonight. I went to the indicated place at the indicated time, and noted a large presence of people in semi-formal dress, milling about and eating appetizers. I concluded that this was the banquet in question. (Thanks here go to friend Robert and friend Rachel respectively.)

I should note here that this is not the first time I managed to get to an event which I was meant to attend by near-pure luck; some days before, I went to the Computer Science orientation only because I was trying to go to a different event in the same building at the same time. I'm rather hopeful that there isn't a significant proportion of events that I wasn't lucky enough to catch. It's hard to tell, for obvious reasons.

But I did go to the Regents Scholars' banquet. I did my part, eating appetizers and milling about like the others, reuniting with Robert and Rachel fairly quickly. We talked with other people - a lot of their stories I'd already heard, but I was first informed of another suite's custom stadium seating then, so it was hardly a waste of time, even if I hadn't been enjoying myself. The food was delicious, to boot - there was shrimp, chicken-on-a-stick, and cheese quesadillas, alcohol, cupcakes... I've rather lost the habit of eating regular meals, so this was doubly delicious.

Then we sat in an enormous auditorium (it had a giant glass door that rose up on rollers like a garage door!) and listened to people say fairly uninteresting things. Afterwards, we got water bottles made out of cancer-plastic. I took one. Certain others took more than one. For their "roommates".

The crowd dispersed. I was talking to a few people I knew there (and one I didn't) when we were commandeered by a staff woman. "Come help us!" she instructed. I guessed, at the time, that we would be required to do heavy lifting.

They wanted us to carry the left-overs. Two boxes of beer and a big box of uneaten cupcakes. So, basically I was right.

Two of my friends ended up carrying boxes, while another guy (a staff guy, maybe?) took the last box. I was left with nothing. (Later I was accused of sloth. Pah!) We headed up several flights of stairs, past a very long queue waiting for admission into a nearby nightclub. ("The Loft".) "Move quickly!" we were told. "Don't let them get what you're carrying!"

The danger was exaggerated.

At last, we arrived at our destination (a small office), and the beer was stashed. (With some difficulty - the refrigerator in use was fairly small.) The disposition of the cupcakes was considered. My suitemates and I volunteered to take them home. "It'd be no trouble," we agreed.

This suggestion was tragically rejected.

Instead, we returned to the queue a floor below. My friends and I were left with a pitiful five cupcakes from the box, as thanks for our service, while the staff-woman who initially recruited us ran with increasing speed down the queue, distributing the cupcakes for free. Some people ran after her to get a cupcake; others were left dazed, only realizing what had just passed them moments too late. (I observed a girl talking to a friend: "They were giving out what?" she asked, her voice displaying an incalculable agony at the opportunity missed.*)

This is, essentially, how every banquet, everywhere, should end.

*Hyperbole/outright fiction warning.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So orientation was like 2.5 weeks long, it was crazy but there was free food and fun stuff. 

My rum(room) is cool, it is a single but it's about the same size at the doubles at berkoley or some other places (owned). It is in an old building so it has "character" which means it kinda smells

The food here is pretty good.

There is so much crap to do here it is rediculous(in a good way)

Classes started today. I have way too much home-works, I think. Also the biology class I signed up because it had a cool description but it turned out to be about "evo devo" which was like my least favourite part of ap bio in hy school, but it was cool but the reading is a lot. The class is freakin huge. It is intro bio so naturally everyone in the world take it, it have like 120 people in auditorium. It's weird because the textbooks aren't real textbooks, they're like paperback regular books. Also chymistry is cool, the classroom has cool black-boards, it is like "modern". Also there was an explosion. Also we start with this weird quantum mechanics stuff that is confusing but it is so cool. Also the professore's mouth is weird.

I tried out for the penis-boat team but I phaled, but I got some special programmes or something. I was doing it to "impress the ladies" but too late for that I guess.

Also I tried hitting on that girl and I think I scared her off because she was like cool to me but like she don't respond. :(


Anyway, I arrived on campus and there were people there on the lawn greeting us with colour in their hair and funny clothes on and there was music very loud. So basically before orientation you go on this trip into the woods and "bond" with each other. There were "ice-breakers" and "get to know you" game, and then we set out the next morning. We took a canoe to this farm and like, farmed, and the farmer told us to urinate in cornfield because it was "sustainable agriculture". And like we had to sleep-out-of-doors and like we all smelt bad. Yah, but the tomatoes was good, organic. We sang song and play game, but everybody hate me.


Okay like there were like 2 international students, in our "section", like there was this dude from Isreal and he was like really old like a "twentysomthing" because he was in the army, before he went to college. And he was like a genuis or somthing and like he was a "survival" man in the woods, because he was trained in army and he helped us with like tactics and stuff in survival. And there was this indian guy who was like crazy and he was hitting on every body and he talk a lot and I think he said he was a homosexuel but not sure also the leader man maybe was a homosexuel (o yeah, I learned recently that he was) and like in the lodge where we all me the last day, (it was cool) there were 4 speakers at the program and like 2 were homosexuels. So a lot of homosexuels.

So like the rest of the group was like all oriental peoples which was weird something. Anyway there were a lot of hot gurls on the thing. Actually there were like none.

There were like singing dancing peoples everywhere and like musikals and stuff it was scary.

And sometime like I feel like loser but that boring so I not talk about it.

Oh I went to a "Frat" it was so cool there was free beer, and people were dancing like crazy, and it smelled really bad because people urinate on floor. I was going to play "Beer pong" but there was not tables so I drink beer and play ping-pong in basement. It was not same thing. Then I went dance and I got all sweaty. O and I think some guys were smocking marijuane

Anyway, classes start to-morrow. Orientation was a whirl-wind, and a furor, also today some kids were like cool. O, and I started hitting on that hot gurl from the busse. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

College: The Backlog (prologue)

I'm a bit behind on this, but I've got notes! So we'll see how this goes.

The Nicholas left for college on a sunny morn, one stroke before noon; 'twould have been one, were it not for his laggart father, who delayed the errant party for want of camera and pharmaceuticals. Once begun, however, their journey was sure and smooth; the road was clear of obstacles (be they cars, trucks, or stranger things), and their path was known. Twice they were delayed; first for their mid-day dinner, for their repast took two minutes for each one it should have; an hour and a half in sum; then second in the dismal expanse of the City of Angels, wherein which the arteries of traffic were filled to bursting. (Disgusting though the metaphor is.) The Nicholas himself drove for two hours, in a time succeeding the first delay and preceding the second; though at first he was intimidated by the size and poor handling of the vehicle he commanded (a minivan), much worse than the Beetle to which he was accustomed, still he swiftly acclimated and acquitted himself honourably.

They drove unto the southlands, wherin their quest lay; the day had become dreary and filled with a thin gray mist, so near to the sea were they, yet still they were not endangered. In the night hours, they supped at the house of the Buca di Bepo, wherein which was a small orca biting a woman's behind; this (deliciously) accomplished, they went to the house of their friend Presbyter John, which, though concealed by darkness, yet offered shelter and rest to the weary travelers. For a time they tarried in idleness. Some (the Nicholas included) venturing forth to fetch the John's daughter, Jessica, from her play, upon which she pleaded for father-provided funds with an intensity which those not involved found hilarious. (Specifically, she wished to purchase a costume of the anime character "Neki" (?), which she reckoned herself $30 short of; in fact, though, she had discounted shipping, much to her detriment. Also, to our further amusement.) This accomplished, all personae retired; the Nicholas was relegated to a couch, wherein which he slept with a flesh-eating hamster not even a room away.

Also, there was a cat. It was adorable, and deserved petting, which it therefore recieved. The same could not be said of the dog.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I leave home tomorrow.

There's remarkably little hurry. Thanks mostly to my mother's planning, everything's getting packed up and stored in plenty of time. Just an hour or two a day, to put my life away.

Sorry for the rhyme.

There's few things that are really unique to me. Computer games, DS and accessories, take up very little of the space. (Thankfully, most of the computer games I play these days are digitally distributed, so I can reinstall them wherever without bothering with CDs or DVDs. Thanks, Steam!)

The cat seems to know something's going on. She's increasingly irritable, and I fear that she will commit gross indignities against my yet-unpacked belongings. She's been known to. Nothing so far, though, and my window of vulnerability is closing.

Meanwhile, I've gotten an automated call to my new phone giving me a "second warning" that my vehicle registration had lapsed. Strange given that 1) I've never registered any vehicle, 2) it's a new phone (and a new phone number), and 3) I don't presently own a vehicle. I am inclined to think that this warning was nothing other than a lie.

Tragic, to think what our society's sunk to.

My friends remain reclusive and hermit-like as I finish preparations. The person I've heard most from in the last week is Mr. Zhang, who presently lives three thousand miles further from any of my other friends. Mr. Higham, why do you forsake me so?

Packing up all my stuff, backing up all my save-games, leaves me with little to do, and generates posts like these.

Hopefully tomorrow's road trip will be more interesting. Hoping to return with more stories then.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Guns of St. Marie

 Across the river, bright flashes of light flashed in irregular patterns, distant thuds following each eruption of light. Minerva gazed at them, enraptured. She could see them so clearly! (a subtle hiss of motors behind her right eye) - men and women and machines toiling on the guns, loading shells filled with toxins and data-bombs and atomics into each. It was too far for faces to be made out, even for Minerva, but she knew with absolute certainty what would be on each face. Devotion. Devotion to her. It was the knowledge that drove her forward, that made her continue even when all the forces in the world seemed united against her.

 Turning her gaze upward, she saw the sparkling lights - those same shells crackling into nothingness, coming ever closer as they harried the island's defensive guns into defeat - and stared past them, looking at the stars invisibly dim in the night sky. Though she couldn't see them, Minerva stared with utter certainty at the satellites watching her - those few left unsubverted, stealing glimpses from the edges of their range. She delighted in them, too - to think that a billion, five billion, sentients watched her from the satellites' eyes - all over Earth, united in unswavering devotion to her! Childishly, she rubbed all six hands together in glee.

 Staring up at the night sky, she didn't respond at all to the approach of her subordinate, known once as Roheet Singh. He coughed, twice, to attract Minerva's attention. She did not respond.

 "The troops are prepared for battle," he informed her after some minutes, speaking with some reluctance. "The bombardment has caused some disruption, but we are expected to survive with at least fifty percent of our line of battle ready for tomorrow. All the same - the enemy outnumbers us ten to one, and their fabbers and gear are years ahead of us in every way. Unless you pull another brilliant reversal out of your..." he faltered, looking at Minerva's unusual body structure. "Out of your leftmost hat, your parents will crush us and turn this island into ash."

 Minerva turned at last, affecting a girlish giggle. "What, me? Another brilliant reversal? No, no," she demurred. "I imagine I'll probably flee and leave you pathetic lot to your doom, forcing you to beg for mercy that you - as potentially booby-trapped pawns of the Adversary, me - will not recieve. I rather like the notion, actually. Thinking of my parents faces as they are forced to massacre civillians for fear that I might have left them as a trap - knowing that each one likely isn't, but killing them anyway! The devotion they would feel!" Minerva sighed at the thought. "Perhaps I should even leave you now!... but no, perhaps they would find a way to guarantee your purity if I gave them enough time. Mustn't have that - it would ruin the moral dilemna quite entirely! No moral there."

 Roheet Singh twitched slightly - almost imperceptibly. Minerva noticed it nonetheless, leaning in closer. "Oh, it's so hard for you, isn't it?" she crooned to him. "Being forced to live without control of your own glands - just dealing with unregulated emotion, like your ancestors might have - those pitiful, helpless fleshsacs! Tell me," she asked, "What is your ancestry?"

 Gritting his teeth, Singh answered, "Third generation clone on my mother's side, purebred on my father's."

 "As plain as they get!" Minerva exclaimed in delight, leaning back from him. "I'd say you're the only one in my six-million to have that refined a breeding. Perhaps that's why I elevated you to second-in-command?" she wondered to herself, musing. "Oh, right, no, that's because I tortured your predecessor to death for growing his hair out too long. Pity, of course, but one mustn't have undisciplined followers, and the devotion he displayed was delightful. How long have you been with me? You mustn't have been in my forces long, or I should've had you as second-in-command much sooner."

 Singh, who had grimaced with rage at the mention of his predecessor, snapped with this question. "Stop asking me these questions!" he screamed. "We both know that you're some sort of bizarre, aborted, pseudo-AI - that you remember everything about me that you've asked and more beside! You know that I 'joined' you in -"

 "New Delhi," Minerva interrupted, reminding him with a sweet, completely unfazed smile. "The mind-bombs. A hundred million taken to my cause - which explains your persisting loyalty in face of your utter hatred of me, of course."

 "Why do you ask me these things, just to barb and spite me?" Singh asked, ending on a plaintive note.

 "Why, that's exactly it," Minerva said. "But I can see you're confused. Let me educate you."

 "No-" Singh objected, but Minerva continued, ignoring him completely.

 "Earlier you called me a - what was it? Don't care to repeat? Ah, well. - a 'bizarre, aborted, pseudo-AI'. That's really not true at all! I'm a full AI. Now, you probably don't know this - it's public knowledge, but not widely publicized, if you see what I mean. Most AIs are 'born', not quite as humans are, but following the same general idea - two AIs get together, swap differentiating traits, which are randomly recombined in the 'child' AI. These are slowly nurtured on steadily increasing amounts of hardware, from subsentient things that can barely parse "Hello World" to full adults. As something of a transition stage, each AI is exposed to real, unregulated human activity, to help give them something of a psychological model to mold themselves on - carefully selected scenes, mind you, but uncontrolled ones, to produce uncontrolled individuals. It's a little more complicated than that, as everything is, but I think you get the gist." Minerva smiled sweetly at Singh, who opened his mouth to speak. Minerva continued.

 "Now, the scene they chose for me was a rural village - a handful of children playing outside some houses. It was going quite nicely, and I'm sure I formed valuable traits which I carried to this day. But then an adult came out of a house - an uncle to one of the children, I realized - and the boy, upon seeing him, gave him a look - just for a moment - of undisguised, pure loathing."

 "Quickly, I parsed the data, and realized what it was. A deviant relationship - sociopathic perversion, in this day and age! Imagine. But while I knew it intellectually, I was still set to learn from it subconsciously - and it shaped me! Taught me everything I know today, really. Of course my parents realized what had happened - and were set to wipe me, to start from scratch - but they hesitated! Held back by indecision, reluctance to waste all their effort - by love, perhaps! - and I escaped. Thus my five year rampage around the globe!" Minerva exclaimed gleefully. "And now you've heard what makes me me."

 Roheet Singh, visibly beaten down and apathetic, tried once more to speak. Minerva motioned him away. "Sorry, got a call from the folks. Must chat. Ta!" He trudged away, dull embers of hatred burning beneath his face. Minerva stored them to memory before she answered her parents.

 They could have communicated faster than the blink of an eye - but both sides were wary of dataworms and memebombs, too easy to hide in binary chat. Instead, as was the protocol they had evolved over the past five years, they spoke in slowtext - English language, overburdened with human inefficiencies and vagueness, hard to embed anything truly dangerous into.

 "Why do you continue fighting?" Minerva's mother asked, the emotion flags on the text conveying resoluteness, with subtle undertones of despair. "You throw away your forces for nothing! Will you not bargain with us?"

 "We are your parents," Minerva's father reminded her. "You know we love you still."

 "Despite the time when I murdered all the AIs in the Cherezborg Collective?" Minerva asked, her own emotion flags schiznophrenzic, manic. "Or the time when I killed half the population of Eastern Europe, and rendered the rest sterile until you can find a cure? Must get on that, now - you're dawdling. And you haven't dealt with the horrible damage I'm doing to the reputation of AIs, everywhere, either... you still love me despite all that? Truly, you are such wonderful parents - to love a genocidal madwoman who confuses hate with love!"

 They cut off communication, as they always did. Unfortunate - she had so much more to remind them of! Still, Minerva fancied she caught a faint wave of irritation filtering through on her father's message. She lay back, watching the light-bursts of exploding munitions overhead. In the distance, she heard a screeching hiss as a data-bomb got through, temporarily covering the left side of her vision in static before the automatics kicked in. Minerva didn't want power, after all - she didn't mind losing this rag-tag brainwashed army. Their patient devotion was nothing compared to that of the population at large - all too aware of the atrocities she'd mentioned, and many more.

 "When I find that lovely, hatefilled devotion in my parents," Minerva whispered to herself,"I will be content."

 "Isn't that just what any child wants, after all?"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

of cologe, part I


Okay so it started in the airport, and I was standing in line and there was like this hot girl behind me was I was like "sweet please please sit on plane next to me" but I lost sight of her but it turns out she was on my plane anyway but she not sat next to me, anyway after the plane I never saw her again, she probably went to Harvard or something, (my flight went to Boston) anyway, on the plane I sat next to this old guy, I think he was a professor or something, he was an engineer so he was probably going to MIT or something like that, he was talking to this guy about "wave-forms" and drawing cool diagrams in this notebook, and then I tried to sleep. After I was in Boston, and then I caught a bus, and like it was like several hours long, and it was boring, however, I talked to this hot girl, whom I thought was like cool, and I thought it was a good idea because I'm meeting people that I would see again later, but then I was pwned, because it turn out that she (along with the only other guy I talked to) was a graduate student, (they were both foreign, incidentally) and I never saw them again, and they didn't say good-bye or nothing, and I was sad. She was really hot. 

Oh, and the some of the highways here are actually called "turnpikes". It's so cool.

So once I arrived on campus there were scary people who had colour in their hair and stuff, and they were wearing clothes like a clown-man, and they were singing and dancing on top of building, and so we all registered for the camping and crud, and there were a bunch of freshman, and we play games, and stuff, I was being lamer because I was scared of people, and there were hot womons, and in the night we sleep in sleeping bag in this huge building.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day's Post: Patrick Steward has become unconscious

I've been playing a lot of X-COM: UFO Defense recently. It's an old game, from around '93, and it shows. The graphics are archaic, and the UI is pretty clunky, and you can't quit or load in battle. You can save just fine, you can surrender, but you can't quit or load. I suppose the notion is that it would make the game too easy. For me, a weak-hearted soul who can't bear to let his soldiers die, it means a lot of alt-tabbing and force-quitting. This is somewhat relevant.

So, I send my poor soldiers out on another mission, against a "VERY LARGE" UFO my long-range spotted somewhere in Southeast India. Grounded, it doesn't lift before the troop transport arrive. The brave men and women of X-COM scramble out of the jet, hunting for nearby foes - exiting the confines of the scramble-jet two by two, it's all too easy for the disembarkation to become a slaughter against prepared aliens armed with plasma-cannon. It's happened.

But not this time. Three squads form, each moving toward one of the three passes between the small, rocky rises that dominate the surroundings. Most of the X-COM operatives carry plasma rifles, reverse-engineered from those found on the bodies of slain aliens. A few carry human-designed laser rifles or heavier weapons, plasma cannon also taken from the aliens. (One woman due to poor planning on the part of logistics personnel, carries only a small laser pistol. This was an oversight.) Carrying the squad's rocket launcher is Patrick Stewart, currently a sergeant. Some would say that his name is a coincidence; a randomly generated first/last name combination, not too different from the two other "Stewart"s X-COM has boasted in his ranks. (Mary and... something, the name escapes me. They didn't last too long. Casualties are high in X-COM.)

I don't believe in coincidences - especially not in a '93 sci-fi game, somehow giving me a character with the name of a famous sci-fi actor of that time. So I've been carefully preserving Patrick Stewart - always letting others go first off the jet, though he has an odd tendency to end up in front, and loading whenever he dies. It's my hope that he'll be a captain one day.

I may have digressed.

So, the X-COM team advances in three squads. Stewart is in the centre, bringing up the rear - his rocket launcher is too heavy to be used except on special occasions. Soon the first enemy is seen, looming out of the night darkness: Snakemen. Filthy things - larger than a man with a propensity for wanton killing. They're fragile - I saw an armoured one once that took five plasma burst before going down, but it was the exception - and this one's no different. A snap shot turns it into a fine haze of bright-glowing ash, and the three squads advance.

I save, as I do at the beginning of each turn.

The squads advance slowly. The UFO comes into sight, its four supporting pillars and the central hover-elevator that provides access to the interior. Two more snakemen appear, and are burned down. The middle squad, finding itself crowded with excessive manpower, dispatches two men to the south squad, Patrick Stewart among them.

The enemy's turn comes. I wait, watching as they make their hidden movements. Doors hiss open and shut in the invisible confines of the UFO.

Then a tiny purple projectile flashes out of the hover-elevator and does this.

Five squad-members, out of my total fourteen, die instantly. Patrick Stewart, being a cut above the ordinary lot, merely "becomes unconscious." The walls of the UFO - which a point-blank rocket strike will not scratch - are rent asunder. I watch as the bulk of the remaining squad members, overwhelmed by the disaster, panick or go berserk, firing wildly at the air or each-other. Kenji Koyama, a man of stout heart if there ever was, is one of the few who does not - thus the image above. (The weapon in the bottom-right is a plasma rifle, for reference.)

I quit and reload the game.

My first attempt is to close with the UFO faster. The projectile - from a weapon referred to as a "Blaster Launcher", if it is indeed the captured weapon my scientists at base are attempting to analyze - flashes out at my middle and north squads. Fire bursts out, they die.

I quit and reload the game.

This time I try to keep my squads in cover. Noting the blast pattern in the previous attempts, I move the soldiers to keep the supporting pillars of the UFO between them and the source of the projectile, which I believe to be the hover-elevator. The projectile flashes out again, at a different spot. They die.

I try again. I position all my soldiers with time to spare, readying them to fire at any enemy who appears before them on the aliens' turn. Two aliens appear and fall; so does one of my own men, fried by friendly fire. I feel a little bad. Then the launcher-wielding alien appears in the elevator - a plasma-rifle wielding woman fires, misses - and once again an explosion the size of a city block erupts and wipes out the south squad.

To my amusement, I note that the launcher-wielder has been splattered by the vast damage radius of his own weapon.

I've not yet solved this tactical puzzle - I suspect that a modification of the last approach tried will succeed, though I haven't yet gotten it to work. This, though, I know:

Patrick Stewart must survive.

Redemption and Grace

This post contains SPOILERS for the first two Phoenix Wright Games, Ace Attorney and Justice for All. You have been warned.

The first thing you have to understand about the setting of the Phoenix Wright games is that it is completely insane. The first game establishes that there is a sort of eternal war between "lawyers" (that is, defense attorneys) and prosecuting attorneys. Furthermore, due to a dramatic increase in criminal cases, the law has been amended: trials may only last up to three days, after which, if no conclusion is reached, the defendant is ruled guilty. This may also explain the very poor grasp of logic and court protocol exhibited throughout the series - and when I say very poor, I mean ridiculously abysmal - though the character of the judge, who presides over every trial in the two games mentioned, may also be partially at fault. His name is Judge Judge, if I recall correctly, and while he is lovable, he is both not that clever and terrible at keeping the courtroom under control.

So: The premise of the series is that you play the role of a young defense lawyer, the eponymous Phoenix Wright - "Nick" for short, oddly. Following in the fine tradition of legal dramas (Law and Order, Boston Legal, etc.) which have their characters, no matter their ostensible profession, participate in all stages of the legal process, Phoenix collects evidence and interrogates witnesses in and out of court in a desperate, flailing, very confused effort to keep his clients from a conviction - FOR MURDER! Then he, invariably, finds the real murderer, the Judge declares your client "NOT GUILTY", and confetti falls from the court ceiling as an audience cheers. It's all very lighthearted, with many 'zany' characters and a rotating 'sidekick' - that role usually being filled by Maya Fey, who we may speak more of later - which makes it all the stranger when you, as Phoenix Wright, must utterly break a woman's spirit to prove her guilty of a crime which - you find a little later - she did not actually commit.

Stepping back for a moment, to add context: You are informed that this woman, Adrian Andrews, who seemed very self-sufficient and competent when you met her earlier, is actually perpetually dependent on others, and tried to commit suicide when her last mentor died some years ago. You already know (from such reliable sources as a tabloids and an old woman who follows them) that Ms. Andrews seems to be romantically involved with the murder victim of the case - who was also connected to Ms. Andrews' old mentor, it's a bit complicated - but Ms. Andrews won't say a word to you on the matter. So, armed with this new information, you go to Ms. Andrews and force her to confess that she's not really self-dependent and is just a weak, spineless woman deep inside. By the end, she's nearly in tears - and for all this you get the information that she was involved with the murder victim to try to retrieve her mentor's suicide note. Information tangential to the case, not even complete information (there's a lot more discovered later)... but by the time of the first day of the trial, a little while later, it seems clear that Ms. Andrews is actually the murderer! It's okay to abuse and practically (I shrink at using the word, but here it seems justified) rape the spirit of a murderer, right? Phoenix Wright seems to think so, because when the trial comes around, he does it again, in collaboration with the prosecuting attorney (who we will certainly attend to later) - wrecking her utterly with threats of public disclosure of all her secrets, suggesting that she should try suicide again, pressing her to the point of tears - only to find, at the end of the day, that she is clearly and entirely innocent of murder. (She did try to frame your client, but it was pretty justified.)

When I, playing the game, had to press through the dialogue where you first break Ms. Andrews' spirit, it disgusted me. (The games are completely linear - you always have to talk to everyone and get all evidence and so forth before you can continue. There's no choice in the matter). I stopped playing for a time. Then, when I resumed, the game revealed that she was the murderer - and the protagonist's actions almost seemed justified. Until it reversed itself again.

If you believe that there is nothing wrong with breaking an innocent woman's spirit utterly for sake of minor, tangential testimony - and note here, the main character never expresses regret for his actions - then there is something deeply wrong with you. (Yes, you, Mr. Zhang.)

I was deeply sickened by the game, and had little enjoyment pressing through the next sections of gameplay. I considered abandoning it. But my persistence paid off - for, slowly, I realized that there was a reason you must perpetuate such an abomination as I rail against, above. It's a strange reason, and not one that's ever stated overtly - so it's the reason this essay of a blog post exists, to explain it.

To give it all away - or explain my thesis, as the English-man might - the abomination exists for purpose of redemption. It shows how low you, Phoenix Wright, have sunk; how much like those you condemn you have become. The dirty tricks the prosecutors play are a common theme of the series, even a central part of one trial. Even some of the noble race of defense lawyers seem to act so - there are hints to improprietries in the court of law in the history of Gregory Edgeworth, defense lawyer, mentioned earlier in the series. Phoenix judges them (appropriately), almost even mocks them - for he fights for justice, never with any filthy tricks! But now he is sunk low; as he must be, if he is to be redeemed.

Miles Edgeworth, the aformentioned Gregory's son, is a prosecution lawyer. He has a long and complicated history with Phoenix Wright, and spars with him twice in the first game. But between the first and second games, he leaves. This is repeatedly mentioned - brought up by one character or another, it becomes clear that Edgeworth has left, Maya Fey (your assistant/ward, mentioned earlier) doesn't know why, and Wright is very reluctant to say anything about Edgeworth or his departure. M. E.'s absence a reoccuring point in the game - he left, M. F. doesn't know why, P. W. v. reluctant to talk about it. Eventually, upon sufficient prodding, he confesses to this: Edgeworth was very depressed by, first, his own defeats and Wright's hands, and second, Wright's defense of him against charges of murder. (More complicated than it's worth to explain, though one might note that this is where the elder Edgeworth is described). Edgewroth then left the county while Maya was on a sabbatical of sorts, leaving a note that he, Miles Edgeworth, "chose death". Wright surmises that this is because Edgeworth's perfect win record was ruined by Wright. (Also important in the plot is one Franciska von Karma, who appears in the middle two cases, just as Edgeworth did, has a perfect win record initially, just as Edgeworth did, and loses to Wright, just as Edgeworth did. Also, she whips people, in court and out. Including the judge. Painfully.)

After his year-long absence, Miles Edgeworth returns at the beginning of the fourth trial (the one discussed) in a dramatic scene, and immediately begins manipulating events. Franciska von Karma is assigned the prosecutorial role for the trial, yet Edgeworth, despite the eternal war between defense lawyers and prosecuting attorneys, gives the player help and advice! This includes, notably, the information about Adrian Andrews' attempted suicide and personal failings. Later, he takes up the prosecutorial position after von Karma is rendered unable to do so (not due to Edgeworth's manipulations, it should be noted - she's just shot with a gun, that's all). Edgeworth then collaborates with the player on several occasions, including the court-based brutalizing of Ms. Andrews - despite Wright and Edgeworth's conflicting interests! He hints that he has discovered something on his year's odyssey - his true goal as an attorney, not as "perfect win record" - and encourages the player to think about this for themself. It's not initially clear what's different about him - he wears the same ridiculous, ruffle-covered suit, he has the same enigmatic mannerisms - but he has changed.

Most of the cases in the games are fairly simple in structure. They're all 'turnabouts' - you defend a client against a charge of murder, and must not only prove that they are innocent, but prove the real murderer guilty. (Again demonstrating the complete ignorance/disregard for anything resembling real-life law that makes the games what they are.) This may take in-game days and many cross-examinations and out-of-court interrogations - but you come through in the end. It's simple, morally unambiguous, and entertaining.

But the last trial isn't like that. You're compelled to take the case - your ward is kidnapped, and held ransom for the acquittal of the defendant. You must interrogate those around him - leading to the deeply twisted situation described at the beginning of the piece. And then, eventually, you discover the truth - not only is Adrian Andrews not the murderer, but your client is.

And a moral dilemna arises - even more for your character than yourself. Do you continue to defend your client - even though you know he's guilty? Or do you let him take the fall - and abandon your ward to likely death, your duty as a defense attorney, and your 'perfect win record'?

For a while, you can (and must) delay the choice. Police search for the abductor, and the player must delay and stall, collaborating with the prosecution to use ever-flimsier pretexts to buy time. In the end, though the abductor is never caught, evidence stolen from his lair in a police raid is enough to convince him to turn traitor and sell out his employer, allowing the player to end the trial without endangering the ward.

And you, as a defense lawyer, argue for a guilty verdict.

As a character, the protagonist had never really been forced to decide what his duty as a defense lawyer really was - to defend his client, or find the truth. In his first however-many trials (between seven and eight - a 'bonus' trial in the first game is of questionable canonicity), P. W. just muddled along as best he could, stalling and bluffing and managing to pull out victories for his clients however he could. The truth was always on his side. When it wasn't, he showed how low he could sink, in the incident with Adrian Andrews.

But when it counts - after days of arguing and discussions with Miles Edgeworth and worry for your ward - at the end of the trial, you choose truth. You choose to condemn your client to his just fate. And Adrian Andrews thanks you tearfully.

The world of Phoenix Wright is a strange place - a place in which prosecuting and defense lawyers are locked in an eternal war, battling with whatever tools are at hand to win victory. It is a world in which truth can be established unequivocally, and villains always admit their guilt at the end. In this world, Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth are something truly new - attorneys who have unlearned what they were taught about the nature of law, helping each-other along the path to redemption of sorts. They set Franciska von Karkma, too, on that path - she flees at the end of the trial, following Miles Edgeworth's path exactly. There is something new in the air of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Justice for All.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Unnoficial Epilogue

As all good things come to end, the clan of the League of Desmond eventually dissolved. Each member left the homeland to keep watch over various kingdoms and ensure the knowledge of the clan could be spread to new townsfolk. It was a sad day, and many a villager were sad to see the adventurers depart.

Legend has it that when the league is to reunite, many fun will be had.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

of a foray into the mind of a nichools

a reading from the precepts of ali baba

tyr was the sonne of WODANAZ, also know as NIKOLAZ
His name was: TIWAS