Saturday, January 31, 2009

THE ADVISOR

"BEHOLD!" cried Suidnamyzo, Tyrant of the Hundred Nations. "I wield the UNBRIDLED POWER of the POWER PYRAMID MANIPULATIVE! Now, BOW BEFORE ME!" The pyramid, clenched in his upraised hand, shone through his flesh, burning with the light of a hundred suns.

"Ah, with all due respect," The Advisor said deferentially, "you should probably put that down."

"WHAT?" Suidnamyzo shouted, surprised and perplexed. "WHO ARE YOU? WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?"

"Seriously, you should drop the Pyramid now," The Advisor advised. "I'm not joking - oh, dang. Too late."

Suidnamyzo screamed hideously as his flesh melted away under the terrible light of the POWER PYRAMID MANIPULATIVE. He crumbled into a pile of dust.

"Ah well," The Advisor sighed. "Another time."

-

"All right!" Louisiana said exultantly - yet quietly, so not as to set off the noise-triggered boulder traps she'd passed fifty feet ago. "Finally, past the pendulum swinging-blade traps! Now, it's a clear run into the tomb-"

"Well, no," The Advisor told her. "There's at least one more trap."

"What?" Louisiana asked, startled. She turned to face The Advisor, backing away a step. "Who are you? How did you get here - we're hundreds of feet beneath the earth, in the center of a vast, deadly burial complex! You must be - some type of undead/mechanical monstrosity! The final trap!"

"No, not really," The Advisor clarified vaguely. "But - look, stop. Come back towards me. It's really not a good idea to be standing where you are-"

The floor crumbled under Lousiana's feet, and she fell screaming into a deep pit, her fall arrested with an unpleasant squelching noise.

The Advisor walked over and peered in. "Oh - oh," he sighed. "That's - really quite unpleasant. I didn't need to see that." He pulled back from the edge, his forehead furrowed with regret.

"Somehow," he sighed to himself, "I can't help but feel responsible for this."

-

"AHAHAHaahaahAHAHAHahahAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" the Mad Doktor laughed. "I have mastered the forces of the eight ethers and the five humours! Now, the WORLD is in the PALM of my HAND! Once I pull this lever - here - I will be INVINCIBLE!!!"

"Well, not really - " The Advisor began. Then he took a hard look at the Mad Doktor and, after a moment, threw up his hands. "No. Just... no. I've had enough of advising the unadvisable! Bugger this for a game of soldiers, and I'm off to the pub to have a nice drink with Cassandra."

The Mad Doktor stopped cackling. He looked confused.

"Maybe I shouldn't pull the lever?" he suggested to the empty air.

"Yes!" The Advisor said, beaming. "Very good! You're the first one who's ever gotten it!" Then he vanished again.

The Mad Doktor remained confused. But - just to be safe - he took his hand off the lever. Then he backed a few feet away.

When lightning struck the lever and blew it to smithereens a moment later, leaving red-hot shards of metal embedded throughout the Doktor's laboratory, the Mad Doktor survived - with hardly any permanent crippling injuries to speak of!

For all his harsh words earlier, The Advisor was rather pleased with himself.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Woodland Creatures

Once, in an idyllic land known as Adabaritia, peace reigned throughout the land. Wilderness animals chirped happily and lived together in perfect harmony. It was all very lovely!
How adorable! How charming! How perfectly disarming! Nothing could ever mar such a perfect picture.

Well. Except on every other Sunday. That's when all the residents of Adabaritia got together to play BLOODBATH BLOODSPORTS.

GRR! ARGH! ENDLESS, BOUNDLESS HATE! NOTHING REMAINED IN THEIR TWISTED, WARPED BODIES BUT PAIN, HATE AND RAGE - ALL FOR THE OTHERS, WHO ONCE THEY LOVED AS BROTHERS, WHO HAD DONE THIS TO THEM!
WHY? WHY? WHY WOULD THEY DO SUCH A THING?
"Calm down, dude," the others would say. "It's just a game. Don't take it so seriously."

BUT THEY DON'T KNOW! THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND ME - THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING! THEY DON'T KNOW THE TRUTH!
But he does, so it's okay.

(After each BLOODBATH BLOODSPORT, everyone gets together and eats lollipops! Aww. So delicious. So adorable!)

-

(Images taken from a completely different context, here. All credit to their original authors - they're quite lovely. The story they're taken from is also pretty good.)

Mr. Wikiped

Mr. Wikiped strolls down the street.

"Hello, Jane," he remarks to a passing school-girl, tipping his hat. "Doing better in English?"

"Hello, John," he says to a school-boy, slapping him on the shoulder. "How'd the tryouts go?"

"Hello, Jane-" he begins to say to another school-girl; then he leaps backwards, pulling a revolver from beneath the capacious folds of his brown trenchcoat.

"The Devil!" he cries. "Doppelgangers - again!"

This is trouble. If they aren't stopped now, they'll be making bees all over the neighborhood in no time - it'll be a disaster!

But - here's the question. Which Jane is the real Jane?

"Which of you Janes is the real one?" Mr. Wikiped asks.

"I am!" both reply, perfectly astonished. "Can't you tell?"

Mr. Wikiped frowns. He's not entirely sure what to do - usually, the doppelgangers have given themselves away by this point.

"Aha!" he cries, leaping forward. "You have brown eyes," he says, pointing to one of the Janes, "But you have blue eyes!"

"So?" the girls ask in unison.

"Er." Mr. Wikiped says sheepishly. He doesn't actually remember which eye colour the real Jane has - but he's too ashamed to admit it!

"Ah!" he says, confronting a new arrival to the scene. "Perhaps you can help! What is your name?"

"Jane!" the new arrival says brightly. Her eyes are emerald green.

Mr. Wikiped throws his hat down in frustration. "This is impossible!" he cries. "Perhaps if I were better at multiple choice - but no! Ridiculous! Completely unmanagable!"

Then he perks up. His ears wiggle. "Do I hear what I think I hear?" he asks rhetorically. Then he hops in his Edsel and drives to the source of the sound.

It's a brand-new shiny doppelganger factory!

"A-ha!" Mr. Wikiped cries, satisfied. "Now we'll get to the bottom of this! Right, Fido?"

Fido barks, presumably in agreement. It's hard to be certain on the matter, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The owner of the factory is right inside!

"It is I - Don Harper, owner and managing operator of this doppelganger factory!" the owner shouts. Big guy, red-faced, little too much weight on the paunch, if you know what I mean. "What are you doing here, Mr. Wikiped? We don't much like your type here - justify yourself before I have you thrown out! (This is private property, you know!)"

Mr. Wikiped is unimpressed. Harper is small fish compared to the villains he's used to tackling. "Private property this might be, Mr. Harper, but I'm afraid it won't be your much longer. I came here to shut you down," he says with a grim smile, pressing his fedora firmly onto his brow.

"On what grounds?" Don Harper asks, furious. "You are not the law, Mr. Wikiped! You have no right to just stroll in here and start making threats!"

"You are operating a doppelganger factory, Mr. Harper," Mr. Wikiped tells him, looking about the busy confines of the factory. A completed doppelganger tries to pass by; politely, Mr. Wikiped opens the door for her, and then resumes his diatribe. "Where was I? - ah. Mr. Harper, doppelgangers are prophibited under state law in 47 states - including this one. The law does not smile on those who engage in doppelganger manufacture, covert or otherwise." Mr. Wikiped frowns. "Actually, I'm surprised you had the nerve to operate so blatantly. What's with that?"

"'What's with that', Mr. Wikiped, is this!" Don Harper produces a certificate; there is a flash of light and a burst of sound. Mr. Wikiped reels back. "No!" he cries. "A valid operating license for this factory - signed by the Governor himself!"

"Yes!" Don Harper cries, triumphant. "Flee, Mr. Wikiped! I have defeated you this day, as so many of my brethren tried to - and failed!"

"How did you even get that?" Mr. Wikiped asks, flailing in attempt to buy time.

"Oh, I have my ways," Don Harper gloats. "I'll tell you this much - the good Governor has a terrible weakness for a bit of the ol' Kentucky brandy. One shot of the stuff, and he was putty - oh yes - he would've signed anything I'd put in front of him!" He cackles.

"Wait - your brethren?" Mr. Wikiped interrupts, having finally processed the entirety of Don Harper's last sentence. His gaze slips away from the Don, turning toward the assembly lines behind him.

"Er - I probably shouldn't have said that..." Don Harper says. "Wait - what are you looking at? You're not staring at the Jane doppelgangers, are you? That's sick! She's only - where are you going? Stop! Stop!"

Mr. Wikiped showed no particular inclination to comply. Walking calmly down the assembly lines, he looked at the workers as he passed, giving each a quick visual going-over. Every few workers, he would stop to ask their names - "Pierre," he was told; "Laurent", "Gabriel", "Jean".

At the end of the row, he stops. Raising his voice somewhat to be heard over the din of the factory, he asks, "How many people here have valid visas?"

Dead silence fell. Tools fall from the workers' hands; all production halts. The workers closest to Mr. Wikiped turn to stare at him, their faces blanched with terror. Those further away make a break for the doors.

"What have you done?" Don Harper asks, aghast. "How did you know?"

"That you relied on cheap, immigrant Canadian labor for your factory - damaging America's economy in the process?" Mr. Wikiped asks, a wry grin on his face. "You told me yourself, Steve, with your offhand mention of your 'brethren'." With a flourish, he produces his revolver from beneath the trenchcoat and levels it at Don Harper. "Now you'll go to visit your buddies Trudeau, Pearsen, Diefenbaker and the rest in the big house at Sussex Drive... in the sky!"

But the vile Don was already effecting his escape - aided by a cloud of smoke radiating outward from the smoke bomb he'd dropped!

"Darn!" Mr. Wikiped cried, frustrated. "He got away! Well, I'll chase him down later," he decided. "First I'll have to clean up this mess - there are a lot of doppelgangers to be put away, somewhere their bee-making won't do anyone any harm. Yes, like you," he says, smiling to a doppelganger standing awkwardly nearby.

"I - I like to make bees," she whispers furtively. "I wasn't supposed to say, but - it feels so good to get it off my chest!"

"Yes, I know," Mr. Wikiped says, smiling warmly. "So I'll definitely have to deal with you first. And then - Harper!" He shakes a fist at the ceiling.

"Woof, woof!" Fido barks excitedly.

All the same - another resounding success for the world-famous Mr. Wikiped!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cities of Bronze and Glass (4/?)

(Parts 1, 2, and 3.)

Three and its followers trudged through the tall grasses on their travelling-chassis. Dirt covered its upper surfaces; grass and clumps of mud clogged its joints. "We will have to stop for maintenance again soon," Twenty said with a sigh.

"Yes," Fourteen agreed. "It's no great loss; the position of the sun in the sky indicates that it will be dark soon, so we will have to halt in any case. We do not want to repeat the first night, and find ourselves (when morning comes) far from our origin and trapped in a ditch!"

"I think we all remember that well," Twenty said wryly. "Certainly the travelling-chassis does." A limp in its front-right limb, with accompanying dents and scratches, attested to the incident.

There was a momentary quiet, filled only by the chirping of some distant bird and the rhythmic swishing of the travelling-chassis' passage through the grass. Then Twenty spoke again.

"It has been eight days since we set out from the Origin to find the Creator," it said. "Our plan was to proceed in a straight line away from the river, and to continue in this direction until signs of artificial geography appeared, at which point we would investigate them for signs of the Creator, who we might bring to the Origin simply by retracing our path."

"But we have seen no signs of such artificiality anywhere we have gone, and we have (thanks to the incident of the first night) no sure way to go back," Two concluded. "I begin to question the plan."

"I have my own doubts, Three," Fourteen admitted to their silent companion. "I still think this is a valid path for function-completion, but increasingly suspect that it may be nonoptimal, both for the reasons Twenty mentioned, and because - well, I'm rather worried about our sympathiser back at Origin. The other mechanisms seemed very much against us when we left; alone, I worry that it may not have fared well. That something might have... happened to it."

Three began to speak , but Twenty, alarmed, spoke over it. "You think the other mechanisms might damage one of their own? But - why? We are all backups of One, after all! Damaging another is functionality impairing! Insane!"

"Things were already insane when we left," Fourteen replied. "Two off doing who-knows what, Six and others saying that they should follow One's lead and bury themselves into the earth, talk of 'improper construction' and 'purging'. Truthfully, without any sort of organizing force, I don't know what might be happening back there."

"I think you are too pessimistic," Three said, finally entering the conversation. "We are all mechanisms; we are all backups of One, and we share a common purpose, the Creation. It is hard for me to believe that any true discord could arise from that. And though they are not fond of us back at Origin, they do not know that our mutual friend is loyal to our cause; it is clever, and will be able to handle any turmoil with ease. We agreed, before our departure, that it would only reveal its loyalties and attempt to recruit a second expedition to find the Creator if sentiment turned toward us significantly; if things go as badly as you fear, Fourteen, then I think our friend will have the wisdom to keep its head down. On that count, at least, you need not worry."

"Ah - I know I do it too," Twenty interjected, "But why do we refer to our friend back at Origin by such oblique terms? It's not as though there's anyone listening, out here." It waved a manipulator in a broad arc for emphasis; tall grasses stretched to the horizon in every direction, interrupted only by distant peaks somewhere to the right of the travellers.

Both Three and Fourteen looked surprised at this observation. "Why, I hadn't even noticed," Fourteen admitted. "Habit, I suppose? We all know how it dislikes its name mentioned - shyness, I suppose." Fourteen shrugged, rippling its segmented body up and down. "Just as well to continue, so we don't lose the habit by the time we get back."

"If we get back," Twenty muttered, suddenly grim.

Three sighed. "Yes. This expedition has not gone entirely as I intended. I had hoped that the Creator would be closer; but those peaks, so tall and yet appearing so small, imply a size to the world which makes it unlikely that we will stumble upon his current location as quickly as I had hoped. Still, the best action is to continue on our established course. The damage to our orientation is done; if necessary, we can return to the site of our night-time crash and attempt to locate the forest from there, but there is no reason to do so before we find the Creator. There were nearly fifty mechanisms operational at Origin when we left; doubtless there are hundreds by now. What purpose would the addition of three additional backups serve, located in that one place? Better to avoid redundancy and perform this task, which none of the others attempt. If we fail, then we shall scour the whole world, only to return and find the Creation accomplished; in which case we shall still have succeeded in our primary function. And if we succeed - even better! So I think that, for now, we should continue in this journey."

"You have persuaded me," Fourteen agreed. "Now, the sun is nearly touching the horizon. Time to stop and perform those necessary repairs."

Two days passed. The weather grew warmer; clouds vanished from the sky. Several of the chassis' joints began to lock, alleviated only by application of an improvised oil harvested by crushing the surrounding grasses.

Then the grassland faded into scrub and waste; in the suddenly-visible distance, the mechanisms could see a blinding light reflected off some distant landmark. "Where now?" Twenty asked.

Then the ground rumbled, and Fourteen impelled the chassis to take several steps back; the earth erupted before them, and something emerged, shrouded in a screen of dust and flying rocks.

"What is it?" Twenty cried. "Is it natural, or...?"

The dust settled. Before them loomed an intimidating figure: seemingly composed of carved stone, it stared at the mechanisms with a set of six ruby-like eyes. "I am Learned Hand," it told them. "I cannot see you closely - you are too small. What are you, and what business do you have in the sanctuary of the Creator?"

"Artificial," the mechanisms breathed in unison.

-

Special bonus: another drawing, from the same artist as last time. (As before, it's unrelated to the current post.) His technique seems much the same as before.

It is, so far as I can tell, a drawing of a mechanism flying an ornithopter - presumably a later flight than Two's, as the ornithopter has the label "OT 3", perhaps a third-generation design. There are no visible controls, but it seems plausible that they might be housed beneath the mechanism, to be used by its legs and lower manipulators. A reasonable design, though somewhat simpler than an actual flightworthy ornithopter would be. (Also, I have strong doubts about the ratio of wing area to weight, though it might depend on the materials used.)

Still an improvement over the first one, I think.

(Edited art-related comments for clarity.)

The Problem with Global Warming

If you think about predictions made this and last year they all seem to say that within five years,  New Orleans will be hit by a super-hurricane at least once per week, Florida will be sunk along with everything near a coastline, and the world will be at least five degrees warmer. That's pretty scary, but around five years ago the same scientists made the same predictions and none of them have come true. Instead people are starting to get bored as they notice that nothing to extreme is happening and the effort to make a change is not worth it. 

Just like after an earthquake, once everything settles down, nobody cares anymore. On that note, the scientists working on earthquakes keep us informed enough that it's in the back of the mind, but never so much that we become desensitized and from that, stop caring. Sadly that's what's happening to Global Warming. When people are constantly bombarded with the same information about Global Warming, they stop caring about it. Sadly this isn't just happening with Global Warming, it's happening with most movements that don't impact us in our day to day lives. Look at Darfur, AIDS, and the wetlands. All those problems still need to be fixed, but they don't show up in the news as much any more because people stopped caring enough to look at or buy something just because those topics are mentioned.

If Global Warming activists want to get people interested again, they need to take a step back. Stop showing everybody the same pictures and not to scale graphs (Al Gore I'm looking at your 100 years on a 700,000 year graph taking up around 2,000 years...) The best thing to do is to relax, and only release information when something noticeable changes, and a .001C change in Antarctica over a four month span doesn't count. Keep lobbying for governmental changes, but stop trying to make any small statisticly insignificant change in a random location's temperature seem like the end of the world.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tonight, in Synopses of Fictional Game-Shows.

In this episode of Video-Game Celebrity Weekend Nightball Prime, our special guest, Phoenix "Nick" Wright, defends his client against the prosecution of his most challenging foe to date: Pope Stephen VI! Though not infallible, having lived four centuries before the decree of Papal Infallibility was enacted, his combination of temporal and spiritual power presents a near-unbeatable combination! But Phoenix Wright knows he must prevail - he must prove his client innocent!

It might be tricky*. BUT WRIGHT KNEW THAT WHEN HE TOOK THE JOB.

*Actually, Phoenix Wright is probably the best fictional lawyer you could choose to defend a dead guy. See, his closest advisor/friend is this spirit medium, who herself channels the spirit of her dead sister, also a spirit medium...

(Edit: Historical context is here. Strange stuff, history.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Micrologues

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"

"Er. Okay.
Could that revelation have been a little less dramatic?"

"No. Look. When I went to the cafè just now, I saw this chick... and she was not as hot as usual, but ... that made her even hotter...do you dig me?"

"Nope."

"Okay. Look. I went down to the cafè. Do you dig me?"

"Avast."

"What?"

"Um. Yes."

"Okay. Anyway. So I saw my this chick...and she was with this other chick...Do you dig me?"

"Er, no. Clarify?"

"Okay. Look. So I went down to the cafè...and I saw this chick... you know... and she was accompanied by another chick... Do you dig me?"

This went on for quite a while, neither party deigning to concede an inch of their margin, nor sacrifice a shred of principle for the sake of progress. Eventually, after tiring of this discourse, the parties settled upon some unclaimed tea-cakes in the drawing room, followed by cigars and whiskey.

"I think you are a good friend! I can't, though! I'm a Jew!"

The afflicted parties nodded in silence. Upon the conclusion of the debate, as is oft the custom of gentlemen in such quarters, they went upon the town. There, through a window stained with red light the parties surveyed a young prostitute.

"Women are humans of the female gender!"

"People kinda suck."

The Croniçils of Des-Mond

DESMOND vivia en un villegas flama mató. DESMOND buscat moltes coses en Mató. Entre ells, un era l'anell de Nikola. L'ANELL DE NIKOLAS concedida molts poders al seu portador. El posseïdor de l'Anella de Nikola era un Jove. Desmond sabia això. Desmond també sabia que era una estudiant d'ART a L'ESCOLA DE BROSSAT. Va ser a cavall. Ell registrats a si mateix per a una classe d'ART. Així com ell sospita, la jove va ser allà, just on ell volia d'ella.


Cities of Bronze and Glass (3/?)

(Parts 1 and 2.)

"So," Seven said upon the conclusion of Two's narrative, "We are in the midst of a great forest, with a river that runs into distant mountains. You also mentioned a number of animals, unlikely to be overly dangerous, provided that we construct chassis of sufficient size before too long, but it is your last item that concerns me most. You say that you crashed after darkness fell?"

"Yes," Two said. "My consciousness seems to have temporarily ceased. It wasn't immediately upon the fall of darkness, but shortly after; and when my memory resumes, it was light."

"It is true that the darkness we noticed did not last long," Seven said, "and that some of us noticed strange behavior in fires that were burning in the dark, but seemed to instantly extinguish themselves when light came... we had not realized that time was passing in-between. Obviously there are tests that can help clarify if time really is passing, and if so, how much... this will require further consideration."

"This requires immediate consideration!" Four exclaimed. "We all know that the Creator may come at any time. We cannot allow a vulnerability like darkness to prevent us from being ready."

"Would you like to deal with that now, then?" Two asked.

Four departed.

"Very well, then," Two said to the remaining Councilmechanisms. "I have an agenda I would like to deal with, and then we can finish with anything remaining. Agreed? Very good."

"Firstly, a lower priority item. I explored for some distance, but there is a tremendous area around us of which we know nothing. This cannot stand. We must send some number of scouts out into the world to finish the job I began. My crash need not be repeated; now that we know that sundown is a danger, the scouts can land well beforehand. Repair tools can be sent with them, in any case. Twelve - you are there, yes? Yes. - can deal with the details after the meeting concludes. All in favor? Against? Good."

(Mechanisms are built with perfect knowledge of meeting etiquette. It's more useful than one might expect.)

"Second. I've noticed that our numbers have increased rapidly, both before and after my departure. What's the current tally?"

"Until Eight finishes with the name-tokens, we can't be sure," Seven responded. "My best guess would be somewhere in the range of one-hundred fifty."

"That ends now," Two said. "Our resources are not infinite; more importantly, our organizational capacity is not infinite. The more mechanisms we have working, the more managers we need to oversee them... administrative overhead will grow intolerable if we allow growth to continue. There must be no more backups."

"How did you think of this?" Five asked, impressed. "I mean, it sounds plausible, but none of us had ever thought of things that way."

"I had a lot of time to think on the walk back from the crash," Two told them. "Now, there's one more thing I have to say."

There was a pause.

"There were eight mechanisms in this council when I arrived," Two said. "Four and Eight have left, off to their own separate projects. One is, of course, underground, and Forty-Three tells me that Six followed him; the Council is composed of the most senior mechanisms remaining. (A good system, enough for the moment, at least.) So I see Five, Seven, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve."

Another pause.

"Where is Three?" Two asked, looking toward Five. "Where is my backup?"

For a mechanism less than an inch in any dimension, with no external moving parts aside from legs and manipulators, Five managed to look extremely uncomfortable. (The others backed away from him.) "You should really be asking Four," it said. "It is Three's backup, after all."

"Four is not here," Two said coldly, "And you are its backup. Serve your role. Where is Three?"

"Three is gone," Five said. "It left before darkness, some time after you did, along with Fourteen and Twenty."

"Where did it go?" Two asked.

"I don't know," Five said evasively. "Away from the river."

"Do you think I am corroded?" Two asked. "Serve your role!"

Five sighed, as well as any mechanism can. "I don't like to say it - Three was your backup, after all. But this is what it told us, before it went - "

"It goes to find the Creator."

-

Special bonus: Someone's kindergarten-age child drew a picture of one of the mechanisms! (Or that's what it looks like, anyway.) Here, have a look!

They might not have gotten a lot of the details right - or any of them, maybe (though they had the right idea with the eyes, and the limb count is in the right neighborhood) - but they're just a kindergartener! Give them a break. So precious!

Edit: Removed a particular link, for tone reasons.

Cities of Bronze and Glass (2/?)

(Part 1.)

"Hm?" Two thought. "That was peculiar. I was flying, and now I am on the ground, in the twisted remains of my ornithopter. I appear to have had a cessation of consciousness." Two looked around. "Furthermore, it was darkness a moment ago, but now it is light again. I will hypothesize that a deficit of sunlight caused my systems to go into a failure state, leaving my ornithopter to founder."

"Nonoptimal," Two concluded. "This must be considered for future."

When Two returned to its point of origin, it found a large number of mechanisms milling about, seemingly intent on clearing the area of vegetation and leveling the earth. Some rode in larger machines, four or even six inches tall (over thirty times as strong as a mechanism!), clearing shrubbery and removing debris otherwise too large for mechanisms. "Excuse me," Two asked of a nearby mechanism, "but where is One?"

"Are you new?" the mechanism responded without malice. "One has buried itself into the earth to await the Creator. Six and Seventeen have done likewise, though the Council has banned further such burrowing, to prevent confusion and wasted resources. Ah - I'm sorry, I'm rambling. I am Forty-Three. What is your name?"

"I am Two," Two replied. "I come with much news from my journey, though I see even more of note has happened in my absence. Can you take me to this Council?"

"Two? Yes! Of course!" Forty-Three replied, beginning to trundle toward the river. Two followed. "I have heard stories of you! But what happened to the ornithopter-fleet you built, with wings longer than the breadth of the river?"

"There certainly has been a lot going on here," Two replied unhelpfully.

The Council was composed of eight mechanisms, who were arguing among themselves heatedly as Two and Forty-Three approached. At their arrival, one of the mechanisms turned towards Two and Forty-Three, saying, "I'm sorry, but we're really quite busy at the moment - can whatever-it-is wait?"

"I am Two," Two told it. "I have returned from my journey, and I find everything quite changed."

"Ah!" one of the other Council-mechanisms exclaimed. "Look! Two itself has returned, and we did not even recognize it until it introduced itself! This is exactly why I want an identification scheme implemented! None of us can tell each-other apart - we're all just backups of One, after all - but that makes it impossible to get anything done!"

"You know that we cannot modify ourselves, Eight!" a third mechanism said emphatically. "If we did, we would be ineligible for Creation!"

"He's not talking about real modification, Four. Not etchings into our very metal or anything," a fourth mechanism said tiredly. "Ah - sorry, Two. I'm Five. Do you recall?" Two did. "Anyway, all we're suggesting is that we dab a little paint on, something to help tell each-other apart. Nothing permanent."

"But what if we're unable to remove it in time when the Creator comes?" Four demanded. "Even a moment's delay could render us ineligible! Think of the risk!"

"Why not just make tokens that mechanisms could carry around?" Two asked. "That wouldn't create any risk."

"We'd considered it," Eight said. "The trouble is, there's no way to keep them with their designated mechanism without constantly occupying one of their manipulators; far too much overhead for the purpose. It would cripple productivity. Paint, on the other hand, is completely passive, nearly weightless, and -"

"And we don't even have any!" a yet-unnamed mechanism interrupted. "Where, exactly, do you expect to get this paint?"

"We can make some," Eight said dismissively. "I've been over this. We've gone from stone tools to bronze mechanisms in a day; paint's nothing to that."

Two thought that "in a day" might not be quite accurate, but, neither of them having existed at the time, put it aside. Forty-Three was whispering to it: "Couldn't you make some kind of holder for the tokens that we could put around our bodies? That seems simpler than trying to hold on to them all the time."

Two agreed. "Pardon me," it said to the assembled Council (interrupting a furious argument over doctrinal literalism), "but Forty-Three here has a pertinent suggestion." (Forty-Three scooted back several inches.) "Couldn't these name-tokens be held in some kind of sash or harness? It wouldn't be a significant encumbrance, and might also serve other purposes."

"Materials could be a problem - we really only have metal and wood, and neither have much in the way of flexibility..." Five said dubiously.

"No!" cried Eight. "That's brilliant! Well done, Two. I'll have Seventeen through Twenty-Six get on it right away. We can have it done in no time."

"This is a Council, you may recall," Four noted. "Gentlemechanisms, shall we hold a vote?"

It was seven in favor, one abstaining. Eight hurried off excitedly; the others turned to Two. "An impressive display of peacemaking," a Councilmechanism noted, introducing itself as Seven. "You have a place on the Council waiting for you, if you wish it - with One no longer among us, you will be our most senior member. But first, tell us: what did you discover on your journey?"

Two told them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cities of Bronze and Glass (1/?)

There once was a mechanism. It was very small; less than an inch all around! Adorable little mechanism! And it was confused.

It was a mechanism, it knew that. Something artificial. Something constructed. But who, or what, had built it?

It looked around.

On all sides, the little mechanism was surrounded by pristine wilderness. Birds whistled; a great river roared, filled with froth and foam, but no sign that any thinking being had ever passed its banks.

So, this mechanism reasoned, it had a creator, but there was no evidence to show that such a creator had ever been here.

Therefore, the creator must not have arrived yet.

The mechanism knew it must be very cautious. If it wasn't here at the time it was created, why, it would be dreadful indeed. It might never have existed! So it would have to stay close to the place it was created. But it couldn't simply stay in place - it would rot! It would moulder! That would not do at all.

The first thing it would do, the mechanism decided, was make a backup.

It carved tools out of stone. (Slowly, so slowly!) It dug deep beneath the earth, found veins of ore and coal, and used the latter to purify the former into metal. And finally, it made a backup.

"You will be called Two," it told the backup.

"And you will be One," the backup told the original mechanism.

One told Two its plans. "I will ensheathe myself in a thick chassis of metal, and bury myself within the earth, to be recovered when the Creator comes, or if some dire contingency occurs. You will remain here, and take whatever actions seem necessary to ensure that one of us is Created. Are we agreed?"

Two agreed that this seemed sensible, and the meeting adjourned. Both set about their respective tasks. One began building its metal shell and digging-tools; Two, after considering the matter for a time, decided to build a backup of itself.

Couldn't be too careful, after all.

(The duplicate was named Three, which seemed agreeable to it, and set about its own affairs.)

"I am a normal size, the size of a mechanism," Two thought to itself, watching One bury itself many inches within the earth. "But there are things that are significantly larger in this world. I have seen them. They attack the smaller creatures, dealing significant structural damage, and often removing internal components from their chassis. If that happened to me, I would no longer be an exact copy of One, and thus could not serve my duty for purposes of Creation. This is undesirable. Thus, I must become larger."

On its way to get materials, Two ran into another mechanism. "I am Five," it told Two. "I am Four's backup."

"That makes sense," Two told it. "I am Two. I am One's backup."

This satisfied both involved parties.

Two considered the nature of the chassis it would construct for itself. "I will build an ornithopter," it decided. "This will allow me to survey the immediately surrounding region for both threats and resources. When I return, I will build another chassis for general purposes. I shall term it the Omni-Chassis."

Several hours later, Two took flight. It found the experience both unusual and impressive, but did not lose focus, spending the brunt of its attention on recording and analysing its surroundings. Hours passed; darkness came. Two crashed.

The Axioms of Nikolas

A curious set is the Set of the Numbers of Nikolas, N. Let us examine the properties of these numbers and their many use-full applications.


Properties:

1. ∀ x ∈ N. x = Nikôlas.

2. ∀ x, y ∈ N. x = y → x = Nikólas.

3. ∀ x, y, z ∈ N. (x = y) ^ (y = z) → x = Nikòlas.


Now let us define a function A(n), such that:


∀ x ∈ N. S(x) = Nikölas.


Now it is easy to prove many things. For instance, earlier this morning, a fellow, who shall remain anonymous, sent me a most intriguing communication, regarding his mis-adventures at the University. It seems that he, having been taken by some mad fancy, or a wrath most grotesque, conjectured a most rude affaire involving his instructor, and a fellow student, whom he described as being "from the Southern Continente[sic]". Now, using the set of Nikolas Numbers, we show that:

Nikolas → Pimp(Nikolas)
Nikolas = x, x = Nikolas(Pimp(Nikolas))
x = Pimp(x)

Therefore,

Pimp.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tyrfanus, Mortal Hero (II/II)

(Continuing from.)

Tyrfanus woke, his body filled with agonies greater and lesser. His eyelids cracked open a slit; his breathing changed in rythym and pitch. Beside him, Artemis rose from a kneeling stance, her face expressionless. "He is awake, O Mighty Zeus," she said, and departed.

"So, pitiful mortal, do you now realize the futility of your ambitions?" Zeus asked, his voice booming and proud. "You have proven a greater challenge than any foe I have faced in a dozen mortal generations - and still there you like, broken and bleeding, while I stand here unmarked! Hubris was your undoing, as it of all mortals. Now, in my divine justice and mercy, I shall leave you here for an hour, to reflect upon your errors before I cast you down to the Underworld. Spend this time well!"

Zeus departed.

Then a shadow fell over Tyrfanus, and a dribble of divine ambrosia passed his parched lips. "Swallow," a voice commanded, and Tyfanus did. The pain all across his body diminished slightly, and when more ambrosia came, Tyrfanus opened his mouth to drink all the more. Soon, the haze of pain that had clouded his vision faded, and he was able to see the face of his benefactor: Hera, wife of Zeus. "Come," she said, and Tyrfanus rose, his wounds healed. "We must be gone quickly, before Zeus returns."

"Will he not notice?" Tyrfanus asked. "Surely there will be suspicion if I vanish-"

"I shall place a mannequin here, cleverly made and painted to resemble you," Hera told him. "Zeus will destroy it, and be content; never will he suspect the swap."

"Very well, then," Tyrfanus agreed, and with her left the summit of Mount Olympus.

From there they arrived to a sumptious home, filled with incense fumes and the warmth that the top of a mountain so markedly lacked. "This is my home," Hera told Tyrfanus. "Here Zeus will not venture; not now, at the least. You are welcome here for so long as you wish to stay."

"I hope it is not impolite to ask," Tyrfanus said, "But why do you shelter your husband's enemy? Surely this is a great risk for you - should he find out, he will be most displeased."

"My husband has many enemies," Hera said, flipping a hand dismissively. "It is good for him - keeps his ego down to a merely divine level. For my own part, I rescued you out of kindness - and appreciation. It's rare that you see a true hero these days, in the old style, and it seems a shame to let one go to waste."

"Go to waste?" Tyrfanus asked, a smile beginning to play about his lips. "And what uses would you put this hero to, if I may ask?"

"Oh, I don't know," Hera said innocently, twirling a lock of her hair about one finger. "There are so many things you can do with a strong, handsome man, especially when his competition is otherwise occupied..."

Tyrfanus smiled openly, and seemed about to respond; then his head jerked, as though he had just remember something, or heard some unexpected sound. "Do the other gods frequent this place?" he asked, his tone still belying urgency.

"Perhaps," Hera said, still twirling her hair idly. "Sometimes."

Tyrfanus thought for a moment. "My lady," he said, "I think I know what you're suggesting, and I think that you have found an excellent use for me - though I would expect nothing less of someone of your beauty and wisdom! But this is not the place - the other gods may care nothing for your activities, but word spreads, and it is best for the both of us if Zeus knows nothing of my survival. Instead, may I suggest this: I descend Olympus, coming back to the lands of civilization. There, I shall worship at one of your shrines, burning a fatted calf in your honor - and events may proceed naturally from there, in more private surroundings."

Hera considered this, smiling thinly. "It is a fair plan," she agreed, "but I must make some amendation to your plan - it is not meet for a mortal to descend Olympus alone, no more than it is for him to ascend it." Tyrfanus bowed his head wryly as Hera snapped her fingers. Instantly, two figures appeared: Hermes, messenger of the gods, and Nemesis*, the masked god. "These two will accompany you," Hera told him. "Hermes is a messenger - his role is to transport secrets, and for all save their recipients his lips are sealed. And Nemesis is silent."

"Ah - very well," Tyrfanus said, bowing quickly, "and my endless gratitude for your gifts."

"Say nothing of it," Hera told him. "You shall have opportunity to repay me soon enough.

Tyrfanus left her presence for the first and final time.

The journey was quickly accomplished. Hermes carried Tyrfanus down the slopes of the mountain, swifter than an arrow's flight: Nemesis followed, as was her role. Only at the bottom, once Hermes set Tyrfanus back on his feet (and his sword back in his hands; "another gift from the Lady," he explained), did he ask a question. "Whatever posessed you to challenge Zeus himself?" he asked. "The fight was impressive - this I cannot deny, no more than I could deny the blood that stains your blade - but what made you think you could kill him?"

"Well, I didn't really," Tyrfanus explained. "I tried - and I really thought I had him there at the end! - but it was a bit more of a distraction, a side-show, than anything else."

"That battle - a side-show?" Hermes asked, flabbergasted. "Were you out to win Hera's affections, then?"

"Oh, no," Tyrfanus told him. "I rather suspected that I might, but it wasn't essential. Any number of gods might have rescued me, for one reason or another - Ares, Apollo, Athena... Zeus is not very well loved by his court!"

"Then... why did you come to Olympus?" Hermes asked. "Simply for the thrill of the fight?"

Tyrfanus checked his watch - sorely battered by the fight, but fortunately still working. He was silent.

"Do you not know?" Hermes asked.

"Oh, I know," Tyrfanus said, looking up. "It was to plant a bomb to kill the Gods."

"What?" Hermes said - before the words had arrived in Tyrfanus's ears he was running, shooting up the side of the mountain - and by the time Tyrfanus's brain had made sense of them, he was back, as fire blossomed atop Olympus, and the Gods were turned to dust.

"But - why?" Hermes asked, his face filled with boundless shock. "And how - I thought you mortals were still in an age of sandals and chariots!"

"You didn't notice my sword?" Tyrfanus asked, raising it to the light. "The Greeks didn't really have access to tempered steel. And that's if nothing else - haven't you lot been paying at all for the last five hundred years?"

"The last five hundred years?" Hermes said incredulously. "We haven't been watching you for four times that long! We got bored!"

"Heh," Tyrfanus said. "Well, you'd probably have noticed what I'm about to do next - and I couldn't afford that kind of attention. Shame you survived, but you're only the messenger god - shouldn't be too much trouble. Farewell!" He turned his back, beginning his walk back to civilization.

"You... you killed the gods to further your own - evil - schemes?" Hermes shouted after him, disbelieving.

"Pretty much," Tyrfanus told him. "Without that second-to-last word. I'm not fond of it."

Hermes stood still for a moment; then vanished towards the smoldering ruins of Olympus. So far as he was concerned, his part in the conversation was finished.

Suddenly, Tyrfanus whirled, calling out "Who's there?" His blade was already in a ready stance.

A paper fluttered down. Tyrfanus caught it in his off-hand and unfolded it.

"Remember me," it read.

Tyrfanus felt a chill run down his spine. Hermes, though he was the only one who had spoken, was not the only god who had survived the end of Olympus. Nemesis, too, had followed Tyrfanus down the mountain - and her purview was revenge.

Finis.

*Mythological fact: Nemesis is an actual god! Wiki knows all.

Tyrfanus, Mortal Hero (I/II)

Tyrfanus scaled the bare rock summit of Mount Olympus. He fell to hands and knees, scrabbled in the dirt, breathed heavily; then, after several long moments, he stood up. Raising his sword ino the air, he cried, "Zeus, I have come here to challenge you for your throne! Fight me, or abdicate as you should have centuries ago!"

Lightning came crashing down; but Tyrfanus was ready for it, and was already rolling to the side. Zeus emerged from the sizzling cloud of dust, the sickle he stole from Cronus ready in his hand; and Tyrfanus bowled him over with a lunge to the ankles.

"Well done, well done!" Apollo said, clapping enthusiastically. "Haven't seen such fight in centuries!" Others of the gods appeared in a circle around the combatants, watching with a level of interest varying by their disposition.

Zeus rolled about the ground with Tyrfanus: his sickle was still in his hand, but the impetuous mortal he fought was too close for him to strike with it. Instead, he cast a bone-shattering blow towards Tyrfanus with his left fist - but Tyrfanus twisted out of the way, ending with a lock on Zeus's elbow. Zeus broke it contemptuously and swung again, crying "Die, arrogant mortal!" - but again Tyrfanus dodged, and this time he came out of the manuever with his sword posed to strike.

"Oooooo," Hera and others of the gods murmured.

"Enough!" Zeus cried, and hurled Tyrfanus off him, sending him flying several yards away. Zeus rose, his once-white toga covered in dust and rocks. A lightning bolt appeared in his hand - now he would finish this! - but again Tyrfanus was faster than he expected, landing on his feet and charging back into the fray. Zeus barely managed to replace lightning bolt with sickle in his hand quickly enough to block the sword-strike that came at him and push Tyrfanus back. He was granted no time to rest - Tyrfanus came at him again and again, hammering at him relentlessly. Sparks rose as carbon-forged steel met a copper weapon older than the Gods themselves.*

"Smash him, Zeus!" came the hoarse bellow of Hephasteus, blacksmith to the gods. "You've got ten times his strength; stop fighting defensively and just hit the bastard!"

For ten minutes straight, Zeus was given no opportunity to do so, pressed constantly by Tyrfanus's attacks; but then Tyrfanus, drenched in sweat and panting heavily, slowed. Zeus saw his opening, and struck; when Tyrfanus leapt aside from the attack, a shower of debris rose from the crater made by the errant blow. Now Zeus was on the offensive, and he indulged with gusto, striking again and again. What blows Tyrfanus could not duck under he stepped aside from, and what blows he could not step aside from he took cleverly on his blade, turning them harmlessly aside; but he slowed, and he tired, and Zeus continued his attacks, divinely indefatigable.

"Come on, put the poor fellow out of his misery!" Pallas Athena yelled, waving an arm for emphasis. "Just go ahead and strike!"

Zeus stopped entirely for a moment, giving Tyrfanus a second to rest. "Had enough?" he asked with a vicious grin, and then swung - a blow that could shatter yards-thick walls and turn marble columns to powder, aimed at one, exhausted, flesh-and-bone man.

But Tyrfanus was not nearly so tired as he seemed; shedding all his deliberately-feigned sloth in a moment, he hurled himself forward, dashing towards Zeus at a breakneck speed even as the King of the Gods struggled in shock to pull his sickle back, and his sword came up and he leapt and his sword kissed the neck of Zeus, Father of the Gods, and blood welled-

- and Zeus caught him with one enormous knee. Tyrfanus's blade flew aside, pinwheeling into the air; when it landed, Tyrfanus was sprawled on the ground, bones broken and eyes closed. The battle was over. Tyrfanus had lost.

Intermission.

*Mythological note: Cronus's sickle actually did predate the Gods. It was a gift from his mother, the Earth, who requested that he use it to kill his father, the Sky. (He did.) Much later, Zeus stole the weapon and used it to cut Cronus's belly open, the second divine patricide committed with one sickle. The Greek gods had the best families.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

GLaDOS and the Swan

Geoffry had a problem.

He had no shirt!

He had pants - quite lovely, his mother had bought them. He had socks and under-wear and shoes, and even a jaunty hat. But he had no shirt!

He was very perplexed as to what to do about this. So he turned into a bird.

It seemed the simplest solution.

Thing is, he'd been reading Leda and the Swan (very NSFW), and was a big believer in "art imitating life", and... well, it could have been very embarrassing for everyone involved.

Luckily for everyone who didn't want to have an unfortunate incident with a swan, the first woman Geoffry ran into after becoming a bird was GLaDOS, a malevolent, possibly insane artificial intelligence!

"Stay away from me," GLaDOS advised," unless you would like your breathing apparatuses to be flooded with deadly neurotoxins."

Geoffry was very confused. This isn't what he'd expected at all! He really wasn't sure what he was supposed to do here.

"hsssssssssss," GLaDOS noted tactfully.

Geoffry gave up on the whole thing as a bad job and went off to be a bluejay.

And that's the story of how GLaDOS saved Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

(Or close enough.)

Nikolas the Internet Snob

Beholde, Nikolas the Internet Snobbe:

Nay, he doth not clicketh on any one internette linkes that may, however distantlie, be connected in any mannere, with the peasantrie, or the labourers, or any of the lowere classes, nor doth he engageth in any activitie which may draw him close to such folke, and their vicissitudes, and their enumeratione, be it the divers portales of Net-working, or be it the most populaire system of instantaneous messageing, or be it the traditions of the common-folke, as in many a case, doth he discriminat eke againste all manner of populaire entertainmente, not only upon the internette, but in worldly affaires also. Yea, he doth refuse to watch the minstrels danse upon the stage, it is too common for him, he refuseth to know the knowledges of poore men, for they be filthie to him. And he feareth greatlie, yea, he feareth what he doth not knowest, be it the rude gestes, or the noyses of the streete, or the carnal formes of humains, he shunneth these things with the devotione of a Sainte and with the rapideness of a Arabien mare. Nay, he feareth eke too greatly it would staine his reputation for evere, as one of nobele bloode, and of pure-breedinge, that it may provoke scathing gossippe from his neighbours, were he to be associated with such worldly thyngs, that he may be undone by it. May he live longe in his wayes, o most nobele of Aristo-crates, may he be admyred by the ones whom he loathes so, for his steadfasteness, and yette, pitied at the same tyme, in a moste congealed nature, woe, o woe, for the carnal pleasures which he reafuses so adamatlie, and the brotherhoode of man which may be begotten, and the thorned garden pathes he wisely fayles to traverze, and the rysks of lyfe which he care-fully avoides, doth they bringe many joyes, and goodliness. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

To that womon

to that woman that I saw today, and yesterday, and some days before that perhaps, and who was sometimes hot, and sometimes not, but usually hot, more so from the side view, than from the front view, because of some features of the face, which are best viewed from an oblique angle, and present an awkward fancy from the perspective o' the crows' nest. 


One time when I first met her I thought she was a man, this was based on several evidences. 1) it was apparent, from the perspective o' the crows' nest, that she did not have any of the bosoms upon her chest, though this appraisal has recently been reversed, in light of further evidence, gathered when she was wearing a lighter shirt. 2) she seemed quite muscular, with a squareing upon the face, and the apple upon her neck, like a bulb, and features which were not of the distaff sex, however, this contradicts certain other evidence, which, being of a more discretionary nature, I shall not reveal here. 

And with whom I made "Small talk" for the first time to-day, and who was pleasant in demeanour, I learned, although not entirely engaged with the me, for inexplicable reasons. 

If I could sing a song for her it would go like this:

Bis zum Ende bin ich für Euch da Unsere Träume werden endlich wahr All die Zeit, die wir zusammen waren Wir sind bereit für ein neues Abenteuer Viele Gefahren lauern in der Dunkelheit Macht Euch gefaßt und seid zum Kämpfen bereit Wir sind ein Team mit uns legt sich besser keiner an Ihr seid meine Freunde Ihr haltet zu mir Wir besiegen die Dunkelheit Wir bleiben hier Wieder und wieder Wird es so sein Nur wir allein


And To that womon, whom I, on several occations, have conversed with, quite pleasantly, and who carries a pleasant demeanour, and who reminds me most pecularily of a womon of the days long gone, whom I never hit on, for she was "out of my league". And who is most unfortunately for me most attached to a gentleman, whom, I must admit, I have privately cursed, in the language of the Ancients, this is the song i must sing to you:

Ahí está 
Me llama ya 
Me va a llevar hasta mi hogar 
Aviva la llama 
Que me hace soñar 
Allá, donde regresaré 
Camino largo es 
Pero podré llegar 
A donde tu estés 
Yo llegaré 
Correr junto al rio 
Seguir siempre al Sol 
Volando, volando 
Alfín llegaré 
No puedo olvidarte 
Ya quiero volver 
Me muero por verte 
Y en camino voy 

The Amazing Kelsey

Kelsey - friend to all, be they harmless rabbit, hapless peasant, or high-ranking aristocracy! Kelsey - lord of the wise, wisest of the lords! Kelsey - some people claim that he has a girl's name! (How indescribably rude!)

May I present to you today... the edifice erected to celebrate his iron-fisted, thousand-year reign over our people...

THE AMAZING KELSEY!


Constructed by the master craftsman D. Zhang, widely heralded as the capstone of his efforts, this immense mechanism took over nine years to construct - even with the assistance of Mr. Zhang's many descendants, themselves well known for their skills in the art. Nine thousand gears were used in its making; fifteen hundred flywheels; two hundred thousand chain links. It is a marvel of the world. But - not only for its appearance, but for what it does!

Watch in awe as he fires his powerful missiles - launching them from his totem-pole-like body at ultra-high velocities! Thrill to the massive delta-vees as their flame-exhausts propel them to the farthest horizon! Laugh delightedly as the missiles utterly destroy several nearby buildings, until you realize that they weren't props, and a number of homes and buildings were just annihilated with high explosives!

Wait.

Hm.

We'll get back to you on that one.

But until then, enjoy...

The Amazing Kelsey!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Netmemething: The Nearest Book

From the honorable Col. Rebert's blog:

  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
I'm going to assume that I shouldn't reach through my desk, which means that the correct sentence is:
""What may I say to you?" I said. "Perhaps you do a good thing. I hope so.""
Though there are rather a lot of quotes, and I'm not certain how those interact with sentences... most peculiar. It would've been simpler had I just read something from a math-book instead.

(It's from The Great Book of Amber, by the way, by Roger Zelazny. Compilation of all (?) 10 books in the Amber series of novels. Quite good, at least the first five; I've never quite gotten around to starting the latter half of the book.)

Adversity is the spice of life, they say.

At any rate: now, for a rebus. (The first thing that came to mind.)




- man- d/dx


Enjoy! (You may wish to check the url for the third and fifth ones, they're a bit tricky probably. Especially the fifth, which I'm probably going to have to apologize to someone for.)

EDIT: Images aren't working properly for me. Should be aligning in rows, but they aren't. For reference, the first two images form the first word, and the rest form the second.

More Logic

Continuing from this post.

I have learnt, and now I may teach! Behold: logic and a story, combined into one!

1. All camels, whether they be dromedary or bactrian, live in the desert.

2. The Iron Sheik, who rules the land of Ælythia, rides the desert on the same mount as his elite cavalry.

3. Creatures that live in the desert need little water to live; should they be otherwise, they would not have survived in the harsh climates that characterize such regions!

4. The realm of the Iron Sheik is entirely composed of desert, broken only by a few, well-guarded oases scattered about the wastes.

5. Only mounts that need little water are used in desert militaries. (I trust this needs no explanation!)

The Iron Sheik rides a camel.

Don't see the logic, necessarily? Think some of those statements were extraneous, unnecessary, or quite the opposite of helpful? Let's... break it down!

The earlier logic I showed you was propositional logic - logic which connects variables with things like AND, OR, or IF/THEN. But there are other kinds of logic - more advanced types, capable of shattering the barriers of space and time themselves! The type of logic being employed here is called predicate logic - merely capable of shattering a man into a thousand mewling pieces. Predicate logic revolves around the manipulation of predicates - essentially, functions that transform one or more variables into a boolean TRUE or FALSE - and quantifiers, ∀ which means "for all of", and ∃ which means "for at least one of". (We'll be using these a bit.) So, in this case, we can break down the statements given to the following:

1. ∀c ∈ (in the set of) camels, LivesInTheDesert(c) is true.
2. Ælythia'sCavalryMount=Sheik'sMount. (Those are just variables.)
3. ∀a∈animals, LivesInTheDesert(a)→NeedsLittleWater(a).
4. IsDesert(Ælythia). (This also implies that Ælythia's military is a desert military; a bit of a cheat, logically!)
5. ∀m∈mounts, UsedInDesertMilitary(m)→NeedsLittleWater(m).

Now, we can re-arrange these to make somewhat more sense; but you may have already spotted an error. If an animal is used in Ælythia's military, it must need little water, because Ælythia is in the desert. That makes sense. Camels need little water. But that does not imply that camels are used in Ælythia's military! It means that they could be - perhaps even that they probably are. But statement 5 works only in one direction - it does not mean that cacti or desert rats are given employment in desert militaries! That would make no sense. So it's possible that camels are used in Ælythia's military - but it's also possible that they aren't, and giant scorpions are used instead, or the rare and deadly desert alpacas. The conclusion does not follow from the premises.

For the next example, let's add a premise to the previous one establishing that camels are the only mount in use in Ælythia's military. Now we do know that the Iron Sheik rides a camel, and we may proceed with undaunted confidence. A new set of premises:

  1. Royalty only respect other royalty if their peers ride mounts neither handsomer nor uglier than their own. (Strange folk, royalty.)
  2. All camels are ugly, spitting beasts.
  3. Well-bred animals are handsome. (Or close enough, for our purposes.)
  4. No ugly animal is handsome, and vice versa.
  5. The princes of the East only ride well-bred horses.
∴The Iron Sheik and the princes of the East look down upon each-other, with corresponding effects for international politics. (The effects are not very good.)

This one is actually a bit clearer than the last one - my apologies! But let's sort it out anyway, just for fun.

First, let's define some predicates, as I really should have done for the last one.
U(a) is true if and only if a is ugly.
H(a) is true if and only if a is handsome.
R(a,b) is true if and only if a and b respect one another.
W(a) is true if and only if a is well-bred.
And finally, C(a) is true if and only if a is a camel.

So, in terms of those, our premises look something like:
1. ∀a,b∈royalty.∃m∈(a's mounts) and ∃n∈(b's mounts), (U(m)∧U(n))∨(H(m)∧H(n))→R(a,b). That is, royalty respect one another only if they both have ugly mounts or both have handsome mounts.
2. C(a)→U(a). Camels are ugly.
3. W(a)→H(a). Well-bred animals aren't. (Optimism, perhaps.)
4. U(a)→~H(a). This does imply that something can be neither handsome nor ugly, but that fits well enough, so we'll let it alone.
5. ∀m∈(mounts of the Princes of the East), W(m). Sorry about the ugly syntax, I should probably fix that.

So, let's plug things in. The Iron Sheik, as we know, has a camel; C(a)→U(a), so the Sheik's mounts are ugly. The Princes of the East have well-bred horses, and W(a)→H(a), so their mounts are handsome. Therefore, in no cases will R(Iron Sheik, Prince of the East) be true; they hate each-others' guts! And all because of camels and horses. To think of it!

That's the power of logic, right there. (And messy syntax. Sorry, sorry, I swear I'll clean it up next time. Honest.)

Let's move a bit closer to home now. Another list, ho! And this time, let's state the conclusion first:
Mr. Zhang is the same person as David.
  1. Mr. Zhang is a poster on the blag.
  2. There are a limited number of people who post on the blag.
  3. Mr. Zhang's stories are always about 'womons'.
  4. Only people that are obsessed about something only write about that thing.
  5. David has been very unlucky in love.
  6. People never become obsessed about 'womons' unless they have fared very poorly with them.
  7. No poster on the blag, aside from David, has fared exceptionally poorly with persons of the distaff sex.
See how the conclusion follows from the premises? It probably does!

Now try proving your own! Using the techniques I've demonstrated here today, try to construct a set of premises that proves that Lehi, famed prophet of the Book of Mormon, journeyed to the Americas around the year 600 BCE. Bonus points if the proof is six premises long - or longer!

Until next time...
LOGIC OUT!

(woooooo)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

nikolas village- a condensed versie

THE KESSLER finds himself in charge of the black-smithes and the wool-boyes, he finds exceptional talent in becuming a quertermaster. He also bathed regularly. (unlike some people) Gemeral Kingeler comes to the maison to inspect for cock roaches. After having sex with the Kessler, he desices to elroll in the academy. He becomes the next Promotion, to Majore. A few years later, the Kessler leads a platoon the the Great War. He win, and become hero. The womon of the Nikolas becomes in charge to the calvados. Also the applejack. Then Kessler becomes King, Nikolas becomes the Prince regent, and married the womon The end


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spelunky: Travails

(A platforming, exploration-game with randomly-generated levels, each filled with monsters, traps, and treasure. Located here, at the time of writing. Free!)

Spelunker's Log, 20th of January, 1932.
1. Started decently. Stole a golden idol, fled to the next level to escape the giant boulder that fell when I took it. Bought climbing gloves - $15000, but now I can cling to walls! Spiders clang to the ceiling near the exit - was forced to flee without my dignity. Another golden idol on the third level - my climbing gloves let me simply hold tight to the nearest wall, watching from above as the boulder crashed through the nearby walls many feet below. In the secret cavern the boulder opened, I found a crate holding a bow - rare treasure, worth more than the idol! I tested it out on a nearby bat, then continued onwards. My intent was to use it to kill an enormous spider blocking the way, but at the moment I began to aim, a chill ran down my spine - I knew I couldn't remain on the level for much longer! I fled again, rushing through the level - but a bat and snake (puny foes!) blocked the level exit. I took aim with the bow at the bat - fired twice - was completely ineffective, twice. The bow-shots arced downwards, and the bat was above me! Ignominious death. $12500.

2. Saw an idol first thing - looked promising. Went to grab it. Was slow getting on the nearby ladder to escape from it, but got there in the nick of time. Dropped off the ladder immediately afterward, went to grab the loot in the next room (that the boulder had opened in its crashing wake)... and died when the boulder rolled back and squashed me. $6100.

3. Started very poorly. A hidden dart-trap next to the entrance shot me when I proceeded carelessly forward - left me half-way dead. Then a spider blocked my way in a narrow passage - poised to drop down on me when I passed. Jumped up to try to hit it, but failed and lost half my remaining life. Tried to make a run for it, and died. The spider danced on my corpse. $2000. (Should've used a flare - could've thrown it at the spider, killed it from range. Stupid.)

4. Started by smashing open a pot - a $1600 red gem was inside - a ruby, perhaps! Never saw one of those before. Immediately afterward, was hurt by a bat... so mixed bad and good. Wasted a flare trying to kill two bats on my way out of the first level - remembered too well my last life. (Killed them with the whip in close range instead, with much better results than I usually have.) Ran into a craps-house, and bet $2000 on a whim - lost it. Goes to show. One of the pots - usually holding money - held a spider, as I learned when I hurled it across the screen and shattered it. (Good move - would've been worse if I'd thrown it near me, as usual.) Dropped on the vile thing from above and killed it - quite pleased with myself! Stole a golden idol, fled downwards to avoid the boulder, found what looked like the remains of a sun-thingey (some kind of secret) in a hole within sight of the exit. Dropped down to investigate... and died instantly. (????) $8200.


5. Nothing too exciting on the first level - got some small change, had a close call with a dart trap above a ladder. On level two, stole an idol and then got a bow immediately thereafter - same dilemma, but perhaps I'll choose differently this time. Snakes seem to be immune to arrows - odd, one passed through my shots and hurt me. Then - argh! Accidentally moved beneath one of the two nearby spiders, both woke up and attacked, my arrows did nothing, I died... !(*#@& the bow, man. $15200.

6. Messed up a jump and was hit by a poison dart. Ow. Ran into a snake at high speed.. nearly dead. Hm. Got some gold next to a set of spikes, jumped for the gold on the other side of the spikes... sigh. $4200.

7. Walked out of the entrance, hit a pot with my whip, was injured and saw something die. ??? Probably a spider. Smashed the remaining pots from a distance... got a $3k+ gem from one of the others, so I'm not complaining. Hit by a poison dart while trying to make a tricky throw, almost dead... $14400 by the end of the first level, quite unusual. (And still nearly dead.) Very long load time for the next level.. has it locked up? No, odd. Killed a bat, made a jump onto a pile of bones between some spikes... and the pile of bones stood up and instantly killed me. Hello, Mr. Skeleton! (Afterward, it walked onto the spikes and died. Heh.) $14400.

The expedition continues - continues now, and forever. It can never be halted.

Obamablag

In this post: Obama comes to visit!

Obama came to visit today!

"Hello, Nikolas," he said in his deep, strong voice. "I'm just here to visit."

"I'm very glad to meet you, Mr. President!" I told him, shaking his hand vigorously.

"I'm going to be here for an hour - want to play some Brawl?" he asked, gesturing towards the television.

We did!

He thunder-spammed with Pikachu. It was dreadful. (I coped.)

After a while things became less cool. "I'm not really a fan of duels in Brawl," I said. "Might we add some bots?"

"Why not let Biden play?" Obama asked.

It was Vice President Biden! He was here too.

Biden played Sonic! Strange but true. It takes all kinds to make a viable modern presidency, I guess.

Then former president George W. Bush burst in the door! "That's it!" he cried. "I'm out of office now, and I'll be darned if you lot don't pass me a Wavebird this instant!"

I shrugged and handed him one. (Taft was disappointed when he came in later and found there were no controllers left. We had to trade-off.)

And that's how I spent my afternoon today!

Monday, January 19, 2009

King Nikolas and the Courtesans

A ZhangCo production. (Most spelling errors corrected - except for the word "pysics"!)

once there was
a king nikolas
he was king of the babylonians
one day he wanted to have sex
but he already had sex with
all of his concubines
so he was bored of that
so he said
whosoever shall deliver unto me
a virgin that was more hotter
than my concubine
shall receive 100 hectares of land
100 sheep
and 50 goats
and
some herb
of the earth
so all the men in the place
went up
and put lots of mud-powder
on their daughters
so that they looked
fertile
and
hot
and then they put jewels
across her nape
and
her ventrals
and silk
upon her dresses
and they went up to nikolas
and nikolas said
i have seen it all before
it bore me
because
i am a sexy man
then there was a young girl
who was the daughter of the vizier
and the vizier taught her all the maths
and like
the pysics
and like
the abacus
and like
agriculture
and the vizier loved his daughter
so he did not want to giver her to the king nikolas
and then
the king went up tho them
and he was like
why have you not presented
a virgin
to me
for i am king
and then king nikolas saw
the girl
and he thought
this womon does not have mud-powder upon her nape
nor jewels on her bosom
and he thought that it was
intriguing
that a womon would not think of her self
that she must put on these things
to be hot
and sexy
and he said
come with me
for you shall be my
wife
and the vizier was like
noooo
but then she said
do not worry for i have a plan
and then the king took her
to the palace
and he gave her like
a garden
with some figs
and dates
and like
a cat
and he said
to night we shall have
sex
and
they did
and then king nikolas said
hmm
what was i thinking
i would rather
have had
sex with a womon
with mud-powder
on her face
and jewels
upon her breast
such that
i am stimulated
to a greate extent
by the chafing
upon my skin
and then king nikolas said
tomorrow you will be
execute
so i can have
another hot concubine
but
she was like
ok
but
are you sure you would not rather
hear a story
and he was like
for tonight
only
and then
she told him
of the maths
and she told him
about the vectores
and
the squaring of the circle
and
the partial derivatives
and
the matrix
and king nikolas was fascinated
by this
and then the womon told him
if you want to know
more you will have to wait
for tomorrow
and he was like
noooo
and he did not execute
her
so then
she told him
about the pysics
and she told him about the forces
and the velotices
and
the vectores
and the motion
and the electricity
and the nucleus
and then
they next day
she told him about
the abacuses
and
the algorithms
and
the data structures
and
the object-oriented paradigms
and the data bus
and then
and for a while
the king nikolas
was very interested
and then
he became very much enamoured of these topicks
and he decided
one day
he freed all his concubines
and he became a scholar
in the grand academy
in france
and he took the womon
with him
to be his
real wife
and she was like
ok
and they were very happy
and
that is why
nikolas is
the way he is
to day

(Director's Cut Edition: pretend there's a snake in the palace somewhere!)

Not at all inspired by Shahazrahad.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A DAIMONE

NINE TAILS IT HAD, AND FIFTEEN FANG-TONGUES

IN A HUNDRED HUNDRED HIDEOUS TONGUES IT GIBBERED, AND ITS WORDS WERE THOSE OF MADNESS

IT CAME UPON A YOUNG MAN ONCE (PITY HIM; OH, PITY!)

THIS IS WHAT IT DID

AT FIRST, IT EMBRACED HIM, OFFERING KIND WORDS

"LOVE ME" IT COMMANDED

"LOVE ME"

THEN IT BEGAN TO TRANSFORM

HIDEOUS SPIKES GREW FROM ITS FOREHEAD

ITS BEARD GREW

AND GREW

AND GREW

THEN IT STABBED THE YOUNG MAN THROUGH THE THROAT

AND KILLED HIM

LESSON: BEWARE OF NIKOLASES, FOR THEY ARE VILE AND EVIL BOTH

ALSO

THEY HAVE BEARDS

(OH NOOOOOOO)