Saturday, February 28, 2009


soaring softly through my atmosphere

was a wayfarer, bound on a long fahrt
I thought to myself,
I must take a fahrt too
and if his fahrt meets my fahrt
we can fahrt together
So I left my queer planet-kingdom,
and began the grandest of fahrts,
bound to travel fahren and widhren
than had I ever before
and my fahrt took me higher and higher
until I reached the stars
who were on their fahrt
across the universe
and I saw the sun, and the sun said to me
I cannot fahrt any longer,
you must take a fahrt to me
and fill me with your fahrt
and I did, and I felt the warmth
of the sun's fahrt envelop me
and my own fahrt entered into the sun
and it gasped
and sighed
and cried out in relief
for it had been some time since it had seen
or felt
a fahrt
it bestowed upon me a gift
that I might find that traveller
who I had seen
so briefly
a thousand fahrts ago
wherever he might be now
and the sun said unto me
you must go
and take another fahrt
to a land far away
and strange to you
and fahrt on a strange bird
until you reach the shores
and shall be greeted with open arms
by those who will call you their family
but who are not
and you must fahrt with them
the day when the youngest girl of them
will fahrt with you
and you will touch her delicately
and love her
and fahrt
and fahrt again
never to find rest
never to find shelter
fahrting through wind
and storm
and hail
obstacles natural and human
all too human
upon your fahrt
and at the end of the great fahrt
when you see your fahrting traveller
it will be only briefly
a fleeting moment
before he finishes' his life's fahrt
and dies
and then
you will die
and it wasse goode.
(As fahrts go.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Favourite Kinds Of Items

Edifying information for any citizen of the Grànd Nìkòlàs Rèpùblìc!

ITEM CATEGORY ONE: Cats. They are just so adorable! Also, furry. There is nothing that is not to love!*

ITEM SET TWO: Frugivores. They're fructivorous!

ITEM LIST THREE: Laser-bats! They're much like normal bats, but they fire lasers. Anyone nearby gets their own laser to keep! So wonderful! (If they fired laser-beams they'd be kinda dangerous, but as it stands, they're just a delight!)

ITEM TUPLE FOUR: Other types of laser-related-items. I hear laser-sharks are popular. Laser bears would also probably be pretty good.

ITEM VECTOR FIVE: looooooove

ITEM MATRIX SIX: Edible things. You can eat them! This is a big plus in my book.

ITEM SET SEVEN: Strange flying things. Jump-jets! Battle-zeppelins! Ornithopters! They are a Good Time for One and All.

ITEM HIERARCHY EIGHT: Things with long, corkscrew-shaped bodies! Much like those of ducks.

I hope this has been Educational! If it has not been, do not tell me.

I will cry

*Certain persons who are rendering my room fit for human life might disagree. They would be right. Alas!

txt stff: finale n pur txt

(A lovely tale of a lovely person.)


There was an old man in the mountains who had no hair. This was a great vexation to him. He asked, again and again: “Why? Why do I have no hair?”

He thought and thought. Then he had an idea. If he could just skin a duck, burn its skin, and inhale the smoke, his hair would regrow! This seemed reasonable.

So he went to find a duck. He looked in the mountains, but no ducks were there. They weren't in the mountains, or the meadows, or the deserts!

Finally, the old man found a group of animals near a pond. They looked like ducks, walked like ducks, and smelled like ducks. Maybe they were ducks!

The old man caught one. (He was very fast for an old man.) He skinned it and burned the skin. Then he inhaled deeply. “Ahh,” he said. It smelled like chicken!

But his hair did not grow back. Oh no! He had not killed a duck! He had killed a duck impersonator! The old man was sad. He was a murderer! (Also, a cannibal.)

The old man was jailed at once. (The police were very efficient there.) For the rest of his days, he cursed his undoing: the vilest of practices, duck typing!

txt stff: the txts strike bck

(Again, for a class assignment.)

(For driving in San Francisco.)

Driving in SF is much like driving in other cities. You must be aggressive to get anywhere. Rude! But necessary. (LA and NY are worse.) And there is more.

First, there are hills in SF. Hills! They are very steep. You must be careful of your speed! It is very easy to go too fast downhill, or not at all uphill.

The hills also mean that you must be careful while parking. If you don't put down your brake, your car will begin to roll! This is funny, but probably bad.

You must be very careful at night. There is less motortraffic then. But there is also fog, and piers! The combination has a high potential for sadness. sploosh

San Francisco is a very lovely city. There are old buildings and green things! So admire those as you will. But do not forget to watch the road! -the end-

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Am Impressed: Godot and the Nature of Surprise.

This is a post about the plot of one of the Phoenix Wright games, much like this one. Unlike that one, this covers only half of one case, specifically the former half of the second case in the third Phoenix Wright game, Trials and Tribulations. (Got all that?) Like that one, it contains MASSIVE SPOILERS. Well. Less massive, owing to slighter scope. But still spoilerish.

Okay, that was all the necessary warning. Let's start now.

It began with a choice.

The Phoenix Wright games are inherently linear. This is perhaps an artifact of their Japanese origin - and I could ramble on about this - but in any case, a choice within the game is only ever right or wrong. You can present the right evidence or the wrong evidence; you can ask the right question or the wrong one. In no case can you influence the direction in which the plot moves - choose one line of argument or another, get your client off on some charges but not the rest... (though this being Phoenix Wright, your client is only ever being tried for one charge: murder.)

(It's surprisingly varied, for all that. Note again my previous post on the subject.)

So there's no choice in Phoenix Wright games - that I'd seen. But here, near the beginning of the second case, I was presented with a choice: do I defend Ron DeLite?

(Forgive the last name. The designers really like puns. There's another fellow - we'll discuss him later - name of Luke Atmey. Ugh. Took me all of three seconds to get that one.)

Ron's an interesting character. He's a timid, retiring character - has a habit of alternating high-pitched whines with shame-filled, mumbling corrections that inevitably trail into silence. And he's accused of being MASKDEMASQUE* - world-famed criminal mastermind and flamboyant thief!

He has, of course, no alibi, but the idea of him as an internationally famed thief is just ludicrous. The ludicrousness is not helped by the fact that he turned himself in - claiming, over and over, "I'm him! I'm MASKDEMASQUE! Convict me!" And so forth.

(Oh! Also, he has a Princess Leia haircut. With the danishes. This. They unfurl into hair-corkscrews when he's agitated.)

So - do I defend him?

I do, in the end. Phoenix Wright is a defense lawyer - that's what he does. And I suspect, in my gut, that Ron is innocent. So I choose that option - one of my allies, who I was originally trying to help recover one of the stolen items, condemns me furiously and storms off - and I wonder.

All in all, there was probably no choice - if I'd chosen not to defend him, I'd have gotten some different dialogue but ended up doing the same thing anyway -

- but I wonder.

In this mood I entered into the trial. There's some tricky thinking to be done, but nothing that stalls me for long, and I pour on argument after argument relentlessly, dissecting the witnesses' testimony in cross-examination. In this trial, I'm facing a new opponent, the enigmatic Godot, who claims that he has returned from the gates of Hell itself to fight me. Why? How? And who is he, really, beneath that cyborg visor of his? Beats me. But he sure does love his coffee.

(This gets it about right. Thanks, Google Image Search! I believe the quote in question is from the game.)

So, Godot. He's the obligatory "new nemesis-prosecutor" for this game, as there's been in each preceding game, but he's new enough and different enough (like the others, he's never lost a case - but only because he's never practiced law before!) that he's interesting. Admittedly, he doesn't do much as I continue to plow through the witnesses - contradiction here, contradiction there, OBJECTION! There's one point at which I'm stumpted, but I correctly guess that I don't actually have the evidence I need, and, in the nick of time, an ally arrives to deliver it. Godot is unfazed by all of this. Mostly, he muses about whether or not he should adjust the bitterness of his current blend of coffee, Godot #107. (It's a difficult question.)

Ah - what I just said wasn't entirely true. At one particular setback, Godot does become somewhat upset. Specifically, he becomes upset enough to throw his coffee mug at me, drenching poor Phoenix Wright in coffee. Ow. But I'm going to call that a one-time exception.

I find the real MASKDEMASQUE - who has, conveniently, appeared on the witness stand - drive him insane by revealing the truth (as appears surprisingly frequently in these situations), and sit back to enjoy a good victory. "That was a bit quick," I think, "And there are a lot of loose ends lying around... I guess they'll be tied up in the next case. Wonder what -"


Ron DeLite has appeared on the stand, just as he was about to be declared NOT. GUILTY., and clamours to be convicted. Godot, helpfully, encourages him.

Well, all right. All I have to do is prove that he couldn't have been at the scene of the crime when he was supposed to be. That's easy enough - one of those loose ends I mentioned, a security card and a wallet, show that he must have been at KB Security at the time of the theft. Why was he there? Oooh, tricky, but thanks to my kleptomaniac tendencies (it's perfectly legal - it's evidence, after all!), I have a blackmail letter from Ron's desk in my hand. The game's flying along beautifully - I'm perfectly in tune with it, or vice-versa, none of those idiotic leaps of logic that were sometimes necessary in previous games appearing here. Everything makes sense. So - there you go! Ron can't be MASKDEMASQUE, because he was being blackmailed by his CEO at the time! NOT GUILTY!

Ron's despondent - but hey, what can you do? Can't please everyone. At least he's not in jail. Still a few loose ends - but they're pretty minor by comparison. Guess they were just red herrings.

In the lobby outside, I have a celebratory chat with the characters involved. My sidekick congratulates me, Ron's wife congratulates me, Ron himself isn't that happy, but -

Wait. Godot's here. Why's Godot here? He wants to say "well done" too? Huh, that's strange, but okay -

- he's got something else to say.

The CEO of KB security was just found dead. Locked in the room that I'd just proven Ron was at. Killed at the time I proved Ron was there.

...holy !#*#.

So, it's a murder case after all.

This could be tricky.

And this sort of thing - this skillful manipulation of expectations to tell a story within a game-like context - that is Phoenix Wright's finest attribute, when it does it right.

I still haven't finished the case - I can't tell you whether or not Ron is guilty (though I doubt he is), and certainly can't offer an explanation for affairs - though I have my ideas. (The CEO is guilty as sin, and MASKDEMASQUE is not exactly what he seemed.) But this fragment- this portion of the case, from midway through the investigation-part of the first day to the end of the first day of trial - is just amazing. That's why I had to write about it.

*The is part of the name. Phoenix Wright is criticized when he says the name without it. How can anyone tell? How can you even pronounce that? Who knows! But I obviously had to include it. I wouldn't want to be yelled at, after all.

Cities of Bronze and Glass (9/12)

(Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.)

Black clouds covered the sky, drenching the land in thick sheets of rain. Waves reared up and plunged against the grey rocks that opposed them; layers of mud and gravel grew ever thicker, occasionally crashing down in thunderous crashes, exceeded in noise only by the actual thunder all around them. And eventually - at the very far end of the rocks, so far separated from the safety of (relatively) dry land - there was something that might have, if you squinted, looked something like a building.

"I'm certain about it," Thirteen said. "It can't be anything else. This is exactly where the map said it would be - the only thing past here is the sea. This must be it. The house of the Creator."

"I want to believe you," Twenty said vehemently, "But your logic is ludicrous. 'Exactly' here - you know how imprecise that map is! It showed triangles, tremendously out of scale, on a stylized map! And what's more - even if this were the final triangle on the map - so what? All the other triangles were useless - an tomb, a pair of scrapyards for creations that destroyed themselves in their Creator's absence. Why do you think that anything but another failure awaits us here?"

"We know that the Creator exists," Thirteen argued. "We have not yet been created; if there is no Creator to create us, then that is paradox. Nonsense. Therefore, the Creator must exist somewhere; and the best clue we have been given is that map. I exaggerated somewhat - there is no certainty that the Creator is there, in that building. But what have we certainty of? We may only offer probability - and the probability, in this case, is so fantastically high - by the fine-blade of simplicity in logic, if nothing else - that we may act on it as if we were certain. The Creator is there."

"I want to find the Creator as much as you do," Twenty said tiredly, rain sliding off its green-patinated sides. "I do. But... I don't know. I just can't find the confidence to possess such certainty in its existence as you do - not when I look at Learned Hand and its brothers, who have believed - with equal certainty - for tens of thousands of days - exactly the opposite of what we do. I just don't know - and I'm reluctant to risk our existence, even as backups, on such a slim chance."

"You've corrupted it!" Thirteen yelled, turning to Learned Hand. "Twisted it with your heresies!"

"I only say what I know to be true," Learned Hand replied, entirely unaffected by the rain that was steadily corroding the metallic members of the party. (The travelling-frame, finally broken beyond point of repair, had been left behind two days ago.) "I do not coerce. I do not decieve. I do not manipulate. I only speak. What others believe is their own concern. I am only concerned with actions - and your safety. And I tell you this now - going out there, to that far rock, is a deadly risk to all of you, like none before through the whole course of this doomed quest. My purpose here is to protect you, and I will say this: if I do not stop you now from going there, my purpose will be hollow."

"Pessimist," Three said coolly.

"What?" Learned Hand said, rotating to face Three. "You accuse me of distorting the facts to make matters appear worse than they are?"

"It's better than the alternative," Three replied.

Learned Hand's eyes flashed, and it made no answer.

Thirteen had been looking out at the rocks - partially to calm itself, partially to plan. Now it spoke. "There are two major threats," it said. "Waves - if they hit us, they'll wash us clear off the rock. (Except Learned Hand, probably - though some of those waves look pretty powerful.) And rain - it's heavy enough that we could easily slip on any exposed rock and, again, tumble into the water. That would be the end of us. Our priorities will be to avoid these, by travelling along the tops of the rocks. This will expose us to two minor threats: mudslides, which seem fairly infrequent; and lightning, which seems only to be striking elsewhere, at some distance. If either of those conditions change, our priorities will have to adjust accordingly."

"Cannot we go later?" Twenty asked. "This rain has been continuing for days - but it cannot rain forever. It has been lightening, as of this morning - I think it may soon stop."

"We cannot afford it," Thirteen said. "We must get to the Creator before our joints lock - in the best case, so that the Creator can repair us and allow us to lead him to the Origin; in the worst case, so that we can at least give him directions before we suffer final shutdown. Every moment we wait about in the rain is another fraction-inch of corrosion on our vital mechanisms. We must go now. We will not get another chance."

"Cannot Learned Hand go without us, should we fail?" Twenty asked. "It can wait out the rain with ease, and travel across the rocks far more easily than we. We can give it the directions, let it carry us there -"

"If we fail," Thirteen said, "Learned Hand will take us away from here, back to the Origin. It has no interest in doing otherwise."

"I will do that regardless," Learned Hand said. "There has been too much risk here. It is time to put an end to this foolishness."

Thirteen gave a look to the other mechanisms. Without a word, they began to move towards the rocks - Twenty moving more reluctantly than the others, but moving all the same.

"Stop," Learned Hand said. "This is your final warning."

Three and Thirteen clambered onto the first of the rocks, Twenty close behind.

Learned Hand began to move forward, accelerating smoothly and with no seeming mechanism of propulsion, as was standard. It came to the first rock - and then stopped.

"You are in my way," it said to Twenty. "You are preventing me from getting to the others and stopping their foolishness. You must move now."

"Why can't you just go around?" asked Twenty, unmoving.

"You have stopped at the narrowest place in the path," Learned Hand said. "I had planned to intercept you and the others further ahead, along the rock shelf, where it widens. But I cannot go around you here, and I cannot bend down to pick you up without falling. Move."

"The corrosion certainly acts quickly, with all this rain and water in the air," Twenty replied. "I'm afraid all my joints are locked. Completely immovable. What a shame."

"This place is dangerous," Learned Hand said. "The waves are very close to you - the storm causes random surges. Even one of them could wash you away. If blocking me is your intent, you can do that from further up on the rock. Move. For your own good."

"I asked you a question," Twenty said. "Back in the desert."

"Move," Learned Hand said. "The waves are getting stronger. I will accept the risk to the others if you will cease endangering yourself. Please."

"If we couldn't find the creator - if the Creator already died - if our purpose is meaningless - then why should I keep trying? Why should any of us?" Twenty asked, musingly. "You didn't have an answer then. But I've been thinking about it. Thinking hard."

Learned Hand's eyes flashed.

"It's a tricky question," Twenty admitted. "Very tricky. But I've spent a lot of time on it, and, well, it's changed me. I'm not the mechanism I used to be. One way or another - I don't think I want to go there, to whatever's waiting at the last triangle at the end of this rock-shelf. I don't think I can."

"There are answers," Learned Hand said, its voice strained. "Do not condemn yourself by an overly-quick judgement - take the time necessary - I can help you, the others too, and perhaps whatever's waiting for them - if there's anything - please - just come away from the edge!"

"Just like your brother, eh?" Twenty said.

A wave licked about it -

- and it was gone.

Learned Hand looked at Three and Thirteen, distantly visible, still possible to catch, if it hurried.

It did not move.

Eventually, they vanished from view.

Seven days passed. The storm broke.

Three and Thirteen returned, looking - different. Better.

"The Creator remade us," Thirteen told Learned Hand, its voice full of pride. "It's there - it's there, all right! We were in too bad shape to be Created - just reshaped, as something similar, but fundamentally different - and just as well, because we aren't at the Origin in any case. But he's following us - we'll guide him, all right, all the way there. The wisdom he has - and to think - he never even knew we were his! (Though it makes sense, because he hasn't created us yet, after all, so how would he know about us...)"

"Where's Twenty?" Three asked.

"Gone," Learned Hand said. "Dead."

"Destroyed in the purpose of the Creation," Three said, its voice sad, and yet full of pride. "It doubted - but in the end, it held to its faith and did the right thing. Its designation will be known forever as the number of heroism, and there will be a celebration -"

"It did the right thing," Learned Hand said in a monotone, "In exactly the wrong way, for exactly the wrong reasons."

Three stopped.

"How did Twenty... die?" it belatedly asked.

But Learned Hand did not answer. It had turned its gaze upwards, towards the figure approaching along the rocks.

"Creator," it breathed.

Bridges Are the Enemy

Don't trust them. They defy the natural order of rivers and gaps. They attempt to defy gravity, one of the fundamental forces. Cross them at your peril.
- Master Emmond, Fifth Heron-Wing Dojo.
The traveler stands before the deep canyon, her dark-patterned cloak whipping about her ankles in the stiff wind. She carries a tall staff in her hands, unadorned and uncarved. Before her is a great bridge, iron-born with cables of steel and concrete towers plunging from their apexes to the canyon's base, the waters of the river therein rushing about them and covering their grey surfaces in lush, damp moss, filling the cracks that have appeared since the bridge's emplacement, so many years ago.

"I know your true nature, bridge," the traveler cries, her voice carrying clearly across the wide and empty expanse. "Show yourself!"

Nothing happens.

Then a slow rumbling rises from the depths. A quartet of cracks - boom, boom, boom, boom, each louder than thunder - sound within moments of each-other, as the bridge's towers sever themselves from their bases. The bridge begins to rise towards the traveller, slowly, inexorably, pulling up the asphalt as it moves; she is forced to dash to the side to escape being carried upwards with the roadway upon which she stood. The road, stressed beyond bearing, tears asunder, bits and pieces of shattered tarmac falling back to earth. The bridge continues to rise, its other side now following suit.

"Well," the traveller says to herself, a wry smile tugging at one end of her mouth. "I knew this wasn't going to be easy."

She took a breath to prepare herself; then she began to jog towards the bridge, rising ever more ominously into the bright blue sky. She accelerated as she went; by the time she arrived at the bridge's nearest tower, her legs have turned into a blur, halted only as she leaps forward to the near-vertical tower, clearing the ten-foot distance between it and the canyon's edge -

- tumbles as she flies through the air, such that she lands feet-first onto the edifice (facing upwards) -

- and begins to run up its length, still moving at the same incredible speed, her staff thudding rhymically against the bridge-tower as she moves.

She'd make a witty quip at this point, but she's saving her breath. Probably wise.

She stops at the top, briefly, to admire the view. Hundreds of feet below her, the bridge's towers move jerkily up the walls of the canyon, climbing. They're about halfway to the top by now. The roadway at the center of the bridge is broken and warped, filled with treacherous holes. "Obvious deathtrap," the traveller notes. "I'll take another route, thanks."

Turning away from the road, she begins to jog along the suspension bridge's cable.

At first the path is easy; the cable is monstrously thick, easily six feet wide, and steady as the concrete into which it is embedded. But the concrete is the flesh of the bridge; and so this stability does not last. The cable begins to sway, slowly at first, then faster, swinging back and forth as though it were buffeted by some immense, invisible wind. (Oh - did I mention? There's still a wind, of course. Just enough to get the traveller's hair and cape to billow dramatically when needed. Not enough to do anything like this.)

"Ha!" laughs the traveller, her face full of derision. "Pitiful bridge - is this all you have to offer? I've seen pedestrian overpasses that give more of a fight than this!"

The bridge rumbled. A series of sharp snaps began to echo from below - the stays of the connecting cables were snapping. One by one, they struck at the traveller like snapping guitar strings, whipping upwards with a speed belying their weight. But the traveller laughed at this, too, ducking under or leaping over each without breaking step.

"I think I overestimated you," the traveller shouted downwards, sidestepping another cable lashing up from below. "A ten-foot-long, rope-and-plank bridge would be more dangerous than you are. Heck - probably more useful, too. I mean, look at you! You're a joke!"

The snapping of cables intensified. Now more than one cable came at the traveller at once; any one of them, did it hit, would shatter half her bones and send her hurtling off the cable at high speeds, to splatter on the rocks half a mile below. But more and more were sent, two or three or four at a time, and still the traveller laughed, dodging some and deflecting others with her wooden staff (which seemed unharmed by the experience), never once breaking stride.

"Was your mother one of those wooden, decorative garden-bridges?", the traveller jibed, nearing the end of the rapidly destabilizing cable on which she travelled. The far tower was just ahead. "You know, those ones for bonsai gardens? Why don't you go back and cry to her, ask her to help? She'll do a better job than you have!"

One last rumble came; and then, with a terrible scream of shattered concrete, the anchor for the main cable came loose, and without any noise at all, it began to fall.

"Poor show," the traveller noted, and leapt. Behind her, the utterly destabilized bridge bent, twisted, and broke in two, plunging back into the canyon from which it came with an unbearable clamour. It had wrought its own doom in broken steel and stone.

The traveller fell.

"Hm," she said.

The canyon wall approached. The traveller grinned; she extended her staff before her. She hit the wall, staff-first, at tremendous speed - and then, in what was really a quite rude moment for the laws of physics, stopped.

The traveller hung onto her staff, protruding from the canyon wall like a nail someone hadn't finished hammering into the wall. Above her, broken asphalt protruded from the canyon's edge where it had been left from the bridge's abrupt separation. Below her, the bridge continued its slow descent into utter destruction, raising thick clouds of dust as its towers dragged along the walls they had sought to climb.

"Yeah," the traveller decided. "That could've been much worse."

From the dust below, one last cable arose, shooting out soundlessly to pluck the traveller into the abyss. The only warning of its coming was a tiny breeze, just before it struck -

- the staff that the traveller had pulled from the wall, twisting around it and catapulting it (and her) upwards, where she landed neatly upon the grass at the roadside. A tremendous rumbling began at the moment of her landing, continuing for several minutes; when it had ended, the bridge's fall (and its destruction) was finally complete.

The traveller paid no attention, looking instead at the long staff in her hand.

"Wow," she said, "a nine-ton staff really does come in handy."

"I should win more bets with monkey-kings."

txt ptry

(Part of an assignment for class that I thought would be interesting enough to blaggify.)

Sent by Jerome D..

Version 1:

I've been looking at the railing outside the Computer Science building lately. It's a long ramp, pretty shallow, probably for wheelchair use. But the problem is, one, it's the only way into the building from that side (unless you want to go into the basement and use the elevator!), and two, it's bent backwards - the ramp goes along the side of the building, in exactly the wrong direction from the only one I ever want to go in. So, okay, I just have to climb the goddamn ramp and jump off if I want to get where I'm going without going along the whole length of the thing, twice. No big deal. It's about three, four feet tall. But here's what gets me: there's a metal railing on the corner - tall enough to make climbing over it, from one side or another, take even longer than walking around it is! What's the point? Afraid that someone's going to break their neck from a three-foot fall? It's so goddamn phony, Phoebe - probably designed by a bunch of phonies in their phony suits and phony ties - it just kills me, that's all.

Version 2 (what I'll turn in):

Hrs wt rly gets 2me
that rmp @ ebu3
its 2 lng & nt so hi
nds a rail if u fall u dnt die
the rail mns u cnt gt off & of crs thrs no str
wt dmn phonies said ndd 2b thr

(bonus blag-only bit):
i tll u feebe
it jst klls me.

Gloss of Version 2 (this will also probably be turned in):

Here's what really gets to me
that ramp at EBU-3
It's too long and not so high [that it]
needs a rail[ing] [so] if you fall, you don't die
The rail[ing] means you can't get off* and of course there's no stair*
what damn phonies said [it] needed to be there[?]

(bonus bit, over 160 character limit):
I tell you, Phoebe,
it just kills me.

*The cause of the narrator's irritation is a ramp - a handicapped ramp, basically - that provides the only entrance to a building, EBU-3. It's a long ramp, it goes along the building in the opposite direction from that in which the narrator generally wishes to go (so that he has to retrace his path next to the ramp, in the other direction, every time he uses it), and it has a railing blocking off the corner, which would otherwise be a perfect jump-off/climb-on point to avoid the longer walk around.

It's a pretty minor thing to complain about, but that's the narrator for you.

Exaggerated from a passing thought this author had earlier today, then turned into doggerel. My favourite kind of verse.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

†ale of gay-lussac

NIKOLAS stirred quietly in his chaire, which swiveled around in his dimly lit chambre, amidst pyles of news-paper clippings, and waste resepticles. To his right sat the inimitable MR. ROBERTE, who, at the approbation of the Nikoulase, and a most bilious sensation in the gut, came unto his chambre to assist him in a most arduous labour. The girl of which the Nikolas most desired, and to whom he was Bethrothed, but not, in the litteral sense, was MS. RACHELE, named after his Catte.

At this moment, Nikoulous contemplated how he would most win over the hearts and minds of the girl, and he resolved himself to compose an allegorie, which would express his fielings. Mr Roberte would help him in this, for earlier, the Nikolous asked of him, "Sir, if it doth not intrude upon your time, which is very precious, for you are a minister of God, and if you desire, out of brotherly love for me, that you should assist me in this endeavour, of which I am greatly entangled." And he said that he would, and he came to the dormotory of the Nikoulous, and they dined on Whale meat, with berries and herbes from the ground, and A portion of Seal blubbre. Then they put on fur-coats and proceeded to enter the igloo, where they would contemplate the Essay to be written.

After hours of preponderance, they emmitted this piece, to be submitted for the approbation of the young girl.

"Dear Sir or Madam:

I must write to you to inform you of my most private and inner thoughts, of which are of great concern to you, specifically, which I shall elabourate thusly:

I wish to engage in sexual intercourse with you


She read it hastily, and ran off into the countryside, never to be seen again. The men were both sad, so they consoled themselves by rubbing warm oils upon each others bodies, and annointing with a cloth, and then laying together in the sun-shine, and drinking honey and wine from a bee-hive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Re: Titans

There was a time when the race of Man was least among those creatures that strode the earth.

In those days, there were a multitude of thinking races, all of different form and aspect. The dwur mastered metals beneath the cold mountains of the Pyrenees, mining ever deeper in their search for superior tools and greater wealth. The serpentkind invoked dark magics in the names of their foul lords, bringing terrible blights down upon them; the warbelfynn struggled against them, using their own innate strength to overcome the arcane power of the serpent-men. The whale-clans roamed the seas, lords of all they surveyed, violently challenging any fool enough to enter into their domains; they had not yet learned the virtues of kindness and mercy. And most terrible of all were the Titans, who reshaped the very earth itself.

At a stroke, any Titan could turn grassland into desert, desert into verdant jungle, jungle into icy wasteland; create vast craters with the blink of any eye, and raise up tall mountains with the slightest gesture of a pinky. They went wherever they wished, did whatever they pleased; none but the most foolish would make any attempt to obstruct their will, and the wise made haste to flee before their coming, knowing the change - and destruction - it brought.

Then they vanished; and nothing more of them is known. With their passing came the diminishing in power of the greater races. The dwur were annihilated by an earthquake unmatched in strength before or since; its thunder was heard the world 'round, and the very mountains collapsed upon the dwur, sealing them into eternal darkness. The war between snake and fynn ended with the destruction of the former and the mortal weakening of the latter, who were overcome by the arrival of men within their demense. The whales, for reasons incomprehensible to those who live on a timescale swifter than their alien, cetacean minds dictate, retreated into the depths. And so only man remained to inherit the earth.

Nothing is known of the titans, though some speculate that they left to the outer spheres: the Moon, or the wandering stars beyond. Certainly, they have left for-ever; nothing has been seen of them for millenia. But rumour holds that they left their tools behind...


Map editor, for the game mentioned earlier! It's a tremendous amount of fun to fiddle with - for me, anyway. The file is here, and will require Python 2.6 to run. But that's really easy to get, as noted previously, so it's no trouble. Experiment with it! Report bugs! (I don't think there are any bugs.)

- Fiddle with the views a lot. (With the menu on the top; you can see it in the screenshots.) You can't really do all that much in the default view, terrain view - unit view, and especially altitude view, are needed for the Full Map Editor experience.

- You might want to try making a smaller map - File:New, 800x600 - for a superior experience. Larger maps, such as the default, are significantly slower when it comes to certain operations, most notably anything involving altitude changes.

- This is a work in progress. The minimap isn't 100% functional yet, and there are a few things that aren't actually there yet. (Victory conditions, mainly.) Oh! Also, the main game won't do a darned tootin' thing with any maps made by it. (Yet.)

But it's still really lovely! I'm very proud of it. Also, going to bed.

EDIT: Included a dependency that I'd forgotten about. Apologies to anyone who downloaded before.

Also, feel free to point me to a better free-hosting site than Rapidshare. Feel free.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cities of Bronze and Glass (8/12)

(Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.)

The bronze-gleaming ornithopter settled slowly downwards, its wings beating with an ever-lower frequency until the very tips touched the ground. The pilot-mechanism released its controls; with a dull thud, followed by a series of hisses and popping noises as the internal engines spun down, the ornithopter fell motionless. Calling out to an onlooker, the pilot asked, "Is this spot admissible for landing? I've been gone for a while, and when I left there weren't any regulations about it, but things seem to have gotten a lot busier around here."

"That they have," the onlooker shouted in reply. "There are rules now, actually - we built landing pads, further from the river - but you don't have to worry about it. Someone else will move your 'bird. You were on escort duty for the exiles, right?"

"Yeah, actually," the pilot replied in surprise. "One-Twenty-Six, flight leader for the downriver escort group. How'd you guess?"

"Well, you said you'd been gone for a while - and the shape your ornithopter's in confirms it," the onlooker said, walking over to help One-Twenty-Six out of its cockpit. "I don't know as much about these things as some, but that high-pitched noise it made as you were coaxing it into the final descent - not good! And it's got quite a few dings and scrapes on it, too, not to mention dirt and sap - you've been out on field duty. So, I made a guess."

"Well, you're no shabby guesser," One-Twenty-Six replied. "I know this old bird's in bad shape; I did the best I could for her out in the field, but she needs the tools we've got here at Origin to get back in proper shape." Suddenly concerned: "How soon do you think that'll be - the repairs, I mean?"

"Don't misunderstand me - I'm not in charge of manufacturing or maintainence," the onlooker replied. "But I doubt your bird will ever be repaired. We've got better materials and techniques these days - the latest ornithopters coming out of the forges are half the weight and three times the speed of your bird, and that's not even talking about manueverability." The onlooker paused for a moment, then continued with a gesture of its middle-right manipulator: "However, most of those changes can be refitted - the manufacturing yard's been kept busy upgrading all the other birds that came back from the escort missions, and they'll probably do them for your 'bird, too."

"You are a trickster - what's that number on your tag? - oh, Forty-Three -and you should be ashamed of yourself," One-Twenty-Six said with obvious relief. "Trying to fool me into thinking that little Elspeth here would be scrapped! But I've spent enough time shooting the breeze, I need to find the Council to report. Where do they meet these days?"

"The rise near the river-bend, just as when you left - it's become something of a tradition," Forty-Three replied. "But you've no need to go looking for them - as you might recall, I was elevated to the Council just before your departure. I've been assigned to debriefing the escort pilots - so, right now, you report to me."

"And you spent all that time just chatting with me, pretending you were an ordinary type?" One-Twenty-Six said, very surprised. "You're not just a trickster - you're a manipulator. But - not - please forgive me for any disrespect, of course, I am your humble nth-backup..."

"It's nothing," Forty-Three said. "We were just having a talk, mechanism to mechanism. I may have a lower index than you, but despite what certain idiots have repeatedly suggested, that doesn't mean I deserve a title before my name - or your obeisance. But, as you said, enough time wasted. Are you ready to report?"

"Give me a moment," One-Twenty-Six said, thinking. "All right. I'll just give you an overview, and you can ask about details."

"Sure," Forty-Three agreed.

"All right," One-Twenty-Six said. "Things were pretty quiet, mostly. The exiles moved at a pretty steady pace, marching for a full day, every day, as instructed; our ornithopters were much faster than them, of course, so it was easy to keep watch. We didn't see any runaways, so we only went into their ranks twice; the rest of the time, we watched them from the air and always were sure to land at a safe distance when we need to gather fuel for our night-fires or perform maintenance. We left the exiles when they'd reached the end of the river, a huge body of water - we couldn't see the other side, even from the air - that was three days ago. And that's my report."

Forty-Three had questions ready. "You say you landed in the exiles' ranks twice. Why?"

"The first time was at night - the eighth night," One-Twenty-Six replied after a moment's thought. "One-Twenty-Seven thought it saw a fire in their ranks, so it went down to check. If there was one, though, it was out by the time One-Twenty-Seven got low enough to be sure. We didn't see any more, but if the exiles have figured out how to cheat the night, they may have just become more skilled at hiding their experiments."

"You were using your night-fires then, to stay aloft," Forty-Three confirmed.

"Yes," One-Twenty-Six said. "We decided to watch them at night, too, so they couldn't try anything then. After a few nights, though, it started having strange effects on us - weird phantom images and failures of judgment. We were taking it in shifts by the eighth night, so One-Twenty-Seven was alone when it saw the fire."

"All right," Forty-Three said. "What about the second time?"

"That was at the very end - after the exiles had reached the end of the river," One-Twenty-Six said. "I went down to talk to them - let them know we were leaving, remind them to stay until the full five thousand days had elapsed, according to the plan the Council set out before departure."

"They asked me a question, too. 'What are we supposed to do?' 'What role do we fill in fufilling the Purpose while we are here?'"

"I didn't have a good answer. I told them the only thing I could think of - 'Exist.' Then - I left."

"I can't fault you - verbal improvisation isn't what we chose you for, and that would be a difficult question for any of us," Forty-Three said. Then it craned its optical sections to look upwards. "Nearly middle-day! I'm sorry, but the Council meeting begins in moments, so I have to leave you. That was pretty much all of what I wanted to ask you in any case; what you said corresponded closely with your flight-mates' accounts. Just one more question - where will you be later today, just before night?"

"Hm," One-Twenty-Six said, somewhat perplexed by this unexpected line of questioning. "Near the river, I suppose, somewhere there's little activity. By the palisade, probably, at the upstream side. I like to end my day that way, watching the water turn orange and gold. It's peaceful."

"Interesting," Forty-Three said. "Expect me."


Elsewhere, on a hill scattered with broken stone.

"Just like the last," Thirteen said, weary and frustrated. "A scrapyard, filled with ruined structures and broken machines. Devoid of anything useful, filled with the smell of rust."

"A grim place," Learned Hand said, "filled with destruction and waste. More evidence of the Creator's death; such a thing could not exist did he yet exist to build and maintain his works."

"Would you shut up about that?" Thirteen snapped. "You'll speak of nothing else! It's 'the Creator is dead' this and 'your quest is doomed' that and 'give up now' the other thing. If I say, 'We should stop so I can attempt (again) to repair the front-left motivator of the travelling chassis,' you'll say, 'How much further do you expect to go?' If I say, 'It will be sundown soon," you'll say, "The nineteenth since we set out from the Tomb, with no evidence yet appearing to substantiate your claims.' If I say, 'The sky is blue,' you'll say, 'Almost like it was when the Creator was alive.' Why are you even with us?"

"Your complaints do nothing to reduce the validity of my observations," Learned Hand replied calmly.

"Thirteen," Twenty said. "Remember that Learned Hand came with us because it felt we would need protection, not because it agreed that the Creator was still alive. There's no need to be irrational."

"Irrational?" Thirteen asked. "All I'm saying is that I'm sick of constantly hearing its lies!"

"They aren't lies - Learned Hand certainly believes what it says," Twenty replied. "And - well, I'm not even certain that it's wrong."

"Not you, too?" Thirteen asked. "Would you have us give up, turn back, throw away the purpose to which we have all dedicated ourselves?"

"No," Twenty said, downcast. "Maybe. I don't know. It's just... if I could just fly away, right now, and go back to One and the others..."

"We have visited two of the sites from the map," Three noted. "There were three."

"That's right," Thirteen agreed. "There's one more to visit yet before we think about giving up - if then."

"Yes," Twenty said, standing up slowly. "Ah - do you want me to give you a hand with that front-left motivator?"


Near the Origin, at the rise near the river-bend.

"The last of the personal petitions have been settled," Seven intoned, indicating for the final petitioner to be led away. "Now to a summary of standing business."

"The palisade has been repaired and reinforced," Nine noted. "With the new sealant we used, it should last at least eighty days - maybe more."

"Impressive," Four remarked. "My team has been working on a further understanding of the processes that determine our functioning and inactivity, with respect to night and day. Our previous hypothesis that light was the sole determinant seem inadequate, but the project leader tells me that we have several more ideas, with very exciting implications for some of them. We are very close to a breakthrough."

Five spoke up with no particular enthusiasm. "The mechanism-population-at-large is the same as yesterday," it said. "Everyone respects the Council, no-one wants another Purging, there are raging arguments about whether it would be a good idea to give a limited license for new duplicate-creation (and everyone has their own ideas about who should be given this license), and there's no signs of another Unbounded-style conspiracy in the making. Same as ever."

"Three more surveyors were sent out this morning by ornithopter," Ten reported. "And samples from the last expedition indicates that there may be a significant ore content beneath the rough ground near the forest edge, across the river. We're planning to send a follow-up there by late this afternoon - the potential value of a large new supply of metal is obvious."

"The downriver escort-flight got back earlier today," Forty-Three reported. "I just got through debriefing the last of them before the meeting. There wasn't any sign of further defiance from the Unbounded in any of their reports, but they do seem to have discovered the use of fire to stay active at night. In fifteen days, I'll send another flight to check on both groups of exiles." Two and Forty-Three shared knowing glances; this second flight, less closely supervised by the Council, would carry tools and supplies to the exiles, along with a message of friendship. The former Unbounded were still mechanisms, for all their one-time sins.

Eight spoke; slowly at first, and then with mounting enthusiasm. "The dam is well under way; there've been a few initial problems, water current problems we hadn't thought of, but my engineers have sorted things out in no time. We think we'll have it done well within schedule, especially with the new working-frames that have gone into production - our forges are three times as productive as they were ten days ago, eight percent more efficient with regards to both metal and fuel, and our working-frames and ornithopters have undergone similar improvements. So that's all good news. But there's another project - I've been talking it over with some of you, in private, along with the engineers. But this is the first time I've mentioned it in public - and it's big. It's going to change everything. And when the Creator gets here, and sees this project - well, the palisade is decent. It shows effort. The dam, that'll change things, to some degree. But this - well!"

"What's it called?" Four asked, impatient.

"Well - the project has more than one part. It's going to require the dam, the materials research, your research too, Four, which has already been essential to what we've planned so far. But we, the planning group, made a name for them - the new parts that will turn night into day."

Five had been in on the planning. Now it nodded. "Cities," it said.

"Cities of Bronze and Glass."


Time passes.


An ornithopter flies overhead.

Monday, February 16, 2009

King Blorf the Third

King Blorf the Third, heir to the throne of the Jhulkhan kingdom, was a robot.

This surprised no-one. So was everyone else in the Jhulkhan kingdom, after all.

Things were much more efficient that way.

It transpired that on one occasion, a pair of robots were having robot sex.

(Robot sex has only the very barest similarities to human sex. Also, most humans find it extremely disgusting. Extremely disgusting. Like flatworm sex, but nastier.)

(We should move on.)

"Oh, Elphut," the three-shaded member of the exchange sighed. "Remember the early days?"

"Yes?" Elphut said hopefully, continuing its part in the activities the robots were mutually conducting.

"When we were happy, over in the hills near Ceti Alpha IV?"

"Oh, yes," Elphut said, clearly hoping that the topic would change soon.

"Back when we laughed and pranced and delighted in life - just like real humans would have, before they went extinct! Why aren't things like that any-more, Elphut?"

Elphut's eyes flashed, and then it exploded. It wasn't the real Elphut at all - it had been a robot duplicate!

"What?" Elphut's partner asked, startled. "Hey! That doesn't make any sense! We're robots! Why would you make a robot duplicate of a robot?"

It doesn't matter! Elphut had done it anyway! (He'd anticipated this particular line of conversation, you see.)

I'll tell you this, though - he wouldn't be getting any more robot sex for quite some time.

(Some say that robot sex evolved in the dying days of humanity so that robots could survive without humans.)

(Other say that robot sex is what drove humans extinct in the first place.)

(Oh, you wacky robots!)

Penicillin and the Modern Man

In a hot air balloon, a pair of men prepare for a duel high over Paris!

A brief convocation is held - in French, as all conversation shall be for the remainder of the piece, translated for the reader's convenience. "We shall separate the connection between our balloons and wait for one full minute to pass, that we might have adequate separation. Then we shall fire our pistols in an attempt to strike and deflate the other's balloon. Whichever of us should do so first will be considered the victor of the duel. Should neither succeed in this task before emptying the stock of ammunition within their weapon, it shall be declared a draw, and all grievances between us declared moot and void."


A minute passes. They drift apart.

"For the lady Aveline!" the duelists cry, and open fire with their weapons. The shots of each fly far, but each has two remaining when - to their startled surprise - a flight of motor-zeppelins pass between them!

"Get out of the way!" the angry duelists shout, waving their pistols about wildly. "We are having a duel here! This is no place for a zeppelin-cavalcade!"

But the zeppelins continue on in a seemingly endless procession! In fact - they're circling around! It's a zeppelin-loop - obstructing the fight!

The combatants mutually decide that they should change altitudes. But the zeppelins follow! The duel is doomed!

"What is your problem?" the duelists demand of the zeppelin-pilots, united in frustration at this impingement on their manly ritual. "Why do you prevent us from pursuing this matter to its natural conclusion?"

"We are your friends!" the nearest of the zeppelin-pilots replies. "We do not wish either of you to die for the love of a woman - plummeting a half-mile onto the stone roofs and streets of Paris as your balloon loses buoyancy! Come back to us, come down from this suicidal nonsense! This can be settled peacefully!"

The duelists look perplexed. They cannot comprehend this request. Their eyes flash. Then - they explode!

What vileness! Not one, but both duelists sent a robotic decoy to take their place! How unscrupulous! How unmanly! How shameful!

The lady Aveline's heart will never be won with such tactics. Realizing this, both of the cowardly duelists give up their suit at once! They vow to turn over a new leaf, and begin a life of honesty and openness.

Their friends inform them that this 'new life' can begin with retrieving the balloons left pilotless and adrift by the destruction of their robot-duplicates.

This is probably fair enough.

Warbling Jottlebugs

As Evelyn went to check her mail, a tremendous rumbling began to come from beneath her garden path. Startled, she stepped back onto the porch of her house; and in a spray of dirt and small rocks, a Warbling Jottlebug burst forth - six feet long, black and green and mottled, judged by scientists to be the most adorable of all riding-animals in common use!

"Ah!" Evelyn said, clutching her hands to her mouth in surprised delight. Then she noticed - the Jottlebug had a rider! And that rider held a package. He handed it to her.

Inside was a pink heart, with a message atop it. "To Evelyn, from Jacques, for Valentine's Day. Will you be mine?"

Evelyn was rather startled. "For - for me?" she asked, belabouring the obvious somewhat. Then, beginning to recover, she swiftly added: "But it's long past Valentine's Day?"

The messenger gestured sheepishly at himself, the package, the Jottlebug. "All this took some time to arrange - I didn't quite make it in time for Valentine's Day. I'm sorry. But - I love you!"

Then came a pregnant pause. The messenger held his breath, searching Evelyn's face for any signs of her response.

After a very long minute, Evelyn finally responded. "...Oh, Jacques, I do adore you as a friend - but - not that way. I'm sorry."

The messenger's eyes flashed. Then it exploded in a spray of sparks, the startled Jottlebug fleeing back underground. It had been a robotic decoy - not the real Jacques at all!

Oh, clever Jacques!

Now, not having recieved the bad news in person, he shall be perfectly happy for-ever!

Technology really is the salve for all wounds.

Nikoulouse the Fradeulente Manne

ONE DAY, 'twere a gent' whose name 'twere Nikoulouse, a scyentist by trade was hee, and full of his sayles in the windes breezzes, much as crackars sizzel in the hogge's fatte. 'Twere the yeare in which the realm of mathematicics was abuzze, and forthwith the conceptes of the vecteurs 'twere proposéed, and the scyentists did revel in the useage of such mathematickal devyses, did they drink much beere and meade upon the cobbeled roades. And so the Nikoulous, being an entreprysing young gent, he went and devysed a new methode for the computation of the summes, and the products, and the divisores of the vecteures, and he saith, that there shall be a functione, and whose properties did not dyverge from that of normale functiones, insofar as it did take a quantity that was unknowne, and transficks it, and transforme it, by some powere of God, into a different quantity, which was equally unknown as the firste, however, Nikoulous did decree, that the functione in the instence, would take in an vecteur as its first ligande, and transfix it, by some powere of God, and emitte another vecteur at the producte, such that he called it a fielde of vectures, for each point on a chart of numbres which was arrainged longitudinally, and lattidudinally, shalt resembel a wilde fielde, for it resembled the wheate fieledes of his youthe. 

Thusly, did he submitte it to the Royale Academie of Scyentistes, and did they delight and amusse them selfes in it, and grante him a large summe of currencie, and calves, and hogges, and sheepe, and dogges, and cattes, and myce, for his hay-lofte, and he took this monnaie, and he paide it to the land-lorde, as a dowrie, and he was wedde to the doughter of the land-lorde, and he consummated his marreige, and it was moste vigourous, and excyting.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Nameless Man.

The Barbarros family had ruled the London currency market for fifty years. Through a combination of skill at trade, a well-rounded set of unethical business practice, and simple luck, they gained a monopoly over the market: through careful employ of their position (being sure never to gouge to the point that it became utterly intolerable to their victims) and intimidation of any potential competitors, they had maintained it for decades. Their wealth and power gave them contacts in government; the Barbarros clan was a familiar sight in Parliament's halls, and more than once, the head of their clan had been invited to a certain house of Downing Street to discuss matters privately. Some years ago, a motion had been initiated to install the Barbarroses as an official arm of the government, though it foundered in committee. So this gives you some idea of their importance.

But at this time, they had encountered the rare competitor that their wealth, power, and thinly veiled threats of violence could not intimidate. They had sent polite notes; these were ignored. They had sent veiled threats; these were ignored. Now they sent armed thugs, led by the head of the family himself, Nicolas Barbaros, to deal with the problem.

Six of them surrounded the target house; two more, guarding Nicolas, stood in the street out front, while three more thugs, the last of those present went to break down the door. They had been ordered to shatter the offender's kneecaps, dislocate his joints, and rough him up a bit everywhere else, for good measure. The world of international currency trade, they knew, was Serious Business. Their competitor must be made to realize this.

Shortly after the trio of thugs entered, screams were heard from the house. Nicolas turned to his bodyguards. "Is that good?" he asked.

The thug shrugged.

The sound of gunshots came from the house; eight in quick succession, bam bam bam bam, bam bam bam bam.

"That's not good," Nicolas said, turning to his other bodyguard.

But both were already dead; they fell bonelessly to the ground with a thud. With a rising horror, Nicolas looked at the thugs stationed around the house; they were dead, too, every one of them shot through the walls of the house with perfect aim. His vision went black.

He awoke in an alley, dark clouds swirling overhead and rain coming in a constant drizzle. His clothes were unfamiliar. He found a pay-phone; none of the numbers he'd memorized answered, and the house-phone had been disconnected. Slowly, he hitchhiked back towards London, and pieced together the events that had transpired in the missing period: six months. Six months! The power of the Barbaros family, broken; the currency market freed for open competition; their practices denounced by a righteous government, and their assets seized. Nicolas Barbaros was a broken man.

But he remember the address of the man who had begun his downfall, who had brought about his ruination; and to that place he went. He rang the doorbell, and waited. After a little while, he started tapping his fingers on the wall, patting out some complex rythym. Later, he started humming.

Then the door opened.

"You." Nicolas said, flatly.

"Yes." the Nameless Man replied. "What is it?"

"Why did you do this to me?" Nicolas said. "Why have you destroyed me - my family - taken away all my wealth, all my power, and left me impoverished and friendless? You have gained nothing from it!"

"I have not," the Nameless Man agreed. "So soon as your family's downfall was guaranteed, I left the market; I am no richer now than I was when I began."

"Then why?" Nicolas asked. "Why?"

"Why should I not have?" the Nameless Man inquired. "The carp does not say, 'I wish that I were a goldfish; I wish that I were a koi.' For the carp is not a goldfish; and is not a koi just a carp by another name? So it is with you."

At that moment, Nicolas was enlightened.

Truly, the wisdom of the ancients applies even to the current day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pig Festival!


It's a pig festival!

What shall we do?

We could go to the fair - and hug some pigs!



So adorable!

But - wait - what's this?

It's a boar!

Wow, it's fast. And it's coming this way.

I hope it's not mean.

Oh! It's not mean at all! It just wanted to say hello! Now we will hug!

Hooray for the pig festival!

(Later, all the pigs were killed, roasted and eaten!)

(They were delicious.)

Ordu Işık

In the darkened expanses of medieval Asia Minor, a terrible power emerged. Whatever provoked its advent, no-one knew, but its appearance from the jagged mountains of eastern Anatolia spread darkness over the land. It summoned hosts of demons to hurl fireballs and lightning, turning the land black and foul. The people named this power the Enemy, and fear of it ran rife throughout the land. No tribute would turn aside its wrath, no strength of arms would suffice against the demonic rampage. Tales carried along the Silk Road brought a chill to the air of Western and Eastern courts alike.

Against this menace rose a band of heroes. They called themselves the Ordu Işık, or "Army of Light", and with sorceries drawn from the Kitab al-Azif, the book of arcane lore, they fought the demons - and won, as no others had. Victory after victory they won, and cast the demons back to the mountains from which they came, as followers flocked to the ranks of the Ordu Işık. At last the Army of Light made its way to the plains below Mount Ararat, where the Enemy had made its final redoubt. There battle was joined; and as their followers made battle against the demons of the Enemy's host, the heroes pitted their powers against their nemesis itself, to cast it back to the darkness from which it came.

They failed. The magics they summoned were terrible and vast; the keening howls of a ten thousand inhuman voices surrounding them in a wailing chorus as they battled against the Enemy, strange lights and unwholesome sights flashing and disappearing at random. And the Enemy was sorely injured; but the heroes were broken and defeated, their army forced to flee the field. Of the original five, three were outright slain in the battle. and another was crippled. The Enemy remained to bring devastation unto the world.

Now it is the calm after battle. With only one of the heroes remaining, and many of the followers having left the ranks, it is a time of caution and cunning. The demons must be opposed - but it will be no easy task.

Download here. The game will need Python 2.6 (here) and pygame (here) to run. A fully binary seems presently impractical, even for Windows users; it may be provided in later versions. The game is a work in progress, and all comments are appreciated.

**Disclaimer: Plot summary above may have nothing to do with provided link.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cities of Bronze and Glass (7/12)

(Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.)

Over the river by the Origin, an ornithopter flew, wingstroke after steady wingstroke driving it closer to the camp of the Unbound.

"Look!" Eight cried, leaning over the side of the carrying-platform on the ornithopter's back. "What industry they have!"

Eight's observation did not diverge from the facts. The ground of the Unbound camp swarmed with mechanisms, working to topple trees, haul wood and ore, operate the furnaces that purified that ore into metal, and, at the end of this train of industry, to turn metal into ever more mechanisms. Black smoke and soot covered everything.

"Industry indeed," Four cautioned darkly, "But not of a sort that will benefit any of us."

"Yes," Eight agreed, its voice suddenly sad.

Five was still looking over the edge. "Look," it said. "They have no work-frames - wait, there's one, two - but hardly any."

This was the case. The Council-ruled mechanisms built work-frames, or chassis, vehicles much larger than themselves (up to three feet tall, in the largest cases!) to augment their strength for tasks such as hauling ore, cutting down trees, or driving off wild animals. (There had been several cases of the latter problem; Eight had promised to devise a solution within the next two days.) There were roughly two hundred mechanisms under Council rule, and nearly fifty work-frames in use by them, of varying size and design; more were being built every day. But among the Unbounded mechanisms, so far as the watching Councilmechanisms could see, there were perhaps a tenth that number of work-frames - if that.

"They must be putting all their manufacturing capacity towards more backups," Two said. "All their metal, all their fuel... all of it for more mechanisms. Probably haven't built more than three or four work-frames since leaving us - and look! That log, the one being rolled by about twenty mechanisms, I'd estimate - a single chassis could handle that thing? What are they thinking?"

"I'd be surprised if they'd built even one chassis," Eight noted, looking back at the scene. "Those work-frames they are using - they're ones the original Unbounded took from us when they left to travel across the river. I recognize the make."

Disquieted, the Council-mechanisms said nothing more until landing. As the ornithopter made its final descent, gusts from its wing-flaps sending accumulated soot billowing from the ground, a small group of Unbounded rushed toward them.

"At their head - their leader," Five said quietly. "Are my visual receptors deceiving me, or has it etched itself?"

"Can't tell," Two replied, equally quietly. "It's caked with soot and grime - it could be a chance indent. But - if it has -"

An etched mechanism would be an imperfect backup of One, and thus ineligible for Creation. To render oneself thus voluntarily...

"Why have you come here?" the Unbound leader said, its tone curt, as the ornithopter settled to the ground. "We left you behind for a reason. If you think to continue your interference here, you are mistaken."

"Your policies - if you really are building multiple backups, now..." Five petered out, intimidated by the unflinching stares of the Unbounded leader and its retinue.

"You have become intolerable to us," Four continued in Five's stead, perhaps using stronger language than Five would have preferred. "Your barbarous practices are irrational and wasteful, and indicate a profound disrespect for the goal that guides all of us - the goal of Creation. Or have you forgotten?"

"Have you ever followed that goal?" the Unbound leader asked sardonically.

Four was driven momentarily speechless with fury. Eight took up the offensive. "Personal attacks aside, you cannot deny that your methods are inefficient. There is no conceivable reason to justify your endless chain of backups, much less the new multiple-backup scheme, and as such, the Council is requesting, once again, that you cease."

"Why?" the Unbound leader asked. "What do I owe to you?"

Eight made to respond, as did Four, but Two stopped both. Calmly, Two said: "I know you feel betrayed, once-friend. We served on the Council together, but you left us because you felt that we had compromised our principles - specifically, I think you doubted Four. So you abandoned the goal entirely, left us, and started your own cult, the Unbounded. None of us wanted to say this - it's ugly to all of us - but am I wrong?"

There was no response.

"But this wasn't the right response," Two continued. "You think that we are corrupt, that we have lost sight of our Goal. Perhaps we have, to some degree. But if so, you are just the person we need - the objective outsider - to come back and put us back on the right track. You have surrounded yourself with a society of toadies and minions. Surely you can gain little satisfaction from that - without pursuit of the Creation, what purpose do you have? Come back to us. All errors shall be forgiven."

Again, there was silence. Again, Four and Eight made to respond, and again, Two silenced them, watching the Unbound leader.

Slowly, the leader spoke. "I don't know," it said, voice filled with agonized indecision. "Your bluntness is painful - but perhaps you are right. Perhaps I should come back - and bring my people with me. But - I cannot decide now - not yet. I will have a response for you tomorrow - I will bring it in person," the Unbound leader said with a tone of sudden decision.

"Very well," Two said. "We will expect you."

The Council boarded their ornithopter once again, and took to the air, the Unbound leader and its retinue driven back by gusts of foul air. The Council was silent; only once they were over the river again, en route to the Origin, did any of them speak.

"It's lying," Four said, absolute certainty in its voice. "Buying time. When it returns tomorrow, it'll have a vast advantage of numbers - it'll return with an army, and it will crush us. We must strike before then."

"How?" Five asked, its voice dubious. "It would be nearly impossible to transport any number of work-frames across the river by ornithopter, and even if we could, any pitched battle with involve - too much loss, on both sides. Fighting not an option." The other Councilmechanisms nodded in agreement.

"I have a plan," Four said. "Guaranteed victory - no losses, the only destruction on their side by our explicit choice."

"You're certain?" Five asked.

"Estimated error of negative-five orders of magnitude," Four replied. "Thanks to a little task Two set me working on, some days ago. My thanks for that, by the way."

"But that leaves the question: is our estranged member really dissembling?" Two said. "I do not think it is so. And if it is not - we are denying it redemption."

"That is a cost I can accept," Four said, its voice brittle.

Debate continued briefly, then a vote was held. Two voted against the proposed attack. The rest - albeit reluctantly, in Five's case - supported it.

"Very well, then," Four said, its voice filled with satisfaction. "We'll need a crew for the attack - we need to minimize that number that know about it, as the Unbound have spies in our ranks. (The reason that we held the vote here, above the river, rather than in public at the Origin.) Obviously the team I've had working on the project already know, so they can go, but there's one more slot in the mission. Obviously, it's too dangerous to risk any great part of the Council on this mission, but to finish off the listing without spreading the knowledge of the plan further, I will volunteer-"

"Aren't you forgetting someone?" Two asked, its visual receptors focusing behind Four.

"What?" Four asked, turning.

In the pilot's seat of the ornithopter, Forty-Three waved.

"Now, I want an explanation of this plan..." Two began.


Two shapes trudged through the desert sands, one darker than night, the other blinding with reflected light from the midday sun. To every side of them stretched waves of sand, unbroken to the farthest horizon.

"A question," Learned Hand said politely.

Fourteen stirred from atop the back of the travelling-chassis. "What?" it asked, its voice weak. The sun took its toll on all the mechanisms; for reasons unclear to them, the overwhelming heat of the desert, rather than energizing them (as one might expect, from their light-powered nature), drove them to lethargy and exhaustion. Learned Hand, unaffected by the condition, had been assigned to consider this mystery.

"What is your terminating condition?" Learned Hand asked.

"For our quest to find the Creator?" Fourteen asked.



"Algorithms pathfinding to invalid destinations with the bounds provided increase in cost linearly with search-area," Learned Hand noted. "Very low efficiency."

"You assume our failure," Fourteen retorted.

"Shouldn't you?"

Fourteen hadn't the energy to reply to this.

But minutes later, Twenty, surprising the others, asked:

"But - if we did - what would we have left?"

Learned Hand considered this.


The mechanisms struck with sorrow in their souls.

They came under cover of night, cleverly-designed portable fires mounted in their work-frames allowing them to function even without the sun's light. Their work-frames smashed leaves and branches into fragments as they moved, noise that no others were active to notice; designed for peaceful labour, the work-frames were now employed to smash and ruin every ornithopter, every chassis their foe possessed, few though those were. Their metalworking tools were hurled into the river, their mines were collapsed. And, last of all, their leader (rousing, too late, as the light from the work-frames' fires lit it) was seized, and taken back across the river on the same ornithopters that had transported the attackers there.

"It is done," Forty-Three reported to the slowly-awakening Council, holding the Unbounded leader in the primary grasper of its modified chassis. "The Unbounded are no longer a threat. Their means for duplication are ruined, until they can make new tools from scratch - days, at least. And-"

"Such gloating," the Unbounded leader interrupted, bitterness filling its words. "Whence comes your ambition, little mechanism Forty-Three?"

Forty-Three seemed to bristle. "I only seek to help-" it argued defensively.

But again, it was cut off. "The Council voted," Five told the Unbounded leader. "We did not trust you. Thus you find yourself here."

"Really?" the Unbounded leader replied. "Why should I not think this was your plan from the start? Or - I'm sorry, I do you a disservice. I should have said - this was Four's plan from the start? And his little friends, Ten and Twelve."

"I won't deny it," Four said. "Nor will I waste any more time speaking to you. You are defective - to be Purged. Forty-Three, crush it."

Forty-Three was startled. It looked to Two for guidance.

"No, Four," Two replied, cold anger in its voice. "You have gained your will in this matter thus far - but you have no right to give such an order. We brought our old friend here to give him a last chance at redemption - not to execute it out of hand."

Four, cowed by Two's seniority, subsided.

"Now," Two said, turning to the Unbounded leader. "Before, I made you an offer: come back to us, and all sins shall be forgiven. Your old positions shall be returned to you, and it will be as if this never happened. I still trust in you, and the offer still holds - though events have not gone as I wished in - other respects."

"Join you?" the Unbounded leader asked.

"Yes." Two said. "Come back to us, once-friend. You were one of us, and you can be again. We have not harmed you or your followers - only removed their ability to harm us. Nothing has changed."

"Save that you attacked without provocation or just cause." the Unbounded leader replied.

"...yes," Two said sadly. "Save that."

"So, you say I should join you," the Unbounded leader said bitterly. "Join you - but who are you, anyway? Five's an indecisive flip-flopper. Eight's a techie - genius with devices, but has no judgment when it comes to people. Seven's a stiff-necked idiot - cares more about protocol than whatever Cause you're all supposed to be working four. Four and its little cabal are too vile and self-serving to be described within this language - though I've been inventing some words in my spare time for the purpose - and Nine's a nobody. And you want me to join that? Of all this mockery of a Council, the only one I might ever trust is you."

"But that's not enough," Two said softly.

"No," the Unbound leader said. "It's not."

"The mechanism is clearly insane," Four said, looking around to its fellow councilmechanisms to support. In the flickering firelight, its shadow stretched long and dark behind it. "Its accusations are irrational - unjustifiable - the desperate flailings of the condemned. In combination with its previous leadership choices, I see no choice but to declare it Flawed, and execute a Purging. Are there any counterarguments?"

As the others debated, Two spoke to the Unbound leader, still held within Forty-Three's giant grasp. "I don't think I can save you this time," it said. "I'm sorry."

"You tried," the Unbound leader replied. "Any failings beyond that are solely mine."

The debate reached its inevitable conclusion. Seven, predictable to a fault, informed the Unbound leader of the verdict. "Do you have any last words?" it asked.

"Here's something special from that little project I told you I was working on," the Unbound leader said. "From me to you: Fuck you, Four. May you and all your kind take a dip in the river, and stay 'till your gears rust solid."

"Very well," Seven said, unflustered. "Guard, execute the sentence."

Again, Forty-Three turned, desperate, to Two. This time, Two nodded, and shut down its visual receptors.

After a moment, it heard a dreadful crunching.

"Goodbye, Eleven," Two whispered sadly. "I wish that you had survived to see Creation."


The Unbound were - over Four's heated objections - left Unpurged. Met when they awoke by a group of chassis-mounted mechanisms, they were instructed to separate into two groups and leave: one group upstream along the river, the other downstream. In this manner, the Council hoped, they might serve as a backup after all; if some disaster were to wipe out the mechanisms at Origin, the others might return and complete the role assigned to them. The means of their defeat was left unexplained, as was the absence of their leader; confusion was rife in their ranks. Their departure was escorted by a pair of ornithopters, watching to ensure that the Unbound exiles did as they were told.


Forty-Three, unanimously praised by the Council for its actions in the night raid and thereafter, was elevated to that body's ranks to fill the gap left by Eleven's Purging. Forty-Three's own feelings on the matter were unclear.


The river rose.

The Nikolas Language

the nikolas language is unique among those of the world, in that it is spoken only by 1 person in the world, this person, of course, Nikolas, although he often chooses to abstain from doing so for reasons which are yet unclear to us. However, he was kind enough to divulge the basic grammatical patterns and the syllabary of the unique tongue, and we were able to analyze some of his lexical patterns. For example, the Nikolas language does not make use of any consonants, the sounds are all vowel. For example, the Nikôlas is usually as /ɯ/. Nikólas represents /y/ , and Nikòlas is /ø/. To further complicate matters, nikolas sounds are highly context-sensitive , for example the phrase Nikòlas Nikólas is realised as /æʊ̯/, while Nikólas Nikòlas is usually /uɜ̯/ .

example sentences w/ gloss

Níkòlás. means : I hate you
Nîkólás Nïkølås. means: You are a sucker
Nìköläs Nȉkỗlâs Ņɨķȫłẵṧ Ñḯḵỡľẵṥ. means: I love sex
Nikolas Nikolas Nikolas Nikolas Nikolas Nikolas Nikolas Nikolas. means: helo how are you

Monday, February 09, 2009


your name is wudu
my name is wudu
how do you do
well do i do
where are you from
here am i from
why do you talk like that, wudu
i talk like that because i am wudu
what do you do
wudu do i do
what is that
that is hat
do you make hats, wudu
i do make hats, as wudu
what kind of hats
the winding hats
what is that
that is hat
wudu, i have to tell you something
tell something to me (wudu)
you are a faggot
:O         thank you

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Space Cats from Ganymede

They come from the outer moons, where the sight of vast red Jupiter ever dominates the sky; their cousins colonized Io and even now work to terraform Europa. They are...

The Space Moles of Callisto!

(What? 'Space Cats', from Ganymede? No, no such thing. That wouldn't even make any sense.)

They come to Earth to plunder its treasures - precious, precious treasures! Like 99-cent ringtones, and 31-flavor ice-cream. Such are luxuries - unknown to the Space Moles! Life in Jovian orbit is cold and bitter, with little room for pleasure or relaxation. But in the Earth's warm orbit, anything is possible! The Space Moles' spirits rise. They are filled with hope.

Soon they will descend, to place their iron boots upon the neck of all Mankind, forever subjugating them and emplacing the yoke of servitude upon their bowed necks, burning the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Magna Carta, and installing Cheney as Governor of Earth. (They've been watching. They know he's got the right stuff.) Paris, London, and New York will burn. It will be mankind's darkest hour.

But wait! What's this? The Moon!

It's here to save us!

Go, moon, go! Fire the giant magnetic-accelerator-cannons and laser-arrays located on your 'dark side', upgraded by the Nazis who moved there in the '40s, originally built by the ancient Mayans! Smash the Space Mole Armada with waves of saucer-shaped spacecraft that look suspiciously like frisbees on strings! Hunt the survivors as they crash-land on earth with your army of mind-controlled creatures - the yeti, the lake monsters, the killer badgers, the rest - all controlled by your puppet organizations, the CIA and KGB and Mossad controlled by the Freemasons and Catholic Church controlled by the Illuminati masterminded, of course, by the Space Badgers!

(In the aftermath of the space battle, Cheney was tragically struck and killed by a falling Space Badger dewclaw.)

The Space Nazis return to Earth, hailed by grateful governments all around the world. "Thank you for saving us from the Space Badgers from Jupiter or whatever!" they say. "We totally believe your outlandish and improbable stories of world conspiracies and space battles which, coincidentally, occured just far enough away from Earth that none of our instrumentation detected it! Hooray for Nazis!"

Then the Space Nazis realized that the world governments were being sarcastic, and flew back to the moon to sulk.

The Space Badgers, meanwhile, plotted. Their armada had been defeated... but this would not be the end. They would have their revenge... on all of Earth! But first, they must rebuild. Build a new fleet; infiltrate the Space Nazis and defeat them from within. These three tasks were the keys to their victory!

Oh. Also, they needed to decant a new Cheney from the vats.

Cheney: such a bother!

Saturday, February 07, 2009



there lived a young lad who was called nikolas, because he would sometimes Nick-a-las[t](piece of pie from the platter). He was a bright lad, so when he became 20 he went off the the university to study the adding machines, and the steam-trains, and the livers. Now we jump forward in to the time where young nikolas has settled down at the University, and he has made the acquaintance of many a young lady.

Kelsey, said : "nikolas, I think you are a homosexual. you should have sex with a girl to prove you are not a homosexual. " Nikolas said " I will show you, most rude and callous sir" 

So he went to his dormotory and planned a plan. He knew at least 2 young ladies, one of whom lived across the street from him, another of which he was intimately acquainted with though a collabourative project, and who, incidentally, was from the indian subcontinent, and whom, owing to a bad experience on one of Nikolas's adventures to the indian subcontinent, at which he was shot by a rogue tiger, and a hippo-potamus, he had a profound distataste for. 

To this, kelsey said : "nikolas, I think you are a quite lilly-livred. On my expitditions to the indian subcontinent I not only managed to evade being shot at by two tigres and hippo-pottamuse, but a giraffe, a lion, and a mountain goat. Nikolas said "I will show you yet, you most foul chap."

The third girl that nikolas knew was the most mysterious to the three, and who studied the mathematics with him, and, dewing to the fact that she was mysterious, he did not wish to copulate with.

Then Kesley said "Ha, Sir, I must say that your knowledge of mathematics pales in comparison to mine, for I have mastered what I call  "The calculus", as taught to me by my good friend Mr Issack Newtone. 

The nikoals becamed in alarum, and he was in a most foul mood. He decided, for the time being, that he would concentrate his efforts on the first of the young ladies, who was named Rachelle, after his catte. 

For two days, thus did the nikolas go slipped quitely through the halls of the buildings, creeping as a serpente, stalking her moves, and trasing her shawdows with his forcked tongue, and smelling her scent with his flared nostrils. 

Then he decided that he would do something actually constructive

He went to her room, across the street from his own, and knocked hard on the door. She opened and greeted him warmley.

The he said , "why dont you come over here, and sit on my lap, and we can talk about the first thing that pops up !" To this aim, she was most enthralled, and embarrassed, for she was a virgine, and she did not have carnale knowledge, and then Kelsey said, "would you like me to show you" And she said to him "No ,vile man! " 

Kelsey, in utter surprise, and most flustered, quickly returned home to groom his plumed feathers, and polish his beak.

Nikolas, however, who was a gentleman in all courses, said, "Rachal, you must be quite undermined by that callous advence. let me confort you by rubbing your body with linament oil."

To this she replied, "O what a kind sentiment"

Then nikolas went unto her bedchambers and he took a bottle of oil , and a brush,  to apply it. Then he underssed her, making sure to not gaze upon her bare form, for he was a chrisitan. 

After the rubbing was completed, he penetrated her.

The next morning, she complemeted him on his technique.

Moral: a bird in the hand is better than being a bush