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Demon and Torture Lady
Thursday, July 5, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

A salamander has become unhappy
because it is being tortured.

So I wonder if I can be accused of endangering the welfare of a minor, having introduced my kids to Dungeon Keeper 2? The little daughter has been playing it incessantly since sometime yesterday, when I reluctantly pried my fingers away from the keyboard. Doing the dishes was very relaxing after all that underground combat and general evildoing! But now my poor little child is hooked.

I'm not sure that the game is exactly designed with children in mind. The little boy is very impressed with the Torture Ladies (I can't bring myself to say "Mistresses"). When one of them tied herself to the wheel in the Torture Chamber (for want of actual clients) and began writhing and moaning erotically, he said "what is she doing?". I said "exercising". I don't think he bought it.

It's just a Sim game, really. But instead of boring cities or people or even amusement parks, you're simming on this cool dungeon full of imps and Dark Angels and skeletons and Bile Demons and Spike Traps and stuff. It has the same "instantly addicting" quality as a typical Sim game, with an extra kick from the dark fantasy element. We'll see if I (we) get bored with it like we did rather quickly with The Sims and for that matter Creatures.

We were talking about this stuff at lunch some. One neat feature of DK2 is that you can "possess" one of your minions, and walk around the dungeon you've built in first-person 3D mode. SimCopter and the (late and mostly unlamented) Streets of SimCity both allowed you to do that in SimCity cities. So, logically, there should be a crossover game.

"Dungeons of SimCity", anyone? I think it has potential...

Finished Bradley's "The Shattered Chain" while on jury duty the other day. It was fun and I enjoyed it. The inevitable "telepath denying her psychic abilities for no good reason" theme popped up again, although not as overwhelmingly as in "Heritage of Hastur" (see my complaint back in June of 1999). Is there a Hidden Agenda here? Is MZB trying to soften people up to stop denying their actual psychic abilities, so they can be recruited into the war against the Great Old Ones?

It's also real unclear just what the Terran Empire thinks of ESP and "psi" abilities. Continuity checking seems a little lax in this area. How do I reconcile this:

Magda knew she should report the dreams. In the course of her Alien Psychology credentials, she had been tested for psi potential; and had tested very high.

and this:

Magda strained in concentration -- as she had done at the New Rhine Rakakowsi Institute on Terra, making her significantly better than chance scores on her ESP cards...

with this (Magda's reaction to seeing psychic healing):

Magda turned her eyes away, but found them drawn back. Fakery, nonsense...

and this (Magda talking to a Darkover psi about Terra):

Among us, there are not too many who even believe that such powers exist, Lady. Those who believe in them, or claim to be able to use them, are thought ignorant, superstitious, credulous.

So is psi something that the Terran Empire regularly tests students for, and has Institutes to study, or is it something that's considered fakery, nonsense, and superstition? A nit, maybe, but given how central a role this stuff plays in the Darkover stories, I would think Bradley would be a little more careful with consistency?

What do people type into something that's not a search box, you ask? Well:

Does that mean kittens might be born in it -- as long as we don't go looking for them?

easy + money + free + happiness + bhudda - liquid + Scalia. Oh, wait. NOT a search box?

Oh, a search box!

not a query.

(sex & success & popularity) AND NOT "hard work"

This morning, I was typing "Yeah, if it works", but thinking "Yeah, when it works", and what actually appeared on the screen was "Yeah, if it whens"! Cool, huh?




Not a search query

Google needs work, couldn't find any furry feet.

That's OK, I'm not looking for anything

stasis box

Whoever's wandering around the Web muttering "David... Chess... master...", please bring the Overthruster to the Submarine Dock, and then you can go back to your lair and sleep.

I still want to find things to say about jury nullification and suchlike; in the meantime I'll just send you to FIJA, and recommend in particular their Jury Power Information page. Unlike fringie things like the "sixteenth amendment was never really enacted" story, I haven't found any pages debunking the Jury Power theory. Seems like when the judge charges the jury that they are only allowed to decide on the facts of the case, and only the judge is allowed to decide about the law, he's just lying. A jury can acquit for whatever the heck reason it wants to, including that it thinks the law in question is a bad one.

They Just Don't Want You To Know It...

Wednesday, July 4, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Oh say, does that
Star-spangled banner
Yet wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?

I'm sitting on the little daughter's couch with my laptop, like in the old days. We all watched the Macy's fireworks on the teevee as usual; comfy and relaxed and relatively boring. *8) The only times these kids have seen real live Fourth fireworks were the time (three years ago?) when Manny down the street took them over to the Bear Mountain Bridge to watch the Harriman ones (and M and I stayed home), and two years ago at the first outing, when me and kids saw the ones on the beach at Sea Isle City.

When I was little we'd go and visit my gramma and grampa that lived on the lake in Reston, Virginia, and various fireworks were legal there. Or not really the real fireworks, but the "Caution: emits showers of sparks" kind with names like "Rainbow Fountain", that sat there on the ground and emitted showers of sparks. And there was this one kind I remember that weren't bright or sparkling, but I loved.

They were these little black cubes that you put on the ground and held a match to, and they'd start to hiss, and this curvy cylindrical snake would magically appear from out of the cube, smoking and writhing. Or actually the cube would turn into the snake. And afterward you could try to pick up the snake, which was just a fragile tube of ash, and if you were really careful you could hold it in your hand (and your hand would get all dirty) without it crumbling.

And the smoke smelled infernally and wonderfully awful.

Tuesday, July 3, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

First of all I have to say that on the way home from being released from Jury Duty yesterday, I stopped on a whim at CompUSA and rummaged around in the Cheap Software bins a bit, and brought home a copy of Dungeon Keeper 2. I installed it after everyone else was in bed, on the theory that I'd try it out a bit before turning in myself.

Next time I looked at the clock it was 02:30.

So if I'm a little wooly (a little woolier than usual, even) today, it's because I only got four hours sleep. DK2 was fun, I think, although I don't remember it all that well. Lots of imps burrowing for gold, this big red nasty-looking guy with horns on whose side I apparently was. And all these chickens...

So I was thinking about my admiration for the woman in the Jeep, and Steve's recent remarks about the packages women come in, and my own now-vestigal qualms about beauty and freedom, and I wonder. Is it that women just are more visually admirable than men (in a completely objective universal sense), or is it some quirk of my personality and upbringing?

There are various people Out There who are interested in the potential for changing one's appreciation of various sorts of packaging. This is somewhat controversial, of course. Some people might for instance consider an organization like NARTH to be a bunch of bigoted religious extremists disguising their archaic superstitious views behind a wall of pseudo-scientific verbiage that has been roundly rejected by the legitimate medical community.

But I thought I'd give them a chance. There doesn't seem to be an email address anywhere on narth.com (funny about that), but the whois entry on the registrar's site gives one...

From: chess@theogeny.com
To: narth4@earthlink.net
Subject: Sexual-orientation therapy
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 11:48:41 GMT

I came across the narth.com site the other day (apologies if you aren't connected with it; the site doesn't list an email address!). It's certainly a good thing for people who wish to change their sexual orientation to have access to resources and support. I notice that the NARTH site concentrates on changing from homosexual to heterosexual. I wonder if you know of any resources for people who want to change in other directions; heterosexual to bisexual, for instance?

Thanks for any information!
David M. Chess

I figured that if nothing else the reply would be good blog fodder. Unfortunately, the mail bounced: no such user. Go figure! So I guess I'll stick to appreciating women for the time being, anyway. I suppose I could send them my query via hardcopy mail, but I'm not sure that I remember how...

My parking ticket, as promised. Thrills, eh? Note how cleverly I have removed the personal information that would allow spammers with image-to-ASCII translators to suck out my (actually M's) license-plate number for their vile purposes. I tell ya', Photoshop's "clone stamp" tool is going to bring down Western civilization one of these days...

Speaking of which, Plurp has been having a really good run recently; drop by and read the last few days (and the ones before that) if you haven't been there recently. Some wise things, some funny things:

Virginia Energy Crisis
Cheney To Be Turned Off On Alternate Tuesdays

Lesee. dwl pointed out this morning that the recent poll was broken. Happened in the time-regression incident on Thursday I'm sure. I've restored it to what I remember of the results that were last there. If you don't see your vote, feel free to vote again!   *8)

Speaking of the right to discriminate, the next Recommended Reading in our Teach Yourself Constitutional Law At Home course is Roberts v. Jaycees (1984), in which the Supremes decide that it's okay for a Minnesota law to forbid the Jaycees to keep out females, since the Jaycees are a Public Accomodation within the meaning of the Act. Interesting reading if you wonder why things like freedom of association and/or assembly don't let Old Man Cartwright keep brunettes out of his smoke shop.

So is no one going to defend Akira against my negative rant?

Speaking of "A-list" weblogs, as we were back in May, I stumbled across a link I was looking for back then but couldn't find: Weblog Junior High. A slice of someone's A-list at some instant of past time...

Later: reader input, Bradley's "The Shattered Chain", more SCOTUS decisions, other stuff that I'm sure will come back to me once I've had some sleep.

Monday, July 2, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

The Third Annual July 4th Outing was a great success, as success is measured in these things. Not as blazing hot as the first time. Only two nights rather than three, because of the Fourth being a Wednesday and all. A different campsite this time, right around the corner from the previous one, a bit smaller and less crowded and somewhat cleaner. A lake (pond, with a floating dock to swim to and dive off of) but no pool. And right down the highway, Sea Isle City and the infinite wavy ocean.

(When I'm back near a scanner maybe I'll scan in my souvenir Sea Isle City Overtime Parking Ticket.)

Shall I talk on and on about this? Sure, why not! This morning I'm sitting in the County Courthouse on Jury Duty, watching a very educational video about how to be a juror, and how much better the jury system is than being tossed into a lake to see if you float. Seriously! They've got actors dressed up as medieval peasants and everything. Very Monty Python.

The theme of the Cape May trip this year was Mosquitos. (The first year was Heat; last year was probably the night that it Rained.) The first night especially, there were more of the little bloodsuckers than I've ever seen in one place. The campground store has these great T-shirts with the name of the campground and enormous glow-in-the-dark pictures of mosquitos which we didn't buy, and plastic souvenir mosquito swatters which we did; making a collectible of necessity.

We rolled into camp in the late afternoon Friday, just as other people were about to head down to the beach; so I turned my kids over to them (we had five families this year, all very comfortable with each other by now) and drove down myself after setting up a tent. The beach was lovely and almost deserted that late in the day, and the water was cool. Coming back all tired and salty and sandy, the mosquitos weren't a great welcome.

After all the mosquitos that had snuck into the tents had been squashed, we settled down to sleep (having mooched a fine dinner off the other families, who are very kind to me as the only lone parent (camping is not M's style)) in the heat and humidity. I lay in the little tent and listened to my kids in the big tent making up an imaginary world full of cool things. Clothing with built-in bags full of cold water sounded like a pretty good idea.

The second day we did the beach again in the morning (the water chillier but delicious, the sand more crowded with people; tattoos certainly are in these days!), and the lake in the afternoon. The third day we did the lake in the morning (Sand-Castle Contest Today; Judging at 2pm), and then at 1pm or so I had to persuade the kids to get out of the water and stop working on the huge communal sand-castle complex and get in the car to come home. (One of the little daughter's friends said he'd send her email about whether they won anything in the Contest.)

How many endearing details should I include here? Who am I writing this for? Almost entirely for myself, I suppose. Which is why it makes so much sense to post it on the Web where millions of people can read it! (Now some famous blonde female news anchor is explaining the role of the jury in modern law, narrating over an earnest-looking multi-racial cast pretending to be lawyers and jurors and judges and stuff.)

In the northbound lanes, heading into the storm, all the drivers in convertibles are pulling onto the shoulder to put their tops up.

A young woman is fastening the brown khaki cover onto her jeep as we drive past. Big solitary drops have started coming down. The woman is wearing tan shorts and a blue bikini top with white strings. She reaches up, and her skin tightens over the elegant curves of bone under the flesh of her side.

Farther along, in heavy rain and bright lightning, clumps of motorcyclists shelter under every overpass, looking out at the weather and talking into their cellphones.

On the way home, we passed through the second or third nastiest storm I can remember driving through. Lots of blue ("actinic"?) lightning, lots of people driving with their emergency blinkers on, everyone's windshield wipers set on "manic". The kids loved it.

"Maybe we'll have to stop, and stay in a hotel tonight!"


"Can we Daddy, can we?"

"Hotels are fun."

"They have hallways and stairs to explore."

"And candy machines!"

Now the Juror film is over, but the Assistant Something of Jurors hasn't come back yet from talking to the people who aren't county residents, or who don't speak English, or who have been convicted or a felony, or who have a doctor's letter saying they're unable to serve, or who have firm vacation plans in the next two weeks and no prior deferral. So we're all just sitting here hoping the jackhammers don't start up again...

Lesee. On the way home we ate, for the third or fourth time, at our official Favorite Restaurant in the area, a terribly-named ("Kountry Korner Restaurant / Ice Cream" I think it is) but very friendly and local place a bit south of the campgrounds, that we discovered two years ago while driving around trying to escape the heat in the car's air-conditioning. Mediocre mushroom cheese-steak, but great homemade vanilla shakes and clam chowder. And somehow very realistic people running the place.

Minor disasters: four injured toes (two per child), officially declared "pinched by crabs"; two lost pairs of goggles (one per child), both replaced at the campground store (although in one case that was small consolation, as the lost ones were the Best Goggles Ever); various tears and sorrows engendered by tiredness, too much sun, too much sand. Some rather nasty sunburn on the little daughter, partly due to me not being thorough enough with the sunblock and partly due to it washing off too fast. (I have the usual sunburn on my forehead, where I rapidly sweat off any sunblock known to humankind, and one painful strip on my neck where my collar moved between sunblock and sun.)

Now we're actually up in the courtroom, being interviewed about our past encounters with crime and law enforcement, and whether we could be a fair and impartial juror in this case. Lots of stuff I'm legally forbidden to tell you about, what fun! So I won't.

The Judge was very emphatic about how we will be strictly triers of fact and he's the sole judge of the law, and if we don't like the law we still have to follow it, and then afterwards we can write to Albany and try to get the law changed. I'm reasonably sure that that's not actually true. Maybe later this week I'll rustle up some links on the Fully Informed Jury Association and issues of jury nullification. There are some more Supreme Court rulings I want to natter on about, also, once I'm connected again.

Heh, I should have brought my radio card along; maybe the County Courthouse has a nice unencrypted wireless system and a promiscuous DHCP server. You never know.

So anyway. It's nice to be home!

Post Scriptola: They only needed to get five jurors (two regular and three alternate) from the seventy of us, and my name never even came out of the little lottery drum. So I've discharged my Civic Duty! Back to work tomorrow...


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