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Thursday, December 27, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

So in my most recent Alpha Centauri game, at the fourth level of difficulty (gotta love a game where the fourth of six difficulty levels is called "Librarian"), I didn't manage to win by Mandatory Retirement time in 2500, but I did leave behind a reasonable situation (just us and that madman Yang left as significant forces in the world), and playing as my own successor I took only seventy-six more years to lead humanity to (all together now) the next stage of evolution. (I also managed to build the first gravship in my last year before retirement; vroom vroom!)

The key realization, which didn't come to me until long after it should have, was that Yang wasn't staging his sneak-attacks at random; he was doing it every time I made a treaty with the Spartans (he and the Spartans didn't get along at all). So once I stopped making those treaties, he stopped attacking. (I could still call up the Spartans and give them lots of free tech every decade or so, just to make them a more effective irritant to him; apparently those transactions are reasonably secret.)

I'm now in the second month of my audible.com subscription. In the first month I got a nice sexy book, and a less sexy periodical, as reported earlier. This month I thought I'd invert that, so I have a one month subscription to "In Bed with Susie Bright", and I'm browsing around for some morally uplifting book. Or maybe some poetry (except nearly all the bling-blang poetry they have is in bling-blang Format One, which the bling-blang Rio 600 can't play).

Susie Bright is fun to listen to! Her show is shorter than the weekly Science News (twenty-five-ish rather than fifty-ish minutes), but much juicier. Her content (so far) is random news and letters about sex, sex in politics, sex in religion, whatever. Sort of a spoken weblog, a spoken Pursed Lips or Daze Reader (with fewer but longer entries) (and no links you can click on).

In this first week's show, for instance, she covered the boy suspended from school for wearing a vagina costume (which led to some rambling about her own exploits in school), a website (whose URL she said was too long to spell out, but which she volunteered to send in email; maybe I'll write her for it) that quoted various juicy parts of the Koran, segueing into some passages from The Perfumed Garden, and a great reader letter from a 62-year-old man who was being tempted by an 80-year-old old flame and wanted advice.

I already knew I like Susie Bright's writing, and I can now report that she has a great voice as well. Not a "sultry sex goddess" voice so much as a "funny nextdoor neighbor" voice. She has a slight lisp, she's not entirely comfortable in front of the microphone, you can tell she's winging it a little, she sometimes has this nervous little laugh. Very much a real person, and altogether endearing.

So far I think I can recommend this whole audible.com thing, with only a few reservations. The wires connecting the Rio and the headphones are annoying; I should get a wireless RF something (to get rid of the wires) or one of them bone conduction gizmos (to move the speakers down off of my ears; do those actually work?) or maybe (hm) rig up something to hold the Rio up on top of my head nearer to the speakers on my ears ("Um, is that your hat talking?"). Somehow listening to a book while sitting around with the family feels more isolated, ruder, than reading a book does. On the other hand, it's much easier to listen to Susie Bright while pottering around the kitchen making Cream of Wheat and washing dishes than it would be to read Susie Bright in the same circumstances...

Has anything been happening? We haven't been consuming much news (or reading many weblogs, for that matter) for some enormous long stretch of time now. Poor us!

Wednesday, December 26, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Stuck in my head:

Moses supposes
His toeses are roses,
But Moses supposes

For ev'ry one knowses
That toeses aren't roses
As Moses supposes
His toeses to be.

Is that how you spell "toeses"?

Why non-technical people are annoying, part seventeen:

Me: I'm concerned that there might be a problem in a complex case with properties A, B, and C.

Them, later: It's okay, we tested it in a case with property A, and there was no problem.

Me: [superego presses the MUTE button just before id begins vile imprecations]

In an old input box a reader who is Mork from Ork, or perhaps Eric Drexler, writes:


How odd.

spring, spring

An ontologically curious reader writes:


What's a springy man?

A springy man is, hm, a springy man (man, these digital cameras are convenient). I trust that the method of construction is obvious from the photo. *8). Apologies to anyone not doing images; just picture a man that's sort of springy.

In what is presumably a reference to Pattan, an extremely tactful and deferential reader writes:

Hey Dave, I just came across your site... looks like you still try to convince Intel processors doing compositions ;-)

Honestly, the results don't sound much better than in the old days when we were doing the "Music from Big Blue" series. Must have been about 10 years ago ...

Yeah, well. In fact the current music is considerably worse, since I pretty much started from scratch with the composition modules this time around, and I don't have nearly as much free time to play around with it now as I did then. But like the dancing poodle, the significant thing is that it works at all. Show me another website that composes music in real time, and I'll, well, I'll blog it!

("Music from Big Blue" was a fun collaborative project where various of us sent in audio cassettes to the ringleader, and he would make a master cassette containing all the contributions, copy it onto all the cassettes we sent him, and send the results back. And yep, I've still got mine!)

A spammer writes:

chess, your New Year resolution starts with Ginseng

Which is amazingly accurate! Except for the part about the Ginseng.

Happy Holidays to all, and best wishes to all sorts of people who have colds and things; get better!

Monday, December 24, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

So yeah the important thing is the Solstice, the turning of the year, the end of the dark's lengthening, the growing of the light. But the kids really like Christmas. *8) And certainly the Goddess doesn't mind...

(I got a call from Singapore the other day. Can you imagine? A decade or two ago it was The Mysterious East, distant and unreachable; now it's just Country Code 65. When I was little we would talk to Gramma in Hawai'i, and we were amazed at how clear it sounded but it was flaky and only one person could talk at a time. Now Singapore is just like next door. Only thirteen hours later.)

A spammer whose removal function I whimsically decided to invoke (the letter sounded so sincere) writes:

Dear Valued Subscriber,

  Your request to be removed from our email list has been received. Please allow up to 5 days for processing. We are sorry to see you go.

Isn't that sweet? Of course it may mean "thank you for confirming that your email address is live; we will now sell it to another hundred slimebags".

Speaking of which, the highest-volume result of theogeny.com coming back to life has been a flood of spam addressed to "chess-mp3" at theogeny.com. I've only ever given that address to one party; we can conclude from this that you should always give an entirely made-up address when mp3.com asks for one, unless you really enjoy spam. (And don't forget to lie to pollsters, too.)

Merry Whatever to All! I doubt there'll be an entry here tomorrow...

Friday, December 21, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Wow, this feels so familiar! Same old worn cushions on the couch, same dust on the windowsills, same seventy-three cents lying under the chair.

Same books on the endtable.

Is davidchess.com working for everyone? I guess it's working for everyone who's reading this, unless you've manually stuck entries in your hosts file. I put a couple of links onto the "We're Back" announcement over on the pitas page, so people whose DNS neighborhoods aren't working can report in.


Look, I can even stick images over in the left margin again! What luxury. I should go over and ping weblogs.com with the old familiar address again, shouldn't I? What else is there I ought to remember? Moving is so complicated, even when it's only virtual.

So this morning M and I went over to the little boy's school (it was the last day before Solstice vacation), and M make bead snowflakes with the girls and I made springy men with the boys (the gender division was the teacher's idea; she's a little odd), and it was great fun.

When I was little Dad had this cardboard box full of stuff for springy men; strips of construction paper, and tubes of glue, and scissors, and who knows what. I remember how that box smelled (smell is always the stickiest memory). I wonder what happened to that box? Every Christmas he'd take the box to church, and us kids would make springy men. We'd always have a few springy men on the tree, too.


Excuse me, I have to go make another springy man, to hang on the tree in the living room. Help yourself to the hot cider.


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