log (2005/07/08 to 2005/07/14)

By observing the length of time that the Bush administration stonewalled about the Plame affair before any at all credible actions were even hinted at, we should be able to estimate the time that it takes to extract an alien overlord from a human brainstem and implant it into a new host body.

(Suggestions that the current Karl Rove is actually a clone of the original, grown specifically to take the blame, seriously overestimate the Greys' ability to clone humans; Cheney's heart problems are clear evidence that they haven't made this a high priority, or that the biology of the two species is just too different to allow quick adaptation of the technology.)

Who is the new host, you ask? Watch, I say, the Supreme Court nomination process...

(Eleanor Raptor grew into an adult! But I told myself I'd talk about serious political issues tonight, and avoid obsessing about the Sims.)

What was that?

What was what?

That? That was Tom Cruise, of course. Not only does he know the history of psychiatry - he knows there are aliens out there as well. Smart guy, Tom. [link]

That was a Frogstar Battle Robot Class 3 out looking for you.


I Said: updates = reader appreciation.

Philosopher's Breakup lines - [link] heh

Ha, Tom Cruise! That's what they want you to think...

An addictive little toy, described on a mailing list as "time sink". I'm on level 13, and I think I've reached the limit of my skill and/or patience. Two different people who saw me working on it said "that's what we have computers for". But the constant feeling that I'm just about to figure out some chunked rules for solving the problem is somehow very appealing.

Today's path: from some Google search or other, to Sims Playing Sims, to Ludologists love stories, too, to Ludology meets narratology: Similitude and differences between (video)games and narrative. (I have a great fondness somehow for the scholarly study of games and related media; although I don't think I ever finished reading Twisty Little Passages.)

And also somewhere in there to this piece about a great hoax demo video for the fictional "Nintendo On" product. Pretty neat.

So today I'm just going to post some of the promised (I know you've all been waiting impatiently) Sims 2 pictures. I dunno why the ones that I take are so small and grainy compared to the Real Sims 2 Fans out there who seem to have big high-quality pictures, but I forge ahead regardless. (There's like 125K of images in this entry; apologies to anyone for whom that's alot of data!)

Here's my very first character, Ransom Zoom. He's the third cousin of Harry Zoom, a character from my Sims (The Sims, the Original Game) game. (Harry has a cool blue forehead implant, but I didn't find any in the Sims 2 for Ransom; maybe they'll be in an expansion.)

Ransom Zoom

Ransom is a Fortune-aspiration guy, which fits his Criminal career nicely. He's currently a Smuggler; just one more level to go to Criminal Mastermind!

Ransom met and fell in love with Marisa Bendett, one of the standard characters shipped with the game, and she moved in with him. She turned out to be Fortune aspiration also, which was a nice match (she's in the Sports career, currently an Assistant Coach I think). Soon she was pregnant; here's a notable picture:

Georgia in Progress

This is Ransom early in his career (hence the embarassing uniform).

They had a baby girl, and named her Georgia after Georgia O'Keeffe. Ransom and Marisa eventually got married, for reasons having to do with the inheritance laws, but Georgia is a little feminist, and kept her mother's last name. So here is Georgia Bendett contemplating the mysteries of the universe in the front yard:

Georgia Stargazing

The second Sim I created was Sally Raptor; she has the Romance Aspiration, and a hat:

Sally Raptor

She has four lovers (with a strong ambition to have five), and two children by Mitch the Fireman (insert pun on the word "equipment" here):

Sally and Mitch

The older child is Eleanor (for Eleanor Roosevelt). Here she is that time, as mentioned yesterday, that she ran down the stairs naked to watch little Gina grow up, and then when Gina didn't grow up after all she went off to make spaghetti. (Unfortunately the censorgrid hides her face.)

Eleanor cooking in the nude

For my third family, the Danverses, I designed John (a stay-at-home Family Aspiration guy) and Jean (a Knowledge Aspiration scientist type), and they fell in love and married and had Jane, who is now a teenager. Here they are in the family uniform:

John and Jean and Jane

(The thought balloons suggest that John is flirting with Jean, and Jane is thinking that if they keep it up she'll have a sibling soon. If that does happen, I hope we get a boy baby for a change.)

Jane had a friend when she was a child (I forget his name); here she is meeting him shortly after she became a teenager. The title of this is "Wow, girls really do mature faster than boys!".

Jane and Friend

And finally one shot of inter-family interaction. Sally Raptor wandered past the Danvers house one morning and John invited her in. They got along quite well; here's John tickling Sally and Sally laughing, with Jean asleep in the next room (visible because we're in walls-cutaway mode; that's Jane's bed in the foreground, she was sleeping in the kitchen at the time):

John tickling Sally

Despite Sally's well-deserved reputation, I doubt that this presages any Difficult Love Triangles. Things are complicated enough as it is.

Of course I'm doing all this Sims stuff as a sort of participant observer in an anthropological study of human uses of computer technology. If that requires spending hours and hours playing the game now and then, it's all in the interests of science. I could stop at any time.

("NOTE: Kittens do not have any computer-compatible ports. Don't try to plug anything into them. I'm serious.")

Thanks to the gratifyingly large number of readers who wrote to mention that last Friday was accidentally Monday for awhile. Nice to know y'all're paying attention. *8)

Going through some old mail I discover that Audible is offering two more free lectures, these on Einstein. They should be accessible until like July 31st.

Odd fact o' the day: MTV bought NeoPets. I guess they're interested in simulated commodity arbitrage.

Odd program behavior o' the day: In Opera on this machine here, if I press down-arrow while the cursor is in an input box, a little one-line dropdown appears below the input box, containing the text "Where with white clouds for my pillow, I sleep".

Which I thought was pretty neat, if incomprehensible.

A little poking around revealed that that text is the first (only, I think) "text note" that I have saved in the Opera "text note" thing. Since I never use the Opera "text note" thing, I wonder how it got there. Is it the as-shipped default? Unlikely, but it'd be neat if it were...

Except for necessary chores and a couple blissful hours in the lake with the little boy, I spent virtually the entire weekend playing the Sims 2 (one of those activities that's great fun while you're doing it, but afterward you think "sheesh, what a waste of time"). Still too lazy to choose and post any pictures (and mine somehow don't seem to be as fancy and high-res and close-up as everyone else's), but here are some fun recent bugs:

  • In the Danvers' house, there's a dartboard that's haunted. I can't delete it because it's always "in use" (presumably by the ghost), and there are no darts (the ghost is holding them, I expect, so they're invisible), and if I tell anyone to play it they just stand there looking at it, as though someone was playing. If I tell two people to use it, they stand there talking to each other, and watching the board. The ghost seems very selfish, as it never gives anyone else a turn.
  • There's also a haunted teddy bear in that house. Little Jane Danvers loved it as a toddler, but later on Jean tried to use its "Talk Through To" action to talk to John (just because I was curious as to what that did), and in the midst the bear suddenly teleported into the next room, and for the next hour or so Jane's arms were stuck reaching out toward it (which was especially disturbing when she was facing away from it). Her arms eventually recovered, but it's also permanently "in use", so I can't delete it, and I'm afraid to have anyone else try to pick up or use it, because who knows what would happen!
  • Sally Raptor had her second child, again by Mitch the fireman. When it was time for little Gina Raptor to grow into a toddler, the family was too busy to get her a cake or anything (second children always get the short end of the stick), and at 6pm on The Day she fired off the "I'm about to grow up" signal, which brought the family running to "help with birthday". Eleanor her older sister picked her up, but then nothing happened; she didn't grow up! People got tired of waiting and put her back to bed and went about their business. Later in the night she fired the "about to grow up" signal again; this time Eleanor came running downstairs from the bath without even putting her clothes on, and stood there holding her all naked and pixelated. But again she didn't grow up, and Eleanor went off and made herself spaghetti in the kitchen, still all pixelated. (I had her put her pajamas back on after she ate.) The next time Gina fired off the signal, she really did grow up, six hours late; Sally was at work at the time and missed it, but I have a good picture of Eleanor (clothed) spinning her new toddler sister over her head.

Speaking of Sally and Eleanor and Gina, there's a big female bias in my Sims 2 game. Of the four children that have been born to my families so far, four (roughly 100%) have been girls. And the female NPCs (townies) seem to be the friendly ones, in contrast to the males who are mostly jerks. Three of Sally's four lovers are female, and while Eleanor's closest friend is Ricky (a boy), all her other friends are girls.

Maybe it's just that as a bit of a gynophile myself I find the female visitors more attractive, and therefore I'm more willing to have the characters (male and female) that I'm running put a little more effort into making friends with them? Or maybe it's a Sinister Conspiracy!

Pictures someday, I'm sure. Also perhaps comments on the principle of radical freedom which demonstrates that there can be no nonarbitrary scale on which The Sims 2 is any less important than, say, Constitutional Law... *8)

Hard to get into writing humorous or ironic or intellectual or trivial, or even deep and insightful, log entries in the shadow of people being blown up in London.

Why are people evil? Why do we hurt each other, kill each other? Well, we know that I suppose. How do we fix it?

In escapism news, I've just started up my third family in The Sims 2. This one is John and Jean Danvers; he has the Family Aspiration, and stays home cooking and cleaning and dreaming of engagement and marriage; she has the Knowledge Aspiration, works as a Lab Assistant, and spends her time at home reading and studying. They dress as close to identically as I could manage (white tank tops and baggy camo pants), because I thought that would be fun. I'm surprised the game doesn't make it easier to give a man and a woman the same clothes.

My second "family" is Sally Raptor, who has the Romance Aspiration; i.e. she's sex-crazed. She's currently working as a Home Video Editor, and her current big goals in life include having woohooed (what's the past tense of "woohoo"?) with five different lovers. She also has a daughter, Eleanor, by Mitch the fireman; she met Mitch when he came to extinguish the oven that time that she accidentally left dinner in too long. (I really ought to have a picture of Sally or someone over in the margin there, but I'm too lazy to go and pick one out and stuff right now.)

It's an impressively complex and flexible game. Some frustrations remain, some things that are too hard-coded. F'rinstance, some Sims are quite polyamorous (some like Sally center their lives around it); but even those Sims expect everyone else to be monogamous.

Eleanor came upstairs on the way to the bathroom the other day and found Sally (her Mom) and Ivy (one of her Mom's lovers) sleeping blissfully together in the big bed. This should have been no big surprise; Eleanor is used to seeing Ivy and Andrea and Mitch and Christy all hanging around the house in their underwear and all. But, because every Sim S is hardcoded to become upset if they see A carrying out a romantic interaction with B if there is some C such that C is a relative of S and C loves A, Eleanor began crying softly, presumably thinking "Mom is cheating on Dad". Which is silly, because Mom and Dad aren't married, or even living together, and Eleanor is going to be just as polyamorous herself when she grows up.

There's also a certain amount of pro-anorexia bias in the game, in that characters who are "fit" are uniformly quite thin, and some characters have a Fear of "getting fat" (which really means "getting normal-looking"). The "fit" Elders especially look much thinner than is healthy for an old person. Silly game designers.

(Speaking of which, there's a nice big poster of a halfway normal-looking woman, scantily clad and smiling, in the food court at the Mall. A great poster! It's from Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty (in particular it's Julie). Anyone have good data on how real this campaign is, and how much pure manipulative marketing? Seems like a good thing at first glance.)

And also speaking of the Sims 2, there are people (in fact lots and lots of people) posting the illustrated stories of their various Sims 2 families to the Web. So you can take part in many other people's escapisms, as well as escaping into your own! (The Sims as individually published soap operas; will Days of Our Lives suffer a decline in viewership?)

On the Eminent Domain decision we mentioned the other day, we find on flutterby a wonderful modest proposal:

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

We have two week's worth of favorite technology:

Sushi! (Does that count?)


Jet-packs and moon-pods, man.

Flying cars?

They took your suggestion [link], so now we can all support the troops. Oh - here's a better picture of it. [link]

This morning at the Club I saw a similar one; it was blue, and said something like "Bring the troops home now!", with a peace symbol in the "o" of "now". For some reason I still want one that looks just like the yellow implicitly pro-war "Support Our Troops" ones, with just a little extra message. Interesting question as to whether this would effectively dilute the existing yellow-ribbon brand (pushing the world toward a state where a yellow ribbon car magnet wouldn't imply either a pro-war or anti-war stance to a casual observer), or whether it would be accidentally endorsing the existing brand (giving the casual observer the impression that here's one more pro-war car, since it has a yellow ribbon). Dunno.


beer, even if bitter

Text; cognate with Textile, Texture, and Technology, vie the *I. E. root *teks

pace maker

A Greasemonkey script that changes all occurrences of 'podcast' on Scripting News to 'penis'

File compression.


charged particle acceleration



Good technologies all. (Editor's note: I admit to having censored one of the reader inputs above; always remember that this log shows the world through a me-colored filter.)

You might try Mark Vandewettering's ramblings from Brainwagon.org

Tannin or no tannin, the bitterness of recent judicial decisions leaves an acrid taste in the back of our democratic sensitibilty, like the whiff of gasoline on a freshly dead corpse.

A little bit of the peril




(The middle class is one of my favorite technologies, also.)

And finally, sadly appropriate for the day,

Indeed, the only hope is of freshly-pinched mint leaves, perched delicately on the forever closed eyes of the deceased, and of the fingers of those departed, swarming beneath the grey waters and the sharp reeds.