Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's a great time to come back to the GP2X scene.

My GP2X joystick broke a while ago, and a seemingly random member of the community of GP2X owners offered to fix it for me *swoons*. Now I'm back and it's actually cool - here's what I posted in the forums...

Apparently GBA emulation is not only possible, but really happening. When my GP2X joystick broke, folks still thought this was an impossible dream.

CPS2 emulation is apparently gotten so good you can run some games at 200MHz. I can't wait to try out Magic Sword again, heck, maybe Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom or Shadows of Mystaria will work. OMG, the link has the D&D title screen on it (jizzes self & feints).

There's this cool cradle which apparently can be had for less moola from Nubie's link; I'm guessing there's something in North America that does that too.

There's wireless Internet access, which is something I wanted since before I bought my GP2X. Who's going to arrest you for piggy-backing carrying that around?

EvilDragon is busy. Good to know.

Folks are making an open source Firmware for the GP2X! This could really help the device as it ages if it enables us to do more with our GP2X.

Maybe if I make a GP2X game I'll become famous enough for Hooka to interview me. *dreams*

There's a lot of homebrew to catch up on - and honestly, since I have an NDS and a G6 Lite, that's high on my list of priorities.

I can finally buy Payback. My joystick broke while I was playing the demo. It was xnopasaranx's wondering about me and Sam Fisher and PokeParadox getting back in contact with me that got me to reiterate my problem, which Grahf saw and PMed me offering to help.

If xnopasaranx hadn't written nicely about me, Pokeparadox never would have pointed me to the thread, and Grahf would never have seen my issue, and my GP2X would still be sitting next to my wife's MP3 player (when she's not using it). Thank you guys.

It's great to see Squidge is still here, Telcolou - I hear Epicenter left on bad terms and I'm saddened for that but such is the nature of humanity and the hardships of the world.

I've been having great fun in life - my kids are fantastically well behaved - my 10yo daughter cooks food, as in dinners. My 7yo daughter cooks scrambled eggs without making them too dry or soggy. My 2yo son scribbles on the wall in red permanent marker. Hey wait that's not good... oh he protects his sisters if I'm chastizing them. And my lovely Latina is STILL fun to chase around.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why the Wii will Prevail

It's all summed up here:

  1. The console is systematically outselling every other new generation game console (XBOX 360 and PS3) every month.
  2. Games cost less for developers to make, and take less time.
  3. Whereas XBOX 360 and PS3 caters most to men, the Wii has a greater success rate at getting everyone in the family to play it - this means that the Wii should sell more games than a console the family buys for their teenage son who plays it in his room.
That's what Nintendo is banking on. While the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are played primarily by young men, the Wii is played on average by more people in each household. That means Nintendo has a good shot at selling more games per console than its rivals, said George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing.

"Before, it was the teenage boy playing by himself," Harrison said. "Now, the whole family is playing."

Dave's take? It's obvious, and anyone who thinks otherwise lets their emotions rule them too much. Welcome to a changing market.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Etrian Odyssey

For this next bit - sometimes I try to be a funny guy. This is one of those times.

I bought Etrian Odyssey and spent a very long time trying to hack the savegame - the game is gorgeous (see my review) and fun, but also unforgiving and hard. A party-wipe means "start over from the last time you were at the town's inn." Ouch.

My plan was to take one character and make her into a version of "Lord" Benedict, from Final Fantasy Tactics - a character who a faulty PSX 3rd party save card corrupted and suddenly could learn any skill (max it out) as soon as it was available. His level didn't change, but he was the master at anything he could do. It was like having Michael Jordan on your team. He couldn't carry the battle, but man he was awesome.

I did get Skill Points happening with my Protector / Paladin, Madrigal, and maxed a lot of her skills out, even though she's level 5 (now). Basically, my catch for trying to survive a party wipe. Sometimes folks drop, but not Maddy. Oh no, Madrigal's a resourceful gal. Not invincible, but how many level 5's do you know who can do almost every trick in the book? And, to keep the game fun, 98% of the time she either attacks or does Front Defense during combat, and that's it.

I had heard folks complain in the forums about a certain beast on the very 2nd level of the Labyrinth that was wiping parties out just because it could. The Ragealope. Some kind of angry Antelope or some such rubbish. I figured folks were diving in early.

Baring this in mind, I can tell you ... WITH ALL THE CERTAINTY IN HEAVEN ... with the very assurance that ON DAY, Jesus Christ will come again and judge the living and the dead... with this level of assuradness, I... assure you...

It is NOT the "Ragealope".

It is the "RAPEalope".

I seek the thing out with my party - Maddy's got Stalker up so nothing runs into us and wears us down. Everyone's 5th level. Standard party: Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Cleric, Mage. Or is that Gay Germanic Word for Fighter (Landsknecht), Call it What it is Paladin (Protector), Rangers do More Than Survive (Survivalist), Clerics Without Gods (Medics), and Mages Without Magic (Alchemist)?


The battle starts and I have Maddy put up a frontal defense, and tell Pharra (my fighter) to Cleave, Glen (my ranger) to haste the party, Lia (my cleric) to brace herself, and Vera, her sister (my mage) to use Volt (a nice lightning attack).

Rapealope is MAD. Rapealope CONFUSES puny Ranger and Mage.

I think "Oh dear." I recalled in FF7 how my party of "rape the enemy and steal their candy" was annihilated by creatures who just kept casting confusion on them.

Rapealope is ANGRY. Rapealope hits ignorant intrudors for massive damage.

Lia (cleric) tries to remove status ailments, but it doesn't work on confusion. Glen (ranger) dies horribly, her guts still entangled on the beast's antlers. Pharra (fighter) uses Cleave again, while Vera (mage) casts more Volt. Maddy attacks. I have 4 out of 5 characters left.

Rapealope is DISPLEASED. Rapealope confuses pitiful Paladin and Mage.

Vera (mage) dies in a similar fashion to Glen (ranger). Pharra takes another stab at the beast. Lia tries to heal folks.

Maddy comes out of her daze in time to look around and sees only she, Lia (cleric) and Pharra (fighter) are up. She cheats. She breaks an oath and uses Smite. Calling upon her forbidden Goddess, she smashes the Ragealope. I have 3 out of 5 characters left.

Rapealope is AMUSED. Rapealope kills puny Cleric, and knocks Fighter silly.

I have 2 out of 5 characters left. With Pharra almost dead, and the Ragealope badly injured but still powerful, Madrigal flees to the first floor and takes Pharra and the bodies with her.

And that, my fellow, was my encounter, with the Rapealope.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Man Arrested for Using Unsecured Wireless Connection

Uh, this is stupid. It seems the world of computers is "Don't get caught." Because reality and law aren't meshing well. I won't bother defending it or going into the issue - only state that it's another example of the way people working changing faster than existing models can cope.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GP2X about to be saved!

My GP2X thumbstick / joystick broke a while ago (October of 2006 I think), and a friendly person in the GP2X community who repairs cellular phones has offered to fix it for the low, benevolent cost of - of - OF... shipping!

So Grahf gets the Mensch of the Month Award.

I've even torrented a 2GB image of a GP2X SD card setup and everything. I'm stoked.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Outmoded Market Models get More Help

As part of my RIAA posts...

As If Big Copyright Didn't Already Have Enough Lobbying Clout...
from the "lobbyists doing more lobbying"? [source]

You would think, given their ability to pass ridiculous self-serving legislation solely to protect their dying business models, that the folks behind "Big Content" wouldn't need another lobbying group... but you'd apparently be wrong. The RIAA, the MPAA, the Association of American Publishers and companies including Disney, Viacom and Microsoft have teamed up to create "The Copyright Alliance."

You would have thought that these groups already had enough lobbyists and misleading spokespeople, but I guess if you can't get real grassroots support, you just keep forming industry associations to make support look stronger than it really is. The group will be led by Patrick Ross, who recently left the Progress & Freedom Foundation, though not before making the case against fair use and bizarrely claiming that changing the DMCA would be inefficient regulatory tinkering without explaining why creating the DMCA wasn't inefficient regulatory tinkering in the first place.

In other words, this is going to be more of the same tortured logic pretending that without stronger copyright law, the content creation business would be in trouble. The truth is this is a front group to protect the interests of big copyright holders allowing them to prop up obsolete business models against more innovative new business models.

However, since those big copyright players tend to be big political contributors, politicians such as Howard Berman, who chairs the IP subcommittee and is known for being a big friend to big copyright (representing parts of LA explains that), welcomed the formation of this group without bothering to question why it's even needed in the first place.

I copy these articles because I'm never sure if they'll stay on the 'net :P

PS3 Buildup

Thinking hard about how the world really is can HURT, so I went back to some old game news and found something nicely written:

If you thought the pile of PS3 at your local retailer was big, think again!
I spent my lunch hour reading the latest news and noticed the Sony announcement of the financial results for the year on Yahoo. At the end of this article there were a few sentences that caught my eye: "A total of 5.5 million PlayStation 3 consoles were shipped between the November launch and the end of March. That's below Sony's target of 6 million. The company cited production delays that have now been fixed. The shipment numbers count consoles as they leave Sony's factories and include those in warehouses and en route to retailers. The number of consoles sold to retailers stood at around 3.6 million, said Oneda."

Having 1.9 million (5.5 million minus 3.6 million) PS3 en route and in warehouses seems like an awful lot, doesn't it? Since my company does a lot of shipping from Asia to Europe and North America and I know the shipping times, I decided to apply some math to see where all those 1.9 million actually are.

First, let's assume that all shipping is done by boat. Given the reports of PS3's stacked up in stores, there is no need to air freight PS3 anymore. Shipping time from Asia to North America is 6 weeks if shipping to the east coast, less to the west coast. Shipping time from Asia to Europe is 4 weeks. For shipping time within Asia, let's assume 2 weeks. We will assume that the PS3 manufacturer needs 4 days to get the newly manufactured units on the boat. At the other end, let's assume 4 days to get the PS3's off the boat and into the Sony warehouse and let's assume one week to ship it from the warehouse to the retailer. Total transit time for North America is then 57 days, for Europe 43 days and for Asia 29 days.

Now let's look at the sales figures and see what that gives. NPD reports indicate that the PS3 is selling about 130k per month in the US. Let's be generous and say they sell 6k per day when adding Canada. For Europe, let's use the same number (6k per day) since there is not that much data available. For Asia, the PS sells about 15k per week in Japan, so let's say 3k per day when adding the other Asian countries.

Given all these assumptions, how many PS3 need to be in transit to keep the product flowing to retailers:
- For North America: 57 * 6k = 342k
- For Europe: 43 * 6k = 258k
- For Asia: 29 * 3k = 87k
Total: 687k

With 687k in transit needed to resupply the retailers, where are the other 1.2+ million PS3? Most likely in storage waiting for sales to pick up. That is a gigantic amount of consoles to have in inventory, costing interest and not producing revenue. Sony must be in deeper trouble than I thought.

It can be argued that other territories need to be added such as Australia/New Zeeland but these are small and do not materially affect the analysis. The other contributor could be if Sony was stockpiling PS3 for a launch but I am only aware of Korea which is a PC-centric market up to now.

Nifty! Someone is actually thinking!


Well last night my ADD laiden brain spent a few cycles on my previous post, The United States of America is only as good as its laws, and thought of a few things:

  1. Only part of the information I found is true - leaps of logic and conclusions abound.
  2. Since every person, even a scientist, is altered by his emotional makeup, his humanistic traits, we can assume that the same is true of people who spend a decent amount of time researching how those in power manipulate those beneath them.
  3. Conspiracy theorists are adversarial and assume those in power collude against them. The problem is this can be true.
  4. I believe the USA is heading towards fascism for one simple reason: we are giving up freedoms and giving more and more power to the Federal Government. This always ends in disaster for any republic. The people vote power away and then cry when it's used against them.
So, despite the conspiracy theorists whose diatribes border rampant fiction, there is truth in where this country is headed, and just like Germany, the people want it to happen. They can't see the end.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The United States of America is only as good as its laws

Now, first and foremost, realize that this is another thought exercise of mine. I cannot claim to know that each source I list is valid, nor that all information contained herein is valid. I can claim to know that it is human nature to exhibit favoritism, cronyism, and that people who attain power without checks and balances from people with power over them quickly form into terrible things. We might call them dictators.

My summation is at the bottom of this post.

We Are Not the Country We Once Were

As Bruce Ackerman, professor of law at Yale and author of Before the Next Attack: Preserving Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism, puts it:

“Buried in the complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.”

Congress has now granted the president the powers of a dictator. The rest of the story of our slide into absolutism is merely a matter of filling in the details. [source]

The real reason for all of this is to have better control over the American people. As one can clearly see, it is not to protect their freedoms because their freedoms are actually being taken away and their constitution is being systematically weakened.

History shows us that fascism starts up with prison camps, right? We'll apparently we've got those already.

How Health Helps Control People
"Public health has almost nothing to do with your personal health. In fact, totalitarian governments place the control of your health options at the top of their list." - Byron J. Richards.

In the article, "Fight for Your Health: Exposing the FDA’s Betrayal of America" by Mr. Richards, I found this chilling:
The government, especially the FDA, is actually a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. The FDA condones massive adulteration of our food supply to protect the profits of multinational agribusiness and junk food producers at the expense of human health, which are actually a major cause of obesity. Metabolism of our children is seriously damaged by government condoned chemicals. How can the FDA possibly define disease or judge fraud when they are actively causing disease and promoting real fraud?

There is no question that nutritional supplementation offers hope to undo the massive damage our government has done, help restore energy production in the human body, and help repair the human body to get some level of functional health back. The truth is nutritional supplements have a major ability to prevent many diseases and the science to back up the claims.

From Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources, a "Board-Certified Clinical Nutritionist" Apparently all of this leads to a whole conspiracy theory that Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A. are planning to form a North American Alliance, which would include the health agencies. How far does the rabbit hole go?

In researching Windows Vista DRM, it appears the same people who are scared by Companies' ability to hinder freedoms are the same people who are scared by the Government's ability to hinder freedoms.

It seems I have come across a lot of websites that are "on the fringe" so to speak - some blatant conspiracy theorists, some vocal and concerned. Therein, somewhere, lies the truth. But what is truth?

Truth is something that actually happened. At some point, I sat down and typed this out on a computer and posted it online. At some point, you had sex with a girl, or saw a shooting star. You had a car crash, but didn't tell anyone you were distracted. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck Jupiter in 1994, and would have even if there wasn't any intelligent life around to observe it. Most truth is not written, but it happened in the physical world.

Language can convey truth, but really I think it conveys ideas.

Back to what's really going on. I'm a big believer in following a very simple principle:
  • Do not pay attention to what people say.
  • Do not pay attention to what people do.
  • Instead, observe their behavior, for behavior belies true intent.
It's very difficult to do because the human mind seems to ready to listen to words or actions, but behavior tells me this:
  • President Bush seems easily frustrated with differences in his opinion.
  • The reports about laws being proposed or passed (that I was hitherto unaware) all coincide with his behavior and the plan that behavior might put into action.
  • The plan, I believe, is as selfish as it seems, but really it's about the idea that control is good.
That's it. Control is good. Selfishness takes root from there, because to be truly manipulative and controlling, you have to be partly selfish - by definition, you are putting your desires before others.

It is a system of thought humans can't seem to escape, and it's very seductive. If we just had control of guns, our gun problems would go away. (No, we just have different gun problems.) If I don't micromanage my work-force, I don't feel right. That's all it really boils down to.

But what we are watching is the dissolution of the United States of America, and it's about time for that decline anyway, because just as we can predict that humanity as a whole can't escape the allure of controlling others, history tells us that nations have a finite lifespan - one which I've judged to be around 400 years on the outer end, before becoming something different. Sometimes, another country, sometimes the same ethnic populace with a new system of government.

So I think there is truth in these scandalous reports, but I'm not prepared to say how much. It follows both human nature and the time-line of the lifespan of the United States of America.

Welcome to the realization that human nature wouldn't surprise you anymore than a dog's, if you would just buckle down, research it, understand it, and abandon your preconceived notions about how things ought to be.

Jerome Corsi, listed as a good source author, it turns out, gets a reliability rating from David as: Zero. Why? Nevermind that he might not have co-authored a book he says he did, let's skip to the heart of the insanity and say that he believes oil comes from things scientists say it doesn't, simply because that would mean we're not about to hit a peak oil limit. Now wouldn't that be nice to believe? And you are that type of personality, than your whole life is colored by things you'd like to believe, like writing a book, or conspiracy theory.

It goes to show - truth exists outside of words. The only inherent truth in words is that they are written.

PS part 2
The article goes on (I stopped reading at "But fortunately, some congressmen have taken it upon them to officially get these developments discussed in Congress:") to infer that Pearl Harbor was a conspiracy. Whoa. Hold on. Stop the train.

I'd need to see some better evidence; I'm not saying it's not possible. It did get us in the war, and there were some questionable things - issue is, there may or may not be answers, and I don't know them.

I made an addendum to this post after a night's reflection.

The Impact of the Highly Improbable

First, gentle reader, educate yourself about how the human brain assesses risk, using relevant examples such as Virginia Tech and 9/11.

The Virginia Tech massacre is precisely the sort of event we humans tend to overreact to. Our brains aren't very good at probability and risk analysis, especially when it comes to rare occurrences. We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones. There's a lot of research in the psychological community about how the brain responds to risk -- some of it I have already written about -- but the gist is this: Our brains are much better at processing the simple risks we've had to deal with throughout most of our species' existence, and much poorer at evaluating the complex risks society forces us face today.

Novelty plus dread equals overreaction.

Tie this into an obvious truth:

In other words, proximity of relationship affects our risk assessment. And who is everyone's major storyteller these days? Television. (Nassim Nicholas Taleb's great book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, discusses this.)


I tell people that if it's in the news, don't worry about it. The very definition of "news" is "something that hardly ever happens." It's when something isn't in the news, when it's so common that it's no longer news -- car crashes, domestic violence -- that you should start worrying.

You have today's lesson! Read it again, and think how it applies to you.

Also Useful:
Word of the Day
Salient means:

1. Projecting or jutting beyond a line or surface; protruding.
2. Strikingly conspicuous; prominent. Noticeable.
3. Springing; jumping: salient tree toads.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm Famous

Billy put me on his Flickr site.

There's me and... that guy! He was cool. He and I talked about how we raise our daughters. I forget his name though.

Oh yes! Look at my FEET!

I almost had a little girl convinced at the party that it was because my feet were swollen from a surgery and I needed special shoes. Then my 7yo daughter, Dulce, overheard me and told her "Don't believe him!"

*cackles* I love making kids think.

And there's me again.

Corrections: Maria's Solution to Dealing with a German Shepherd

[See the original blog or you'll be lost]

Atticus didn't snap or clack his teeth at Maria. I had her read my blog for accuracy and she said "He didn't do that, he tried to bite me."

"Describe what he did. Show me, pretend you're him."

She made the motions of a fear-bite - something dog people know, hunched down, lunging at you from behind, going for an ankle or something else available.

Also she said she didn't hit him on the nose the second time, just somewhere on the side of his snout, but it obviously worked.

I asked her why she did that, why fear didn't make her seize up, and she said "Well, I knew I was bigger than him (she's 100 pounds to Atticus' puppy German Shepherd dog's 50 pounds) and that if he did bite me, he was going to be in for serious pain."

She continued, changing quickly to a light and happy voice, "But, he was fine after that. He and I sat (lied) on the bed with my grandma later."

At any rate, I try to present things as they actually happened.

Abdication of Parenting part II

My friend Jessie sent out an e-mail to me and mutual friends:

It features a home-made skit wherein Will Ferrell faces off with his landlady, an 18 month old little girl who says "Where's my money, bitch?" and "You're an asshole."

I replied:
DAVE: That was horrendously unfunny. What's funny about a 3 year-old cursing? Ha ha. Oh my God. Wait, that's still not funny.

And what's with the afro?

Jessie pointed out she wasn't 3, and that my answer was typical of me, "not that that's a bad thing." At this point I realized everyone was missing the picture - so I illuminated the issue as best I could in the appropriate rant.

Abdication of Parenting
Oh she’s 18 months old? Ah ha ha ha! See? Now it’s funny.

Abdication of Parenting, I wrote about it in my blog. Now, apologies for being a wet blanket, but if anyone wonders why my daughters spontaneously clean the living room and kitchen without being asked, it’s because we pay a lot of attention to how we raise them.

Now the great thing is just about anyone’s kids can be like this, it all falls on the parent. Used to be a time when children worked – Kenny’s wife Jen asked as soon as she saw my daughters “Do you make them work?” (Jen is a very recent immigrant from China.)

Kim (the other David's wife) said something like “Goodness no, they’re children.”

But I knew what Jen meant and said “Yes, they do. They clean their room every morning, my oldest is the little mother for her baby brother, and my 7yo handles all of her older sister’s old chores now, like washing dishes, cleaning parts of the house…”

“Gooood!” Jen said.

What was magical about this encounter was that I found that there are parts of the world that still understand that children don’t grow up hard-working, successful and respectful unless you raise them that way – and the only way to teach it is to make them do it.

I made my 10yo burn her arm taking hot Pizza out of the oven. I knew it might happen, because she was scared. She’s done it five times since without a problem, and powdered vitamin C and later, liquid vitamin E in capsules has made the burn vanish.

Who here has those kind of huevos with their kids? (Mexican slang for balls, word means eggs but no one uses it for that.) I felt bad when she came running to me, because I predicted it – but I remember horseback riding, I remembered that, at the end of the day, it wasn’t my father or mother who taught me to ride, it was getting on that horse that did it.

So when she’s hungry at night, she doesn’t go asking Mom to make her something, nor snack on dried fruit or crackers – she busts out a frozen pizza and cooks it and gives her parents (only people still up past 8pm) some. I was sitting in my recliner working on my computer and she came up to me with Pizza. “You’re mother make that.” “No, me. I’m hungry. He he.”

10 years old.

So, no. Until Will Ferrell demonstrates that the Main Stream Media’s picture of “All children are terribly behaved, they hate their parents when they are teenagers and nobody gets along, so you might as well have fun with them when they’re little” is wrong, and only normal because folks either don’t know how to raise them or don’t care to, I don’t find it funny. I’m sure that any skits he does with teenagers will present just the picture I gave, and never include a respectful, hard working teenager who is funny because she’s ditzy or playful or smart.

And that’s sad.

Sorry for the morning rant – but I take it seriously – and so far I’ve gotten decent results.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Maria's Solution to Dealing with a German Shepherd

My mom has the dumbest German Shepherd dog I have ever met personally. He's still a puppy, but growing fast (~50 pounds). He lacks not only brains, but common sense - yet he retains all of the normal German Shepherd instincts, such as being protective, aggressive, and alert.

Trouble is, he doesn't know what to do with all of this information. So, when people come over, he barks at them, and acts aggressive. Lacking intellect, he can't figure out who is friend of foe, and lacking common sense, he can't figure out that maybe he should stop. So you can spend 3 hours there and he'll go through the whole day hating your existence, fleeing your touch and looking at you as though you have a hot poker in your hand.

Then one day Maria comes over to my mom and dad's for the entire weekend...

So Atticus barks and barks at Maria. He does this more when Maria is away from my mother (Maria's grandmother, obviously), so Maria turns around and pops him in the nose with her fist. He yelps and stops for a while.

Later in the day Maria leaves my mom again and Atticus decides to get aggressive with her, snapping at her. Rather than display fear, Maria hits him again and yells at him.

Atticus didn't bother my 10 year-old daughter again.

I'm sorry, but I consider myself a dog person, and snapping dogs give me pause. Quizzing my daughter on the story, it appears fear didn't creep into her mind because she knew the end result: she'd win. As a 911 operator told me, it's not that fear doesn't hit the person, it's that their immediate response is fight, not flight.

[See Corrections to this post]

News Dave Finds Interesting

(or his news associate, Harry the Wonder Llama)

Indie MMO
Somehow, I hit the Indie (independant) MMO Developer's Conference, found the college-funded Mermaid Ecological/Social MMO interesting, went to their site, found the official link to the conference, the speakers and what they were presenting, and found the two main toolkits for building an MMO:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

EA says "Mass of Sequels" equals "Strong Lineup"

"We have a strong lineup for the year ahead," said Warren Jenson, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. "We expect to launch more than fifteen games based on wholly owned properties - including Medal of Honor Airborne, Army of Two, Boogie, MySims, Battlefield Bad Company, SKATE and Need for Speed."

Okay... so "mass of sequels" == "strong lineup"??

Learn to not read what they say, but what is really going on.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Why MMORPGs are as Contradictory as Our Views on Life, and we Love Them Still

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are ludicrous because they set up the same hypocritical, contradictory expectations we have in life in a game world, and then we fall headlong for it.

  • Everyone is equal. This is made true on a religious level because all you have is your account, your monthly payment, and your invested playtime. Buying gold outside the game is seen as bad because this breaks the equality bit and invites the outside world of "Other people have more money than I do."
  • Everyone can reach lofty goals. Nevermind the fact that it's not true, it is important that you do not tell people that they are worth less than others, even if it's true.
  • Clear directions on where to go, and what to do. Most people in the real world aren't leaders, or, by definition, even very smart - they like clear instructions, from a General, a dictator, a body of Government, or their daily job. But they want to think that, given the right opportunity, they could do so much better, like what they see on TV! And MMO's present that equal playing base - or so they like to think. This is another reason the masses hate the hardcore players who blaze through the game - they don't do it following the instructions.
The truth is...
  • Human beings don't want to believe others are more important than them - the selfish gene tells them they are the most important (this impulse which becomes thought can be overridden).
  • Human beings don't want to think they can't achieve great things, that would be conflicting with the above. Everyone is vaguely aware of IQ - intelligence quotients - but try not to think about it, or try to think of why it doesn't matter (they're partly right, but EQ - emotional quotient - solves that problem, and I've never met an IQ meaning minimizer who knew about it).
  • Because most people aren't stunning intellectuals or even particularly decisive, they like to have their decisions fed to them, and think "That sounds right!" But they don't want to admit that - at least not in the United States of America, land of the free (thinkers).
Now I will ramble. This was written before the above was more clearly thought out... feel free to stop. I display it only because I like giving my readers access to some of my research.

I tried some World of Warcraft Private Servers
No, really, it's stupid... and not just because I can only connect to the very first private server I connected to and no other.

I logged into a "High XP" server, which apparently grants much less XP than "Funservers" and got to sixth level in 12 kills, finding the next Defias bandit that was about my level each time I could. All I had on me was the gear they dropped.

Every NPC in the world had a conversational link to the Auction House, which had nothing in it, which lead me directly to my problem - as much as I'd like to see level 60 for virtually no work playing by myself without jackholes, MMO's don't function without other people.

I set WoW up on my wife's computer as well, so I'll try that and see how it goes as I didn't connect to any private servers yet.

MMO's Are Still Stupid
The experience was great for identifying to me why MMO's are stupid: all games become repetative, and MMO's survive by, largely, keeping a carrot in front of your face (whether or not you can ever get that carrot, such as Warlord on WoW PvP), and social interaction. Big world, lots to do, clear directions.

MMO's, at their core, are hallow. You can't take the stuff with you, and people only want you for your stuff. Think I'm lying? How many people have level 1 characters whom their "friends" are willing to game with no matter how low level you are, help you out, and never "expect" you to make them a profit back one day, return the favor, if not to them, to the guild? If you can find that, you are likely playing with your brother, or your father. Even real life friends can't be bothered to follow you around, predominantly.

MMO's main reward is stuff, they say - makes me wonder if Dove's love of MMO's is partly related to him being able to figure out what to do with his character and the interaction he gets with the people in the game - whether he chains death to a plot NPC that low levels need or talks with his guild - it's not about the carrots for him, it's about those most fascinating to play with creatures - humans. It's the same law of Multiplayer Versus games - a human is always more thought provoking than a computer AI. Computer software has yet to demonstrate volition, only reaction.

That's not to say stuff isn't fun, every friend I have who plays MMO's (my cousin Paul, Kevin, Dove) like their stuff to varying degrees. It's that only two of them "get it." Paul is quite trapped by stuff, he works hard for his stuff, he grinds his stuff, it's all there is, and every "friend" he has in WoW is merely another WoW player who is great at getting stuff fast. Uh huh. I call that not being self-aware.

I'm sure Blizzard should baninate my account, which would be great, because it got hijacked and I only realized it when I started getting e-mails from their GMs about what I (wasn't) doing on an account I (wasn't) using. It's probably already banned. Maybe they can ban it again.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Good Weekend

Well Maria's school took precedence over her watching Connections and answering more questions, but that's not for lack of trying on her part: her mother told her to wait for summer. She asked me if I would promise to work with her on it after school.

How many kids ask for that? Connections was made in the late 70's, right?

Maria's Weekend Out
My mom and dad kept Maria for most of the weekend and they had a fabulous time. Dulce got a chance to be the biggest daughter and boy did she have work to do, but she enjoyed it. Still, at the end of it all, when Sunday at 3pm came and Maria came home, Dulce was the first to run up and hug her sister, followed closely by me, then Alejandrita. Jose Francisco, who had been napping, stirred, and Maria ran off to greet him with as much enthusiasm as we greeted her with.

Mom took her to see a retired horse ranch in Alachua. The ranch isn't retired, the horses are... former Police horses, race horses... all kinds of horses and ponies.

Disk Space!
Jock gave me a SATA cable for my new 400GB Western Digital Hard Drive because / didn't label the item as OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer, which often means "You get nothing but the bare unit, no cables, no box, no software." I couldn't use it. For three days it was very pretty, and utterly useless. Jock solved all that by bringing a SATA power adapter and controller cable.

2nd Hard Drive Cures Ills
Having my SWAP file on the 2ndary drive has made Supreme Commander imminently more playable, but far from smooth. I can now complete my 1v1 games with 500 units apiece without much problem, and a disastrous 4v4 game that was simply too stuttery to control on my $3,600 behemoth (PureXS) became choppy, but playable. I can't stand choppy, so I refuse to face more than 2 AI (no 2v2) which severely cripples the game still.

Armed Assault also runs a lot better in this configuration, and I have a feeling Oblivion would a well, if I could but run it - there's the Oblivion official patch, the new unofficial patch, and all the MODs that I needed to find new versions of, or find if the old ones worked with the newest patch(es). By the time I got all of that sorted out, I'd lost my motivation to play.

Billy came over with his son, Zach, and his daughter, Marguerite, who is Dulce's friend. They spent an hour here, which was all Billy had - poor guy has been so busy with the migration to Outlook (e-mail) at work. It was good of him to take what time he had and let us know he hadn't fallen off the face of the planet, his children screaming as he hurtles away at 1,700 kilometers per hour, being left in space a burnt husk as the planet careens away on it's orbit.

Betcha don't usually get that visual.

Friday, May 04, 2007

200 Million Americans Can't Be Felons

I'll say it again... read this.

Exactly 100 years ago, economist, lawyer, and historian Brooks Adams, great-grandson of revolutionary John Adams and a close advisor to Roosevelt, was in pitched battle against the U.S. railroads, who were charging extortionary rates for shippers to and from points between Chicago and the West Coast, where they held monopoly power. Adams wrote:

"There is no ancient and abstract principle of right and wrong, which can safely be deduced as a guide to regulate the relations of railways and monopolies among our people, because railways and monopolies are products of forces unknown in former times. The character of competition has changed, and the law must change to meet it, or collapse. Such is my general theory."

At 4 AM local time and suffering the delirium of jet lag, it's my general theory as well.

Adventurous Evening

Imagine David, on one shot of tequila. I took two in a row once at 1:30AM because I couldn't sleep, and when my wife told me to take a shower (relaxes the body) I said "I can't," she asked why, I said "because I can't stand up," and no sooner had I said this, but I rammed my shoulder into the door frame trying to enter the bedroom. She laughed, of course. Silly Mexican. Or is that silly American?

So anyway, I have a cold sore, so my friend Kevin told me "Listerine" and I tried our generic last night - no burning sensation. I read the label. No alcohol. So I take a shot of tequila and swish it around the front of my mouth. God, that tastes awful. Swallow. Woozy. Buzzed. One shot of tequila, mind you. I sit down and chat with my oldest, who is still up. It's almost 10PM.
We go to hang out with my lady, and she says her tooth is really hurting, can we go to Walgreens? I think "Well, I have to go, might as well not worry her..." so I don't say anything about Tequila and make my firstborn come with me so she can talk to me along the way, not that she minded.

We get to Walgreens at 10:02PM. Northeast stores close at 10 or earlier, if they are smart. So I try thinking of any pharmacy open that late that is closer. Think, think, think. It took a conscious effort to pull up the locations in my head. Tower road. Millhopper Plaza. Butler Plaza. 13th Street. They were all on the Western side of the city. Why? For the same reason everything closes at night in Eastern Gainesville. 13th Street it was.

We came back safely, but the first 10 minutes of the ride were fun.

After we came home, I told Maria the complete story after she'd applied her medicine to her tooth and felt better.

She laughed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Great Reading for Fledgling Science Fiction Authors

This article was fascinating to me - the reality behind building a Halo - styled universe. A Halo is a sort of Ring World / Ring Satellite, which uses centrifugal force to create gravity, and spins rapidly. Ships wanting to land on the inner surface would, naturally, need to match this spin, but here's my favorite is catch - the atmosphere at the upper edges would be traveling at a different speed than lower atmosphere, and any ships attempting to land in it would be incinerated.

The Abdication of Parenting

Freelance writer and former Atari public relations manager W. Jayson Hill has subjected himself to six months working video game retail. He sheds some light on the topics of used game sales, the ESRB and parents, console launch windows and more.

[Source Article]
While the article is interesting for how it illustrates the "front lines" of game retail stores, what strikes me the most is the section on parents, their children, and "mature" rated games. There are three kinds of parents, Mr. Hill says:
  1. Parents who follow the letter of the law. If their twelve year-old wants a "teen" game, tough luck - wait a year. These are the rarest.
  2. The Ad-Hoc parents who make obscure value judgments such as "It's okay to buy games with violence and chop peoples head's off but it's not okay to have semi-naked bodies in the game." This makes up the vast majority.
  3. Parents who abdicate all responsibility.

The last major subspecies of game-buying parent is not quite as numerous as the ad hoc decider. However, they seem to far outnumber the parents that worship at the alter of strict ESRB adherence. But these parents are also the ones that are most insidious. They let their kids have any game he or she selects – ratings and content be damned.

The excuses vary widely on why this attitude prevails. My personal favorite was the parent who said, "Well, it's nothing he didn't see on 'CSI' last night." At this point it took a supreme effort on my part not to reach over the counter, snatch this woman up by the collar and demand to know why she was letting a 7-year-old watch a program that regularly features half-decomposing and cut up corpses. The sad thing is that she also struck me as the type of individual that would cheer on a politician in favor of putting into government hands the very responsibility she had so blithely abdicated.

That last bit sums everything up for me. I hate, with a passion, the Public School System. It sucks. It's stupid. It was formed during America's Industrial Revolution. It has changed from being a service provider (education) to a care-taker of children, of which is it more delinquent at than most parents.

The femenist movement in America, however necessary, didn't bring about equal pay for the sexes, it reduced mens' pay by 2/3rds, to the point at which now both sexes must work to keep the same family one man used to be able to. With that, comes the destruction of family, and with that, the willful abandon that parents give today where they just don't want to do the parenting thing - they have jobs, or something else they'd rather do, and with that, politicians who say schools should support kids more because they aren't supported enough. The whole cycle makes me sick.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

And then there's Duck dicks, and the women who love them...

A seriously interesting article on the evolution, and counter-evolution, of duck genitals. If you read it right, or take a few paragraphs out of context, it's also incredibly funny.

That'll Be 10 Cents Per Page

Just yesterday I saw that my 7yo, Dulce, and my 4yo, Alejandrita (alay-hon-dri-ta), were playing "mail delivery" with each other. I pondered, "What are they using for mail?"

We don't own a computer printer, but I buy a ream of paper (500 sheets) for them to draw on. Each drawing gets numbered and put into their folders so they can see their own progression (as well as me).

I found that they were using the white copy paper. I smiled and said "Okay, but I have to warn you, Dulce, you owe me 10 cents for every page."

She paused.

"500 sheets of paper costs money, sweetie. That's why we don't bother to have a printer - the cost of ink plus paper makes it better just to read the computer screen."

Dulce said "But my mommy took all my money."

Maria, my 10yo, added a clarification "That's because you left it in your pockets."

House rule: any money left uncared for is claimed by the finder - hence why dad never has any money on his person - but that works both ways.

I said "Then you'll have to do some chores to earn some money to pay me back." I started counting folded paper with scribbles on it, and Maria said "I'm not getting you out of this one, Dulce."

I counted up 32 sheets of paper. The cost of her expending resources for fun visibly sank into her. "I'm going to have to work for a whole day to earn that (bit exaggeration, but close)." she said.

"Okay." I said. "You can use more paper if you want, but that'll cost you. I give you the paper for free because I want to see your drawings and creative work, or school work."

My girls have plenty of games that don't involve wasting anything - it was a perfect opportunity to...

  1. Make sure the paper isn't wasted.
  2. Teach my little girls the value of things they see as magically replenish able.
Maria has saved up enough money to buy that much paper 10 times over - somewhere around $50 - but she immediately clarified for her 7yo sister that she wasn't going to bail her out of her own problem, whereas I've seen Maria buy Dulce a $20 toy before, so I knew it wasn't selfishness, but rather Maria knew Dulce had created her own problem, and she's learned the hard way that solving her sisters' problems for them only makes them do it again.

I thought Dulce had $8 but, apparently, she left it somewhere and her mother found it. My wife will really keep it, too - treats herself to a thrift store. And these girls don't get an allowance, any money they have is either earned or, less likely, found in my pockets.

It might sound hard but - my 10yo went through the same process. Now she doesn't lose her money and doesn't spend it quickly or frivolously, either.

At any rate - play with my kids, I tickle them, rough-house, chase them around, have them all try to wrestle me to the ground (my hamstrings are a favored target), and even my 10yo girl isn't embarrassed to sit in my lap and talk an hour away, though sometimes I have to ask her to shift her weight to some other part of my lap that still has blood circulation.

It's great to know I'm on the right train track. I run into too many parents these days who act shocked that we make our children work - and I keep wondering "What do you think they are going to do when they become teenagers? Magically become hard workers who handle things for themselves one day?"

Battlestar Galactica - is it based on Mormonism?

More accurately it based on Mormon themes?

When confronted by things I don't know, rather than say "I don't know" or "It's all based on conjecture" I try to see if I can find the truth. This is merely a thought exercise - can I find the truth? Did Glen A. Larson, a prolific writer and TV series creator, make this particular project based on elements of his religion, Mormonism?

In my gathering of research material, I found one interview with the new Battlestar Galactica executive producer that clinched the whole deal:


"Glen Larson, creator and producer of the first show, is a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints. He based much of the first series on Mormon cosmology. Was there a concerted effort to move away from that in this version?"

Ron Moore:

"Not specifically, no. I looked at the original series as mythos and the way it dealt with religion as sort of a global sense. I was aware that Glen had used Mormon influences and how he had created the cosmology, but I'm not that familiar with Mormon belief or practice. To me there were things that were sort of obvious, the twelve tribes, the twelve tribes of Israel."

Unless Ron Moore is lying, he's acknowledging that the old series was, indeed, based on Mormon themes, and that while the new series is not expressly based on Mormon themes, no effort was made to change the mythos of the old show.
The article goes on to reveal that, in the new version, Ron gave the Cylons their own belief system, and it was monotheism, whereas the humans had polytheism, which created parallels - he said - with the Romans and the way Pagan religions fell to monotheistic ones.

So it is safe to say that the new series, however based on the mythos of the old, is going its own direction. It is also safe to say that the old series really is based on Mormon themes.
Research Material
More about the Author
I originally found the first article on Bill Otto's page. I was there because his home page has synopses on the Connections series by James Burke.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Connections: "The Trigger Effect"

This is the first series of written questions and answers given by my to my 10yo daughter, Maria, about the first episode of Connections. Her answers are written in purple, and were transcribed by me.

It is part of these posts:

Questions and Answers for Connections Season 1, Episode 1: "The Trigger Effect"
1) Take a look at the room you are in, and above all, at the man-made objects in that room that surround you - the Television set, the lights, the phone and so on - and ask yourself "What do these objects do to my life, just because they are there?"

List as many or as few as you want, and a bit about what they do to your life just by being there.

They help us. If we didn't have lights we wouldn't be able to see, we would have to use candles again. We couldn't watch what's going on around the world if we didn't have TV.

2) How important is electricity to this house? What would happen if we lost electricity and could never get it back?

We would have to do what we used to do back in the old days, and find ways of surviving. We don't have enough land to run because we can't put any of the necessary things like we see at the nature park - there they had a big wide spot. Outdoor bathroom, a place to make... the animals would all be fighting for space.

3) Why did the people in the subway just sit around waiting instead of trying to get out? What did they assume would happen (that, of course, didn't)?

Because they weren't thinking they were thinking that someone was going to come and help them - because lots of people are so used to being helped and not helping themselves - like a computer helps you write things for your homework - instead of using a pencil. [bad example]

4) How important is electricity to an entire city? What would happen if we lost electricity and could never get it back?

Then it wouldn't be a city anymore. Cities are full with traffic lights, electricity. Everybody will go crazy - and get supplies for only them - because the supplies would run out.

5) Briefly describe how you would try to survive without electricity, OR, what you would need to survive without electricity.

You would need light - with candles - to get food you take care of animals - you would need horses with horse drawn carriages to move around - you'd need to wash your own clothes.

6) Name a few reasons you think the ox/animal-driven plow is important.

You need a plow to live, and not just have a little food and be starving.

7) Why did the plow help civilizations to grow? (Note: Irrigation is the process by which we move water from one location to another to make dry land wet, and then are able to grow crops for food.)

Because it made more food, and the people thought "Hey we need this... hey we can do this..." "Where do we store the food, how do we cook it?"

8) Watch how the discovery of oil helped to rapidly transform the Middle East / Arabia. No question, just watch.

9) [45:40] "Never have so many people understood so little, about so much." Briefly write down what you think this means.

How we use so many things but understand so little about them.

10) Briefly write down what you found most interesting that James Burke, the narrator, taught you.

What started it all, the planting thing - the plow.

Addendum: Proud of my 10 Year-Old Daughter

In addendum to the original post...

Maria is 101 pounds with clothes on but without shoes, not 70 something. That's Dulce Maria, my 7 year-old rail-thin skinny cuddle bunny dainty princess. Maria is about 4 feet, 11 inches tall. She's already almost as tall as her 5'4" mother, and she's ten, so I'm betting she got some American genes for her height. Nobody on the Rodriguez side is tall by American standards.

Omitted Part of the Story:
Maria read the blog post for accuracy and told me a part of the story she'd omitted. After their encounter with each other, she saw the boy with his four friends sitting behind a car in the yard in the back of the church. He had taken off his shoe and was observing his foot, thinking he was away from anyone being able to see him, she reasoned, and she saw that his foot had turned purple. She told me "He was a really, really black boy, so to see something darker than him on his foot... yeah." making a sincere expression as she talked.

So I asked her "You really held nothing back when you hit him, didn't you. You must have really done some damage."

"Oh no. I'm sorry, but he made me mad." she replied. "Oh no" in this sense meant "Oh no I didn't." She has a habit of not finishing sentences as she speaks.

I said "That's good, never hold back or pull your punches, because people will take that as a sign of weakness and, now that they're mad because you've hit them, hit you back. I'm a nice guy so there were three times in High School I'd get mad and hit someone hard enough to let them know to stop, but not hard enough to really do all the damage I could, and each time they'd come back at me, whoever it was, so I learned that if I had to hit someone, I had to give it all I had, and then, half the time, there would be no more fight."

She asked about the possibility of breaking people's bones.

"Sweetie, you're a 10 year-old girl, and you've had no formal martial arts training. You can't hit someone hard enough to do that because you don't know how to. Once you have formal training, they will teach you how to hit people, and then you will learn how to do the same amount of damage with less force - and using all of your force, yes, can break bones. But right now you don't have to worry about that."

She seemed to understand. She got her reward yesterday, since none of my friends bothered to post a comment :P

The Reward
Her choice? She said she really wanted Planet Earth but, since only Dulce would enjoy that with her, got Wiiplay with an extra Wii Remote instead. She plans on buying the Planet Earth DVD set with her own money for herself.

That made me proud - she picked not the gift she wanted the most, but the one she thought most of the members of the family would enjoy.

Connections: Rationalism, God, Kids, and Waking Up

A friend of mine has inadvertently managed to cut a knife through my years and years of upbringing which has taught me I'm a flawed and useless mind. Flawed, yes, anyone with AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder), by definition, is - but useless?

His net effect is that I've found the joy I used to take when I was young in engaging my brain in things. Growing up about the only TV I watched were nature shows, PBS (Public Broadcasting System), Doctor Who, original Star Trek, some cartoons, and Night Court. I enjoyed horseback rides and spending hours and hours not playing videogames, but drawing and making up my own worlds - which I do to this day every time I'm walking by myself.

So I bit torrented the first season of James Burke's Connections and, while some of it is out of sync and the 70's film quality doesn't hold up well, it's still just an incredible series, and it's got me thinking.

You see, I have a rather rational mind. I recall, watching something Carl Sagan put together, learning that 95% of the world believed in some sort of God. My immediate response was "95% of the world is stupid?" I am no longer an atheist, but that's not by choice, but by personal experience. Believe me, if faith was all I had - I would still be the staunchest atheist you could find who really didn't care to spread it around or use it to say "I can do whatever I want," which is what almost every other atheist I ever met did, and I didn't like them, but that didn't matter to me at the time, because rational thought mattered more than emotional beings.

Suffice it to say, I do not believe in coincidences anymore than God or a policeman does, and aside from this, I've seen proof that the world isn't as simple as what we can normally observe. Beyond that, I can't tell you anything - what religion to follow, what ethics to follow, I can just tell you - the tree is there, even if nobody sees it or believes it, and I get the sense that the tree isn't anymore damaged by a lack of belief than a tree in this world. It just is. I make no effort to explain it because I'm rational enough to believe the only way to explain it would be through the scientific process, and I don't have the tools I'd need to do that. It's also pointless, because as much effort as some people put into believing in God, others put into disbelieving. It almost always boils down to emotional need.

I've also found that I still enjoy rationals more than true believers in Christ because they're capable of thinking without boundaries. My wife is a wonderful exception - she'd be akin to some of the scientific Catholic friars of old - devout to the physical secular world as well as the clerical one. You can't bring scientific information to her that she doesn't want to accept because, to her, all proven science is part of the world, from Dinosaurs to ancient man to the vastness of the cosmos, it fascinates her. There was a time she'd have been burned, or, like the old friars, carefully researched away from prying eyes.

At any rate, the thinking rationals put into the workings of the world interests me more because they aren't afraid to say "Fanatical religion = bad" and so on. For some stupid reason, most followers of faith don't want to admit that there is any bad associated with what they do.

The flip-side, of course, is rampant liberalism and the problem this brings with rearing children, but I digress...

It Helps My Life
Anyway, rational thinking has got me thinking about the world again, like I used to do more of - how news is spread, information twisted, how societies and civilizations work, how change happens (thanks to Connections) and how we are all caught up in it. The Internet wasn't around in the 70's, but it was on the drawing board, so to speak.

This, in turn, has given me another hobby I can engage in with my wife. You see, my lovely armchair anthropologist (she's had college level courses in anthropology but, as she was a traditional Franciscan Nun at the time, she was not allowed to collect a paper degree, so she has no proof other than quizzing her) goes so far as to take a notebook and colored pens to make notes on everything she sees, so much so that she cross-references what one documentary says with another.

Testing My Daughters
Back on Connections: I actually wrote up a written test for my 10 year old daughter, Maria, 9 questions in total, dealing with the first episode. My wife tried to tell me it was too much, and I realized it was, so I added money to the pot: $1 per every two questions answered. 1 question was rhetorical.

Dulce participated passively, by watching the show and then observing Maria giving her answers.

Maria de Guadalupe couldn't write down her answers, so I transcribed for her. It was made especially difficult because her reward for beating up a 13 year-old black ghetto boy (poor kid, but this is basically where I live, so I might as well write it like it is) arrived the same day - she was stuck: she wanted to have fun with her reward, but I told her "If you don't do your Connections work today, you won't make any money. You'll still have to watch it, but you'll have no questions and no opportunity to make money. This is how the world works, Maria. If someone asks you to do something for them and they are willing to pay you, you can't tell them 'Maybe next week.' "

She eventually saw my point. Her questions weren't entirely correct, but I kept telling her as I transcribed "I don't care if you're completely correct, I care that I've made you think." She earned $4 in roughly 2 hours of work - one hour spent watching the first episode by herself, and another reviewing it and saying her answers with me when I got home. She's lucky if she can make $4 in an entire day of chores, so she was amazed at the work/reward ratio, and asked if she could do more.

Mexican Jew. She likes work and spots ways of making easy money fast. *chuckles*

The questions:

The questions ranged from "What would happen if there was no electricity in our house? How could we survive if it never came back on?" to "What happens to a city if it loses electricity permanently? What do the people do?" to "Why is the plow so important to civilization?"

Her answers ranged from bits of ideas to pure accuracy based on what James Burke said. I'll post it here. Dulce was interested, but is 7 - I can't do this to her just yet, but I'm glad she wanted to observe.

How many 7 year-old little girls do you know who want to watch Connections, twice?

  • Watching Connections has helped rekindle my questioning of the way things are, and why.
  • Dove's daily commentary and friendship helped spur all of this.
  • I love asking my children why, and not focusing on their answer, just that I made them think.
PS to Kevin - The other religious friend of mine whom I find capable of rational thought is Kevin, in Virginia. He's got some hard and fast views, but that's what makes him a great person - he'll never betray a confidence, and never betray a person, because he's incapable of it. Jack Bauer could torture the man, and he'd stay firm. On the flip-side, that means you can't question President Bush or the PS3 ;)

And I love him like that. Too few people have firm minds. His is just one (firm mind) that is unusually free from being stuck in the mud, so to speak.

PS to Dove - I know he's not big on compliments, but I hope he realizes that he's made my life a bit better, and that is pretty much the best thing someone can say about a friend.

PS about Dave - I am an INTJ. I am aware this makes me more apt to thinking rational thought and working systems is far more important than emotional concerns, which don't affect how the world works, only what you do in it.

In the title, "Waking up" refers to my re-realization that my mind, while beneath super geniuses, is still useful, and fun to exercise.