Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Society for Creative Anachromism Siezes Control of Russia

Society for Creative Anachromism Siezes Control of Russia
MOSCOW—Official reports from the Kremlin Tuesday confirmed that the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group of medieval-wargames hobbyists, seized control of Russia in a bloodless coup over the weekend.
Above: SCA members guard the recently seized St. Basil's Cathedral.
"Weakened by food shortages, political instability and widespread economic chaos, our military's combined forces proved no match for the enemy's rattan-and-duct-tape broadswords and homemade weaponry," said deposed Russian president Boris Yeltsin during a national radio address in which he relinquished rulership to the "Principality Of The Mists," one of several dozen SCA "kingdoms."
"I can't tell you how humiliating this is," he added.
The SCA, founded in 1966 by a group of Berkeley science-fiction and fantasy fans, is a non-profit organization dedicated to fun and learning through such medieval activities as metalwork, calligraphy, lute-playing and brewing. Boasting more than 20,000 dues-paying members in 14 countries, the club is also known for holding elaborately staged mock battles, followed by feasting and merrymaking amid the revelry of troubadours and jesters.
The seizure of over 70% of Russia's land mass marks the first time the SCA has ventured into the arena of international politics.
"I can't believe how easy it was to claim Kiev for the Kingdom Of Ealdormere," said Royal Peer Gawain Falconsfyre, a 44-year-old tech-support assistant from a suburb of Toronto. "It was a piece of cake. Haven't any of these Russians ever heard of a moving-shield-wall offense?"
Falconsfire and an SCA faction armed only with rubber maces successfully captured two Russian tank divisions outside Moscow Saturday when fuel shortages immobilized the armored vehicles.
Due to the disarray of communications within Russia, information regarding the actual invasion is sketchy. It was confirmed, however, that St. Petersburg was taken without a shot being fired late Saturday morning, after thousands of Russian soldiers deserted their posts, joining approximately 70 SCA knights advancing on the city in hopes of being issued new boots and coats.
The SCA also overtook vast areas at the borders of former Russian republics Ukraine and Belarus simply by trading several sacks of potatoes for enemy guns.
Above: Former president Boris Yeltsin transferring control of Russia to Grand Seneschal Ulf Silverhawk.
"Forsooth, mine legions of brave warmakers hath conquered the Lands West O' the Urals! Let there be great rejoicing in our noble victory!" exclaimed Cedric, Bard of the House of Æthelmearc, 36, hoisting a flagon of ale. "What, ho! Bring on the serving wenches!"
Cedric, known as Harold Freed when among non-SCA members, is credited with capturing two military air bases and a string of missile installations throughout the north Caucasus region along the Georgian border—an area rendered vulnerable by ethnic infighting, corruption and military anarchy.
SCA leaders, who have called the weekend's campaign "a really good time," were said to be especially pleased with the invasion's early wrap-up, as it left the remainder of the weekend free for social recreation in the form of mead-drinking, archery contests, and the singing of bawdy madrigals.
Even captured Russian soldiers were invited to join in the fun and campfire dancing. Such "good sportsmanship" has some analysts arguing that the SCA's power base in Russia may even benefit the troubled land in the long run.
"Though civilian rioting and widespread starvation still rock the major population centers, Russia is actually more stable right now than it has been for the last 18 months," Harvard political science professor F. Horace Gunderson said. "Candle-dipping seminars are addressing the problems posed by energy shortages, and the booths selling roasted turkey legs represent, in many regions, the first source of food in weeks."
"This could be the best thing to happen to Russia in years," agreed State Department foreign-affairs analyst Howard Plum. "The sale of jewelry, driftwood art and other medieval handcrafting at concession tables throughout Russia has boosted local economies, and SCA presence has even created new jobs in the custodial and campground-rental fields."
The U.N. security council is drafting a proposal urging SCA forces to remain in Russia, at least until a more viable interim government can be structured.
"Under the current political system, the Russian people face Mafia domination of the black market and a deteriorating national infrastructure," U.N. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering said. "With an elaborately networked consortium of amateur gamers in charge, however, there will at least be some semblance of order."
Members of SCA nobility, however, say the group has no interest in running Russia for any great length of time, especially with the members' need to prepare for their next major event, this summer's Pennsic War between the East and Middle Kingdoms, to be held in Pennsylvania. Insiders expect the occupying forces to return power to the Russian government "on the honor system" and return to their day jobs by the end of the week.
"We're doing this for fun, not the vulgar acquisition of personal political power," said insurance actuary and Arizona native Willownook Pendragon, of the Kingdom of Atenveldt. "We're here to celebrate our mutual interest in the ways and customs of pre-1600 feudal Europe, and to bedeck ourselves in the heraldic regalia of our fictional medieval personas, not to get mixed up in politics."
Pendragon added that "anyone who wants to have a fun time and make new friends" should check out the SCA home page or contact the group's California headquarters directly at its toll-free number for more information on an SCA chapter in their area.
"We're really just friendly folks who welcome outsiders," Pendragon said. "Plus, now is a great time to get involved, because there's lots of super events coming up this summer, and you'll want time to prepare the correct blazon for your heraldry."

I love it. I love it so much.

Friday, June 24, 2005

La la la...

So, I doubt that anyone actually went to that concert. I didn't even go. I was at a baseball game in Milwaukee, and we waited in a parking lot for a long long time before getting onto the parking lot (I 94). So, after thhe many hours stuck sitting in a hot car, I opted out of the concert. There are more, though, and I intend to go to them.
And, I have another bridge game tomorrow morning before Claire's party. I'm pleased by that, though I fear that it will go as poorly as the last one did. Sigh. I really did get reamed that night. And I haven't done anything to help myself since then. There are just so many things to do. Reading bridge books is a hard habit to get into, especially when there are such entertaining things as crossword puzzles. Damn things. I bought the evil paper today, just because I wanted that crossword. I felt a little bad about that, too.
Oh well. At some point, when it isn't so oppressively hot, perhaps I will write about my obsessive tendancies.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Oh no!

This new article casts doubts on the solar sail mission. They fear that it might not have seperated from it's rocket booster pack, which would be very sad. I would mourn the loss of the private investment more than the same amount in government money. I hope all is well with the Cosmos-1.
Also, there is this concert in Millenium Park on Thursday. I am going to try to go. Perhaps you would like to go also?
Thursday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, Conductor; Karina Gauvin, Soprano
MOZART Exsultate, jubilate
MAHLER Symphony No. 4 in G Major
Mozart and Mahler’s works share a common vision of heaven. Karina Gauvin, soon to be one of Grant Park’s favorite sopranos, wowed audiences last year with her celestial renditions of Handel and Faure.

One more thing. I had this dream last night, where I was the First Lady. I was trying to call Laura, to give her some decorating advice or something, and I was trying to leave my name with the secretary, but I couldn't remember my last name. I guess that is pretty appropriate, considering my unmarried status. But the dream got me to thinking. I would probably be an unsaavy choice as mate. I am white, pretty liberal, and from Illinois, not even close to a swing state. But it also made me think that perhaps if such a thing came to pass, it would simply be indicative of the fact that I was chosen for my personal qualities, not my political capital. That certainly would be the better way to do things, though I can't forget the old saying "Every good marriage begins in tears."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Finally impressed

It is so rare that a sentence in a science fiction or fantasy book really stands out to me for beauty. Occasionally for simplicity, weight, narrative value, or poor writing. But almost never for beauty. So I decided I had to share this sentence from Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.
"A sea of turbulent light appeared overhead, and three times spilled streams that rode crazy crescendo down to splash upon the stone fang curving blackly into the wind, about a quarter mile up the slope."
I especially like the phrase "crazy crescendo."

Good Morrow to our Waking Souls

Space! Hurray. I like the idea of a space craft that uses solar sails. The idea just seems so classy. I really hope it works as well as it is predicted to-- it would be really great. Also, the mere fact that the mission is privately funded is fantastic. Though I certainly don't like the idea that governments are spending less and less on science, and therefore less and less on space missions, I am pleased that people in the private sector care enough to fund this (very very cheap) mission. Of course, this technology won't be practical outside the near planets, really, because the "solar wind" the sails are powered by won't be strong enough too far from the sun. But still. I heartily approve.
And some sad personal news... Sean, at Preposterous Universe is "going on vacation." Bummer. He always has such interesting things to say, even if he hasn't posted anything about cosmology in a rather long while. I do so enjoy those discussions.
But some good news: I bought the Complete English Poems of John Donne today. I felt it only appropriate to buy something like that with Mr. Hahm's graduation gift. Not to mention the fact that I love John Donne. His poetry is so intricate and wonderful. For example, The Good Morrow.
The Good-morrow

I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we lov'd? Were we not wean'd till then,
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the seven sleepers' den?
'Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desir'd, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room, an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

And more good news: I finished the New York Times crossword todayy. After stealing it out of a paper from Corner Bakery, I finished it with some help from my mom and from Heywood. I was exceedingly pleased with myself, even if Monday's is the easiest one. It is still pretty hard to finish one of those things. It took me a while, but I'm glad I stuck with it.
And still more good news: Andrew is almost in Italy. His flight left at 3:00, and it is about nine hours there. So, about three more hours until he lands. He promised me he would call before he left, but I guess he forgot about me. So much for that. :-( I know he'll have a great time. I am mostly just jealous, because I get to sit at home and blog while he is galavanting around Italy for sixteen days.
And it is my sister's birthday tomorrow. I only have a lame present for her, and that makes me sad. She is the best gift-giver. She can always come up with an innovative and sincere gift that everyone appreciates and comments on and remembers and genuinely wants to own. I come up with trite gifts, or useless things, or boring things. Never the really good ones. And this birthday is no different. I wish I had done better.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I love you, BBC.

Oh, those crazy Nepalese! The Maoist council said "Our party has issued special instructions to all cadres, the People's Liberation Army and other units not to carry out physical attacks on any unarmed person until another decision." Why does that take a special decision? How is that not just good policy? Ack. Anyway, the quote is taken from this BBC article about the aftermath of a landmine explosion that killed 38 innocents.
This is also a nice article from BBC about using seismic "geophones" to listen for elephants. Though admittedly impractical, it sounds really cool.
A story I like about how ancient Egypt rocked...
But this is my favorite. Using quantum mechanics, in such basic terms, to allow time travel. Quantum behaviour is governed by probabilities. Before something has actually been observed, there are a number of possibilities regarding its state. But once its state has been measured those possibilities shrink to one - uncertainty is eliminated.
So, if you know the present, you cannot change it. If, for example, you know your father is alive today, the laws of the quantum universe state that there is no possibility of him being killed in the past.
It is as if, in some strange way, the present takes account of all the possible routes back into the past and, because your father is certainly alive, none of the routes back can possibly lead to his death.
I love you, BBC.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gone fishin'

Not exactly. But close enough. I am headed down to Springfield to be feasted tomorrow. I won a scholarship, so they invited me to lunch. It's pretty exciting. In any case, I shall return late Friday night (with burried treasure? I think so.)
The concert yesterday was lovely, even if the weather was uncooperative. We toughed it out, though. Mendelssohn is worth a little rain. And considering the misty nature of the rain, it was certainly bearable. The music was great, and the sound was fantastic. I can't wait to go again.
And in other news, there is no other news.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bone of Contention?

Ok, it's a bad pun I borrowed from this neat BBC article about growing human bone in the form of a wedding ring. It's pretty cool, both from a scientific standpoint and from an artistic one.
Alice's party was a dance party. I had not been warned about this. I do not dance. So there you go.
That isn't to say that I didn't have a good time. I got to talk to some people that I wouldn't have otherwise, including Alex Schmidt and Zach Parsons, Eve and Mieka. And I got to play an aborted game of Tichu where Miriam and I rocked out. And the music was really good, even if it was dancing music.
And on the way home, several funny happenings. Andrew to Eve: You creamed me! (There was some éclair crème involved...) followed much later by Andrew to Mieka: You coked my hair! It's all artificial caramel coloring now!
Ok, maybe you had to be there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Edison Graduation, take 2

As I walked into the gym this morning, I had the eerie feeling that I was missing my mortar board. I think I would have felt more at home in cap and gown than seated up on stage with Mrs. Gray, Mr. Springer and Mr. Barber. When I looked down at the graduates, I didn't actually see their faces most of the time. Instead, I saw my own classmates, now scattered and about to scatter much father. I saw Puran, Anthony, Sammy, Danielle, Monica, and Sophia, all sitting there waiting to turn that tassel. The people who were actually in front of me look like fourth graders, as if they hadn't changed at all since I left.
As great as it was to be back there, seeing all the teachers that I loved and still love, and seeing some of the brightest kids in the city wearing their gym uniforms, I felt out of place there. I have two alma maters now, but no real school. I don't go to Yale yet. I have hardly even been there. I have little enough right to call myself a Yalie. And so I am displaced, much as those eight graders are. They don't belong at Edison anymore, but they don't yet belong at Northside or Whitney or Lincoln. Highschools only have three classes over the summer, but they also have 5. 4 is the least appropriate.
I got a lot of praise for my speech, but I'm not really convinced. The speech itself, in its written form, I was pleased with. The delivery, though.... I think it could have been very bad. I have a very stiff mannner in that formal context, which usually doesn't serve me very well. In this case, I wasn't exactly sure what to do with the podium or microphone. My dad tells me that I didn't come off as nervous at all, but I think that is a lie. I know that once I got through the middle of the first page, I became more comfortable. I noticed that myself. So maybe I wasn't nervous seeming by the end.
And I forgot to bring my camera. So sorry, if you missed it you missed it. There are no pictures, and I have no video. Just the text of the speech and the collective memories of my parents and myself.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Summer To-Do List

See Body Worlds
Go to Shedd Aquarium (Crabs)
See the Symphony
Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art
See a movie in the park
Go to Lincoln Park Zoo
Go to a Sox game
Go to the Field Museum
See the Toulouse Lautrec exhibit
Have lunch with Aunt Susanna
Have lunch with Liz
Have lunch with Mrs. Schlaggar
Have lunch with Ethel
Have lunch with Mrs. Levin
Finish shopping for school
Send school email to teachers
Watch Pirates of the Caribbean
Go to the beach

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Party time

Well, yesterday was fun. Overall, it was a very good time. Of course we had way too much food (like always), but the cake went really quickly (mostly because Mom cut giant pieces). I know my attention was pretty scattered yesterday, but I was trying my hardest to be a good hostess. I hope no one felt neglected.
I got a lot of excellent things, inclluding a lot of money, some books I look forward to reading, an amazing bridge ledger, some cool framed art (like fish photos from Mr. Arnam!), and earings I can't yet wear. And of course, the digtial camera. I used that new toy to capture this lovely image. Image hosted by Photobucket.com You know this is how you'll go down in history, right?
Also, this one of my unbearably cute cousin. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I call this picture Dignified Brian with Lightsaber Straw... Image hosted by Photobucket.com And this one is Eric Charading. Eric, you are the most enthusiastic and unrewarded Charades player. You rocked out last night. Way to go. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Friday, June 10, 2005


More and more, I find these lyrics relevant. That is a depressing thought, I know.
A key in the door, a step on the floor
A note on the table, and a meal in the micro
Note says "I'm in bed, please make sure that you're fed
if you're taking a shower, you can borrow my bathrobe
When I'm asleep I dream you move in next week"
I crumple the note and save it to put inside

My shoe box
Shoe box of lies
Shoe box
Shoe box of lies

it's under my bed, it's never been read
it's in with my school stuff and my mom never cleans there
From my first little fib, when I still wore a bib
To my latest attempt at pretending I'm someone
Who's not seventeen, doesn't know what you mean
When talk turns to single malts, or stilton, or


Did somebody tell you
This is how it's supposed to be?
Or did you just find it
And you don't want any more from me?


Was it something I said, or was it something you read
That's making me think that I should never have come here
I can offer you lies, I can tell you good-bye.
I can tell you I'm sorry, But I can't tell you the truth, dear
And what if I could -- would it do any good?
You'll still never get to see the contents of


You're so nineteen-ninety
And it's nineteen-ninety-four
Leave this world behind me
'Cause you don't want me anymore

But I only bring it up because I looked through my own shoeboox tonight. It is under my bed, no one else ever reads it, and my mom never cleans there (neither do I, actually). And though the letters and notes in there must have been true when they were written, they aren't now. And that makes them a particular kind of sad lie. "To my true love, From your not so secret admirer." "To the love of my life" etc. Not to mention all the pictures... old proms, summer events, John looking drugged wearing a Hawaiian shirt (all for lost love of me.)
All in all, it makes for a pretty depressing looking experience. I don't know why I even looked at it. But I got off the phone with John, and that was pretty sad too. John, if you still read this, I don't know what to do about you. I still don't understand. Either why you did what you did, or considering, why you seem to think that things are just normal. I wish you would consider these things, seriously. I don't even know how to talk to you. You may have noticed this in our rather empty phone conversations. I don't know how tomorrow will be. I'm no longer sure that inviting you was a good idea. I don't hate you. I know you're afraid of that. Well, no worries on that front. And as much as I try, I do still have some shred of caring left. But I don't know what you really want from me. And even if I did, I doubt that I know how to give it to you.
I just don't understand. So many things. I guess I'll start with this. Why did you feel some strange sense of urgency? Why not let it dissolve naturally, since I was going to be leaving at the end of the summer anyway? What made you decide it had to be then?
And what do you want from me now? You've already confessed to me that you don't care as much as you did. That's why you put us here, or at least that is what you would have me believe. No one else believes you, and I want to, but I don't know if I can. I thought I knew you. We didn't have those barriers between us, or at least I thought we didn't. But now we do. So I have to look suspiciously at what you are saying to me. Maybe I shouldn't trust what you are saying now. Maybe I shouldn't trust anything you said for weeks beforehand.
March 30th. You remember this day? Do you? Because I do. One week before. I went down to see you, like every Wednesday. Why? Because I liked your company. Why? Because I loved you. Why? You tell me fucking why. We were in your room. I got a call on my cell. It was Andrew, he had gotten the scholarship, and I was sure it meant that I hadn't gotten one. But then I did get one. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, right then. You know I feel stupid now, admiitting that a huge part of that happiness was you. Was the mere idea that I might actually be able to afford to spend the next four years with you. Happy. Blissful, even. God. That milkshake, and then bridge that night. I really genuinely thought that you cared about me. And then, that night, on the way home you were grinning like the damn fool in love I guess you were pretending to be. You told me you loved me, and you looked into my eyes and said it like you meant it. I was the happiest person that day.
And one week later, just seven days later, you tell me you don't. That is has been a lie. That you don't care any more, that we should break up. And yes, I sat there like a moron. I sobbed as you ripped my heart out while looking at your shoes. And yes, I was the pitiable girl in the movie who sits there repeating "But I still love you" like a fucking broken record. Maybe I was lying too. Maybe I didn't actually love you, not like it used to be. But I cared about you very deeply. I could see our lives together. For a long time. But now, now?
What do you see, John? In the ashes of our wedding, in the ashes of what I must have dreamed we could have had, what do you see? Do you see me gone, waving to you as I move on? Or is it the other way around?Have you moved on already? Is that why you keep calling me? Because you have already given up on all the things we had? Or were you done when you said the words? Accepted this reality already?
I don't know what you want. I simply do not understand you anymore. So, you'll have to lay it all out for me, like I've been trying my damndest to do for you.
What do you want from me?

Life in a really big nutshell.

Today went really fast, so far. I finished my Directed Studies application and submitted it. If you read it, thank you. If not, well then you suck.
I watched the Cubs bludgeon the Boston Red Sox (a dream matchup, by the way. It is, in fact, every baseball fan's favorite matchup, since about 1918.) I'm very pleased by the score- 14-6 should be enough for just about anyone. And if David Ortiz hadn't been playing, it would have been 14-3. That 9th inning homerun was just a little show of defiance off of a second string bullpen guy. As long as the bats show up tomorrow and Sunday like they did today, I'll be happy.
I got up pretty late today. I'm going to blame my nightmares. I woke up sometime in the middle of last night. I had dreamed that my grandfather died, and I hadn't even gone to visit him. The dream shook me a lot. It got worse and worse until I thought that it might actually be a dream, and I forced myself awake.
The weather has been pretty oppressive today. The heat hasn't been so bad, but the humidity is killer. Hopefully the rain will drive the humidity and the temperature down before the big party tomorrow without making the grass too soggy.
I should be writing my speech. I still have no idea what I can say. I don't really know what I have to say to a room full of eight graders. I'm not old enough to really impart a whole lot of wisdom, not that they would be inclined to listen anyway. Nor am I funny to go up there and tell jokes while having a nice cliched message. Nor am I one of them, who could get up and tell stories and generally reminisce about the experience. So nostalgia is out. What does that leave?
I'm not sure either. But if you had an idea for me, I'd love to have it. Send it to me.
Yesterday was nice, but not to my feet. I went to Andres' house with Andrew and met a bunch of people there. Mostly I worked on the Tribune's crossword puzzle. With very little help from anyone else, I managed to do more than half of it, which is the best I think I've ever done with a crossword. It makes me wish I got a paper every day so I could fail at finishing the crosswords. Anyway, all the walking I did in new shoes left me with blisters. Two on one little toe, one on the other. Ug. So I ended up walking around Lincoln Square barefoot (just like after Prom), and got calluses which are bothering me while walking barefoot today. It seems I just cannot win. On the plus side, though, I have not put shoes on all day. That is a victory.
Yesterday, I may have said goodbye to two people for good, or for a really long time. Mari and Sophie are both going to camp over the summer, and then leaving soon after they get home. Mari is also going to go to Israel for a long time, so I doubt that I will see her for a very long time. It is concievable to me that I may never see them again. It is a rather depressing thought to me, thinking that it may be a year or more until I see them again.
Today, I have been thinking about what I'll be reading all summer. For one thing, I feel like I might die before George R. R. Martin releases his next book (July 26, practically a lifetime from now). But once that does come out, I'll be reading that. I will also get my hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I am looking forward to. In preparation for that, perhaps I will re-read the last one. I also have Ian's copy of A Mote in God's Eye , which looks rather Asimovian. It was reccomended to me, though I don't recall by whom.
Then there is some more serious reading I should do. For example, The Rape of the Nile by Brian Fagan, and some of Brian Greene's physics stuff. I should perhaps also brush up on my French and German, as well as what little Middle Egyptian I ever knew. Michael has also threatened to try and teach me Greek. I think that would be fun, and I'm all for it.
I also want to play some bridge! I have my first bridge game since April scheduled for Monday. I hope Todd does not have a meeting. I might just go anyway. I need to get back into the swing of things. And Andrew, you should look over that green book I gave you. I think it will help you some. I also have a more advanced book of conventions that Todd gave me. Those require partnership agreements, though, and so are harder to do on one's own. I think I might want to finish that book on defense that I started after the tournament disasters. Ah. How fondly I remember them.
On an not entirely unrelated note, sometime this summer I will gather a group together for an all day (perhaps also all night) History of the World fest. Perhaps we will also rent History of the World, Part I. But I will play that game before I leave for school in August.
Ok, I think I'm done.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


This is a great story. BBC, how I love you. Im not really sure which part of this I like the best.
More gamers are taking disputes over virtual property to court
A Shanghai online gamer has been given a suspended death sentence for killing a fellow gamer.
Qui Chengwei stabbed Zhu Caoyuan in the chest when he found out he had sold his virtual sword for 7,200 Yuan (£473).
The sword, which Mr Qui had lent to Mr Zhu, was won in the popular online game Legend of Mir 3.
Attempts to take the dispute to the police failed because there is currently no law in China to protect virtual property.
Appeal plea
Buying and selling gaming artefacts such as imaginary weapons is a booming business on the web.
The internet games section of Ebay saw more than $9m (£5m) in trades in 2003.
While China has no laws to deal with the theft of virtual property, South Korea has a section of its police force that investigates in-game crime.
I know I've been adding a lot. I think it is because it is early summer and I don't have much better to do. But please remember to go down and look at my essay. I have to submit it on Friday, and so your help is appreciated.

Either those gowns go or I do.

Ok, I'm no Oscar Wilde, I admit it, but I am gone. I am now an official Northside Alum. While on the one hand it scares me that it could have just passed so quickly, on the other, I don't really feel that much. It just is. Done, that is. It went by rather quickly. The ceremony was brief, as expected, and I started crying while trying to say goodbye to Mr. Lucero. I just don't know what I would have done without him the last few years. He's the best. But he knows me so well... as I started to cry, trying to thank him, he changed the subject to baseball and I was better. I didn't really get many pictures. I hope other people did. I guess there are a rather lot of people that I will miss, even if some of them I was just starting to get to know. Sophie, for example. I didn't really spend that much time with her, but in the last few days I have and I really like her. Alice too. But I am moving on to bigger, and perhaps better things in August. Northside was very good to me. I can't really imagine how awful I would feel if I had gone to a "normal" highschool. I think I might have died. But I certainly wouldn't have the awesome friends I do have. (For example, all the people who were at Sabri today- super good Pakistani food, or Andrew, Andrew, Randy and Caitlin at dinner tonight. Ya'll rock.)
And John, I did graduate today. It was nice of you to notice.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Yes, I am one bad person.

Not the worst, though.
You scored as Darth Vader.

Darth Vader


General Grievous


Mace Windu






Padme Amidala




Anakin Skywalker




Obi Wan Kenobi


Emperor Palpatine


Clone Trooper


Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Caitlin is Padme, but I'm glad I'm not. Better Darth Vader than Anakin, too. I must admit, Yoda would be the coolest, but I just do not rock that much.

Your help, please.

Ok, so I want to apply for Directed Studies. (See Oh, Eli). And to do that, I have to write two essays. I wrote this draft for the first one today, and I would like your help. Please read it, add what comments you will. No need to be nice, but constructive things are always better than not.
An essay of approximately 750 words that discusses an influential course you have taken. Your focus should be on the course itself, not the teacher, and it may be a course whose significance was not necessarily positive.

Last summer, I took an archaeological field school through DePaul University. Our site had been the famous Pullman Palace Car factory, but any glamour the buildings once had was lost in a devastating fire about ten years ago. The remaining buildings were old, built by George Pullman in the late nineteenth century to house his offices and assembly plants. Behind them, a large empty space stretched back to more modern factories and warehouses. This overgrown urban jungle concealed bare foundations and industrial treasures, and a history forgotten even by historians.
Pullman is still known today, though not as much for Mr. George Pullman, his elaborate rail cars, or his innovative factory operations. Rather, Pullman is associated with a brutal era of labor conflicts and owner retaliation, especially the strike that bears the same name or the Pullman porters. And today, the small Southside community is still struggling to overcome the economic troubles that began when the factory finally closed in the 1970s. The neighborhood has its treasures, like any other: the row houses built for foremen, the beautiful Victorian hotel that echoes the grandeur of a bygone age, and the McDonald’s decorated with Pullman memorabilia.
The factory itself is mostly gone now, a burnt-out hulking structure of Lake Calumet brick. Even the clock tower, once the symbol of an entire industry, stands scorched and empty, surrounded by weeds and the bitter dust of progress.
It was into this landscape that my field school entered, trowels and brooms at the ready. Industrial archeology is not a glamorous field. There are no ancient treasures or golden masks to be unearthed. It is not the stuff of legends. But the class was not about glamour or legends. Rather, the finds revealed a more intimate knowledge of people’s lives. We mistakenly believe that we know everything about the people who lived in the newly industrialized world. After all, they lived where we lived, spoke the language we still speak, did jobs that are still familiar to us. But we do not see what we have lost in the intervening years.
The process at the Pullman Car Works that summer was an amazing means of rediscovering what society had lost to time and “progress”. I found inspiration in the simple things we found, like bottle caps, chicken bones, and teacup handles. These things were a part of the place, literally within the soil, and they gave me a connection to the people who worked there every day as I did, generations ago. The littlest things have been lost to the broad strokes of the historical record. Only the most important people, the most pivotal events are captured in our notion of the past. But in this class, the events found in my history books could not capture the pervasive sense of life and work that the most common objects of yesteryear exuded.
For my final paper, I contacted a gentleman who worked at the Pullman site in the years immediately following World War II. We had several long conversations, and he shared his whole life history with me, from his experience as a soldier in Europe, his work at Pullman, and his job as a Chicago streetcar driver. The little relics we found were the things that he and his peers left behind on their journey to the present. This fine man, who was kind enough to help me write my paper, is representative of the community I found stretching backward into the past, starting with my own experience there and arcing back to the original surveyors of the site for George Pullman himself. Their work was the industrial foundation that modern-day America rests on, and I was able to dig through the physical remnants of that foundation.
Pullman has left a yearning for a connection with the peoples of the past with me. The class emphasized the idea that history is not a dry collection of names, dates and events. Instead, it is the life of a community and the lives of individuals who leave their traces both in the chronicles of a society and in the dirt beneath their feet. The place I worked may not be more than an arson scene, an abandoned lot, or a dangerous eyesore to some, but to have been there and pulled pieces of people’s lives from underground, I understand it to be a relic from the past. We can ignore it, choosing the glamour of the well-known history, or we can reach out for what is left under the glimmering surface. We can find the deeper, spiritual connection to the past through people and the things they have left us if only we look.


A better robot, with help from a hissing roach

By John Schwartz
New York Times News Service
Published June 7, 2005

Garnet Hertz, a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, has given a roach a car.

The idea, he says, is to take a novel approach to the problem of robotic navigation. In the past, robots haven't been particularly adroit; getting from Point A to Point B can be arduous, and navigation systems cumbersome and complex.

Hertz, a Fulbright scholar from Canada, was inspired by robotics pioneers such as Rodney Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have suggested that robot intelligence should resemble that of roaches and other insects, which react quickly and instinctively to their environment.

Hertz said the project extends work in biological mimicry, but he adds: "It's a little bit of a joke. It's meant to say, `If all this bio-inspired stuff is so great, why don't you just use the biology and cut to the chase?"'

He uses the Madagascar hissing cockroach, which can grow as big as a mouse. In the summer of 2004, he built a three-wheeled cart, which rises about knee high. Atop the aluminum structure sits a modified computer trackball pointer, with a Ping Pong ball in place of the usual trackball.

The roach rides atop the trackball. As it scampers, the robot moves in the direction the roach would travel if it were on the ground; a Velcro patch and harness keep it in place.

Hertz also made use of the fact that roaches don't like light. In the device, the insect is enclosed by a semicircle of lights. Individual lights turn on when the device approaches nearby objects; in theory, the roach, in trying to avoid light, avoids the obstacles as well.

But biology is less predictable than technology.

Sometimes a roach appears perfectly happy to sit motionless on the ball for minutes at a time. Some roaches ignore the lights. And one of them, he believes, enjoys bumping the cart into walls.

Hertz orders his roaches online. In an unpublished essay, Hertz said he hopes the project would inspire "discussion about the biological versus computational, fears about technology and nature, a future filled with bio-hybrid robots, and a recollection of the narrative of the cyborg."

As opposed to simply, "Eeew."

Oh, Eli!

Eli Yale, that is.
Yesterday, I started to talk about Yale like i actually wanted to go there! This surprising development is very pleasing to me. I know that I will like it once I go and start meeting people, but I have all these insecuririties about my decision. So when I started mater-of-factly talking about all the things that I will do in the fall at Yale, my tone surprised me. I think I am going to apply to Directed Studies, which seems a little better than the freshman seminar program I could apply for.
I wonder if this is possibly a symptom of my impending graduation. I didn't feel like I was emotionally very affected by it, but I am seeing more and more that what I think has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel. Sucks to be me. I had a very hard time saying goodbye to certain teachers yesterday. Some were easy, but surprisingly, some were very hard. The worst, perhaps, was Mr. McRaith. Though we disagreed enough in terms of literature, we were in exacltly the same place about education and on the disasterous path Northside is on right now. As he said, we are confusing real learning with hoop-jumping, and this only gets worse with the swelling of the AP culture that has taken hold of the place. So, while I can support his decision not to teach AP next year, I find it sad, because it will probably only mean that someone else with more hoop-jumping will take over. I really felt that there weren't too many hoops-- just the CRJ and then only in the end of the year. It was a very needed tool in the early going, because it absolutely set the tone for intense noticing.
Ok, I'm changing the subject. This is real day-killer.
" Kerry's Yale Grades Similar to Bush's
By Associated Press
Published June 7, 2005, 4:09 AM CDT
BOSTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry's grade average at Yale University was virtually identical to President Bush's record there, despite repeated portrayals of Kerry as the more intellectual candidate during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Kerry had a cumulative average of 76 and got four Ds his freshman year -- in geology, two history courses and political science, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday. "
Frankly this just sucks all around.
Did you read this? Leave me a comment. Just for the hell of it. Please.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

More delays.

There are to be further delays in the posting of more pictures, owing in large part to the fact that I don't have them all back yet. There are a few on my photobucket, though, which you can browse through if inclined.
This weekend was about the best prom weekend I could have asked for, considering. I had a grand time, even though one wish was not granted. I did not get to play History of the World! But I did look at some Roman coins and an oil lamp, so that is close enough, I guess. I did get to make a ton of inside jokes and references. There was some card playing, some video game playing, but mostly many many hours of talking. Thouroughly enjoyable talking.
Ian being here is such a nice excuse to drop everything else and just have fun, even if our idea of fun is the anti-party. Nothing screams jubilation like four relatively depressed teenagers talking about their exes. Sweet! Well, anyway, I should go. I have some obligations I must take care of. But first I will post one more prom picture, since my secret is out.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.com Thomas, the awesome Prom King, and me. How great is our class that we voted for Thomas over Justin? Oh, right. The best.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com The Feet. Just showing Ian's feet vs. Andy's feet. That's right.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Last one. The Yalies! Boola Boola!

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Ok, it was spectacular. The best. Had a blast. Currently, I am running late for a cery important date. Must go down the rabbit hole, you see. Will write more later.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Not yet

Well, I finished graduation practice, and I wore my silly hat all the way home. It hasn't hit me yet. I think maybe it won't for a long time. I did my four years. It was a good four years, but I feel done. I'm not in a hurry, but I am finished.

Pre Prom

So, yesterday was the last day of high school. During last period, my class went outside. It was fairly quiet for the first part of the period, but in the second half, people kept streaming out of the building. By the end of the day, there must have been 50 or 75 seniors outside. At 3:05, everyone started cheering and screaming and jumping... Sunia said "It's good. I spent the first minutes of high school with you, and now the last ones too."
Strangely, I don't feel very much about this. It doesn't even feel like summer yet. Perhaps it will be a little more impactful after graduation practice in a few minutes. I won't really miss a lot of my classmates, and those that I will miss, I hope to keep in touch with. But some of the teachers... Now I know I will miss them. Ms. Maleug, Mr. Lucero, Mr. Hahm, Mr. Koreman, Dr, Lally... It seems to me that I have taken the last four years to assemble this crack team of mentors, but I have to leave them now. I guess it is all I can do to thank them, and try to let them know how much they've helped me over the last four years. And there is always email. Thank goodness for that.
So, Ian is coming to prom with me. While it isn't the prom I'd always dreamed of, I am very pleased with our plans. Hopefully nothing will go terribly awry. It's the best of both worlds, I guess, because I get to see Ian while going to prom in a huge mob of friends. I'll post pictures here, I promise.
I guess I should go, before I'm late for practice.