Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shower Math

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for the days back when I was an engineering major instead of a journalism major so I set a a little math/science practical problem for myself and thought it might be fun to share it.

I was watching the Dilbert pilot one night, and the next morning went to my shower.

Here is the task

A. Create a mathematical model relating the angle of the right knob, angle of the left knob, flow rate of the water, and temperature.

B. Find the angles of each knob it would be necessary to get my shower to be exactly 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

C. Create a mathematical model that relates those things, but also includes volume of water and time.

D. Find out how long it would take the tube to fill up with 227 liters of water.

E. Create a quick c++ program that asks the user to input enough variables that it could find the others.

Reflections of a 22-Year Old Black Man (Draft 1 of Chapter 2)

Well I suppose now would be a good enough time than any to give a bunch of random details. First off my mother is a high school teacher for the Detroit Public Schools district. However I must say I did not grow up in Detroit, Michigan. I grew up in Southfield, which is a very close suburb. As a matter of fact my house was about a half mile from the city limits.

This is a good time to explain something for those of you who do not live in Michigan. Detroit has always had a peculiar relationship with its suburbs. In many ways the Detroit metropolitan area is one large divided city. One large divided city with racial, economic, political and social prejudices that run generations deep, on all sides. Those prejudices mattered less and more for because of my parents occupations and because several of my extended family members were from Detroit. When my cousins would introduce me to their friends the first thing they would tell them after my name was that I was from the suburbs, as if any and all peculiarities I possessed could be explained by that simple fact.

As I write my mother is preparing her retirement papers. My dad works in a factory for Faygo Beverages. He too is preparing to retire. Both of them are Black, which of course makes me black.

I say this now for a simple reason. This is my story. It may not be entirely true but it is close enough to it. I don’t want to embellish it to stick to the story that people like to hear about black people. I am not a man who worked his way up from poverty and do not wish to present myself as such. Nor do I like to believe that my life was wholly without conflict. My life as, the of every human being, is a complex tale. I may simplify it on occasion because I can’t remember details or am to lazy to call the parties who were involved who my but I will not simplify it for the sake of sticking to the bullshit story America likes to reduce African Americans to. . A personal grievance of mine is the lack of diversity of African Americans in the media. Its not we are invisible, and its not that we are portrayed horribly. It is that we are all either saints or sinners and are seldom in between.

I suppose its one of the reasons why I am writing this. I never see my story. I am a flawed human being and my personal history is flawed as well. For starters, I never understood my father. That’s not to say I hate him, or even dislike him, but we never seem to agree, or get along for very long. I am not a criminal, or even particularly dishonest, but I am very lazy and that can lead to its own set of problems, most of which are self induced I’ll admit. I suppose the real problem I want to point out is the lack diverse personalities. When ever writers need a black character they tend to go to a list of stock characters, most of which are nothing like myself, and I feel that as a teenager that somewhat affected my racial identity. So here I am telling my story.

I am and as far back as I can remember was a nerd. Being a nerd changes from generation to generation. When I say I am a nerd keep in mind that I grew up in the 1990s. I never understood the logic of a pocket protector. If a ball point pen leaks it’s probably a bad pen. On top of that bic which for some reason cornered the market sold most of its ballpoints with tops or the points go into the pen. I suppose it started out because as a child I flew the straight and narrow. I realized at an early age that as long as I kept my nose clean, stayed out of trouble and got decent grades, my parents would give me more or less anything what I wanted.

Throughout elementary school the kids at Brace Lederly elementary would receive four report cards. If I got all As and Bs I would get pizza and the opportunity to rent 3 videos from the local video store, Legends. I don’t know why but I almost always chose Problem Child. Actually I do know why that is a very funny movie. I still have a love for physical comedy and sardonic humor.

I also tended to do what my parents said without question for a long time. Yes wearing khakis and polo shirts in elementary school will get you picked on. Thank God by high school my style had changed to plaid and jeans, which in all honesty still got me picked on.

When I was in the fifth grade I negotiated a formula for determining how much allowance I got. My folks would take the level of my education and multiply it by the grade level I was in. For example when it started I got 5 dollars a week, because five for the fifth grade multiplied by one for elementary school is five. In the six grade I got 12 dollars. I think my parents agreed to it because at the time I was getting a 5 dollar allowance anyway. In elementary school it mostly went to Fridays. You see there was a corner store about 3 blocks from my house. On Friday I would ride my bike down to it and buy one slice of pizza one 20 ounce Sprite and one Kit Kat bar.

Fridays were good for a several reasons. The first is that it was the first day of the weekend. Even now I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I would get homework but I wouldn’t worry about it until Sunday evening. So Friday nights and afternoons were mine. Second was ABC’s TGIF Friday. You see Dad’s shift was is in the evenings and mom was busy checking papers. So that meant that I got to watch the big TV in the living room. The show that got me interested in TGIF was Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I loved that show.

As I said before, my father worked evenings and my Mother was a teacher. This meant there was a bit of a gap between when someone would be home and when I would be dismissed from school. I was a latchkey kid. There were two periods of real social interaction in my day, recess, and latchkey. The odd thing about school is that most of the people I knew throughout my schooling days followed me from school from school but , a few off my earliest friends did not. Akisha was one of my closest friends in elementary school. We always played together at recess but in the third grade she moved away. I never saw her again. Then there was Michelle. Another friend I didn’t see much of after elementary school.

The way the end of the day would work for a latch key kid is interesting. About 15 minutes from 3:30 teachers would allow the kids to get their backpacks, coats, boots and such. Boots must have been a nightmare for my teacher. It snows a lot in Michigan and I imagine getting 25 kids to switch out of rebooks into boots takes a bit of time and patience. Kids fell into four categories. There were the latchkey kids like myself We always were the last to leave. Then there were the busers, you know the kids who took the bus home. Then there were kids who lived close enough to the school to walk home. By the 5th grade I would be in this category. The school was only two and a half blocks from my house. As a point of fact, in the summers and weekends my mom would always walk me to the playground, and let me swing on the swings. Also a tradition for the early part of my life was that Mom would walk me to school on the first day of classes. After the busses there were the kids who got picked up.

Now the school made parents fill out a form telling the school what category their kids were in. If you were being picked up the school had to know exactly who was picking you up, and if you were walking home you had to have a special permission slip. Immediately after the bell the kids would be escorted by the teachers to the outside to where the busses were. All class rooms of the same grade were in the same area so all the teachers would lead them to one teacher who would be designated the bus escort for that grade. That teacher was responsible for making sure everyone made it from the class to the bus. After the students made it to the bus escorts the teachers would return to the room and wait for parents, and older siblings to pick up the kids. When everyone was gone but the latchkey kids we were escorted to the latchkey room.

My elementary school was K-5. I think in the third grade they started allowing preschool kids into a part of it but I generally avoided that area. The school was divided by the upper and lower wings. They called them that because the school gave the students the distinction of being upper or lower.K-3 was lower and grades four and five were upper. For most of the classes students would stay in the same room with one teacher but there were a few exceptions. There were electives such as music, gym and library. Also older students would switch classes for reading and math. Keep in mind when I say older I mean ten and eleven-year olds.

After we got to latchkey we were given snacks. The school provided some my, b but mom would pack a little extra in my lunch so I could save it for latchkey. They would also take attendance.

After all of that if the weather was nice we would head out to the playground. In the second grade they tore down one of the metal play structures and put up a plastic one. It was made to look like it was made out of wood but yes it was plastic. I use to spend most of my time on the swing. The thing about it was that it was rare that I had someone around to push, so I could only go so high and it was a while before I figured out how to pump my legs. Everybody would want to swing on the swings so eventually I had to get off. Then I would head on over the monkey bars. I've always had a fear of heights so I never made it the full way across. Most times I would climb up to them spend awhile looking go across two bars and then go back.

When the new structure was built there was this kind of hand swingy pulley thing. You would grab on the a handle press off a platform with your feet and glide across. I as usual was afraid. One time there was a line behind me but I was too scared to go. Somebody pushed me across and I fell. My leg hurt for a week after.

If the weather wasn’t so nice the kids were given three choices. We could either stay in the latchkey room, go to the gym, or go to the computer lab. Most everyone including myself chose the gym.

Game: Character Select (Draft 1 of Chapter 3)

Morning hit Mal like a train. He wished he had it in him to sleep more, but he could never figure out how to shut the blinds completely. He thought he should probably start this routine on his seed. He didn’t know how so he did it the old way. He moved to the terminal he brought from home and checked his schedule. It was Friday and he didn’t have any classes but there were still things to do. He was in a new town and the sun was out. He wasn’t sure if he should buy paper books or not. His professors had put course packs on the net and had told him it would be easier to print them as needed.

Other than the mall the place everyone kept talking about was Babbage Avenue. The union was on that street but it also had a bunch of stores and restaurants. There was also a huge diagonal public square right between the union and the library on the street. This early in the semester there was bound to be some concert or fair there.

Walking around Mal wondered what everyone was doing right now. He thought they were probably doing the same thing as he was walking around. Walking down the street, Mal passed an Arcade. He had never been in one before so he didn’t know what to expect as he walked in.

There were old school terminal games but there were also plenty of seeders. In the middle of two small arenas there were holograms of people playing the games.

Alley Cat and Silver Cat were playing a game of basketball. On the screen there were five copies of each girl. Katrina was winning. Each copy of herself seemed to move almost as an individual, while some of Alex’s copies wouldn’t move as she focuses her attention on controlling the ones closest to the ball. Just then Mal saw Henri.

“Hey What’s up Henri” How you doing Mal. Seamus normally hangs out here. I guess when we find him us and the girls can head to the diner.”

“Alley really needs some practice.”

“Yeah so which one is the real one?”

“They all are I guess. A skilled person can use each one of those players almost like a limbs, but from the looks of it Alley isn’t used to it yet. Oh well.”

There were two minutes left on the clock. Katrina was ahead by 15 points, but Alley had no intention of giving up. Suddenly one of her player’s stole the ball and passed to the other end of the court to a copy of herself that was in the air. The copy in the air without landing then slammed the ball into the basket.

“Wow. I thought that Alley would be to short to pull of a move like that.”
“In real life maybe but she’s in one of the games, still though I wouldn’t have expected her to be able to pull off that move”

A buzzer rang. Alley and Silvia opened their eyes in a corner of the arcade where they were sitting.

“At least you’re getting better, but you still need tons of practice,” Silvia said.

“Yeah” Alley said bitterly. “Anyway Mal and Hammer are here.”
Mal and hammer went over to sit with the girls.

“So what do you guys think we should do? We still have a while before we said we would officially meet and we can’t do much until we catch up with Forge and Mr. Universe.”

“Who’s Mr. Universe?” said Alley

“A disgusting pig,” Silvia replied.

“ Eh I’ll admit he can be a bit crude but he’s alright. And if you have a sense of humor, which sorry Silvia you don’t he’s a barrel of laughs,” said Henri.

"Anyway," Alley interrupted, "He'll probably be at the dinner. We should head over there. See you later Henri."

"See You guys letter."

The party decided to wait outside the dinner for Mr. Universe, who arrived 15 minutes late".

"Good evening ladies and Gentlemen. The lord master of everything has arrived. Lets get this party started. Eh who are these people"

"Meet Mal, a friend of mine and Alley, Silvia's little sister"

"Hey I met you before? Yeah on the first day of classes you were talking on a phone."

"I have no clue what you're talking about. Anyway let's eat."

"So what will it be? " a waitress asked the group.

"Flapjacks for me," says Seamus

"Its almost four. I never get how you can eat breakfast at dinner, by the way a fish sandwich for me", Silvia said

"Simple this place serves the best pancakes I'll have the flapjacks too", Alex said
Everyone else ordered a grilled cheese

"So what's the plan Silver" Mr. Universe said

"The first thing is that we need to brief the newbie's. Forge"

"I'm on it. Okay so over the summer Henri and I designed this game together this is kind of a beta test. It's your standard FPS with a few exceptions. The map will be chosen randomly but I was the guy who designed that part of the game so it gives us a bit of an advantage. The way it works is one team defends and the other attacks. The defending team will have 30 minutes to set up their traps, and their vehicles and starting position. Both teams get to choose their weapons using points but the defending team gets to chose the location of their vehicles, ammo, and guns. The other team has to carry theirs from a random spawn point Henri and I programmed.

"Doesn't that put the attacker at a disadvantage?", Alex said.

"That brings me to my next point to be fair I told Henri we would be the attackers for the first round because I know so much about the maps. That said this will be a two out of three match. And whoever wins each match earns the right to be the defender. Also everything you do in the game earns points, kills, stunts, you get the picture . We can use those points in the second and third games to get more firepower. Even though Henri's team is the defender if they get lazy and just dig in it will eventually give us enough points to overcome their position through firepower, but in the spirit of fairness if the gap between the two teams points gets to high the game resets them both to 200.

"So any ideas on how to attack this." Alley said.

"It's your standard FPS so I say we all just do not mother fucking die." Silvia said.

"Speaking of which what happens if we die," Mal said.

"You're out for 10 minutes or when the round ends, which ever happens first. The round ends when all the players on one side are dead at the same time. While you're out of the game you get to hang at this nifty player lounge we created. The AIs can't get into the game proper but if they want they can hang back at the lounge and watch. I figured Circe, Artemis, and Thor would get a kick out of that. It's rare they get to hang out together these days. Each team also gets a war lounge. You could spend your time in the common lounge or the war lounge." Forge said

"Wait there's five of us isn't that unfair to Henri." Alley said

"No prob. Its been a while, and I hate to say it but he has a new crew running with him. I've met a few of them their alright guys but they don't stand a chance." Universe said. "Oh by the way one of them is his girlfriend. I saw them snogging. Another is a cousin of his. "

"That would be Zach." Seamus said. "It's his freshmen year too. He's a spitfire. Seen him play a few games with the ole hammer. Dude is all heart and no brains. He doesn't know when to hold and when to fold."

"He fights when he ought to run huh." Mal said.

Seamus nodded

"So in the second round how are we choosing to use our points." Silver asked

" I don't know. For now I say we split the points into 7ths. each of us get one seventh and then they remaining two can go towards common things like vehicles. It seems fair but if we want to change up we always can in the war lounge. By the way I say we meet up there a half hour before the game field can be seen from the lounge and looking down will give us a better idea of a plan."

"Deal." Universe said. "So a you two ready to get your battle cherries busted"

"Don't worry they're game." Seamus said.

"I don't know what happens but it's only a game right," Mal said. Silvia raised her left eyebrow and glared at Seamus.

"Hey all of our pride is on the line. I say we kick ass harder than it's ever been kicked. Show them exactly who the hell we are," Silvia said.

Game: New Players (Draft 1 of Chapter 2)

Chapter 2: New Players

A brown ponytail dangled as a woman walked upside down along the bottom of a brick skyscrapers ledge. She was enjoying the cool breeze of night and eying her prey. She zeroed in on two thieves through the scope of her crossbow.


The woman looked up to the moon. “Not now,” she said as she released a bolt.
Before it could hit its target she fell from the ledge. Landing on her feet she ran to the dregs. Kicking up rain water, her foot made contact with the chin of one of her marks.

“I’m sorry Silvia but Circe keeps bugging me”

“Just give me five minutes,” the ponytailed woman says as she twirled two knives in her hands. One of the gangsters tries to shoot her. The bullet bounces off a metal crimson bracer she is wearing.

A face identical to the girl’s appeared in the moon. “Look I can’t get any peace until you talk to these guys.”

“Alright” The muggers disappeared into blue pixels and man and two woman replaced them. “You know I was really having a great time.”

“Yeah”, a man with sunglasses said. “Artemis gave both me and Circe an earful.” He points to a woman who looks like the ponytailed girl except with her hair untied. “Uh anyway I got a friend and I was wondering if he can join our game on Saturday.”

“How much of a newb is he?”

“Okay. So he’s new. We let you bring in Alley.”

“Fine fine. He can play but if we lose because of him Forge--”

“I’ll take responsibility. Don’t worry I’ll tell him what he needs to know.”

Water spouted from a large round concrete fountain. While drinking coffee, Alexandria sat on its rim while reading a book for her philosophy class.


She looks up to see a fedora. “Hey Mal”

“Studying for your next class. I have philosophy 120 too. I think we might be in the same section.”

“There you are” an out of breath Seamus said has he ran to the fountain. “You might as well hear this too Alley. You know that TA you guys met. Well back when he was a student he formed a game club. Well he left after he graduated but he occasionally plays with us still. This Saturday Silvia, Alley’s sister and some friends of ours are going to battle it out with the old bastard. Are you two in?”

“Sure I got nothing going Seamus.”

“Hey I love an opportunity to show up sis.”

“Wo there Calamity Jane. Aim your guns the right way. You’re on our team. Okay I’ll give you guys the details on the game later but right now you need to learn how to use your seeds. Alley has a little experience but you Mal. You’re running in the dark ages. I loaded a tutorial on your seed to help you out. Custom made it you’re welcome. By the way this is the only free software you’re getting out of me.

“Thanks but I should be headed for class now anyway,” Mal says.

“Oh by the way Silvia’s teaching that philosophy class you guys are headed for.”


“Yeah it’s her major and her prof was so impressed with her that he gave her a chance to TA as a senior. Figured she probably wouldn’t tell you till you got there. I just didn’t want you to wig out.”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Sixteen desks in a circle surrounded a brown haired girl in a wool mesh trench coat.

“Alright let's get started. It’s the first day in an intro class so I won’t get to heavy on ya. By the way I’m Silvia Katrina, and this is Phl120 Philosophy in a digital age. Okay so I don’t expect you guys to have a bunch of knowledge about stuff if you understood the world you wouldn’t need to be here, but this is mainly a discussion course. Say what you think, make good arguments, and write a couple of essays and you should be fine. You can grab the syllabus on the net. Nothing too unexpected on it. Through out the semester you guys have to write 3 papers. I’ll tell you guys more about that later and the detail are on the syllabus anyway. If you have any questions just message me and I’ll get back to you. So I guess I’ll just put out a few questions. Why are you here? I don’t mean in that deep why do we exist sense. I just mean why you are taking the class.”
A red haired guy in the back row stands up and says, “Because I have to for my major.”


“Anyone else,” no one raises their hand “Okay zombies well here’s why I decided to TA it. We’re living in interesting times. The lines between illusion and reality are being blurred, where an intangible idea can become caporal. Its disorienting and I know I can’t make sense out of it all. I’m hoping what you guys say may shed some light on it . I want to hear what you guys think. Anyway here’s the gist of the class. Well talk normally about some topic. I’m hoping that the conversations will naturally flow but if they don’t I have a list of topics. Based on the previous class I’ll e-mail you guys reading material. I’ll try to do it no less than two hour after class. Okay, so lets get started. Most of you guys are only able to use seeds just now why.”

“The law says we have to be 17 before we can use them,” the redhead said

“And why would that be the law,” Katrina said.

A girl with pink hair and a pink hoodie said, “ because in order to use the seed you have to use the ID chip in your head and people don’t like the idea of kids brains doing the unnatural”

“Mind if I ask you your name”

“Joanne but my friends call me Jo”

“Cool. Well, this is a good time to cover some history, originally the chip was a voluntary identification system to aid in fighting identity theft. At first people weren’t crazy about the idea but it was voluntary so no body gave a fuck. Eventually 75 percent of the population had the chips. The government then decided that the cost of maintaining older identification systems and the chip were expensive and made it mandatory for everyone.

“At this point people were sort of freaked out that their brains could be hacked so a bunch of patchwork laws and government organizations were created to ensure the safety and security of people with chips which at this point was everyone. One of the goals of these organizations was to research the chips and make it harder for people to crack them. Well this lead to the development of the mui, mental user interface, that we use today. Anyway one of the mental safeguard laws is that you can’t use the mui until age 17.

“It might not sound weird to you guys but there was a time when having government chip in your head would be considered the start of fascism. What do you guys feel about it.”

“Never really thought about it like that. I always knew the chip could identify me but I never had a problem with it. I never really noticed. By the way name’s Malcom my friends call me Mal.”

“ Well according to the law the chip’s government identifier can only be used in government buildings such as the police station, and the secretary of states office, but after activating your seeds you can add other identifiers to the seed. I have.You guys will probably get one soon for the university. Up until now you guys probably just used a paper trail for all the docs you had to put in to get here. Well, when you start using seeds you’ll see things are a lot faster. Anyway, other than identification the only thing the chip can be used for is interfacing with your seeds. All the processing for the mui is handled by the seed. Yeah Alley”

“Well, the 61st through 68th amendments are often called the second bill of rights. They list the things the government can’t do in regards to digital and mental technologies. I always had faith that the government would follow its own rules.”

“But how do you know. There could be a secret database with all our thoughts recorded on it,” Silvia responded

“True I guess but if the government ever wanted to do anything with that information they would have to follow due process and a judge would never allow that info as evidence or even probable cause I mean hell that is one of our a oldest laws,” said Alex
“There are ways to bend the law even the law of those who make it. Anyway I didn’t want things to get that heavy on the first day so I’ll leave that conversation here until next class. By the way Alley, Mal could you guys stick around for a while.”

“Sure,” Mal said.

“You guys are in the game. At least that’s what Seamus says. It’s been a while since everyone played together so we’re having a meeting at the diner on Park Street and Babbage Ave on Friday afternoon be there at 3 got it.

“Yeah,” Alley said.

“ I’ve got some stuff to take care of back at my apartment so I probably won’t see you guys ‘till then.

Mal, was lying in bed watching Kiss Me Deadly on the ceiling screen. He had started the movie as a room hologram, but he eventually got tired and decided to watch the story while lying down. The sun had set hours ago, but with all of the light and sound he hadn’t realized. The only sign he had of the passing hours was the weariness of his muscles. He had thought of his new seed, but he had not tried it. Things just kept coming up that he would rather do. After class he spent half the day at the park. Although everyone called it a park it was more of a mall. To a newcomer like Mal it looked like a city. Hallways as wide as roads with railways and motorized walkways along their centers. Mal had grown up in a small town. He had never dreamed that places like that existed.

Mal had decided that before he went to sleep he wanted to try his seed, if only for a few minutes. He closed his eyes and then opened them. He was not where he was a moment ago. Miniscule moving blue numbers surrounded him. He realized two things immediately. The first was that while his mind was still half asleep his muscles were no longer fatigued. The second was that he was not alone.

“Hey it took you long enough”


“Sorry bro. I’m not Seamus I’m just a tutorial programmed by him.”


“Hey I’m well he’s a techno genius. Anyway while he doesn’t doubt Henri’s teaching ability we need you set in days not months so I’m going to help you get up to scruff.”

“Okay I guess but where is this place”

“This is the default construct. You can change it however you want.


“Just think of a place you would like to be. Most of the ones programmed that way are pretty simple though but simple might be best for now. Also you could always go back to the store and get the brilliant guy who programmed me to program you a more complex one.”

Mal thought of a black and white office with an old typewriter and black analogue rotary phone. He thought of bookcases that had been obsolete for a good century. Blue turned to gray and the numbers shifted forming a desk and a lamp.

“You thought up a gray box. A bit boring but at least you have the idea. Alright next thing and this is important. In this place your body is irrelevant. Do me a favor. Think about the old track at Adam’s Park.

The tiles on the floor shifted to gravel and the gray turned to green. Trees sprang from nowhere and a streaming river could be seen from iron guard rails. Orange leaves floated down the stream.

“No way”

“Yeah shocking aint it. Anyway run the track.”

“Come on man you know I was always the slowest guy in gym”

“Just run the damn track Mal.”

Mal ran the track while mentally ranting. He hated running track, especially with someone watching. Even if it was just a program Mal couldn’t help but confuse it with Seamus. Just as Seamus would, the program chided Mal about his speed.

“ Four minutes for the quarter mile you are slow check this out”

Mal watched Seamus’ tutorial run the quarter mile in 9 seconds. “

“Now here is the question. Do you think my creator’s physical counterpart could do that back at the park?”

“No. You .. I mean Seamus was always faster than me but not by much. But you aren’t him.”

“Good point but for the time being lets assume that Seamus can do everything I can do and vice-versa. That’s not exactly the case but I’m trying to make a point. Here a body’s form and function is nearly completely based on its user’s or designer’s mental intention and projection.”

“In other words you’re fast because you want to be fast?”

“Exactly, that’s something simple, but let’s do something more complex. What’s your favorite animal.”

“Dude you should know this. I always liked wolves”

Seamus shimmered blue for a moment and where he was standing a wolf took his place. Then he returned to human form.

“Okay that was just to show off. The point is that in your construct you control pretty much everything, your environment and yourself. The problem is that the game isn’t happening in a construct or any personal cyber space. That world will have rules. Seamus will tell you those rules later. My job is to get you used to the weirdness of having a body other than your physical one. In the game your body is going to be limited to your usual physical form, or at least an avatar similar to your usual physical form, but your strength, speed, and agility can be augmented by your mental state. Before the game starts Seamus wants you to have an avatar and a handle that you’re comfortable with. You can have more than one and you can change them but at least for this game your avatar has to be recognizable as human. Two arms two legs. One head walking upright Between 4 and 7.5 feet tall and weighing 95 to 300 pounds. In short you can’t be anything ridicules."

“So my avatar can totally compensate for my normal scrawniness? I can be a 200 pound
football player?”

“Sure but keep in mind that how your body interacts with the world will be based on its form. Let’s say you want to hide behind a rock, for cover. What’s better, that 200 pound 7 football guy or something smaller?” On the other hand though your physical capabilities can be augmented by your mind, the physics engine of the game is based on the physics of our world. So that 200 pound guy will be able to punch a lot harder than a smaller person. Another thing is familiarity of the avatar. For stuff that’s highly physical like the games most people use avs that are close to their physical selves. Seamus knows how to control his body fairly well, but if you add or take away too much weight or height things get weird. You probably haven’t really thought about it.”


“Okay you and Seamus used to play baseball right?”

“All the time.”

“You more or less know how to throw the ball to get it to go where you want?

“I’ve got a curve you wouldn’t believe”

“But what happens when your arm is heavier, or faster, or stronger than you’re expecting?”

“ I guess the ball would move differently.”

“Exactly. Well that’s all I can say unprompted if you have any questions just ask.”

“What avatar are.. is Seamus using for the game.”

“He guessed you would ask that”
The hologram shimmered and a short man who appeared not to fit into his own skin walked into him. Long blond hair was tied behind a leather jacket with one sleeve cut off.

“And I told him err programmed it to IM me when you did.”

“Look at you all road warrior like”

“ I prefer to think of it as more of a terminator look. Anyway this is how I roll not exactly original but it has a certain appeal in the games. By the way I only use this AV in the games. But I’ll leave that other stuff to Henri.

Game: Press Start (Draft 2 of Chapter 1)

Chapter 1: Press Start

A young black man stepped on a subway, wearing a fedora, jeans, and a vest over a t-shirt. As he got on he saw an old friend.

“Seamus, is that you?”

“Yep. I figured I’d see you off your first day. That and I take this line too.”

“What’s your first class?”

“Computer use. It will probably be a drag.”

“You might be surprised who’s your prof?”

“Some guy named Henri Jean.”

“I know him. Dude you're in for one wild semester.”
“What’s he like?”

“He’s… well…You’ll just have to meet the guy. I’ll tell you this though He just graduated last semester and he’s kind of a campus legend.”


“I’ll tell you later. Besides, wasn’t that your stop Mal?”

Then Malcolm turned his head shouted, “Shit!” then pulled the line.
Malcolm ran to the Gates building . Entering he asked the first person he saw, who was talking on a payphone “Where is room 115?”.

“Its right there ya noob. I can’t believe you’re wasting my time like this.”

After entering the room Mal saw a tall kid with broad shoulders reading a comic book with his feet on a chair. He was spread out along two others.


“Shhhhh not now. Double-shot is trapped in a room with Aeros and he doesn’t have his crossbow,” he said without looking up from the comic.

As the class began to fill up everyone stared at the comic reader.
A blond haired girl asked where is the professor.

“Yo,” The comic reader said as his arm rose and his head lowered into the book. “Lets give it another five more minutes. There are probably a few lost freshies and I really want to finish this thing.”

After a while the kid stood up. “Okay this is CSC 104 computer use. If that’s not where you’re so suppose to be geeeee-it out.” His thumb moved over his shoulder. And the class gave him weird looks “Tough crowd. Anyway, It’s required by the university. I had to take it. You guys have to take it. That said it is a cool class. That and I’m a cool guy. I don’t like checking papers and that doesn’t really prove if you know how to use a seed anyway. If you do what I tell you you’ll have fun and you’ll probably get an okay grade. That said you’re going to have to demonstrate you know some stuff”

“Like what stuff,” said the blond girl.

“Uh for the next few weeks I think we’ll stick to the basics. Avatars, constructs, but before we get to that stuff you guys need seeds. Seeing as a lot of you are probably freshies I’m guessing you don’t know where the school computer store is. I thought it would be a good idea to go there together.”

As the class walked the TA called to the blond girl. “I didn’t have time to say but you remind me of someone. What’s your name?”

“Alexandria Katrina.”

“No way you’re Silver Cat’s sis?”

“Yeah how do you know sis?”

“We go way back.”

“Yeah everyone knows Silver Cat.”

“She never mentioned me?”

“Now that you mention it you never told us your name.”

“Doh, well it’s my first day on the job. Yo everyone could you stop for a sec. Alley Cat has just informed me I stupidly forgot to introduce myself. I’m Henri Maccabee Jean. Call me Hank It looks like we are here. This is the union. Trust me you guys are going to spend a lot of time here. The store is in the basement. Come on.”

“Seamus you work in the computer store,” Malcolm says.

“I gotta make bread somehow.”

Henri turns to them. “You guys know each other.”

“Since were babes,” Seamus replies.

“You know Seamus maybe he could join in the match Saturday?”

“I’ll ask Silver but you know what she’s like.”

“Just a thought. Okay so since everyone here looks like they are under 25 I’m going to guess you guys have the id chips. Let me lay a little history on ya. Yes I know most of this stuff is common knowledge but I’ll tell you anyway. In 2020 to prevent ID theft the government started installing Id chips into the brains of its citizens. I know its creepy but you see those chips started to get more complicated. Now a days we do some pretty cool stuff with them. Mainly the chip can communicate with one of these.”

“Yo hammer they know all this stuff just let them buy some seeds.”

“Yes I know your job is to sell but mine is to teach these guys how to use these things. Anyway those ID chips have been modified over the last few decades to allow these things to communicate with your head.”

Pulling out a Mj√∂llnir pendant from under his shirt Henri said, “This is my seed.”

“See ladies and Gentlemen we have all sizes all shapes, all colors, hell if you give us a week we can make a custom one just like Henri’s over there. Yep we can customize both the looks and the specs.”

“Yo forge could you shut up a sec.” Henri held out the pendant and light came from it. The light became larger and became the image of a man in armor holding a large war hammer.

“This is my avatar. This guy is how I look when I’m cyber trancing. Think of cytrancing as lucid dreaming. Alright before I do what I am about do I got to warn you guys not to move.” The light engulfed the room and soon the room changed. It became a medieval hall. “This is my construct. Be careful its only a hologram. You guys might bump into a shelf or something but I thought you should see it. I can manipulate the trance but when I first enter it this is where I go. I can change the construct if I want but I like it. Its kind of like a second home to me. Next class I’ll show you guys how to make one. The hologram faded and the room returned to normal.”

“Yeah yeah you did enough now let them buy their seeds.”

“Okay here is the deal a certain amount of your first year tuition was devoted to the purchase of a seed. If you buy one that costs more than that you have to pay the difference. I think its like 700 creds but Seamus here knows better than me.”

“Step on up ladies and gents. I got watch seeds, necklace seeds, bracelets seeds, laptop seeds, pda seeds, earring seeds. What do you want? What do you want? What do you want? Keep in mind they have different capabilities. If you get confused just ask me.”

Alley was looking at a necklace seed.

“I think that would look nice on you. Alley right,” Mal said.

“So what’s going to be your choice.”

“I think I’ll go with the glasses. Kind of like Seamus.”

“Somebody call my name.”

“Yeah you said each shape had different capabilities.”

“Right, where to start. Well the cool thing about laptop and PDA seeds are the screens. Some people like ‘em but others think they’re clunky. Which is why we have the others. Don’t get me wrong they have cool functions of their own but the main thing about them is that they can be worn or kept in a pocket and some are fashion statements. Like I said that pendent of Henri’s it’s a custom deal. Anyway standard necklaces are pretty much no frills. I mean they can have as much computing power as you want, but they’re main attraction is that they are small and light. Also they look cool. Glasses on the other hand arguably have the most features. See the glasses act sort of like a worn screen. And the side peaces are close enough to the ears that they act like head phones. Now you can put sensors in pretty much any seed but in glasses those sensors without linking to your mind can transmit data through the speakers and glass. That said they can make you look like a nerd but…. Nerd Power.

Time to Stand on My Own

The time is coming near when I will have to strikeout
with nothing but the gifts of God
and to make from nothing else my own home.
To make from nothing else my own life
I cannot and will not break all ties to my family
for they were and are good and kind to me
but I desire to stand and be able to say
I made this place
I made this life
I am more than my father's son
I am more than my mother's child
and more over I am neither of them
I am a different beast
different than all the Miles', Thomas' and Prices
that came and will come
yet I am one of them
And at least among those names
if not among others my name will ring across the generations.

Why do I put up this fight? Why do I still write?

I feel trapped in my head. Always afraid of saying the wrong thing.
Or worse saying something that registers no meaning.
But here in this place.
Here in cyberspace.
I am king.

My fear leaves me and I can say what I dream.
Those who have no interest are free to leave
While those who do can stay can think on what I mean

Moreover I can think, becoming more sure as I read and re-read
That I am sane
Many imagine me to be the fool, or the hobbit
And they may be right indead
But here on the page, on the screen
I can be mean
I can be loud
I can be bold
I can be foul

Of course only as long as my arguments and reason are sound.
The point is in this place I can not be cowed
I will not do here only as I am told
Here I am made of my own mold
And in the stroke of the pen and the key it makes me more whole

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summary of Sword of Truths Politcal Arguments

Here is just a brief summary of the political arguments made in the series.

Book One Wizard's First Rule: Mostly apolitical except when explaining the governments of the countries in this fantasy land. Confederation vs republic vs totalitarian monarchy. Guess which one is evil. Come on guess. Hint the names of the last two rulers of the monarchy were Painis and Darken.

Book Two Stone of Tear: Again mostly apolitical, except some general braveheartish speeches about freedom and what not.

Book Three Blood of the Fold: This where things start getting a little political, but nobodies drunken crazy-aid just yet. The protagonist has to convince the confederation, who almost all hate him and each other, to unite and go to war. This leads to a speech about how you can't ignore the world's problems and hid from war. In other words why if you're a hippie peacnik you're part of the problem. Too be fair this is one of the most balanced political arguments in the series and still makes a lot of since within the context of the story and doesn't make me want to punch Goodkind in the face. And it was written way back in '96 well before the second invasion of Iraq.

Book Four Temple of Winds: Honestly, I only remember the first 50 and last 50 pages of this book, because well those are the only parts really interesting. The first 50 are funny and the last 50 are uhgg sad then happy then gushy and then slightly related to the plot of the next book.

Book Five Soul of Fire: Okay now this is where he starts making ridiculous political arguments, but hey at least at this point the books aren't yet about forcing his political rhetoric down the audience's throat, needlessly adding hundreds of pages for no reason...yet. Sure the argument is only loosely plot relevant, but he keeps it to less than a tenth of the book. So originally I didn't even notice. That is until later when I wanted to chart the crazy.

It helps that this is one of the more forgettable ones that I only read for the comedy of, Sorry hunny she's not my wife... yeah I am, no you're not... okay maybe in weird culturally I can't believe that constitutes marriage kind of way you are but I didn't say I do.

Anyway. There is the author's rant on why we don't need affirmative action. Now I disagree with that argument but I can understand why some would feel the country has outgrown the need for it, but he makes the argument the most idiotic way, which basically comes down to.

All the peoples the United States and the other western powers have conquered or enslaved have benefited so it's square.

Yeah... I'm writing on that one.

To be fair he also states that most of those atrocities were committed generations ago and most folks alive don't have individual responsibility for them. That I agree with, but it all depends on how you look at the purpose of affirmative action and the disparity of wealth and power between WASP males, women and minorities.

In other words I think he misunderstood(or didn't care about... down cynical and bitter me down) the opposition's argument and then stuffed a bunch of crazy straw men in the book.

By the way he's gonna repeat that from this book on, again, and again, and again, to the point where its almost... well not almost, insulting. This is a good point to explain what a strawman is.

In logical debate a strawman argument is a rebuttal to another argument that distorts or exaggerates the original argument and then rebuts this distortion.


or More seriously
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Book Six Faith of the Fallen: This is my favorite in the series. And its also the one I reread the most. BUUUUUT. Yeah, remember that straw man thing I said earlier. I'm conflicted. The straw man political diatribes, characters, and society further the plot and show clear character motivations. On the other hand (copy and pasted from the above on Soul of Fire your going to hear a lot of this).

I think he misunderstood, or didn't care about the opposition's argument and then stuffed a bunch of crazy strawmen in the book. Except this time its not quarantined to a few peaces of throwaway dialog and one or two minor expendable characters. The entire plot depends on these strawmen being these strawmen. And well. It makes for great drama.

The entire book is a treatise on why socialism and government regulation of well anything are bad.

As you can guess. I'm writing on that.

Book Seven: Pillars of Creation Honestly this book is so different from the others I skimmed it. It's not bad. Goodkind just decided to take a break from the primary characters and follow someone else this time around. The main characters get cameos though.

Book Eight: Naked Empire

To whatever end. Where is Hero. Where is the quest. Where is the horn blowing in the wind. They are all gone. Like grass on the meadow.

Must have faith in my favorite author. He's not crazy. He's not crazy. He won't ruin the series forever.

This book serves no other purpose than as a setting for his strawman political argument to why we need the death penalty. There is no plot. It exists solely so the heroes can go,"This is why you kill criminals". And for hundreds of pages condemn anybody who doesn't support their view.

After that, for the next three there aren't anymore new political arguments, just self-righteous condemnations of anybody who disagrees with the old ones. To be fair they're at least better than 8 and have a plot. Well that and death soccer.

Back to the Beat

Have I lost it?
All those ideas and words I used to spit.
I need to think
Make some new lyrical treats.
Need to get back to the beats
You know what maybe something for all my sci-fi geeks
Something that shows I'm elite
Maybe I just need to write something because I haven't in weeks.

I need a new idea for a post and this was me goofing around while I was thinking.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why the heck does a wizard need a sword? A gun maybe, but a sword?

I've decided to wet my feet with blogging after a two month hiatus. I will write on all the crazy stuff that happened later but its personal so I won't right now. Instead I just want to get back to writing. There is lots of news stuff I can write about and I will eventually, but for now I want to do something fun, yet serious so. I'm going to write a series of articles on my favorite book series. Some will be serious rebuttals to political arguments made in the series, others will be reviews of the series itself and one will be a rant about why I hate the tv show that's based on it, but first a little background.

The series is Sword of Truth and it was one of my favorite book series in highschool. I am a bit of a science fiction and fantasy nerd and it was probably the series that codified that aspect of my personality, if I don't count Animorphs or Magic the Gathering Books.

The first book is more or less a standard retelling of the heroes' journey. Part of me wants to call the series cynical for the violence, and "oh my god I can't believe he wrote a character doing that!" moments but ultimately the morality is fairly black and white throughout it. If you're a villain you are really, really, really evil, and if your a hero you're "portrayed" as being some sort of saint being the last thing between the villains and the apocalypse.

The problem with that is as the series goes on the characters become more and more self-righteous, leading to points where anyone with half a brain can tell they are being a bit hypocritical. It also leads to moments where out of nowhere the characters will give political diatribes that have little or nothing to do with the plot and are severely flawed in logic.

Despite that I still love the book series. Especially the first 6 books.

The reason why I'm thinking about it now is that recently the series final of the tv show its based of of aired. I love to hate that show.

Life has been crazy.

Life has been crazy lately. I don't want get into the details, but that is why I haven't posted in two months. Things are getting back to normal so. Well, in short I'm back.

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