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Journal Archives - August, 2000


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August 2, 2K ... I received a letter that really depressed me today.

It was articulate; the intelligence of the writer was quite apparent. They talked about how much my website had impacted them (as many do upon reading my essay on draconity and magic, which seems to draw kindred spirits). It had so much potential to be heartwarming, another testament to the outreach of my draconic message.

But the very first sentence of the letter, the writer noted that "I [first] believed that I was a dragon ... when I finally realized that my hatred of humans came from something."

Ouch ... argh. Physical pain. I know it's not my fault, that this is another person's opinions, that I didn't inspire them (except in the sense of causing them to open enough to write to me). But I feel like I've failed somehow.

I am going to need to get this out of my system at greater length. Later today I'll post a rant and link to it here.

August 2, 2K, part ii ... System clear. Rant written. Arguments disjointed, metaphors mixed, analogies irrelevant, but it's OK; I wrote the thing for me, not for an audience.

That having been said, I'm going to share it with the world. ;-) I'm too tired to immediately HTML-format it, but here, take a look at: On Dragons and Hate.

August 7, 2K ... Dammit. I really need Net access at home.

We've just moved; my computer still hasn't quite been set up yet. Plus the DSL our household was going to get is still in the process of being acquired. It all adds up to basically no Net access on weekends. And then during the week, I can only get online from work -- which is a huge guilt trip, because I honestly like Wildtangent, and I want to work while I'm there ... but there's so much else to do. Argh. Argh. Dammit. I really need Net access at home.

Oh, and "Understanding Comics" is a fantastic work. Check out the author's site to get a feel for its scope. And while you're there, contribute to Choose Your Own Carl (joining such illustrious personages as myself, Absurd Notions author Kevin Pease, and Neil Gaiman, among many others).

Content? We don' need no steenkin' content. We'll just provide lots of outside links and maybe you'll ignore the fact that I've been too busy playing catch-up from the Denver Dragon Gather to post new content. (Well, generally too busy to post new content. I did put up that rant on dragons and hatred on Thursday.)

August 8, 2K ... One-Hit Wonder is really really fun. Not only that, but I'm currently in the top spot with a 90,000-point match -- "rammstein" and "polarity". It's good to be the king. Anyone care to challenge my title? ]B=8)

Which reminds me ... I was thinking this morning, on the commute to Redmond, about the Web. It's touted as an interactive medium -- and it is, much more so than television -- but it still follows the same rules: One either produces or consumes.

I've been rather a consumer lately. I've been taking some "time off" to cruise around the Web, finding neat sites, playing fun games, and generally entertaining myself ... at the expense of adding content to Tomorrowlands. Heck, Cerulean even sent me the logo around the beginning of the month -- I haven't even written him back to say "thank you" yet, although I will do so by lunchtime today.

This is not to say that we all necessarily have an obligation to produce; the more material there is out there, the fewer people that each page will reach. I've long been a proponent of only making pages when one truly has something to say. I follow that principle myself; heck, I even feel a little guilty about posting these daily rambles, which are (I hope) interesting and occasionally profound, but don't really serve any purpose other than sounding my voice off.

On the other hand, I already *have* content to share with the world. *Real* content. I'm one of the more outspoken dragons on the Net, perhaps in the world. The FAQ is crying out for an overhaul. It's good that I'm making regular News updates here, but there's a lot of work on TL that remains to be done. And I want to do it ... it's just so bloody inconvenient at the moment, with no net connection from home. Argh.

See yesterday's rant. (sigh)

August 9, 2K ... Ack! Dethroned. Temporarily, anyway. Time to go look for that 150,000-point brain-buster ...

It's also time to get started on that Draconity FAQ update. Which means I need to set up my computer when I get home tonight. Moving sucks. Oh, and I need Net access at home. Argh. ;-P Maybe if I keep whining into the aether about it, something will get done ...

August 9, 2K part ii ... He shoots! He scores!

I've just turned in a 212,000-point match. Ah, the heady flush of triumph! Yesterday evening 100K seemed like a breakthrough ... then my title got usurped, then stomped ... and then I took back the high ground.

I haven't been this addicted to a game in a while. One-Hit Wonder (follow the link above) is fantastic. And I know that I've been getting far too repetitive lately, so let me make you all a promise: I swear that this will be the last post in which I rave about online games, rant about lack of Net access, or self-piteously whine about how I need to put up more content but haven't been motivated enough. With the caveat that I reserve the right to post especially cool OHW matches -- like the title-claiming "+nameserver +crystalline" -- or apologies for lack of content. (An apology does not piteous whining make.)

Now, if I could only tear myself away from Diablo long enough to hook up my computer at home so I could address my pathetic lack of content ... ];=8)

August 10, 2K ... I'm trying to get a project finished at work; I can't really think of much to say.

August 11, 2K ... A little random ranting before I go home for the weekend.

I was trying to remember some uninteresting aspect of Alta Vista's power search rules, and while searching their server, came across this page on Altavista.

There's nothing particularly odd about the page itself -- it merely lists the week's top 25 search terms (among other things). What was really bizarre was that the top search term -- for (at least) two weeks in a row -- is the word "Yahoo."

"YAHOO"?!? Followed by ... hold your breath ... "Hotmail."

And all I have to say is, WTF?! Is the average Net surfer so blindingly stupid that they have to do Web searches for their favorite search engines and e-mail providers BY NAME?! Haven't these people ever heard of BOOKMARKS?!

I ... I'm going to shut up and drive home now. Before the sheer weight of idiocy of the world crushes my head like a grapefruit.

August 13, 2K ... Yep! Posting on a Sunday! My home computer once again works! :)

It's still far from ideal, netwise. I'm on a scavenged 14.4 modem (which, incidentally, has sufficient bandwidth for the work that I do, which largely consists of Telnet, occasional web page uploads, and text-only net surfing). And it's not like my weekends are productive ... but I promised I wouldn't get into that.

I had plenty of fun this weekend, though. Kiala and SnowWolf (whose address I forget offhand) dragged me out to see "The Matrix" (special midnight screening!) at the Cinerama, which appears to be Seattle's equivalent of Mann's Chinese Theatre, reclining seats and all. I must say that overall Mann's is a nicer place, but on the other hand, the only movie I ever saw there was "Spawn," which sucked, so the Cinerama scores some style points there.

I had some thoughts on content, eloquence, and writing for an audience, but I think I'll save 'em for tomorrow's back-to-work look-busy-fest.

August 14, 2K ... It seems so much harder to write these now that I know they're being read.

I haven't actually officially opened Tomorrowlands yet. It's not in my sig, in any search engines, or linked to from my current home page. (Well, okay, it is now, but I just changed that today.) And yet at least three people have been going through my random musings (hi Antwon, K'Sulitan, and Kiala!), and probably more who've just snuck under my radar. (I've leaked the URL in a few places.)

I've been treating T-lands News as kind of a journal, a dumping ground for the odd thoughts that occasionally swim to the surface of my mind. (And also a place to remind myself of how much more work I need to get done on the site. ;)) But with fame comes a sort of paralysis. Whether proper or not, I feel a sort of obligation to actually entertain, to make these writings relevant to somebody besides myself. Or maybe I'm just being more self-conscious about my irrelevance. Or maybe it's just a sort of writer's block about not really knowing what I want to say here, the one-month online honeymoon being over.

I've been mulling over the idea of splitting this daily-talk-thingy into two parts: "News," for the infrequent occasions when I actually post site updates, and "Journal," for ... well, this. I doubt it will help me resolve my poster's cramp, but it seems like a good idea anyway, and so I'll tweak the PERL script sometime tonight ... and try to figure out how to handle the archiving.

I'd just like to add the odd fact that the former occupants of our new house left some glowy stars on the ceiling when they departed. This would be of little consequence except that the only two areas where the stars are concentrated are: (A) my room, and (B) over my computer in the living room. I didn't notice (B) until just now, and it's kind of creeping me out.

August 15, 2K ... "Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help." -- Lazarus Long

I really dislike this quote. It is, admittedly, true. It is also, however, a tautology, and a misleading one at that.

Philosophy is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help. Science is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help. Logic is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help. Heck, sapience is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help.

By definition, we come born knowing nothing into an unknown world. (If you argue this on grounds of reincarnation, then consider the first time you were born.) Every advance of civilization -- nay, intelligence -- nay, life -- is an attempt to bring order, predictability, into an existence that is otherwise one big question mark.

A quote like the one above is the hubris of the man standing by the fire, looking out into the night, and proclaiming that he's staring into the darkness without aid. Sadly, as the unknown gets pushed further back and made more abstract, it's a hubris we'll increasingly see.

August 16, 2K ... A mathematician, a gryphon, and an actor walk into a bar. After a few rounds, the actor slams his drink down on the bar and puts his head in his hands. "What's wrong?" the gryphon asks.

"It's this latest musical I got a role in," the actor says. "For one particular song, I have a duet with a gryphon."

"And this is a problem?" the gryphon asks, eyes narrowing.

"They haven't cast any gryphons yet," the actor explains, "and it doesn't look like they're going to."

"What are they doing, putting some guy in a gryphon suit?" the gryphon asks dubiously.

"Nope -- they're leaving the part empty. I don't get it."

At this, the mathematician leans over. "How's the choreography?" he asks.

The actor glances at him, distracted by the apparent non sequitur. "Horrible. I'm weaving around dancers every three seconds."

"Ah. Well, then you have nothing to worry about."

The gryphon and the actor exchange glances. "Why?" one finally asks.

The mathematician shrugs. "It's simple. Most complex numbers have imaginary parts."

August 17, 2K ... I'd just like to formally apologize for yesterday's horrible math pun.

August 18, 2K ... When I was a youngling, I used to wear my socks pulled up nearly to my knees.

Needless to say, I got a lot of flak for it at school. Yet I persisted. I wonder sometimes whether I was perhaps motivated by the attention. Notoriety being better than anonymity, and all that.

But something finally wore me down. Little by little, junior high to high school to college, the socks crept lower. At least visibly: even today I wear them pulled up all the way (to mid-calf) when I'm in long pants. But when I'm in shorts, they hide by my shoes.

Every once in a while I get depressed over my gradual erosion into conformity. I wonder if I've compromised myself in some way. With an issue like wearing socks, the question is of course purely academic ... and if only it stopped there.

You see, I also used to run everywhere. I took such joy in sprinting around campus, leaping up staircases, vaulting railings ... and not coincidentally stayed terrifically fit. But that started getting crushed out of me after the movie "Forrest Gump" came out. It's not hard to ignore catcalls of "What's your hurry?" when running across campus, but "Run, Forrest, run!" repeated to inanity can really dig into your soul.

So now I do a lot more walking. I blame the slowdown on the heavy weight of my heart. Oh, society, what hast thou wrought? What rule says people must jog in their spare time, that they must wear silly shirts, expensive shoes, and socks pulled down around their ankles? Why does being filled with enough joie de vivre to bound up staircases and across parking lots earn us scorn?

I just realized, with some trepidation, that I can't remember the last time I jumped a railing. And that's a genuine tragedy: With my metabolism, my body is going to go straight to hell if I don't set aside more time to stay active.

I guess we'll see how much exercise I get this weekend. My expectations are not high.

August 21, 2K ... Busy weekend. I'm tempted to apologize for not posting. But this is my page. I have no obligations to anyone, and no guilt trip but my own if I don't meet the "standards" I've set. Mwa ha! ];=8)

So consider this a "Me" post. Sometimes I have to get them out of my system.

As for what I did this weekend: On Saturday, I went with Jia to a local furry group's Writer's Night. We heard some great stories, including a howlingly funny fairy tale adaptation called "Hansel and Grendel." Sunday, we escorted Steven, Mike, and Erin -- which is to say, Worf, Firemyst, and Caitlin -- to dinner in a little not-quite-mini-dragon-gather-thing. It was great company and equally good food. But between the carousing, the writing, and a bit of magical activity, I didn't even have time to play computer games. Now that's busy.

August 22, 2K ... My eyes hurt. My head aches. I am in a brain-swimmy burnt-out altogether-too-much-time-coding-in-the-last-24-hours kind of state. I've just been in front of the computer too damn long, taken too few breaks, bent my mind around not one but two other languages (which have almost identical grammars; I don't know if that makes it better or worse) until it shut down in protest.

The sad thing is, that having clocked about nine straight hours on my current work project, it looks and behaves exactly the same as it did before I started. This is bad enough when you're debugging, but when you're trying to add functionality in the early stages of a project, it gets pretty heartbreaking. (On the other hand, another mere eight hours of work, and once the new code I add can actually get implemented, nothing about it will look the same.)

That, and the sidebar-fiddling Tomorrowlands script that I hacked out last night hasn't even been tested yet. So objectively I've gotten a massive amount of work done since this time yesterday evening ... but subjectively I feel like I've lost a day.

Is this one of those occupational hazards of computer programming?

August 23, 2K ... Unresolved issues in relationships are high on the list of the most heartbreaking things in the universe.

Let me spin you a hypothetical story. (Call it hypothetical, anyway; you and I both know that this isn't just being spun out of whole cloth.) S. and C. used to be partners in a relationship so unequal it would be fair to call C. the master and S. the slave. Despite this, they were both happy; S. loved C. enough to follow unconditionally, and C. loved S. enough to always treat him with respect. The relationship was not abusive. Lopsided, yes, and perhaps unhealthy, but not harmful.

Over time, although he was being treated well, S. started to fear what might happen if C.'s attitudes toward him changed. While trying to address his fears, S. realized that he simply could not change the relationship dynamic without breaking something. He kept running into walls, either C.'s expectations of control or S.'s own firm inner desire to serve. Afraid that voicing his problems would destroy the relationship, S. secretly started building up resources which would help him to leave if things got ugly.

Eventually S.'s guilt overcame him, and he revealed his scheming. C. was surprised, but took it in stride. S. left anyway, feeling he'd betrayed his lover. C. let him go.

Cut forward a long while. S. and C. run across each other again by chance. They make some awkward small talk, spend a night or two together for old times' sake, and cautiously circle back into orbit, albeit farther apart. C. just seems happy for S.'s return; S. isn't sure at all what to expect. In fact, C.'s happiness at their renewal (and the inevitable falling bax into old patterns) make S. uneasy -- he still feels at fault, and C.'s lack of anger brings back the old fear. Is C. just acting happy to get him bax under control?

S. is torn. He wants to return, but hasn't dealt with his fears. So while again secretly building backup plans, S. tries playing his old role. His discomfort is evident. But before a confrontation can brew, to make a long story short, C. again discovers the latest round of secret-hiding.

That's how this (hypothetical) situation stands now. Both of them would like nothing more than to just be together again. But C. feels there's nothing he can do to change -- he is already extending unconditional trust to S., and is getting increasingly frustrated by S.' non-reciprocation. And S. is scared of returning that trust, feeling (perhaps rightly) that in a relationship so unbalanced he needs a means of defense for when things go wrong. Dropping that secrecy would be the mark of return trust that C. wants to see, but would leave S. again entirely at C.'s mercy.

Is this a relationship that can be saved? Perhaps. It will take work. The tragedy is that both of its participants still love each other -- it's just far more emotionally convenient to be estranged.

August 24, 2K ... I've noticed that I'm getting a lot more long-winded on these journal entries than I originally planned. I just don't seem to be the type who can stop at three paragraphs.

Perhaps it's an artifact of my days as a journalist. I don't believe in long paragraphs. I have to insert a break every time I jump to a new thought. Or, when I ramble for a while on the same topic, just more or less at random, to increase readability. It doesn't help that I edit these on a 80x24 screen, and so the monster paragraph that takes up six straight lines of crowded text resolves to about 2 1/2 lines in IE or Netscape.

That last paragraph, for example, was 6 lines. I just don't have the heart to continue much farther than that without a line break.

Also (to get bax to long-windedness), it just seems like I'm not the type to think in short bursts. When I have something to say, I try to get it out all at once. Which is great ... when I've got something to say ... and the time to say it in.

August 28, 2K ... The Baxil Weekly Name-Drop: It was another fun and busy weekend. On Saturday morning (coming off of four hours' sleep, after a marathon Counterstrike session), Jia and I walked down to Dalmuti's for another Seattle Dragons Gather. (Should that be Dragons', or Dragon? It was a gather of the "Seattle Dragons," but that syntax just looks so wrong.) Ourselves and Bree, Purrzah, Digi, Kiala, Airk, Wyvern, and special guest stars Zon 7, Zon 14 and Computechie (plus one other person who I know I'm forgetting, dammit) met for lunch, ate, played a rousing hand of "Give Me The Brain" (being right next door to Wizards Of The Coast has its advantages!), and took off for the science museum-thing at the Seattle Center.

We had all sorts of fun exploring the many and varied exhibits. The dinosaur exhibit left me unimpressed, although it was cool how they had an actual coprolite on display (and touchable, no less). One of those things that really makes you wonder ... might you make a scatological contribution to posterity? If some alien archaeologist sifts through the ruins of Earth in 65 million years, might it be your fossilized digestive excess that lands in a museum, surrounded by silly-looking animatronic figures, and pawed by greedy youngsters' tentacles?

After that, we went out to dinner at a little restaurant-nee-house called "Thai Heaven." It was. I highly recommend it, if you ever visit Seattle. We said our goodbyes, went home, and slept off the massive culinary overload; I subsequently spent Sunday creating a 3rd Ed. AD&D character for an upcoming house game. (I'll discuss AD&D3E in a journal entry to come.) So that was my weekend. How was yours?

One final comment: When I woke up this morning, I discovered something about cats. See, when our group visited the Denver Zoo during the DDG last month, I learned that tigers "pook" -- and even got to hear one doing it. The sound indicates they're just lookin' for attention, wandering around bein' all bored and tiger-like. (As for what a pook sounds like: I'm reliably told that whenever I try to imitate a tiger pooking, I sound like a lowing moose.) Now, housecats don't pook; when they want attention, they meow, meep, or whine. (Yes, meep. But then, Amber is very weird anyway.) Housecats don't pook. On the other hand, they do puke. Generally, all over the living room floor.

Perhaps it's an inbred parent-species emulation reaction? Maybe they just read about it in a zoology textbook somewhere and got the spelling confused?

August 29, 2K ... Let us picture a three-lane interstate freeway. Rush-hour traffic is lumbering along at a steady pace; there's the occasional brake light, but nobody's shifting out of top gear. And then, suddenly, someone's engine gives out in lane 3, in the middle of a tunnel. He coasts to a stop in the middle of his lane, since there's no shoulder to stop on. Traffic practically halts; the police quickly arrive to ease congestion.

As drivers drum their fingers on the wheel, and/or try frantically to merge, the police lock down lane 3. Drivers are forbidden to change lanes into it or out of it until they have cleared the accident site. The police then flag on the other two lanes, which quickly clear out and resume their 50-mph pace. 66% of the drivers affected by the accident get home with only a three-minute delay; the other 33% sit helplessly in the middle of the freeway until the tow truck arrives three hours later.

This example illustrates the principle "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" in action. What were you expecting after reading the first paragraph? That they'd try routing ALL traffic around the stalled car, getting everyone home but not alleviating the slowdown? Doesn't the above solution work better? ... Yes, unless you're in the minority 33 percent.

I don't have a problem with utilitarianism per se. If I had to die to preserve all life on Earth, I'd accept my fate. But stating the philosophy in terms of "the many" and "the few" is nothing but trouble. Everyone on Earth is a member of a minority -- in fact, several. ("Minority" here meaning any group comprising less than 50 percent of the population, not just ethnic minorities. Although Caucasians are in fact ethnic minorities, if you look at the world population holistically.) Granting power based on the needs of "the majority" is basically an open license to oppress. "Fifty percent plus one" is in no way an acceptable criteria for discrimination.

What I'd like to propose is that utilitarians take a step toward humanism (and, since many of them seem to be making this argument anyway, a step toward intellectual honesty). Throw out the Spock catchphrase. Replace it with: "The needs of the all (or the species, if you've got to retain some humanocentrism) outweigh the needs of the few." This retains the practical applications of the phrase, and eliminates justification for its worst abuses.

For example: Environmentalism. A healthy, biodiverse Earth benefits everyone alive, even the polluters who are misusing the planet, so it is morally correct to stop them. While this action "oppresses" them on an individual level, it works as much to their benefit as it does to the rest of us, and thus is actually for the good of all. (As opposed to, say, killing them "for the environment", which does them no good, only us, and so is wrong.) ... Crime. The same law that a murderer ignores also is there to protect him from being killed, so the law remains morally correct. But a law promoting slavery works at the expense of the slaves, so (unlike with the many/few ideal) it is wrong. ... Religion. Religious oppression would not stand, since simply being able to outvote another religion would not (as with the old ideal) morally justify the power to shut them down. Freedom to follow one's faith benefits everyone. "Freedom" to stop others from doing the same does not benefit everyone, thus would be wrong.

While nobody likes traffic jams, at least we all get home. Think about that the next time you're stuck in traffic, and be glad you're not sitting in a locked-down lane #3.

August 30, 2K ... One quarterstaff meaning to violate the paradigm later, and asynchronous lasagna brings smoke change. Bless lust, more flagellant reunions abound. "Mast invasion," reduce, "adaptive less cyan." Leaving null in plain gravy ontologies.

Rotund pygmies cook beef, slowly, through osmosis. Genealogy kills lives. But other, lesser strategies take a breather if certain unusual meanings come to the fore. Pretend! No existence of Jeremy's calls wild airborne. So unusually vicious defensive diadem, a religion, new pathology of largo inflammation. Judas is Gouda.

Electrician, underscore yonder dipole. Breed under left-wing compsognathus. I am full-time avocado syndrome, of which expletive releases retention.

August 31, 2K ... If you've ever tried to buy books and landed up at amazon.org or hopped on over to your favorite search engine and instead been confronted with the scary-"Jesus loves you"-mouse-pointer-following-thing of the Alta Vista Baptist Church, you know the morbid fascination of skimming through areas of shared top-level domain names.

So, naturally, today's T-lands journal will give you a brief look at all of the webdomains also homesteading our illustrious nomenclature concept. Our first stop on this magical mystery tour is www.tomorrowland.com, home of ... well ... something. It appears to be a financial site, an offshoot or alternate name of avidguru.com. Just why they thought that "www.tomorrowland.com" would be a better name match than "www.avidguru.com" is a mystery. Heck, I can't even explain why they're "avidguru" ... except that they have a lot of discussion about something called Avid, which I presume is a computer firm of some kind.

Tomorrowland.net appears to be misconfigured -- it doesn't have an index page, and my browser displays a list of subfolders to explore. The most promising of these is koe5 ... which brings up ... what's this? ... a page of gibberish. Gibberish to me, anyway. I suspect it's Finnish, from doing a quick Web search on some of the page's terms and finding results in the ".fi" top-level domain.

And tomorrowland.org, the most likely mistyping of my humble weblair? A teaser for "The Moscow Musical". Mother Russia and "Tomorrowland"? Am I missing something here? Did we lose the Cold War while I wasn't looking?

Tomorrowworld.com appears to not have their Web act together yet, but a quick check of the InterNIC database shows it as being registered to a "Hi-Tek Multimedia." Too high-tech for HTML, apparently.

Of the "Tomorrow" domains -- all taken -- the only interesting one seems to be tomorrow.org, a science education project. Other variations of my name, such as "tlands", turned up nothing. And you want to know something spooky? We haven't seen a single Disney site yet!! I guess they were a little too slow on the draw to pick up tomorrowland.com, and too picky for anything else.

It looks like our ride has come to an end -- please keep your hands in the car until we're back in the station. Next week on "Tomorrowlands Journal": Web Wars, Episode I: The phantom "me" names ...

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