Thursday, April 28, 2005

I’m sure I was going to say something fundamentally important and meaningful, indicative of long term social change. Or it could have been a eulogy to Santa Monica, now up there in my favest cities ever! But I can’t remember. So, to allay my worries about lack of travel insurance, the terrors of intestacy (No idea who Stacey is, but I’ve never been ‘into her’) and fear of the revenant Terry Schiavo, I’ve written a short living will – other clauses are most welcome.
Addendum: Will Aid seems sensible; barter away!

Living Will

Sanity Clause
I, Daniel Cohen Griliopoulos, am of sound(ish) mind, am without constraint, and herein state my living will and testament, so help me God(s) (or Satan, whoever offers better hourly rates.) I also affirm there ain’t no Sanity Clause, it's just your dad (joke trademark Adam, 5754 B.C.E.)

Disposal of corporeal remains
If I’m verifiably dead (i.e. don’t titter when tickled) I’d like to be exposed for the consumption of wild animals. I was always too shy to expose myself to wild animals when alive. I asked a policeman for directions. Hence my entry on the sex offenders register. If I die and return as a zombie, drop me deep in the Atlantic ocean, so I can see who’d really win in a fight between a shark and a zombie. If there are no sharks left in the Atlantic, leave me in the offices of a leading legal or insurance firm, where I’ll be sure to stripped to the bone in seconds.

I leave all my personal possessions to my brother David. I leave all my impersonal possessions to, y’know, whoever. I leave all my demonic possessions to my little sister, so she can finally perfect that “head-rotating-spewing” party trick she’s been practicing all these years. I leave the remainder of my estate to my dad, Dimitri, because he always liked big boots. I’d like to leave my collection of fine whiskies to my pal Paul, so he can join me in the afterlife sooner (gonna be very dull here without you mate). I leave my MP3 collection to the head of the RIAA. I leave the action of prosecuting him for possessing unlicensed MP3s to his legal team. I leave my debts to Robert Kilroy Silk, and I charge Brewster with running up those debts.

I just wanted to use the word codicil, cos it’s cool.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Adventures in Alternate Realities.

I was sat in my flat, having just reinstalled Planescape Torment (oh, how I hunger for it now with only World of Warcraft on my desktop) when my mate Toller phoned to say he’d been intending to pass through Bath, but the trains were fucked so could he please kip on my sofa, and, oh, did I want a drink. I say I’ll pop out for one, cos I’ve got loads of work on…

…five hours later, we’re sat in the "characterful" Huntsman, opposite three women. Women, not girls. And when I say women, I’m not saying it because I think there’s an implicit patronsing bias in the illiberal word 'girls', which I might, but because they averaged about forty. Which doesn’t mean “I wouldn’t ‘ave” (as chirpy Cockney Toller puts it. the poshest cockney ever, yes, but he was born “wivvin de sahnd ah bahr bewws”, possibly) just that things didn’t turn out that way.

They were up from Devon looking for a husband for the tall, statuesque blond who was their leader, but they were seriously “disappointed at the lack of talent” in Bath. However, the blond, who was a nurse called Rosie, upon hearing that I was in games went off on one about how her two kids, five and seven, had persuaded her to play with them on their computer, and she’s created this tall blond woman (nu?) who could fire ice and electricity from her hands. But the kids wouldn’t let her attack some baddies “because I was level 3, and they were level 5, and I was like no, no, fight, punch, kick, but they can use the mouse better, so they won.” When I told her that I was level 24 and could fly (yeah, yeah, I know I can only jump really high, but it looks like flying. Superman could only jump at first…) she was dead impressed.

Anyway, Toller returned bemused to a table he’d left talking about “can younger men get it on with older women” to find them talking about Superheroes and games.

I have this effect on people, I guess.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."

Fascinating example of alternate history; Richard Nixon's draft speech informing the nation that the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission has been lost with all hands. Oddly, it parodies/rips off Rupert Brooke's The Soldier;

"That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England"

Curious. Fields have corners: planetoids don't, Dick.

Addendum: Fascinatingly, the astronauts weren't supplied with cyanide capsules to kill themselves in case they got stuck on the moon - the scientists reasoned that a much quicker suicide was simply to take their helmets off!
Schneier on Security: Hacking the Papal Election: "What are the lessons here? First, open systems conducted within a known group make voting fraud much harder. Every step of the election process is observed by everyone, and everyone knows everyone, which makes it harder for someone to get away with anything. Second, small and simple elections are easier to secure. This kind of process works to elect a Pope or a club president, but quickly becomes unwieldy for a large-scale election. The only way manual systems work is through a pyramid-like scheme, with small groups reporting their manually obtained results up the chain to more central tabulating authorities.

And a third and final lesson: when an election process is left to develop over the course of a couple thousand years, you end up with something surprisingly good."

Fascinating discourse on fixing the Papal election, again via Chris at the Virtual Stoa.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hee hee! Following a link from the anarchic, but normally rational Virtual Stoa, I find this, and piss valuable freelance time up the wall.

MORE Images here

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - Robotic camel riders are ready to race: "Camel racing is to be transformed as a spectator sport in the United Arab Emirates with robot riders taking the place of child jockeys."

Illustrations previously released show a system capable of leaning from side to side and pulling on the reins. Another sketch reveals a small system for remotely controlling the jockeys. An unnamed Swiss company was reportedly paid $1.3m to develop the robotic jockeys, which will be sold for around $5500 each.

"The logical extension is to develop an autonomous jockey," Iagnemma says. "And then, I guess, a robot camel."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

CSIRO - World's first blue rose: "It will be at least 3 years before blue roses will be commercially available in Australia, pending approval from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator for their commercial release."
Not Apathetic - They're not voting because...: "I've moved house and not been registered as a voter in my current area. I'd really like to spoil my ballot, but I've been unfortunately disenfranchised."
BBC NEWS | Election 2005 | Election 2005 | Which party is winning the air war?: "On the first full day of campaigning, Mr Blair and Mr Howard both opted for virtually identical helicopters - variations on the Sikorsky S-76, which is also used by the Royal Family.

Mr Howard opted for the more modern S-76C, while Mr Blair was in the older, but more powerful S-76B. Both have roughly the same top speeds and range."

Genius. Bang goes the Battle Bus. Apparently, Charlie is flying a carbon-neutral jet as he can't afford a chopper.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Been playing Ubisoft’s Silent Hunter an undue amount the last few days, a superlative submarine simulator for WWII. I was hunting a small merchantman out of Dover, having happened across it on the way to my patrol zone off East Anglia, when the seas started getting stormy. We almost lost the ship in the storm, but when everything subsided and the crew took their slickers off, we were right on its tail. We quickly dived before it had a chance to notice us, and upped the periscope, locking it onto the target. (Funny how in even virtual war people start becoming objects.)

I ordered the knackered crew into the torpedo room (we only had three torpedoes left of the maximum five, and I needed the team working at maximum efficiency to avoid wasting them) and started working out on the notepad, the angle, gyro settings (these early torpedoes are full of clockwork, so you can put a curve on them, and make them explode at a set time and distance). Then I let one go, and fired the second one off a few seconds later. Just before they were due to impact, we started surfacing, and I tracked the bubbles with my binoculars and the UZO, as they surfaced closer and closer to the boat, which hadn't noticed our rise from the depths. The first torpedo was a dud, but the second, the second erupted in a wave of wet metal and fire, right next to the ship. The boat listed, tried speeding up, and then started sinking stern first. Soon all there was left were cargo boxes floating on the waves.

Of course, with one torpedo left I wasn't a match for the armed trawler that happened across the area a few hours later, so had to flee, underwater, then pegged it hell for leather all the way back to Wilhelmshaven.

At no point did I remember I was in a computer game.

Silent Hunter - a merchant seaman gets a sinking feeling... Posted by Hello

The pope, I couldn’t care less about.

Though if you do, you should read Robert Silverberg's short story "Good News From The Vatican", which you can download here, and is available in bookshops here. I'll even lend it out if you ask nice. It's about a random group sat in a cafĂ© outside the Vatican, waiting for the white puff of smoke - the twist being they're divided over the papacy and whether a robot should really be one of the candidates…

This is the morning everyone has waited for, when at last the robot cardinal is to be elected Pope. There can no longer be any doubt of the outcome. The conclave has been deadlocked for many days between the obstinate advocates of Cardinal Asciuga of Milan and Cardinal Carcifo of Genoa, and word has gone out that a compromise is in the making. All factions now are agreed on the selection of the robot. This morning I read in Osservatore Romano that the Vatican computer itself has taken a hand in the deliberations. The computer has been strongly urging the candidacy of the robot. I suppose we should not be surprised by this loyalty among machines. Nor should we let it distress us. We absolutely must not let it distress us.

"Every era gets the Pope it deserves," Bishop FitzPatrick observed somewhat gloomily today at breakfast. "The proper Pope for our times is a robot, certainly. At some future date it may be desirable for the Pope to be a whale, an automobile, a cat, a mountain." Bishop FitzPatrick stands well over two meters in height and his normal facial expression is a morbid, mournful one. Thus it is impossible for us to determine whether any particular pronouncement of his reflects existential despair or placid acceptance. Many years ago he was a star player for the Holy Cross championship basketball team. He has come to Rome to do research for a biography of St. Marcellus the Righteous.

We have been watching the unfolding drama of the papal election from an outdoor cafe several blocks from the Square of St. Peter's. For all of us, this has been an unexpected dividend of our holiday in Rome; the previous Pope was reputed to be in good health and there was no reason to suspect that a successor would have to be chosen for him this summer.