Toddler Zork

The life of a 14-month-old is probably a lot like being trapped in a text-based adventure game.

> "Ba-boo! Ba-boo!"
This request is not understood.
> "Puffs! More!"
You cannot perform this action at this time.
> N
You toddle north. There is a couch blocking your way.
> climb couch
You are about two inches too short to climb the couch.

YUI Raptors Will Eat Your Face

To my surprise, it turns out I have some influence over which animal will appear on the cover of the book. So I threw the question out on the internal YUI team IRC channel. As expected, the results were unsatisfactory.

To protect the guilty, all IRC nicks have been further anonymized.

  • [3:12pm] evangoer: Okay, important business.
  • [3:12pm] evangoer: My editor tells me that while I cannot choose the O’Reilly animal for the cover,
  • [3:12pm] evangoer: I can send her a list of suggestions.
  • [3:12pm] evangoer: So: floor is open
  • [3:12pm] MrPink: NARWHAL
  • [3:12pm] evangoer: ooh good start
  • [3:12pm] MrPink: Failing that, Moby Dick.
  • [3:12pm] MrPink: Or, really, any albino sperm whale.
  • [3:13pm] MrBrown: t. rex
  • [3:13pm] MrWhite: camel spider?
  • [3:13pm] evangoer: I was going to say velociraptor, but T Rex > Velociraptor
  • [3:13pm] evangoer: way too scary, Mr. White
  • [3:13pm] MrPink: If there’s a camel spider on the book, it will never enter my house.
  • [3:13pm] MrWhite: Has someone taken the angler fish?
  • [3:13pm] evangoer: yup bad marketing
  • [3:14pm] MrBrown: ditto
  • [3:14pm] evangoer: female or male angler fish?
  • [3:14pm] MrWhite: haha
  • [3:14pm] MrOrange: Velociraptors are scarier than T. Rex, IMHO.
  • [3:14pm] MrBlonde: Yeti Crab
  • [3:14pm] MrBrown: If they want a list, we should put both
  • [3:14pm] evangoer: yes but T. Rex kicked their butts in Jurassic park 1
  • [3:14pm] MrWhite: velociraptors are a fad (like the internet). T Rex has stood the test of time.
  • [3:15pm] MrOrange: True. But T. Rex couldn’t enter the computer room and kitchen.
  • [3:15pm] MrBrown: Mr. White: Good point.
  • [3:15pm] MrPink: YUI is clever. Like a raptor.
  • [3:15pm] MrPink: Also, learning YUI will help you open doors.
  • [3:15pm] MrOrange: Mr. Pink++
  • [3:15pm] evangoer: YUI will crunch through your problems like the jaws of a T. Rex.
  • [3:16pm] MrBlonde: Red Panda ‘(“shining cat,” from a Latinized form of the Greek, ailouros, “cat,” and the participial form of the Latin fulgere, “to shine”)’
  • [3:16pm] MrPink: Also, it’s modular. The modules work together to overcome problems, in much the same way that raptors work together to eat your face.
  • [3:16pm] MrWhite: Isn’t there a flying snake?
  • [3:16pm] MrPink: Mr. White: HOLY HELL WHERE KILL IT
  • [3:16pm] MrBrown: I think its a common misnomer that the T Rex is not as smart as the v-raptor. A consensus of paleontologists agree the T Rex is as smart as they come.
  • [3:16pm] MrPink: That said, as awesome as raptors are, narwhals are infinitely awesomer.
  • [3:17pm] MrWhite: 9 out of 10 paleontologists agree…
  • [3:17pm] MrBrown: Apparently, they are the most intelligent hunter evah
  • [3:17pm] evangoer: oooh the red panda is cute!
  • [3:17pm] MrPink: 1 out of 1 paleontologists I live with would agree with Mr. Brown’s stance on T-Rexes.
  • [3:17pm] evangoer: “its population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals.” Well that’s YUI for sure.
  • [3:17pm] MrBlue: So, technically an animal: the YUI J-Pop star in illustration format on the cover?
  • [3:18pm] MrPink: 1 out of 1 paleontologists I live with would also like me to recommend the humble compsognathus, which she thinks is cute: http: //
  • [3:18pm] MrBrown: Mr. Blue: thread winner!!!
  • [3:18pm] MrPink: Mr. Blue: Ha.
  • [3:18pm] MrBlonde: We should get the “Distinct George” on the cover..
  • [3:21pm] evangoer: Alright, well fantastic work, gentlemen. Will send this out to O’Reilly post-haste.

It’s Not Pharmacy Spam, It’s My *Art*, Damnit

When their comments are deleted, trolls typically complain about “censorship.” But an enterprising troll on Making Light, after having a previous comment disemvoweled, had the following interesting new angle. (Note that his post complaining about disemvoweling was also disemvoweled, but I have re-emvoweled this excerpt as best I could. Just one of the many services we provide.)

If [a] past comment here still keep the copyright [i]n [i]t (according to several experts, including [E]FF) is censoring it by removing vowels and turning it into gibberish is not only rude, it’s downright illegal.

Interestingly, the troll included the EFF as one of the “several experts” on copyright law who agreed with him. That made me curious — what does the EFF actually say about disemvoweling?

I’m upset that a moderator disemvowelled my comments. Is that illegal?

No. While we are aware of no court cases regarding disemvowelling, removing the vowels from a post is a form of criticism and commentary on that post. Even if it not explicitly permitted by the blog’s terms of use or an acceptable use policy, a court would likely consider the edit to be a fair use of your comment.

Well, what does the EFF know anyway? Buncha hippies. Hippies who are also lawyers. Hippies who are also lawyers based in San Francisco. Really, does it get any worse than that?

Quite frankly, I think that the safest legal interpretation is that once a troll or spammer deposits their droppings on your forum or blog, it becomes Sacred Text, protected by the full force of US Copyright law, WIPO, and most likely God Herself. Personally, I just hope I’m covered by fair use for daring to excerpt the troll’s comment. And for that matter, for excerpting the EFF. Although I’m somewhat less afraid of the EFF, ’cause you know, hippies — pfft.

Time for Some Good Old-fashioned Embezzling

Today I received the following mail from Amazon:

Dear *****,

Greetings from the Amazon Honor System.

We wanted to let you know that we have initiated transfer of the
balance of your Amazon Honor System account to your checking account.
It may take your bank several business days to record the transfer.


Here is the receipt for the transfer:
Date: 07-Apr-2009
Amount: $1.40
Last Digits: ****

Your Amazon Honor System balance will be automatically transferred to
your checking account every 14 days. You may also transfer the funds to
your checking account manually if your account balance is at least $1.00.

To view your account summary at any time, visit:

Thank you for participating in the Amazon Honor System.

Best regards, Customer Service

At first, I was like, “whaa-a?” But then I remembered — oh yeah, the Amazon Honor System! It was all the rage six, seven, eight years back. Remember how all those warbloggers in late 2001 had these plaintive little buttons in their sidebars, “Hi, $username! Please donate to this blog!” (I was like, whoa, freaky! How is this blog talking to me?)

Well, all good things come to an end, and it looks like the payment system that helped launch the blogosphere as we know it — thanks Amazon! — is finally shutting down.

I had to scratch my head to remember why I was getting a notification from Amazon. I mean, I’m not a pathetic warblogger — I can actually afford to pay for my website my own damn self. But then I remembered… the infamous Save Ken Lay campaign of 2002! Against all odds, it turns out that people were not immune to Linda Lay’s heartfelt plea about her husband’s plight. These generous souls managed to scrape together a grand total of $1.40 to help Mr. and Mrs. Lay in their hour of need. I think we’ve all learned a lesson here: never underestimate the power of the Internet to help people come together and make the world just a little brighter.

Unfortunately, it appears the Lay family’s hour of need is long past. So I think I’ll be spending that money on beer instead.

Unsolicited Investment Advice for Mur

So it appears that Mur has been [laid off by her company right before the holidays]( Even we non-Christmas-celebrating folks know that *that’s* not right. What a bunch of Scroogey McScroogersons!

Fortunately it sounds like Mur is doing all the right things, which almost as valuable as cold, hard cash. Even better, she has a severance package, which as it turns out is *exactly* as valuable as cold, hard cash.

Now as a [veteran of the Silicon Valley layoff scene]( (seriously, there’s a scene, with red carpets and paparazzi and everything), I feel qualified to offer Mur some advice. Specifically about that severance package. See, Mur might be tempted to run off and spend that money on something irresponsible, like videogames. In particular, she might be looking at Rock Band Special Edition with guitar, drum set, and microphone. Oh sure, it *sounds* like it would be fun to have a Christmas morning jam session with your husband and daughter, where right as the final chords are fading away, you all extend a Lafferty Family upraised middle finger, “Merry Christmas, you spineless incompetent corporate bastards!”

But think about it — would that actually be *spiritually satisfying*? Would that bond you as a family? I think the question answers itself. Far better to put that money into something responsible. Like T-bills! Or wheat germ!

As an aside, Mur also suggests playing Arkham Horror over the holidays. Once again, I would argue that Cthulhu-based games are insufficiently light-hearted and family-oriented during this time of great crisis and international brou-ha-ha and so forth. To quote Joshua Falken, perhaps the best and most famous game reviewer of all time, “How about a nice game of Quirkle?”

November is Starting to Look Up

This journal has turned six years old. Yes, now we are six. Huzzah! I’d like to give thanks to my blogmother M’ris, as well as the AMD Corporation, without whom I wouldn’t have had anything to write about during those dark early days.

And I am turning thirty-three tomorrow. Thirty-three means you are seriously into your thirties. When you’re thirty or thirty-one, you can still think of yourself as a late twenty-something. But thirty-three? You are pot-committed. There’s just no going back.

In other news, one of the Lawyers, Guns, and Money guys is giving a lecture at the University of Alaska Southeast about how November really is the cruelest month:

The night will include an examination of the birth of Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet (Nov. 25, 1915); the mass murder/suicide in Jonestown (Nov. 18, 1978);
and the bloody St. Brice’s Day Massacre (Nov. 13, 1002).

“There’s a lot about nuclear weapons and aerial warfare,” Noon said. “There’s also
a number of things that have to do with the French Revolution…

Pretty grim stuff. But wait — who’s that cape-clad figure swooping in through the window — !

That’s right, it’s Mighty Mur, serving up a heaping dish of truth, justice, and free podcasted superhero novel! Mur was kind enough to hand me a draft copy of Playing For Keeps a while back, and so I can assure you that this novel is, in fact, made of awesome and win. But check it out for yourself.

I’m feeling better about this month already.