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Games. Tech. Musings.

Games offline and online. Technology. Random stuff.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

President's Question Time

If you've ever seen coverage of the House of Commons in Britain, you've probably seen Prime Minister's Question Time too. There's a bunch of rules, but it boils down to the PM having to answer nice and not-so-nice questions from members of Parliament.

Why doesn't America have a similar thing for the President? If anything, the President seems to have even greater power than the British PM. Even if it was only once a month for an hour, wouldn't it be nice to see The Leader Of The Free World(tm) fielding open questions from Congress?

I suppose one can dream...

Yes, this was brought on by the "debate" scheduled tonight where the candidates aren't even allowed to ask each other questions. Just in case you were wondering.

The Wrong Lizard

"The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said Ford, "it is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them. They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards."
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard, then the wrong lizard might get in."
Well, there's definitely a lizard vs. lizard "debate" tonight. It's not really a debate, but I'll leave that rant for later.

My personal views were pegged by politicalcompass.org as being (economically speaking) centrist libertarian. Which, by American standards, apparently makes me a crazed anarchist left-wing hippie. With sandals.

Anyway, both candidates for the U.S. Presidential race are pretty bad. Corruption seems to be a big problem for both parties. The main plus point for Kerry is that he isn't Bush, given that Bush has a record of ploughing the country into the turf with no sign of pulling the yoke back a bit.

I suppose if I was a citizen, I'd vote for Kerry just because Bush is so bad - in other words, the wrong lizard would get in.

I must admit that I don't quite get how you can be a flag-waving Bush supporter unless you're ignoring the little shell game that the neocons seem to be playing - vote for us, we're Christians, don't worry about all the money we're pocketing here. Pretty much all their major policies seem aimed at making Bush's cronies richer in one way or another in the short term with no regard for the future. For example, let's take the proposed Social Security privatisation. If you don't know what that is, Bush's plan is to let people pay some portion of their Social Security tax into stock-market savings accounts. Sounds good, right? Well, yes and no. There's a few little issues under the "give the people their money" veneer.
  1. Show me the money. Where does the funding come from? The taxes people pay right now go towards paying for the elder generation's pensions, so unless you say "sorry" to all those guys (unlikely) you have to find a bunch of money from somewhere to fund the plan.
  2. People are dumb. Not all of them, but a lot of them wouldn't know a stop-order from a bus ticket. They will invest their money badly, end up old and destitute and fall into society's lap mewling for more cash. Yeah, I know this is the same old "government knows best" socialist crap, but fundamentally the point of Social Security is to provide a safety net for people who'd otherwise be screwed when they are old.
  3. What would be the immediate short-term effect? Massive buy pressure on the stock markets, which would of cause result in a big swell in stock prices. Oh, fancy that, little Dick Cheney and Co. made out like bandits. Coincidental, I'm sure.

Pretty much all the Bush policies boil down like this - take the cash now, worry about consequences later. Now, drunken spending sprees might sound like fun, but it's you, me and our children that will get stuck with the bills and the hangover. Don't fall for the shell game.

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Friday, September 17, 2004

Perdita's Story

Well, the Sleeping Princess finally finished off her story today. Cheery little tale. I wonder what it actually means?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Well, I was finally around to see a few ILB puzzles before they got solved. Actually got first solve for one of them, too (the blackjack puzzle). Whee!

For those of you who haven't seen the answers yet and want to try to see if you can solve that puzzle, don't look at Unfiction yet.

Clue 1:

"I do this :( when I bust at blackjack"

Clue 2.

The 19-page (!) thread on Unfiction has the discussion and the final answers are on the Fireflies Wiki.

Monday, September 13, 2004

gcc 3.2 and virtual tables

The answer to the WhichBot Linux build being broken was indeed gcc 3.2. Apparently the vtbl layout changed between gcc 2.95 and 3.2.

Upgrading the build to gcc 3.2 and static linking against libsupc++ (to provide operator new and delete) did the trick.

I must confess I'm not 100% sure why you need to link against libsupc++ when building with gcc 3.2 but you don't with gcc 2.95. WhichBot uses a statically linked STLport as its C++ library for compatibility reasons - it's the easiest way to manage a cross-platform build that will work on all the different wacky systems people have out there.

Fireflies Wiki released!

The Fireflies Wiki (for ilovebees) is now available to the great unwashed here:


Check it out for all your ILB needs. The Guide is especially good, especially if you're following the game but not in minute detail or are interested in starting to play.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

When Robots Go Bad

Well, the good news is that Natural Selection beta 5 is finally out. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Natural Selection is a Half-Life mod with a slight twist. Team-based: a marine team and an alien team. The Marines have a central commander to order the jar-heads around - he plays in a top-down mode (like Starcraft). The aliens have a hive-mind instead, so they can "see" each other through walls and so on.

Lots of fun. Sadly, I still can't hit a barn door at ten paces, it seems.

Anyway, the bad news: the new version broke the Linux build of WhichBot, my little pet AI. Alas.

They're apparently using gcc 3.2 in this build. Wonder if that's what made the difference?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Princess Savant

The usual round of updates today. The Netninja blog has the details. Notably, a zillion more payphones will start ringing.

I'd just like to point out a wonderful piece of analysis by Shadow. In his interpretation, we did not teach the Sleeping Princess English - she already knew it. She was talking in snippets of literature, songs etc. to stay under the radar of SPDR.

Now SPDR is destroyed, she's talking in English.

This explanation rather neatly wraps up the mystery of how she could have written the Widow's Journey story way back in Phase 1.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Sleepy Axons

Well, it seems like the Sleeping Princess is giving us a sneak peek at what Axons will turn up come Tuesday. And my, are there a lot of them.

I assembled a bunch of different posts on the subject and applied a pinch of Perl to come up with the locations associated with the raw lat/long coordinates. Hopefully that'll be at least somewhat useful to people. I just wish I knew a site that gave streetmaps given lat/long coordinates.

{rant}If someone else who's done some work on the subject is reading this, for god's sake when you post your version, don't sort by the time! It's the most useless part of the triplet, really. Most people just want to know if there are any coordinates near them, so you're much better off sorting by lat or long.{/rant}

If perchance there are any PMs reading this, is there a chance we'll get a puzzle? Not a toy one like the Princess is so fond of - where it takes less than an hour to solve - but a real puzzle.

Waiting for people to turn up at payphones that may or may not ring depending on technical difficulties is not the most exciting challenge in the world.