Thursday, September 30, 2010

Holy Liver Cancer, Batman!

Feeling a little upbeat this morning... Tumor humor. A myocardial infarction, a hepatocellular carcinoma, and a mild case of acne head uptown for Happy Hour. "Triple bypass," says the m.i., "and I feel great!" "That ain't nothing," says the HPCC, "the doc put a hole in my liver and burned out the tumor, so the cancer's gone and I feel great!" The case of mild acne says nothing at all for a moment, but slaps her gold badge on the countertop and pulls out a CZ 75 SP-01 Phantom from somewhere on her slim frame. "Barkeep," she says. "Switch it over to Warehouse 13, ok?"

Seems funny to me.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Narthex

I didn't know this place is the Narthex. The penny drops. Barthandelus 3 was easy. The next one, not so much.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Wish fulfillment

Do goblins, imps and minor elves
          live magic lives?
Far less, I feel, than paupers
          live like billionaires.
Or else do they like drunkards do
          imbibe the Moon, and all is well.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Final Fantasy 13

I could go on. Don't these characters ever smile without a script? I'm done. Zirnitra is too much. I declare my game over. Match play, and inside the leather.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Hong Kong

Remember Push and Dakota Fanning? The real hero of that film — it's not big enough to qualify as a "movie" — is the city.

I'd like someday to lead a charmed life in Hong Kong, maybe as a Chomsky-school linguist. Whatever, just so I can rub elbows with the color and commerce of that place, and speak fluent Cantonese.

I cast my absentee ballot yesterday. Held my nose and voted the straight Democratic ticket, to retain all judges, against all Constitutional amendments and other harebrained initiatives (that's what our gutless Legislature is for!), and left the "Pick 5" when there are only 5 candidates running blank. Like, maybe I'll be in Hong Kong on election day.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Orphan's Cradle to Oerba, and Back Again

Chances are you'll get lost in Mah'habara trying to get back from Oerba. Just remember that Atomos takes you to Sulyya Springs, whichever of the two docking stations you leave from. Or else if you're at Sulyya Springs, he takes you to the middle of Mah'habara. So, to get out of Mah'habara and back to the Archylte Steppes you have to jump over Atomos, then hug the left wall until you get out.

The graphic is a bit mysterious. To clarify, Atomos is a huge, rolling metal sphere with red hot teeth like a buzz saw. Left to itself, it rampages around cutting out new tunnels. If you find it docked, you can board him and ride to Sulyya Springs — or back again to the middle of the map.

You should already know how to go from Vallis Medea to Orphan's Cradle, and vice versa.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Tesseracts

Just what is a tesseract anyway? I thought I knew... Lessee, now... [Merriam-Webster] n. the four-dimensional analogue of a cube. What I thought.

Final Fantasy 13 conflates the concept with platform cataract, apparently. As environments go, it's weird enough.

This part of the game is not my cup of tea, but then I discovered that by examining Eden, it's possible to return to the beginning of Orphan's Cradle, and from there head back to Gran Pulse or Edenhall to level up a bit. These are all round trips.

Saw a brown preying mantis ca. 6" long on our mailbox this afternoon. It was taking shelter from the downpour whipping around the front porch.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Today is...

Respect for the Aged Day (in Japan).

Day after tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of Fall. Curiously Anglophilic Neo-pagans call it "Mabon," or Harvest Home. Wyrd.

Jabberwock and Bandersnatch are defeated (rather handily), but... Why are they in this game? Is that pointless episode part of Mid-Victorian Fantasy XIII?

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Orphan's Cradle

The Proudclad 2 has a weakness, it turns out. Toward the end, it doesn't recover, so keep hitting it. You do have to stay alive, though ;-) After that, it's on to Chapter 13, and a somewhat unexpected chance to level up for awhile before taking on the final bosses. You come upon a couple of warp portals, and you can drop back down to Gran Pulse for awhile and look around for chocobos or whatnot. Or go back to Edenhall. The portals are two-way affairs, so there's no reason not to. Barthandelus III will keep for a bit, or even, considering the downbeat ending if you've been reading ahead, maybe for months.


Saturday, September 18, 2010


I was pondering the fates of Didi, Gogo and Godot once again, since potentially lethal medical conditions tend to focus the mind on absurdities, when I wondered suddenly about the boy who keeps Godot's goats and shows up from time to time with the predictable news that Godot, who never comes, is not coming.

He has a brother, who looks after sheep. Godot beats the boy who keeps sheep, but not the boy who keeps goats. Does that not tell you anything, if I may so ask? I always wanted a bowler hat.

Matthew 25:32


Friday, September 17, 2010

News from the Arpaio Gulag: SCOTUS gets it right!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'll grant you, mordant commentary on the world I live in isn't everybody's cup of ear wax.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reflection on Seijogakuenmae

No matter where you are, there you are — bored out of your freaking skull by the same old same old of it all. Life happens among the friends you love and need, not immersed in the mercantile architecture that once seemed so odd and refreshingly different.

That means travelling with friends, I suppose. Or learning the language and making friends?

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We Know Where You Live

There was a young lady in green
Who cloys wherever she's seen
    She's not quite as sweet
    as she seems, since her feet
are shod with a gastropod's slime.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Proudclad 2! Again?!

Hey, there he is again! And you have to wade through of bunch soapflake c'ieth to get to him! And a rabid cauliflower! Apparently, he's blocking the door to Chapter 13 though, so... no help for it. Time to cheat and look him up on Youtube. (Knock it off! Sun Tsu says intelligence-gathering is ok.)

The path to this point relied on some cheap tricks with jump points, but it didn't slow me down for long.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Proudclad... pfffftt!

Cerberus and Evened Odds and Combat Clinic, I think 'twas. Right now, though, I'm lost in a maze of (easy) monsters all battling each other — and Y.T. if one has gotten too close. It's like a catalog of all that's come before. Nice touch. But I haven't found the way out yet.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Waiting for the other moonshoe to drop...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Firefox 3.6.9

Ha! Excellent update! The new Firefox version 3.6.9 has shed the "glacial slowness" that plagued it the last three iterations. Page loads seem snappy now, even new uncached pages. I'm happy.

The only issue was the warning after installation to also update Adobe flash to 10.1. However, Ubuntu uses a flashplayer-plugin package (re)installable through Synaptic, so the warning seems to be superfluous and perhaps aimed at other distros, such as Gentoo or Suse or RedHat.

In any case, the Adobe site has no Ubuntu-specific version of the program you're supposed to install, and if you manually download and run the Debian version, you learn that Adobe's version 10.1 flash conflicts with the flashplayer-plugin already installed by Ubuntu. I checked to make sure flashplayer-plugin is version 10.1 (it is) — now ignoring the issue altogether. Everything seems to be working ok — YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

Interestingly, my daughter did not see the warning on Ubuntu Karmic, but I got it on Lucid.

The thing I hate about technology is its coyly symbiotic relation to art, to the point they create virtual worlds more realistic, but less real, than this one. I blame it on Gutenberg and the invention of Monopoly money. Not that I'd mind spending a year or two in Rabanastre.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

How to dispose of electronic copies of the Qu'ran

People get enormously upset about disposing of old, worn-out, unused or unusable copies of the Koran — the sheer offense given by burning a Koran is nearly beyond the pale of Western imagination, scarcely to be believed.

So what is the approved method? According to those moderate Islamic sources I've been able to locate on the net, always bearing in mind that there are immoderate Islamic voices out there too, your choices are A) wrap the book(s) in a clean cloth and bury them in the ground well off the beaten path, or B) wrap them up in a clean bundle, weigh them down and throw them into a river or into the sea. The third option, C), is allowed when the first two options are not possible; and that is, to erase the names of Allah, the Prophets and the various angels, then burn the remaining no-longer-sacred body of the book.

The more elaborate the ritual, the nuttier the fruitcake, speaking of the more extreme adherents who would have you not merely bury the Koran(s), but enshrine them in stone-lined pits with slate roofs, and the like.

It is option C which points directly to how to dispose of an ebook copy of the Koran (such as Zekr) that, for one reason or other you need to delete. You should use secure remove, i.e., srm in Linux or Macintosh OS X. This routine, which may or may not already be installed on your laptop, applies Peter Guttman's 35-step algorithm to the unneeded files(s) to erase names (and everything else, including all content) in an utterly unrecoverable fashion — no trace of the Koran will remain on the laptop.

(The GNU Core Utilities on Linux also offer shred, another excellent file scrubber.)

This is not official, not halal in any sense, because I am not even Muslim. I could be wrong, but if this sort of thing worries you, then SRM seems to be a good solution "in the spirit of the law" to a very modern problem. Merely deleting a file normally removes only the location of the file proper from an index; the file remains until it is gradually overwritten. In comparison, SRM scrambles the bits of the file beyond recovery, then scrambles the index entry, then deletes the index entry. Gone.

Of course, if you don't have srm or shred or something similar, then it should be consonant with the spirit of option B to simply delete the files. As noted above, all this really does is to mark the file space for reuse by removing the pointer to the file, so the net effect is like plunging the old data into the twin streams of Time and Entropy. Very riparine.

Truth to tell, there is nothing quite so mischievous as finding trouble where no trouble was. Hope that helps ;-)

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What if your "morning after" starts with a fatwah?

The lunatic Reverend Terry Jones, who claims he'll burn about 200 English translations of the Koran this Saturday, is like a meth addict right now — high as a kite. There's no reasoning with him, and for his own safety he should be taken into protective custody and sent up the river for deprogramming. Considering the inestimable damage to U.S. troops on the ground, to Americans abroad, and to the consciences of the silent at home that Jone's defiant book-burning will cause, I'd recommend slapping him with at least a $20 billion bill for the clean-up in Afghanistan alone.

What's the provenance of those Korans, by the way? Has Amazon been getting a spike in Koran sales? Or are Public Libraries missing a lot of overdue Korans? Have U.S. citizens who happened to be Muslim been mugged for their Korans? Have canny Tea Party booksellers dumped a lot of bad-selling inventory on the (ironically named) Dove World Outreach Center as a way to recover losses from publishers who want the overstock burned anyway?

Just as yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater is NOT protected speech, Jones' raving for the "minions of Hell" to carry him away to his private vision of the promised land is not only irrational, stupid, ignorant and a criminally mixed metaphor, his theological crime is nothing less than despair: His intent is suicidal.

Consider the maniacal fury of those minority fringe elements of Islam who are just as crazy as Jones is. There will be a morning after, and the outcome is plainly obvious, plainly predictable. There's history: Salman Rushdie got slapped with a fatwah (sanctioned murder of an infidel) from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini for satirizing the Koran — which forced him into years of hiding from persistent and credible threats.

The Kool-Aid is coming to the irreverent, and in the long run absurdly irrelevant, Mr. Jones.

"Satire" may be far too mild a word, since the offending passages exceed "irreverent skepticism" by several lightyears. John Barth is another seldom read academic who writes with a pisdip pen for the sheer perverse fun of it, but Rushdie seemed bent on martrydom considering how well he knew his audience.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

According to my t-shirt...

I have the body of a god.

Unfortunately, it's Buddha.

Cancer notwithstanding, my rotundity also makes me by the world's standards a wealthy man. The gods are toying with us.

Speaking of toying with the gods, I've inched along and am now trying to get past the Proudclad in Chapter 12. The end of the game must be nearby. From Barthandelus in Oerba onwards, the game gets tedious, without much in the way of rewards.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

May Day everywhere else in the world...

So how do you honor the "dignity of labor?" Contempt for wage slaves? Long hours without overtime? Redefining your 24-7 workers as "self-employed" contract labor, so you don't have to pay unemployment insurance, health or retirement benefits or paid vacation? Or worse, German style mandated paid vacation?

Labor management is a fraud in the United States. We should line 'em all up against the wall. That's my take on "Labor Day."

Since that's not likely to happen, we should give the Republicanians everything they want until the entire economic system collapses and American workers are herded out of suburbia and into the great proletarian gulags of corporate agriculture. The ultra-rich have to eat first, you know.

If there were no King, the strong would devour the weak.
                  — The Laws of Manu (IIRC)


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Barthandelus 2..... phhhhht!

It took awhile. No cheats or easy ways out that I'm aware of. Just hit him hard and often until he staggers orange, then hit him harder and faster. Oh, yeah, and stay alive, meaning heal up. Nothing fancy: Ruthless, Combat Clinic, Relentless Assault. Equip reducing items for 30% daze, 30% poison. You need to stay in the game. You'll need an eidolon toward the end. It won't take B. out, but it will heal up your party. Then once more from the beginning. With feeling. Max out your Level 4 CP players, and don't use low-level players in crucial roles. Grind, if necessary.

I used Lightning, Fang and Vanille. Your tastes may vary...

The Vanille theme is available on the Extras menu option when you beat this obstacle.

Hmmm... Final Fantasy has one resonant theme throughout its many incarnations, 13 so far — short shrift for entities which set themselves up to be gods and demand worship from human scum. No matter how subtle, no matter how persuasive or awe-inspiring, whether Occuria or fal'Cie or whatever, the human scum invariably finds itself revolting ... and humiliating the high-maintenance pretenders to godhood.

In the end, playing these games through to conclusion leaves you with two huge impressions: a) there are deeper dungeons than these, and b) there are deeper, cooler heavens than those we've seen so far. As explorations of the human will to spiritual life, these games rank above the Pilgrim's Progress and maybe even reach as far as Tolstoy — Mikhail Bulgakov at least.

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Tin-Shi Tam

I'd rather have heard Led Zepellin's Stairway to Heaven, myself. The iPhoned Bad Romance sounded kinda tinky plinky on laptop earbuds.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Yas I said "huygenics," you crazy kids. Can't you read interferrific?


Fire Dragon/Black Sun/Arabesque

I saw the sun blotted out by a black disc of storm clouds, writhing with tornadoes descending upon us directly in front of my eyes. Crimson light shone through one tendril of reaching anger.

No idea what it means. Just a dream. Oh, yeah, and my private helicopter didn't work either... but maybe I'm reconnected to myself.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Joe Arpaiao's back below the fold

According to the New York Times, Arpaio is tweeting in self-defense that he's not the sheriff who kills a pregant Mexican mother to stop her from giving birth in the United States.

"Obama administration officials called the suit the first time in 30 years that the federal government had to sue to compel a law enforcement agency to cooperate with an investigation concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

It honestly never occurred to me to take Machete seriously, but hey, if Joe's given it his stamp of disapproval...

(Does Sheriff Joe even wear suits?)


Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Hurrah, next to December my favorite month.