<M <Y
Y> M>

Dada Chess Statistics: At Kevan's suggestion I changed Dada Chess to keep track of how the games ended. I was tired of how slowly the numbers were ticking up, so over the weekend I ran several thousand games of chess on my PVR. Here are the statistics as of this writing. This is how chess games turn out when both players play randomly.

To avoid arbitrarily long games, Dada Chess forces resignation semi-randomly when the number of moves exceeds 500. Pretty much all of those games are destined to be draws. So 4459 draws (77.1%) total. About 16% of games have a winner, and there's no advantage to moving first.

[Comments] (3) Reality 2, Dreams 0:

S: My dream was wrong! I dreamed that people left two comments on my most recent weblog entry, and it didn't happen!
L: My dream was also wrong! I dreamed that Neil Gaiman came into my room while I was asleep and scratched an autograph into my nightstand with an Exacto knife!

: If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of this nutritious breakfast.

: The Center for Visual Music put together a $30 DVD of ten Oskar Fischinger films, which I bought even though it didn't have any of the films I specifically wanted. It's the only legit way to get copies of any of Fischinger's films, and all his stuff is great. The CVM sent this notice along with the DVD:


Public Performance rights are not included; the DVD may not be exhibited publicly, commercially or theatrically. The DVD may not be exhibited in museum or gallery exhibitions without obtaining additional licenses. The DVD or any of its contents may not be broadcast, cablecast or webcast in any manner. The DVD may not be duplicated, distributed or reproduced in whole or in part. The DVD may not be licensed to any institution or individual. The DVD may not be altered or excerpted in any way.

Here's the Oskar Fischinger quote from the DVD cover:

These films have no limitations on when they can be shown. Like a great work of music or a great painting, they will become more valuable with age. Because of its complete originality, this type of film knows no boundaries of time or fashion.

Causal Games: I don't generally enjoy negative reviews of my stuff, but I'll make an exception for Steve Pomeroy's port of robotfindskitten to Android. Steve's predicted review: "omg grafx r soo laaaaame... why isnt this cool liek quake 4 i dont get it u suks ★☆☆☆☆" And there were a number of fun reviews like that ('Quite possibly thee worst "game" ever'), but they were taken down, so clearly I posted this entry too late.

I do prefer an honest negative review to an ironical review like "Close to ps1 graphics. 5 stars."

: Hey hey! We bumped into Kris at the MoCCA faire and this evening I hung out with him and two other people whose names I immediately forgot! It was good times. Also seen at MoCCA: Ryan North and KATE BEATON. I went to writing group today and four of the six people came in with a story about going to MoCCA and meeting KATE BEATON. I heard a rumor that her name should be capitalized normally, but that's a little hard to swallow.

[Comments] (2) : I'm working on two major projects that aren't ready for unveiling yet, which is why I haven't written much here. One of these projects consists of a large number of small cleanup jobs that take 2-3 minutes to do. I wrote a script called gimme that picks one of the jobs at random and opens up all of its files in the relevant editors. I do the cleanup and the cleaned-up files are moved into a jobs-that-are-done directory. It's an addictive experience and I've been performing these little jobs at the expense of the other project, which is more interesting but for which progress is much less measurable.

Fun Fact: Did you know that in 1982, Ross Perot's son flew around the world in a helicopter?

[Comments] (2) : So far, Star Trek IV is the only original cast Trek movie that Sumana has wanted to watch in one sitting and stayed awake for the whole thing. Now on to Star Trek V! Just kidding. (Though I'm thinking of rewatching it to see if my previous musings on Sybok hold up.)

[Comments] (2) More Star Trek IV Stuff: Sumana was falling asleep:

L: What was your favorite part of the movie?
S: When Star Trek was swimming with the whales.
L: Star Trek?
S: Spock. I meant Spock.

(That's also my favorite part of the movie.) Sumana also pointed out that the reconstituted Spock in ST:IV is pretty much the same as Data at the beginning of ST:TNG, before they rounded out his character.

One of the more understated bits of humor in that movie is that while most of the Enterprise crew can't function in the 20th century, Sulu does fine. He's from San Francisco and he knows about old machines, so he just does his job with no problems.

This movie also puts into perspective one of the more unrealistic parts of the new Star Trek movie; Kirk getting a command assignment straight out of the Academy. There's still no excuse for that, but the first four Trek movies show that Kirk is very good at being a starship captain and very bad at any other job. So it's really the best use of his talents, though you wouldn't know that ahead of time.

[Comments] (3) Roy's Postcards: Still needs a little work, but I think it's ready to launch. Roy's Postcards is a new Crummy weblog that will feature a new scanned and transcribed postcard from the 1980s, every day for the next three years. Most of the postcards were written by my father, either as notes to himself or as letters to me and my sisters, sent while he was on one of his many business trips. Some of the postcards are quotidian, some are crazy or silly, some are emotionally charged. A lot of them have beautiful, interesting, or bizarre pictures on the front. I hope you'll give it a look.

This is the largest extant corpus of my father's writing and I've been trying to figure out the best way to present it since I discovered these postcards in 2006. I think the one-a-day format, in a weblog intended to be experienced through the RSS feed, is the best way to keep the presentation interesting. It'll give you a little visual break every day in your feed reader while letting me go into some detail on each postcard, point out funny things, and explain what needs to be explained.

Over the past week or so I've processed enough postcards to have a year's worth of backlog. I estimate my total time investment in this project at about 100 hours. Not bad for three years of daily entertainment.

[Comments] (8) : Added another 100 postcards to the pile. I'm going to keep going until I've done them all, rather than wait a year until the backlog runs out, because there are a few duplicate scans and I can eliminate them if I keep processing the postcards while they're fresh in my mind.

[Comments] (3) : I'm tired of frying tofu, so I just tossed it in oil and put it on a silicone sheet and baked it at 375 degrees. It worked fine. It's not 100% as good as fried tofu, but it's so much easier to make, and it cooks more evenly.

The other day, we saw a sign: "Area Rugs On Sale". "That's the worst Onion headline I've ever seen," I said.

[Comments] (1) : I enjoyed this picture that uses airplane imagery as the background for a video game. There was a brief vogue for this kind of thing in the year after Google Maps launched, but the games weren't terribly good (they were Javascript games integrated directly into GM) and I'd like to see something more sophisticated. Thanks to GM it's pretty easy to grab scrolling tiles of much of the earth at decent resolution--I did it for Dada Maps.

[Comments] (1) : If I'd been smart I would have started the Roy's Postcards today, it being Father's Day. But I've spent over half my life not celebrating Father's Day and somewhere along the line I forgot it even exists. I said hi to Sumana's father today, though.

I got a huge amount of writing done yesterday. Today not so much. I really hope I can show you this soon (ie. by the end of the year--it's a big project). Most of what you're seeing from me this year is sparks thrown off from this project or things I'm doing to procrastinate or recover from working on it.

Recently an article made the rounds of my syndication feeds, to the effect that you shouldn't even mention things you're working on until they're done, because your brain treats announcing a project as work on the project. If you look at my very early weblog entries they're full of promises I never followed up on. But after about 2000 I generally follow this rule, albeit sometimes to my detriment--I should have announced RESTful Web Services earlier to get more feedback. This time I'm happy to work on a big project in semi-silence because I'm still not convinced I can pull it off.

[Comments] (5) The Enormous Egg: Going through postcards I was reminded of a book from my childhood, The Enormous Egg, about a triceratops that hatches from a hen's egg and throws the nation into turmoil. I looked up the book online and saw people claiming it had a political subtext, so I decided to Bookmooch it and reread.

The book arrived today and I reread it. The political subtext is only sub-textual if you're a kid, but it did its job. Pretty much everything in the book is part of my adult philosophy, right down to the ham-handed satirical dialogue I write for government employees. Highly recommended assuming you want your kid to turn out like me.

The illustrations are also awesome. My main complaint (also mentioned in the postcard, which will show up sometime in the next 3 years) is that if a chicken gave birth to an evolutionary throwback it would be a theropod, not a saurichian like Triceratops.

When I mentioned this book to Sumana she immediately countered with Homer Price (the book with the story about the donut machine), which I remember being really good. I was also considering John Fitzgerald's Great Brain books for the "lesser-known but awesome childrens' books" list, but those books have a pretty good Amazon sales rank (they're outselling RESTful Web Services) so they're not as obscure as I thought.

[Comments] (1) : We bought copies of my three favorite Miyazaki movies and I noticed that the titles form a story: "Kiki's Delivery Service Spirited Away My Neighbor Totoro."

[Comments] (4) : I read Marc Levinson's book The Box, about the history of containerized shipping, and I had an epiphany. Creative epiphanies are rare for me and when they do happen they're usually not very interesting. I was on the plane coming back from Barcelona and I thought: "Dada Chess". I wrote down "Dada Chess" in my notebook, and when I got home I wrote Dada Chess. Not that interesting. (But now over 10k games played!)

But for the better part of the decade I've been trying to come up with some fiendish plot involving shipping containers. Wednesday I was reading on the subway, when I looked up and envisioned a shipping container with the logo of an organization from my current writing project. I thought: Why would they make shipping-- and then I knew why. One of this organization's plot points makes one of my old shipping container schemes usable. It took years to create, but it fits together.

The feeling you get when everything fits together is a drug that I'm addicted to. It's why I write and read and play games. Like all drugs it's probably not good for me on balance, but unlike other drugs it produces things of value as a side effect.

[Comments] (3) Dada Chess Addendum: The last time I did some Dada Chess statistics, White checkmated 7.8% of the time and Black checkmated 8.1% of the time. That was with 5787 games played and I thought it wasn't a significant difference. But now with 13308 games played, White checkmates 7.6% of the time and Black checkmates 8.4% of the time. The total percentage of checkmates is pretty much the same (15.86% then, 15.96% now).

The numbers are large and steady enough that I'm starting to wonder if there is some significant advantage in Dada Chess to not moving first. I can't think of what it could be.

[Comments] (1) You Will Go To See Moon: You should, anyway. It's a good movie. I'll see pretty much any movie set on the moon (offer not good for other celestial bodies) and this is one of the best. It's got beautiful visuals, the characterization is great, and the callbacks to precursors (2001 and Silent Running) are well-done and often extremely inventive. But I can't leave well enough alone, I have to pick at things.

There's artistic license stuff like sound in space and stars visible from the lunar surface during the daytime. That stuff doesn't really bother me, and Moon at least gave alternate POVs for most of the sound you heard while the camera was in vacuum. There's stuff that would just be too expensive to get right, like filming all the scenes in lunar gravity. Moon did get the exterior scenes right. And then there's... the whole premise of the movie. Which doesn't make any sense.

And the movie knows it. As in many movies, there's a scene where the characters nibble around the fact that the premise doesn't make any sense, and then defuse it with a joke and move on. I call this the "Gremlins 2" solution. I wasn't even happy about it in Gremlins 2, which played it for laughs. I'm sorry but I can't let it go.

It's a good enough movie that I keep thinking of ways to tell similar stories without doing anything nonsensical. While the movie was going on I coped with the situation by deciding I was watching a horror movie. Horror movies work on the logic of nightmares, where something like what happens in Moon can make sense. But it's not satisfying to me as science fiction.

The other thing I was worried about was that this movie would be so similar to a story I wrote that I'd never be able to sell the story, but despite some shared inspirations the stories are pretty different. Not that I'll ever sell that story!

[Comments] (2) : Edits for "Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs" are done. Hopefully you'll be able to read it in July or August.

Another data point I'm not sure what to do with (see Dada Chess weirdness passim) is that both stories I've sold had their origin in weblog entries I posted to NYCB. "Mallory" was the end result of this bizarre entry, and "Awesome Dinosaurs" was the end result of this more-obviously-an-idea entry. I sold both stories to the first market I sent them to, though for both I had to do a revision and resubmit. If a story didn't start in this weblog, I haven't been able to sell it.

<M <Y
Y> M>


Unless otherwise noted, all content licensed by Leonard Richardson
under a Creative Commons License.