Caveat: Venter

Think about all of the things that make your brain itch. These are mine.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Mah Baby Got an F

OK, that's not entirely fair. My game, I have been told, does not have marketability. Yeah, like I didn't think that was an issue from the start. Yes, it's a let-down, but it is no surprise. As great as it would have been to hear that Avalon Hill would be putting me into the 2006 rotation, the numbers were against me. Heavily.

Look at the marketplace. Count the number of games that have come out in the last 25 years that do not have one of the following: shouting, trivia, clay. Let's face it, this is a party game market, and things are years from changing here in the U.S. Now I need to look into smaller manufacturers or find someone who is willing to develop a computer version.

Does anyone who reads this do computer programming? Wait. Does anyone read this? OK, sitemeter says I have a couple who pop in every now and then, but not many. Oh well. Here I had dreams that one unit would sell before 2010. Just one unit. That's not too much to ask, is it? That one person in one game store somewhere in the world would try my game one time before putting it on one shelf where it could gather dust for the rest of its days?

There is hope, but it remains as a sliver. The dream, founded, as dreams tend to be, not on reality but on delusion, has passed. Maybe that's good. Maybe now I will get the lead out and market the hell out of this thing until some company decides to take a chance. Maybe I just need 20 prototypes to give away to friends and family. It's difficult to know, really.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Too Damned Sick!

I thought that I had heard enough to be immune to the shock of money-making schemes online, but I was wrong. Let me back up a moment here. My Critical Thinking students have to compile a Fallacy Notebook for next Friday. To do this, they check out arguments (letters to the editor, blogs, ads, etc.) in any form(s) of media they wish, selecting ten that stand as examples of different logical fallacies (they may only use any given fallacy only once and associate only one fallacy with each source). One student brought in something disturbed us.

Apparently, one man (oh, how degrading to the gender this is!) rescued a rabbit a few months back and nursed him back to health. An enterprising fellow, he decided that he could use the rabbit, now named Toby, to make a little cash, so he start

Now, Toby is not sick, not old, not mauled by a cat. In fact, Toby is in good health by his owner's accounting. Still, unless his owner receives $50,000 in donations by the end of June, Toby becomes a mid-summer main course (recipes are available on the site). Tell me, am I wrong for being disturbed by this? "Give me money or I will kill my pet rabbit, which I rescued and nursed back to health." Nice one. Think he's just showing off his marketing skills? Maybe, but he has already gotten, as of this writing, over $15,000 in donations (that's almost $2,000 between 2/8 and 2/20, folks).

Does this fall into the realm of private rights, or can the SPCA do something here. The law, wherever this twit may live, may regard Toby as property to be cared for and raised of butchered (he has promised to use a real butcher) and eaten. I'm no animal rights activist, but come on! There are limits to decency, and this is a few steps over the line. I'd like to hear your ideas, and maybe we can start a "Free Toby" campaign (I do not want your money, I want your ideas and your suppport).

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Yeah, I'm early. So Sue Me!

Look, I am functioning on no real sleep, so I will go to bed soon. In light of that fact, here is my Friday random 10, one hour early (those east of the Pacific time zone will say it's OK).

"In Too Deep" by Genesis, from Invisible Touch
"Heart Of The Sunrise" by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, from An Evening of YES Music Plus
"The Shadow Of The Past" by Howard Shore, from The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
"The Old Apartment" by Barenaked Ladies, from Rock Spectacle
"Jungleyes" by Simon Phillips, from Another Lifetime
"Toilet" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, from Love Is The Devil
"And You And I (live)" by Yes, from Yesyears
"Onward" by Yes, from Tormato
"Fortune Selller" by Yes, from Open Your Eyes
"Somehow, Someday" by Yes, from Open Your Eyes

I swear this was on random! Jon Anderson with ABWH (great tour, by the way) and later four Yes tunes in a row, the last two from one album? Oh, it may have something to do with my being a Yes fan, but this is WAY out of proportion. And no, for you iTunes users, I was not using ratings-weighted Party Shuffle.


I've been burying myself away, and that's generally not good. As the month has progressed, I have found myself thinking more and more about the applications I have out there and about my board game. The result has been that I have found distractions closer to home: things to edit and revise, plans for when and with whom I will play bridge at the Los Angeles regional, anything to avoid thinking about the next couple of weeks.

See, schools take a couple weeks to review applications and decide which applicants get interviews, and we are rapidly approaching the point at which one will have had two weeks. Another is coming close on the heels of that first one. Then there is a two-week window in which I want a letter. The first letters are offers of interviews, and only after those are sent and enough interviews scheduled does the school send out the letters thanking the other couple hundred for applying. Every day I don't get a letter means my chances go down.

Add to that my game. The company received my submission on the last day of January and indicated that it would be back to me in three to four weeks. Doing the math, four weeks is up on Monday, so once more I am sitting at home, hoping. I suppose it is good, in this case, that I didn't get it quickly, though. Evaluating a game takes time, provided there is any promise in its design (you see, I am rationalizing now, but at least I know it). Had I gotten a quick reply regarding a game such as mine, the news would almost certainly have been, "Sorry, it just has no chance." The longer it takes, the better.

So here I am, caught between opposite forces timed to crash down upon me at once. If all goes well, of course, I will get an interview that leads to a tenure-track job, secure in the knowledge that not only will I have a stable paycheck, but a supplemental check from the sale of my game (though that would probably not start happening until next year since game companies already have their 2005 lineup).

April is no longer the cruelest month.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Spinning in iTunes

Here's this week's iTunes shuffle, and I can tell by the first one that providence is shining on me.

"Switch" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, from Love Is The Devil
"Muskrat Love" by America, from Hat Trick (this is the original)
"Geoff Downes — Keyboard Solo" by Asia, from Live Mockba 09-X1-90
"Need To Be Right" by Tim Finn, from Say It Is So
"Real Love" by Yes, from Talk
"Last Day Of June" by The Finn Brothers, from Finn Brothers (released under band name "Finn" overseas)
"Beautiful World" by Paul Carrack, from Beautiful World
"Music Time" by Styx, from Caught In The Act
"Bed" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, from Love Is The Devil
"Hello City" by Barenaked Ladies, from Gordon

Wow, was that a disaster! One of those is a song I listen to purely because I think it's good, and then only when I am in the right kind of mood. Well, at least I got no repeats. But why couldn't I get two Sakamoto tracks from different albums? Oh well. Maybe next week my iTunes will redeem itself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Hate My ISP

No, I have not had my DSL cut out (lately), but I am starting to understand why some people take off for Buddhist temples to meditate. I went from using a cable modem to DSL, which meant a 50% drop in my maximum download speed, and don't think I haven't noticed. OK, I can handle that, even when SBC wants to charge me too much.

Yes, there were issues at the start. They told me that I had to sign up for my phone service a week before my activation date for DSL. Then they scheduled me a few days before the people in the control center were able to retract their thumbs from their asses long enough to type in the little bit it takes to say that my line would have active service. Finally, I can't have a static IP address unless I pay $200 to have someone to come out and do two minutes of configuration I can do on my own, so I have a dynamic IP address.

OK, but with all of that behind me, I have been fighting with SBC for three months now, trying to get an answer to a simple question: Why am I not allowed to FTP my web pages into my directory. I understand that there are people who think, on hearing "FTP," that it is a fuel additive or a band, and the gimpy web interface is great for that. I'm not one of those people. So far, support has described FTP as a "feature" of the premium (an additional $30/month) service. FTP is a protocol; it's right there in the name, for cryin' out loud! Direct access to my web space is a "feature"? Hey, maybe they will start calling a POP mailbox a "feature" too, and then they can charge extra for that.

I am curious about something: Do any of you have ISPs that do not allow you to upload web pages to your public_html folders? I mean, sure, not everyone cares about such things, so maybe you never found out, but what SBC has is backward. If I want to upload a file, I can get up to 20 "Choose File" buttons at once, clicking each in turn to select a single file. And when I upload the batch, they don't necessarily appear on the server. And I am being charged for this. I ask you, is that right? No wonder I have so much trouble chasing down that damned itch.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I Need an iPod

OK, it doesn't need to be an iPod, but something that will provide a suitable distraction when I am walking abouton errands and such. As I was headed to the bank today, I was thinking about how, as a public employee I get not Presidents' Day but both Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays (observed) off. I swear, they look for everything.

The problem is that the way my mind skips about, it's can be like watching James Burke hosting Connections at high speed, and that can be a problem. See, after a few hops to different topics, I thought about the Julian calendar corrrections and how many days things got shifted (I think it was 11 days here in the U.S., but at least we didn't change four times in one decade like the Soviet Union, which also tried weeks of different lengths).

Well, this brings up a real question: Are we talking about these men's birthdays in terms they knew them or in the corrected terms? Sure, it doesn't matter, but that doesn't keep me from thinking about it (my wife would probably say that it enccourges me to think about it). But consider this: If you were a great leader, or at the very least, on so judged by History (capital H), how would you feel about having your life, your birth, revised?

Mind you, I guess I would just settle for being so judged, but that will never happen. Still, it does make me wonder what, say, Bill Clinton thought as a child. "Hey, I'll be President one day, I think. After all, I wouldn't want such a thing to come as a surprise." Then again, many Presidents do think that. Heck, Kerry made life choices because he wanted to improve his chances of getting a nomination. Is that what it takes these days? Childhood confidence? Oh hell, that's more leaps. I will quit while I'm behind.

Friday, February 11, 2005

iTunes Shuffle

Friday is really the best day for doing regular non-bloggy blogs like shuffles and movie reviews, and that way I'll remember to put it all together. Here we go again, torturing those few unfortunates who stumble here and read. (I have decided to supercede pure randomness until I have at least five of these under my belt. Repeats will be included but not counted*.)

"You Are The Flower" by Toto, from Toto
*"Keep The Customer Satisfied" by Simon and Garfunkel, from Bridge Over Trouble Water
"A Fool's Paradise" by Poco, from Under The Gun
"Don't Cut The Wire (Brother)" by Asia, from Aria
"Cloud #9" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, from Heartbeat
"The Breaking Of The Fellowship" by Howard Shore, from The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
"Hurry Home" by Jon Anderson, from Change We Must (the original, with secondary title "Song For The Pleaides," is on In The City Of Angels)
"The Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies, from Super Hits: The Hollies
"Spirits Drifting" by Brian Eno, from Another Green World
"Teakbois" by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, from Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
"Communication" by Spandau Ballet, from The Singles Collection

There you have it, folks. Not, I think, as strong as my last one, though certainly more varied.

Addendum: I claim no responsibility for any errors on

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ah, Commuting!

No, that wasn't a sneeze. Sneezes are more fun. It's Southern California, after all, and while we do sometimes suffer from seasonal allergies, we feel the oppression of perpetual traffic. Driving down the I-5 today at a zippy 15 MPH, I spotted a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that looked like it had something on it about "Organic" something or another. When I was closer, I saw that it read, "Organize Unions." Hey, it was green, OK?

That was fine, and I am proud that the faculty where I work finally got a union just a year and a half ago (we were the last community college in California, of 103, to unionize). Unions, when they function properly, are fantastic entities. But that's not what struck me about this car. No, it was the man driving the car who caught my attention, his hand wrapped around a badly disguised Coors Light in a paper bag. As he pulled away at what may have been close to 30 MPH (he had a better lane suddenly), I read the other sticker below the cab window: "Oakland Raiders." Yay. Go, raider nation. Just don't drive that close to me again.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lou Reed, Eat Your Heart Out!

Apparently, I have been market by a couple people as a "totebagger." According to their blog, this means that what you see here is and "egregious display of middlebrow crappiness, often marked by perpetrator's particular self-satisfaction w/r/t said display." Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the link, but I was not even granted a write-up. I got merely a title and the linked text "Oh. My. Lord." from contributor Lillet Langtry. Now that's not quite fair is it? Can't I at least get something specific, or have we gone so far down the road to Guantanamo that specific charges need not be levelled anywhere?

Apparently, my dislike of many of the same things as the two who have created this blog is not enough, though perhaps I should waste space indicating that I can't abide Garrison Keillor, The Phantom of the Opera, and MENSA just to get in their good graces. No, I think I will turn to the first track on the CD I put together for my commute. It begins with Lou Reed's "New Sensations." Before you get on me about how Reed was in a low point in 1984, I know, but the song works for my driving style. Here are the relevant line:

It's easy enough to say
What is wrong,
But that's not what I want to hear
All night long.
Some people are like human tuenols.

Enter Lillet and Trey, blogging tuenols. It seems they have nothing better to do than complain about other people whom they have judged to be somehow less than qulified to blog. On the up side, I managed to make the it on there as their eighth post, so I must be doing something right. I only wish they had taken a moment to explain what exactly it was that managed to get their attention. Otherwise, how can I possibly repeat it?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Not to be Outdone . . .

OK, Karah and David are doing Random 10 shuffles on iTunes/iPods, so I'm off to do it myself. I'll be back in just a moment with the top 10 of a random shuffle from my iTunes Music Library (I refuse to include anything my wife had my download, however . . . those tracks are not my fault, and I refuse to take the blame for them).

In case you were wondering, after dropping the six tracks that belong to Sunshine, I have exactly 1500 to randomize. Here are the top 10:

"Keep the Customer Satisfied" by Simon and Garfunkel, from Bridge Over Troubled Water
"Yours is No Disgrace" by Yes, from The Yes Album
"California Revisited" by America, from Homecoming (later re-recorded under the name "Everyone I Meet is from California")
"Too Close to the Sun" by The Alan Parsons Project, from On Air
"Thunder" by Jon and Vangelis, from Short Stories
"Dança Do Ouro" by Jon Anderson, from Deseo
"Better World" by Toto, from Livefields (studio version on Mindfields)
"Freedom Calling" by Colin Hay, from Transcendental Highway (Hay is from Men at Work)
"Sad" by Jon Anderson, from The More You Know
"I Will Remember" by Toto, from Tambu

OK, who seeded the randomizer today, huh? I wanna know! That's two Toto, two solo Anderson, one Anderson with Vangelis, and one Yes (Anderson on vocals). Mind you, I rather like the selection, but come on! That's a little lopsided, even if Anderson does appear on at least 210 tracks.

Quantum Mechanics and Argentinian Literature

Yes, I know people before me have suggested links between the two topics in the title of this post, but they haven't said what I have to say. It's all about Hilbert Space and Borges, after all. What, you ask, is this loon raving about? Well, not having generated any new game ideas, I switched gears and went back to an idea I had last year. I am working on a ground-breaking article (read: destined to be ignored by my peers), and there's nothing any of you can do about it!

It feels good, after a couple false starts over the last nine months or so, to get back to this. Perhaps my idea is like a human baby and just needed to gestate for a bit before I could really get it out of me (suddenly I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger for some reason, but perhaps I should let that pass before I try to spend billions of dollars I don't have). Anyway, we may see if this was my little itch. I suspect it isn't (see how I put the whole thing at ease by pretending to look away?), but then who am I to care if I produce something in the process, right? Oh well, back to my notes.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Static of Real Life

If only there were a way to be free of real life, we could all become great thinkers. "Sure," you say, "because we are all equal in our potential." No, it isn't that. Some would undoubtedly be greater than others. But Einstein credits his job as a patent clerk for giving him the freedom to think. Work stayed in the office and didn't require much of him, so when he was not at work, he could focus on his theories. We could all use at least one year of that, and I mean an uninterrupted year.

One of the great joys of teaching—probably the greatest, in fact—is seeing the results of instruction manifest in student work. Sadly, there is a darker side to this. Sometimes students turn in work that doesn't even address the assignment. Altogether too often, they turn in work that isn't their own. The frst two times I found plagiarism, I took it personally, but I have learned my lesson. Sadly, my sternest warnings go unheeded by someone each semester.

Somehow, no matter how I try, plagiarism enters my classroom every semester. While I no longer take it personally, it, to put it bluntly, pisses me off. There must be a cure, an innoculation. We can prevent all kinds of viruses and infections with injections of live attenuated viruses, or even dead ones in many cases. I want that kind of immunization for plagiarism. Let me know when you find it.