Things You Can’t Say to your Boss

The thing about this job is that a bright 10-year-old could do it, provided there was someone willing to carry heavy things on occasion.  My salary is perfectly adequate for typing, filing, copying, and ordering supplies, which is what I do.  You do not, however, pay me enough to think, too.  You want thought, there’s going to have to be some renegotiation.

Pig Elvish

A while ago on Zompist’s conlang forum, we came up with a quick cypher we dubbed “Pig Elvish”. It’s fairly easy for the trained eye to read, but to the uninitiated it looks an awful lot like Tolkein’s Elvish–Sindarin, IMO, but some people think Quenya.

For example, the above text would read as follows:

Aen hilewa goáen noen Ompístzi’sén onlangcú orumfi, ewen ameco puen ithwo áen uiccqa yphercë; ewen ubbéddi “Igpen Lvisheo”. Tien’sen airlyfo ásyeu orfen heten rainedtu yeéen oten eadra, utben oten heten ninitiatedue tien oócslo naen wfúlaa otlen icela Olkeinte’s lvishei–Indarínáo, IMO, útben omésu eoplepa hinctë Uenyaqu.

The algorhythm is simple: take the first letter and move it to the end. If the word is three letters or fewer, append “en”. If it’s four or more, append a random vowel. Mark any final Es with a diaresis (or umlaut, if you insist), and add acute accents at will. Change all Ks to C.

In any case, the posts to Zompist’s boards seem to have gone away, so I wanted to preserve the cypher. It falls down when presented with very long words, and is slightly lossy in that there’s no way for a simple search-and-replace to determine if this particular C should be turned into a K, but as cyphers go it’s easier to read than rot13.

More Swatching

I tried doing a swatch of the dragon skin pattern with some yarn I’ve got, since it drapes about right. However, the needles were vastly too big and I need to go down at least a millimeter.

Lawful Stupid

The behavior of the paladin (who is a fairly recent addition) in the Order of the Stick has caused quite a bit of controversy on rec.games.frp.dnd.  Then again, it’s degenerated into an alignment discussion, and that’s always good for a little flaming over there.  There are OotS spoilers upcoming, so you don’t want to read this post if that’s a consideration.

The example that stirred up rgfd is Miko, who decided to take out a camp of sleeping ogres by waking them all up and insisting they arm themselves before she began killing them.  Once they were all gathered around her, ready to fight, she had her party cast fireball and lighning bolt centered on her; she evaded with her |33t skillz, but the ogres were crisped.

So, the question is, is stereotypical paladin behavior not actually Lawful Good?  Are paladins, in fact, Lawful StupidThis depends, IMO, in large part on how you interpret the paladin’s code.  This piece of text requires a paladin to be Lawful Good and never willingly commit an evil act; to act honorably and respect legitimate authority; to help those who need it and punish those who harm the innocent.

The question arises when bits of the code come into conflict.  It would arguably have better protected the ogres’ innocent prisoner to have killed them as they slept, so that none of them would have the chance to make him into a hostage or kill him lest he be a burden in running away.  But it’s not honorable to kill sleeping opponents, right?  (Even so, waking them up or even letting them arm themselves does not require that the paladin also insist that they eat breakfast so as not to be fighting on an empty stomach.  But I digress.)

Would it, however, have been dishonorable?  Most codes of honor don’t allow dishonorable behavior merely on the grounds that the opponent is himself dishonorable.  There are, however, codes of honor which only govern interactions with one’s equals–bushido1 springs to mind, especially as Miko calls herself a samurai at one point.  The ogres aren’t her equals, so honor needn’t apply, and she doesn’t have to worry about them being innocents and therefore protected by another bit of the paladin’s code; they’ve taken a prisoner for no reason, apparently, except that it’s fun to have someone around to beat up and/or eat.  By that reading, she could have slit their throats with impunity and still been a paladin afterwards.

1: Yes, I’m simplifying greatly here, but I think the general point holds up.

Roads Named After Creeks

I’m sure I don’t have them all.

Streets Run Road, Harts Run Road, Squaw Run Road, Glass Run Road, Sawmill Run Road, Painter’s Run Road, Nine Mile Run Road…

Open for Comment

I am extremely envious of Making Light, a blog which has some of the most entertaining and erudite discussions I’ve ever seen on the web.  That being the case, I’m gonna post something and y’all should talk about it.  It’s going to be depressing, because I’ve had this poem pointed out to me several times in the last few days and I think it’s a sign.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand;
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries
of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

by William Butler Yeats

Almost There

I think this post will get me to the point that I have written one for every day the blog has been in existence.  I hope I have done my duty by at least entertaining the reading public.

A Little Bit of Luck

Liam’s got a temp job that lasts through the end of the year.  It’s only $10/hr, but that’s better than nothing.  Wahoo.

A Pretty Girl Moment

This morning I had what Matisse, a professional dominatrix from Seattle, describes as a “pretty girl moment”.  I had to walk in this morning, and it was raining, which meant I had been carrying stuff for longer than usual and had more things to juggle; also it was a lot earlier than I usually arrive, and I wasn’t quite awake yet.  All this meant that digging for my building ID was going to be tough, and I wasn’t in the mood for it–and to top it off neither of the usual guards were in the lobby when I got here.  The guy behind the desk must be filling in, as I didn’t recognize him. 

But in any case, as I walked through the door I said something to the effect of “My ID’s in my purse…” and he shrugged and waved me at the elevators.  I said I’d bring it down in a minute, and he told me not to bother.  And I know quite well I should have showed him my ID, and he knows he should have made me take it out.  But he didn’t.

It’s a little odd, getting special treatment for something I had no hand in.  It doesn’t happen to me as often as it happens, I imagine, to women who wear makeup most of the time or who are simply prettier than I am, but it’s often enough to be something I notice.

Unclear on the Concept

OK, it’s a silly thing to get upset about, and I really shouldn’t let it bother me. But this is part of every working day I have, and after a while it gets wearing.

One of my jobs is to take the batches of vouchers produced by the Accounts Payable people, and copy them so that they’ll have copies after sending the originals to the Controller’s Office, where the actual checks will be written. And one of the people who gives me these batches of vouchers seems–after a year and a half–incapable of understanding that you don’t need a two-inch-long, heavy-duty paperclip to hold two sheets of paper together. The small, thin-wire ones do very nicely; in fact, they do nicely up to the point that the number of sheets starts to deform them, at about 15.

If it were purely a matter of aesthetics, I’d shrug and get on with life. It isn’t, though; the extra thickness the clips add is significant even when using the small ones. This means that every single batch has a big bulge in the upper-left corner, making it harder to form a stable stack of more than about 3 batches or put a number of batches in an inter-office envelope. The problem is exacerbated by a tendency to position every paperclip at exactly the same distance from the corner, so they’re all lined up, one atop the other.

For eighteen months I’ve been removing the neatly-lined-up large paperclips and replacing them with staggered small ones. With no effect whatsoever. It’s enough to make me wonder what passes for brains around here. I realize this is dumb and probably elitist. It still bugs me.OK, it’s a silly thing to get upset about, and I really shouldn’t let it bother me. But this is part of every working day I have, and after a while it gets wearing. One of my jobs is to take the batches of vouchers produced by the Accounts Payable people, and copy them so that they’ll have copies after sending the originals to the Controller’s Office, where the actual checks will be written. And one of the people who gives me these batches of vouchers seems–after a year and a half–incapable of understanding that you don’t need a two-inch-long, heavy-duty paperclip to hold two sheets of paper together. The small, thin-wire ones do very nicely; in fact, they do nicely up to the point that the number of sheets starts to deform them, at about 15. If it were purely a matter of aesthetics, I’d shrug and get on with life. It isn’t, though; the extra thickness the clips add is significant even when using the small ones. This means that every single batch has a big bulge in the upper-left corner, making it harder to form a stable stack of more than about 3 batches or put a number of batches in an inter-office envelope. The problem is exacerbated by a tendency to position every paperclip at exactly the same distance from the corner, so they’re all lined up, one atop the other. For eighteen months I’ve been removing the neatly-lined-up large paperclips and replacing them with staggered small ones. With no effect whatsoever.

It’s enough to make me wonder what passes for brains around here. I realize this is dumb and probably elitist. It still bugs me.