american democracy is losing its way

ideal democracy? government for the people, by the people, where the bias is to protect those without power from those who would abuse it.

woe to the powerless of the world. woe to the growing number of the powerless in the united states.

it is independence day in the united states. on this day of the year, 238 years ago, americans declared their freedom from tyranny.

america and its form of government have long served as the beacon to which those without power have looked for hope, to which they have yearned for in their struggles, to which they have come for safety.

from the Declaration of Independence: to secure our self-evident, unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

from presumably much more deliberated preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America”

in america, we deify these documents and the statements they contain.

and yet many who trumpet the words of these documents the loudest are most deaf to the reality that we are now straying from their ideals.

in america, we have allowed our government to become instituted more and more amongst those with money, deriving their power from their ability to consolidate and aggregate more money and power, and to use that money and power to further their own means first, usually in direct contradiction to that of the general Welfare or our Posterity.

in america, in our government for the people by the people, we have allowed ourselves to pervert justice, foment domestic infighting, exaggerate the need for a common defense, denigrate those in most need of the promotion of general Welfare, and forfeit the Blessings of our civil liberties to those who claim to be protecting us from harm.

in defense of the actions they were embarking upon, the authors of the Declaration penned the following: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

our forefathers were certainly nothing if not deliberate, as they continue: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursing invariably to the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

there is much to fight for in our constitution, and there is much to be said of the weight of the laws that a great many generations of americans have created, from the emancipation proclamation to the passage of the right for women’s suffrage.

it has been the history of this country to create the foundations for a system of government that is for the people, by the people, in defense of those without power from those whom would abuse their power.

that balance has shifted precipitously before our eyes recently.

our forefathers seem to have not anticipated the economic possibility that some of the men amongst us would gain enough wealth and enough power with that wealth to unduly influence all three of the pillars of power in our government that were meant to provide checks and balances against one another.

we must recognize the tyrants amongst us.  the tyrants are not those elected into government, but rather those that would influence elections of those individuals and groups with their money and the power they derive from it.

it is these tyrants against whom we must take a stand.

it is these people of money and power who would influence our government by saturating our airwaves and vehicles of free speech with messages designed to elect those who would legislate in favor of those with power, and who would help nominate and confirm supreme court justices who would vest more power with those who already have power, and who would strip power from individuals who do not have the means or ability to fight for their rights on their own behalf.

american democracy, at its best, is the power of the people protecting the weak from the corrupt, protecting the powerless from the wealthy.

american democracy, in the pursuit of promoting the general Welfare and securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, is losing its way.

it is up to us, as americans proud of these ideals, to stand up and do something about it.

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blue-eyed logic assumptions

my dad sent me the following in email … the original reference to which is found at http://live.washingtonpost.com/gene-weingarten-120412.html

GENE WEINGARTEN :

The Blue-Eyed Islander Puzzle

There is an island containing people who are blue eyed and people who are brown eyed.   This island contains no reflective surfaces, including for some reason, the water.  (Cut us some slack here.)   No one can see the color of his or her own eyes, but can see the color of everyone else’s eyes.   One day – call it day one – a visitor arrives, looks out upon the entire group of islanders, and says (truthfully)  “I see at least one blue-eyed person.”   Then this visitor leaves.

Now, there are a few things you need to know about the people of this island.  First, is that there are exactly 200 people on the island.  Second, they are all perfect, brilliant logicians.    Third, they have a custom: Anytime anyone learns for certain his own eye color, he or she must leave the island that night at midnight, by ferry, never to return.      Everyone in the island knows those three things, and also that their own eye color is either blue or brown.

There is one additional piece of information you, the reader knows, that is unknown to the islanders, who cannot see their own eye colors.   What you now is that there are exactly 100 blue-eyed islanders, and exactly 100 brown-eyed islanders.

So, the visitor comes at noon one day, looks out at everybody’s eyes – all the islanders are present – and says “I can see at least one blue-eyed person,” then leaves.    The question is:  Will anyone leave the island, and when will they leave?

Gene Weingarten :

HERE IS THE ANSWER.

The answer is that the 100 blue-eyed people will will leave the island on the 100th day, and everyone else will leave on the 101st.

The easiest way to explain this is to begin simply. Let’s say there was only one blue-eyed islander.   He would look out at everyone else, realize no one else had blue eyes, and leave on the very first day.  He’d know the visitor was talking about him.

Now, let’s say there were only two blue-eyed islanders. Each would look out at everyone else, see only one other set of blue eyes, and reason, “Well, if that person leaves tonight at midnight, I will know I have brown eyes.”  When the other person doesn’t leave at midnight,  then they both will realize it just after midnight, and leave the following midnight – Day 2.

Here’s where it gets harder to comprehend.  Let’s say there are three blue-eyed people.   Each one will see two other blue eyes, and each will go through the following computation:   “Okay, let’s say I have brown eyes. Then each of these guys will go through the same computation as before, and on day two they will leave.   When they don’t, then I’ll know I must have blue eyes, too, and I will leave on day three.  So will they, of course”

So, a mathematical progression has been established. All blue-eyed people will leave on the day equal to all the number of blue-eyed people on the island.   This makes sense mathematically, but does it make COMON sense?  Won’t people, even perfect logicians, look around and say, well there are SO many blue-eyeds you  just can’t conclude anything?

Well, no.  We can pull it out two more step and see why. Imagine there are five blue-eyed people.    Person 5 will see four blue-eyed people, numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4.       Person 5 will think, okay, let’s say I have brown eyes. Person 4 will be looking at 3 and 2 and 1, and will be thinking, “okay, let’s say I have brown eyes.   Then Person 3 will see only two people with blue eyes and leave on Day three.  When he doesn’t, all four of us will leave on day four.”   Thinking about this, Person 5 will say, okay, when person 4 doesn’t leave on day four, all of us will leave on day five…

It actually works. Now all of this will be thought about immediately after the visitor makes her announcement, and everyone with blue eyes – all the perfect logicians – will see exactly 99 blue eyes, calculate all this, and decide that on the 100th day, if 99 people have not left on the 99th day, they must all leave on the 100th.

See?

No?

Well, too bad.  I do.

Of course, after all the blue eyed people leave on the 100th, all the brown eyed will know they are brown eyed and leave on the 101st. Most of the iterations of this puzzle do not stipulate either brown or blue (some people might be hazel, or green) in which case, nobody leaves on the 101st day.

ok, so the original is http://xkcd.com/blue_eyes.html .  and weingarten flubbed it by changing it around, because it causes a different answer.

A group of people with assorted eye colors live on an island. They are all perfect logicians — if a conclusion can be logically deduced, they will do it instantly. No one knows the color of their eyes. Every night at midnight, a ferry stops at the island. Any islanders who have figured out the color of their own eyes then leave the island, and the rest stay. Everyone can see everyone else at all times and keeps a count of the number of people they see with each eye color (excluding themselves), but they cannot otherwise communicate. Everyone on the island knows all the rules in this paragraph.

On this island there are 100 blue-eyed people, 100 brown-eyed people, and the Guru (she happens to have green eyes). So any given blue-eyed person can see 100 people with brown eyes and 99 people with blue eyes (and one with green), but that does not tell him his own eye color; as far as he knows the totals could be 101 brown and 99 blue. Or 100 brown, 99 blue, and he could have red eyes.

The Guru is allowed to speak once (let’s say at noon), on one day in all their endless years on the island. Standing before the islanders, she says the following:

“I can see someone who has blue eyes.”

Who leaves the island, and on what night?

There are no mirrors or reflecting surfaces, nothing dumb. It is not a trick question, and the answer is logical. It doesn’t depend on tricky wording or anyone lying or guessing, and it doesn’t involve people doing something silly like creating a sign language or doing genetics. The Guru is not making eye contact with anyone in particular; she’s simply saying “I count at least one blue-eyed person on this island who isn’t me.”

And lastly, the answer is not “no one leaves.”

now, there are flaws with both versions, based on some missing assumptions, implications.

in both versions, the biggest missing assumption is that apparently no one is allowed to tell anyone else eye color, or the count of people they know to have blue eyes or not.

if they could tell one another eye color, then one islander (regardless of eye-color) could instantly deduce that if he told one person with blue eyes “you have blue eyes” (and then everyone else could instantly deduce that by doing so, no one else would have to leave as a result of the guru/visitor’s utterance), then only one person would have to leave on midnight of the 1st day, and then no one would have to leave at any other time.  how does this work?  take it back as weingarten does to the case of one blue-eyed islander.  if some other islander tells them what their eye-color is, then they are forced to leave at midnight, and breaking the logic chain that would have otherwise occurred, where they would have left anyway if they saw nobody else with blue-eyes, or would have waited one more day if they saw one other person with blue eyes.  now ramp this back up to day 99, and the same logic that holds together weingarten’s explanation for why blue-eyed islanders would know to leave is now broken because that one person who could have made that extra count is no longer there to keep that chain of logic alive.

of course, the corollary to this is that no one can on the island can kill anyone else.  weirdly, mathematically, this amounts to the same thing as telling someone they have blue eyes in both versions of the puzzle.

and though it sounds related, another assumption that’s actually a little bit different is that none of the blue-eyed people on the island can die of natural causes while on the island.  this actually just has to do with random disapparence more than it has to do with purposely killing someone, and is mathematically a bit different, though in the end, it comes down to approximately the same thing w.r.t. the knowledge on the important day of who would leave and who would not.  again, if the random person to die were the only blue-eyed person, and died before midnight of the 1st day, the others would not gain the logical knowledge of knowing whether that person would have left or stayed one more day.

so, putting those somewhat related assumptions in place, the next big missing assumption is that no one would ever want to leave the island, even early, even if it meant that it would potentially save other islanders from having to leave the island.

now, of course the two puzzles diverge wildly in this case w.r.t. the math and what would happen:

in the original puzzle, one would have to be very altruistic indeed, because
– all blue-eyed people, even though they didn’t know it to start, know that they’d know whether or not they had blue-eyes on midnight of the 99th day, and would either be leaving the island on midnight of the 100th day or staying on the island permanently.
– all non-blue-eyed people, even though they didn’t know their own blue-eye status to start, know that they’d know whether or not they have blue eyes on midnight of the 100th day, and either departing the island on midnight of the 101st day or staying on the island permanently.

thus meaning there’d be roughly a 50-50 chance they’d get to stay on the island if they didn’t leave early.

in the bastardized weingarten version, there would be more incentive for altruistic islanders to leave early, because all the blue-eyed perfect-logicians (who wouldn’t know at the time of their instantly deduced logic that they were blue-eyed) would deduce that they’d be leaving on day 100 regardless of whether they were blue-eyed or brown eyed, and that the 99 blue-eyed people they could count be gone on day 99 if they themselves had brown eyes, or that the 100 brown-eyed islanders they could count wouldn’t have to leave until day 101 if they themselves had blue eyes; and all the brown-eyed logicians would see 100 blue-eyed islanders, and would be gone on day 101 themselves, either because they themselves had blue-eyes and saw that the 100 other blue-eyed islanders hadn’t left, or because they themselves had brown eyes, and the 100 other blue-eyed islanders had all left on day 100.

so, in the latter case, since everyone on the island would know that everyone would be gone in any case by day 101 at the latest, they would also know that if a single blue-eyed person just on their own by day 99, everyone else would get to say, because the same chain of certainty would be broken.  therefore, all being perfect-logicians, they would instantly deduce that one person would have to get on the ferry every night (and holding the assumption that no one could tell them what their own eye color is, they’d all have to come to the conclusion to draw straws or something to be the one to get on the ferry.)  as soon as everyone else saw one person with blue eyes get on the ferry early, they would know that no other persons would have to get on the ferry any subsequent nights, since that first blue-eyed ferry passenger would take with them same chain-breaking knowledge described above.  going in, the odds would be about 1 in 2  that a blue eyed person would get on the ferry the first night, slightly less than 1 in 4 (actually 99 / 398) that it would be two brown-eyed islanders in a row, 0.1231 that it would be three-brown-eyed  islanders in a row,  and so on until it got calculated out to about 100! / 200! that all non-blue-eyed islanders would have volunteered unwittingly to leave before a single blue-eyed islander was able to break the logic chain.  100! / 200! is a number so infinitesimally small that it calculates out in most calculators to 0.   in other words, they’d all basically have to be selfish asses not caring about the mutually assured doomsday scenario that would otherwise occur if they did nothing for one of them not to leave early to save them all from having to leave the island on day 100.

then again, it’s perhaps a fair assumption to make, because, if, as the original puzzle suggests, everyone on the island is a perfect logician, then the guru-as-perfect-logician would also have to be a bit of an ass, since she would know that no one would want to leave, but that, as a perfect-logician who can deduce any conclusion that can be logically deduced, instantly, she will then instantly deduce (assuming these additional assumptions are true, of course) that her utterance would be resigning 100 people to being forced to leave the island on day 100.

finally, the assumption has to be made that no one will profit from people having to leave the island, not even the ferry that takes them away.

in a way, this is a corollary of the first assumption, but it manifests differently.

for example, imagine the ferry-ticket price-manager (let’s refer to this entity as FTPM) being able to jack up prices based on knowledge of the utterance of the guru in the first puzzle or the visitor in the later puzzle.  if the FTPM hears this utterance, is blue-eyed, then will instantly deduce that all blue-eyed people will be forced to leave on day 99 (if he himself turns out not to be blue-eyed) or 100 (if he himself turns out to be blue-eyed), and then will post these prices, and everyone will know that the blue-eyed FTPM counts 99 blue-eyed people, and so they will know to add one to his count.  the math if he is brown-eyed is that the dates will be days 100 and 101.  and since he instantly deduces this, he will also instantly deduce he can make an even greater killing instantly because he can force everyone to leave on day one.  so, just before he posts those prices for days 99 & 100 if blue-eyed (or for days 100 & 101 if brown eyed), he will post a jacked up price of “all your life savings, plus whatever you make the rest of your life, and that of your descendents, in perpetuity” for day one, because he then knows that as soon as he posts the other jacked up prices, in the guru version, that all blue-eyed people will know their eye-color on day one, and that everyone on the island will know their eye-color on day one in the weingarten version.

thus in the guru version, 99 people will have to leave on day one if the FTPM is blue-eyed, or 100 will have to leave if the FTPM is brown-eyed, but the FTPM will get to stay in either case, along with the other non-blue-eyed people.

in the bastardized weingarten version, 199 people will leave on day one, and then the FTPM can do whatever he wants, though with the life-savings of 199 other islanders and whatever they make the rest of their lives, and that of their descendents, in perpetuity, he’ll probably leave the island pretty quickly, under armed guard, for someplace near grand cayman, where he can launder his ill-gotten gain.

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the whittley

croquet?  exciting?  seems sort of impossible, doesn’t it?

welcome to the whittley.

each year, the sunday before memorial day, in carlsbad, ca, the whittley invitiational croquet tournament is held.  this year, 2012, marked the 18th annual tournament.

and the drama couldn’t have been greater.

yes.  croquet.  really.

“oh, sure!” is what you’re probably thinking of the game with the 9 wickets and 2 pegs played on grass with little mallets.

this tournament has a dress code (the whites).  it has past champions (who are the only ones allowed to wear the champion’s pith helmet on the course, of course!)  it has a sponsored wicket in the center (custom logos).  it has a ceremonial first/last wicket (the “rusty gate”).  it has the wall on the right, and the beach on the left.  it has breaks like a golf green leading to the 10th & 12th wickets on the way back from the far peg.  it has controversy, disqualifications, favorites, villains.

it has drama.

this year, the tournament had 8 flights.  no one actually knows exactly how many flights there will be going in.  last year there were 12 flights, and each of the flight-winners was paired with another flight-winner for the poison round.

the initial flights range from the easy to the competitive, from the ridiculous to the sublime.  some flights will have multiple past champions in them, and the in-fighting is tremendous.  there is honor in the whittley; if one player is within one to two shots of the final wicket, someone in the back always takes up the gauntlet and goes rogue, attempting to hunt down and “send” the front-runner so that others might get back into the game.

the tournament starts around noon, with the juniors flight, always ensuring some young blood in the finals.  the commissioner, a.k.a. whittley, runs the tournament from a whiteboard in the back yard.  while the juniors start off the festivities on the field, the elder participants nosh on the fare poolside, all participants dressed in white or else marked by the commissioner.

yes, the commissioner carries a sharpie, and transgressions result in a mark on the back of the calf.  dressing in non-white garners a mark.  flaunting the rules on the green is worth a mark.  playing out of turn can result in a mark.  talking back to the commissioner?  definitely a mark.  buttering up the commissioner?  if done too obviously or especially too sarcastically, expect a mark.  two marks means an X on your calf, and you are disqualified for that flight.

last year’s tournament was very highly attended, and the flights went quickly.  twelve flights in all, meaning all participants in the finals and poison-round were flight winners.  the 2012 tournament ran a bit more slowly, and seemed less well attended.  but the flights seemed a bit more competitive.

my flight had last year’s champion in it.  and he went to an early lead.  but there was a bit of gamesmanship, and he got sent once.  it was his downfall, and another player cruised through the last 3 wickets of the flight and into the final.  the hopes of mr fabulous (my nom du tournament; a great many participants play under tournament names) making the finals for a second straight year seemed dashed.

my wife, well, she was jonesing for a pith helmet.  she played well last year, and as it turned out, she and i ended up on separate teams in the finals, both making it to the poison round, only to be knocked out early.  this year, she seemed focused. of course, every time the p.a. announcer mentioned her “game face”, she giggled a bit.

yes, the whittley has an m.c. with a mic wired into the backyard speakers, and announces the game as if he’s ken venturi greenside at the masters.  there are interviews with the flight winners, there are interviews with the spurned contestants.  i haven’t ever seen footage on tv, i will admit.

in any case, mrs fabulous kept her game face on.  i tried to help a bit during her round … not so much with direct coaching as with a bit of strategy for the other competitors along the way.  the black ball was out in front, and mrs fabulous was chasing.  the blue ball came to knock the black ball, and so i offered the opinion that he should “send” the black ball in his effort to try to get back into position to chase.  he went for it, and mrs fabulous’s chances improved.  in the end, she deserved the lion share of the credit, helping herself the most by hitting two of the best shots of the day; first, from the center wicket to and through the 12th wicket, a quick slightly downhill shot that can often leave the participant past the wicket and having to come back to go through and on.  mrs fabulous nailed it.  then, with the black ball lurking just beyond the next to last wicket, ready to use her ball and pounce into the finals, she cleared the 13th wicket and easily finished out … and onto the finals.  a great little run from the middle wicket through to the end.

it was early, though, and there were many more flights to go.  the sun was high, and the day was perfect, except of course, it was sapping energy.  mrs fabulous just took it in stride, found a lounge chair and napped as some of the later flights finished up.  one of the favorites was DQed for some reason or another.  another flight was filled with one two-time past champion simply being chased and knocked about without regard for winning.

my favorite round of the day involved the player with the green ball taking several turns to navigate the 1st 2 wickets, unheard of in whittley play.  however, she stuck with it, and there was enough intrigue and balls being knocked around at the head of play that she slowly wound her way through the course, and eventually ended up winning her flight.  one of the most amazing things i’ve ever seen happen at the whittley.

in the end, there were 8 flights, so 8 winners.  the commissioner paired up winners from the first 2 and the 7th & 8th flights; the rest were free to find finals partners of their own.  mrs fabulous, awake from her pre-finals nap, officially chose me, and thus the husband-wife duo of mr & mrs fabulous were ready to do battle.

the controversy started even before the finals.  color is a bit important, in that going to early means there are no balls on the course to use to advance; but going too late can mean chasing with dead balls on the course.  we wanted black, and the black mallet seemed available.  but toasty (who had chosen the DQ’ed rusty as his partner … and apparently, having a player with an X on their calf was not unprecedented in the finals) grabbed both the yellow and black mallets and headed across the course to ask his partner which they wanted.  i tried taking the black mallet back from him, but he decided at that point that that’s exactly the one he wanted.

fortunately, there were no great runs before mrs fabulous started the round.  and start it well, she did.  through the 1st 2 wickets in one,  then through the 2nd wicket after knocking another ball, so through 3 with another stroke to go.  she positioned us for the center wicket.

the finals are an alternate turn format, each player going as long as they can keep the turn alive.  every team has a chance to get to the poison round, whereby the team gets through the first two and then center wickets, and once that is accomplished, becomes poison and can start knocking balls out of the round.  any ball that is not also poison that hits a poison ball is out.  if a poison ball hits another poison ball, the hitter stays and the hittee is out.  one caveat, though:  if a poison ball hits or goes through a wicket, it loses poison status, and the team has to start over, navigate the entire course again, and only then can regain poison status.  last ball standing wins.

we wanted to be first to poison.  well, of course, everyone does.  but we did something about it.  i made it through the next wicket, and positioned us for the second right wicket.  mrs fabulous moved us through and then positioned us back and away so others would not be tempted to take us out.  my best turn of the day was through #6 & #7 and to the peg, then back out in 1, hitting green on the next stroke, and recovering from an overplay to position mrs fabulous for #8.  she got us through and then positioned at the center wicket.

and then we were used.  first black (toasty and the DQ’ed rusty) came through, aiming for us but missing, yet getting through the wicket and moving on.  then red came through, knocked us aside and through, and seemed poised to get to poison first, but overshot the next wicket.  the best i could do was reposition us for the next round.

we got a bit of luck.  red had to back-track to get through #12, so got only one stroke.  and then black before us got through #12 by playing off of red.  their next stroke put them to the right of #13, and suddenly we had a shot at #1 in the poison round.

mrs fabulous put on the game face, and it was a replay of her preliminary flight.  through the center wicket and well positioned for #12.  straight through #12 as red waited to play off of her if she misfired.  and then again, straight through #13 while black was in position to bounce off and go in first.  we were through and ready to go on to poison.  getting out to poison was very uneventful; i only needed 2 strokes to position us just barely past the wicket and in prime location to take out competitors should they hit us on the way through.

at this point, things slowed way down.  “strategery” as one of the spectators said on the sidelines.  unfortunately, we weren’t as close as we would have liked to have been to the center wicket; black positioned themselves with a play that allowed them to get through the center wicket and avoid us.  and then red did the same on the very next turn, blue followed suite immediately.  suddenly, there were four poison balls on the course … and almost everyone was  avoiding almost everyone else.  in fact, green and orange had come to a complete standstill, hiding near wickets, unable to move on to the poison round with so many poison balls lurking.

it was time, and we started after green near #10, away from the other poison balls .  it took us 2 tries, but we ended positioned in such a way that we finally got to take someone out.  now down to 5 balls and lots of open space.  red and blue were in the northeast corner, fairly close to one another, and red was able to take out blue, and bring the game down to 3 poison (red, black, yellow) and orange.

mrs fabulous played the next shot safe in the northwest corner near #10 with red lurking; black went hiding in the southeast corner on its turn, but ended up in a spot that made a shot at them safe for us … a long shot, but i figured it was worth a try.  unfortunately, i duffed my effort, scuffing the pitch on my swing … but fortunately, luck was on my side and the ball came to rest safely snookered behind a wicket where black could not get at it and too close to the wicket for red to try for us.  there was an entire turn of teams playing safe, including the next shot by mrs fabulous.

on my next turn, i sensed a chance to make orange’s life more difficult seemingly without risking being vulnerable to red.  again, my shot was awry, and the slope of the pitch carried it away from the wall and orange, but fortunately very near wicket #5.  i was not sure whether i was lucky or unlucky at the time with my break, but it turned out i was right: red had no angle on us, and black really didn’t, either.

red did have an angle on orange, though, and a good shot knocked out orange without hitting the wicket.  but their angle messed them up for a shot at us, and so they tried to tap a bit further and hide behind #5 away from us.

i was consulting with mrs fabulous about her shot.  it looked for all the world to me like we could still take out red by nicking them, a line that would avoid the wicket, and we were lining this up …

… but before we had a chance to execute this shot … as mrs fabulous likes to say … it was pandalerium!

toasty had lined up a shot to go after either red or us.  black had been back to the pool side of the first 2 wickets, but seemed bent on taking an angle that would put him right in the fray.  the ball came careering out of the southwest corner of the course … through the wicket at #3 !  through it!!  along the wall.  and then it hit red!

the crowd went crazy, but not the kind of crazy that happens for a game-winning shot.  no one immediately truly comprehended what happened, though i was just repeating “he went through the wicket!  he went through the wicket!”  there were a few aghast sounds from those who thought toasty had pulled off a bit of a miracle, the result of such boldness and the way red was hit.  but the ball having gone through the wicket meant something else. it just took a moment for it truly dawn on us exactly what.  even black was confused, as they grabbed their ball to go re-start the round as though they were not poison.

well, they were right about one thing:  by going through the wicket, toasty’s black ball lost its poison status!

however, when black hit red, red remained alive and poison …

and so … black effectively took itself out by hitting red while it was not poison.

toasty was out!

as he realized this, he fell to the pitch in a familiar pose, arms outstretched, mallet dropping to the ground.  (this is the same pose he ended up in the previous year when, on a brilliant shot in the poison round that looked like it was going to take out the other final poison ball, the dog wandered across the course, ticked his ball, and knocked it off trajectory, whereby the other poison ball took him out for the championship on the next turn.)

this time around, though, yellow and red were both left.

and now, with black having knocked red away from the wicket, red was now easily positioned for yellow to take it out.

and it was now yellow’s turn next.

before mrs fabulous had a chance to react and understand the gravity of the situation, i told her “just hit red”.

she did.

my arms were raised in triumph, the mallet over my head.  she looked around confused.  the crowd was stunned.

it was over.

we did our post-game interviews.  we were crushed with spectators and other participants alike who said they had been rooting for us, glad we had taken out toasty and rusty, glad the 2-time defending champs were finally taken down.  we were tossed into the pool as all whittley champions are.  in the pool, mrs fabulous asked me “what the heck just happened?”  i told her “we won!  you won it for us!”  we had our pictures taken together with the commissioner and the trophy.

history was made.

mr & mrs fabulous, winners of the 18th annual whittley invitational croquet tournament in la costa, ca.

the 2012 pith helmets were ours!

no one can ever take away the status of champion!

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xolaware

it’s official.  xolaware LLC exists and is doing business in the state of california.  the secretary of state has the company information.  the IRS has provided an EIN.  san diego county credit union is the official bank of xolaware LLC (no banks too big to fail for xolaware LLC or any of its partners!)

it would just be nice if someday this all started feeling a bit more real, and a bit less like dress-up pretend.

of course, the next step to that is getting apps in the app store.

i was going to say step 1, but there have been a lot of steps up to this point.  if i want the apps to be under a company name, the company has to be set up.  for the company to be set up, there are specific rules that have to be followed to make certain that the state or IRS doesn’t consider what i’m doing a sham.  the bank account helps that.  of course, to set up the bank account, i need notarized documents stating that i’m the LLC sole member and legally authorized to open a bank account on behalf of the LLC.  and to pay for the notary, i need a bank account from which to draw funds on behalf of the LLC.  sigh.

in any case, i have my 3 apps ready, still … pretty much as they were 3 weeks ago when i started trying to figure out what to do to set this up.  i have a 4th app in progress, trying to learn Core Data and its intricacies.  in some ways, it’s easy, and in some ways, it’s not what i’m used to.  in any case, the 4th app won’t really be for public consumption unless i tweak it a bit.

all that, and i didn’t even get to write up my account of the whittley!  that’s next, i guess …

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practical versus ideal

one of the ever-changing ideals … the practical versus the ideal .

ideally, a one-hour online class would take one hour, and i would ingest everything in perfect time.

practically, i start and stop the class to take notes.  i rewind it.  i try to make sense of what is going on.  i try to refrain from this, but i need to get this stuff right.  i was a sponge when i was in school, rarely took notes.  i guess, ideally, our minds would stay sharp throughout our lives.  practically, well … today, i was discussing basketball with a friend of mine, and i blanked on the name of one of the guys we played with for 3 seasons who’s now playing in another league.

ideally, i would just do the stuff on my todo list.  i have a schedule.  get the first app out by april 6.  get the second app out by april 25.  both in the iPhone store.  hopefully also one of them in the android store.

practically … well, things changed.  i have 3 apps, all almost done, even one with a beta tester.  so much to learn.  nothing done on android, yet (well, i have the title-bar done for one of my app ports!)  but not yet in the store.  one was done and meant to be part of something with a partner.  she’s been having a very difficult time in her personal life at the moment, though.  hard to press on that.  i’ve tried to do some of the artwork in her stead.  ideally, i shouldn’t be doing artwork.  it probably takes me 3 times as long, and the job is shitty in comparison.  practically, there are deadlines i would like to meet.  ideally, i would not move even my own self-imposed deadlines.  practically, well …

ideally, the rec league 40+-year-old basketball team i played on at the ymca would just re-form, or we’d be able to pick back up all of our old teammates.  practically, one of the old gang is still recovering from achilles surgery, and so we have 4 regulars (it’s 4-on-4, but we really need 5 for the team), and so putting that team back together seems unlikely.  but sticking with the new team also seems like it’s not quite going to work, too many guys.

ideally, this blogpost a day will help lead to the day when i write novels.  what is my best idea?  the one i’d like to work on and research is the 3 babies switched in their cribs, at birth, in 1964.  we see their families in 1955 and then 1961, 9 and 3 years before they’re born, how they meet, how they fall in love or fall together, how they talk about kids, what leads to it, and hopefully some of the world as they are growing up, the world they day they’re born, the world full of hope and strife, the cuban missile crisis and JFK in berlin, vietnam not really on the minds of people in the u.s.  and then we see them at age 3, 1967, kennedy shot, the military industrial complex heating up, vietnam heating up, the beatles at the top of their popularity and the stones entering their best period, civil rights, andy warhol just having published in cold blood, hugh hefner and playboy surging into the national consciousness, a nation undergoing change, and three small kids, already displaying some of the nature and some of the nurture.  and the twist of the novel would be this ever changing question.  at age 9, 1973, the lives of the boys intertwining in various ways (school or sports or whatever), and seeing vietnam winding down, hints of the watergate scandal and all that is taking over the white house, the beginning of stagflation, the oil embargo.  1991, age 27 (yes, geeks will recognize a theme), desert storm, the end of the cold war, a nation trying to figure out what to do with itself, and three young men, maybe one in the army, maybe one in politics, maybe one outside of politics, apathetic, each living part of and feeling outside of the nature of who they are, where they came from.  and then maybe at age 81, lookback on the lives, what has become of them by age 2045, their families, their legacies.  or maybe a way to check in on them is them planning babies, all having them about the same time, around 2000, so also check in in 1997, and then again in 2003, 2012, 2030 …

practically … my topics seem to drift towards the bits and pieces that i have learned and probably need to remember and hope others find helpful.  for my work, i need to keep the code i write archived and under configuration control, which allows me to make changes and get back to previous revisions, use the same bits in various projects.  today, i discovered git submodules.  useful, but a lot of gotchas.  i found the answers on stackoverflow again.  seems to be the site i have visted more often than all others combined in the last month.  i’ve learned a lot about the sort of weird details of icons and launch images for iOS apps.  those are the screens that you see as you initially launch the app.  i thought this would be a lot more parameterized than it is, and apple does have some info.plist keys that can be used, but there are still specific naming standards that seem as though they were derived by a committee of 3 9-year-olds switched at birth.

ideally, i could devote more than 45 minutes to this every day, because i do enjoy the flow.

practically … time’s up.

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no, dear reader, i have not forsaken thee …

10 days … my 30-45 minutes a day on the blog has taken a beating.

let’s see … what’s been happening …

working backwards …

this evening, i’ve been learning all i can about IMAP4, POP3, gimap as some refer to it, and have actually seen the text of the contents of my IMAP4 account via openssl.  if you know what any of that means, you know where i’m headed with my next 1-3 apps.

earlier, it was nuggets@lakers on television.  this nba season is incredibly interesting to me.  i think any one of about six teams has a legitimate shot at winning the title (in order:  heat, spurs, thunder, lakers, celtics, mavericks).  that would have been seven and chicago until a couple of days ago.  the knicks are just out of it.  the jazz are apparently no match for the spurs.  the nuggets are sort of fun to watch, but too green.  memphis giving up a 27 point lead is too flawed to get very far.  the clippers being down 27 before having to make such a comeback are too flawed in terms of consistency.  magic & pacers don’t seem to have the right parts.  atlanta, no.  a lot of interesting games coming up, though.

before that today … passed off one of my iOS apps to my first beta tester.  it wasn’t that hard to get him the requisite stuff, but it could have been easier had i known what i was doing.  i have 2 more beta testers for the GRID iOS app on the docket, and maybe they’ll also beta test a couple of other things for me.

yes, i have 3 iOS apps, mostly close to delivery and almost ready to put in the store.  i spent all day monday polishing the one that i hope makes me a little money.  the graphic design part of the app stuff is a little tricky.  all of the objective-C and foundation classes under the hood make a ton of sense to me, but there’s sort of a rigid semi-random order to the naming convention of the app icons and the launch image names.  i have one Xcode project in which all of this stuff just worked like i would expect it to, and the deployment summary page looked right from the get-go.  and then i have another where it couldn’t find files, and it kept wanting to add things in a funny way.  i had to change various info.plist data in one place that i didn’t have to change in another.  the third app, a giveaway, needs a slightly better icon, and i haven’t started with the launch images, which frankly should be relatively easy.

yesterday … ugh.  a monday to forget.  i spent a bunch of time polishing up some icon artwork that i finished putting in today, only to discover that it had stuffed it into a format that i was not happy with.  so i went to start that again, and then the program crashed just as i had re-created all of my modifications.  in between, it was playoffs in my 40-and-over rec league basketball, and we sort of blew it, going in with a top-seed, but losing to a team we had lost to once previously, turning the ball over quite a bit, missing a lot of open shots.  i actually partially blocked a guy’s 3 point attempt and it still went in.  that kind of day.

so … before that … well, it’s been 4 years now, amy & i celebrated our 4th anniversary with a 5 day getaway to miami beach.  yes, i’m out of work, but when the airline tickets and the hotel was pre-paid before embarking on the career-at-home, it seems a minor waste to not use them.  my airline ticket to miam was $278 round trip, and amy had a companion fare … the hotel was buy 4 nights get the 5th free, and it was a nice little suite, about the 3rd cheapest hotel that had a 4-star rating on hotels.com … and was paid for in january.  taxis were $80, parking at the san diego airport was $55, and we had one $100 dinner (including wine) on the night of our anniversary, and then a lot of eating out at places with a single $ in the $-$$$$ system that google maps uses to rate restaurants.  a good lunch out at a place called 8-oz burger bar about a 20 minute walk from our hotel, where we got to watch a single knicks fan yell at the tv while everyone else cheering for the heat got to laugh at him.  everything was walking distance in miami beach; a great little spot for a vacation, even if you’re on a budget.  i recommend pasha’s in lincoln mall.  david’s cuban deli had a pretty good all you can eat lunch buffet for $8.95 .  we spent a couple of days on the beach, and there was a bit of rain the last 36 hours in town.  our flight was canceled on the way back, and the replacement plane had some mechanical difficulties, and we still managed to get back to san diego only 3 hours later than we were originally supposed to.  a good time was had by all.

the 4 days before the anniversary trip were jam packed with my attempt to get my GRID newsletter out and also get it released for iOS 5.1 .  i sort of did both.  i incorrectly identified the edition in the subject line, and incorrectly identified the content in the iOS app.  so it was a bit buggy.  and i didn’t get it into beta testers’ hands as i had wanted because i misread a disclaimer on the provisioning website that scared me into thinking i couldn’t distribute my apple software to anyone outside my organization.  turns out, the disclaimer was meant to apply only to apple’s beta software that i might have access to.  but in a way, i got the 3 apps done that i was shooting for at the beginning of the month.

none in a store, and nothing on android, yet.  but close.

and that’s all in progress.  android sdk r19 has been installing in the background as i type this.  looking forward to getting at least 2 of the 3 apps onto that in the next 10 days.  we’ll see how good my porting skills are.

ok … 10-day dump complete.  let’s see if i can get back to the regularly scheduled blog post a day and also get back on track w.r.t. delivery schedules.

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dream … apply tag: geek

yes, i really did dream the following last night …

i’m in an office, small company, have just re-joined the group.

some stuff happens in the dream that i don’t remember all that well.  i end up having a couple of discussions with various colleagues.

one of my old colleagues is there, akira, he pulls me aside.

he starts writing on a whiteboard:

“let’s say i have a pointer to an object, and that object refers to a function.  now, let’s say i’m on a system where the user changes.  the first program will have come along and will be able to call that function.  but then the system changes the user and the second program comes along, and now the object function reference goes somewhere else.  what’s to prevent the function that’s being called from having a different argument profile and just blowing up?”

so, in the dream, i mull this over for like a second, and i think to myself “well, for one thing, when the user switches, they’ll still be running the same executable, and so the argument profile will be the same either way, so it won’t matter.”  but i don’t say this out loud.  i decide to confrere with another colleague sitting nearby and show what i know.

so we grab atin [another actual colleague of mine from decades ago], and we collect in a nearby cube.

and then a couple of other people join into the discussion.

and as we’re re-creating the problem (though we are all a bit flummoxed without a whiteboard in the new cube, and are considering moving), the actual answer to the question occurs to me.

and so i want to be able to say this, but we are all talking over one another as software guys are wont to do.

but i finally get my answer in “so the reason this won’t be a problem is that when you are writing your code, the function reference will have to be a poitner-to-function type, and the argument profile will have to match.  the compiler won’t even allow you to set that pointer.  … unless, of course, you force it, in which case you get what you deserve!”

there was general head nodding and agreement.  almost a universal glee that we had solved this mystery of the universe.  the meeting broke up, and i said to the group “aren’t you all glad there’s more excitement around here now that i’m back?”  [yes, i really said that in the dream.]

i walked off through a corridor, and there was a couple of other people at the firm talking about things that could be better, and just as i was almost out of earshot, one of the women said to the others (not intending for me to hear) “well, i haven’t had sex in two months.”

i did feel sorry for her.

but i had no idea what she was going to do about it.

then i woke up and wrote this.

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