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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who am I?

Hi. My name's Mory. This is my blog, but I don't know if I really have all that much to say. I could probably tell you almost everything there is to know about me in a single post, that's how simple a person I am. You know what, I think I'll do that. Is that okay with you? And then if you're interested in reading more I can get to all the babbling about other stuff, because babbling about whatever's on my mind is really what this blog is for. And if you decide I'm really boring, because it's a really simple story, then you can leave after this post. Okay? Good.

The first thing I have to say about myself is that I'm pretty good at figuring out how to use various systems. By "systems" I'm not talking about mechanical stuff, I'm talking more about how to do things. You know, like when I was 3 I taught myself to read. That sort of thing. I just tried to understand it, and I did. Most of the things that we think are really complicated are actually quite understandable and approachable if you take the time to observe and imitate them.

I lived in America for the first seven years of my life. Back then I loved to run and jump and read and sing, and I did that everywhere. Even in class, when I was old enough to go to class but not old enough to be told that you don't do that sort of thing in class. School didn't make much of an impression on me, since the whole "I talk, you listen" routine didn't speak to me. But there were some times when they'd have us figure out how to do things ourselves, like writing poetry or stuff like that, and I liked that. Back then I was a part of the group. I had friends, I talked to everyone. It wasn't exactly fulfilling being in the first grade, but it wasn't bad.

Then we moved to Israel. There wasn't one group anymore, there were really three. There were the English-speakers, there were the bullying Hebrew-speakers, and there were the native English-speakers who only ever spoke in Hebrew so that they'd fit into the environment better. I was in the first group, and my in-class behavior (running around, singing out loud, etc.) got me in a lot of trouble with the second group. I picked up the rules of speaking in Hebrew quickly, but it's one thing to understand the rules and it's another to have a vocabulary. I wasn't eager to hang out with the people who made fun of me and spent the classes throwing things at me, so I never built up that vocabulary.

On the rare occasions in class that I tried to pay attention, I found that I could only understand half of what was being said. And when I absolutely had to break apart from the English-speaking group for a moment and answer someone in Hebrew, I found that I only knew half the words I needed to say. (I could have read Hebrew books and built up a vocabulary, but I never did.) So I came to see myself as an outsider, and tried to take comfort in my distance from the crowd.

That hasn't worked out so well. In ninth grade I was in a school with lots of interesting artistic types, but they were Hebrew-speakers so I kept my distance. In eleventh grade I finally got to be in a class with girls, but they were all Hebrew-speakers so I kept my distance. Now I sit at home and interact with a small community of fellow Orthodox-Jewish English-speakers and hope no one will make me leave. To this day, whenever I pass a group of Hebrew-speaking teenagers on the street I have the sense that they're secretly laughing at me.

I've figured out how to play with lots of different systems over the years: music composition, acting, weird blogging, comics editing. But those are just fun things to do so that I don't get bored. My love is for videogames, and you know it's real love because I don't really enjoy making games but I force myself to do it anyway. Videogames are so diverse that I can imitate absolutely any kind of system, no matter how random, and make a game out of it. So that never gets old, and you can see why I love it so much. But since I'm an outsider I have to do all the tedious work myself, and that's most of the job. It's worth it, anyway.

So that's me. (See, I told you it wouldn't take long.) Now that you know everything there is to know about me, you can stay and read some stuff or not, I mean, at this point you can definitely make an informed opinion about whether you hate my guts or are mildly curious about what I'll do next. Welcome to my blog.



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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

~I Am That Future Self

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Am That Future Self

I've had plenty of ideas for games over the years. The earliest one I remember is Squeak, a Warcraft-clone where all the rodents in the world band together to take over the world. When I was 12 I spent a lot of time with my friend Tuvia planning out every detail of the cutscenes, though not much thought went into the game itself. The whole point of that idea was escapism. We felt like we were trapped in the school system, and wanted control of our own lives. So instead of going to class, we wandered around the campus and discussed the dilemma of mice trying to defeat their giant hunters.

I've changed. I've got lots of ideas for games now, but almost none of them are simple escapism. They all have a bit of reality in them, and sometimes more than a bit. Now that I think of it, I don't even know if 12-year-old me would like some of the games I want to make. He wanted to take the mundane and make it extraordinary; I want to take the extraordinary and make it mundane. It's the quiet moments that interest me now, not the noisy ones.

I used to lie awake at nights wondering how I'd change as I got older. What scared me was, I couldn't control my future self. My identity back then could later be completely buried under layers of responsibility and common-sense until all that's left is a boring adult. Who was this person, to think he could take over my life?

Well, that's me, really. The usurper. Sorry, kid.



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~Beauty of the Mundane, Banality of the Imaginary

Pussywillow is sitting in my lap, as usual. He's gotten downright clingy lately. He never leaves my lap if he can help it. When I leave the chair, he stays and waits for me to come back. I still remember how he used to be, anti-social and holding on to psychological problems from when he was a kitten. And now it seems like the only thing he wants in the world is to be in my lap. I love this cat.

I've been playing Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the Gamecube, which is just like the other games in its series. I've written out a list of which relationships between the characters I might find interesting. As I play through the game I keep those characters standing next to each other whenever possible, so that I can get them to have conversations with each other. When any characters die I have to start the level over, because if I don't it means I'll never see those conversations. I've lost count of how many times I've replayed the level I'm on.

I like Tanya. She's crazy, but the kind of crazy I can relate to. And she listens, that's important. When I have an issue with something she's saying to me, I bring it up and we find some common ground.

I've been playing Little King's Story, which is a good game. It uses its rules to create a cartoony simulation of real-world concepts. It is charming, long and tedious.

Back in October, The Perfect Color was in a temporary art exhibit in a museum in Rio de Janeiro. I'd submitted it for this "games as art" exhibit, but I didn't know whether they accepted it until just a few days ago when I saw the photos. There was a computer running my game, and a poster on the wall with screenshots. The exhibit was only up for three days, but what this means is that somewhere in the world, there's at least one person who doesn't know me but has played and enjoyed my game.

So far I've read roughly 36 years of Spider-Man comics. I think the current run of Amazing Spider-Man is the best I've read. It's released almost weekly. Each time I finish an issue, I want to read the next one straight away. But I need to wait a week (at least) to read the next one.

I've been corresponding with Kyler about the graphics for The March of Bulk. He gave me a background design which was very pretty and colorful. I told him to tone it down, and gave him a long description of what I'm looking for. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Joss Whedon's show Dollhouse is ending now. He hasn't been restricted in what kind of story he's telling, so he tries to go every direction at once and the result is a confused mess with no focus at all. What there is so far of the ending is awful. It is nonsensical and aimless. I hope when Joss Whedon finds more work, it's under a stricter boss.

Beauty of the Mundane, Banality of the Imaginary



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~Creative Disillusionment

Creative Disillusionment

For a very long time I've been saying that music isn't the way forward for me. But I'm only starting to really believe it now. I'm in the early stages of composing around ten different pieces, and I have little desire to continue any of them. When I'm in the mood for music I sit at the piano and play some old theme which never aspired to go anywhere, and I just play it over and over and over until I'm not in the mood for music anymore.

Music is like dreams. It serves a necessary purpose, in that it fulfills certain abstract emotional needs that are hard to describe in words. But there's nothing glamorous or interesting about music. It's like food. When I'm hungry, I eat. I don't care what it is that I'm eating, I just need to not be hungry anymore.

The one part of my repertoire which still has a spark for me is the music I've planned for my games. Some of it is for games which are a few decades away at best, but playing the music reassures me that I'm going to get there someday.

I've been telling myself over and over that games are what's important, and the words are starting to sink in. Music which isn't for games doesn't matter.

A parallel could easily be drawn to math, where I was really good at it until I lost interest and never did the final tests. I still use math, but only as a part of making games. I expect it'll be the same way with music someday. Everything I do eventually needs to be focused toward making games.

From that perspective, my upcoming CD is the symbol of an ending. "I'm done with this field, here's what I've accomplished in it." I know I ought to practice for it, but it hardly seems necessary. It's not like I have any reason to impress anyone with it. I'll just figure out the details as I'm playing.



You know Mory I completely disagree with the statements mentioned in this piece, for one I know you are a picky eater when it comes to cream-cheese. two for music, maybe you just need someone sitting in the rocking chair for that inspiration to hit. this is realty selfish but don't forget those of us who desire your music creativity, one of your best talents. it has the desired effect to make a bad day change for the better. for the writer it may not be glamorous but for the listener it's a fantastic work of interpretation brought into the realm of reality. and will be desired by all who hear it, if only we could hear it live when you played it.

It's very frustrating that I have no idea who you are.

If you'd like to hear me play, you're free to come over any time I'm home and ask me to play. I'd actually enjoy that. But no one ever comes over to hear me play, and I have no ambitions to spread my music around on more than a one-on-one basis. Making concerts, that's a career. I'd much rather spend my efforts on things where I think I have something original to offer.


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Monday, January 18, 2010

~We Don't Fit

Monday, January 18, 2010

We Don't Fit

Before I went to America, somehow I got Dena to go through with ordering Wii Fit Plus. Actually, my mother paid for it. My mother stopped paying for Dena's gym membership for one reason or another, and Dena argued that she ought to pay for Wii Fit as a kind of replacement. That my mother is easily convinced of things is not news to me, but I had to push Dena a little bit to get her to try. Wii Fit is not a game I'd ever consider buying myself, first because I don't want to be seen buying an exercising tool and secondly because it's awfully expensive. But if my mother was going to pay for it, I knew I'd get a nice amount of entertainment out of it given that it is a Nintendo game. So a $10 rebate I'd gotten from Amazon from my earlier purchases was my contribution toward the $90 price.

Now that I've had the chance to play it, I can confirm that it's really good. Much better than I was expecting, really. The thing about Nintendo (and Miyamoto in particular, who helped design this) is that they do understand what makes for a good game. So they could make a game about washing dishes, and somehow it would end up fun. Here they've made a game about exercising, and I've never liked the whole mentality of exercising and obsessing about health but if it's in a Nintendo game somehow it's fun. I've been regularly playing it in the mornings. I do the body test, which checks your weight and tests your balance. And then sometimes I go on to do the yoga poses and even strength-building exercises. It really depends on how likely it is that someone will walk in on me, because that could be pretty embarrassing. I'm just playing a game, but an onlooker might think I was exercising!

Now, Dena has not played Wii Fit. Not at all. I waited a week for her to play it, because I thought if she played it first she'd feel more like it was her game. And then maybe she'd get comfortable using the Wii, because "her game" is on it, and then maybe she'd branch out and play other games, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I single out that game in particular (which I bought in America) because I've seen that it's way more fun in multiplayer than in single-player, but I very rarely have anyone to play it in multiplayer with. I only know it's fun because sometimes our cousins' cousin (sibling of the ones I was with in Illinois) comes over, and he's not a gamer but he's willing to play this game and it's so much fun playing with him. Anyway, I hoped this could be a gateway game for Dena. I know, I've said in the past that I wouldn't get my hopes up about things like that. But this is exercise! And yoga! And weighing yourself! And feeling bad about your weight! This is her kind of game! If there was ever a chance to get her into games, this is it.

There was never a chance, apparently. After a week of waiting for her to play Wii Fit, I finally played it myself. I pretended I just wanted to enjoy it for myself, but really I was doing it specifically while she was there but not in the room so that she might walk in and get jealous and want to play it herself. It basically worked. After I played some of the minigames, she wanted to try it herself. And she did play it for a half-hour or so, not the exercises but just the minigames. She has not touched the Wii since.

I'm enjoying Wii Fit. It's not a perfect game by any means, but it is a remarkable game nonetheless. Through it, Nintendo has managed to get millions of people who don't consider themselves gamers to have fun playing games. Why couldn't my sister be one of them?



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~Tanya's back, and all's well.

Tanya's back, and all's well. She was in South Africa because a bunch of her friends were getting married or engaged or having other events that she felt she had to be at. I would never value my friends over my creativity, but I guess I can understand why she would. Anyway, there's no grudge here. She's back, and the play's going to be great.

There's an actor Tanya knows who's willing to play Cornelius, but he's not available on Wednesdays and many of our rehearsals are on Wednesdays, so she's looking for other actors who might be easier to work with. She's going to watch the other production of The Matchmaker in a few days, and she said she might ask their Cornelius to join us if he's good. I hope she's joking about that one.

In order to keep the play under two hours, we were going to cut most of Act 4, and replace it with a short video clip of Act 4's plot played out in pantomime. (Tanya described the idea as "Charlie Chaplin-style".) It could have worked. Tanya was going to ask a film student to direct that bit. But now JEST's board of directors have told her to scrap that idea, because there's no room in the budget for it. So we're doing Act 4 as written, and the play will be long. I'm okay with this decision. On the one hand, it means what we're doing is less insane, and that's a shame. But on the other hand, it means I get more funny moments on stage. I was off-book, but it didn't take me too long to get there. I can learn another act quickly enough.

Not everyone showed up to this rehearsal, for whatever reason. The schedule said we'd be doing Act 1, but the actors who came were the actors for Act 2 (minus Cornelius). So we did Act 2. Ambrose isn't in that act, only Barnaby.

I tried to tone down my performance a tad, because in practicing at home it had been a bit too crazy for a stage. To try to figure out the mannerisms of Barnaby I was hopping around the house a lot, but on stage it just didn't feel right. Barnaby was in a strange area, he'd probably be a lot more restrained. So that's how I played hm. When we were done running the scene, Tanya told me to run around more. So we ran it again, and I ran around so much that I felt like I was playing a squirrel. (I have no problems with squirrels, I just didn't expect that.) And then when we were done Tanya told me to never stop running around, to just be totally hyperactive. So we ran it a third time, and I kept running around so much that I felt like I was repeating myself, and then when we were done she said it was great but I ought to move around more. Really hop up and down, when appropriate. This is going to be fun. I may need to exercise my legs regularly.

We still don't have an Ermengarde, and Tanya isn't too concerned because Ermengarde doesn't have many lines. She's considering Dena, which would just be weird. I saw her in Another Antigone, and that was a good show but Dena's acting was one of the things I didn't like about it. Plus, that would just be weird. I'm supposed to act like I'm in love with Dena? I hope Dena declines. Although... if I play it like I'm not really in love with Ermengarde, it could add a bit of the weirdness from my backstory for Ambrose, where Ermengarde is really just the rebound girl. Hmmm.



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Sunday, January 17, 2010

~Quality Isn't Enough, Is It?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quality Isn't Enough, Is It?

My favorite thing that Marvel Comics is publishing right now is S.W.O.R.D.. It's a science-fiction series about the secret organization that tries to keep aliens from destroying the Earth (like Men in Black). The two main characters are a military-type half-alien lady named Abigail Brand (a character created by Joss Whedon) and her boyfriend, Beast of the X-Men. Their relationship (as written and drawn here) is the most adorable thing in the world. Beast is always optimistic, Brand is always cynical. Beast is overly romantic, Brand is overly cold. These qualities are exaggerated in the art (by Steven Sanders, who I'd never heard of before) with a delightful cartooniness. For that matter, the art in general is brilliant. Every little detail in every panel is more expressive than you'd expect to see in a comic, and this guy has a real knack for comedic timing. The writing by Kieron Gillen is no less fun than the art, with lines like "Try not to start a war before I get back. And if you do, make it a small one.". The story is at all times exciting and funny simultaneously. It ties in with the rest of the Marvel Universe, and has the regrettable annoyance of being a good six months behind continuity, but that's a problem with a lot of Marvel's output now that everything's tying together as intricately as I always wanted. But that's a very minor nuisance. When I first read the first issue, it struck me as the best first issue I'd read in years, and I couldn't wait to read the next one. For that matter, I wished I could read through the next fifty right away!

There have been only three issues so far. Already there are rumors that sales are so bad the series is going to be cancelled.



Most of the internet chatter about this book has been criticizing it for giving Beast a different look than the other comics he appears in. Which just goes to show that many people on the internet have no taste at all. Beast's design in S.W.O.R.D. is so much better than anywhere else, so much more distinctive and full of personality, that I wish all the other comic artists would start drawing him like this.

It's been confirmed that the series is canceled. There will only be five issues. Blah.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

~Forward March

Friday, January 15, 2010

Forward March

I've been making real progress on The March of Bulk lately. Mostly my new Thursday policy is to thank, as I spend over five hours on the game-work on Thursdays. That might seem like nothing to those of you with actual jobs, but keep in mind where I'm coming from here. A few years ago, five hours of continuous work on anything was unthinkable to me.

I'm not going to spoil any specifics about the game, for those of you fortunate enough to have not heard me give away all the details of the experience already. So I can't describe exactly what it is I've been working on. But I can tell you that the main game is going to be made up of 15 separate.. um, things, and I've made 12 of them. Most of those pieces are roughly how I planned them out a year ago. The rest I figured out as I went.

I think I've probably said already that The March of Bulk is a movement game. And even if I haven't, that's no spoiler. Now, the thing you have to understand about movement games is that their primary content is their controls, and that's something you can't really appreciate as an idea. You need to feel it for yourself. So I could plan out what the basic structure of it would be like, I could set out certain goals for myself in terms of how the game was supposed to end up, but I couldn't stick to those plans too faithfully. Ultimately the design comes down to intuition, not cleverness.

I almost never pull off the motion I'm going for on the first try. I try something, and if I'm not even in the right ballpark I throw it out, but if it's close I keep tweaking the numbers until I get there. I add complexity, I take out complexity. I break it into sections, so that I can do different things in different parts. What I'm doing here is halfway between programming and animation, and I'm good at neither but I know what I like and I can work out how to get there.

I could have asked Kyler to do the animations, of course. But that wouldn't work right. If he gave me some intricate animation, that's not subject to the player's interaction. I need it to react to exactly how the player is playing on a subtle level, or else it won't feel right. So the animations need to be pulled off through math, which takes into account all the variables of context.

So the pieces of a movement game only come together when I can play around with them as a gamer and see how it feels. (How the game feels is my main concern here. Those who don't care how their games feel have no business making movement games.) My old composition teacher Eliezer used to say that he couldn't tell me what to do with a piece of music until I had written it out. Similarly, I can't tell myself what to do with a piece of movement until I've programmed it in. And sometimes what I find surprises me. I had to throw out a few bits I liked in the planning stages, when I realized they would not mesh with the tone of the rest. And other things just occurred to me as I was working. There was one bit that wasn't even meant to be funny but turned out being hilarious through what's almost a glitch in the programming, so I played that up and added in a lot that I hadn't anticipated needing. Other times I unexpectedly feel as I'm playing like I'd like to do something at a certain point, and it's something I'd never considered, so I need to rework the design to add that in.

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to be the main gamist for a big movement game with lots of people working for me, and it's hard to picture. Whoever programs the animations is making the game. If I want it to be my game (and I do), I can't pass that job off to someone else. Which means that no matter how high up I go as a gamist, I'm still going to need to program sometimes. I guess what I need to do is get a programming environment better-suited for movement games, like one with a built-in physics engine. Or I could try to reduce all the movements in The March of Bulk to some sort of notation system and try to find logic in that that I can consciously use later. But either way, I'm always going to need to get my hands dirty. I can't consider myself a gamist otherwise. I'd be at best a manager.

It could work. It'll all work out fine.



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~Alternate-Universe Me

Alternate-Universe Me

In some alternate timeline out there, my parents never moved to Israel. I wonder what their Mory would be like.

He never learned Hebrew, he never was exposed to the violent attitudes of poor Moroccan kids, he never had to get too used to the idea of standing out. He never learned the Israeli directness and lack of caring about the future. He never discovered internet piracy (which is less commonplace in America), and therefore never got into videogames. He eventually would find out about Asperger's Syndrome, and would most likely try to fit in and eliminate his differences.

That Mory would grow up to be a very boring person. My interpretation of my life story says that the most important thing that ever happened to me was moving to the holy land. The alternate-universe me never had a reason to exist. I do.



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~How I play strategy games

How I play strategy games

Every Tuesday at 7:45 sharp, I run next door for Avri's Game Nights, where a bunch of us sit around and play board games. I have at times been accused of being an agent of chaos in these games, and some people have even expressed concern at playing with me because they can't predict what I'll do. But actually I'm a very methodical player. It's just not the methods other people would use, because my goals aren't the same.

I always aim to amuse myself, and I am easily amused. I might do something that gets me into trouble, and I know going in that it's probably going to get me in trouble, but I do it anyway because I know that if by some small chance I should pull it off it'll be glorious. Other people take a long time to consider each little thing they do; not me. I might spend lots of time analyzing what I did later, but the decision itself rarely takes more than a few seconds because I'm going by instinct. I think the fun is in the doing, not the planning. If it goes badly, it goes badly. But I'll have at least amused myself with the idea that I could have pulled off something ridiculous.

Other people don't think like that. Focusing on goals is very popular. It's what gets you ahead, if that's what you want to do. And there's always a goal to work for. Some people are going to be on top in the end, and some people will be failures. That's life. But that's not particularly important to me. There's only one ending. But there are so many little joys to be found along the way! If I can do one little thing that no one saw coming and totally reshapes the landscape, my work is done. That's such satisfaction already that it barely matters whether I end up a loser.

Now I'll admit, moments that great are few and far between. But like I said, I'm easily amused. Something doesn't have to be crazy to seem like a good idea, and I'll pursue what I consider good ideas to the ends of the Earth. Even ideas that are purely functional, I'll go after them if it seems like I might enjoy the function. If something's missing, I'll try to fill it in. If something's wrong, I'll try to fix it. These moments are in themselves satisfying, more because they feel right than because they are right. It's satisfying to make plans and stick to them and see them come together, even if at the end of the night it turns out those plans were ill-considered. Following some intricate plan with aesthetic appeal is more entertaining than forming a plan that makes sense.

I might not make it in the real world. My father wants me to start investing stocks; this seems like a very bad idea to me. At the end of my life, I'm not going to have more money than anyone else or be more famous than anyone else. I don't know if I'll even reach all the goals I've set for myself. And these things do matter to me, don't think they don't. But on a moment-to-moment basis, none of that concerns me at all. When I do a thing, it's because I think it's going to amuse me. Usually it does.



I try to find a balance between playing purely by instinct and purely by planning. I think it may also depend on the game. Some games just fit better into "telling a story" which pull me stronger into playing by instinct, and some games are rather dry and only reward planning. There also might be some correlation between this and the amount of randomness in a game. The more randomness, the easier it is for me to play by instinct, and vice versa.

So a game like Puerto Rico with basically no randomness is a game I play almost entirely by planning and hoping I can figure out what the other players actions will be by using pure logic.

Games like Last Night On Earth, where any 'ol random thing can happen, I try to play to maximize the story line. It's all about going out in a blaze of glory... sometimes literally.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

~Project Natal: Programmed By Machines

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Project Natal: Programmed By Machines

Note (16/1/2010): Moshe has informed me that my enthusiasm is misplaced: actually this kind of real AI is in reasonably common use already. He told me that there's a machine that's already learning for itself how to speak like humans, though he didn't know any specifics so I can't verify that. Still, all that can really be taken away from this post is how out of the loop I am on a subject that used to seem like one of the most important things in the world to me.

I knew Project Natal was impressive. But I didn't realize Microsoft needed to use real artificial intelligence to make it. Look at this:

The article is short, but here's what I understand from it. When Project Natal sees an image of a room and identifies a person in it, it then puts together a list of likely guesses as to what that body is doing, assigns a probability to each possible interpretation, and then takes the most likely assumption. Nothing more glamorous is going on here than following rules like "If the leg is two pixels further to the left, then increase the probability of case #1,694.". But those rules were not programmed by people.

Somewhere in Microsoft headquarters is a big network of computers that together form what the project workers call "the living brain". I am not making this up, it's right there in the photo gallery on the Popular Science page. This computer system is not just programmed but trained to recognize body positions from images. It was only programmed with a basic knowledge of how human bodies are shaped, which is much like how a living creature has basic functions programmed in as instincts. The "living brain" is given pictures and is told repeatedly what body positions those pictures are supposed to stand for, and then it writes its own rules to make sense of all that. When it's finished, the list of rules it's come up with will be put into the considerably-dumber Project Natal systems, which will not learn for themselves but just follow the rules which have already been learned. And those rules aren't objective laws decided on by some programmer or team of experts, they're the personal views of this particular computer network in Microsoft headquarters. They're rules which are the result of this particular program's design and experiences, with all the imperfections that implies.

The article, like I said, is short. It doesn't say whether this same technique is being used to train Project Natal's recognition of emotions, though I imagine it must be. And I'd really be interested in hearing a more thorough analysis of the way they're getting this program to learn. The article doesn't even say if this sort of thing is common nowadays; I haven't heard of anything this ambitious before, but I don't hear much. What this article does tell me is that I was wrong about AI systems. Clearly real artificial intelligence does exist, it's just running on hardware too expensive for end users and still needs to be trained by professionals for very specific tasks. It is a start.



Just as a note of my concern for project natal is that the current precision of the system might not be high enough for people to do what they imagine they want to do with such a system. This will than lead to disappointment with the product.

I will use an example from a sport that I enjoy and am adept at. Ping pong. I'm assuming that most people will imagine that project natal will allow them to simulate a game of ping pong. It just seems like something it should be able to do. However, the precision of Natal is something like + or - 5 cm ( I read this in some article I can't find again).

Now ping pong is all about millimeters. Tiny differences in speed and angles. I'm sure that in sensing the angle of the paddle, a precision of roughly 1 mm would make it feel really authentic.

So to design games for Natal, they need to be designed in such a way that 5 cm is enough precision, and feels right. Something like an extreme upgrade to dance dance revolution.

I too am very interested in the whole project and can't wait to actually try it.

Hi! Haven't heard from you in a while.

I actually raised my own concerns about the lack of precision when I first wrote about Natal here. And you're right, a Ping Pong game wouldn't work. Or at least, a realistic Ping Pong game wouldn't work; if you start getting arcade-y, there are ways to make it fun. For a realistic Ping Pong game I think it would be easier to use the upcoming PlayStation Motion Controller or even Nintendo's MotionPlus add-on. The appeal I see in Project Natal is first in pulling more people into games, and second in augmenting existing kinds of games with little bits of natural motion.

Oh, and I should also say that from video demonstrations of Project Natal I could see a not-insignificant amount of lag between the action and its appearance on screen. But still, there's much that a good gamist could do with it.

After speaking to Moshe, I've added a note to the beginning of this post spelling out that there is actually nothing out-of-the-ordinary going on here. Obviously if I'd spoken to him earlier I would not have written this post, but it seemed like a big deal when I read about it.


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~The Necessity of Dreams

The Necessity of Dreams

Scanning neural pathways...
17 problem areas located.
Pathway 3691b6 (68% above healthy)
Pathway 36e!00 (66% above healthy)
Pathway 36@892 (66% above healthy)
Pathway w793a3 (65% above healthy)
Pathway 361224 (61% above healthy)
Pathway 361225 (61% above healthy)
Pathway 3605nl (54% above healthy)
WARNING: All above pathways are reaching near-obsession levels and must be reduced immediately to maintain healthy brain function.
Pathway 64a54a (37% above healthy)
Pathway 64a5jd (37% above healthy)
Pathway 369(b7 (35% above healthy)
Pathway 760435 (34% above healthy)
Pathway r5esu8 (32% above healthy)
Pathway 282229 (26% above healthy)
Pathway 84$090 (14% above healthy)
Pathway a1+018 (10% above healthy)
Pathway a1+019 (10% above healthy)
Pathway a1+020 (10% above healthy)
Okay, what have we got. A lot of trouble in the 36 area, I see.. the girl next door. Okay, I'll have to start from there. And w793a3... pizza. I must still be hungry. Let's get to work.
I am in that girl next door's house. She is not here. I am okay with this. There is a slice of pizza on the table.
That ought to lower them a little. How direct should the sexual content here go? Hm, 68%.. that's not really so bad. It's not worth risking waking up over. There's still a lot to fix after dealing with her.
She is asking to share pizza. There is a pie of pizza on the table.
Okay. Not the most effective thing in the world, but it'll deal with 36e!00 a bit. How are we doing?
Pathway 3691b6 (68% above healthy)
Pathway 36e!00 (42% above healthy)
Pathway 36@892 (56% above healthy)
Pathway w793a3 (13% above healthy)
Pathway 361224 (60% above healthy)
Pathway 361225 (60% above healthy)
Pathway 3605nl (53% above healthy)
Pathway 64a54a (37% above healthy)
Pathway 64a5jd (37% above healthy)
Pathway 369(b7 (2% above healthy)
Pathway 760435 (34% above healthy)
Pathway r5esu8 (32% above healthy)
Pathway 282229 (26% above healthy)
Pathway 84$090 (14% above healthy)
Pathway a1+018 (10% above healthy)
Pathway a1+019 (10% above healthy)
Pathway a1+020 (10% above healthy)
Pathway 91gg47 (21% above healthy)
Darn it, I made a new one. 91gg47.. the similarity between tables and the human body. I'd better fix that before it gets any worse.
The table has turned into a human and walked away. This is not unusual.
Pathway 91gg47 (-4% above healthy)
Phew. Okay, how do I proceed. 64a54a.. I'm not doing enough painting these days. Easily remedied, and I can tie that in with the girl easily enough.
The girl next door has taken off her clothes and would like me to paint her back.
Okay, that's going down, excellent. I should leave that going for a minute so that I don't have to deal with this again for a while. If I keep mixing things together like this, I'll be done in no time. Okay, let's see what's next.. ah. This is an easy one.
Spiders crawl out of her back and jump at my face. I am still alive.
>ask girl to squash spiders
She will not, and she laughs at me. I can handle this humiliation.
WARNING: Stress levels reaching unsafe level. Stress must be reduced to prevent waking up.
No, I'm still okay. I've got to leave this going for another few seconds, it's going down slowly. 9%... 5%... that should be enough.
She asks about sociological principles.
This shouldn't take long. This stuff is totally useless, I wouldn't want to be stuck with wanting to talk about it in real life. 16%.. 1%. Fine. Let's get to the a1's now.
Babies descend from the BEEP BEEP BEEP
Not the alarm already!
Deleting temporary files...
ERROR. Some temporary files were not properly removed. These may interfere with normal brain function.
But there are still a few serious obsessions.. darn. I'll have to bring those down tomorrow.

Okay, get up.



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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

~No Way To Run A Production

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Way To Run A Production

Tanya has been out of the country for a month now. Without a director, we can't make any real progress on the play. At first we had rehearsals under the assistant director, and our lead actress wasn't taking them seriously. Then we took a three-week break for Tanya to get back.

Tanya is in South Africa. No one (the assistant director included) seems to have any idea what she's doing there. She's not South African, but she lived there for a while so she has friends there. That still doesn't explain what was so important that she'd leave us for it for so long.

We presently have no actor playing Cornelius. While I was in America, David, who was going to play the part and who I was enjoying working with, got a hernia. It's not an emergency, so the hospital hasn't scheduled his surgery yet. But the surgery needs to be done, and until it is he can't strain himself in any way. That means he's out, and we have no replacement. My friend Moshe expressed an interest in trying out for the part, but then he got in to this training program for a computer job and now he doesn't have the time. The only other person who's expressed interest so far is someone who's not available on Wednesdays, which many of our rehearsals are on.

But we don't even know if he'd be appropriate for the part, because there have yet to be any sort of auditions for the part. David got in on the strength of his audition months ago, I doubt Tanya even considered anyone else. And Tanya's not back yet. She was supposed to be here yesterday. No one seems to know why she's not. Now she says she'll be here on Thursday. She'd better be.

There's also an issue with the character of Ermengarde. There was a lovely girl playing her, and then she had trouble with her travel visa so she's out. A girl I know took over, and then she joined a production of Annie which happens to have a performance on the same night as one of ours. Tanya knew about this before she left, but she didn't find anyone else. So we may or may not have an Ermengarde, and there isn't anyone who can fix this situation except for a lady who is in South Africa right now.

I didn't realize she wasn't going to be here, so I took today's rehearsal seriously. We were supposed to get off book in the three-week break, so I basically did. There are many parts I'm not comfortable with yet, and I'd need to stumble through those parts a bit, but I do basically know all my lines. The rehearsal was called for 7:30 in the place where we had the callbacks, so I printed out a map of the place for reference (just to be sure I'd get to the right place) and left the house at 5:30. I got there a few minutes late.

There was no one there except me and three other actors. Even the assistant director hadn't gotten there yet. And when she did, she said that no one else would be coming. Everyone had some convenient excuse to not be there.

We waited around until a little past 8:00. I played piano in the meantime; it was horribly out of tune, and there wasn't much I could do with it. Then someone named Rachel showed up, who is apparently Tanya's boss. In retrospect I'm not sure why she was there; there's not much she could have said to explain what was going on because she herself didn't seem to understand what was going on. But we sat around and talked about the state of the play, and then since we were there we did the parts of the play that we could.

Rachel told me I flail my arms around too much as Ambrose. I'll listen to what she's saying, but this is getting annoying. When I worked with Tanya she said to move around less with my lower body. So all the energy that I wanted Ambrose to have, that was all going into his arms. Now I'm finding out that he shouldn't have so much energy. I'm trying to figure out who this character is, I really am, but these reactions just aren't making sense to me. I'm afraid the character is going to end up just standing there motionless like a corpse, and nothing I want to express about the character is going to come across at all.

And Barnaby, no one is complaining about. I'm really not sure about what I'm doing with Barnaby, but no one's saying a thing. It could be because I've got it, so no one bothers. More likely it's because I'm doing such an awful job that people are worried they'll hurt my feelings. Normal people are so irritating.

The play goes on at the beginning of March. A month and a half, that's the time we've got. Which might be enough for some plays, but this is a crazy play and it really needs more time. It looked like we had more time, and then Tanya had to go to South Africa. We have no Cornelius, we may or may not have an Ermengarde, and that's not even getting to all the craziness of act 4 which we haven't even begun to plan yet but only exists as a vague concept in Tanya's head. And sure, it's a good concept, but still!

I feel certain that there's a great play to be made here. I'm less certain that we're making that play.



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Monday, January 11, 2010

~Laziness May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Monday, January 11, 2010

Laziness May Be Hazardous To Your Health

I have very nice parents. One of the many little perks of that is that I never had to do dishes throughout my teenage years. It was only after that that they started to get fed up and started dish-washing schedules that included me. So one day of the week was my day to do the dishes. This schedule stuck for maybe two months, tops.

See, I take a very long time doing dishes. It always frustrates me when dishes are put back in the drawer that aren't perfectly clean, so I was especially thorough with each and every piece of silverware. Every spot needed to be scrubbed. My parents told me I was wasting too much water, that it shouldn't be taking me so long, but I wasn't going to do the kind of job they do. And understand, I do not enjoy washing dishes at all. This wasn't a point of pride, just a point of obsession. Each time I washed the dishes, I was standing at that sink for well over two hours.

Eventually I squirmed my way out of doing the dishes again. Then my mother started to get angry. She said it wasn't fair that I should use dishes and she'd have to wash them. She suggested that rather than having a schedule, we should all just wash our own dishes.

So from that point on, I've been eating on plastic. Plastic plates, plastic cups. I still use real silverware, because the plastic silverware is borderline unusable. But if there's a way to not leave a dish, I don't leave a dish. That way my mother can't justifiably get angry at me for giving her work that she wanted me to do. There's no work now.

From the start I understood the downside of this policy, which is that it limits the food I can eat. I can't cook anything, even pasta, because then there would be pots or pans left. So for months now I've been on an exclusive diet of bagels and whatever leftover pasta is around, but that's barely a change from before so I'm okay with it. I don't need variety, I just need to eat.

As I said I've been doing this for months, but it was very recently that my father found out that I'd been microwaving the plates. Well, of course I microwave the plates. The bagels need to be defrosted before toasting, and I need to melt cheese on the pasta. When I'm having pasta, I sometimes microwave it over and over. I didn't realize, until my father told me, that that's not healthy. He told me that microwaving plastic gets some sort of toxic material into the food which has been proven to cause cancer.

Well, gee. I wish he had told me that before I was microwaving my food in them twice a day every day for months. He assured me that there's no way I could get cancer already, but I don't see how he's so certain. I've stopped microwaving the plates, of course. For pasta I use actual dishes, which I'm not going to wash afterward. I'm going to eat pasta less.



Defrost bagels on top of a piece of paper towel.

This is what I do now.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Sunday, January 10, 2010


As you may have gathered over the past few years, 74 is my favorite number. This is because there was once a moment in my life where I said to myself, "From this moment on, 74 is going to be my favorite number.". I was 17, I was in high school, and I was playing WarioWare: Mega Microgame$ on my Game Boy Advance. More specifically, I was playing the paper airplane minigame. (This is the same minigame which has since been expanded into a DSi downloadable game.) I kept playing it over and over, and I kept dying at roughly 74 points. That was the moment I decided it would be my favorite number. I know, it's not earth-shattering. But it's not like I pick random favorite numbers every day. I guess I wasn't ready until that very moment. When you see the number, you just know it's the one. Or the seventy-four, as the case may be.

There are a few interesting coincidences of the number in my life, which I only discovered later. For instance, at the point when I was playing that game, my father was 47 years old and my grandfather was 74 years old. And then there's the G'matriya. G'matriya is a little number game rabbis like to play, where each Hebrew letter has a numerical value and the value of any word is the sum of its letters. The G'matriya of "Mordechai" is 274. And the G'matriya of "Mordechai Ariel Buckman", by its Hebrew spelling, is 714. See, that's just cool. Oh, and Dr. Hans Asperger (grrr) died at 74.

But even without all that stuff, it'd still be my favorite number. I've used it as the title for all my posts here which are short and random, because the title "74" is short and random. It didn't occur to me to use it as a way to control the structure of the blog until my seventh 74 post, which just so happened (I swear I did not plan this out!) to be my 74th post overall.

I'd like to live forever, but I suspect I'll actually die at the age of 74. Alternatively, I might die in the year 2174, 13 years after the United Federation of Planets is formed. I like that version of the story better.



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~My Alphabet

My Alphabet

When I Grow Up, I Want To Do Everything (26/7/2009)
Step 2: Arellian
I had almost finished my logical alphabet, where the connections between letters are perfectly intuitive and logical. I needed to start working on the vocabulary. It would use a modified version of Hebrew's "root" logic, because it just makes everything more sensible. In addition, you could get the opposite of any word by spelling it backwards. And the longer a word, the more specialized its meaning. There would be short words talking about general concepts, so that you could have a basic conversation without having an advanced vocabulary. But adding on more letters to the start and end would add on subtleties and contexts and connotations and iterations. Starting from these rules, I'd eventually deduce the single most logical language in the world. I believed I'd find that in the end, there would only be one solution to this problem.

This post is very long and thorough, and includes both images and an audio file. If you are short on time, or are not interested in the minutiae of useless things, you may want to skip most or all of this post.

The first few years of my life were spent in America, where the name "Mordechai" might sound weird, so my parents gave me a nickname. At the time I first figured out how to read, that name was spelled "Morry". An overthinker even then, I went to my mother and protested. "If it's spelled 'Morry', it has to rhyme with 'sorry'. But I'm not 'Mahr-ee', I'm 'More-ee'!" So we took an R out of my name, and I was satisfied. But of course I was making a naïve mistake: I was expecting language to make sense. Language hasn't made sense in thousands of years.

Ancient Hebrew- now there was a sensible language. In Hebrew every word is made up of a shoresh (meaning root) of three letters that says what the essence of the word is. You can detach those three letters from the "structure" that contains them, so that you can understand what the word means just by recognizing those two elements. The logic of the system is clear: just by knowing one word (any word) from a particular root, you can infer all the rest. There are rules covering every aspect of spelling and grammar. And in ancient times, the Hebrew letters were all distinct from each other. None of this nonsense like in English where C and S can make the same sound, and sometimes an S can sound like a Z, and C, K and Q can all be the same. English derives from languages that derive from other languages that derive from other languages that eventually go back to ancient Hebrew, and it makes sense that with such a logical language as ancient Hebrew the other languages would want to build on that, but over the millennia all sorts of inane compromises of sanity have crept in to the point where none of the elegance remains.

(I'm sure there's a long history explaining every misstep that led to where we are now, but I'm not too curious because all the people I could assign blame to are long dead.)

In Israel I learned Hebrew, and those rules were like a breath of fresh air after a lifetime of pollution. But modern Hebrew is not ancient Hebrew. Many mistakes and contrivances which got into other languages somehow found their way into Hebrew. What keeps it reasonably sane to this day is that we've got many books written in ancient Hebrew, from which we can figure out how the general grammar works. (Modern grammar is different in many little ways, but it's mostly the same.) But we don't have an audio recording telling us how it's meant to be pronounced. So in learning the rules, there was a bit of a frustrating disconnect where I understood the logic of the rules, but didn't see them being applied consistently.

For instance: in Hebrew there are six letters which sometimes have dots in them. Without a dot the sound is continuous, with a dot it's a single sound. (I actually think that's exactly backwards from the way it used to be, but that's a different topic.) Take the letter pei: with a dot it's pronounced like a P, without it's pronounced like an F (or "PH"). That makes sense. It's roughly the same sound, except that one is continuous and one isn't, so they're the same letter and there are rules saying when you use one or the other. But in the rules of spelling, there are six letters like that: the equivalents of B, G, D, K, P, and T. Of those, only the B, K and P equivalents make a different sound with a dot. That's clearly wrong. In ancient Hebrew each of those had a continuous form, but we've forgotten or discarded those.

Things like that are just inconsistent, and that drove me crazy. If it's going to be a sensible language with sensible rules, it's got to go all the way. You can't just take out some of those rules and expect the result to still make sense. There are letters whose sound we've forgotten, so we pronounce them the same as other letters. The result is redundancies and confusion, which is not how Hebrew is supposed to be. Hebrew is supposed to be a holy language, not a random one. When we read out of our holy Torah every Shabbat, we're reading it wrong. It's not supposed to sound the way we make it sound, and I imagine the real thing is probably much more beautiful.

I admired the ambition of Hebrew, didn't care for how it had ended up. So in fifth grade, I started working on a replacement. By the standards of this confused world Hebrew is still pretty logical. But not nearly enough for my liking, and that's what this new language I imagined would have to be. I started with the alphabet, trying to work in all the (American) English sounds but in a structured way which was detached from the fuzzy logic of modern alphabets.

Here it is:

Back then I called it the Arellian alphabet after my middle name; now I call it the Hee alphabet, for reasons that I will explain later. There's a lot going on here, so it might take a while to explain fully. (The scanner chopped off the sides a bit. Just pretend it didn't.)

But first, please note that this is not exactly what I came up with in grade school. What I came up with then had flaws, which I've corrected in order to post them here. This is, in my view, the definitive version of the alphabet, and if ten-year-old me saw what I've done (and heard my reasoning for the changes), I have little doubt that he'd come around to my way of thinking. 35 of the 52 symbols here are exactly as scribbled on all my school notebooks, and the other 17 I created yesterday to fill in the gaps and correct the mistakes while staying fairly true to the original scribbles through all the revisions.

Anyway. As you see, both the vowels and the consonants are categorized into families. Similarly to Hebrew words but unlike Hebrew letters, just by looking at any letter in this alphabet you can understand exactly how it relates to all the other letters. In both English and Hebrew there are some sounds which are combinations of other sounds, and that goes unacknowledged. That's unacceptable to me. If a common sound is made up of other sounds, you know it because you can see that the symbol for the letter is made up of two other letters. So that's what all these vowel and consonant "combinations" are.

Here's an MP3 file of all fifty-two sounds, some of which you've most likely never heard. I'm going to get to an explanation of each letter in a minute, but first I'd like to clarify where I'm coming from with this.

It probably looks like a tremendous number of letters, and I guess it is. There are twice as many sounds here as in the modern Hebrew language, or probably even the (more diverse) biblical Hebrew language. It even has more sounds than English, a language where each letter can sound twenty different ways depending on the time of day. On the other hand, it's not even close to containing all the sounds out there, so it's not useful for a thorough examination of language either. The question that must be asked is what exactly it's for. My answer is that it was a personal way for me to make sense of the sounds that I already knew and used on a daily basis. English and Hebrew didn't make sense, so I needed to satisfy myself.

Every single sound which I use in casual English speech is contained in this alphabet, even those which I use only when saying Hebrew words in English. The reason there are more letters than both languages combined, even though authentically Hebrew sounds are not accounted for, is twofold. First, the letters are consistent. Each letter will always make the same sound, with no exceptions. Second, the rules need to be thorough. If there are four sounds to be made of a certain category, I can't just include three. I need the full set, or else I can't justify including that category to begin with. This second rule is a lot less satisfying to me now than the first, but back then I thought the alphabet was a lot more thorough than it actually is so I didn't have a problem with it.

Okay, let's go through bit by bit. Keep in mind the whole time that I speak with an American accent. If you have a different accent, you're almost guaranteed to be confused at times unless you remember that.


First up are "ah" and "uh". Similar sounds, so much so that when Israelis speak English they think there's only "ah" and no "uh" and no one thinks to correct them. "Ah" is the A in "blah", the O in "pot" and the first E in "en garde". "Uh" is the U in "run", the O in "cover", the OO in "blood", the A in "mesa" and the E in "the".

Next are the short A, E, and I, which have always sounded to me more like three parts of a specific range of sounds than three distinct entities. You can't go from "a" to "i" without passing through "e" on the way. At least, that's how I see it. They are drawn accordingly, and note that all three are only drawn above the middle of the line. (I drew on two lines to better emphasize this.) Anyway, "a" is the A in "cat" and the EA in "yeah". "E" is the E in "pet". "I" is the I in "think", the O in "women" and for that matter the E in "women" as well, the E in "glasses", the second O in "horizon", the U in "rhesus", the Y in "cyst" and the dot in "Mrs.". :)

"O" is the O in "or", but not the O of "most". It is the sound made by the Hebrew letter vav, and I believe it's also like the O you'd hear in Spanish though I'm not certain of that. It's a simpler sound than the English O; if you don't know what I'm talking about you'll have to listen to the MP3. "Oo" is the OO in "caboose", the O in "move", the U in "ruse" and the W in "ewe". What I call "u" is probably not what you'd expect; I'm referring specifically to the U of "put" and the OO of "foot". The old version of "Arellian" had a fourth leter in this category, and the whole family looked more congruous for it, but I just realized now that it's actually made of two sounds. It's hard to shake what I've learned. Anyway, this is a family of three because the mouth is a similar shape in all three, but it's not a range of sounds like the "e" family.

Finally there's "ee": the EE of "sweet", the EA of "leaf", the EI of "either", the E of "mete" and the I of "pizza". This letter is in a category of its own. It looks like the Hebrew letter yod, which makes the same sound.

Vowel Combinations

The first line is what you get when you add "ee" to the end of all eight of the other vowels. There are two "I"s: the first is the Y in "fly" and the second is the I in "flight". They are not the same sound; the first is "ah-ee" and the second is "uh-ee". The third I put in parentheses because it's hard to describe, but it's a short "a" with "ee" added. For some reason it makes me think of pirates. "Ay" is the A of "date" and the EI of "neigh" and the É of "café". Like "I", we English-speakers think of this as one sound but it's actually made of two: "eh-ee". After that is "i-ee", which is again not English. The MP3 file will tell you how it sounds. Then to the "oo" family: "oy" is the OY of "boy" and the oi of "noise". "Ooy" isn't English except under certain pronounciations of "buoy", but it's straightforward: just try to say "Shmooi!" as one syllable, and you've got it. And finally "u-ee", which is the U of "put" plus "ee" though that might be hard to imagine without hearing it.

The second line is what you get by adding "oo" to the other vowels. I'm just going to skip to the parts that are English sounds, because you understand the routine by now. "ow" is the OW in "now", which is actually "a"+"oo". "ew" is not in any words except "Ew!", but you know it from there: "i" plus "oo". Then there's "oh", which is the English O in "boat" and "comb" and snow". And at the end of the line I should have put in "ee-oo", as in the word "Eeeeeew!", but I didn't think of it until just this moment. My bad. The old school notebooks probably had that, though, because it just makes sense. It would look like a backwards "ooy". (So I guess there are actually 53 letters, not 52.) There's no "u-oo", because the two sounds are so similar that I personally can just barely perceive the combination as being different from a simple "oo", though that's probably just me.

On the third line is one of the changes from the original that I mentioned earlier. "Aw" used to be in the "oo" family as its own basic sound, and that always gave me lots of trouble but I couldn't figure out why until today. It's actually a combination of "o" and "uh", isn't it? If I had realized this back in the day, I might have filled out all the rest of the vowel+"uh"s, because they're all pretty distinct sounds, but today I don't see the need. Only one of those nine sounds is in my life. "Aw" is the AW of "saw" and the AU of "pause".

And that's all for the vowels! [phew] This didn't seem so complicated when I made it up...


What I found about consonants, when I thought about them, was that they could generally be broken into categories by two criteria. First, some sounds were short sounds after which you move on, and others were continuous. Secondly, some sounds sounded dry and some sounded soft. I don't know how else to describe it.

Let me give you an example of what I mean, using the first family of consonants I wrote out. (There isn't really a proper order to any of this, it's just how I decided to write it this time.) P is a noncontinuous sound. If you make it continuous (down), you have an F. If you make the P's sound softer (in the sense of texture, not loudness), you have a B. That's written to the right. And if you make the P both soft and continuous, you have a V. A family of four. Now take notice of how these letters are written; their appearance reflects their places in the family. The P and F are made of sharp angles, while the B and V are made of soft curves. Also, the F and V's lines end up back where they started. That's a principle I was particularly happy about: if a consonant is continuous, you know it because it closes a loop. By the way, the resemblance to a lowercase B and capital F was not unintentional. It made the letters easier for me to remember.

The T family follows the same principles. The T and D equivalents look much like lowercase T's and D's, but more importantly the T is made of straight lines and the D is curved. The continuous form of T is Th, which is the Th of "math". The Th of "there" I'm calling Dh, because it's the continuous form of D.

The third family is less English-sounding. The soft version of K is G. The continuous version is Kh, like the "ch" in "Mordechai" or "Bach" or "Blecch!". That's the Hebrew khaf, not the hebrew khet, because I don't pronounce khets correctly even when speaking in Hebrew. The final part of the family I can't really describe in words, because it is neither a part of English nor a part of modern Hebrew. (I like to think it was in ancient Hebrew, though.) I call it Gh, and if you want to know what it sounds like you'll just have to hear it in the MP3. Alternatively you could figure it out for yourself, because there's only one sound that could possibly complete the sequence. It's the continuous form of G and the soft form of Kh. Now, what I find funny is that everyone thinks the continuous form of G is J, but the two sounds aren't connected to each other in any way! I'll explain a little bit later what the J sound is, but it has nothing to do with this family.

The fourth family is an odd one. S and Sh are clearly connected, as is Z and Zh (the S of "decision"), and the Z's are certainly the soft version of the S's, but all four sounds are continuous. So they all start with a line in the middle and then close a loop, but they close that loop in different ways.

In the bottom left corner is H. That's not connected to anything, because it's kind of the prototypical sound. You don't close your mouth at all to make it, you just exhale. So the design is a simple two lines- first there's silence, and then sound. This does not conform to the closing-a-loop rule, but the line goes along with the rule I wrote to the right of the big word "Consonants": drawing a line in the middle coming out from any letter continues its sound. (This rule replaces any cases where one letter repeats itself, which would be redundant.) So in a sense you're just continuing the most basic sound. Because of that, H is to my mind almost a vowel, which is why I didn't make it loop.

Speaking of almost-vowels, the two letters to its immediate right are just vowels masquerading as consonants. Y is what you get when you continue the end of an "ee", W is what you get when you continue from an "oo". Each is drawn as its vowel with a line continuing it. (With both H and these, to lengthen the sound you just draw out the line further. You don't add a second line.) Y and W should be considered a family of two.

All the way on the right are the four leftover sounds. These cannot fit into any possible categories, but they are common sounds in both English and Hebrew and therefore need to be represented. I would have loved to make whole families out of each of them, but that would involve filling those families almost entirely with sounds I don't know. The fact that I didn't do that makes me feel better about not completing the "aw" line. But even if I had, whatever came out would most likely not resemble the four regular consonant families. The R is pronounced like an American R. If the N comes before a G or a K, it is not combined with those sounds as in English but the two sounds are kept separate. You'll notice the lines sticking out from the R and L, with parentheticals pointing out that they aren't always there. That's because I find that R and L are most peculiar letters: they have a bit of a vowel built in. Every time your mouth moves to form an R or L and air is still coming out of it, you have to make an "u" sound of sorts in the process. That's how it seems to me. So the line completes the V-shape that's the "u" vowel. The line does not appear when an R or an L is the first letter of a word. I'm okay with adding a weird rule like that, because it's just codifying how I already talk.

Consonant Combinations

This bit could have been longer, including sounds like X (=K+S) and maybe some new ones, but I don't remember having any combined sounds other than these four back in elementary school so these are the only ones I'm including. The first line is straightforward: I'm adding the S family to T and D. "Ts" is the Hebrew tzadi, so I use it regularly to say things like names. In English it's the double-Z of "mezzo". "Dz" is just D and Z together; I can't think of any words which use this as a single sound, but it's the softened version of "ts" so it has to be here. The other two you'll recognize: T+Sh="ch", and D+Zh="j". "Ch" is the CH of "which", "J" is the J of "Jew" and the G of "gem". How these letters got connected to C's and G's, I have no idea.

And finally, something which isn't so much one letter after the other as it is the synthesis of two sounds. "Ng" looks like an N inside a G. I mentioned earlier that just an N with a G after it makes two disconnected sound, so here's the way to write the English NG of "ring". Unlike in English, this sound is not restricted to the ends of words; it's a letter like any other.

So that's the Hee (formerly Arellian) alphabet. Here's how my full name is written:

Now, the Arellian alphabet was supposed to be a precursor to the Arellian language. I never did that. I started it, and gave up almost immediately afterward because the task I'd set for myself was just too big. There are a few principles that all words in this language would need to follow. First, any word written backwards is its opposite. Second, the shorter the word the more general its concept. The more specialized the field up for discussion, the longer the words get. Third, changing any single letter in a word (consonant or vowel) to another letter in its family (or a combination letter made from it) gets you a word which means almost the same thing but not quite. Fourth, by looking at a word you've never seen and comparing it to other words you know you should sometimes be able to figure out what it means for yourself.

You can see why I gave up. I'm not sure if it's theoretically possible to make an entire language with such precise logic to it.

I might as well tell you where the name "Hee" comes from. In twenty years or so, I hope to have gotten up to the point where I can make my fantasy-RPG idea. In that game there will be many different races, one of which I call Hee. They're fundamentalist atheists in white burkas who strive to achieve perfection by destroying anything which doesn't fit their very narrow view of what's logical. (Like all the races I have planned for the game, they're actually me in disguise.) This imaginary language I wanted is perfectly suited for them, being a naïve attempt at perfection of thought. "Hee" is the only name they could possibly have. Like I said, any letter can be changed for another letter of its family. That means that any word is not the be-all and end-all of its concept, except for a word which has only one syllable where all the letters come from one-letter families. That's H and "ee". The word written out looks like a backwards four, which is a striking enough symbol to put on flags.

(By the way, while trying to find a suitable name for the Hee I first went through the two-letter families, and accidentally stumbled across the Jewish name for God! That gave me a lot more respect for the unappreciated logic of correctly-pronounced Hebrew.)

I do not intend to create the Hee language, Tolkien-style (or Avatar-style, more topically). Back when I was in school it seemed like a good idea, but when I was in school I was a lot more bored than I am now. It just seems like too much work for something with too little purpose. If anyone reading this would like to give it a shot, be my guest.



I like your idea of the alphabet. I also thought about making one, but the combination of all the sounds used in correct Hebrew and their families was just too much for me. I do have some corrections for you though.

You forgot to talk about M and N. Coincidentally, I have a correction to your classification. I think M should be related to the B family. Similarly, N should be related to the D family and ng should be related to the G family. It's not very hard to make the connection. Each one is just making that lip position and breathing out of your nose instead.

[If you have a cold and can't breath out of your nose, you will probably use the one you blow out of your mouth for (B instead of M). Try it! Just replace the letters M N and ng for B D and G, ad you idstadtly soud codgested!]

Anyways, ng should not be classified as a consonant combination, rather a consonant on its own (related to G, as stated above).
Your system isn't completely consistent, there are still some things it doesn't cover:

How do you know when to change to the next syllable? Words can be spelled the same way, yet still divided differently. In my name, for example, B-e-ts-ah-L-e-L how do you know that the division is ts-ah-L e-L and not ts-ah L-e-L?

Similarly, you don't talk about accenting. Which syllable is accented is undetermined by your system.
Just a random comment, your gh is like many people pronounce the reish in Hebrew (although its correct pronunciation is not in your alphabet). There is also a letter for it in Arabic, the ghin. In arabic it's related to the 'Ain.

M and N are grouped in the "left over" category together with R and L. It's not a particularly elegant way to include them. And yes, NG isn't really a combination but a sound of its own. However, it would not fit into any of the families because there's such a strict logic of four members to a family. Just because a person who can't speak clearly pronounces one letter as another doesn't mean they're related, and I see no reason to put M and B together.

If there is no space between one word and the next, there is no break in syllables and they flow one into the next. Your name would only be pronounced Betsah Lel if it were two separate names. Accents are more of an issue, but I think putting the accent on any syllable at all would be acceptable for this theoretical language.

They're not related because people can't pronounce them well, that's just a way of demonstrating it. The fact is that you're making the same mouth position in the whole family and in that letter. The difference is that you're breathing from your nose.

Even if you do decide to keep them separate, there's no reason not to include ng in the same family as N and M. [The reason there's no equivalent for the forth family (s/z) is that it's actually part of the second (t/d) family. See]

The problem is in names such as mine is that the normal syllable division is different than just consonant-vowel. In my name (how I pronounce it in English), the syllables should be Be-tsal-el. The alternate (more logical) way of dividing them would be Be-tsa-lel. There's nothing here to differentiate between the two ways of division.

I guess I can see what you're saying about M being related to the P family. If that's the case, it seems like NG ought to be grouped with the K family somehow. And that means that there are other rules that need to be taken into account for grouping consonants together other than the two I identified, because you can't have just two families of five. If those families can lead to those sounds, whatever principle that is ought to be applicable to the other families to get other sounds which aren't from English or Hebrew.

The more I think about this alphabet, the less elegant it seems.

What I'm not convinced is a problem is what you're saying about breaking up words. Frankly, I don't see what it is you're objecting to. When I say "Betzalel" I'm not breaking it up "Be-tza-lel" or "Be-tzal-el", because I'm not breaking it up at all. I'm saying the whole thing together in a continuous legato sound. Each letter leads right into the next, without any breaks, so your insistence that it needs to be broken up into distinct chunks seems to be at odds with how we actually talk. We don't pause between syllables while talking, we only pause between words.

The alphabet could still be simplified at the price of phonetic accuracy. I mean you could still put things in these sort of groups without actually taking into consideration all of the related sounds.

Our forefathers also thought like you when they put together the alphabet. They didn't think of NG. The special rules in Hebrew for the letters B G D K P T concerning when they're voiced and when they aren't show that they had some kind of grouping with them. The S and Sh appear in the same letter. In the ancient script the M and N are very similar. I think W and Y are too. Tet and Kuf are clearly Taf+'Ayin and Kaf+'Ayin. The 3-letter roots have a common 2-letter root allowing you to figure out pretty much what things mean. [P-R-x for example all mean things like open up, unravel, etc.] So I think language was originally very logical, it's only been made less logical throughout the millenniums of changes it had. I don't know about backwards spelling though.

There's no complete stop between syllables, but there is a difference in the way we speak. It's the difference it the nikud is on the lamed in my name or on the aleph. If you use a glottal stop or not.

What you're talking about is going way over my head, I think. So it's safe to say that fifth grade me would not have thought of any of it. This alphabet has not been a serious proposal for more than a decade now.


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

~Semantics, Part 3

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Semantics, Part 3

Language matters. Words are not simple tools which we use and discard, they are living and growing ideas which shape the way we think far more than we are consciously aware of.

Each word has connotations and connections to other words and rules of proper usage in speech, and these are more or less consistent from person to person within a given society. Thus, the language itself becomes a container for the way a society sees the world on an emotional level.

But an individual within that society is not a blank slate before using language -each idea in our heads has associations and connections to other ideas and memories of prior usage in speech, all of which is unique to that individual's brain. So at any time a person starts to converse, there is always a disconnect between what he means to say and what he's actually saying; the only question is how severe that disconnect is.

We compensate for this problem by conforming our patterns of thought to the meanings of language. Every time you talk or write or commit anything to language, you are rewiring your own brain to be more like the rest of the people around you. If it were not for this fact, language could never have developed and we'd all be very unique people without a single clue of what anyone else is thinking.

Where this starts becoming downright ugly is when society has a very primitive view on a certain subject compared with what's in your head. I know that "gamism" is a more useful term than "videogames", as it implies a cohesive whole rather than individual and disconnected parts. But I can't use that term in public, or no one would know what I was talking about. Language cannot be changed by one person, or even by several people, but only by a majority of the public in a given area. So whenever I'm talking to other people, I need to remind myself that videogames are not to be seen as a coherent entity, but just as a random assortment of unknowable things. Otherwise there's no communication. I'd say something like "I wish the Bit.Trip series would stay close to the music side of gamism, instead of switching Forms so much.", and no one would understand what the heck I was talking about. Different language, different thought patterns.

Learning two languages is like developing two personalities. You may think you're saying the same things in both languages, but that's only true if you don't use one of those languages enough to understand it. Each personality has its own worldview. Each personality has its own voice. Each personality forms different kinds of relationships with other people. And of course all of this reflects on who the person actually is, under all the learned behavior, but the more you wear a mask the more you become the mask.

Being fluent in two languages is reasonably commonplace. Some people know many more than two languages. Clearly the human brain has no problem with running different programs at different times. Now consider: how far away is that, really, from what we call "multiple personality disorder"?

"Ah," you say, still not seeing where I'm going with this, "but that's totally different. Learning two languages is a perfectly healthy thing to do. It's not a sickness, like multiple personalities.". Now remember what I said at the start of the post. Language matters. Your thought patterns have been shaped by the language you use. It's a "disorder"! It's something wrong! The brain is broken! "Disorder" is a word connected to a lack of health, a lack of normal brain functions, a lack of rationality, a lack of ability to change. It is a term which evokes pity. And it is not a word anyone with multiple personalities would have come up with, it's a word agreed upon by the majority, like all language.

Consider the appeal of the behavior: there are situations in your life which as a person, you are simply not equipped to handle. Your personality clashes with other personalities and leads to all sorts of uncomfortable situations. But if you were to put on a mask at those moments, suddenly you could deal with anything. Just pull out a different mask for different times, and suddenly you're a much more functional part of whatever part of society you try to enter.

Those readers who've paid attention to everything I've ever said on this blog (There are two of them, and they are imaginary.) will remember where I'm coming from here. I mentioned a while back in passing that at one point I'd considered developing multiple personalities myself. And it didn't occur to me, at the time, that this was not entirely my own idea. (Remember what I've said in the past about how none of my ideas are actually original?) So I wasn't using the psychological language, and my thought patterns were not corrupted by them. I was not thinking "I am on the verge of falling into a serious medical condition from which there's no easy cure.", because that's not what was going on at all. I was thinking "I am on the verge of making an important life decision, and I should consider whether it's necessary before going through with it."! My ultimate decision was that it was not necessary, and so I didn't go through with it. Not because it was "unhealthy" behavior, because there's nothing unhealthy about it, but purely because it seemed like too much work for too little purpose.

Imagine if I had made the opposite decision. You can be certain that I would have kept with that activity for the rest of my life, because I'm an exceedingly stubborn person. You might think I'd crack under some kind of mental pressure, but here I am on a Thursday having done nothing but work, write and eat and no one has reason to doubt that I'm going to stick with this "happy worker" identity for the rest of the day. Clearly I have no problem being a different person temporarily. If there were a term like "One-Day Identity Malfunction", you'd all be shocked and appalled that I'm acting differently on Thursdays (and Saturdays, for that matter), but there's no term like that so you just figure it's a rational thing to do. But multiple personality disorder? That you've heard of. So that's an illness. If I had "had" that (though really it's something you do, not something you have), everyone would be shocked when they first heard and then be really careful to not say anything offensive because this poor guy can't help it, he's just afflicted with the illness and needs help.

Clever readers will have guessed by now that what I'd actually like to talk about is Asperger's Syndrome. There are two ways to refer to it: "Asperger's Syndrome", and "Asperger's Disorder". That's it. Two choices, neither of which bears any resemblance to what it actually is. To tell people I'm different, I can't say "I am...", or even "I'm not...", I have to say "I have...", because that's the way our language for it is. To make matters worse, Asperger's Disorder is classified as a kind of "autism". For the very first time I met an autist a few weeks back, and now that I have I can say this with full certainty: I am not an autist. But who are you going to listen to, me or the profession that gave me my name?

Do you know who Asperger was? He was some normal pediatrician who wrote a paper about kids with what he called "psychopathy". This is who we're named after, and you'd better believe I find it offensive. But that's the only word for it! Either I use the psychologists' term, or I can't talk about who I am at all! Other people with Asperger's Syndrome ("With". Argh!), understanding that it's not something they have but something they are, call themselves "Aspies", which in my mind is the most moronic and juvenile-sounding name they could possibly have picked. When I want to talk about people like us, I usually say "Asperger people", which sounds so awkward that I feel ashamed for even suggesting that we exist. I wish there were another name I could grab onto, something which had no mention of some idiot pediatrician or of mental illnesses. But the closest I can find is "weirdo".

Let me be crystal clear: Asperger's Syndrome is not a disease, it is not a sickness, it is not a disorder, it is not a syndrome, it is not a problem, it is not a flaw. It is a kind of brain, a kind that is specialized for specific tasks. It's hard to allow yourself to understand this if you're used to the terminology. If it's a sickness then there ought to be a cure. The cure is to act more normal. But why on Earth would we want to do that?

When everything gets filtered through the lens of the word "disorder", everything is seen in terms of symptoms and inabilities. We're unable to understand what society wants of us, that's why we're so broken. We're incapable of forming emotional attachments, that's why we're so monstrous. We don't know that we're not supposed to always use big words and ideas, that's why we're so hard to get. We can't understand that we're not supposed to form emotional attachments to little points of interest, that's why we won't shut up about certain things. Forgive them, these poor sick patients, they can't help it. It's an incurable disease.

Listen to me very carefully. I know what society wants from me. I form emotional attachments to people. I understand simple chitchat. I have no illusions about how anti-social it is to get attached to ideas. I just don't care.

I understand sarcasm and metaphors, I know when people aren't being literal, but I prefer to always assume people are being literal so that there can be fewer misunderstandings. Normal people aren't any different, except that they don't care so much whether they're misunderstood because they place less value on ideas. I know that the whiskers on my face don't conform to the way society thinks a person should look in this century, I just place a much greater value on having my own unique appearance. If normal people understood the value of being different, they'd look like me too. I understand emotions, but I place more weight on them than most people and am not going to get emotionally attached to people who I know would let me down. And so on. There's no lack of understanding going on here, it's just a lack of reason to care. We're practically different species, normal people and us. What makes sense for them doesn't make sense for us. Normal people are capable of understanding this fact, but they don't care. "If it doesn't make sense, then make it make sense." It's their right to ignore our preferences, just as it's our right to ignore theirs. But there are more of them, so it's generally more unpleasant for us.

I should be able to find more people like me, but I can't because of the language. I know two people my age who are like me, and they both deny any connection to Asperger's Syndrome. And who can blame them? They want to be respected, they don't want to be seen as defectives. They don't want to have an illness. So how am I supposed to meet such people? The only place I can find that they gather is in a "support group" in Jerusalem. Can you believe it? Even we've accepted the language now! "We're mentally ill, let's try to fix ourselves!" I wouldn't consider dating anyone who wasn't like me, but who'd advertise that they have an incurable illness? So how can I ever find a girl like me?

It's a rotten situation all around, and it's all because of two words. Think about that.

I have set for myself a gargantuan task for my life. It's one which a normal person would never consider for even the briefest moment. I'm going to keep jumping around from one Form to the next, each one a radically different way of thinking and communicating. And in each of those places I'm going to do something that hasn't been done before, because I don't care that the public has already said what they're interested in and that isn't it. No one is going to be supporting my progress, because they don't have a word for what I'm doing and if they did it'd be a dirty one.

So when I make up words like "gamism" and "Forms" and "metaludes" and "exploration game", it's because I need to control language. My path is not stable. If two wrong words could condemn a people to lives of lonely confusion, then two wrong words are certainly enough to jeopardize everything I've planned.

And now I know what those two words might be:

"Not game".

This lovely little phrase comes courtesy of the gamists called Tale of Tales. Let it be said that I have nothing but respect for their work, which includes The Graveyard and The Path (which I tried to interpret in an earlier post). Like me, they aspire to do things that the games industry has no interest in. They have been expanding the definition of "game" pretty far, though I don't know if that was a conscious goal for them.

Remember "Don't Miss", my idea from way back when for a pure exploration game? It was based on a dream (literal, not figurative) I had back then, and I wanted to be able to share it with other people in interactive form someday. But in the back of my head there was always the voice of society criticizing me: "There's no name for this. No one wants it. It's barely a game." Well, it's not. Go away, this is a serious post. Sure it is. I don't have time for this, get lost. The point is, I was worried that by the time I was in a position to make it the definition of "game" would already be set in stone and there wouldn't be any room for this. And that would mean there's no audience. A gamer plays games. If it's not called a game, he won't play it. If it is, he will.

Tale of Tales gave me hope. They made The Path, which is as pure an exploration game as they come, and the whole internet took notice. Mainstream game sites were posting positive reviews of a pure exploration game! If they kept just doing what they were doing, that side of gamism would be there for me when I was ready for it.

They just wrote a blog post called "My New Year's Resolutions", in which a new mission statement is announced: from now on, they're going to call what they make "not games". They don't care if anyone accepts what they're doing anymore.

Here's how this is going to go. The game sites will continue talking about them for their next game or two, and then they'll absorb the word "notgame" into their consciousnesses and forget that Tale of Tales exists. There is no audience for "not games", there is an audience for "games". And don't you say to me "It's only a word.". Words matter, or have you not been listening? I don't exercise. But I play Wii Fit, because it's a game. I don't read books. But I play text adventures, because they're games. Words are not just tools, they shape thought patterns and behaviors. And damn it, they're using the wrong words!

The game I was working on in my grandparents' house -Angles and Circles? That's an exploration game too. And there's not going to be such a thing as an exploration game after that. That part of gamism is going to be demolished, same as the house. "Don't Miss" will never exist, because no artists and programmers from the game industry would work on something that's not a game. And even if they did work on it, no one would ever play it. Come around at last, have you? Get out! Get out get out get out! I never wanted you here! You weren't even supposed to be in this post, don't you think it's got enough ideas in it already? Get out, already!

Cool it. You are crazy, I get that. You are totally detached from reality and I'm sorry. Really I am. But I am the only shred of sanity you've still got in you. You need to listen to what I am saying to you. Your plans are unrealistic. They are cute little fantasies, and you've gotta grow up and get with the picture. This routine isn't funny, it isn't cute, it is fucked-up and pathetic. You need help. And I am trying to tell you that, and you tell me to get out. You want me to get out? Okay, man, I'll get out. I'll get out of here so fast you'll think it's yesterday. But I am telling you that you are going to regret that you threw out the only damn character on this blog and in your life who is telling you what you need to hear.

Get out.

I'm going. Chill.

Bl'bah. Okay, that's a really terrible place to end this post. No, it's just totally derailed. What was I even talking about.



You know, I've never thought of you as having a disorder or a syndrome. I've thought of you as simply different, just as lots of people are different. In fact, I feel as though what separates the two of us more than anything is our choices, not our thought patterns. For instance, that multiple personalities thing you mentioned? I adopted something of the sort myself. And many other times I've read things in your blog that seem like they're coming out of my own mind. But in the end, we care about different things.

Words are very significant indeed, even those we speak to ourselves. If this blog post represents a decision, then I wish you luck with it.

Great post.

At some point in high school I consciously and deliberately changed my personality to emulate one of my friends and be more self-confident and outgoing.

How you perceive yourself and how you interact with the world is always a conscious choice, and many people have different faces that they put on in different situations.

MP is actually a condition that is very different than just choosing to react in different ways. As far as I understand it (which could be wrong) it's not really a choice, and in fact sometimes these personalities are not even aware of each other. At least you know and are somewhat friendly with all your alternate world views.

Also I wanted to say that you've affected my web reading habits. Whenever I see any bolded text I have the need to hover over it and see if there's any alt-text. Damn you!

:) I didn't realize anyone had ever noticed I did that! Sorry I'm not consistent with doing that; sometimes there's really nothing extra that needs to be said.

If multiple personalities are a deliberate and conscious choice as I hypothesize, how would anyone ever know it? It's not like the person doing the acting would ever break out of character. That would delegitimize the act for the rest of his life, undermining its usefulness! What I am saying is that psychologists, by rushing to the classification of "disorder" for whatever's strange, totally misinterpreted the nature of the situation. If I had gone one way in my life, I would have been exactly like those people today while being perfectly sane. It is reasonable for me to ask whether people who do act like that are sane too.

I guess it all depends on your definition of "sane"

Oh, and Avri: I didn't address your point that multiple personalities can be unaware of each other. My Barnaby has yet to meet my Ambrose and vice versa. When I am acting, there are many things going through my mind but none of them are a memory of the other character. However, I have a lot of distance from this lack of understanding, because as soon as I stop acting I can analyze what I've been doing and I'm myself again. But imagine that I didn't stop acting when I got off stage, but just kept going on and on between Barnaby and Ambrose for the rest of my life. Is it implausible to imagine that as I got more and more comfortable with the performance, they'd start acting more "real"? I might become very proficient at sorting my memories properly.


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