the view from the tower

arcite's day

Monday, May 31, 2004

your move, my move

There is no plan and all the players are sadists. He makes a move and you take another hit. You know you need to control the centre but after that you leave it up to the advisors who tell you how they think you think the game should be played. You think that after the attack you should be able to slap anybody down and you'd always wanted to hit Enemy B. The future's an open book and it's best to take it day by day and keep them guessing while you play. For you it's not so much a game as a family business.

Like Mom always says, "let's see what happens."

...arcite at Monday, May 31, 2004...

In order to understand the game you need theory of mind. You need to be able to think about what the players are thinking and how they think about what you think they are thinking.

You need this to help you guess when you may be misreading the board and are imagining unlikely exchanges especially as the sacrifice of a piece may blind you.

In the game, perhaps player A never intended to support the king of Richland. Scenario: Enemy A attacks you. After this attack you speculate that the King of Richland may not be your ally after all. No matter: Richland has gone forever and cannot be defended. But you need what makes Richland rich so you invade Enemy B to secure fresh supplies now you are convinced that Richland must fall to Enemy A.

In sacrificing Richland as an indefensible piece you hope to buy the time needed to secure Enemy B's territory. For a while, it appears that you are losing the game as Enemy B's pieces are hard to secure and you have few allies. There have only been sporadic attacks on the King's forces by Enemy A. This is all the opening and the middle game: control the centre. The real war doesn't begin until Richland falls to Enemy A. When that happens you guess many allies will support you and you gain to win victory not only over Enemy A but also over the King and his horses who will no longer be needed. First Enemy B falls, then the King of Richland to Enemy A, then finally Enemy A and his forces to you. To the victory, the spoils.

In this scenario, invading Enemy B is an integral part of defeating Enemy A even though for a while Enemy A grows stronger. To see the invasion of B as a sideshow or a diversion rests on the assumption that Richland can be saved from Enemy A. Not invading B is dangerous because no alternative sources of wealth are available other than Richland. This is the sacrifice scenario: in order to win the game the initial attack by Enemy A is taken as a sign that Richland cannot be defended and must be sacrificed to allow for complete victory. You allow Enemy A to take the terrain in order to finally weaken and deplete his forces. Given this plan, what is your next move?

...arcite at Monday, May 31, 2004...

Enemy A attacks you so you retaliate by illegally invading Enemy B.
Your invasion and your support for Ally A, whom both Enemies A & B hate, boosts support for Enemy A.
Now you and your allies must fight Enemy A on two fronts.

Now here's a twist.
Enemy A gathers most of its pieces from Richland.
But after Enemy A attacked you didn't mention Richland because you wanted to attack Enemy B.
Richland doesn't have a government but is ruled by the King of Richland. You don't talk about Richland not having a government because not having a government was one of the reasons you used to illegally invade Enemy B. You need what makes Richland rich. You need it a lot.
You and the King of Richland are very good friends.
But many wealthy people in Richland support Enemy A.
Now, how do you defeat Enemy A and get your forces to Richland without isolating the King?
And what reasons do you give for never mentioning Richland as the home of Enemy A before?

Remember that all the time you are running out of pawns but Enemy A now has many more pawns which he captured from Enemy B which you defeated.
What's your next move? A lot of people are watching the game and there's a great deal at stake.

...arcite at Monday, May 31, 2004...

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Poor old Miss Lauper. Let's just hope that this doesn't happen time after time. (Thanks Exclamation Mark).

Happy birthday dear Ikrek, Happy birthday dear Ikrek, Happeeeeeeeeeeee birthday dear Ikrek, Happy birthday to you!

...arcite at Sunday, May 30, 2004...

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Te Marae

Happy new year, everyone. Today Te Papa Tongawera: The Museum of New Zealand celebrated Maori new year. First we had a great kapahaka performance and then the wonderful Anika Moa gave a free concert at Te Marae, the open marae in Te Papa.

Anika Moa

Brilliant concert. Anika was signed by Atlantic Records but didn't like living in the US and came home. Her live concert confirmed my hunch that her debut CD Thinking Room suffers from chronic overproduction. And tonight we have a twenty-four hour live NZ music marathon on TV. You see how spoilt I am living here?

...arcite at Saturday, May 29, 2004...

Friday, May 28, 2004

Well, I finally got around to finishing three poems for the next issue of Jaam: Tusalava, Chance Meeting and In-flight. Both Tusalava and In-flight have been re-worked many times so let's see what happens.

Song o' the day: 'Bad babysitter'. Princess Superstar (above)."I'm your bad babysitter got my boyfriend in the shower/I'm getting six bucks an hour!" Here's more:

Aight Josh what you wanna do? You wanna watch cartoons?
HBO got Platoon, hey get back in the room!
I assume your folks are gonna be out late, go make me Kool Aid
I'm a sit on the couch and masturbate then call my boyfriend Gabe and see if he ate
Spit out my Bubbalicious and get to one of them big fridges that could fit 10 midgets

Damn they're rich, hey she left me fifty dishes-bitch!
Let's try on ya mom's minks think she'll miss these Chanel links?
In high heels you look like Jar Jar Binks- go play under the sink
(I want my mommy and daddy!) I want your daddy as well
But if you tell, you'll die of sickle cell and God told me you're goin straight to hell
Well if you don't like it I can leave and then you'll be alone believe me that's what the creepy monsters want
Plus I'll be taking your TV
Put on your jammers and don't wet the bed I got a camera

I'll take a picture and show that little girl you like Sarah
Oh and one more thing- there's been several mass murderers spotted in the area
I'm a bad babysitter, got my boyfriend in your shower, Woo! I'm makin 6 bucks an hour

A riot and there's even more ....but..... Hey, I just pop into to branch libraries now with my laptop, it's a quick shop, a sure shot, coz I like it hot and if there aint no security then why should I stop? Now that I'm livin as a bona fide non-earner don't see nuffin wrong with spinning the burner...

Oh yea, the budget gave $4Million here for supporting kids and others with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Great! Hey does that apply to me coz I didn't talk till way past three and my handwriting's still just scribble and my rapping just pure drivel and I lived in Singapore where schoolin was a chore etc....

Saw Essential Phatty Acids last week at the Bodega (ha ha). Good band, crap name. That was the day I heard Elvin Jones died. Spent a fair bit on pints! Ha ha. Had a laugh though. Probably have a quiet night in tonite though Stylus 70 are playing and Kiran is tempted. If you get in early you don't pay a cover charge but yer have to pace yerself sunshine, pace yerself. Ha ha. One day.

Matariki celebrations tomorrow at Te Papa--Anika Moa is playing for free, yippee, at the Te Marae you see, so you can take it from me that me and the whanau will be there until three, so you can see what this free time is doing to me (jeez)....

...arcite at Friday, May 28, 2004...

Thursday, May 27, 2004

As well as signing on, I've spent the day re-reading Elijah's Cup. This is by far the most eloquent, sophisticated and original book on autism I know yet it seems to get very little press and attention. Paradiz gives not only a moving account of her coming to understand her own son as autistic but also a concise and much needed history of autism and Asperger's Syndrome as diagnostic categories. Paradiz proposes that autism is a culture, a way of life, rather than as a medical disability defined purely by deficits. Unlike so many other books on autism, she reflects on how a diagnosis of autism in her son changes her own self-identity and forces a re-evaluation of her own family history so that autism is never just Elijah's story or Elijah's condition but is rather a complex weave of neurological quirks--some folks do process information differnetly than others!--and personal and cultural differences. On second reading I was struck by the light delicate touches that make this book from the description of reading The Gay Science in the bath to the final reflection on Warhol's shoes. And I was reminded of that axiom in Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet 'People are different' yet so much of our analytical tools and conceptual categories are based on eliminating difference or constructing all differences as deviant from the supposed plenitude of the norm.

...arcite at Thursday, May 27, 2004...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Mumps Station

Well, I no longer regularly watch the UK soap Coronation St but last night I watched Roy Cropper confront Bernard Cribbins (above) to ask whether the character played by Cribbins might be the father of Tracey Barlow's yet-to-be-born child. "Nay, lad, you know the name of that station in Oldham?" To which Roy replied "Aye, Mumps." "Well, I had mumps as a child" quoth Bernard "and so alas I can't be the father of that child!" This scene reminded me of my Dad's endless tales of his friendship with Cribbins "who lived at the top of our road" as well as Coro Street's longtime connection with Oldham town. (Yes, I knew Deidre when I was a lad though she was too proud to talk to me but her mum was dead nice.) God, Mumps Station! I used to catch a bus from there everyday when I lived on a rough estate called Sholver before we finally moved to NZ.

Much more cheerful today. Good chat with Kiran re. the book. She suggested that I tackle medical case histories before the fiction chapter which sounds sensible. I must remember that I'm often depressed when I'm 'thinking' before I plunge in and start to write. Great weather here today, too.

...arcite at Wednesday, May 26, 2004...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Get Your War On. Not even Disney can stop this strip...

...arcite at Tuesday, May 25, 2004...
What I have to do now is to shake away the blues and get my head around teacher training. Think about all those kids I'll be working with and how my knowledge of the autism spectrum could be put to good use. I really hate unemployment because for so many years now I've seen myself as a 'professional' and to suddenly crash out has been quite a shock. But it's all in my head. Another way of looking at the last six months is that we finished our book, drew up a proposal for a second book that was accepted by our publisher and then read about twenty or so books relevant to the new project. So I'm telling the kids over dinner tonight: "Lads, Dad's going to become a secondary school teacher."

...arcite at Tuesday, May 25, 2004...

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Well, no good jobs in the paper. I'm going to re-train as a high school teacher. My worry is that a teacher's salary is so much lower than any of my previous salaries. I've been unemployed since December and it's getting me down and making me a little crazy. I'm tired of the uncertainty and always enjoyed teaching at university. But it's not how I expected everything to turn out and I know that in my heart of hearts.

...arcite at Sunday, May 23, 2004...

Friday, May 21, 2004

elvin gone

elvin, el vie
wise one
always rolling the sky
opening clouds 4 us
saying, i'm here
i'm here
i'm coming
yr heart thumping beats
outside words
outside time
waves on sand
here he comes
the powerful thunder
you were the sky in which trane soared
the crimson cloud
saying leave the skin behind
leave the skin
for beating
yr drum thing
is fantastic fantantric flips
only you could smile with such bassful thump
when you drummed the trees laughed
& when you cooled
all the pain of the world
gathered on the skien
of your drum
& into our ears
yr gone
& the gifts you've given
gifts given in the night
given to us alone
begin your accent
live on

...arcite at Friday, May 21, 2004...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

any comets?

So tonight I may do a little comet hunting with the binocs as comets Linear and Neat cross our skies. Looks tricky though!

...arcite at Thursday, May 20, 2004...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Today we drove up to the Massey campus in Palmerston North to raid the library for articles for the new research project. On the way up we saw the Tararua windfarm on the nearby hills.

Then in the early evening I gave up again trying to learn Centaurus and acquanted myself with the far simplier Musca which is just a hop away from the Southern Cross.

I know the shape now but don't really see it as a fly.

...arcite at Wednesday, May 19, 2004...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The screen is a mirror, the scroll is a mirror. Come, bring your flaming sword! I remember Pullman's description of the angel Enoch's 'terrifying face.' Terrible angels on all side surrounding us.

OK, that's quite enough for now...

...arcite at Tuesday, May 18, 2004...

There are times when you need magick on your side. This morning I light incense, candles, ring bells, put fruit on the altar and call on all faeries, pixies, dharma protectors, angels, ghosts, stella influences, everything to come to my aid and to cut down with a flaming sword all hinderances and obstacles. I recite the 1000 syllable mantra and Om Vajra Phat! I want all the black out of the house. I clutch dorjes and wear my double dorje gau that holds a protection cord given to me back in 1984. Sometimes only mumbo jumbo magick will do and you have to play the magician card. The mighty Mahakala comes to my aid and the clouds disperse.

...arcite at Tuesday, May 18, 2004...
My dear friend Brittle Lemon sends me a most welcome double CD compilation in the mail. I've yet to play it all but noticed that Britney's Toxic is included. Now, it was only yesterday that I commented to Kiran that this tune was growing on me due to the lavish Indian string arrangement that if you listen without prejudice is really quite jolly. The cheesy video also features a remarkable cut: we see Britney as air-hostess fill a champagne glass, zoom to glass right into the ocean of bubbles cut to Britney cavorting about in a champagne-colored beaded negligee. Very slick and silly. Champers all the way, darlings.

...arcite at Tuesday, May 18, 2004...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Rumsfeld 'backed prisoner abuse'. Pretty shocking. (Via Scripting News).

...arcite at Monday, May 17, 2004...

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Blind Lake has been nominated for a Hugo award. So if it wins the Hugo then both this year's Hugo winner and Nebula winner (Moon's Speed of Dark) will feature an autistic character. Blind Lake is an exciting, well-crafted SF thriller but I do have some problems with the ending. (Thanks to Neil Gaiman blog for alerting me to the list of Hugo Nominees).

...arcite at Sunday, May 16, 2004...

The most fun I had yesterday was riding around my sister's paddocks in Otaki on a Yamaha 250 Quad bike. I took Roishan for a couple of rides and he loved it as well.

...arcite at Sunday, May 16, 2004...

Saturday, May 15, 2004

On the rare occasions when I leave the house and venture into town, I sometimes bump into people I know who ask where I've been for the last four years. When I reply that I've recently returned from living in Singapore the more adventurous ones ask "Oh, what was that like?" This normally leaves me somewhat at a loss for words. This morning, though, I've decided that my stock answer will be "Living in Singapore is like being caught in the middle of a Devo concept-album with a smattering of Costello's Armed Forces."

I remember those staff-student functions we used to have at swank hotels, all the fruit cocktails you want and no alcohol, like a new year's party in Riyadh. Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1959...

...arcite at Saturday, May 15, 2004...

Friday, May 14, 2004

In Season One of Sex and the City Carrie wears an Aladdin sane t-shirt. Her tee is a copy of the cover with really quite a tacky flash on Aladdin's face. So the costumer must be a Bowie fan. You know, I could have bought this shirt at the Bowie concert but I didn't coz I was trying to save money but now I wish that I had been just a little more reckless.

...arcite at Friday, May 14, 2004...

Andy Warhol. Diann Haist.
"You think about sand, you think about glue--what a jolly boring thing to do."

...arcite at Friday, May 14, 2004...

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Hey, seems that this season Syria is the new Iraq. Love those effective sanctions. What happens if there's a revolution in Saudi Arabia and they decide to put oil sanctions on the US? Meanwhile, I call people up looking for work and decide to pay an accountant to sort out our tax woes. And the price of oil is rising here while the dollar falls. Have I mentioned how delightful and well-crafted Steve Martin's The Pleasure of my Company is? If you're looking for a novel featuring a character with neurological quirks then I'd pick this over The curious incident of the dog in the night-time.

...arcite at Wednesday, May 12, 2004...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Bewlay Brothers. Diann Haist.

"And the world was asleep to our latent fuss."

...arcite at Tuesday, May 11, 2004...

Monday, May 10, 2004

in xanadu!

Obviously I'm excited about 'Xanadu' over on Titan. That's what I love about astronomy. Just when the news is so horrible you wake to share an image with thousands of people who, like you, are amazed at seeing something new on a distant moon for the very first time.

Even if it does look like a billard ball...

...arcite at Monday, May 10, 2004...
So what do you all think of the new Blogger Dashboard? Quite a shock, really. The new folder tabs though are an instant improvement. Hey the new 'edit post' interface is also very friendly...

Now, you're probably imagining me here all unshaved, slightly hungover and depressed after not getting that job, right? Well, I actually feel pretty upbeat today as I've decided to seriously consider training as a high school teacher. It's not the first time I thought about this as a career move and after all our work on Asperger Syndrome it just seems a natural progression. The College of Education classes start in August and the college is literally a few blocks away from our house.

...arcite at Monday, May 10, 2004...

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Jim Burns is such a great illustrator and cover artist. Mother's day: I spent the morning with Kiran discussing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We both have reservations about this novel for a host of reasons. Why is Christopher so ignorant of his own mental states (as if being 'mindblind' was to be 'emotionally dead')? Isn't the father a rather unconvincing character? It's all so bloody rain man. I was just so relieved to find that we're reading the novel the same way. Hopefully, Kiran can be convinced to continue working on the next book because I need her help. We work well together and bouncing ideas around is fun. I'm still a little pissed that Haddon gets all the limelight while Elizabeth Moon's Speed of Dark and even Steve Martin's Pleasure of my Company present a more complex and engaging treatment of the autism spectrum. Curious Dog is a beautifully designed book, though, & I suspect this is part of its appeal.

...arcite at Sunday, May 09, 2004...
Join the Ramones clan with the Ramones Name Generator. From the ever delightful Exclamation Mark. I should've known better....

...arcite at Sunday, May 09, 2004...

Saturday, May 08, 2004

♠{better luck next time}♠

Well, I didn't get the job. Nevermind. So to cheer myself up I took a break from the autism in fiction reading list and checked Robert Charles Wilson's SF thriller Blind Lake out from the library. Surprise, surprise. One of the characters is a young girl diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. So far Blind Lake has been an exciting ride with no filler. It will be interesting to see how Wilson ties up all the ends.

...arcite at Saturday, May 08, 2004...

Friday, May 07, 2004


By day's end no word had arrived. Waiting isn't much fun. And you read so much into the delay: if they wanted you for the job then they would not keep you waiting. And your experience tells you that you're right. So I try to work on some poems but all I see are the faults and all I hear are the flat bum notes. Then I take Roishan for his swimming lesson and watch the undulating water. And I remembered all that Derridean rag, so elegant, so intelligent, so totally naff about destiny, destinations, delays, deferments, avenging stars, disasters, the post that never arrives. And I fell into this undergrad reverie all literary and pointless. Hengest has to decide whether or not to Winter it out, Arcite chooses the wrong god. Either way the wyrd works. Either way both die away from any imaginary homeland. So my thinking is a bit fuzzy right now. Bummer.

...arcite at Friday, May 07, 2004...

Thursday, May 06, 2004

just waiting

Well today I should find out if I've got the project manager job. If not I'm just going to try and get as much part-time work as possible. Kiran has also told me that she's not that keen to work on the new autism project--even though we have a contract for the book. She'll help with the editing--thank god!--but isn't sure if she write any of the book. I'm not totally surprised given that she's not been reading a lot in the field lately.

Here's an interesting story in the Observer on the history of rock. (Thanks to Excalmation Mark). Looking through the blogs, I also recommend that you pop over and read Brittle Lemon's highly entertaining blog.

God I'm a little nervous.

...arcite at Thursday, May 06, 2004...

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Well, the weather here this morning is very strong winds so the trip to Massey is cancelled.

...arcite at Wednesday, May 05, 2004...

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Not a productive day. Canopus woke me at 4.45AM wanting to be fed. Then it was hard to get back to sleep. We met the local AS support group coordinator this morning, gave a copy of the book and agreed to give a short talk. Tomorrow we drive up to Massey to use the library.

...arcite at Tuesday, May 04, 2004...

Monday, May 03, 2004

sister upset

I call my sister in Melbourne and she's upset. Her husband, from whom she's been divorced for many years, has died after a long illness this morning and she's upset that she hadn't agreed to see him again and that she's not going to attend the funeral. Her ex was a 'buddhist' teacher, from Bali, of a meditation tradition entirely of his own fashioning which allowed him to drink, do drugs etc etc and make up his dharma on the fly. He was a charlatan and to my sister's credit she left her elevated status in his cult-like group to live alone and had nothing more to do with them all. She plugs away at her secretarial job and studies Dzogchen. But she also felt very connected to him and never really slagged him off and never lost her faith in the dharma. Why both my sister and I turned Buddhist at such young ages ( I 18, she 21) I will never know. It's a mystery. As second wave western Buddhists we've also had to work through all sorts of crazy guru-worship bullshit and nonsense from both students and glazed-eyed followers. Now it's all settling down quite nicely as Buddhism goes mainstream. So anyway she's crying on the phone and recovering from a nasty fall a few weeks back in which knocked her teeth and I'm telling her that it's ok if she doesn't want to go and see that group again. My poor sister.

...arcite at Monday, May 03, 2004...

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Thanks to Exclamation Mark on the story about Cassini-Hyugens and this NY Times story of Asperger Syndrome.

...arcite at Sunday, May 02, 2004...