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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Wednesday November 27, 2002
11:29 PM

Kids and Pratchett and Blackjack

[ #9190 ]
I'm reading William "The Last Hero" by Terry Pratchett, which has a lot of colourful illustrations. I was momentarily boggled when I turned the page and there was a page of gods, including a topless blue Egyptian woman. William, on the other hand, didn't comment (no giggling and "BOOBIES!"), and as far as I can tell he didn't even notice. That's the attitude I want him to have to "boobies" and "willies". I'm so proud of him.

The book, by the way, is good. A delightful turn on the old saga story. Cohen the Barbarian is taking his Silver Horde up the mountain of the gods to return the stolen fire--with interest (the Discworld equivalent of dynamite). Some old favorites are back--Rincewind, the wizards, the Patrician--but it's the old heroes who really shine. Pratchett does such a great job of capturing the "left behind by time" vibe, part nostalgia and part curmudgeon. It reminds me of watching "Dad's Army" and "Last of the Summer Wine" when I was a kid--the gentle humour of a gentler time. (WWII in that case!)

For myself, I'm just about to launch into Michael Crichton's latest, which is about nanotech. I enjoy his other stuff--he's very good at taking cutting edge science and mutating it in such a way that it becomes fun. And when he's not doing science, he seems to have similar interests to me (e.g., history). So I don't expect Dostoevsky, but it will be fun.

Current computing interest is writing a Perl program to simulate a game of Blackjack. I want to have pluggable player logic (so I can try perfect strategy, perfect strategy with card counting, etc.) and variable game rules (double then split, single deck versus seven-deck shoe). I've got a very nice system for representing a player, but I need to abstract more of the hardcoded game logic. I can feel that there's an elegant solution waiting for me, and I can also feel that when I stumble across it I'll realize it 's some design pattern variation. Sucks to be me :-)

Happy T-Day.


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  • This reminds me about Kirikou and the Sorceress [] (see also []), a wonderful french animation movie, that I bought to my kids incidentally. It's based on old West African tales. Great plot, great music, wonderful drawings, I recommend it to kids and parents. But in USA, it's rated for matures audiences, while being perfectly OK for kids in Europe. The reason ? Characters are topless, men and women, as this reflects the traditional way of clothing in West Africa.
  • It's one of my favourite Pratchett's of recent years (Maurice is current top of that chart though). His handling of the horde has always been fantastic. Be careful around the ending though, if William doesn't see it coming it could be upsetting.

    Gods! It's full of dragons!
  • One of the many things that I love about Pratchett is his subtlety. He uses a lot of "adult" humor, but never in a crass way (as I am wont to do, I'm afraid). I have all of his Discworld series and am currently reading "Good Omens", which he cowrote. It's a hilarious book. Armageddon has been scheduled, but the demon Crowley has unfortunately misplaced the anti-Christ. Good fun for all -- particularly those who may be a bit cynical about religion.