1) You have expressed firm anti-royalist sentiments. Where did these come from, originally? Did Prince Charles run over your dog?
Well, I think my interest in Dutch history is more effect than cause. Although we could mention dog-kicking by Charles II of Spain and Charles II of England. And certainly Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch must come into it somewhere. Part of it is reaction to fantasies, particularly the unquestioned adoption of absolute monarchies rather than true feudal states with their complex webs of obligations and privileges (though I'm not able to come up with any books that *particularly* annoyed me that way.)
But I think the root reason is probably religious and anti-authoritarian. Probably the earliest expression of this was my feeling that Christianity ought not to have a flag at all, and probably our church should not have the U.S. flag in front either. And the Bible itself isn't big on kings. I also had a hard time squaring those who proclaimed their love of the Declaration of Independence (and its list of kingly crimes?) with the modern American fascination with the English royal family. But rather than becoming an atheist or an anarchist, I decided to become a knee-jerk anti-royalist instead.
It's more or less replaced conquering the world as my fallback schtick.
2) Pick a favorite empire, fictional or otherwise, and explain the choice.
What, now that I'm all worked up about the privileges of free men?
The Dutch Empire has a lot going for it, as an example driven by an explicit combination of mercantile interests and government power. The gloire of the head of state was an afterthought, if that. Of course, it was just as ugly in practice as anybody else, with slave-trading, puppet states, mercantilism, and frequent resort to force.
The Empire of Norton I probably deserves a plug, and I'm certainly entertained by Dragaeran politics.
My favorite empire at the moment, though, is probably the three-state conspiracy being run by Elan's dad and his former adventuring party: the Empire of Blood, the Empire of Tears, and the Empire of Sweat. It's a great Machiavellian scheme, both evil and delightful.
3) Name a game you enjoyed recently and talk about why more people should like it.
Stella and Mike gave me Qoridor for my birthday, and I've played it a few times. It's a strategy game which is fairly easy to learn (I haven't tried it with Rob yet, but he would probably get it) and plays very quickly. One of the things I like is that the theory of combinatorial games is helpful but not decisive--- the game never *quite* splits into subcomponents, but experience with Domineering or other "toy" games will help inform strategy. So it's fun and fun to think about, and it's got some tactile satisfaction as well from the nice wooden pieces.
4) What's your favorite mathematical theorem? Or one of your favorite, if you can't pick just one.
Erdos produced a lot of neat ones are that are 'obvious' once you know the trick. But I think my favorite is one of the more mind-bending theorems, the Löwenheim–Skolem theorem, which gives rise to Skolem's paradox. The theorem says that if you have a first-order theory with an infinite model than it also has models of any given infinite cardinality. That is, a first-order characterization of the real number system can be satisfied with a collection of objects that is only countable! There is no way (within the constraints of first-order logic) to specify that what you really mean is some larger collection of objects.
Skolem's Paradox is that standard set theory seems to "refer" to uncountable sets (within the definitions of the theory), but it has a model which is only countably large (if we use the "standard" interpretation.)
Math is a game, and I always like it when somebody kicks some of the rules to see if they stick, or if the inherent Platonism of most practicing mathematicians is carrying them away. (Don't get me started on Platonism! It's just as bad as empires and royalty!) A similar result is Edward
5) You can have a team of comic or cartoon creators write and illustrate a storyline to your specifications. Which show or comic would you pick (i.e. Invader Zim, Futurama, Order of the Stick...) and what would be the premise?
I want Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale to document the rise and fall of the Teckla Republic. Corrupt Orca! Counter-revolutionary Jhegaala! (I worry about what atrocities G'aereth may have committed in restoring the empire...) Love, blood, and rhetoric!
As is customary, feel free to ask five or request five questions.