I think I'm fairly well settled in up at my brother and his wife's place. It's probably only amusing to me, but in the last several hours before going to bed my sister-in-law wanted to use her time to play The Sims 2. Setting up little simulated families is a significant pastime for her, and one of their rules for this vacation is that they won't be bringing their computers, nor the Blackberry, nor any means of getting in touch with them other than sending something to their gmail accounts and hoping they pick up. So she was setting up a new family, partly because she doesn't tend to play them out long, partly to show me how it goes. I haven't got The Sims, as I'm still waiting for reparations from Maxis for the Mac port of SimCity 3000, which was an act of unmitigated hatred. The game that I'll play which is closest to The Sims is Space Colony, where you micromanage people dropped off on a distant planet, which has its virtues but also pretty well tops out once you've got mining, space-corn, and nudging people into socialization before they slug each other down pat.
Her decision was to set up a little house with three residents based on the children from Family Ties, as the characters from old sitcoms inspire her to SimFamilies. Things went pretty well setting up Alex P Keaton as the guy in skater pants and a computer-guy-not-in-Silicon-Valley black vest, and Mallory as the girl in a pink gorilla suit (my sister-in-law's choice, not mine), but things foundered on the question of what was the name of the other Keaton child, played by Tina Yothers, whose character tragically had no name. Presumably they'll insert a wholly inappropriate one to the disappointing-movie-based-on-the-TV-show coming out next spring. My brother looked up the family on the Internet Movie Database, and argued for a place for unwelcome child addition Andrew ``I don't wanna be a Klingon Warrior'' Keaton. My sister-in-law and I argued against the inclusion, because nobody liked him and nobody watched any episodes he was in. My brother protested he was in 71 episodes, worth some mention; his wife reiterated that none of them were any good, and he got no Sim Representation.
Soon thereafter, the Keaton Children were set up in a house my sister-in-law described as the ugliest thing she'd ever Sim-Built, and the unnamed younger sister was kicking plastic flamingoes. My brother accused me of encouraging her Sims obsession. But she didn't just play; she also looked for YouTube videos of socially-deprived Sims being confronted with the Social Bunny, which I didn't quite get, but there was certainly a bunny going after listless Sims.
Trivia: In 1875 the United States Patent Office had 1,138 registered names and brands. Source: Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865 - 1920, James D Norris.
Currently Reading: Ultimatum, Richard Rohmer. Rather an exciting read, actually, all the more remarkable when you consider that much of the second half details an emergency session of the Canadian Parliament. It probably helps that I'm the sort of rules freak that would actually like to know: before an emergency parliamentary session about a nation-threatening deadline only six hours away, does the Governor-General need to deliver a Speech from the Throne, and must it be inscribed on the appropriate scrolls? (Rohmer's answer: probably the Governor-General does, and it must; but it need not be a long one.) It focuses just on the day and a half after the imminent threat, giving things a tight focus and swift pace, although I don't believe the story is finished by the time the book is.