Thursday, September 29, 2016

What Ragnarok means

So . . . I've written a lot about this in the past 24 hours and hopefully some of that will eventually be fit for public consumption, especially the bit where I was basically doing a play by play of Ragnarok in Snarky Twilight form.

But the core of all of this disorganized tangent-following writing has been about what Ragnarok actually is.  It is not the old Norse term for "the end of the world/universe", it isn't another religion's version of "apocalypse", it's not quite "Judgment Day", and it only meets one of the definitions of eschatology.

To understand how different Ragnarok is from, say, the Christian end times popularized by Hollywood, hucksters, and (occasionally) theologians, consider that it starts thus:

Freedom Rings Throughout The Lands
Then the gods say, "Oh shit!"

You see, the gods have been around a very long time.  In fact, if they stay away from deadly things and have an apple a day they're effectively immortal.  Some of them predate the creation of the universe having instead showed up in the pre-universe state and then made it into a universe through the cunning use of dead guy parts.

Since they're flawed beings, they've been around long enough for those flaws to accumulate.  A lot.  Also, one wonders a bit if them being way more powerful than humans and having way longer lifespans than humans might be part of a package deal where the flaws are also larger than human.

Then again, maybe it's a question of leadership.  Some gods are, after all, good exemplars.  We might ponder if perhaps strange women lying in ponds distributing swords hanging from a tree for nine days is no basis for a system of government.

Doesn't matter.  Ragnarok is about the rulers of the universe.  The powers that be.  The people in charge.  As in, the word that's the "Ragna" part of Ragnarok is a word that can also mean ruler instead of the other options for saying "god" (there were at least two others that could have been used.)

And here's why this all matters:

There's basically no check on Odin et alia.  There was no check on Loki until the gods broke even more of their oaths, Odin's in particular, to . . . let's just say bind and torture Loki for centuries and skip over the brutal murder and violation of bodily autonomy and free will of two innocents that was used to do it.

When we get to that point Loki and his brood have been punished, even the ones who were blameless, the matters between the Aesir and the Vanir have been long since settled, and the only group of wrongdoers who have eternally escaped the consequences of their actions are the Aesir themselves.

Now it's very important we're clear here.  Ragnarok is not justice.  It's consequences.

There is no blameless completely just individual or group with the power to hold the gods to account and mete out justice.  There are only consequences.

The rulers of the Aesir have escaped consequences for the entire history of the universe and Ragnarok is when that stops.

"Rok" isn't twilight, that's "rokr" which results in some confusion and some poeticism.  Rok is destiny and/or fate.  Rok is when all of the things that they'e done come back at them, often with a vengeance, and they finally have to reap the strange harvest they've sown.

A lot of these people are pissed off, some of them have been tortured.  They're generally after vengeance, not justice, and the resulting clash is apocalyptic in nature and it does end the world and the gods do experience their twilight, dusk, darkest night, and a select few even make it to the dawning of a new age.

But all of that is collateral damage.  What Ragnarok is is when it comes to pass that EVERYONE even the most powerful, even the Ragna, have to face the consequences of their actions.

You ordered the loyal puppy (who apparently bore no grudge about the fact you'd kidnapped him) tied up in magic rope and left to die?  Congratulations: you're going to get eaten by a giant wolf.  And guess what, the "left to die" thing didn't work (not that you were expecting it to) because of the kindness of strangers protecting him from starvation and dehydration and natural hardiness protecting him from death by exposure, meaning that the wolf that eats you?  Totally the puppy you mistreated.

What's that you say?  You're the All Father?  Don't give a shit.  Into the wolf's maw with you.  Maybe you should have pet the dog instead of kicked it.  Oh well, too late now, time for you to die great All Father.

And so forth.

Wanna know why Baldr lives?

He totally could have been in the grudge match battle because the dead (of which he was one) were freed in the pre-battle "Olly olly oxen free" and some of them even followed Loki into the battle, so he wasn't protected because he was dead at the time.  No, he lives because he doesn't have anyone he wants vengeance on and no one wants vengeance on him.  That's the destiny he's set up for himself.

Ragnarok is when all of the stuff (notably the bad shit) the gods did wraps back around on them and they finally have to deal with the consequences of what they've done.  Even they can't escape destiny because actions have consequences.  For everyone.  No matter how powerful.


And this is of interest beyond just the Norse case because we can look at other religions (real and fictitious) and be like, "Someone needs to pull a Ragnarok."  Consider God as portrayed in the best selling yet completely horrible novels Left Behind; someone needs to Ragnarok his ass.

Not apocalypse --he's doing that himself.  Not end of the world.  Not any of a thousand other end times things.  Ragnarok.  Because Ragnarok is the fate/destiny/thing of the rulers of the universe and the rulers of that universe have set up a truly damning fate for themselves and yet they never have to face it.

That's not fair and it's no fun.  You know what would be fun?  If Hell's Pride Battalion stormed Heaven looking fabulous and being fierce while unicorns farted rainbows at Turbo-Jesus.  A lot of people are unjustly damned in Left Behind so let freedom ring, grab some popcorn, make sure it's filmed in color, and have a Ragnarok.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Something like "Fact relayers" or "Journalists" or "People whose job it is to spread truth over falsehood" or something.

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.]

This is my proposal:

There will be people whose job it is to communicate facts to the public. We won't call them "Fact checkers", those are people who get to work after the claim has already been made to the public (say in a speech or a debate.) We'll call them something else. Something like "Fact relayers" or "Journalists" or "People whose job it is to spread truth over falsehood" or something.

They'll tell you what happened. If what happened is someone told a lot of lies then they'll say or write, "So and so lied when he said such and such" and that way you get both the surface fact (So and so said such and such) and the related fact (such and such isn't true.)

Mind you, you don't always know when people are lying, so sometimes it'll be, "So and so was incorrect/wrong/at odds with reality when he said such and such."

We'll populate news services with these people who do this thing, and then when a lying liar lies the public won't be told "Someone said X" bur instead, "The lying liar lied by saying X."

And if the people who don't like reality don't like this coverage . . . they've already created their own alternative "news" sources anyway. They're gone, lost, they're not part of an actual news source's potential audience.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Secondary computer is driving me fucking nuts

And not some nice kind of nut like a pistachio either.

The internet problem seems to have resolved itself, which is great, but it's got another problem.  One it's had for much longer but seems to be getting worse.  It just up and dies.

I know what the reason is, sort of.  It's somehow related to the power jack.  Putting the cord in or taking the cord out is extremely risky.  So much so that the safest procedure is to only do it when absolutely necessary, and try to do that when the computer is completely powered down.

So, generally, the safest thing is to leave it plugged in all the time because then you never need to worry about putting in or taking out the cord.

Until now.  It's doing it without any apparent cause and doing it a lot.  Presumably some small motion of the plug in the jack is setting off the death switch function, but the motion must be really small because, as I said, there's no apparent cause.

After it destroyed all joy and light in the universe several times in rapid succession I gave up and unplugged it thus hopefully giving me a measure of salvation until the battery runs down at which point I'll either have to shut down in a hurry, preform esoteric rituals, and pray to the gods of "Fuck you, you puny electronics using human" plug it in, turn it back on and then . . . what?  If it can't be relied upon when plugged in then maybe I shouldn't turn it back on.  Maybe I should leave it plugged in until it charges completely, presumably relegating myself to a corner to cry during this process, and then unplug it, turn it on, and use it until the power runs down again.

And this is part of why secondary computer is emergency back up computer.  This is part of why Stealing Commas dies without a working primary computer.  I can't do this on secondary.  It's not so much about secondary being incapable, it's the stress and frustration involved in using secondary for any length of time.  Great as a stopgap, not so good as an ongoing thing.

But I can't even console myself with the fact that Primary is coming back anymore because it's not coming.  It's gone.  Finished.  Kaput.

And I haven't figured out what to do to replace it.  I ran the numbers.  Even I if wanted to buy the cheapest one that will work with my existing hardware, I don't have the money.  The refund the warranty gave me (which is store credit, by the way, and thus can only be used there) isn't enough, adding the credit I have on the store card for that store still isn't enough.

Like I said somewhere else $500-$1202 dollars.  $500 for the cheapest compatible, and a new warranty, $1202 for a decent replacement.

I don't have that.

I need to figure out the best way forward, when all ways forward are bad.  No matter what I do I'm going to be left deeper in crushing debt.


I'm going to curl up in a ball now.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Been listening to Lucinda Holdsworth

Especially when laying down after the ankle sprain.  I kind of left this out because I had to fight with secondary computer so much to actually post about the sprained ankle that my focus changed somewhat, but part of what' going on is the desire to curl up into a ball, close my eyes, and have the world disappear and never bother me again.  Unfortunately solipsism isn't a particularly practical view of the universe and magically opting out of dealing with life in a way that involves no self harm (never had self harm ideation and don't intend to start) is generally not an option.

So, that.  Did I do that?  No.  I lay on my side on the couch with my eyes opened and played some music with accompanying video.  Over and over again.  Sort of like way back before I had antidepressants that worked and I watched the Shawshank Redemption on infinite repeat because I couldn't muster the energy to cross the room and change the DVD and replaying the movie (just a button push on the remote) was better than the title screen on infinite repeat.

Thus: Lucinda Holdsworth, now I have no particular interest in The Hunger Games (in fact I avoid them like the plague since everything I've heard about them indicates that they might trigger a depressive episode even in my medicated state) or Hannibal, so I'm limited to a mere three fifths of her creative output, still, there's a lot to like in those three songs.

First the entirely original Supervillainy Sucks:

Second, Loki's Songs(MCU version, Avengers timeframe):

Third: Pirate's Game (Treasure Island inspired):

* * *

On a Treasure Island related thing, I do believe that I first learned of Disney's Treasure Planet via its music (well, just the one song: Jim's theme, "I'm Still Here") being used in music videos for movies I'd already seen, specifically:

Rise of the Guardians (Spoilers)

Titan AE (Massive Spoilers)

Having enough youtube tabs open at once to switch between the above videos quickly is enough to grind secondary computer to a virtual halt (it still moves, just slower than continents and with considerably more frustration) or simply glitch out of control.  Which is part of why I'm so out of sorts about the death of primary computer and the financial difficulty involved in replacing it.

Only part, but definitely part.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

#!$@!*. I sprained my ankle again.

First please understand that "#!$@!*" is not self-censorship.  It is not taking the place of some other word or phrase like "damn", "damn it", "God, damn it", "shit", "fuck", "crap", "motherfucker", "Jesus Fucking Christ", "mother fucking fuck", "the collected feces of all life one earth", "Oh, my fucking God, it HURTS", "Zoinks", or "God damn all this shit to fucking Hell!"

No, rather than being censorship in which a random string of symbols is used to protect your precious puritanical mind (fragile as it is) from a word or phrase in general English parlance, this usage of "#!$@!*" is aspirational.  It aspires to capture a cry of anguish so profane that the English language is incapable of conveying it and the pseudo-Latin alphabet we use would be unable to communicate it even in the unlikely event that spoken English did one day develop a way of expressing such a thing.

Think of it like "Belgium"* but with infinitely more force and a great deal less tact.

So, yeah, that happened.  On my way to get my my meds again.  Like last time, though in a different place.  I was , everything seemed normal, boom pain, #!$@!*, I'm on the ground.  Didn't hit my head, no concussion.  At least that much is good.

Also, I lucked out and this happened right next to one of those poles they put in foot paths so that any asshole attempting to drive a car down it will have to cope with said car being fucked up via collision.  Made a nice place to lean my back against while I swore and made incoherent sounds of pain.

Then, eventually, I got up and continued in the direction of medication.

After I got my meds I had to go to a McDonald's.  I have nothing against them in theory as they provide more calorie per dollar than most places and that is extremely useful when you have a limited food budget.  Trying to squeeze 366-ish calories out of a dollar isn't always the easiest thing.  But McDonald's is "prepared food" and so it can't be paid for in food money anyway.

I wasn't planning on going there, but there was no way I was going to make it home by lunch time on a sprained ankle.

I got a decent amount of calories at a decent price, I won't be starving soon, but that also had the side effect of burning through a fifth of my cash-like money.

(But a meal at McDonald's costs less than $10.  Yes, yes it does.)

Which in turn brings thoughts back to the need to get a new primary computer.

The fact that secondary was doing the screen equivalent of spasming for an extended period to prevent me from even getting to the "So, that happened" paragraph also brings it around to that.

Also the fact that I saw the most amazing truck, in terms of decoration, in the world while limping home.

So, from ankle to computer.

* * *

Even though some people have given me donations (thank you so very, very much) the money I have just dropped by 20% because a sprained ankle prevented me from getting home for lunch.

I'd need ten times the money I have right now to pay for the warranty (and just that) on a new computer.  But even if I had that I wouldn't have enough money to actually buy a new fucking computer to go with the damned warranty because apparently I got primary on some kind of sale and there's no sale of that magnitude going on right now.

I need anywhere from five to twelve hundred dollars.  I have about forty dollars.  Mind you there's some $400 in credit I could make use of that would shove my future even further down the drain.

And where does the truck come in?  Remember back when I had a computer (this was back when I still could use a desktop) run a program for three days straight using so much of the on-board resources that I wondered if it might have simply frozen several times during those days because getting enough power to do anything else was difficult at best?

I don't blame you if you don't, I never did get around to showing the results so it ended up being little more than an offhand comment that Brin used as a jumping off point for a Doctor Who reference (weeping angels, if you're wondering) but that's the sort of thing I do.

Secondary computer would probably find a way to explode if I tried to use it like that.  Primary computer, on the other hand, was able to do some of that kind of stuff.

Awesome truck cries out for that.  Full on, take as long as it needs, have me get back into reading up on the scientific articles to find the latest developments calls for that.

And I'm not complete without a primary computer.  And I have difficulty coping with the fact that I walked through the morning into the afternoon on a sprained ankle and the, on getting home, couldn't swear about it for a good long time because secondary computer gets exhausted running google chrome

And I probably need new shoes to cut down on ankle spraining and where the fuck will I find the money for that?

* * *

* From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Original Radio Show, Episode 10

In today’s modern Galaxy there is, of course, very little still held to be unspeakable.

Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and, in extreme cases, shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed, and totally unf[bleep!]ked-up personality.

So, for instance, when in a recent national speech, the financial minister of the Royal World Estate of Qualvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another, and the fact that no one had made any food for awhile and the king seemed to have died, and that most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy had now arrived at what he called, “One whole juju-flop situation,” everyone was so pleased he felt able to come out and say it, that they quite failed to notice that their five-thousand-year-old civilization had just collapsed overnight.

But though even words like “juju-flop,” “swut,” and “turlingdrome” are now perfectly acceptable in common usage, there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the galaxy except one - where they don’t know what it means. That word is “Belgium” and it is only ever used by loose-tongued people like Zaphod Beeblebrox in situations of dire provocation.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Primary computer is dead

Primary computer is dead.  I think I must have gotten it on sale because, though I got a full refund (less the warranty and such) if I don't want to take a step back I'm going to need to sink in a bunch more money and it gets worse.

To get the good screen (4k is amazing, probably not for everyone but I take pictures the way other people breathe) I had to take a hit to other areas including the RAM.  Why do I single that out?  Because I bought better RAM.  RAM that was in the computer when it got hurt, RAM that I was totally incapable of diagnosing myself so I sent off with the rest of the computer.  RAM that I won't be getting back and won't be getting refunded for.

And then there's the need for a new warranty.

Further, to make up for some of the shortcomings of the computer (as noted, RAM wasn't the only one) I have some external things to help out some of which are sadly brand specific.  I can't shop around for the best price on the computer itself because that would necessitate new external things, which would cost more than just staying with what I'm stuck with.

So, hey, I need money.  That sounds really familiar.

But back to the whole, I must have gotten it on sale thing: it's seriously not enough money to buy a computer that's compatible with any of my computer specific thing and still keeps the good screen.

The good news is that I have a store card that might, barely, be able to make up the difference.  Of course that would max out the store card and . . . good fucking god I must have gotten a good deal the last time for what I'm looking at to be cheapest thing that can work with the same brand specific shit.

When one includes the warranty I'm not sure that the store credit can stretch that far.  It's already half used up because I bought stuff to upgrade primary computer right before primary got injured (Good news: I hadn't installed it yet so it isn't lost).  It's not brand specific (Yay!) and only requires a computer with the same slots, but . . . fuck.

I don't suppose anyone has five hundred to a thousand dollars that they don't know what to do with.

I'll somehow manage to make this work and probably have to buy the cheapest thing that'll work, because secondary is not a viable long term strategy for having a blog.

No new primary means no Stealing Commas, and that's really not something I'm willing to bear, even if my muse does seem to be as absent as my computer.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Acceptance speeches - Kim Possible Fannie Awards

Remember when I was all, "Vote for me?"  Well I won two awards.  And as such I wrote two acceptance speeches which were incorporated into the story of the awards show, which can be found here.  The text of my speeches is excerpted below.

If you want to see them in context, be aware that has an annoying habit of numbering chapters even when the numbering doesn't make sense because, for example, there's an introduction or a prologue before chapter one.  So my bits can be found in Chapter 1, labeled "2", and Chapter 3, labeled "4".

∗ ∗ ∗

["This year's winner is for Best KP Style Name is Chi Mira, who is used in the story 'Bent, not Broken', by chris the cynic!"]

First off, thanks. Second, I wanted to talk about the genesis of Chi and his name.

Most of my original ideas come from so many places that, looking back, I can never figure out what started the whole thing. Chi is like that. On the one hand, he's supposed to be a part of a massive, if vague, idea I have for a saga level series of Kim Possible fics. I wanted someone who could come onto the scene and have an episode or two like a Justine Flanner. The idea being that Middleton was the one place weird enough that he would fit in. Like Jacob in Life After, he ended up coming to readers early (I haven't started the saga) because he was a good fit for a role in a current fic, Bent, not Broken.

On the other hand, and probably the one I should talk most about, he came from me trying to reconcile my feelings about meaningful names in fiction with the fact that Kim Possible positively overflows with them. We'll get back to that.

On Zaphod Beeblebrox's third hand, he comes from a desire to take a certain trope, the part-animal enhanced-human, to its logical and absurd extreme.

Back on the second hand, there are (I'm simplifying a bit because I have limited time) more or less two kinds of meaningful names. First there are ones where the meaning comes before the name. We see this with Monkey Fist giving that name to himself after he has both modified monkey-like fists and mystical monkey power. Then there are the ones where the name comes before the meaning. These require us to accept the coincidence that someone with name X will randomly become someone for whom name X is strangely descriptive. I tend not to like these.

Kim Possible, though, is full of them. Mr. and Ms. Leon decided to name their daughter Camille long before anyone could have guessed that she'd become the only human chameleon, or only one of note, in the Kim Possible verse. Professor Acari's family has likely had that name for centuries, it has meant "mite or tick" for millennia, but he doesn't become the inventor of the cybergenetic tick until Kim Possible Season 1.

So to fully embrace Kim Possible I felt like I had to have at least one KP style name. I wanted it to be like Camille's name where it was composed to a real first name and a real last name. I wanted it to have an in-universe explanation like "Monkey Fist".

And this is where we return to Zaphod's third hand. Chi didn't pick up traits from various animals by being bitten by a radioactive menagerie; he was grown in a lab. A perfect name for the project that created him would be "Chimera". Since that can be separated into an actual first name, Chi, and an actual last name, Mera, it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. I decided to change the last name to "Mira" because it seems to be a more common last name and there's really no reason to perfectly duplicate the spelling of the animal. Camille Leon, after all, is not spelled "Chame leon".

I'll close by talking a bit about Chi Mira himself. Does he have snake, lion, and goat bits? Not sure on the lion and goat yet. What he does have is anything that might be vaguely useful. He was created to be a weapon: an all terrain super solider. But he was raised as a person and the result is someone who spent his teen years trying to be normal, and his adult life pursuing a relatively mundane job, for the Kim Possible verse at least.

Again, thanks to everyone who voted for me. Without the support of readers, I probably wouldn't write.


[Crowd response during intermission that mentioned me or the above]

Invader Johnny:
Heh well I loved all the Fannie speeched but the one that struck the most was the one that explains why the name Chi Mira was created, XD.

Congratulations to everyone, and not just the winners.

"Chi Mira" is a perfect KP-style name. [...]
Congratulations to Chris the Cynic, ShadowDancer01, and especially to my girl Kawaiigirls5.
∗ ∗ ∗

For the second one there was more description so I'm just leaving it as was, embedded in the story of the awards show.  Still in italic though.

∗ ∗ ∗

[I actually considered cutting and pasting this as it was in the story because a) they did a good job with inserting mannerisms for description of how the speech was given, and b) they got my gender right (for the first one they erroneously called me he/his/him pronouns.)]

["chris the cynic, you have won Best Drama with your story 'Bent, not Broken'."]

So, first and foremost, thank you everyone. Again.

Most of what I write, fan work and original alike, straddles the line between action/adventure and drama, but, in many ways, 'Bent, not Broken' was intended to be a departure from that.

I started the story because someone pointed out, rightly if rudely, that the KP fic I had at the time was lacking in action. My first KP fic, 'Being more than a Simulacrum', is sort of a serial friendship story. It's also about making a unique identity for yourself, so none of that really lends itself to action. My second, 'Forgotten Seeds', has no antagonists. Just nine characters trying to survive together. Again, not something that really calls for action.

So I set out to make a fic that would be much more… actiony. I'm a fan of LJ58's 'Bad Girls' and I was reading (and still am) ShadowDancer01's Action and Reaction and I wanted to do something in that general arena. Kim is set up. Kim loses everything. Disillusioned, Kim then sets out for retribution."

I actually wanted to take it further than either of those and write straight up id-fic, which is about pulling out all the stops and just letting loose on the organ. It's non-stop movie action where problems are solved by beating up the bad guys and blowing things up. It's about appealing to that part of your psyche that just wants to punch antagonists and other human obstacles in the face.

"But… I'm . . . not the best at writing it. In fact, I'd say I failed. (A year later I still haven't gotten to the part of Bent, not Broken where Kim embraces her dark side and really starts to let loose.) Id-fic is just not where my writing takes me. I tend to do more adventure than action, more think than punch, more Banner than Hulk, more Loki than Thor, and so forth.

And that's how I ended up with a drama when I set out to write, essentially, 'River Tam Beats Up Everyone'. Yes, Kim's going to cut loose, yes there's going to be action (and adventure) but what I've been trying to do, which I hope this award means I'm succeeding at, is tell a story where all of that fits.

A story where it makes sense that Kim has been pushed beyond her usual limits, and it makes sense that she's finding, and fearing, her dark side. It makes sense that she's doing things that aren't Kim-like (yet we're still rooting for her.) I've also been trying to create an enemy that is simultaneously so powerful that it can't be stopped without going full action movie, so pervasive that it can't be dealt with quickly, and so insidious that Kim can't figure it out in the space of an episode or three.

And all of that? That's drama. Drama that I totally didn't set out to write.

So, I guess the message that I really want to give to all of you is don't be afraid to try new things, and don't be frustrated when they don't turn out how you intended. Maybe you don't end up with what you were going for, but if you keep putting in solid effort and bring your best to bear, you can still end up with something good.

Thank you to everyone who voted for my story, and good luck to all of the writers out there.


[Crowd response during intermission that mentioned me or the above]

Belated congratulations again to all of the winners - Eddy13, Imyoshi, ShadowDancer01, and chris the cynic.

[...]. 'Bent, not Broken' is a terrific read and Kim's plan with the alarms is brilliant.


Oh, and bless you, chris the cynic, for the 'River Tam Beats Up Everyone' reference.
I guess its time for me to catch up on the awards show.

I want to say congrats to all the winners from chapter 4 - Eddy13, Imyoshi, ShadowDancer01, and chris the cynic.
∗ ∗ ∗

And that's those