Monday, June 30, 2014

Why human beings are created with the materials that are close to home

In the mythologies I'm familiar with, human beings tend to be made with what is locally available.  In a region with a lot of dirt?  People are made from dirt.  Got a lot of rocks?  People are made from rocks.  Surrounded by trees?  People are made from wood.

There's a reason for this, and it doesn't have to do with the deity/deities making people as it does with their underlings.

You see, no angel wants this:

Are you sure you don't want to tell him?  He likes you. ... Ok, fine.  I'll tell him. 
Greetings most high one, God of gods, host of hosts, you are truly divine and holy, holy, holy, holy, holyholyholy.  Blessings be upon your name.  Now ... um.  About the people ingredients shipment.  It's... uh.  Well, it's like this: 
The shipment from the rain forest kind of sank. 
I know you've been waiting for it.  I know how much you wanted it, but it's a long way away and we haven't exactly invented the shipping industry yet, and there were waves and there was lightning and such and ... it's now at the bottom of one of those oceans you made in your wisdom. 
It's nobody's fault really, I mean it's not like we can control the weather.  Well, the people in atmospherics probably can and Joe's been telling me about all kinds of things but no one in the person making department can control the weather and the ship sank. 
I don't know what we're going to do now.  You are the omnicient one, I was thinking you'd have an idea. 
Well, look, I know you wanted to get this whole thing done in a week, but do you think maybe you could push the creation of humanity to next week?  Maybe take a nap, give us some time to requisition a new shipment of supplies. 
Can I go now most awe inspiring one who definitely wouldn't smite the messenger?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I'm exhausted

I just got back from buying food for the first time in, I think, over a month.  That took hours because with no transportation getting to and from the store is killer.  The sidewalks offer little to no protection from the sun and it's a long slog over when my backpack is empty and I have nothing in my hands.  On the way back with a full bag and, in this case, more bags in my hands, the feeling is more of "kill me now" and it didn't take long before the heat, direct sunlight, weight, and lag of good nutrition of late because I haven't had much in the way of actual food made it so I had to frequently take breaks to recharge in whatever shade I could find and not so much recover as wait for my hands arms and shoulders to stop hurting.

Two breaks from my house someone doing yardwork saw me and offered me cold water.  That was nice.  Blessings be upon his name, whatever that may be.

Yesterday I spent much of the day outside because I have been assured that my house was overrun by fleas and thus I should deploy chemical weapons.  I personally didn't notice because for some reason fleas don't like me very much.  Perhaps I taste bad.  Whatever good fortune it is that keeps them from bothering me does not extend to my family and pets.

Even if I hadn't been told I would have known something was wrong because my cat was afraid to come in the house and, when she did come in, afraid to touch the floor.  She only acts that way when there are fleas or when she's worried there still might be fleas after fleas have been killed off.

So the house was gassed with stuff that had been left for me to use.  (The flea problem erupted when I was away for an extended period.)  This involved the unwieldy process of moving a terrarium (aquarium without water intended for the keeping of land animals) with a more than somewhat startled gecko inside.  It couldn't be in the house when chemical weapons were being used to eradicate all life in the house.

Also moving various wires so his light and heat pad could stay on.  That probably wasn't necessary because it's so hot he probably feels at home, but I wasn't taking chances, two days ago it was cold and rainy.

It also meant staying in my driveway for much of the day.  First to let the chemical weapons spread through the house and kill everything that touches air, then to let the same weapons disperse.  That's why I had to stay out of the house.  The reason I had to stay in the driveway instead of, say, shopping then is that the gecko makes a tempting target for predators.  If you don't believe me, get one and then show it to a house cat.  Small moving thing with basically nothing in the way of natural defenses save the ability to drop a limb when scared (it actually used this ability once.  Picking up an escaped gecko is something that might get you bitten and can involve climbing on furniture due to the gecko habit of hiding on the ceiling, picking up a disembodied gecko tail is just disgusting.  Those things thrash like you wouldn't believe AND THEY ARE DISEMBODIED) is pretty much begging to be eaten.

The top of the gecko tank does not lock down.  Once upon a time we kept something (I don't remember what) heavy on it to stop cats from getting in (well, one cat at a time, but the gecko has a lifespan that means he's met various cats.) but now the only thing on top is the light.  Inside he's safe.  Current cat doesn't go where the cage is, he can't lift the top of the cage.  (He only ever escaped when it was open.)

The end result is that if I left the vicinity of the gecko tank I might come back to find myself without a gecko.

So I was in the driveway.

I played a recently acquired copy of Unreal Tournament III.  It is, of course, wrong to judge a game that exists mostly for the purpose of multiplayer solely on its single player campaign.  On the other hand, they did go through the trouble of having one and since it's there, oh my god is there so much wasted potential.  It seems like lately all I've been doing is seeing things with wasted potential.  At some point I need to write up posts on the movies Driver and Getaway which both had decent premises executed like crap.

The new Godzilla movie is another thing that deserves a post.  It's problem is that the makers couldn't seem to decide what kind of movie it should be, tried to make it over half a dozen different movies and thus failed on all counts.

The game Mirror's Edge I've talked about at length (Quicksave, cheating, and the sanctity of single player, Spoiler Free Post, Plot Post, What I would have done differently if limited by real world concerns like money and time available, what I would do if not so limited, second post on what I would do without limitations) and while some of that, particularly the parts where I imagine making the game without limitations, calls for fairly radical changes, some of it is very much, "If they just tweaked this it could be 200% more awesome."

Recently an eight year old and a five year old have seen me playing Mirror's Edge and they've both grasped both how cool the game is AND how silly and stupid some of the oversights are.  Which is to say that even small children can see the wasted potential.

Unreal Tournament III''s single player campaign provokes the same feeling of wasted potential.

So, basically, more of the same.


Oh, and money.

Nothing is hurtling toward me that will cause everything to come crashing down all at once, but it does look like there might be enough things that I used to stave off such collapse that things will whither away via interest and, when I can't keep up with monthly payments, late fees.

So yay.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Being more than a Simulacrum (a Kim Possible fan fiction) (part 3)

[Part 1 and Part 2]

The walk to the living quarters was a short one, and it passed mostly in silence.

By the time they arrived the clone had settled on "Place" as the name she'd think of herself as until a more permanent one could be found.

Place had mostly kept her eyes forward but every time a door opened she instinctively looked to see if a threat might be coming through it.  What she saw in those glimpses gave her more to think about than she really wanted.

Shego said something about the room not being well furnished, but Place wasn't really listening.  She was thinking about the other rooms she'd had glimpses into.  None of them were well furnished.  No personal touches, or at least not much in the way of them.  Not much point in making your quarters into a home when some teenager could show up at any moment and blow the whole complex up.

That was a disturbing thought for Place.  Evil lairs were places where people lived.  Granted they were mostly henchmen who could transfer to a different location, but that different location would be another evil lair.  Another place that a "hero" might destroy.  Stopping someone from taking over the world was important, obviously, but did Kim really need to bring about utter destruction?  Did she really need to go around blowing up people's homes?

How many of them were like Shego, working this job only because they knew that the world was never seriously at risk?  How was what they did any different from any other private security force?

The Middleton Space Center routinely housed things that could be used to take over the world, how would Kim react to someone blowing up the security guards' homes?

There was no question how someone who did that would be viewed, and the word to describe such a person wasn't 'hero'.

And all this brought up another thought.  If one thought of the henchmen as simply hired security, which technically they were, then how were the villains operations any different from that of various "legitimate" businesses that destroyed far more lives and yet always seemed to avoid prosecution.

Drakken threatens the world and everyone on his staff is sent to jail after seeing their home blown up.  A "respectable" business actually damages the world, causing immeasurable harm to hundreds or even thousands of people, and the CEO never seemed to take a fall for it.  Certainly not the security guards.

While she wanted to tell herself she was nothing like Kim, the memory of the fight in the rain still looming large in her mind, Place knew that the only real difference was that she was looking at things from an outsider's perspective for the first time.  Since she knew she wasn't Kim, she had nothing invested in seeing Kim as being right.  She was free to judge as harshly as she wanted, and she was content to judge quite harshly.

The larger problem, though, was that her entire personality had been built on the ideas of good and evil, right and wrong, villains and heroes, the law abiding and the law breakers... in short: black and white.  The world now seemed exceedingly sepia.

Place had no idea what to do about that.

She located the bedroom and collapsed on the bed.

She curled up in a ball and waited for darkness to take her.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Awesome things in nature, care to share some?

Mantis shrimp have awesome eyes.  In addition to seeing color way better than humans can, they can also detect the various polarizations of light.  Because of the way that vast quantity of data is processed it isn't quite as awesome as it at first seems, but the processing is itself worthy of praise insofar as we understand it.

Octopuses do a large amount of thinking outside of their brains.  Decentralized nervous system for the win.  Some also put chameleons to shame: they change not just their color but also their shape and texture.

Woodpeckers heads are designed to withstand the impact of repeatedly smashing their heads into solid objects.

Some species of birds can dance (not just move, dance) so fast that, without high speed cameras capturing the motion and slowing it down A LOT they appear to simply teleport between the spots where they pause in their dance.

The point, in general, is that there are some pretty awesome things in nature.

I want to write something (which plays fast and loose with actual science) with a genetically engineered character whose abilities are an amalgam of those found in nature.  (Why not have photosynthesis?)

I'd like it if readers would share some things I could work in, or just neat stuff even if I wouldn't be able to fit it into the character.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An Elemental Model made up on the fly

[I've been thinking of a setting in which you have earth and a parallel world based on elemental cultures, and made up a new system of elements to go with that idea.  Here is a hasty writing of that.]

"Ok, so there's another world--"

"About the size and shape of our world," she added.

"-on the other side of some mystical separator--"

"The shroud."

"--which is is populated by magical beings--"


"--that are somehow related to elements in a vaguely classical model..." It didn't feel like a period, but he seemed to have run out of things to say.  She waited for him to continue.  Finally he said, "That cover it?"

"More or less."

"And this starts making sense when?"

"The classical elements correspond roughly to the four states of mater."

"Earth for solid, water for liquid, air for gas, fire for plasma and all that."

"Right, but there's an additional state of mater one needs to consider."

"Uh... quantum physics is so not my forte."

"Not one of those, simpler.  But before we get to that imagine the four elements as the points of a square."

"Ok.  Imagining it.  This is accomplishing nothing."

"That's ok.  Now we get to the other parts of the model you have to take into account.  First, mater can be converted into energy and so energy is a state of mater."

"I'm calling bullshit."

"Not important.  Energy, some call it 'light' is a fifth point.  People usually visualize it by imagining it as above the four other elements and some say it's aether."

"Yay," he said.  It was a flat, emotionless 'yay.'

"In theory-- never mind, getting ahead of myself.  There's one more element we need to make the model work."

"That being?"

"Time's arrow.  Entropy."

"Chaos and disorder and everything not nice."

"Something like that.  Some people call it darkness because they're the ones who call energy 'light' and it sits opposite energy, usually visualized as sitting below the four."

"Energy hates entropy."

"It doesn't make sense, but you got it.  Time for the other alliances.  Mixing between the elements did two things.  One was to warp them out of a perfect octahedron into something else.

"Specifically fire and water grew closer to energy while earth and air grew closer to entropy."

"One would expect fire-water and earth-air to be opposites."

"Yeah, and there's still some indications that that was once the case."

"Such as?"

"In spite of being drawn in the same direction earth and air are still neutral at best and they tend toward laid-back hostilities.  The same is true of fire and water.  Air and water became enemies, fire and earth did as well.  Air and fire retained their alliance, as did water and fire.  In both cases because of their closeness, though water was just as close to air so... make if it what you will."

"I'm getting a headache trying to visualize this mess."

"You wouldn't be the first."

"You said mixing did two things."

"The other thing was creating another ... thingy.  Not an element, just a thingy.  A mixture of all eight elements.  I call it nature.  Life and death, hope and fear, motion and stillness, all of that crap.  Nature has no alliances and no enemies.  It doesn't take sides, it just is.

"Some say that in the beginning there were the eight elements that existed as worlds unto themselves, but as time went on they go closer and closer together, the creation of nature did nothing to stop that.  In the end there was only one world across the shroud.

"All of the cultures were hodgepodges of all the elements, but each of the six major cultures had one that it, at the very least, strove toward.  One where the members were mostly of a single element.

"Fire, water, earth and air all found homes on the surface.  As one might expect air had a lot of flying going on, but there were still nesting spots and such.

"The energy culture lived exclusively at altitude.  Never touching earth or water, seeing itself as above the others figuratively and literally.

"Entropy dropped into the darkness of caves and crevasses.  Lurking under all the rest.

"Nature, of course, was everywhere.  Inescapable, unavoidable, and totally neutral."

"You are aware that none of this makes sense, right?"

"Well, yeah," she said.  "But that's the way it is."

Monday, June 16, 2014

How history will remember the Star Wars that you used to know

George Lucas has gone on record as wanting to destroy the original trilogy.  He wants it gone.  There are precisely zero preservation efforts on the original film.  It decaying into nothingness is a part of the plan.

Once that happens all that remains will be the version he wants.  Not even the special edition, versions resulting from his non-stop tinkering that change every time it's introduced into a new format or rereleased on an old one.

He's even gone back and rewritten the scripts to match whats in said versions.  Lines that were famously improved?  They're now in what purports to be the shooting script.  His hope, again he has come out and said this, is that when this generation has come and gone and the film has gone bye-bye the only version of Star Wars that will exist, and indeed the only version that, so far as future people know, has ever existed, will be his newer better special special special changed-one-thousand-times special edition.

That hope is false hope.

In fact, what will happen if he gets his way is this:

There will be the Star Wars that people can see, the one that they can watch, the one everyone has access to.  And then there will be this other Star Wars.  Existing not so much as a thing but as an idea.  The Star Wars people learned about from their grandparents.

The Star Wars the cult of "Han shot first" tells you about.

It will be a Star Wars that exists not in physical form but as a memory.  An idea of an idea.

And that Star Wars will be awesome.  It will be better than we can imagine because we, more or less, know what Star Wars actually was.

These future generations will not.

They will be forced to imagine it, and it will be surrounded by mystery and the unknown.

All that they will know is that it was better.

They'll remember George Lucas as someone who got things right once upon a time but then couldn't stop tinkering and in the end laid low his own creation leaving only a tainted and imperfect echo of the wondrous past.

Places where we are forced to admit, "Yeah, that part of Star Wars always kind of sucked," will be places where those in the future will assume that George Lucas fucked up the original in his non-stop drive to change things and overwrite the original.

If the original really is lost to history than the original will be remembered as far better than it ever had any claim to be.

When someone says, "I don't like Star Wars," they'll be told, "That's just because you've never seen the right version.  If you'd seen the original, then you'd love it."

The fact that Lucas created Star Wars will be overshadowed by the fact that he destroyed it.  He'll be seen like a sculptor who created a masterpiece and then kept on chipping away at it until only a misshapen hunk of marble that suggests a work of art but utterly fails to do it justice remains.

He'll be remembered as someone who took wonder from the world because of his own arrogant belief that he could improve upon perfection.

Because with the originals gone, known only to the living population of the world via nostalgia, there will be no proof that the originals weren't perfect.

All of the flaws that we know so well?  There will be no proof that they existed in the original.

Without the original to point to, there will be no way to prove that the original had imperfections.

Ok, maybe people won't think that the original was perfect.  But what is true is this: if the original is lost to history as Lucas hopes then the end result will be that in the popular imagination there will be an idea that there was a better version once upon a time and now it's lost.

Without the ability to compare and say what is better about it, every individual will be able to apply their own personal meaning of "better".  The result will be that the original Star Wars trilogy will be remembered as better than it ever was and better than it ever could have been.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Donation reminder and the Ides

Ok, so first off: Donation reminder.  I have a donate button, I'm trying to do such reminders monthly so that if someone wants to give in hopes of averting catastrophe instead of trying to help deal with one they'll be reminded that they can do just that by clicking on the donate button in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

Second, Ides.

The Roman Calendar counted backwards.  A count down instead of a count up.  We count forwards from the first day of the month.  They ... didn't.

The first day of a month is called the Kalends.  For us day two is the day after that, for them day two is the day before that.

You could look at it as, "How many days are left until X is over?"  On the Kalends itself there's one day left till it is over: that day.  The day before it there are two days left.  The day before that there are three, and so on.

But that's no the only way the Roman Calendar was different from our own.  There wasn't just one day in a month that you counted from.  There were three.

The Kalends was the first day.  The Nones was was the ... thingy day.  The Ides was the middle day.

More or less.

The Nones shifted with the Ides.  The name comes from the fact that, counting backwards inclusively, it's the ninth day before the Ides.

When the Julian Calendar was implemented extra days in months were added after the Ides so that important festivals wouldn't change.

On June the 13th day of the month is the Ides.  That means that today, two days after the Ides, is a day where we count backwards from the Kalends of next month.  So the 17th Kalends of July.  (16 days left in this month + 1 day for the Kalends of next month.)

Weird, I know.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire: an object lesson in not taking care of your troops.

Once upon a time there was a place called Rome.  It was a city and a nation.  It was imperialist.

There came a time when they stopped expanding.  They were happy with what they had and felt that they were being stretched thin on all fronts with this whole expansionist policy.

So they fortified their borders and worked on making things good on the inside for a while.

This went well for a time but the problem with autocratic rule is that sometimes the person in charge is stupid, or evil, or incompetent, or all three.

Eventually Rome could no longer defend itself and turned to others to augment their army.  There were plenty of others to be found, it turned out.  More often than not, whoever was threatening Rome at the time needed to displace other people to actually reach Rome.

Refugees want land.  They want a place to call their own.  People generally also like to be fed and to not be used as cannon fodder.

So the bargain was struck.  Repeatedly.  It usually went like this:

Rome: We'll give you what your people need if you'll enlist in our military and help us fight [something].

Troops: Deal.

[Training, then fighting, ensues]

Troops: We held up our end, now give us what you promised.

Rome: We've changed our minds.

Troops: What.  The.  Fuck.

Rome: Fuck off.

Troops: You do realize that we're now an army with the best training you had to offer and that we have an intimate knowledge of your battle tactics, right?

Rome: Um...

[Troops attack]

Rome: Shit.  Why does this keep happening to us?


The city of Rome was not always sacked.  Sometimes they threw open the gates and said, "You win, take what you want."  Somewhat more dignified than being sacked.


For just a couple of the examples:

The first sacking wasn't actually about land.  They got their land, they were just treated like shit and didn't get their fair share of the food.

Alaric, trained by Rome, led his troops, trained by Rome, in invasions of Greece and Italy.

He made it near Constantinople, but wasn't in the position to lay seige to it so he just went back to Greece and did whatever the hell he wanted.  Then he went to Italy.  In 410 he sacked Rome.

Rome would be sacked again 45 years later.

This time it was the Vandals, they were Roman Allies.  Rome gave them land, but more importantly Rome gave them a promise of lasting peace, secured through royal marriage.

Rome broke that promise, the Emperor turned tail and ran, Rome was sacked.  It's recorded as a relatively peaceful sacking, but that's in dispute because other records seem to indicate otherwise.

The traditional date for the fall of Rome is 21 years later (476).  That's when Odoacer became King of Rome, replacing the Emperors.

Odoacer was a member of the Roman military, no one is really sure what tribe he called his own because by that time the Roman military was composed more of non-Romans than Romans and they were of various persuasions.  All that's really known is that the various refugee populations that made up the non-Roman portions of the Roman military had been promised land in exchange for service.  They wouldn't be refugees in Roman territory anymore.  They'd be people with homes and lands of their own.

Odoacer was one of them.  A foreigner who wanted a place to call his own instead of being forced to live as a guest on other people's land.

When the job was done he came to the one in charge (not the emperor, who was not yet of age) for the promised reward.  The guy reneged.

Pretty much all of the refugee troops flocked to him and rebelled alongside him.  They too had been promised homes, after all.

The Roman Empire ended.

A barbarian was king of the scant remains.

Of course by this time there were two Roman Empires.  The eastern one survived.

The Eastern Emperor was growing increasingly wary of Odoacer and did something unheard of: he made a deal and stood by it.

Theoderic was the leader of the Ostrogoths.  They were foreign soldiers living on Eastern Roman lands.  The Eastern Emperor offered them a land to call their own: Italy.

You see Odoacer, though king, was theoretically subservient to the Eastern Roman Emperor.  This this was basically (on paper at least) putting down a rebellion and in exchange they would be given the land under rebel control.

Theodoric killed Odoacer and got his reward.  The Ostrogoths called Italy their home and did the only thing that the Eastern Emperor had asked for in exchange*: they treated the Roman citizens with respect and let them live under Roman law.

The Eastern Empire was thus not attacked by Theoderic.


Every time Rome failed to respect its troops, it got its ass kicked.


* It's worth noting that, though the Ostrogoths had to fight to gain Italy for themselves those who did the fighting were members of the Eastern Roman army at the time.  The Eastern Emperor didn't just give them the idea to invade Italy with his blessing, he gave up part of his army by releasing them from their obligation to him and letting them live as they wished in Italy without the rest of his army coming after them as deserters or trying to take Italy for his direct rule.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"A cry for help" when language has become corrupted

I've recently seen this image shared around, and it has apparently saved lives.  That's good, and the sentiment is good, but it also points to somewhere that we've allowed language to become corrupted and lead us astray.  The relevant quote is:
"A cry for help" makes it sound like I'm supposed to take pity on you.  But you don't need my pity.
That's right, in our culture there's something shameful about needing help, and so "a cry for help" does sound like something that should cause us to take pity.  That's fucked up.  That's deeply fucked up.  It has fucked up our language.  That is not how "a cry for help" should sound to us.  That is not what the words mean.

It might not be a problem if "help" had taken on a new meaning, but help still means help and thus the fact that needing it is somehow looked on as shameful and pitiful is fucked up.

If help didn't mean help anymore then I'd chalk it up to the natural evolution of language.  Pity and Pathetic have both changed from their original meanings into something negative, I'm not going to try to change them back.  But for as long as help means help "a cry for help" shouldn't be cause for present-meaning-pity.

This video is of a cry for help being announced and various people reacting to it:

Is there anyone in that video who pities Gondor?  Is there anyone who thinks Gondor is Pathetic?

Of course not.  When Gondor cries for help we take it seriously, because Gondor is a fictional kingdom that the forces of Mordor and its allies intend to obliterate.  That kind of cry for help we take seriously.  It's when real people cry for help that we break out the pity.

That's wrong.  It's a twisted part of our culture, and it's corrupting our language.

The next time you hear about a cry for help imagine that Aragorn just sprinted into the room and announced, "Gondor calls for aid."  You should take the first as seriously as the second.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What does death mean? Left Behind, Narnia, Norse Myth

Quite some time ago I thought of writing this post, if for no other reason than the fact that one does not expect deep questions in Norse religion to hinge on a seemingly pointless distinction made in bad Christian fiction by a bad writer who practices bad theology.  The PMD theology the Left Behind books is based on is all about avoiding death by... something that seems very much like dying.

Now in Ana's Narnia deconstruction we see a similar thing.  Reepicheep heads off to Aslan's country (Heaven) never to return.  Sounds an awful lot like dying.  He even leaves a traditional grave marker behind.  But this action that seems to be suicide because he's, you know, leaving this life for the afterlife never to return and doing it of his own volition, apparently isn't.  Hence him going to Heaven rather than elsewhere.

Again we see some sort of fine distinction between death and not-death that is functionally indistinguishable from death.

In the Rapture of Left Behind we are assured, repeatedly in fact, that those taken are not dead.  They've just left this earth to dwell in Heaven until all of the dead are revived on Judgement Day* AND THAT'S TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM DEATH.

And the question of whether or not being banished from the land of the living to dwell eternally in the land of the dead is a very important one if we ever want to understand the falling out between Odin and Loki.

Loki had various children, you see.  Marvel's telling has probably done a lot to muddy waters, but the basic story is this:

Odin saw that Loki, a frost giant, was awesome.  Odin came down.  Loki saw that Odin, an Aesir god, was awesome.  The two became blood brothers, and it was good.  They even took oaths to never have a meal unless the other was welcome at it too.

Loki was unpredictable and occasionally annoying as hell, but he always made up for it in the end.

Loki joined the gods in Asgard, but being a frost giant (Jötunn), never left Jotunheim behind entirely.  He was a member of both worlds, and had a wife in each.  This was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of and to be honest people were way more concerned about that time he spent as a human woman and gave birth to children than anything involving polygamy.

The fact that one of Loki's wives was a Jötunn was no big deal, that's where most gods got their wives anyway.  Thor's biological mom was a Jötunn and so too was one of Thor's wives.

Anyway, Loki saved the gods, did a lot of hanging out with his nephew Thor, and generally things were good.

Then... something happened.

With his Jötunn wife, he has three kids.  His two sons are a wolf and a serpent.  His daughter is a hag.  Not many people are born old, but Loki's daughter, Hel, was.

All three children were taken from their parents.

The wolf was exiled to an island.  For some reason that wasn't enough and so the gods tied him up.  They treated it like a game, "Can you break these bonds?" and at first he was ready to play along and eager to please, but eventually he wondered why they kept tying him up and looking disappointed when he got free.  When they finally got magical fetters that could restrain him he wasn't as willing to play, but he came up with what he thought was a good solution.

He said that he'd allow himself to be tied up and test the strength of the bonds (which is why the lying gods who lie of Asgard said they wanted to tie him up), but, so he could be sure they'd untie him if he couldn't break the bonds, he wanted one of them to place a hand in his mouth.  He wouldn't release the hand until he was released.  He reasoned none of them would lose a hand to bind him.  He reasoned wrong.  Tyr is the one handed god for a reason.

The serpent was cast down to earth.  It is the midgard serpent, who lives in the sea and circles the earth.

And Hel was... this is where the question of what death means becomes important.

Did Odin murder Hel?

He sent her to the afterlife never to return.  Usually we call that killing.  It's certainly called killing when Loki arranges for the same thing to be done to Odin's son Baldur.

Odin Raptured her, just not to paradise.  He sent her to Aslan's country, if Aslan's country were dismal and bleak and a place you'd really rather not go.

Is that killing?

That's a really big question.

Some think that Odin didn't kidnap the three children so much as take them hostage.  The difference is important.  Freyja is a hostage, and it hardly inconveniences her.  The trading of hostages was a common act in peacemaking.  The reasoning is that you're not going to attack a place with people you care about inside of it.

If they were taken hostage than it was done all wrong.  Hostages of that sort are not mistreated and the children all are, but that detail pales in comparison to the possibility that Odin straight up murdered Hel.

At least one of Loki's children will be murdered.  After things have soured, after Loki arranges for the death of Baldur and then keeps him dead (if everything and everyone could be made to cry for Baldur then Baldur would be the sole exception to the rule that the dead stay dead.  Loki didn't cry), after Loki became more concerned with pissing off the gods than his usual trickster fare, when the gods of the Aesir finally have had enough of Loki and violate every oath to get revenge, they do it by removing his blood ties with them: his two sons by an Aesir wife, Sigyn.

To remove the two sons they turn one into a wolf and make him kill the other.  Then use the entrails of the dead one to tie Loki up.  The Aesir are definitely not above murder.  There's no reason to think that they wouldn't kill Hel.  Sure, Hel never did anything to earn their ire, but neither did the son who they had disemboweled.

It should be noted that the attempt to cut ties with Loki failed.  Sigyn is Aesir.  Sigyn never left Loki.  She could.  It's actually kind of a big deal culturally speaking that she could.  But the point isn't how important it was that there was a choice given between which family to side with in that culture.  The point is that she had a choice and she chose Loki.

But Odin, leader of the Aesir, a group that we know is totally up for lies and murder, took Loki's daughter.  Did he kill her?

This is what he did do: he ended her life in all of the nine realms but one: the land of the dead, there she remains trapped until the end of all worlds just like every other being that dies and is not sent to Valhalla or Fólkvangr (which is where the ones who die in battle go.)

If a human were to do that to someone we'd call it murder.  But does using divine means --rather than, say, a knife-- mean that it's somehow not killing?

Did Odin murder Hel?

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins say, "No."  That's a Rapture, not a death.

C. S. Lewis seems to agree, going to the afterlife never to return is not synonymous with dying.

But, um, what's the difference?


* Well, one of the judgement days.  In Left Behind there are multiple judgement days for various reasons.  One of which is that it's easy to deal with disparities in descriptions of Judgement Day and still maintain that you're reading things completely literally if you can say that the different descriptions of Judgement Day are describing different judgement days.