Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Being more than a Simulacrum (a Kim Possible fan fiction) (part 1)

When she woke up, her eyes stayed closed. It was a practiced skill; it had taken forever to perfect. Originally her eyes had always snapped open. When pretending you're still unconscious could make the difference that saved the world, it was best to keep your eyes closed on waking.

She wasn't in her bed. That was easy enough to feel. The noises would have alerted her anyway. They, combined with the smell, told her she was in a hospital or infirmary.

She subtly tested her limbs. They weren't bound. Probably meant she was amoung friendlies. Even so, when she opened her eyes it started with just a hopefully unnoticeable cracking open of her left eye. Just in case she judged wrong and she'd been captured by the enemy.

What she saw confirmed what she already knew: some kind of medical facility.

To get more information from her surroundings she was going to have to reveal she was awake, but there were other sources of information. What was the last thing she remembered. Her mind was hazy, but she thought she put things into the right order. If she had, then that would mean the last thing she remembered was fighting Shego. She must have been knocked unconscious, but that didn't tell her who brought her to here. Friend or foe?

To find out she would have to tip her hand, so she opened her eyes then tried to sit up.

A hand firmly, but gently, forced her back down.

I wouldn't do that in your current state.”

She recognized the voice: Shego. She was amoung enemies. That clarified nothing. If Shego had control of her then why wasn't she dead? Why wasn't she locked into the hospital bed? Why did Shego's voice lack animosity and taunting?

She decided to play along, “What is my current state?” she asked as politely as she could.

You're a recently created clone,” Shego said in an infuriatingly matter of fact manner.

Her eyes opened wide in panic. If she was a clone then that meant there would be no rescue, there would be no one to stop whatever it was that Shego planned to do to her.

What are you going to do to me?” she asked, trying to keep the fear from her voice.

“Nothing. You can go to your family if you like. They'll accept you like a long lost daughter and never think any less of you for being a clone. You know that.”

“But...” she let the word hang when she realized she didn't have a sentence to follow it with.

You're unrestrained, you know your way out. If you want to, you can leave. I've instructed the henchmen: no one will try to stop you.”

I, uh, actually don't know my way out,” she admitted.

Oh.” Shego sounded somewhat surprised. “Out that door,” she pointed, “take a left, go passed the training area, take a right after the living quarters, and continue to the end of the hall.” Shego looked away as if she were finished, but then she added, “But wait twelve to fifteen minutes for your body to adjust to being … made.”

The girl on the infirmary bed was trying to take this all in.

If she was a clone then there were so many questions. How would she distinguish herself from the original? Were her memories, feelings, and personality less real because they belonged to someone else? Why did she have those things, which DNA surely wouldn't carry, in the first place? Why had she been cloned? How would she explain to other people, “Oh, I'm not Kim, I'm just her clone”? What would she do with her life? Did she need to live in fear of carbonated beverages? Was the process that created her stable? While she was sure Kim's family would accept her if she asked them, could she convince everyone else that she wasn't Kim's evil clone? All of these things and more came to her mind, some came and went so fast she couldn't hold onto the thoughts long enough to remember them.

And, on the other hand, if she wasn't a clone, then what sort of mind game was being played here?

Why did you make me if you don't plan to do anything to me?”

Shego sighed. “This may surprise you, Princess, but there aren't any experts on clone psychology out there. We weren't even sure if telling you you were a clone would cause a breakdown. We made up an elaborate lie just to spare you from that possibility but in the end I decided to tell you the truth, hope for the best, and have a therapist on standby.”

The girl said, “Two things.”

The first?”

If there's a therapist on standby where is he?”

She is in the next room.”

The girl nodded. “Second: How does that relate to my question?”

It relates to your question because we also don't know what telling you why you were created would do to you. One theory is that you'll latch onto it as your purpose in life. Another is that you'll rebel against it. A third is that it will have no effect upon you at all.” Shego paused. “Regardless, to be on the safe side, I'm not telling.

You're going to have to work things out for yourself.”

So you created me, and now you're just going to let me go?”

“If that's what you want.”

“What do
you want?”

I want you to decide, of your own free will, to stay around here for a while and get a better idea of what it's like than you would racing in, blowing stuff up, and racing out again.”

The clone was puzzled, “Why would I do that?”

“Why not?” Shego asked.

The girl gave a look that indicated it wasn't a good enough answer.

Curiosity?” Shego asked.

The girl thought that was a tempting reason, she'd never had access to one of the bases. She saw them mostly through ventilation systems and the lab that housed whatever the latest “super” weapon happened to be. Beyond that she knew almost, but not quite, nothing about them.

On the other hand, she was either Kim Possible, the nemesis of the people who worked here, or a clone of the same. That didn't seem like it would result in pleasant relations with the people there.

She decided to show no reaction to Shego.

“Ok, how about this: you're probably ready to sit up now.”

The girl tried to sit up. She succeeded with no ill effects.

And you'll be ready to walk out of here soon. However, you're not exactly in fighting trim. There are any number of people who would do all sorts of things to get themselves the vaunted Kim Possible,” for the first time Shego spoke with sarcasm and animosity, but it evaporated with her next words, “or a copy thereof.

I'm sure you'd be completely safe with your family, but if you want to go off on your own you'll probably have to wait until you've trained yourself up to Kim's level anyway, so why not do the training here? You'll not only be sure that you'll be safe when you do go out, you'll also make sure that we're not doing anything evil by being in our midst the entire time.

Necessary practice, keeping us from being evil, no one loses.”

The girl asked, “Where's the exit again?”

Shego sighed, the girl thought that she could see a sadness in Shego's eyes but wasn't sure. Regardless, Shego answered, “Out the door, left down the hall, right after the living quarters, exit is at the end of that hall.”

And if I go no one will stop me?” the girl asked.

“No one,” Shego said, this time looking away.

The girl weighed various possibilities in her mind. Letting her go could be a bluff but she, or Kim, or whatever, had gotten pretty good at reading Shego and it didn't seem like one. If it wasn't a bluff then she had no idea what was going on. Why create a clone just to let it go? If it was a bluff then not calling it arguably put her in a better position than calling it. Better she be seen as playing along than be in open defiance.

She didn't think it was a bluff. She thought that if she wanted to she could leave. And that made her decide to stay. She was curious, and, while she'd never stay if she were forced, if she could come and go as she pleased then she saw no downside to staying around for a bit.

Finally she said, “What was the lie?”

“Huh?” Shego seemed surprised. She seemed to think the conversation had ended and also seemed to have forgotten mention of a lie.

You made up an 'elaborate lie' because you weren't sure if it was a good idea to let me know I was a clone. What was the lie?”

It was elaborate, but it didn't take a lot of effort to make it up. It was just my story but with the pronouns changed to sound like it was your story.”

What is your story?”


“You were considering telling me anyway.”

Yeah, but...” Shego sighed. She didn't like all of the sighing she'd been doing. She'd known this was a bad idea from the beginning, yet she had insisted on doing it anyway. She'd been desperate and hadn't seen another way. Now she was going to have to … on the other hand, maybe it was a good sign. It showed interest. “Whatever,” she said, trying to sound annoyed. “Make yourself comfortable.”

The girl adjusted herself so she was sitting cross legged on the bed, facing Shego. She rested her chin on her hands.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A hypothetical "Now You See Me" series

So, first off, spoilers for Now You See Me.

Warning over, the movie is going to have a sequel scheduled to begin filming this movie.  I have nothing against that per se, but I think that the set up of the movie would be better followed up with an episodic series.

The movie would serve as the origin story, and the rest would proceed like Leverage or The A-Team.  "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Horsemen."

Magicians protect normal people when the law fails to help.  The premise of Leverage but with "thieves" replaced with "magicians".

Part of it is that fighting the bad guys with magic is just awesome as a concept.  Another part is that while in the real world it seems like someone big enough can get away with anything, one of the things they did in Now You See Me is give a bunch of ordinary people the money they were owed by stealing it from the CEO who OKed loopholing them out of of what they were due post disaster.  Granted he was going down no matter what because the plot was revenge not justice (though two out of four of the targets were definitely dirty with strong indications that a third was a problem too.)

But another part is who you've got.

After the movie ends you've got seven characters who are likely to stick around.  Five "horsemen" and three law enforcement personnel.  I'm guessing that the character in the overlap of that Venn diagram is probably going to go straight horseman and quit law enforcement, though it's not actually necessary.

Being a movie from Hollywood it's skewed WAY male.

Anyway, non magicians first:

The one in the FBI appears to be genderqueer or at least likes role playing being female with his wife at least once a week.  He (for that is the gender he presents as) was very embarrassed, nervous, and perhaps even frightened when it was clear it was going to come out and when it did come out and one of the assholes was an asshole about it at that point BUT beyond that moment there was no, "Let's make fun of the non-conforming character," vibe.  He was loyal, smart, and capable and presented as such with no implication that he was somehow worse as a result of not being gender conforming.

The one with interpol was smart and capable too, but she was also someone who could see the wonder in the world and managed to, in a relatively short time, get someone whose entire life revolved around revenge to take joy in life.  And she did it without offering to make him the next Dread Pirate Roberts.  She was the only on in any police force who could keep up with the game.  The FBI was always several steps behind, Interpol didn't send anyone other than her, and for the brief period that they were involved the NYPD was in so far over their head that the depth couldn't even be sounded.

For the magicians:

The Fifth Horsman is the best actor of the bunch, managing to spend most of his life in a false persona without anyone ever guessing that he was faking while surrounded by people whose job it is to be perceptive.  He apparently designed the tricks that the other four were astounded by the mere blueprints of (and then implemented), he can see the long game, and ... stuff.

Stage magician male is very good at what he does, talks a great game, and happens to be an asshole.  Probably not going to deal with that last problem in the span of a movie, but it does set up the potential for a character arc.  (His opening act was extortion.)

Stage magician female seems to be equally good, is much less of a loudmouth, and is underdeveloped as a character in the movie.  We really don't learn enough about her.

Mentalist is very good at what he does and an asshole.  Same thing about potential character arc.

Street magican/pickpocket/lock picker is not an asshole.  Given that the fifth horsman wasn't openly being magician during the movie he was seriously the only non-asshole male magician shown and kind of a breath of fresh air, but he also got less development than would be ideal.  While not being an asshole, he a thief. The movie has them all become thieves, but he started out as one.  Somehow I doubt he did a thorough job of profiling those he robbed to make sure they deserved it, but, anyway, this is character arc again.  He's working with one of his heroes, the other three were above him (fifth was unknown), only by the end of the movie did he prove himself as an equal, so it's probably going to be interesting to see what comes of that.


Neither of the female main characters got to interact with another woman in the movie.  That's a damn shame.  There's no excuse.  There's a decent reason they didn't interact with each other*, there really isn't one for why neither ever interacted with another woman.  Will that be dealt with in the next movie?  No idea.  It would almost** have to be in a series just because
1 They'd be on the same side at this point and thus talk to each other
2 Every episode you've got new non-main characters and some of them would presumably be women.


Mostly, though, I just like the idea of magicians being the Robin Hood/We help the helpless team in an ongoing series.

The fact that they'd presumably bring with them a gender-queer FBI agent is just a random plus.


* Well semi-decent.  There's only one time that they could have and it would have been across an interrogation table.  But why don't we get to see her interrogation?  There are four magicians being held for interrogation.  Two are assholes, three are males.  Why do we only get to see the male assholes being interrogated?

** Never underestimate the power of ingrained misogyny.  Nothing is impossible

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How Harry Potter should have ended

Slytherin was always under thought out.  Their guiding virtue was ambition but none of them seemed to have more than a base understanding of it.  I wanted to see the genuinely nice and honest Slytherin character because she was smart enough to know that friends would advance her ambitions more than enemies and the truth was easier to keep straight than lies.  I wanted to see them networking and alliance building.  I wanted to see the character who stepped in to stop bullies because they knew that might earn them favors.  But we didn't really get that.

What we did get was the never-ending blood feud between Gryffindor.  The shortsighted ambitious house and the hot headed charge off into battle house.

Which leaves, comfortably below the radar, the "Learn things so that we can actually be competent and form decent plans" house and the "We don't care about innate abilities, we work hard and get results based on our own merits," house.

The thinkers and the doers.  Teamed up they should be unstoppable.  And why shouldn't they team up?  When Harry Potter starts it's been ten years since the last time anyone heard of wizard-Hitler.  Potentially rocks fell and he died.  But potentially he's been in hiding and plotting his comeback for ten years.  People who were know supporters were about to use political leverage to get out of punishment and be falsely declared innocent.  His entire power structure is intact, was welcomed back into the world of lawful magic users, and has infiltrated it like whoa.  Gryffindor doesn't have anyone to charge into battle against.  Slytherin doesn't have any clear path for their ambitions.  But if you're Ravinclaw then this is a mystery that needs to be studied.  If you're Hufflepuff there's work left to be done.

Which really means that, when you think about it, the ending should have been:
Ravenclaw spokesstudent: We made a plan.
Hufflepuff spokesstudent: And we implemented it.
*The world is saved*
All of the main characters: Huh?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Jensen

My nephew turns one year old today, which sort of reminds me that I meant to do a post on ... not exactly his birth story but the stories surrounding his birth, and then never got around to finishing it.

Today would be an ideal time to post it, but because of computer problems and so forth, I don't even know where the stuff I meant to put in even is.  I only think I have three or four semi-functional computers to check.  Maybe when he turns a year and a month and a week and a day old?

Regardless, Jensen, my nephew, has traveled around the sun one time as of today.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Snarky Twilight: Vampire Pool

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Inspired by the comment "Vampire baseball isn't really about a tighter focus on nuance or skill, but is rather really more about super-sizing the existing game," from the main post.]

Edward: Come on, I want to show you how we play pool.
Bella: The table is the size of a public swimming pool, you use bowling balls, the cues are masts of small ships, and the balls move very fast when you hit them.
Edward: How could you know that?
Bella: Good guess.
Edward: But...
Bella: Look, you're not the sort to invent a new game that involves balls of several different sizes, some as small as marbles, made out of various materials --some magnetic, some ferromagnetic, some non magnetic-- which, combined with the electromagnets in the table --hooked up to a random number generator or a sensor suspended in a cup of really hot tea-- make for a changing game field impossible for any human to keep up with but on level with the difficulty necessary to interest a vampire.
Edward: You've been thinking about this?
Bella: Actually I just made it up as I said it, I'm sure someone who had a hundred years to think could come up with something better.


Friday, April 18, 2014

More on reincarnation

In some theologies if one has passed through all the trials and tribulations necessary to become a human (their karma is that good) then they find themselves in a hallway full of couples having sex.  They choose one of these to be their parents.  At the end of the hall is a light and passing through that they become reincarnated.

Assume this is accurate.  (This must be done for the sake of argument because otherwise we have nothing to talk about.)

First, not all sex is good.  Not by a long shot.  Some souls must see horrifying things and of those some must decide, "That's who I want my parents to be."  Second, it means that rich people choose to be rich and poor people choose to be poor.

Now, think about that.  What kind of a person says, "I want to live in the lap of luxury being spoiled rotten and never having to work a day in my life," and what kind of person says, "See that poor woman who's obviously going end up as a single mother because look at what that bastard is doing to her?  I'll live in abject poverty with her in hopes that I can bring some joy to her life"?

When you think about it, doesn't it seem like those born rich must have been those who barely made the cut and were almost restricted to being baboons (these theologies tend to say that being a human is the best) while those who are born poor must be the most compassionate souls of the lot?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monthly "I have a donate button" Post

So, I haven't shared the good news because I haven't really digested it but: things will work out next month.  Woo!

And thanks.

Thank you.


The point of having monthly posts is, basically, to have a sort of reminder so that I'm not only pointing out that donations would help when I'm in a panic due to onrushing financial catastrophe.  If someday I'm financially secure enough that I'm not just on the edge of everything falling apart, I'll be sure to tell you all.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Recruiting souls

No one chooses to be born, as other means of creating people come into being it will likely still be the case that no one chooses to be made.  One can choose to be cloned, but the clone has no choice in the matter.

But one wonders if such things could happen.

One imagines, in some future where we've found a way to avoid creating people without getting their consent, someone standing in a spiritual plane of existence with a clipboard in hand, sighing at how behind ze is.

"I've got a body on earth, a perfectly good healthy body, can I--"
Soul 1, "No."
"Ok, you, you there, can I interest you in a human body on earth?"
Soul 2, "Nope."
"Hey, souly soul-looking person near the back, want a body?  Good health, rich family--"
Soul 3, "No!"

"COME ON PEOPLE!  I've got access to a human body on earth and it's yours for the taking, doesn't anybody here want it."

Soul who is just passing by, "Earth, what a shithole."

"Damn it, I'm never going to meet my quota."


Or something like that.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Snarky Twilight: The Ride to Baseball

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.  Note that this will probably be superseded by a revised version (fewer "[...]"s for one thing) at some point in the undefined future.  Not that this version will ever be taken down.]

*Edward tries to strap Bella into the Jeep*
Bella: I am totally capable of putting a harness on myself thank you very much.
Edward: But the book says--
Bella: This is fiction, damn it. In fiction the people who do things by the book are always wrong. It's in real life when going by the book pays off.
Edward: This isn't a crime show.
Bella: Then why am I the badass daughter of the local sheriff who finds herself embroiled in a cobweb of lies and whatnot going back centuries and inextricably linked to *as melodramatically as she can* murder.
Edward: I think you took the wrong details away from the spark notes.
Bella: Next thing you'll be telling me that the Volturi aren't a centuries old cult that engages in human sacrifice.
Edward: That may be a technically accurate way to describe them but it's totally missing the point.
Bella: Says the person who still thinks that appealing to what the book says will have any effect upon me.
Edward: Whatever.
Bella: You know what the book says. The book says "This is a . . . um . . . big Jeep you have." which is totally not sexual innuendo at all.
Edward: It's not!
Bella: Why not?
Edward: It’s Emmett’s.
Bella: Makes sense. The book keeps on saying you have a body like a Greek God, and that means teeny-tiny penis so I guess Emmett gets the fully loaded 747 and you get the puddle jumper.
Bella: Go on. Say it.
Bella: You know you want to. Prove you took anatomy class.
Edward: That's not what "Greek God" means.
Bella: If you're not a Satyr, which you're not, Greek God totally means small genitalia. It's supposed to be a physical symbol of the emotional control you totally lack in all non-symbolic capacities.
Edward: It can mean other things.
Bella: Do you have a beard?
Edward: No.
Bella: Wings like Eros?
Edward: No.
Bella: A bow with which you can shoot plague arrows?
Edward: No.
Bella: Then you're not exactly resembling a Greek God in any other way.
Edward: Can we get on with it?
Bella: By all means. My, what big eyes you have.
Edward: Wrong story.
Bella: It's still your line.
Edward: What? Right. Um... I didn’t think you’d want to run the whole way.
Bella: Which logically means I'll still be running part of the way.
Edward: You’re not going to run.
Bella: For the love of fuck, I’m going to be sick.
Edward: Keep your eyes closed, you’ll be fine.
Bella: So totally not why I'm going to be sick.

* * *

Edward: Sorry, Bella, we have to go on foot from here.
Bella: You know what? I’ll just wait here.
Edward Hmmm . . . It seems I’m going to have to tamper with your memory.
Bella: In several cultures that was outlawed before the death penalty. In others they just kill anyone who so much as suggests doing such a thing with stones.

Edward: It’s over, Bella.
Bella: Sweet! I've got so many other things to do. I can't believe this book is finally over. In my travels met a nice lesbian couple and when the redhead was my age she was a main character too but instead of being stuck in abstinence porn she was saving the world and had been for years.
Edward: I meant the running was over.
Bella: Oh!
Bella: Oh, you’re the only one who’s allowed to get mad?
Edward: I wasn’t mad at you.”
*Bella begins to turn away*
*Edward tries to hold onto her*
Bella: If you don't let go this book will abruptly end in Chapter 15.
*Edward releases her*
Bella: You were mad.
Edward: Yes.
Bella: But you just said —
Edward: That I wasn’t mad at you. Can’t you see that, Bella?
Bella: Not really. All signs really point to me as being the target of your irrational anger.
Edward: Seriously, that's not it.
Bella: Then why?
Edward: I infuriate myself,
Bella: And then take it out on me.
Edward: The way I can’t seem to keep from putting you in danger.
Bella: You could start by actually trying.
Edward: My very existence puts you at risk.
Bella: I think it's more your behavior than your existence.
Edward: Sometimes I truly hate myself.
Bella: With good reason.
Edward: I should be stronger,
Bella: No argument from me there.
Edward: I should be able to —
Bella: Yes, you should.
Edward: I love you
Bella: Could have fooled me.
Edward: It’s a poor excuse for what I’m doing
Bella: It's not an excuse for anything.
Edward: but it’s still true.
Bella: Love is what you do, so I call bullshit.
Edward: Now, please try to behave yourself
Bella: I think you're forgetting which of us has the problem here.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

January 2013

As a reminder, the point of these, in addition to just recapping past work, is to create a way to navigate quicker than going through the blog's old posts manually, but more informative than just looking at the post titles on the "Blog Archive" at the side of the page.

Movies and Games
Massive spoilers for the Hobbit and the new Star Trek movies, and probably anything else that comes into my head - The Goblin king was fun. Why did those swords not glow?  What do these people have against railings?  What's it like being a map maker when the mountains can get up and have a fight?  Who got the five rings?  Someone had to do it.  Was it Inigo?  Who?  What kind of a soulless bastard has floating cars and paved roads AT THE SAME TIME?  You don't get to lecture people about the prime directive while violating it in the most showy way possible.  Nu-Trek could probably work, mostly as it exists, if it were presented as Airplane (absurd comedy) but on a space ship.  Old-Kirk compared to Nu-Kirk.  AND MORE!

And another thing - I do not understand the orc and goblin economies.

Difficulty settings, Dark Forces, Deus Ex, TNM, and Mirrors Edge - Some musing on difficulty settings.

Fractured Mirror: idea for a hypothetical game based on Mirror's Edge - One of the nice things about writing about games rather than actually making them is that you don't have to worry about things like practicality or budget constraints.
Fractured Mirror: Post II - More thoughts on the hypothetical game.

General Stories/Ideas for Stories:
Very Beginning of a tentacly story - Three paragraphs, from years back.  The main character has a moment of introspection forced on by the thought of impending death.

Band Story - The band story, first mentioned here, is something that's been in my head in fragments for quite a while and I at one point took to calling something along the lines of, "Twilight if you replace 'abusive' with 'supportive' and 'vampires' with '(female) band members'."
Band Story Start -The beginning
Intentionally Lost in Translation - The exact same post as above, but translated by automated software into and out of Japanese 11 times.  You've just got to read it to understand the point, basically.  Doing so out loud might add to the humor.
Band Story, early middle I think - Main character is asked by members of the band what instrument she'd like to learn.
Band Story, very late middle - Insecurities, consent, and such.
A Job To Do - Once upon a time there was going to be a ghost story anthology, this story (one of the few that's actually complete) was written for it.  Follow our heroes as they don't let the fact that they died stop them from completing the mission.

The beginning of Something - When I was in high school I started writing a novel, I burned out after around 90,000 words.  The novel was simply called "Something'.
Some more of the beginning of Something - Because I thought the above excerpt might be a bit small.

Summary of beginning of story with evil monsters - When evil monsters invade the world one person assumes ze is going insane and, not liking the potential results of that, pretends not to notice them except when absolutely necessary.  This actually makes said person relatively safe for the time being because the monsters themselves don't think someone who ignores them is high on the threat list.

Christmas Truce inspired story idea - I want a story where an unofficial truce on the front lines can't be broken by those in charge and instead spreads until it engulfs the whole of every military involved and the war is forced to end.

Zombie Survival Guide: Translator's introduction - A survival guide for Zombies, by Zombies.  This is the introduction of the person who translated it into English.  The idea was to have So you've just been turned into a Zombie become part of a larger work in which zombie strategies were communicated to newly turned zombies.  Never got around to writing more than those two pieces though.

The space thing story maybe in medias res beginning maybe - I didn't even remember that I wrote this.  I'm not sure how I feel about it on rereading.  Any feedback is welcome.  Of course feedback is welcome on all posts always, so ... yeah.

Interesting ways of making word salad (Post 1) - Was supposed to be the beginning of an attempt to make, hopefully funny, gibberish by starting with Left Behind.

Greek Mythology:
A quick summing up of the Odyssey - "Quick" is relative here.  The thing is an epic, after all.

General Twilight/Vampire Stuff:
The height of weapons technology - *Movie trailer voice* In a world where vampire teeth are the most deadly thing around...

Random Bits of Twilight (circa yesterday) - Edward dazzling people, Edward as an angel?  Edward as a butterfly?!

Edith and Ben:
And so it begins - The very start of the story.

Snarky Twilight:
Bella and The Doctor have a short conversation on Weeping Angels - Why can't you kill a stone?

Anything that begins has to have a beginning - The Snarky Twilight version of the beginning of the book.

Skewed Slightly to the Left:
Why you will fly this plane - The Antichrist ought to be able to make threats that are actually scary.  So he does.

From my slow trek through .hack//Sign:
.hack//Sign: Boggled Minds - The Silver Knight and Subaru discuss Tsukasa and it is revealed that even the system administration, who should be akin to gods as far as the game goes, are at a complete loss when it comes to understanding the situation.

Depression stuff:
Don't minimize other people's problems. - Mostly just me venting.  But the title is generally good advice.

Check who the exhaust might hit before venting - I speak as someone who people vent at when I'm ill prepared to deal with it all the fucking time.

Me Stuff:
To any readers with ADHD - I asked how they coped.  Now they think I don't have ADHD, just some undetermined thing that shares certain symptoms.  Oh joy.

Regarding stamps - So I've got this silly and wasteful childhood dream, all I need for it is a metric fuckton of stamps.  What is it, it's not a secret, it's a surprise.  No, I am not a James Bond villain.

Back to school, but crunch time over (for now) - An update on my life, academically speaking, at the time.

In which I again prove I know nothing about programming - Some things that I wanted to do.  If I can figure out where I put them I have programs that do those things now.

On ASL - My experience of starting taking ASL

On hypocrisy - Person who was bullying me in ways typically reserved for middle school said that the only thing she didn't like about me was that I did this one thing.  The same thing she does constantly.

Apparently I won for most creative attempt to map the tripartite soul onto the Trinity. - I didn't even know there was a contest.

Caffeine, and scams I wish were real. - Some scams are inexplicable because the alleged business model would actually work just find AND not get you arrested.

The world at large stuff:
Not mean; but be. - Originally posted at the Slacktiverse (here), this is my thoughts on what to do when you, as an artist, find your intended meaning conflicting with the already existing parts of the work.

Is there software for parsing text into bare grammar? - I think I ended up using Senna.  It's been a while since I worked on any of the projects that require that, but not for lack of interest.  Point being, if you know of any such software that's good, please do tell.

Those tips for saving money - For example, the one that I see most often is, "Don't buy a latte every day," to which I respond, "If I were rich enough to buy a latte every day I wouldn't be in money trouble, now would I?"

Ok, so, Bureaucracy - The government is too small.  Anyone who has ever been forced to wait and wait at a government office knows this.  There just aren't enough customer facing employees to handle the load and hence the long wait times.  In this post I speculate that it might have another problem.  If your staff is already too small, maybe it's harder to get rid of the people who do shitty jobs.

On the utility of paperclips - People really underestimate them, in my opinion.

What are the best free books? - A lot of stuff is no longer bound by copyright.  What's the best?  Also, what's the worst?

Given that today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day - I recommend reading the Letter from Birmingham Jail.  This post has some of why I make that recommendation.

Ah... bureaucracy. - Ongoing tribulations.

We're all thinking it, I'm just going to come out and say it - Look at a picture of Hillary Clinton from this period in time.  Don't those glasses look a little familiar? *cough*TimeLord*cough*

My sister and I have differing ideas of the question of evil - The systems in which people find themselves can cause them to do horrible things without even consciously realizing it, but when people are suddenly face to face with the evil they have done, what determines their response?  I think they do.  Good people try to fix things, bad people try to do whatever is best for them.  My sister thinks it's more about how they're approached.  Are they put on the defensive or do they feel the person letting them know that they've done horrible things is being nice and understanding.  The post is a lot longer and more in depth.

Blog stuff:
August 2012 - Just like this, but for a different month.

I'm thinking of doing a sort of theme month maybe (Beginnings) - Was a thought for January.  (To do the starts of stories.)  Also contains a list of beginnings that had been posted on the blog at that time.

Ping - I tried to get readers to sound off.

September 2012 - Just like this, but for a different month.  I was probably trying to get caught up.

Blogger is messing up my footnotes - So if you should see borked footnotes, tell me.

[Insert post title here.] - A usual post if you remove all the content.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Narnia, if the heroes did their jobs: Beginning to eat at Aslan's table

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

“Travelers who have come from far to Aslan’s table, welcome,” said the young woman. “My name is Sophie NicRéalta.  Why do you not eat and drink?”
“Madam,” said Caspian, “we feared the food because we thought it had cast our friends into an enchanted sleep.”
"It was not the food that did so," Sophie said.
"Then what was it?" Eustace asked.  "And how do we awaken them?"
[for some reason the business of waking the lords can only be done after the feast is eaten]
Throughout the explanation Edmund had grown more and more uncomfortable. The dagger itself reminded him of another time he had eaten enchanted food. The fact that when he looked upon her he trusted her for no apparent reason made him suspect magic, but more than for himself he feared for his friends and his family.
He had eaten the wrong food one time and the cost had been a life. A life that was returned soon after, but even if Aslan had only been dead for a day he still felt the guilt of causing that death. He didn't want anyone he cared about to get hurt, and he didn't want anyone he cared about to feel the pain of carrying that kind of guilt with him.
He tried to speak delicately, "I do not wish to be rude, but things are not always what they seem. Just because you seem trustworthy, and you do, doesn't mean that you are. How can we know that you are really a friend?"
“You can not know,” said the girl. “You can only believe—or not.”
"I've believed the wrong people in the past," Edmund said.
"What kind of an answer is that?" Lucy asked, consciously holding herself back from snapping at the young woman.
"The only kind I can give," Sophie said. "I have no proof to offer you.  I have only my word."
"If she speaks truly then the food must be eaten and the drink must be drunk," Reepicheep said, "We cannot abandon our comrades to endless slumber."
"That's true, but--" Edmund started.
"Majesty, apologies for interrupting, but I was not finished speaking."
"Sorry, Reep," Edmund said and gestured for the Mouse to continue.
"If she is not speaking truly, then the food is a trap, but there is no reason that we all must risk ourselves. I volunteer to test it."
"Reep!" Euctace said in shock.
Caspian, who had remained silent, looked at the young woman in hopes of some kind of reassurance.
"I am not offended if one of you eats first and the rest wait to see what happens," Sophie said. "Given that you are all armed, and I am not, perhaps that will set your minds at ease."
Reepicheep had already started eating food.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm not leaving without that kid

[Inspired by a story involving time travel, Fred's one sentence summary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I’m walking away from Omelas, but I’m not leaving without that kid), and stuff.]

A child's voice cried out, "You are EVIL!" as Alex approached the house.

"We are evil," his target told the girl in a level tone.  She was already having a conversation with someone and from the inflection on the "we" he guessed it was her past self.  Not good.

Time travelers were getting better and better at staying ahead of law enforcement.  The department's own success had made it so that no one who tried to change the past did it without what they were convinced was a very good plan.  The problem was when they were right.

The target had bought herself hours at most, but if she was talking to her past self there was no telling what damage might have been done in that time.

Alex looked down to his left forearm.  A screen built into the fabric of his coat lit up and based on the readouts it looked like the future was secure, so long as he prevented any more changes to the timeline.  He sighed in relief, took a deep breath, and kicked in the door.

"Hands where I can see them!" he shouted before he even got a look at the inside of the room.  In his experience it was good to get to the point fast.  In his business moments mattered.

The target put up her hands and took a step back.  What she took a step back from was the part that almost threw Alex.  There was a little girl, naked, handcuffed to what appeared to be some sort of heating pipe.  Alex willed himself to pay attention to the mission and approached the target.

"Your travel through time is unauthorized and you killed two people--" Alex began.

"You knew?" The little girl asked.

Confused, Alex looked at her and then the floor.  There were two bodies.  A man and a woman.  Probably the girl's parents.  They'd been shot to death but no shots had been fired since he checked on the state of the timeline.  Apparently their lives didn't matter much to history.  From what little he knew about them, he didn't think they'd be missed.

"You killed four people," Alex corrected, "and you will be brought--"

Things happened fast.  He guessed she had enhancements because the target's speed didn't seem to match her age or apparent muscles.  He lost his gun and she drew her own.  Alex grabbed the gun with both hands, the target did the same, and it was a fight to see which way the weapon would point.

Alex was surprised when the gun went off.  Had he pulled the trigger without realizing it?  It didn't make sense for her to do it since the gun had been pointed at her.

The target collapsed to the ground.  She was dead by the time she hit it.

The whole thing was a mess but the job was done.

"I'm sorry you had to see that," Alex said to the girl.

"It was... it was self defense," she said.

"Smart thing," Alex thought.

"You saved me."

Alex found the key to the handcuffs and freed the girl.  "Put some clothes on honey."

"Thank you."

Alex began the work of scanning for things from his own time.  It looked like it was just the target, her gun, his gun, and a bag.

It wasn't actually part of the job to find out what was in then bag, but he was curious.

"Oh God," he said, a taste of vomit in his mouth.

"Are you ok?" the girl asked.

"Fine.  Fine.  I just threw up in my mouth a little and that's nasty is all."

"Icky.  Why did you throw up in your mouth?"

Alex sighed.  "I think she," he said pointing at the target, "was going to do to you what they," he pointed to the girl's dead parents, "would have done to you had they lived."

"What would they have done to me?"

"If I try to tell you that I'll throw up for real," Alex said.  "Can we talk about something else?"

"What's your name?"

"Alex," he said.  His name wasn't going to disrupt the timeline or make him vomit so this was a perfectly good subject in his mind.

"Mine's Margie."

"Well, Margie, I'm going to--" Alex stopped as someone else entered the home.  "Why are you here, Perry?  The mission's over."

"No, it's not," the newcomer said.

"The timeline was intact before I engaged the target, and while I'd rather have brought her in alive she's definitely not going to be doing any damage now."

"Things got worse when you neutralized the target."

Alex looked to the readouts on his forearm screen while saying, "That doesn't make any--" which is as far as he got before realizing Perry was right.

"Our world is hanging on by a thread," Perry said.  "We've had some close calls before and it's never been this bad."

"What happened?"

Perry just looked.  It took Alex a moment to realize Perry was looking past him toward Margie.

"Her?  She's supposed to--"  Alex looked at the three bodies on the floor.  Margie's parents.  Margie's future self.  He remembered the content of the bag.  "There's no one left to abuse her."

Perry nodded slowly.

"So what are you suggesting?" Alex asked. "Damage done."

Perry said, "We'll take care of it."

"Really?" Alex asked, anger growing in his voice.  "I didn't know we had a department for that."

"If she doesn't ... go bad--"

"Evil," Alex snapped. "The term the girl used is 'evil'."

Margie hid herself behind Alex.  She didn't understand the argument, but of the two total strangers in the house she knew which one she trusted more.

"Fine," Perry said, "Go with the melodrama.  If she doesn't turn evil then she won't do certain things, which will lead to other people not doing certain things, which will mean that our entire world will cease to exist."

"We're talking about a child."

"No.  You're not thinking straight.  We're talking about the whole world.  My family.  Your family.  Our friends.  Everyone you've ever met--"

Alex mumbled, mostly to himself, "our happiness, the beauty of our planet, the tenderness of our friendships, the health of our children, the wisdom of our scholars, the skill of our makers, even the abundance of our harvest and the kindly weathers of our skies."

A dangerous edge entered Perry's voice when he said, "You're quoting Omelas."

Alex lunged for one of the guns still lying on the floor and in a moment he and Perry were facing each other weapons drawn.  "How long have we known each other?" Alex asked.

"If you think you can trade on our friendship to--"

"That's not it.  This is: You know I can't lie for shit.  Before I finally gave up on poker you called every single bluff."


"So you'll know that this is true: If I hurt you I'll never forgive myself, but that isn't going to stop me from hurting you if you try to do anything to this girl."

"You like your short story so much?" Perry asked.  "Then walk away.  Isn't that what the good people do in the story?"

"Oh, I'm walking away from Omelas," Alex said, "but I'm not leaving without this kid."  He reached back and held Margie by the hand.

"Seriously Alex, just walk away, I'll do what needs to be done."

"Could you Perry?  Could you really?"

"Yes," Perry spat.  "I'm not so selfish that I'd destroy the entire world just so I could sleep at night.  If the price of saving everything I care about is not being able to look at myself in the mirror then I'd pay it gladly."

Perry opened fire, and Alex returned it, but none of the shots connected and soon both needed to reload.  In the silence Alex said, "If you hit her you'll erase our future even quicker."

Perry said a quiet, "Shit."

Alex led Margie out of the house.

Perry activated a communications device and said, "I need backup now.  Alex has gone rogue and the new target is with him," so quickly that he almost tripped over the words.


"Will I really turn out like... like her," Margie asked when they stopped running.

"No, one of the effects of the time machine is that it insulates the user from any changes in the timeline.  A time traveler pops into the past exactly as they left the future even if that future no longer exists.  It can be quite disorienting, I'm told, because changes mean that some time travelers appeared in pasts that didn't even exist when they used the time machine.

"There's actually an entire colony of former travelers who have banded together and bonded over coming from timelines that don't even exist anymore.  It's in..." Alex looked at Margie.  "You're not following any of this, are you?"

Margie gestured that she was following very little.

"The short answer is, 'No.'  You have free will.  You'll be whatever you will be."

Margie, "But?"


"You said that like there was going to be a "but"."

"But some people, people like Perry, want you to end up like her.  As close as possible."

"I don't want to be evil," Margie said.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to protect you from those people," Alex said.


[I'm not actually a fan of the trope that abuse leads to evil and thus evil comes from abuse.  Some people who were raised just fine none the less turned out quite bad, abused people are not to be regarded with suspicion because seriously that's just wrong.]