Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Unproduced projects and the fear of writing what I don't know

So, at the moment I'm going to try to focus on writing those ghost stories I mentioned.  Because the ghost anthology is actually getting near the point where it has enough stories.  (Speaking of which, here's a Ghost story I didn't mention that I wrote to see if I could actually do a story start to finish.)  One of the things that means I'll be putting on hold temporarily is the mermaid story mentioned in the same post.

Its a story in which an apparent male transitions into female she actually was.  Who happens to be a lesbian.

I seem to have a bunch of those stories, to the point that when such a story comes up in my mind I feel like, "Another one?"  And it can sometimes be easy to forget that none of them exist outside of my head.  Except one.  Today someone viewed that story and somehow I think it was by mistake because I don't think they came here looking for modern transgender teenage lesbian Jesus.  (Resurrection.  In the Garden.)

And here's the thing, what holds me back from writing any of these stories isn't what I don't know about Transgender issues (though perhaps it should be) it's what I don't know about everything else.

The story I just mentioned.  If I wrote much more of it it would make immediately clear for all to see how little I know about actual christian theology, and high school, and dating, and relationships, and stuff.

There's another that would show how little I know about indie music, and dating, and relationships, and stuff.

There's another that would show how much I've forgotten about Greek mythology, and how little I know about coed campsites, and dating, and relationships, and stuff.

The mermaid one would show how little I know about sea life, and high school, and dating, and relationships, and stuff.

There's another that would show how much I lack the competence to write Adamsian space adventure.  And demonstrate how little I know about child rearing, and high school, and dating, and relationships, and stuff.

Now it's not exactly the same character jumping up and down in my head saying, "Give me a fucking plot already," but sometimes it feels that way.

And someone at this point might be wondering, "Didn't you go to high school?" yeah, but I wasn't exactly aware and oriented times three.

And there is a temptation to say that, say (second story), writing doesn't need to be held to a high standard because it's basically Twilight if you replace, "Vampires" with "female musicians," and "abusive" with "supportive" and it's not like that kind of thing gets held to any kind of high standard.  I mean it's not as if someone would make a blog devoted to pointing out the flaws in something like... oh, wait.

But the fact that there are indie musicians and christian theologians and people who went to coed camps and marine biologists out there, not to mention people who know how good Adamsian space adventure is supposed to be, always makes me wary of starting a story like this.

It's easy to write Left Behind or Twilight based fiction, there's no fear about not living up to the reality because the reality is kind of crap.  But when I know that I might be taking a shuttle bus with an indie musician two days a week every week for a semester after I write what amounts to a light fantasy where I appropriated their world as the setting, that kind of makes me wary.

And so nothing ever gets written.


For anyone who was wondering plots, story ideas in more detail:

College student reveals to his friends that he's a she, they appear to take it well, decide to spend an upcoming break on a road trip to go see one of the friend's favorite bands and sort of follow it from stop to stop back toward home since that's where it's heading, with main character spending the entire time presenting as female.

At the first see-the-band stop, the friends viciously out main character at a concert, abandon her three states away from home. Band is small time enough it has to clean up venue itself, lead singer finds main character crying on the ground.  When the lead singer gets brought up to speed her first thought is to buy a bus ticket and send protagonist home, but she's not sure of the protagonist's emotional state being up for traveling alone, so instead offers to let her tag along with the band since they're heading that way anyway.

Over the course of the trip protagonist bonds with the whole band, and eventually ends up tentatively starting a relationship with lead singer.

Comes home a bit late (but called ahead to make sure professors knew that it was a transportation problem causing missed classes) finishes off semester presenting as female, goes off with the band full time after that (as technical assistant and glass armonica player) with the intention of coming back to finish college and get a degree at some point in the future.


High school student discovers he, for protagonist still thinks of himself this way at this point though the gender never really fit, is the child of the Greek Goddess of Dew and is quickly inducted into a world of intrigue and whatnot and this popped into my head while watching Percy Jackson and my brain rejecting pretty much every element of it so it might not be the best thought out thing ever.

Two best friends will end up being daughter of Athena, who has mutually shared attraction, and daughter of Aphrodite, who is completely willing to help protagonist try on dresses and not tell anyone about it.

Over the course of the story the many and powerful uses of the ability to create moisture ex nihilo on a surface will be explored, mythological beings will completely fail to understand the concept of gender dysphoria (gods are shapeshifers, they're whatever gender they want) it will turn out that protagonist's problem is that he wasn't born trans, she was born cis and the gender change was to hide her from her late mother's adversaries.  (The Goddess of Dew was crushed in the previous conflict.)

And in final confrontation protagonist will get shapeshifty enough to revert at long last to female form, claim matrilinial decent from Nyx as a way of one upping a boasting son of Zeus, and finally take her place as a female demigod.


Adamsian space thingy, let's see, how did that go?

Boy falls in love with lesbian.  Lesbian falls in love with boy.  "Close my eyes and pretend you're a girl" doesn't work in the least.  Relationship stands no chance in the face of sexuality because, "I love your personality," simply isn't enough for that kind of relationship.  Both get very sad.  Boy builds a space ship powered by golf balls and Coca Cola bottles (the old ones that were green and glass.)

Goes on adventures that would ideally be as funny as those of Ford and Arthur.

Adopts light purple largely humanoid child (about ten years old maybe) with two tails.

More adventures.

Boy and purple girl get stuck inside the event horizon of a black hole (these things happen) Boy panics, despairs.  Purple girl turns on every reality bending system on the ship and wishes upon the star (black hole) nearest them.

Boy wakes up as a girl, back in home town.  Former-Boy finds that this does not bother her in the least.  Forges information to return to high school.  Eventually starts dating lesbian.  Truth comes out, Lesbian thinks it was stupid not to open with it from the beginning.  (Her suggested opening lines: "I'm alive.  I'm back.  I'm hot.")  Former-boy says was worried about messing up second chance.

Eventually they decide to slip the bonds of earth and travel space together.

Find that the ship has embedded itself in the ground not far away, some adventure to get everything necessary to leave, leave earth, eventually reunite with purple girl and form family unit.


Or something like that.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Something I like: Sahara

Every so often, it probably makes sense to talk about something I like.  Actually, that's the entire point behind the .hack and Deus Ex posts, but this is something different.  For some reason something about Sahara popped into my head and I decided that I'd talk about what I like about the movie.


The movie is in no way perfect.  It might get a technical pass of the Bechdel test if you consider the opening dialogue with Eva to be about how the guy got the disease instead of being about the guy himself, but for the most part there's only one female character in the movie (Eva.)  Guess the race of the first protagonist to die.

Much could be written tearing it apart I'm sure, but there's nothing wrong with liking problematic art and this is going to be about what I like.

I like that it's not an origin story.  Dirk, Al, Sandecker and to a lesser extent Rudy have been around, they know each other, they function as a team.  They're not spending most of the movie testing each other out in order to find their place and then, when they finally learn to work together, winning so that the credits can roll.

I like the (second) opening shot that takes the place of an origin story, the camera going around the room looking at the newspaper clippings of their past exploits while some nice music plays.

I like that Eva and Frank's disagreement isn't idealism vs. cynicism but instead people with good points on both sides who both want to do the right thing but lack the resources and authority.

I like that Eva being rescued was a thing that emphasized numbers and surprise rather than woman=weak, man=strong.  Eva was outnumbered, her assailants were surprised.

And skipping ahead, I like that once she was part of the group and captured it was because they were all captured, not because the woman got captured.  I like that the reason she didn't escape right away when the others did wasn't a lacking on her part but just because she was watched more closely while those guarding the others were negligently inattentive.

I like that Sandecker, Dirk, Al, and Rudy all knew their stuff and that this knowledge didn't lead to, "Of course you know Bob," but instead, "Not this again."

I like that Frank was willing to take the opportunity to go outside proper channels even though his job is, basically, to make sure that Eva learns to do things the right way.

I like that the native overlord wasn't a mindless thug, but someone who knew what was being done to him, even identifying the metaphorical beads for the natives as beads for the natives.  I like that his response to the sole survivor crawling through the desert to bring him the news was not to shoot the messenger, but to praise him and implore him to rest.  This in addition to being evil.

I like the entire thing involving the Panama.  Sandecker's insistence it not be done, the sudden interest of everyone on the bridge crew, which would disappear whenever Sandecker turned around to look at them, Rudy's confusion, Dirk and Al's determination, "Everybody's ignoring me," (when everyone who can hear him is secretly paying attention), the defeated, "He pulled a Panama."  The response.  The, "Is that how it worked the first time?" summing up.  Even the reason for the name.

I liked that Al couldn't figure out a turban and that Rudy hid among the goats.

I liked how Rudy delivered the news about the boat, complete with sound effect.

I liked that when Sandecker said, "Not now Rudy, I don't have time," and Rudy replied, "Yes sir, you do," Sandecker had enough faith in his subordinate to stop, read the information he was given, and on realizing what it signified shift his entire paradigm rather than make it into some sort of, "You don't get to tell me what I have time for," macho fight.

I like that his first attempt is to deal with things through governmental channels.

I like horses.

I liked Al's description of their strategy: we're in the desert, looking for the source of a river pollutant, using as our map a cave drawing of a Civil War gunship, which is also in the desert.  His question: So I was just wondering when we're gonna have to sit down and re-evaluate our decision-making paradigm?  Dirk's reply: Don't know - workin' so far.  And the look on Eva's face.

I like that they never really have a decision-making paradigm but instead a constant push to keep moving forward and deal with whatever is in front of them in whatever way they have, perhaps best demonstrated with what they did with the broken plane, speeding across the flatlands in an unknown direction because they had to go somewhere.

I like the song magic carpet ride.

I liked that this focus on the moment drove them through the movie never looking two steps ahead because if they did they'd have no choice but to conclude they had no chance and instead kept running just as fast as they could, occasionally lying to themselves to keep going (cut the head off the snake) well aware that what they were doing shouldn't work but hoping all the while that if they kept on going somehow things would work.

I liked that the Dirk's big speech to the natives completely failed to sway them in the least and so the protagonists were forced the move to plan B.

I liked that when the natives saved the day in the end it wasn't because they had been wrong and Dirk had been right, but rather because the situation had changed.  (It was no longer small arms vs. concrete and heavy machine guns, it was small arms vs. for the most part, small arms, at which point numbers do make a big difference.)

I liked that Eva didn't just agree with Dirk's assessment that he was always saving her life.  (Though the fact she hit him in the face with a helicopter did lessen the strength of her argument, I think.)

I liked the pacing and the music.

I loved William H. Macy and Penélope Cruz.  Actually, I was a fan of basically all of the characters and by extension the actors who played them.

I liked that when the armor piercing rounds blew a bunch of visible holes in their plan it was Al who asked if Eva was alright.  I'm not even sure why I liked that.  Maybe because it's less, "I have to check on my maybe-girlfriend," and more, "I want to check on my colleague."

I just liked the movie.

It probably goes without saying that if you want to buy the movie, you can click a link such as this and be taken to Amazon. [Added:] They dumped me. Buy from someone else.

Food helps

So, "Wait, could I be starving myself?" isn't a question I often ask.  I have access to food, I am extremely unlikely to ever go hungry.  Even should I end up homeless and broke there would still be resources available to me.

Starvation isn't really something that needs to come up in my thinking because I am lucky enough to be in a situation where it's extremely unlikely to ever be an issue.  Unless, you know, I stop eating for no good reason.

I noticed that I was losing weight, actually getting closer to where I wanted to be, in spite of putting in no effort in that direction and absolutely no good reason for it to be happening.

I don't want to give a full accounting of every action in my life, but the only possible cause was reduced caloric intake.  Didn't remember the last time I had a meal worth speaking of.

So I've put an effort into eating more.  Made pasta with meat and tomato sauce, for example.

I still have lack of sleep bringing me down, trying to catch up on that, but damn do I have more energy today.

Food helps.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Skewed Slightly to the Left? - WWIII at New Hope

[Originally posted at Slacktivist (page 2) and the Slacktiverse.]
[Not sure if this is in the Skewed Slightly to the Left continuity, I just started writing, I'm giving it a maybe.]
[Almost slipped through the cracks because of stuff.]
The church was bustling with activity, already injuries were being treated and supplies being gathered for trips out into the city, but the necessary information was lacking and Loretta was finding it impossible to keep her calm, finally she shouted, "Where the fuck is my weather report?"
No one had an answer.
Two minutes and thirty five seconds later Jane burst through the door and ran straight to Loretta as quickly as she could without knocking anyone over.
Loretta asked, "Where have you-"
"Sorry it took so long," Jane started rummaging in her bag, "but I got better than just a weather report." She handed several papers to Loretta.
"Are these..."
"When the people at the station found out what we wanted the weather report for, they offered to help.  I figured they'd be better at making fallout maps than we would, so I took them up on it."
Loretta touched Jane on the shoulder and said, "Good work," then she turned toward the center of the church and shouted, "Team leaders, meet me at the altar!"
Maps of the area were laid out on the altar, hastily drawn additions and notations abounded on them.  When the leaders had gathered round Loretta began her briefing, "The Xes are missile strikes, circled if confirmed, we can expect more people in need of help around those, but the big problem is here."  She pointed to a large mark at the airport surrounded by concentric circles clearly drawn by a hand shaking with too much adrenaline, "We don't know if it was nuclear or not.  Until we know we're going to assume it was, and that's why these are so important." She laid out the fallout maps.
Everyone took a moment to familiarize themselves with them.
"We have Jane to thank for these," everyone was ready to praise Jane, and Loretta knew she deserved it, running through a war zone and back to get the information, and then returning with better than she'd been sent for, she definitely deserved it.  But there simply wasn't time.  Loretta explained the maps, "This is safe, this is least concern, from here to here we have to get people out injured or not, from here to here we have to do it fast, make note, alter your plans accordingly, and then pass it down the line.
"We've been waiting too long, it's time to get out there and help people."
Some of the leaders headed off to pass the information down the network, affectionately known as the phone tree, others stayed to study the maps more closely.  Jane asked Loretta a question, "What about the people here?" she pointed to the area directly downwind of the blast, an area Loretta never mentioned.
"I'm not ordering anyone into that area."  There was a pause.  "Now, if there aren't any more questions, I have to go.  Team leaders know what to do, they're in charge till I get back."
"Where are you going?" Andrew, one of the leaders, asked.
"There," she pointed to the part of the map directly downwind of the blast.
No one said anything in response.  Loretta quickly gathered gear for herself, Jane followed, at the exit she was met by Maria and Daniel, two of the team leaders and a handful of their subordinates.  "You're not going alone," Maria said.
"You have work to do," was Loretta's response, but she didn't stop moving.
"And we've done it," Daniel said.  "Directives have been passed down the tree, everyone under us knows what to do.  Why do you think we left the meeting so fast?"
"And what about them?" Loretta pointed to the others.
"Volunteer only, you wouldn't order anyone in there, neither would we," Daniel said.
"I meant, don't they have work to do?" Loretta said.
"I designed my teams with redundancy in mind," Maria said.  "They can be spared."
"Ditto," Daniel added.
"Fine," Loretta conceded.  They were reaching their transportation.  If she went alone she'd take one vehicle, if the whole group went she'd make a completely different choice, and they'd take multiple.  They couldn't spare vehicles over her not wanting to pool with people going to the same place.  They couldn't spare time arguing over whether or not the others were going to the same place.
Before they loaded up, Maria said, "Everyone meet Jane," assuming they already knew Loretta.
Jane said, "Hi."
And Daniel said, "Now let's go on a possible suicide mission."
No one needed to say, 'Let's go help people,' they all knew, or else they wouldn't be there.
And so, they went.
I'm assuming that the New Hope resistance is designed specifically so that it can function without leaders, in fact it's intended to operate that way.  Loretta's job as person in charge is, basically, to tell the team leaders what to do and then let them do it.  A team leader's job is the same thing, but to the next echelon down the line.
It's only when it gets to the individual cells that leaders are necessary for anything other than assigning a mission.
Loretta, if she hadn't left, probably wouldn't be doing much else as leader until something major changed, she'd just be another pair of hands.  The same goes for Maria and Daniel.
And if any of them didn't trust the people below them to function in their absence, they wouldn't have made them the people below them.
The basic structure of the New Hope resistance is the cell at the the bottom of the chain, it's intended to be able to function just fine on its own.  Everything above it exists just to pass down information and stop cells from stepping on each others toes.
Also, not that it's important, neither Daniel nor Maria heard Loretta say she wouldn't order anyone into the area of the worst fallout, they left before that point, they just figured it out on their own when Loretta didn't mention the area at all.

[Skewed Slightly to the Left Index]

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rejoice, Rejoice, we have no choice

..but to carry on.

Some people are impressed that I walk so much to get places.  My school, which is also where my psychologist is located, is in the city across the river.  Figure and hour to an hour and a half walk.  The psychiatrist is in the same city, further away.  Less than two hours, exact timing unclear.  Longer if I'm tired of course.

There's nothing to be impressed with.  Once you've started you don't have much choice.  I might feel like I should just give up and collapse where I stand, but I can't, because I'm not in a place to do it.  I have to take the next step because there's nothing else to do and nowhere else to go.  I have no choice but to carry on.

Or, I suppose, we could go with Frost, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.  It's out of his hands, it's out of my hands, there's no choice in the matter, one must move forward.

For anyone who read the last post, or looked at the tags on this one, or is just good at guessing.  Yes, I'm going to turn this into a depression analogy.

A short one, because there's not much to say.  I've been lucky enough to never be suicidal, other people don't have that luxury but I do.  And that means that I can base my life around the fact that the next day is coming, there's nothing I can do about it, I have to face it, I have no choice.

Choices are where I break down, choices can fuck everything up.  (Though people ordering me around generally doesn't help either) but when I have no choice that can keep things going.

Tomorrow is coming.  It will come sooner than I'd like, I'll face it worse than I'd like, it will end before I've done what I wanted to do during it, and generally speaking it will go worse than I wanted it to, but none of this changes the fact that tomorrow will come and I will have to face it.

I have no choice.

So I carry on.

My hoped for future doesn't exist

[Whatever else this might touch on, be aware, this post is entirely about depression, if you're not up for that please don't read.]

The passage of time makes me sad.  It just does.  Not the passage itself, the change it brings with it.  If it were only progress then perhaps it wouldn't.  And then there's the question of what is progress, some progress I don't like.

A lot of the time, I want things to be how they were.  I realize that my sister's plans for trying to save my grandparents' farm are far more likely to succeed than any plan I ever considered, but it was never an animal farm.  It was strawberries, and much smaller parts blueberry and rhubarb, bees that were kept by someone else who dropped off a portion of the honey he collected every so often, and in large part flowers in the greenhouse.

Now the strawberry fields have filled with trees, and the greenhouse is in need of serious repairs, and stuff is overgrown everywhere.  I just want it back the way it was.  It'd take a lot of work, especially detreeing the fields.  But it never will be, because I never did hit it big and find a way to buy out my aunt and my sister is doing her best and now there's a calf there (I call it a cow, but it's male) and almost 30 ducks, and goats, and sheep on the way.  Even though I like the animals (I've always loved ducks) it's a sign that the farm will never be like it was, any dreams of the future I had that involved the farm cannot come to pass because the farm I was thinking of is gone.

There was a forum I used to frequent that was damaged by mismanagement from levels so far above they never even noticed the forum in question (and appeared content to leave it alone after that) and the traffic slowed down but some people held on and the problem was always in finding something to talk about.  I had a whole series of posts that I wanted to do in hopes of jump starting some conversation, but I was too depressed to actually write any of them.  I still hoped to get back to it, even if everyone had given up, even if I was talking to no one.  It was part of a much larger network so the lack of activity on that one forum didn't really pose a threat of getting it closed down.

Then IGN/Gamespy shuttered the entire network.  Forget about the series of posts.  My plan of, "When I'm not depressed I'll have the energy to go back there and say, 'Hi,'" turned out to be a pipe dream, because in the future when I'm not depressed, or less depressed, that won't exist.  It already doesn't exist.

There were some posts I wanted to write for the Slacktiverse for as long as there has been a Slacktiverse.  I can still write them.  I still plan to write them.  (A decent start on one of them popped into my morning pages this morning, thank you Kit Whitfield for recommending The Artist's Way to me.)  But it's not the same Slacktiverse, while I've depressed and stagnant, it's been changing.  Recently quite a bit.

I am very much not criticizing the mod's decision to withdraw, I hope it makes things better for them.  And if it does then that is a very good thing.  But it's a stark example of change.  My hopes for those posts all included them in the comments, my hopes for being able to be a more active participant over there included interacting with them more.  That future doesn't exist.

There's another community I was once very much a part of that I drifted out of, when I have the energy, when I have the time, when I don't have depression making every step require more effort than climbing a mountain, I want to go back there.  I'd like to go back now, but I really don't have it in me at the moment to expand.  It's taking all my effort not to contract.

When I do go back I don't know what I'll find, but it won't be the future I hoped for because some people will have moved on, some people may have died, and things will have changed.  My hoped for future, doesn't exist, it never did.

When I'm better, if I ever am, the things that I hoped to do when that time came will not be possible.  It will be too late.  Some of them by a decade or more if I'm honest.

I don't have plans for the future, I have plans for the past.  And the past doesn't come again.

It's easier to pretend that isn't the case it's easier to pretend that the things I wanted can still come to pass because despite what the song says I don't have, "new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty" I just have, "I tried to go back, as if I could [...] Tore up and tore up good."

My hopes and dreams, what few I have left, are all rooted in the impossible.

And in the present, everything is falling apart.  Has been for a long time now, and it never stops falling.


You won't see a lot of introspection like this from me, because it comes with the kind of crying I used to think I'd lost the capacity for.  Most of the time when I'm sad the tears don't come.

With something like this, it's all tears.  Sobbing so hard I can barely breathe, and snot dripping out of my nose.  It's haveing to stop and dry my eyes so I can see, it's having to walk away, and walk around, in hopes that I can get back into a place, mentally, where I can go on typing.  It's crying standing, sitting, and on the floor (propped up against something rather than laying down.)

That's what my time with depression has taught me: don't think about it.  It's probably not healthy, I've done it so well that I think I've led my pychologist and psychiatrist (I'm lucky enough to have both at the moment, for quite a while I had neither) to vastly underestimate some of my problems because my coping mechanisms have caused me to underestimate them myself.  I won't see either for a week and a weekend, I'll try to bring this up with them when I do.


I do have one request, if you're reading this and you think this is somehow your fault.  If you think that you've made me do this crying, and there's a handful of people who might, don't.  It isn't.   The people most likely to think this is their fault are the ones who have helped me the most.  Please, don't think you've hurt me because you haven't.

You've got enough problems in your own lives, and even if you didn't I wouldn't want to get you down over something that isn't your fault.  Please don't feel bad about this.  I considered not writing this because I was worried that it might make you feel worse, I decided to do it anyway just to get it out, I decided to post it for reasons that I'm not even sure about, and that means that all I can do is ask you, please, it's not your fault, don't feel bad.


Unless you, the reader that this makes feel bad, happens to somehow be from IGN or Gamespy and that's why you're feeling bad.  In that case what I'm talking about now still isn't your fault but I still haven't forgiven the torching the archives without any warning whatsoever.  That was like them being told that a library they were planning on demolishing was stocked with entirely one of a kind irreplaceable volumes and, rather than telling people, "Library's closing, we don't want the books, better move out the stuff you don't want lost," they set it on fire in the middle of the night for shits and giggles.  I gather that the most recent time they destroyed something I cared about they gave advanced warning that I simply missed, but I still haven't forgiven them for the first time when they very much did not so if you're with them and were involved in that and this post gets you down, good.  You deserve it.  Asshole.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Devils Coat, overview

[Originally posted at The Slacktiverse.]
[The idea's been in my head for years, telling about it came from the question of whether or not a story where the ones left alive are pitied is psychologically realistic.]
I had a story in my head once called The Devil's Coat, as I recall, because it began with the devil negotiating with someone to get his coat (it was the devil's favorite type and vengeful angels, restricted from doing direct harm until the Apocalypse, took it upon themselves to destroy every instance of said coat and the factory in which it was produced when they learned that she liked it, they only missed one) and then things went wrong and, to prevent him from dying before they could close the deal (she really wanted that coat) the devil offered coat-haver a job as a reaper, ferrying the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
Him taking the deal provided a loophole through which she could save his life where otherwise she could not.
Naturally the souls he ferried were damned but this was a setting where Hell was good and Heaven was... not necessarily evil as a whole but extremely exclusionary and tending toward militant, so that was actually a good thing.
At some point someone asked said reaper of souls if his job, dealing with newly dead people, got him down and his response was that it did the opposite. He listed off a litany of triggering situations he'd encountered and pointed out that it was his job to tell the person that just exited one of said situations that this is when the hurting stopped, and then deliver them into a situation where they'd be cared for, loved, and subject to some of the best psychological care ever to exist. (Not to mention really good music.)
I could see people in that story pitying those left alive. Especially since the dead trying to help the living would have triggered the Apocalypse, which Hell is trying to indefinitely postpone (they can't cancel it, that would throw the ball into Heaven's court, but they can evaluate the situation every five years and, at every evaluation, decide to push it back to "ten years from now.") because at that point they'd be wiped out and that would be bad.

[Original Work Index]

It's not an SUV it's a Time Machine!

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[We need a little silly now and then, right?]
Omskivar wrote:
Bella ends up with an SUV that can withstand a freaking missile attack.
[My response:]

I roll to disbelieve.

Clearly what happened is that the chameleon circuit on her truck was unintentionally activated and made it look like an SUV and all of the scenes with the SUV are like if there were scenes where the TARDIS is accidentally stuck in the form of a refrigerator box. The Doctor might not appear to be upset, and he might go on with his life, but you know that on the inside he's desperately trying to figure out how to turn the TARDIS' exterior back into a blue box, because every second that goes by while it's a cardboard refrigerator box instead of a wooden police box is bringing him that much closer to losing his cool.


Edith and Ben Metapost - Edith's Mind reading

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Jumping off a discussion of Edward's mind reading power.]

I think that for Edith she can't turn it off, but a lot of the time it all runs together into an incomprehensible background noise she's familiar with. It's like people are speaking their thoughts out loud (or holographically projecting them as the case may be.) She's become good at filtering so that certain things will stand out even if she's not paying attention because she doesn't want someone to be hurt just because she wasn't listening. It's sort of like that thing that they tell you about confidentiality not applying in the case of immediate harm to others or yourself. But most of the time, the murmur of too many speakers all running together.
As a result, most of what she actually hears are thoughts that raise to the level of shouting. Like you weren't trying to eavesdrop in the cafeteria, but the person was speaking so loudly you couldn't help it.
And possibly there's occasional diagnosis going on which violates all kinds of consent, but she justifies it to herself on the basis that if the person being diagnosed could hear other people's thoughts they'd know to go to the nurse and from the nurse to psychiatric help. Yes, she'll try to cheer up depressed kid, but a lot of the time her ultimate goal in that it to steer a person toward the medical attention they need so that their mental wellbeing does not hinge on a psychic vampire knowing they need help right now.
Edith tries to go on a basis of minimum intrusion while still keeping her hands clean of, "You could have stopped [horrible thing]."
And, as mentioned previously [note that previous mention was dealing with the topic of rape] most of her dealing with horrible things is in tandem with Jasmine the the traditional operation going:
separate the parties
hit the offending party with enough guilt that they'll realize what they almost did was very wrong.
Or, in the case of self harm:
hit the person with relief that they didn't go through with it.
In either case monitor all parties closely afterward. It's not enough to just be present at the crisis, follow up visits are necessary to make sure things actually were fixed.
There is recognition that this is probably not morally ideal, but it's what works for Edith (and Jasmine.)
Oh, and Edith would never reveal someone's thoughts to someone else outside of immanent danger of harm.
Ben: "What's he thinking?"
Edith: "Why don't you ask him?"


Under the Dome, what I would guess it was about

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[The question was how descriptive the title "Under the Dome" was, following the lead of Will Wildman and Ana Mardoll who each described what they would guess a story with said title was about, I wrote out my guesses.]

Under the dome says to me that it's about a city in a great geodesic dome, the first of it's kind (history or discovery or science channel or some such had a thing where they followed the hypothetical construction of the Huston dome.) The divide between those under the dome and not is unlike any divide previously seen, the demographics of those under the dome mirror those of those not under the dome as much as any city would. People or all incomes and races and job descriptions would live on both sides of the dome.
Many would live outside the dome but work within it.
Perceptions of the dome would be completely different, of course. From outside of the dome you couldn't miss it, but from inside, unless you were near one of the walls, you wouldn't even see it, like looking through a clean screen window from a distance, you don't see the screen,
Weather within the dome would be completely controlled, weather outside would be as it always has been. Some of the people commuting in might find themselves transported from vicious thunder storm to perfect day in the time it takes to get from one side of the barrier to the other (presumably a tunnel or gateway.) If, during the day, they should say something like, "Damn, that was some storm," an under the domer might respond, "What storm?" not even having been aware of it.
And then, within the context of this strangely divided society, something happens. Could be anything. Massive natural disaster, zombie hordes, the mist (which I have neither scene nor read and do not intend to) and everything changes.
At the beginning those under the dome seem completely protected, possibly oblivious, there's massive resentment from outside, but then things begin to change, infected people make it through a check point and the dome, now overcrowded with refugees, is subject to a zombie outbreak, or the disaster is so bad as to threaten the integrity of the dome itself and what looked like a safe haven may turn out to be a death trap. Or keeping out the strange and evil mist is forcing them to recycle air, which normally wouldn't be so much of a problem (there's a lot of it, they have trees and such) but it's so thick it's cutting off photosynthesis which means that air really is being used up as fast as they breathe, the hope is that things will solve themselves before the time comes, because there's strange scratching noises near all of the air intakes, scratches with force no living thing should be able to produce, and no machine should be present to make. As the usable air dwindles, and the tension mounts, with everyone trapped under the dome with nowhere to go all the old problems come out, bitter divisions are rehashed, and it becomes clear that whatever is waiting outside the dome, when it finally makes it in what it will find is not a united front, but a population at each others throats.
Or, you know, anything that one might reasonably expect from a work titled under the dome. It could be about religious disputes in the shadow of the dome of the rock, or I might like a fantasy with dragons set in a place where the dome of the sky is a tangible thing.
Certainly dome has strong Christian religious connotations, so one might expect something in a cathedral. (I know everyone's first thought is St. Peter's but I recommend the Doumo in Florance, you could not ask for a more perfect setting for demons to come to earth requesting amnesty or at least parole and resulting in protracted international legal battles mixed with a lot of unwanted paternity tests when officials determine that it is important to know who the half humans are. Actually, regardless of the story, you could not ask for a more perfect setting.)

[Original Work Index]


This isn't the post I was going to write when I opened up the post making page.  I don't even remember what post that was.  I had wanted to write a couple of things today, looks like it's not going to happen.  Permaheadache and that sort of thing.  Not much in the way of energy or ability to think either.

So, music.  I don't have a lot of it.  When Fred Clark does a music thread I almost never get to participate because the music I own is contained entirely on the CDs of two soundtracks.

The Nameless Mod Soundtrack is available for free, and can be found on The Nameless Mod download's page.

The .hack//Sign soundtrack costs money.  I acquired it by getting the special editions of each of the volumes of the anime when they were released.  These are still available and if you're interested in spending a bunch of money I encourage you to go to the .hack//Sign index and follow the links there to the amazon pages for the products in question because, not going to lie, I could use the commission money.  Also that would let you follow along with my commentary.

If you're just interested in the music:

.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 1
.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 2
.hack//Liminality Original Soundtrack - I largely ignore this one, I think it only has two songs from .hack//Sign on it.  Which makes sense because it's technically the soundtrack for different thing I've never seen.
4 .hack//Extra SoundTrack

More likely you're interested in none of this and none of those links will be clicked, and certainly no purchases will not be made, and that's ok, because that small collection of music that I own is not what I'm mostly here to talk about (though looking at the words spent, it might end up taking up most of the space.)

You see that stuff is on CD.  Well, TNM soundtrack is on whatever you want it to be on, including listening track by track online, but for me, most of the time, it's all on CD.  And sometimes getting up, getting a CD, and putting it in something that can play a CD is more than I can muster.

So what has been forming is a secondary music collection made up of things that I don't own, things that are a click away on youtube.

Probably the first such thing was Naughty, from the Matilida Musical which has been removed from the web for copyright reasons, but for months it was the soundtrack to me getting ready for bed because, while I haven't changed my story yet,  the message is hopeful, even if it did have a habit of bringing me to tears.  Credit goes to Timothy (TRiG) for pointing that my way.

It was good to finish a day on hope, and the idea that maybe the next day would be better than the last.

A new, very small, collection, has started to form on my computer of things that I can get to fast when I need music:

For example, right now there is a four song sequence arranged such that I just have go back to the start and then tell my browser to go to the next page every time a song ends:

I've never embedded video before, so this could mess up:

(No guesses as to where the name for a recent .hack post came from.)

I imagine this as the beginning of a zombie movie, all of the actions are the same, but the main zombie doesn't participate in the chorus which is instead preformed by the zombie horde behind him.  The song plays for the entire intro.  (No one is speaking, the sound is in the soundtrack, not the movie's world.)

Tom is the deaf protagonist and leader of those trapped in the mall.  I have no idea where it goes from there.  The unfortunate implications in having the zombies know sign language would be a serious problem, hopefully dealt with by having everyone, or almost everyone, know sign language.  But again, no plot in mind, just an opening with a choreographed ASL rendition of the song.

(Be aware that the song uses the word "whores" and rhymes it with "legislators")

(This song is Lucifer approved.)

Beyond that I really don't know what I've been listening to, Solsbury Hill is always welcome, there are so many versions this one, that I swear I can't seem to find when it comes to embedding, obviously preserves what I think of when I think of the song, but it is visually unappealing.  This version might not be as faithful to the song in my mind, but it includes bicycle.
(In terms of the interaction between music and story, I see the overlord (remember him?) singing this to himself when he is forced to climb up a giant tower to disable an enemy command and control thingy as part of a mission where he was supposed to be a decoy but all the people who were supposed to carry out the task got caught.  It takes him until he reaches the top of the tower to finish the song because he keeps on losing his place.)

And doubtless more, but like I said, this isn't a heavy thinking day.  So music.  There you have what I've been listening to of late.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It IS real.

So there's so much I want to do that doesn't get done.  Posts not written, work not done.  Things pile up literally and figuratively.  But this, this I just have to respond to.

Someone elsewhere, I'm not saying where because I'm not looking to respond to the person but rather the sentiment, talked about the difference between real life and the internet and how ze, basically, felt entitled to be much more of an ass on the internet, and enjoy it, based on the fact that "it's not really...real."

This is wrong.  This matters.

This is what BT gets wrong and Mimiru gets right and why BT will do awful things on purpose with no sense of guilt where Mimiru never would and if I can push myself to keep doing .hack posts I swear we'll get to it someday but sometimes it's a struggle just to move so the posts end up slow to come and erratic.

But this isn't a post about fiction, it's a post about real life.  Real life is full of real people.  And what is done to real people is real.

That's it.  If you're doing something to real people it is really real.  It doesn't matter if it's in person, or over the phone, or via physical mail, or email, or in a chatroom, or on a forum, or on a blog, or over the radio, or on TV, or via legislation.  None of that makes the slightest bit of difference.  What you do to real people is real.

This is something that some people don't seem to understand.  The internet is not single player.  Those other users, with the exception of spambots, they're real people.  They're not NPCs cooked up for your amusement.  They're real.  And everything you do to them is real.

It IS real.

Now at this point a certain segment of the population will come at things with a, "But it's just words, words can't hurt," argument.  Words can hurt.  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can cut much deeper.  Or, in the words of some poet or other*, "No iron spike can pierce a human heart as icily as a period in the right place."  Or a slur in the wrong place.  Or a campaign of harassment, or piles of verbal abuse.  Words matter.

Words have rescued people from despair and driven others to suicide.  Words have the power to inspire or disillusion, they can build you up or break you down.  They can bring back memories, they can trigger physical responses, they can change people, they can change the world.

And words sent over the internet to other people are just as real as words spoken to those same people in real life.  They are not the same, there is an entirely different quality to the two forms of communication as anyone who has had both experiences can attest to, but they do not differ in their realness.

It's still an interaction between you, whom I presume is a real person, and a real person.  That makes it real.

It's the same rule with phones, just because you can neither see nor smell the other end of the line, doesn't mean you are morally justified in pretending they aren't real and acting as if nothing you say matters.  If you want to use a phone for morally unfettered speaking, call an automated system**, not a real person.

If you want to use a computer for morally unfettered action that isn't really real, that's what single player is for.  But as soon as you as you start interacting with other real life people it is real.

Why this is so hard for some people to understand, I have no idea.


* Isaak Babel, I'm told.

** The time and temperature automation (or whatever automation you first think of) isn't going to be effected by what you say to it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My spam

Being a low traffic blog, I have not attracted a lot of spam.  My spamtrap contains 47 bits of spam, and one perfectly good post that happened to be a double post so I figured the simplest solution was to throw the duplicate in the spamtrap.

Here is my spam, with the actual links and whatnot it was intended to plaster accross the internet removed.  When you remove the part where, in responding to a post on the Mayan calendar, they tack a, "Go visit my auto repair site," onto the end, many of them seem completely reasonable.  Observe:

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--By Anonymous on Botman, Chess, and Context on 5/6/12

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--By Anonymous on .hack//Sign: Metaphysics on 5/11/12

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--By [redacted] on I made the paper on 5/22/12

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(This one has got to be the most sneaky.  It didn't have an obvious link anywhere, not in the post, not in the name, nothing.  Each of those periods was a different link)

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For me, dating has always been like "test-driving" possible partners, whereas the relationship happens after you decide which partner is the best for you.. . Note that when I was younger, it was definitely not OK to date a bunch of guys all at once, because if you went on a real date with a guy it meant that you were "with" him, without question. Once I got out of college, though, and became more serious about my relationship possibilities, I dated a lot before deciding to be in a relationship with one guy. There were weeks that I would have dates with three or four different men.. . It's the best way to get to know a person to the point where you can reasonably decide if he or she is right for you. Dating (as an adult) is a precursor to a relationship. If you are not yet an adult, your mileage may vary.
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Postam anuntul dvs in peste 365 de siteuri de anunturi din Romania impreuna cu o poza si adresa siteului dvs. (in siteurile ce permit acest lucru) crescand astfel numarul celor care vad anuntul dvs cu cateva sute de mii de persoane zilnic. Noi facem aceasta munca in locul dvs. Anuntul va fi indexat de Google rapid (cateva zile) si va fi afisat in primele pagini.
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--By Anonymous on .hack//Sign: Something Is Wrong Here on 7/19/12
At this time it looks like Drupal is the preferred blogging platform out there right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog? 
--By Anonymous on .hack//Sign: Six impossible things on 7/19/12
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--By Anonymous on .hack//Sign: Metaphysics on 7/19/12
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Deus Ex Training - Part 10: Snippets of information

[This is part of a series of posts about the game Deus Ex, which, for the record, I recommend buying.]
[The series began with this post.  The first post in this section is here.]

Part of the reason I decided to do posts on the training mission were the little bits of information you get here and there, mostly here.

There's also the fact that you see Walton Simons watching you from various viewing rooms (including the last one, watching your final test) and just general stuff.

But like I said, mostly the little bits of information here and there, and most of them here rather than there.

Walking away from your final test leads you to a room with some holograms in it, Jamie will explain why they're there:

Step up to each hologram for more info.  When you're through, go out the opposite door.

Six holograms, six bits of info.

These can be taken in any order one pleases, or skipped altogether.  The far door isn't locked, you can finish the level without stepping up to any of them, anyway, let's step up to some.


First on the right:

The NSF: the biggest terrorist threat in the U. S.  This national militia group thinks it is fighting the Second American Revolution.

The NSF, we will learn, has an interesting history.  It started as the Northwest Secessionist Forces and its goal was to break away from the country to do their own thing (sometime after the 2030 quake) but then it nationalized years later and reformed as the National Secessionist Forces.

At first it seems incoherent, how can an entire nation secede from itself?  Wouldn't you be left with the exact same nation?  Under new management perhaps, but not a lot of secession going on.  What we will learn is that they are only united by their desire to be disunited.  If they succeed they will not all live happily ever after together, they'll each go their own separate way, federal government will definitely be gone, probably state too.

The US will not be a nation but a collection of very small, very local, libertarian communities.

That is the NSF plan.


First on the left:

A deployment of UNATCO troopers is the central component of all UN peacekeeping occupations.

Did you catch that?  I don't remember if I did when I first heard it, but I definitely did when I first heard it doing these posts.  "Occupations" does not belong there.  "Occupations" doesn't sound right.

If I wrote, "UN peacekeeping o-" the assumption would be that the word was, "operations."  You expect operations and occupations just strikes a dissonant chord.  It says something that you don't expect to be said and has larger implications that reverberate through everything else.

However many months ago it was when, after starting these posts, I first heard that, I knew I had to write about it.  And then I looked in the game files and found this comment attached to the dialog:

"occupation" used on purpose.

So lets talk about the word occupation.

Operations, the expected term, has an implied objective, an implied end date.  Something is wrong, the UN peacekeepers go in, they fix it, they get out.  It often doesn't work that way, but that's what operations implies.

An occupation is different.  With an occupation you're talking about taking control.  You're talking about seizing the land by military force because let's remember, we're talking about troops here.  This is not someone occupying their home, or some people occupying Wall Street, this is the kind of occupation in which the central component is a soldier with a gun.  (Usually an assault rifle.)

This is not what the UN is supposed to be doing.  The UN is not supposed to be occupying land.  They're not supposed to be occupying places so much that it makes sense to talk about something as the central component in all UN peacekeeping occupations.

Occupation isn't how you keep the peace, it's how you take over.

If you came to the game not realizing it was built on a foundation of 90s' conspiracy theory, if you came to the game not realizing that there was something rotten going on in the UN, let this be your first indication: their idea of peacekeeping is military occupation, and they've got a military with which to do it.

This is the UN of the fevered dreams of Birchers, this is the UN Nicolae Carpathia wants to take over so he can rule the world.


Hey, is that an out of place brick I see?  *push*

*opposite me a section of wall opens up revealing a hidden room*

*cautiously I approach*

Step over to the communicator.  There's someone who wants to talk to you.

Ok, Jaime, I wonder who it could be.

*Steps over to the communicator*

Jamie, you're the one who wanted to talk to me?  Why didn't you just say you wanted to talk to me?   What's with the whole "someone" bit?  Ok, fine, what did you have to say?

Manderley likes to hear which agents find this area.  They're usually the ones who take terrorists by surprise in the field.  Your brother, Paul, for instance.  All right, carry on.  Don't let it go to your head.

That's nice.

Ok, I guess we can move back to the non-communications holograms now.


Middle right:

An inexpensive security bot, a favorite of Third World countries and corporate security divisions.  Not so mobile, but don't be fooled: we've lost plenty of agents to its well-armored assault gun.  Like other bots, it's difficult to damage with ordinary bullets.

Combat bots in Deus Ex come in three sizes: small, large, and "Oh my god the ground is shaking, I think T-Rex is on the way."  This one is a small one.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a time you went up against corporate security (leaving aside those corporations that are front companies for the conspiracy) and I don't know that you go to any third world countries.  Which could explain why in the game files this bit of dialog was labeled, "DL_terrorbot" (DL for Data Link).  This is what the terrorists can generally afford.


Middle Left:

This Page Industries walking turret, marketed to governments worldwide, is the workhorse of most national military forces.  Due to the heavy armor, they take little damage from ordinary bullets.  If you come up against a bot, you should use an EMP grenade, scrambler grenade, or some kind of explosive.

This is the kind of bot you just outwitted.  Note that it's considered military grade.  Also take note of that name, Page Industries, they've got their fingers in everything.

For whatever it's worth, this bit of dialog was labeled, "DL_unatcobot," because this is what the UN can afford to deploy against its enemies in Deus Ex.

Of the previously mentioned categories, this would be the large bot.


Last on the Left:

This is the old augmentation technology, hopefully about to be phased out.  Notice the reliance on electronics and servomechanics.  A maintenance nightmare.  If I had two credits for every repair manual they've made me file in my office in the Med Lab...

The hologram is of Anna Navarre, the agent who walked you through stealth.

This isn't just hopefully about to be phased out, it's almost gone from the game as we see it.  I could go on in great detail about the opportunities lost there, but for the moment let me simply reiterate:

In the game we will meet four mechanically augmented people.
1 Gunther Hermann, active agent.
2 Anna, active agent whom I've already linked to.
3 Jordan Shea, retired agent.
4 Sam Carter, not an agent, needed part of his body replaced for what appear to be medicinal purposes.

The evil conspiracy has already moved passed mechanical augmentation in favor of various other things.  None of the police or military forces you meet other than UNATCO will contain a mech.  One mech laments that in the future he'll have nowhere to go but to a freak show where his life will consist of being used to scare children for cheap thrills.

This technology is definitely on its way out.

On the other hand, you only see a very small slice of the world, maybe if you'd gone other places you'd have encountered more mechs.


Last on the right:

The Coalition's new nano-augmented agents are nearly indistinguishable from the general population, except that you and your brother don't know how to smile, even for a picture.

The hologram is of JC's brother Paul.  That smile thing is a joke on Jamie's part, and not a very good one.  I'm tired, I have a headache, I'm not going to get into the great debate over whether or not he was somehow being serious.  He wasn't.

If JC and Paul couldn't smile because of their augmentations the phrase wouldn't be, "don't know how," it was a joke, it was a bad joke.

Want to know how bad of a joke it was?  When JC was a child and Paul was almost an adult their parents were murdered.  Then, sometime in the last couple of years, their adoptive parents were murdered.  On top of that they, along with the rest of the world, have lived through catastrophes piled on top of each other.

The first decade of JC's life was with the backdrop of the largest die off in human history.  They have seen their country fall apart, they have seen the world dive toward chaos, and they have personal tragedy piled on top of that.  They've lived through the violent deaths of twice as many parents as most people have in the first place.

Maybe, just maybe, Jamie, they have reasons not to smile all the damn time.  Jerk.

I generally like Jamie, but that's seriously in poor taste.  At least it seems that way to me.


Holograms done we go to leave and what's this?  Another hologram.  Like the thing with Jaime in the secret room, this is a communications hologram and it's going to be used for a real time chat.

Bob Page: Sufficiently impressive.  An early success for the whole organization.
JC Denton: Thanks.  You from the United Nations?
Bob Page: Your augmentations are a-go.  The real test comes next: active duty.
JC Denton: I'm ready, sir.
Bob Page: Yes.  Yes, you are.

Remember how I said to take note of Page Industries?  Well now you've met its owner.  Trillionaire (with a T) and leader of an evil conspiracy.  That's Bob Page for you.

Note how he completely ignores the whole question of whether or not he's with the UN. Presumably because saying, "I'm with the organization that uses the UN as a puppet," isn't the best answer at this point in time.

Also "early success" would be for the re-formed UNACTO, the organization has been around for an unclear amount of time not less than ten years at this point, it has been around in its present form for at most a year.

And with that, we move to the exit and training is over.

Only took six months.  A bit surprising that it worked out to be six months to the day.