Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I'm probably not going to be posting as much as any of us want

[Added] I completely forgot I meant to do this: for hopefully more interesting reading there's still an open thread in which to discuss all things Star Trek with the other commenters. [/added]

So it seemed pretty simple, right?  My computer was dying and if I could get a non-dying computer things would be good.  There was also, I don't remember if I mentioned it here, a problem with medication.  That's been solved.

Unfortunately, my mood is shit.  Not, I don't think, "my medication isn't working" shit.  Just "Spend your whole life with depression and when you feel down for normal reasons you've already got depressive tendencies wired into your brain," shit.  If that distinction makes sense.

People who bring me up I'm not seeing enough of.  People who bring me down I'm encountering way too much.

Also it's cold.  It's been cold.  I've been wearing coats indoors and keeping the heat on "Hopefully the pipes won't freeze if I set it at this" temperatures because I can't afford to refill the oil so I'm trying to put as little strain on the supply I do have as possible.  No idea if it's working because I checked today and the distance between where the gauge is and "empty" is getting too small to measure.

I don't think that helps.  If your mood and the temperature both make you want to hide under a blanket curled up into a ball wishing for the world to go away, that's probably worse than either of them doing it alone.

And I should probably add gloves to the coat blanket combination because my fingers are really feeling it.  Though I don't know off hand where any gloves I can type in are.

Right now my prevailing feelings are that I just want everything to go away and that people who disable quicksave in their games such that it can't be re-enabled should be shot, not lethally, more in a "It'll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs," kind of way.  (Moving all the stuff to the new computer has included moving games.)

I find I have nothing to say.  Which makes me feel bad because people donated enough for me to get the computer I'm writing this on right now at least in part because they were expecting me to use it to say things on this blog.

There is at least a bit of a Narnia thing, not much but a bit, I have yet to move over here and also a, "Hey, look what I can do with pictures with the new computer," post I can probably make, but for the most part since my mood is shit my writing probably isn't going to be happening at the moment.  Of course, the computer isn't going to go away, and the mood will change at some point.  (Hopefully soon.  I'd like nothing better than to wake up tomorrow morning and write, "Never mind, I feel great, here: five stories for you all," I very much doubt it will happen, but the point is that there's uncertainty.)

So --as previously stated-- Stealing Commas is going to survive, but --new information-- for a while there'll be a lull in content while I'm over here curling up into a ball.


It wasn't said as strongly as it should have been above: THANK YOU.  Everyone who donated to get me this computer, thank you.

I may not know how I'll pay for heat right now, but I have a working internet connection.  I hope you have no idea how much that means.  Without one I'm basically cut off from the outside world and my life becomes nothing.  I hope you have no idea how horrible nothing can be, and if you do know then you have all my sympathy.  Empathy too.  And hugs if you want them.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

By Special Request: Star Trek Open Thread

Have something you want to say about Star Trek, any of the series, the original movies, nu-Trek, the books, the cartoons, the... whatever?  Say it here.

Have a favorite series?  Episode?  Character?  Ship?
What about a least favorite?

ANYTHING Trek related you want, talk about it here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The obvious Frozen, Avatar (TV series), Rise of the Guardians crossover that 20,000 people have probably already suggested

I find myself wishing I had enough available funds to buy cold medicine so first, here's a link to a past post in which the post zombie apocalypse narrator says that what he misses most from civilization is cold medicine.  Second, just a quick post here.

Before I ever saw Frozen, Lonespark told me that, being an Avatar fan, she saw Elsa as an Ice Bender.  Water Benders have an affinity for ice and while I don't think there are any examples where someone can Ice Bend without being able to control liquid water it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility.  So, then, what Elsa needed was a mentor in the art of Ice Bending to help her control her powers.  (Stark contrast to the hide from the world and try to never use her powers plan her parents set her on.)

I suggested Jack Frost, from Rise of the Guardians.  I was told that he and Elsa would make a good fit and now that I have seen the movie, and even written about a theme it shares with Wreak it Ralph, I definitely agree.

What Elsa needed growing up was to be taken under the wing of Jack Frost and tutored in the role of controlling ice.  More fun, less depression/isolation/loneliness, and moreover more control.  By teaching her to use her power she wouldn't end up having it slip out when she got frustrated/aggravated/scared/angry.

"Do you want to build a snow man?" would come the question.

"Yes!" would come the reply.

Jack, the immortal flying Ice Bender could help Elsa lead Arendelle in the treacherous world of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth benders.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When did "badass" come to equal "evil"? (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

This definitely wasn't what I expected to write as my next post, but I've been a bit busy and a bit under the weather and ended up looking into what scenes I might be able to pull out for a revised version of this post that could go up on the Slacktiverse.  Speaking of which, you know what's a real problem?  A lack of beta readers, or alpha readers, or anything readers.  Feedback givers.

I've wanted to make a Slacktiverse post combining this and this for ages now.  (The second serves to clarify the first, so is making the two into one makes a lot of sense)  Apparently about four months.  I reached out to the people I knew to reach out to, never got any feedback.  It's ... aggravating.

Anyway, I was on youtube.  One thing led to another and then I saw a thing saying the scene proved Sisko was apparently the most badass captain ever.  So I checked to see what the scene is.  The scene is Sisko's he who fights monsters moment.  It's the nadir of his moral arc.  It is when he becomes undeniably evil.  It doesn't last, of course, DS9 may have been the series that did the most to turn Star Trek on its ear and rip apart load bearing walls of the Trek moral universe, but it was still fundamentally Star Trek and it couldn't go on very long with the guy in charge as evil so naturally he's doing soul searching by the end of the episode.  (At least I hope I'm remembering that right because otherwise capital WTF?)

But that's not the point.  The point is that Sisko is apparently the most badass because he's willing to go on a biological warfare campaign against innocent people because there is one man, and one man only, who he simply does not like.  The only thing that stops him is that the guy he doesn't like is less evil than he is.  The guy he doesn't like is all, "I used biological weapons, you used biological weapons.  Why don't we stop?  I'll trust you to stop, and give you all of mine so you know I have no choice but to stop."

Sisko screams, "Not enough,"* tries to cut off communication, and orders his crew to take him to the location of his next war crime.  He's already proven that he doesn't bluff.  When he says that he will go against everything he ever claimed to stand for, destroy the lives of innocent people on a whim, and generally become the most evil human currently alive, he fucking means it.  He has proven that when he says he has no morals he fucking means it, cross him and an entire planet will suffer.  An entire unrelated planet.  An entire planet of innocent people whom he knows had nothing to do with it.

You know what is enough?  The surrender of the guy Sisko does not like.  Would Sisko have surrendered to stop that guy's war campagin?  No.  It's only because the guy Sisko doesn't like is fundamentally more moral than Sisko** that the matter ends.

But forget about who is more moral for a moment, they've both done horrible things at this point.  The guy Sisko doesn't like is doing it for complex reasons that relate to the attempted genocide of a native people on the boarder of two empires after one empire gives the native's land to the other empire.  It's a moral quagmire that would probably take an entire book or series of books to unravel.  What he does is definitely wrong, but his motivations are more complex.

What Sisko does is equally wrong, but his motivations are simple.  He is emphatically not doing it to stop the other side from using biological weapons.  The other side offered that, he turned them down.  He is expressly doing it to catch a single person he doesn't like.  The other guy actually feels pity for Sisko because Sisko has sunk so very low, and seems to feel sorry that he is the cause of this sinking.

Sisko claims to be doing it because the other guy disgraced the uniform, but the other guy never did nearly so much as Sisko intends to and Sisko is technically committing treason this entire time.  (The higher ups are not completely useless and have called the morally fucked Sisko off of the case that he's morally fucked on, plus Sisko's ship is damaged.)  So, basically, Sisko has said, "Fuck Starfleet, I'm stealing this ship to do my own thing," that's ... not uncommon.  Starfleet captains are known for ignoring orders.  Sisko takes it a step further.

The people he attacks don't want to be Federation citizens.  They didn't ask to be and all the Federation ever did for them was give their homes away to an empire that sees them as pests to be exterminated.  But no matter how many times the Federation has stabbed them in the back, and no matter how many times they've stabbed or tried to stab back (back or front), they ARE Federation citizens.

Which means that when Sisko steals a warship (the Defiant may be the only prominent Star Trek Federation ship designed explicitly as a warship) to make unauthorized biological weapons attacks on these people he's going to war against Federation citizens.  That's treason.

It's made clear through the episode that it's about Sisko taking things personally.  Never more so than the end.  Stopping biological attacks isn't enough.  He doesn't give a shit about those.  Catching the guy who pissed him off is all that matters.

Sisko knows that what he's doing is evil.  He's actively trying to be evil.  He's trying to play into the fact that the other guy sees himself as the hero and so has decided to cast himself as the villain.  But it's not a bluff.  The evil he does is real evil.  Equal and opposite to what the other guy did.  Except the other guy is willing to compromise.  The other guy is willing to end things.  Sisko isn't.  The only thing that will stop Sisko is the surrender of someone who harbors him no ill will, but simply managed to piss him off.

In the final analysis none of this matters.  The people that Sisko intended to drive from their homes (with the use of biological weapons) turning them into a giant refugee population with nowhere to go (when their problem was that they were already a giant refugee population and were in the only places that they could find to go) will eventually be genocided by the Cardassians Sisko is supporting in these scenes, so in the end they all get killed off regardless.

Sisko's aborted attempt to cause them a slow death by making them into homeless wanderers when they were already people who could barely find caves to live in wouldn't really have killed them any faster because their quick genocide was on the way whether anyone knew it or not.  Thus Sisko gets two outs.

First, the other guy surrendered thus appeasing Sisko so the attempted slow genocide never happens.  He may be ready, willing, and salivating at the prospect of committing genocide, much to the dismayed but not disobeying expressions of his crew, but he never gets the chance.  The other guy folds too soon and Sisko never gets to put as much evil in the pot as would be necessary to kill all those people.

Instead his treason streak doesn't make enough worlds uninhabitable to cause the deaths of all those thereon.  Populations can be moved and innocents may have to drop everything and leave their homes, which will doubtless cause lots of pain, suffering, and likely death, but things can be shuffled and no one has to die the slow death of a planet-less wanderer lacking the resources necessary to survive such a life and seen as a thing to be exterminated by both empires they find themselves caught between.

That's out one.  The people he made homeless have enough space to resettle because he stopped before he made too many planets' populations homeless for resettlement to be possible.

Out number two is that they're all going to die soon anyway, so how much does a little forced relocation matter when they'll all have their heads on the chopping block soon and a population of hundreds of thousands will be reduced to a couple dozen (maybe less) of which none were probably involved in the forced relocation?

But all this is somewhat missing the point.

Sisko is, allegedly, the most badass captain because he's willing to steal a warship to launch a biological attack on innocent civilians (of his own people) and intends to keep on doing it until he can get the one man he has a personal vendetta against to surrender.

When did badass come to equal evil?

Seriously.  I get that it has "bad" in the name, but evil?  Evil?  Sisko is the most badass because at his moral low point he embraced evil on a planetary scale (with plans for more planets to be involved) as a means to satisfy his own personal hurt feelings?

It seems I don't know the meaning of words anymore.


* Seriously anything less than bold, italic, and underlined isn't a quote so much as a laconic impression.

** And remember, the guy Sisko does not like is the one who struck first with biological weapons.  This is a very low bar to meet and yet Sisko still manages to limbo under rather than rise above.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Long Live the Queen: A silly tangent

So I do think the things I've talked about in my previous posts are serious points.  E.g. choosing to refuse to symbolically submit to someone when you've got your emotions under control enough to make a choice shouldn't automatically mean charging them in a suicidal rage and then, because I wasn't kidding about the "suicidal" part, dying from it.

This is something else.  This is me being silly.

The only part from the actual game is this, which comes up if Briony is with you when the civil war breaks out, you choose to hold her hostage, and you ask for more than the other side is willing to give as ransom because you don't have the [presence + cruelty*10] to pull off a threat convincing enough to make them give up that much.
Diplomat: What are your demands?
Elodie, Crown Princess: I can't trust nobles who are willing to turn traitor against me.
Elodie, Crown Princess: In exchange for Briony's freedom, the leaders of the rebellion will be stripped of their titles.
Elodie, Crown Princess: They will then be exiled from the domain of Nova, under order of execution if they ever return.
Elodie, Crown Princess: This rule applies to the Duchess of Lillah, the Duchess-Consort of Kigal, and the Duchess of Mead.
Elodie, Crown Princess: (It was Arisse and her daughters who planned this.)
Diplomat: That is a great deal to ask for.
Elodie, Crown Princess: I don't think exile is too high a price to pay for the life of Briony.
Diplomat: We do not believe you would actually murder one of your own friends to spite the rebellion.
Elodie, Crown Princess: (... well, no, I wouldn't, but you're not supposed to realise that!)
Diplomat: Since we cannot come to an agreement, we will meet you on the battlefield.
Elodie, Crown Princess: (Sigh.)
Anyway, story begins.


Elodie knocked on the door, "Briony?"

The door flew open and, Briony said, "Why are you keeping me cooped up in this room?  I thought we were supposed to have an adventure."

Elodie looked away, "We were, but... but a civil war has kind of broken out and your family is on the other side so you're sort of a hostage now."

However it was that Elodie expected Briony to react, that was how Briony didn't react.  "Being a hostage sounds exciting."

Elodie sighed, "Not really.  You just have to sit around until you're ransomed."

Briony made a sound somewhere between an "ugh!" and an "argh!"

"You'll have full run of the castle, you just can't leave till this is over."

"I came here because I'm sick of being trapped."

"I know, and I'm sorry, but you could save Nova from a civil war just by playing along."

Briony sighed then said, "It won't work."

"What?" Elodie asked, confused.

For a time there was silence then Briony's words came unsteadily, "My parents ... don't care about me.  They don't notice me.  They ... don't miss me."

Elodie didn't know what to say.

"I don't even think they like me," she said, close to tears.

Elodie launched into a hug and just held Briony.

"They ignore me," Briony, now crying, said.

It was impossible to tell how much time passed, but finally they stopped holding each other and Elodie said, "We have to try, a civil war threatens all of Nova."

"I already told you it won't work."

"Will you at least try for Nova, for me?"

"What do you hope to gain?"

"Well, they can just attack again as soon as you're out of the castle, so the safest option is to exile the leaders."

"You said they were my family."

Elodie looked to the floor, "They are."  There was a short pause and she said, "Your grandmother, your aunt, your mother."

"If you promise not to exile my mother, I'll play along.  She might not care about me, but I care about her."

"Deal!"  Elodie said.  It seemed like an off note to end on but she didn't know what else to say.  So she started to leave.  When her back was turned Briony spoke.



"When this is over..."


"Then can we have an adventure?"

It was a horrible idea.  Briony's idea of adventure was likely to get them both killed.

Elodie said, "Yes."


First the diplomat for the rebels demanded proof that Briony was there and unharmed.  Briony did a good job of playing along considering that she was Briony.  Then again Briony was able to escape from her guards before, there must have been more to her than met the eye.  She confirmed that she was fine, but managed to seem frightened the entire time.

With her standing in the background, an armed guard to either side (with very specific instructions to look as threatening as possible without risking harm to Briony) the negotiation began. Elodie hated everything the rebel diplomat represented, but at least ze was to the point:

"What are your demands?"

"I can't trust nobles who are willing to turn traitor against me," Elodie began.  "In exchange for Briony's freedom, the leaders of the rebellion will be stripped of their titles.  They will then be exiled from the domain of Nova, under order of execution if they ever return.  This rule applies to the Duchess of Lillah, the Duchess-Consort of Kigal, and the Duchess of Mead."

If the terms were accepted then the rebels would still demand that their heirs be allowed to remain in control of their duchies.  That would mean that Briony would inherit Mead.  Once that demand was made Elodie would say that she couldn't hand over a Duchy to one who had recently been her captive and let the Briony's mother, and only Briony's mother, escape exile by paying a large tribute.

The diplomat said, "That is a great deal to ask for."

Elodie replied, "I don't think exile is too high a price to pay for the life of Briony."

And then the diplomat called Elodie's bluff, "We do not believe you would actually murder one of your own friends to spite the rebellion."

Well, no, Elodie thought,  I wouldn't, but you're not supposed to realize that!

Knowing that she wasn't good enough at bluffing to change the diplomat's mind about that now, Elodie tried a different tactic.  "Of course not.  All that I said was that if you agreed I'd free her, I never said that I'd kill her if you disagreed.  She'll stay here.  You'll kill her.

"I will fight you even if I'm the only one left to do the fighting and so much as one brick of this castle remains.  I am queen of this country and I will die before I see it fall to foreign rule.  Certainly not some Yeveni castoff whose own people hate her so much that they refuse to acknowledge she even exists."  Elodie knew that throwing in racism always helped to look like a fanatic, but after she said that she worried how Briony might feel.  After her confession about her parents, that might have hit her close to home.

"The only way your side will win is if you burn down this castle with Briony inside," Elodie finished.  She considered adding, "I'm trying to keep her safe, you're the ones who declared war on her vacation spot," but thought better of it.

"You speak well," the diplomat said, "but we still don't believe you will endanger her life.  Since we cannot come to an agreement, we will meet you on the battlefield."

The diplomat left and Elodie sighed.

"Are you really going to keep me here?" Briony asked.

Elodie gave silent thanks that Briony didn't say, "I told you so."  Then considered the question.  The castle was the safest place on land that Elodie controlled, but she didn't just control the land.

Elodie turned to her father, "The rebel duchies are all landlocked?" she asked.

"Yes, it's why our navy is useless right now."

"Useless for war, perhaps, but it means we control the only access to the ocean.  Anything, and anyone, we put to sea will be safe."  Elodie turned back to Briony, "You're going sailing."

"Can I look for pirate treasure?"

And once again, Briony was Briony.

Elodie considered pointing out that they were dealing with matters of life and death.  She considered telling Briony to take things seriously.  She said, "Yes."

Then she turned to her father and said, "Give her our best ship manned by our best captain and a large enough escort to make sure nothing happens to it."

Only those in the room, the king, the two guards who were assigned to be Briony's body guards, Briony herself, and Elodie knew that she was leaving the castle.  As far as everyone else knew she was to locked in her room in the tower.  The sole exception being Alice, who would make it appear that there was someone living in that room.  Alice believed that the ruse was so if anyone tried to rescue Briony they'd go to the wrong room, not because Briony was leaving.


Within the next week Briony set sail and armies collided.  Elodie wasn't a good enough strategist to win, but she could see when she was losing.  True to her word she refused to surrender.  Instead she ordered a full retreat.  Everyone who didn't want to live under rebel rule was to flee to the seas.

There were many.  It seemed that while certain nobles might not approve of Elodie's rule, most of the commoners were against the coup.  The battle lines, set up to keep enemy soldiers from getting into the rebel duchies couldn't stop commoners from getting out.

In addition Maree and Hellas, who remained neutral during the conflict, allowed both safe passage to the sea and resettlement.

Elodie did go on fighting until she was the last one left, alone in her castle on Lampai Island, but not because the others had died.  Instead because they had fled.  First her soldiers covered the retreat of civilians, then some of the soldiers covered the retreat of the rest, and finally Elodie focused all attention on her so that what remained could flee.

Every seafaring ship was put to use in the evacuation and many were packed quite tightly.

When the rebels took the capital they found Elodie alone in the castle, the treasury empty, provisions removed, and little left to do.  Elodie was thrown into the dungeon.

Maree and Hellas declared rebel rule illegitimate and thus formed and independent country with Elath, whose 13 year old ruler-to-be had been left under the care of Brin, duchess of Hellas when his previous steward was forced to flee.

Sudbury at first remained silent, it was surrounded by rebel provinces to begin with, and after the rebels won its young Duchess Gwenelle, a friend to Elodie, was forced to hold her tongue.  But when diplomats from Yeveh and Hellas returned with favorable news of alliances, Gwenelle declared independence.

The evacuation had destroyed the infrastructures of the loyalist provinces and the war had made the new rulers incapable of preventing the secession.  The new states of Sudbury and Maree-Hellas-Elath (collectively called "True Nova"), didn't have much in common with the Yeveni, but they all hated the rebels' rule and the rebels couldn't risk the possibility of war on three fronts.

Additionally Nova's economy had always relied heavily on ocean shipping and the loyalists had taken all the ocean going vessels in their territories.  Of pre-war Nova only Maree, now part of "True Nova", had shipping vessels left.  Even with the high tariffs they charged the rebels couldn't afford to anger them.

At this point, when a new stability had settled over the fractured remains of Nova, Briony returned.

She had a convincing and engaging story of how she had escaped the castle and hidden near the old forest where everyone else feared to tread during her time away, but it was all lies.  The story was thought up by Elodie's court "musician" and practiced so many times that Briony knew every hesitation, every pitch, every crack of her voice by heart.

Even with two Lumen several agents and an outright traveling spy among the loyalists Briony was the only one they were sure could infiltrate the dungeons.

She was welcomed back with open arms, some loyalists believed this expected outcome might make her change sides, but she never forgot how she'd been left to die by her family.  She snuck into the dungeon on the same night she arrived, and the next morning she and the Elodie were gone.

When they escaped the castle the "musician" guided them through the Calorian wetlands to a hidden ship.

Following Elodie's orders the Novan loyalists had gone to the islands of Malini, one of Nova's strongest trading partners.

Some Novans were allowed to resettle there, but the islands were hardly large enough for an entire nation of refugees and instead the treasuries of all loyalist factions, including the Novan royal treasury itself, had been brought to be paid to Malini in exchange for what the people would need to survive.  Mostly food and more boats, the Novan remnants would become a floating nation.

They planned to sustain themselves off of fishing and trade, but soon found that, without the Novan navy patrolling the waters, there was also a market for shipping (so nations wouldn't need to risk their own ships) and escorts.

Briony even found her pirate treasure, but it proved much easier to rob from living pirates than chase after sunken ships.

What had at first seemed a hopeless overcrowded fleet seeking nothing more than refuge became a nation in it's own right.  Its eventual capital city, a floating "island" of pontoons and various boats laden with soil and farmed for crops, became known as a wonder of the world.

Ties between this "New Nova" and "True Nova" were established, though no attempts were made to combine the two into one country again.

It was through these ties that "New Nova" learned that the rebel regime had been wiped out within a month of Elodie's departure.  The ruler of Shanjia had come, apparently looking for the royal line.  When he found that they'd been driven out and there whereabouts were unknown he killed most of the nobility in a rage and claimed rebel held Nova as his own.  He didn't bother with Sudbury or "True Nova" as he was apparently after something else.

With this advanced warning Elodie was able to learn everything about the man, and everything she would need to face him when he finally did track her down.  Nova survived, and flourished under her rule, albeit in a completely different form.

And thus Queen Elodie's legacy stretched into the future.


If anyone were wondering I think that would go:
Player Chose: Hold her Hostage
Weekend Activity: Talk to Briony (not in canon)
Player Chose: Exile
--Player failed due to lack of cruelty.
(everything after not in cannon)

[Bluff][Give up][You'll be the one killing her.]
Player chose: You'll be the one killing her.
--Player passed Public speaking.
--Player passed Foreign affairs ≥ 60
--Player failed Presence.

Are you really going to keep me here?
Player Chose: No.

Can I look for pirate treasure?
Player Chose: Yes

The loyalists have no chance of winning
[Surrender][Retreat][Fight until there's no one left]
Player Chose: Retreat

And the rest would be epilogue.

But, of course, it would be a silly addition to a rather serious game.

God I hate making posts about money.

Because of insurance-doctor-pharmacy interaction problems I ended up off my medication.  That's fixed but it's still building back up in my system which means I'm still not quite right.

Apparently, during this time I haven't paid enough attention to incoming mail.  Remember when I said I put $200 in the wrong account by mistake and thus ended up with that much less cash on hand than planned?  Remember when I said that this apparently wouldn't result in very bad things?  I knew I didn't have that much of a buffer, that shouldn't have set me off to the fact I was missing something.

Three things actually, all sitting in a neat pile.  Adding up to $121.21, a number that I would like for it's visual pattern except that the money that was supposed to be allocated for that (the $200) accidentally went to paying off debt that won't accrue interest for six months.  So fuck.

And another thing in that pile was the envelope of renewal forms for my access to food.  Which are overdue.  Hopefully the result will be a delay, not a cancellation.

I promise I'll try to have something lighter and more in line with what this place is about up later today.  I'm thinking something silly about Long Live the Queen.  The posts I've made on the topic so far are serious, time for a change of pace.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I'm thinking about making this (the 15th) monthly fundraising day

In order to prevent future things from being, "Oh my God, ohmygod, omigod!  If I can't get money now all will go to Hell," I'm thinking of asking for money on a regular (monthly) basis in hopes that when the next crisis crops up, as it no doubt will, there will be a cushion of some sort build up with which I can not panic and, at the very least, not ask so much at a single time.

And I'd try to do that regular asking on the 15th of each month.

So, that's the thought anyway.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Adding hypothetical options to Long Live the Queen

Ok, so I've already talked about things I feel should have been there that weren't.

Should have been there because the lack of option opened up an inconsistency.
Should have been there because a lack of flavor convos made the plot ones stand out as "PLOT!"
Should have been there because it was a blatantly obvious option.

Something that has come to my attention since then is that Hanako Games is (apparently) just one person.  Now there was help, but Hanako Games is still one of only two credited for the story which is where much of this stuff comes in.  So, along with the sheer size of the game, there's definitely understandable reason for any oversights and omissions.

In addition, I've still played only a comparatively small portion of the game so what I'm about to say should in no way be exhaustive, but I've got some other things that, while not "Should have been there," things, are "Wish were there," things.  I'm going to combine those with the things linked to in the above linked posts to make a list of options that I would add if I could.


First off, as a general rule, if someone is in the castle and is on your radar (your father, Alice, Lottie, Lucille, your uncle, Jullianna, the musician/spy, anyone you've thrown into prison who has not escaped/been executed, Selene once you know of her as a more than just some random priestess, Briony, anyone I'm missing) come the weekend, I think talking to them should be an option as a weekend activity.

Most of this would accomplish nothing game mechanics wise, though it does potentially give a useful out if you're otherwise in zugzwang*, because most of this would not affect your mood.  On the other hand, you don't know if it would affect your mood unless you actually have the conversation, so it would be a gamble if you're in zugzwang.

One of the things that this would mean is the potential for follow up conversation.

If you go to see Julianna in prison and hear her out rather than taunt her, you get the option:
Julianna, Duchess of Ursul: Release me, and I will teach you what you need to know to keep your responsibilities. 
Menu: [Free her] [Refuse] 
If you choose [Refuse] then you'll never be able to visit her in prison again except to taunt her when that possibility comes up.  (Though you will get two more opportunities to free her, one of which allows you to keep her on as magic tutor.)

If it were possible to keep on visiting her then you could have additional conversations and not be stuck with the all or nothing, "Do it NOW or do it NEVER."



When you do go to talk to someone you should have an option over what you talk to them about.  In the game there's only ever one option and you don't know what it is until you decide to talk to them.  If you haven't talked to someone in a while and as a result there are three things to talk to them about you'll have to take them in order.  Even if you really don't want to mention the first one at all.

I don't have too much of a problem with there being only one possible topic of conversation.  I do have a problem with having to commit to that topic of conversation before you know what the topic is.

Elodie saying, "Nevermind," or choosing not to speak up at all, or something else like that, should be an option once you learn what you'd bring up otherwise.  Presumably it would hit you with a Lonely +1 because you wanted to talk to someone and then, for whatever reason, didn't think you could.

The big example of this for me is the outing of Selene.  There should have been an option to NOT do that.  You'll never out Lucille even though, if you choose not to talk to her about it, you've made no promises and are in the exact same position with her as you are with Selene.

Maybe, for whatever reason, "That priestess, Selene... She's a Lumen! I can sense it, " is the only thing you can say to Julianna that week, but on learning that's the only thing you can say you should be able to choose to say nothing instead.



The game makes very clear that the events of the week take place before the weekend activity (note for example: Lottie coming to stay, talking to anyone about Julianna's arrival, visiting your father if he's put into a coma) but sometimes (for example: if you and Lucille have a death struggle, if you stand judgement over a Lumen murderer) it forces you to wait until the weekend after to talk about it.  In one case this forced wait results in someone's death.  What the fucking fuck?

Via the first thing that I said, you should be able to talk to the relevant person THAT weekend, maybe this goes without saying, maybe it doesn't, but you should be able to talk to them about the relevant events of the week THAT weekend.


Moving from the general to the specific.

Imprisoning Julianna based options that I'd add:
Ordering her to tell you what really happened to your mother 
Saying that you'll investigate her claims further.
If you talk to your father after talking to Julianna in prison I'd add the option to tell him to tell you the details he previously withheld about your mother's death and, if you were willful enough, the option to threaten that you WILL DEFINITELY become a Lumen if he refuses to explain the details of how being one killed your mother. 
His " don't need to hear that." is not a sufficient answer when the fate of the kingdom hangs in the balance.  If you've got the willful you should be able to tell him that if he wants you to stay away from magic then you DO need to hear that. 
With Selene as well, you should have some kind of [Consider it] option rather than flat out release or don't release Julianna.
And then we come to her brother.  If Julianna is in prison for long enough he'll come to say either set her free or give him ruler-ship of the Duchy she rules.  (He wants the second, but doesn't say it.)  This also deserves a [Consider it] option. 
Take the weekend to talk to whoever in more depth.  Julianna (this is your chance, convince me I should free you), Selene (her only advocate), your father (who is the reason you imprisoned her in the first place), or her brother (who will no doubt advocate for himself while trying not to look like he's saying, lock my sister up and throw away the key.)
Alice based options I'd add:
If you send her brother to the dungeon, not a word.  Given that he seems pretty sure of himself when he's imprisoned by the guards I wonder if Alice does, in fact, get him out. 
If she does then that should be something that comes up if you try to see him in the dungeon (I said you should be able to talk to anyone in the castle on your radar, and I meant it) and learn he's not there. 
If she doesn't then, again based on my belief that you should be able to talk to anyone in the castle on your radar, if you decide to talk to Alice then Alice might mention, "Hey, the apple thief is my brother.  Would you mind letting him out?" 
Before you choose to dance with Alice you have no idea how she'll feel about it (terrified) we don't know if this is because she's dragged into a position she doesn't belong (at the center of attention of all the assembled nobles) because she can't dance very well (she can't) or because she doesn't like to dance (we have no idea.) 
If you could talk to her you might be able to learn about that.  If it's just because she can't dance, perhaps you could offer to have her be your partner in your dance classes so that she'll learn.  If she wouldn't like that (it's not established how Alice feels about dancing) you could order her to do it for asshole cruelty points. 
Also being able to talk to Alice could potentially give you feedback one one of the hidden stats (commoner approval) but at the cost of other possible weekend activities.
Lucille based options that I'd add:
If you're the sort of person who would out Selene, you're probably the sort of person who would out Lucille.  If you sense that she's a Lumen but don't talk to her about it, you should be able to tell, at the very least, Julianna or your father about it.  AS AN OPTION.  The whole no choice in whether or not to out someone with Selene thing is bullshit. 
If you do talk to her about it your options are offer her a position, keep her secret, or (if you can sense magic well enough) accuse her of lying to you.  I'd add pretend to keep her secret to that.  Accusing her is dangerous.  Automatically becoming secret keeper for someone just because you don't want to do that or offer them a court position is not a good path either.  If you choose to keep her secret then things play out as they do in game, if not then you have options.  The ones I just mentioned above and, if your sense magic is high enough to know she was lying to you, telling one or both of those people with a big, "And she was lying to me about how powerful she is." tacked onto it. 
That to me suggests the possibility (again, option not forced) of sending Julianna, with Selene if you know about her, to confront Lucille. 
If you learn Lucille has been trying to kill you then your options are to execute or exile her. I'd add assassination (like what you can do with Arisse) because that would be less traumatic to all involved and more politically expedient than straight up execution.  I'd like to add trial as an option, so that all the people could see evidence presented and whatnot. 
Moreover, I'd like to add the option to move more slowly so that preparations can be made.  Then, if you think about it (I don't think the game should broadcast that this is something to think about) you could add Lumen to the squad sent to deal with her however that dealing is done.
Spy based options that I'd add:
Your spy, if you hire her in that capacity, is better than your agents.  A lot better than your agents.  You don't use her except in one very specific case.  That should change. 
If Lucille dies at the ball you should be able to tell the spy to go and find out if anyone else was involved.  If Lucille doesn't die at the ball: 
If you know Lucille was lying to you about being a powerful Lumen you should have the option of asking your spy to investigate.  Why would she lie about that.  Especially if you've tracked the pre-ball assassination attempt to Lucille's Duchy. 
Which brings us to the pre-ball assassination attempt.  You should have the option of having the spy look into that. 
If the spy does discover what Lucille is up to she leaves all the proof because doing otherwise would let Lucille know they were on to her.  As previously mentioned I'd have the possibility of not acting immediately with regard to Lucille and one of the things I'd have as an option if you chose not to act immediately would be for the spy to steal the proof just before formal charges were laid against Lucille if formal charges were laid.  (Execute, bring her to stand in judgement, or Exile would be the formal ones as opposed to assassination.) 
Also, this I would make automatic (unlike everything else where I'd add things as choices.)  If Lucille dies at the ball and Elodie can't decipher her journals then the journals don't get deciphered.  That determines, in part, how Charlotte's epilogue goes.  BUT the spy can decipher the journals no problem.  (This is canon.)  So if you hire the spy the journals should automatically be deciphered for epilogue purposes. 
The spy should have uses beyond Lucille.  Yes, Lucille is the one trying to kill you more often than not, but if you find out a certain powerful noble is putting out feelers that could result in a coup or civil war your options are "[Send soldiers to arrest her] [Send assassins to kill her] [Wait for more information]" this is the week after you hire the spy.  THE WEEK AFTER.  She's been on the job for one week and here is a situation that calls for a spy and [Send your spy to gather more information] isn't an option?  To hell with that.  Make that an option.
Your maternal uncle:
You never really talk to him.  This wouldn't be a problem except for two things. 
First if you find out that the assassin came from his duchy your options are to ignore the assassination attempt entirely or publicly accuse him personally.  You can't talk to him about it and see if maybe he can look into who might have tried to kill you.  You can't make a private accusation to which he can then present his defense. 
A public accusation is basically a declaration of war.  If you back down on it when he claims, truthfully, that he would never do such a thing, you have seriously damaged your position as queen.  If you don't ... then you don't.  This is not a thing where you can cancel your trade agreements and be done with it.  You have to either send him to prison or execute him.  (And you don't get to visit him in prison and maybe change your mind.) 
I'd add the option of being able to fucking talk to him about it. (Also, if you do imprison him, I'd add being able to talk to him in prison, see the first thing I pointed out in this post.) 
The second thing is that it's possible to kill his wife (Lucille the ever plotting your demise.)  He's your uncle and next in line to the throne.  His daughter was (before you killed her mother) your best friend.  He's ruler of the Duchy next door.  You probably should be actively trying to patch things up.  Whether or not you would I'd leave up to the player, but the option should be there
The Lumen Murderer:
If you know the murderer is a Lumen then, whatever you choose to do to him, I'd give you the option to talk to your Lumen mentor (actually Selene might be best even if she isn't your mentor, provided you know she's a Lumen) about him that weekend.  If he's not dead this could be especially important because treating him like an ordinary criminal (assuming you didn't pardon him) will allow him to escape and your mentor can probably stop that. 
Also if he's not dead but is in the dungeon I'd give you the option to talk to him in the dungeon (awaiting execution or on a permanent basis).  Which could lead to you a Lumen death struggle happening in private and you know what that means.  If you don't tell Julianna things will go to shit very fast.  Same as with Lucille. [update] actually, not so much.  Lucille had bad consequences because of the power levels involved.  He wasn't that strong. [/update]
The Creeping Shade:
Julianna apparently deals with it whether you tell her about it or not.  I call bullshit.  You didn't let it become public knowledge that your aunt was a Lumen after she died trying to kill you.  Why, then, would it be public knowledge that the shadows are killing people? (Well... person.)
Thing one: I'd let it be an option [keep this a secret until we know more][warn people that the Vashta Nerada are here] Option one would mean that if you don't tell Julianna she won't know and more people will die.  Option two would cause massive panic as everyone would be afraid that any given shadow might eat them (ok, kill, not eat) at any time. 
Thing two: If you do choose to keep it hush hush to avoid a panic but you also choose to NOT tell Julianna I'd have things get worse and worse until it couldn't be kept a secret, at least not from Julianna, anymore. 
Don't tell her about the non-public Lumen death struggle immediately and the squire dies the next week.  Don't talk to her that weekend and more people die the week after.  Don't talk to her that weekend and it's even worse the week after.  And maybe that's a good point for the problem to get so bad that Julianna can't miss it even though you're keeping her in the dark.
The Old Forest:
I don't think the additional choices you should be allowed to make are all smart ones.  (Can you tell I originally wrote this before the previous section?)  Smart ones spring to mind because, "Why can't I stupid thing?" is not a question most people ask.  But here's one that I do ask:
Why can't I attack the monster? 
Initially you can't attack it (though you are armed with either magic or mundane weapons) because Briony is in the way.  But when she gets free why can't I immediately attack it? 
This would be a bad idea, the clash will probably attract other monsters and there's no guarantee I'd win against just the one.  Trying would probably get me killed.  Briony too (she needs your help to make it out alive even after getting free of the monster.)  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to try.  I can try other stupid things. 
I'd have that be an option.
The Damn Chocolate
Staying home can protect you from almost all threats to your life.  There are two exceptions.  One is Togami who invades your country, the other is the chocolate.  (The one assassination attempt the Spy will look into.) 
There are five ways to survive the chocolate.  One is to have a high enough poison skill that you can save yourself even after eating the poisoned treat.
The other four are indications that something is amiss.  From an omen presaging hidden danger just before you learn the chocolates arrived to a pet dog that acts strangely toward them, with etiquette and trade in the middle. 
The warnings, whether you get only one or all four together, only let you postpone eating the chocolate (thus accidentally killing a chocolate thief) they don't let you try to have the chocolate tested or let you simply dispose of it.  What the fuckity fuck? 
You know what you will dispose of for fear it might harm you?  A pillow.  I shit you not.  Possibly suspect food from a place you've never heard of via a shipping route that doesn't make sense with omens and animals indicating it's probably a danger?  That you can only set aside for later.
Of course I would give you the option to check or dispose of the chocolates.  Maybe both.  (Maybe just throwing them out kills a street urchin who goes through the palace trash looking for food and to properly dispose of them you need to check to see if they're dangerous first.  Maybe not.  Maybe throwing them out keeps everyone safe but leaves you unaware there was an attempt on your life while checking them does the safety plus the awareness -- which would change your mood where throwing them out not so much.  Whatever.)
The invasion:
Run and hide. 
Seriously, I'd give the option to run and hide.  A battle on the open ocean is not to your advantage, so don't fight there.
With sufficient military skills Elodie should know that the opportune moment to attack the enemy is when they're landing their army.  So if she passes a skill check she should be allowed to have that be her strategy. 
If not, run and hide.  (As an option.) 
Wait until her army has superior knowledge of the terrain at the very least. 
However the enemy army gets to the Novan soil, you know what should be an option when they do?  Run and hide.  Pull her army back to the fortifications.  That's what castles are for.  Evacuate the land in the path of the invasion. 
She might lose approval from people who think she's a coward, but all options have trade offs and these should be options. 
And I've skipped one of the most crucial things.  If Elodie doesn't know enough about the military when the Ixion affair comes up she defaults to diplomacy, if she does know enough then she still sees diplomacy as an option.  Elodie can, with the right skills, see this invasion coming in advance.  She should have the option of trying to stop the war before it starts via diplomatic envoy. We know she considers diplomacy an option elsewhere, why not here?
And on a last note about the invasion, remember what I said about not only smart options?
When Togami comes in (she doesn't know it will be Togami, just a diplomatic envoy), why exactly can't she set up to ambush the incoming group?  Why not have her response to the duel request be a hail of arrows? 
One of the ways Elodie can deal with Ix is by killing their ambassador (thus triggering war) so it's not like Elodie can't be the sort of person who would kill the diplomats.
Nova is losing the war, killing off the leader might make Nova somewhat better off, but this option seriously doesn't seem like a good one for the country.  At best it seems like it would ravage the country dealing a blow to law and order for years to come and making Nova much weaker than it's ever been in the recorded history you have access to.  At best. 
But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be an option.  There are plenty of bad options you're free to choose, why not this? 
[Added:] If one has the composure to avoid a suicidal attack on Magic Man post-dad-death you can choose to either symbolically submit to him kneeling and kissing his hand, or do exactly the same thing you would have done with no composure. 
I... did not see that coming.  I thought that refusal would simply be not kneeling and not kissing his hand.  Perhaps standing stoically by, perhaps simply glaring at him.  Something that said, "You killed my mom, you sank my fleet, you invaded my country, you've been killing my people, you killed my dad, you have what you want, you said you would leave, now GET OUT," but not in words. 
I'd make that be an option, and have that be refuse, and current refuse be renamed "attack" or something.  And there should be consequences, but not directly apparent ones.  An assassin coming on one of the last weeks or something. 
Togami can't kill Elodie right when she refuses because then his, "If you duel me no one else has to die," offer, which he no doubt plans to make to every other ruler with a Lumen crystal, will be known to be a lie.  If Togami kills Elodie then and there without provocation then it becomes, "If you agree to my terms I'll still kill the person you love most in the world."  Who is going to accept that offer?
 So instead of a choice between "Sacrifice all dignity of both yourself and your country" and "Die" I'd have it be: "Sacrifice all dignity of both yourself and your country", "Face/risk facing unknown, and covert, future retaliation" and I have no problem leaving "Die" as an option. 
At this point there's nothing real that Elodie can do to Togami, but she can, at least, symbolically refuse to give in.  Which is what I originally thought the [Refuse] meant.  I'd really like that to be an option (if you have the composure.) [/added]
If peace:
Say Elodie saves the world through song, she might want to learn from her new ally how to change the resonance of a Lumen crystal.  Just saying.

* It's a chess term.  In chess you can never pass on a move, just like you can never pass on doing a weekend activity, but sometimes any move would be a move for the worse and you'd really really like to pass.  You are said to be in zugzwang when every possible move makes your position worse.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snarky Twilight: Snarky Bella summarizes canon Twilight through chapter 15

[Originally posted at Ana Mardolls Ramblings in two back to back posts here, and here.]
[In response to, "Wow, are we really 15 chapters into this? I keep feeling like nothing has happened yet."]

*Summoning Snarky Bella*
Recap please.
Bella: My story, or the story the author wrote?
The second.
Bella: I left home and came to Forks. I met some people and eventually learned their names. Whiter than white people who make albinos look pigmented, but have normal hair colors, changing eyecolor, and dark purple marks under their eyes that look like bruises or really, really bad bags under the eyes attracted my attention.
Bella: Every procedure for school safety or medical non-malpractice was violated in an implausible and impossible incident that allowed Edward to save my life.
Bella: That was Chapter 3. Then I was shunned by Edward, asked to the girl's choice dance by a succession of 3 boys, pressured into letting him drive me to Seattle which he would later pressure me out of going to, met natives-used-as-a-plot-device, and near raped in Port Angeles.
Bella: That finishes Chapter 8.
Bella: Nothing of note happened for several chapters, and now I'm meeting the absurdly white people from Chapter 1. Chapter 15.
Bella: So, in summary, In Chapter 1 I saw people who interested me. Now in Chapter 15 I finally get to say, "Hi." That is the whole of the story so far.

[a pause]

Bella: The truly sad part is that there could have been stuff that happened. Meeting the native people could have been interesting and complex, but they turned out to exist in the story only to communicate one piece of information. The attempted assault at Port Angeles could be the topic for an entire book, but it was just presented as worthless filler more about Edward's feelings than about what happened. Thus the entire book so far boils down to:
Charlie: Hello, have truck.
Book: Meet Eric, Tyler, Mike, and Jessica. Jessica is the least of these.
Lauren: What about me?
Book: You come later fish eyes.
Van: DIE!
Edward: (to van) No.
Edward: (to Bella) Screw off.
Three boys: Dance with me.
Edward: (to Bella) I changed my mind.
Jacob: He's a vampire
Bad guys: We're scary.
Edward: (to bad guys) No.
Meadow: I exist.
Edward: Meet my family.
Reader: That was 15 Chapters?
Bella: The end result is that everything that could have been interesting is instead used as filler for the the time between Chapter 1 First Sight (of the Cullens) and Chapter 15 (Meet) The Cullens.
Bella: The same amount of story could have been done --without embracing abuse, racism, and rape culture while simultaneously dismissing those things as no big deal-- if I'd walked over and said, "Hello," in Chapter 1.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Windows 8

So for the most part I'm really liking my new computer, not that I've had that much time to get acquainted with it.  There's just one problem.  It runs Windows 8.

My impression of Windows Eight is this: as long as you stay on the desktop and don't need to use the start menu it works like a dream.  If you do need the start menu or wander off the desktop it works like an Apple.

It's still painful to think about the last time I was in the same building --not the same room, thankfully, just the same building-- as someone on the phone with Apple's tech support.

When my age was measured in negative numbers I'm told Apples were good, in the time between when I was born and when the end of the Wozniack-era they made passable machines.  Now they make... apples.  The word itself has come to be tainted with disdain and brings down the reputation of the fruit.  Not even the fruit being pointed to as the cause of Original Sin has damaged its reputation so much as what the company of the same name churns out now.

And so, the works like an Apple parts make me think, "If I wanted shit I'd go to the shit store and get brand name manure."

"Works like an Apple" was really driven home when I had to go to Google to find out how to turn the thing off.  (Like I said, start menu, where the shut down options are, is gone and replaced with the "works like an Apple" part of the interface.)

But I've learned to work through that part, and all of the things I really want to do with the computer, with any computer, take place in the "Doesn't work like an Apple," section, so I am in fact quite happy with it.

A bit worried about the future of Microsoft though.  If they thought this was a good idea...

New computer is here (two days early)


Now I just have to begin the long and difficult process of moving everything onto it.


In the future I think I'm going to do a monthly donation reminder/request thing just so that I'm not always riding on the edge of total collapse.

I messed up some financial juggling earlier (after donations gave me enough for the computer, before this moment) and ended up paying off 200 dollars of a debt before I intended to and thus with $200 less cash on hand than I expected.  Trigger panic while I try to determine if this will destroy me.  (No, I do not think it will.)  But it would be nice if things weren't always so close.

It would be nice if when my computer problem (or any of the problems before that) happened I had a financial reserve that I could dig into rather than having to worry all will come crashing down.

So even though I'm not necessarily comfortable asking for money when I don't really, really, really need it, I think I'm going to start doing that.

Anyway, moving everything pending and whatnot, I'm not just back now, I'm back and with a working computer.

Quick and silly on what locusts should be called

I think they should be called Flying Grasshoppers of Doom.

As I was saying this to someone they pointed out that when I say "Locusts" (over the phone, while drained and tired) it sounds like "locus."  So this would assist people like me in communication because if someone thinks you're saying "Locus" when you're saying "Locust" that could really hinder communication.

That's not why I think they should be called Flying Grasshoppers OF DOOM.

I think they should be called flying grasshoppers of doom because they are flying grasshoppers of doom.

But it was pointed out that "Flying grasshoppers of doom," is kind of long.  Not succinct like "Locusts."

So I suggested that one could ROUS them.

Which would result in FGOD.  "F-GOD?  Eff God?"

Totally unintentional, but that's what the Egyptians were saying during the 8th Plague so clearly it's not just a silly idea; it's density.  We must call them Flying Grasshoppers of Doom.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Epistemological Synecdoche

“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Ok, so the New Testament of the Christian Bible (as opposed to to the Middle Aged Testament of the Javarkin Tome) has the idea that God is love mentioned in multiple places.  One of them says the bit quoted above.  In my time on this earth, this concept is probably the mainstream religious concept I've seen the most, and the most fervent, push back against.

I was going to do this in more abstract ways, to create a general framework for understanding that could then be applied to the specific case.  After all, I'm not a Christian; the general is of more interest and use to me than the specific.

But fuck that, this is why I've got the matter on my mind, I'll start with that and we can generalize later.

"born of God" isn't the problem.  People can debate over whether or not people are "born of God" without the push back that this gets.

Where it gets the hard push back is generally this, "Everyone who loves ... knows God."

Now first off, it is important to note the context.  This is from communication between Christians.  This isn't saying, "Well you're really a Christian because you love."  This isn't saying, "Deep down you know that my religion is right."  This is saying, "See those loving people over there?  They're not part of THEM in some US vs THEM division."  This is even more significant because it's in a letter that's in part about heresy: divisions within Christianity itself.

To, in a letter discussing that, bring up this catch all statement where all other concerns are secondary is significant.

Context over, "Everyone who loves ... knows God."  "God is love"

God is love.  I am a blogger.  God is not just love.  I am not just a blogger.

If God were just love then the idea of heresy could be thrown out along with the whole of the Christian Bible.  Generally speaking Christians do not believe God is just love.  That's why the life and teachings of Jesus matter to them.  That's why they have a holy book, that's why there's more than three words (God is love) to their belief system.

But, "Everyone who loves ... knows God," tells us something important.

To know that I am a blogger is not to know me.  There are many other bloggers who are nothing like me.  I'd like to think that it's significant.  If you're reading this you probably find it significant.  But it is not, as Santa from Rise of the Guardians would say, my center.

But to love is to know God.  That means that Love is God's center.*  Love is such a central component of God that to love is to know Him.

Think about that, you don't know His story, you don't know His name, you don't know His priorities, you don't know His rules, you don't know His actions, you don't know His feelings, you don't know His family, you don't know His thoughts, you don't know His anything.  You don't even know that He exists.  But you know this one part of who he is, without even knowing it is a part of a larger entity (like knowing London without knowing there is such a thing as England, the UK, the World, the Solar System, the Galaxy, the Local Galactic Group, or the Virgo Supercluster, the Local Superclusters, or the Universe) and knowing that part is enough to know the whole.

This is claiming not only that love is part of God, but that love is a fundamental part of God.  Love is THE fundamental part of God.  Love is such a fundamental part of God that it is the only thing you need to know (well, technically do) to know God.  Know this one thing and you know.  Know everything but this one thing and you don't know at all.

That may seem more I Corinthians than I John, but that's the message.

If you love then you get (understand, not receive) God; if you know everything (else) there is to know about God but you do not love, you don't know God.  Love is only a part of God, but it is such a fundamentally important part that it's the only part you need in order to know the whole.

This is epistemological synecdoche.  To know a part is to know the whole.

This was, is, and will continue to be a radical idea.  That you can know something without ever actually knowing even more than one aspect of it exists.

But there it is, plain as day.  Fucking ἀγάπη, if you do it, if you ἀγαπῶν, you know God.  And let us be totally fucking clear here, Love is what you do.  This is ἀγάπη we're talking here.  It means charity.  It means alms for fuck's sake.  Alms.  Anyone claiming that giving alms is an internal emotional state has their head shoved so far up their own ass that they can see out their mouth.  It means showing affection, acting in affection, it also means putting up with people (even though they grate on you) and it means tolerance.

If you know fun, you know Jack Frost.  Whosoever ἀγαπῶν knows God.

Now, is this true?  Actually, forget that.  I'm not talking about theological questions.  I'm talking about knowledge.  Here's the question: Can you know a whole by experiencing only a part?  Can you truly γινώσκει something merely by participating in some smaller part of it?  Is epistemological synecdoche even possible?

Can the whole be encapsulated in a proper subset?

I'm the one who argued that you can know Twilight by grasping one particular scene.

You don't know everything about Twilight, that scene doesn't even demonstrate that Edward is a vampire.  But know that scene and you know Twilight.

The knowledge is incomplete, but it's there.  Part for the whole.  If all the rest of the book were lost and that scene were all that remained, future scholars would have a pretty good understanding of the relationship between Edward and Bella, which is what the book is about.

If it works for a book, why not an ineffable being that may or may not exist and may or may not have ἀγάπη as one of its component parts?


And that, in the end, is the point.  Epistemological synecdoche is a thing.

It doesn't say γινώσκει πάγχυ τὸν θεόν.

All who are loving both are born of God and know God.
All who are loving both are born of God and know God in totality.

Is it possible to have essential (but incomplete) knowledge of the whole by experiencing one of the parts in isolation?

My answer is, "Yup."

If one accepts that God is love, and accepts that love is the most important thing that God is, then I don't see why it doesn't follow that knowing love means knowing God.

Of course a hell of a lot of people don't accept those things.

To go to my earlier example of Twilight.  Twilight is the story of a relationship.  I think it's generally accepted that the story of the relationship is the most important part of what Twilight is.  (As opposed to, say, a --presumably bad-- description of what it's like to own a 1953 Chevrolet Advance Design, which Twilight also is.)  To know the relationship is to know Twilight.  So I have argued in the past, so I still believe.


One final note on the Bible verse, some people claim that this is saying non-Christians can't love.  It's not.  If you ignore context and word order and a few other things you can kind of make that argument provided you have no scruples.

The context is about how to know God and the answer is love.  If you switch that --if you make the question become how to love and the answer be God-- then that would be something more sinister.

The word order is that love comes first.  Do love = know God.  Don't love = don't know God.

Logically the two statements form necessary and sufficient conditions and so "to love" and "to know God" are equivalent.  So you can switch them and get, "To not know God is to not love," sounds pretty damning right?  But what it means to know God here is undefined and what it means to love is not so you end up right back where you started: I know what love is, anyone who does it knows God.

Also that "everyone" from the quote, really does mean everyone.  I've checked.  So it means that it doesn't matter how they came to love (if it involved a religion, no religion, a wombat, it totally does not matter) because all get included.  Anyone who loves, regardless of what led them to do that, knows God.

Of course the simplest way is to break down by case.
Either the Christian God exists or it doesn't.
Case 1: It exists.  Everyone who loves (once again, everyone means regardless of religion or lack thereof) knows God.  None of them are on team THEM, they're all part of us.
Case 2: It doesn't exist.  The passage says that something that doesn't exist is something that does exist.  (nonexistent god is very much existent love.)  Contradiction.  the passage is gibberish.
Conclusion: In neither case does it say that non-Christians are incapable of love.

*  Fun is Jack's
 Wonder is Santa's
 Hope is Bunny's
 Memory is Tooth's
 Imagination(?) is Sandy's

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The day may come when Stealing Commas ends, but it is not this day

I wanted to make a larger more interesting post announcing that the blog will not, in fact, be dying now.  That the donations I have received mean I'm getting a computer (five to seven days) and talk about shattered hopes being glued back together.  But then I got side tracked with a post for tomorrow.

Now there's no time to write the post I'd hoped to write today.

So, you know, stuff.

Biggest thing:

Thank you all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another update on the still uncertain future of the blog.

The good news is that the computer seems fully willing to turn back on after it turns off.  The bad news is that the internet connection seems to be degrading.

Mechanically this can be fixed by any piece of shit that has an internet connection and a word processor, though for .hack posts I ideally need a DVD player too.

Actually it's not that simple.  This has, quite simply, emotionally fucked me over.

I don't remember the last time I had a new computer.  I know what computer it had to be because I sure as shit haven't gotten a new one since then, but when that was: no idea.  I have spent so long doing things like, "If I flip it over, open it up, remove the RAM card, blow on it, put the RAM card back in, flip the still open computer back over, and hold the RAM at a 30 degree angle I can use the computer for ten minutes give or take five."  Or, "If I constantly hold the power cord at just this angle I can use the computer but if I move or slip or flinch it'll crash and lose everything that isn't saved."  Or, "Maybe I can take this part out of this computer, and these parts out of that computer, and put together something that works."  Or, "Ok, I'm going to need wood to make a frame, lexan, a drill, screws, bolts, and industrial strength hinges and that's just to make monitor stay on, making it compute will take even more work."  Or, "Computer, meet drill press, I swear you'll feel better afterward."

Or, "Yes the motherboard is in a state of slow decay with components going out one by one but until the last light dies this is all I've got."

And so forth.  Right now the two most functional computers I have are second hand ones (thank you both, again) that are showing their age as components fail here and there.  Put them together and if the internet on this one weren't apparently on the road to failure you'd have more or less a working computer.

But when everything went wrong last month and I couldn't use my own money to fix things because it was frozen in place and had to ask for help from the readers, the readers came through stunningly.  It was brilliant and wonderful and I realized that, because of the help, once my money was no longer frozen I could finally have a new computer.  A computer fresh out of the store with a warranty.  You have no idea how much I love three year warranties.  "Something goes wrong and I don't have to try to fix it if I can or, more likely, work around it if I can't fix it?  Amazing!  You'll do that for years?  I may love you."

And that's why I put so much toward the Discover Card.  The computer needs to be a laptop --not a desktop not a net-book-- and those aren't cheap.  Not cheap is no fun, but proportional cash back on not cheap is better than nothing.

I cannot describe how much I was looking forward to being able to work from a fully functional computer.  How full of hope I was.  It was going to be wonderful.

Then it all shattered.  On the same day that I learned the Discover Card had ceased to exist before I paid all that money to it so I could use it to buy a new computer (meaning all of the payment beyond the minimum necessary was useless; 18 months interest free, it could have waited) it also appeared that my only computer with useful internet connection died.

All of that hope was shattered on the floor.

Even though this computer turned out to be not dead yet, the hope is still shattered.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that this one turned out to be revivable, and I'm glad that the internet on it is on a slow die plan rather than just plain dead.

But the problem is that I've really reached my limit.  I can't take all of this, "The internet just went out, will it ever come on again?  The screen froze, will it ever unfreeze or should I cut the power now?  The mouse isn't working right, maybe turning it off and on three times will fix things.  Classic blue-screen death.  Crash without even a blue screen.  Why the fuck are you not working?" and so forth.

I shouldn't have let myself hope, because once the hope got in it changed things.  After that hope I just can't take going back to this.

Reading comments, sure.  Making comments, sure.  Sitting down to this and making a blog post when this is when I thought I'd have a new computer?  I can't do it.  Except, apparently, a blog post about how fucking depressing this is.

So that's what's going on.

When, or if, I return to blogging here depends on when one of two things happens (whichever one happens first):

  1. I get a new computer.
  2. The hope that was destroyed becomes a memory dulled by time to the point I don't give a shit.
If either happens before I've acquired too much emotional distance from the blog, expect to see me back then, be it in days, months, or years.  If not, don't expect to see me outside of other people's comments.

Number one isn't as unlikely as it first seemed to me.  I got two donations.  The one that was specifically intended to go, in part, toward a new computer gives me hope that it might be possible to get one.  Not on that alone, but maybe if other people donated too.

After being lectured by Lonespark et al. I'm not going to talk about deservingness and such.

I'm just going to leave you with this information: if you want me back blogging, donate to help me buy a new computer.  With what I've gotten I think I can make it through the month so that's not the primary concern anymore.  Getting a computer to blog on, on the other hand, for that I need more money.  I don't have more money.

If you want to help on that front, do.  If you don't, don't.

I don't want to say goodbye.
Neither do I.

I'd like nothing more than to be writing more Edith and Ben or Snarky Twilight, or when post-vampirification Snarky-Bella saves Éponine at the barricade by making her a vampire and later tries to talk Javert out of suicide, or more of the Princess Story.

But all of the shit I routinely put up with when writing for the blog is writ so damn large because the hope that I wouldn't have to put up with it anymore seemed so real and so close and I seriously cannot take this shit anymore.

Realistically there was always going to be a breaking point if something didn't change.  It just came sooner because something did change.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An update, possible goodbye, possible hiatus, possible I don't know what the fuck

I said, "I may have to just give up."

The computer that died was able to be resurrected, it wasn't easy.  When unseen water + electricity created internal zapping it corrupted the very software needed for start up I couldn't even get far enough to attempt to fix things but it calmed down a bit, I was able to attempt to fix things, first try failed, second try succeeded.

So I have a computer with internet, sort of.

Here is the state of things right now:

  1. I have no idea if the computer will stay resurrected, or how long it will stay that way for if it does.  (right now I don't even know if it will restart if I shut it down.)
  2. It was never that stable to begin with, if the accident caused any additional problems then it may become useless.
  3. The internet connection, which is why I use this soundless unstable computer as my primary seems to have gotten worse as a result of the accident.  Right now it's only turning itself off at random and can be turned back on, but pasted experience tells me that this can be a precursor to total connection to the internet failure.
  4. After putting all spare money toward paying down the Discover Card because believe it or not the tiny percent cash back is something that's important to me since I do live at the margin of total collapse and any little bit helps, I got a letter telling me that I don't have a Discover Card.  Here's the new information: the letter was accurate and there's nothing anyone can do to change that.
  5. That means that I have no money.  Well, almost no money.  I was planning on paying for everything needed during the month on credit.  The only money I do have is money that someone donated after I paid toward the card so to the person who said she had to wait to donate: Your donation represents my only money for the month.  Hopefully I can scrape by on that, but figuring out how will mean I probably won't have much energy to devote to blogging.
  6. I'm probably going to be spending much of my time talking to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because while some of what Discover did is completely legitimate (no one can blame them for canceling the card after the wire transfer fucked up) other parts are extremely suspect.
  7. My credit history probably just went to shit because part of it is how long your lines of credit stay open for.  They closed it before my first payment was due.  That's pretty fucking short.
  8. I need a new computer.

That last one needs some expanding on.  I've needed a new computer for ages.

Not a used computer that's working fine when given but then starts to break down fast and has nothing much I can do about it.  Though to both of the people who did that, those are my primary and secondary computers.  Without you I would have been forced to stop blogging a long time ago.

Not a refurbished computer that whoever refurbished it assures me is as good as new.

I need a new fucking computer.  Preferably with a warranty.  An extended warranty if possible.

And it has to be a laptop.  I can't blog from a desktop.  Where I blog, when I blog, when I hate the word blog because it sounds like an unpleasant bodily function and I think that if two letters were going to be taken out of weblog they should have been the og at the end not the we at the front IT IS ALL DONE FROM A PLACE OTHER THAN A DESKTOP.

That's annoying because desktops are cheaper.  A lot cheaper.  A new laptop would cost hundreds or thousands.  Presumably hundreds because the idea I could pay thousands is absurd.

The idea I could pay at all is absurd.

If I had more money I'd use it to survive the month.

More than that and I'd use it to pay down my debts somewhat.

More than that and I'd use it to pay down ALL THE DEBTS.

More than that and I'd use it for tuition and to finally get my schoolbooks.

More than that and maybe, maybe, I'd spend it on a computer.


Lonespark suggests that people reading the blog might have somewhat different priorities and thus might be more concerned about getting me a computer that will allow me to keep on writing the blog than, say, paying down my debts.

Normally I might agree.

But this would be the fourth time I'd be begging for money in, I think, three months.  Definitely not more than four months.  So three or four months.

I am so grateful there are not words for every single donation in each of the last three financial crises I faced.  Three of them, unrelated unless I'm forgetting details, and you the readers came through every time and did it unbelievably.

But you're not an endless spring of money to be tapped whenever something goes wrong.  You're people with your own lives and your own problems and your own needs and I think you probably need your money for yourselves or your own causes.

I've already been given, no strings attached, more than I could possibly deserve.  I'm not asking again.  Not so soon.

Which means that I don't know what happens to the blog.  The internet connection on this computer is getting more unstable even as I type it.

The blog goes dark, I guess.  Whether it turns on again depends on whether I can get enough money together to return to blogging.

Like I said in the previous post.  I may have to just give up.


Of course, there may be people who want to help even though I'm not asking for it this time, that's why the donate button was put there in the first place.  So people could, of their own accord, and without being asked, donate.

If you are such a person, first off I urge you to consider if you really should.  This is four problems in three or four months, that's got to be a sign of some kind.  It's not your job to be my lifeline, it's your job to live your life well.

If you still want to donate then this is my promise to you:

  1. If you attach a note that says "To help you through the month" that is the only thing I'll use your donation for.
  2. If you attach a note that says, "To buy a new computer," that is the only thing I'll use your donation for.
  3. If you attach a note that says, "To buy a glass armonica," there is no way in fucking hell I'll ever be able to afford one.  I'll take it under advisement but probably use your money for something else.
  4. If you just want to give me money to use as I see fit, if you attach a note I'll still read it and if you don't I'll still take it.
But that's it.  That's the situation.  That's my update.  This may be goodbye.


Also I think that I've decided that this idea (see also) should be in Boston or a Boston-like place.

The narrative power of a missing apostrophe: Devils Due

So at first I was thinking it was nonsensical I said something along the lines of, "It's just two nouns back to back, it doesn't mean anything."

Then Lonespark pointed out that if someone said, "Book due," you'd understand that that.

One can imagine a person who wants to return a book on time but also wants it as long as possible having a count down:

Book due in three days
Book due in two days
Book due in one day
Book Due!

This give us an impression of a story, but not so much the Twilight Zone's The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street as Waiting for Godot.  The forces of good and righteousness are completely ready to snap into action.  Anticipation has been building, preparations have been made.  Today is the day.  Like the book, Devils Due!

But then, no Devils show up.  Everything remains peaceful and idyllic.  The divine vs. infernal action/suspense whatever movie cannot begin because the due devils don't show up.  Devils Overdue.  Fuck.  The heroes are left to figure out what to do with themselves as nothing out of the ordinary goes wrong.

Meanwhile the Devils are getting a tan.

Someone thinks that they've got horrible burns but they explain that no, it's just a good tan, if they stay out of the sun too long their skin gets so bright.  One says, "Almost florescent."


But what about a different interpretation.

Due can also be about what is deserved.  Perhaps someone did something bad and some devils are due, but note the "are" so we'll drop that and move on to payment.


Payment.  The merchant gives the customer the order and says, "That's five devils due."

What sort of wares are paid for in devils (or services I suppose.)  How does one go about rounding up the devils they have to pay with?


And, most importantly of all.  Isn't this all more interesting than a story called, "Devil's Due," which sounds like it's a knock of Angel Heart (if it's what the devil is due) or Rosemary's Baby (if it's the devil's due date)?