fayanora: Phoebe in Wonderland by LJ user bitemeee (Phoebe in Wonderland)
I have this ability I call my Mutant Power, the ability to look someone in the eye and tell if they are trustworthy or not in just seconds. As long as I've paid attention to it, it has never been wrong.

Well, I was thinking just now about how I never felt comfortable around cops when I was a kid, and never knew why. I've long thought it was a phobia, but it just occurred to me to wonder if it was my Mutant Power telling me these men with guns were not to be trusted, and the resulting conflict between what my Mutant Power was telling me, and what society and my parents told me about them. Because it would sure explain the mixed feelings I had about them, if I was like "Mom and Dad say to trust them, but my gut tells me to stay away from them." (Not sure if it applied to all cops or not; I wasn't around many growing up.)
fayanora: Pi stationary (Pi stationary)
The more I think about the Roman empire and Roman numerals, the more baffled I become. Like, the Romans must have been some pretty amazingly competent people to have an entire empire like that with such a shitty numeral system as Roman numerals. How the fuck did they even do math with a number system like that? Or did they just use abacuses and scratch hash marks into clay tablets for everyday math, and only used Roman numerals for things like plaques, statues, and so on? Because seriously, how the bleeding frack do you do math in Roman numerals? XIV + IX = ??? How do you solve that? I can barely friggin READ that, and I friggin WROTE IT!

XIV
+ IX
-----
???? What do??? How math???

Thank Goddess for the Arabs, and Arabic numerals, amirite?

Actually, I think I *can* do that problem. 14 plus 9 is 23, so break the V into II, drop the I from IX, and add the remainder, you get XXIII. Still, that might not work for other problems.

EDIT: I found this on Google: http://www.pims.math.ca/~hoek/opinions/Romans/ I don't really understand very well, but I think the basic idea is that the Roman numeral system is designed with the abacus in mind, and that it works a bit like the binary clock my friend Brooke has, in that you put a certain number of beads in different places depending on how many of a certain letter there is. From their explanation, I gather that the Roman system is actually a hell of a lot more simple than the Arabic system in some ways, once you understand it, and things like multiplication and division are especially easy in the Roman system when you know what to do.
fayanora: pensive (pensive)
I've read a lot of things over the years about the power of positive thinking, and how to do it, and I've come to the conclusion that most of it is bullshit. I'm not saying positive thinking never works, it's just... it's not something you can really teach people, I think. It either happens or it doesn't. I know, because I've had experiences in my life where it worked, and I've had experiences where it didn't. And when it didn't, it wasn't because I was doing it wrong. It's one of those things that the harder you try to do it, the more you fail at it. You just have to let it happen, subconsciously.

Which isn't to say there's not a conscious aspect, because there is. I bring this subject up, in fact, for a reason connected to the conscious aspect of positive thinking.

See, my roommate has had a rather nasty flu for the last several weeks. She's mostly recovered now, just has a lingering cough, but when it was new to her, it put her in so much pain that she went to the hospital, could barely function enough to answer the questions, and ended up getting a tiny dose of something four times stronger than morphine for the pain, which left her on cloud 9 for the rest of the day.

Those first few days, I was getting worrying sympathetic symptoms, and I was worried I would come down with it, too. But then one day in the midst of a bout of these sympathetic symptoms, I thought, "No. There's enough wrong with me already, what with IBS and depression, headaches, backaches, sleep apnea, and so on, that I don't need anything else. I'm not getting this flu." And that was that. I decided I wasn't getting the flu, and after several weeks of being in the same apartment as someone very ill and coughing on everything, I'm still doing good. Granted, I also took some vitamin C and echinacea that day, and more vitamin c every day for the next week or two, but I know that my decision was the majority of it, because I've had instances where copious vitamin C never did any good in preventing illness or healing illness, so the different factor here was my decision to not get ill.

Now here, in the wording of that decision, I was violating advice from Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch, a series that makes a big point of going on about how positive thoughts should never contain negative words like "no," "never," etc. But it worked, so fuck all that New-Agey bullshit.

Now, I've posted criticisms of new age philosophy before, and really I'm surprised the 'new age' tag doesn't have more than one (now two) posts in it, because I've been critical of new age philosophy for a long time, even though I clung to it for many years before wising up. I hope to make it clear that there is some accurate stuff in new age philosophy, as those works still influence me, and I still agree with a lot of the CWG material, but as I've said here, positive thinking doesn't work the way Neale Donald Walsch (and a lot of other new age authors) seems to think it does. Or maybe it works for him, I dunno. But people are highly unique, and nothing is going to work the same for everyone. Reading the CWG series back in the day, I had a lot of awesome experiences with positive thinking's power, but then again, I was living at home and going to school at the time, so while I had stress from high school, it was stress I knew how to handle. When I went out into the job market after school, still living at home, those practices helped me a lot. I had some majorly profound experiences, like the time the whole world was an orchestra for about 30 minutes. But then shit happened, as shit is wont to do, and stress happened, and no amount of CWG/new age type positive thinking can really fight stress. At least, it didn't help me.

What did help me was Shao'Kehn, with Her practical voice in my head helping me out, with useful advice about how to let the stress wash over me and just continue plowing on. Her philosophy of strength and accepting that shit happens helped me. Still, it took me years and years to purge myself of the victim-blamey aspects of new age philosophy. Because new age philosophy seems to assume you're able bodied, without depression. I say this because speaking as someone with depression - even though that depression was life long and yet the philosophy did work for a time, the new age type of positive thinking only goes so far, and can't really stand up to depression and the various pitfalls that can make depression work. At least, not the way it's taught.

I'd be tempted to write my own book about how to do positive thinking, except that - as I said - I don't think it can actually be taught. Oh sure, it can if you're able bodied, not depressed, and not under much stress. But otherwise, it's just one of those things - in my experience - that you either figure out how to do, or you don't. Kinda like lucid dreaming; some people can learn to do it easily and frequently, but others only experience it once in a while by accident. Back in the day, I was learning how to do it (positive thinking) somewhat reliably, but then shit happened and now I only seem to have fits and spurts of it, like this most recent case.

You know, this makes me think... maybe I should actually, you know, work on trying to find my own way of trying to master positive thinking. I've been neglecting my spirituality so much lately. And this being something that involves a lot of thought and experimentation, I might be able to do it, since I like to think about stuff.

Anyway, enough rambling for now.
fayanora: (Poor Ethan)
I kinda feel sorry for Dudley Dursley. He grew up being constantly shown that his parents' affection and love was conditional. Sure, he was already bratty before Harry appeared, but I think a lot of his later brattiness came from fear that things like "2 less presents than last year" were warning signs that their love was fading; after all, Harry never got any presents. Presents = love for Dudley. (Food equals love for Dudley, too; think of all the times Harry was denied food, or given very little of it.) And it can't have helped that he only got more by threatening to throw a tantrum; he had to have been thinking, at some level, that the presents didn't mean as much if they were only given to him to prevent a tantrum. Kids pick up on that kind of thing.

(Also: One of Dudley's biggest worries, at least for a while, must have been "what if being a wizard is contagious? If I catch it, Mummy and Daddy won't love me anymore.")

Then what does he do a lot of to - IMO - try to hold onto their love? He mimics them. Uncle Vernon abuses Harry, so Dudley abuses him even more. Vernon hates Harry, so Dudley gets everyone at school to hate Harry too. Vernon and Petunia both verbally abuse Harry, so Dudley does too. Which also serves to distance him from Harry. Harry is a living sign of what happens to people the Dursleys don't like. Dudley must avoid being like Harry at all costs.

So now imagine what Dudley must have felt like when he had to go on a diet. His parents kept talking before about keeping him fat because Vernon was fat. But going on a diet means slimming down, being less like his father. Which must have felt terrifying to Dudley. "What if I get skinny like Harry and they hate me?" Which adds incentive to cheat on his diet. It also makes him become very grateful when he finds boxing makes his parents proud of him, it balances out his weight loss in his mind, especially since most of his fat turned into muscle. But in the back of his mind, he's still worried, so he acts out his worry and frustration by becoming an even bigger bully, doing what he saw his parents doing all his life: hurting small children. Which may have been partially another means of mimicking his parents.

For all Harry went through in the years after being accepted to Hogwarts, Dudley had it worse in some ways, because his struggle to maintain his parents' love for him never went away, never got better, at least not for a long time. In fact, the distance from going to his own boarding school and the fact Harry wasn't there at they Dursley's house except in the summertime had to make him feel worse, probably worried they'd forget about him, or worried that they'd miss having a slave/punching bag, and turn their negative attentions on him to make up for the lack of Harry.
And his terror from Hagrid giving him a tail had to be pretty scarring, too; his parents hate anything weird or unusual, he had to have been petrified that they would hate him for having a tail. And even though he dodged that bullet once, he was terrified of adult wizards ever since, worried he wouldn't be so lucky in the future.

Oh yeah, and his snitching on Harry, getting Harry into trouble, was likely a way to turn negative attention back to Harry. Like, "I know you love to abuse Harry, so if I help you by giving you more reasons to do so, that means you'll appreciate it and love me more. Right?"

This all is probably the source of Dumbledore's comment in the sixth book about the damage inflicted on Dudley.

And then, after everything the Dursleys put Harry through, even though Harry was angry with him just before, when Dudley realized that Harry had saved his life, he got his first ever taste of unconditional love. Harry might not have liked Dudley, but they were still family, and so he saved Dudley. Never mind that Harry would probably have saved him even if they weren't family, as long as Dudley wasn't a death eater; Dudley doesn't know about Harry's "saving people thing." What's more, from what he's observed of his parents' behavior, Dudley might think or worry that as much as his parents claim to love him, in the same situation they probably would have fled for their lives and left him behind.

Of course, Harry then saves all their lives again by getting them into hiding from Voldemort, which reinforces Harry's goodness. (A concept which, incidentally, probably made Dudley start to realize how horrible his parents were, since they were obviously wrong about Harry and thus hated him for ridiculous reasons.)

And also, a lot of the same kinds of things must have gone through Draco's mind in regards to Dobby.

Anyway, given all this, I think Dudley having a magical child would be good for him. I think he would learn from his parents' mistakes, and his own upbringing, and be good to his magical child.
fayanora: Picard facepalm (Picard facepalm)
There's this New Age belief (which often infects pagans too) that says, basically, that the universe wants you to be happy, and if you remove all negative thinking and BELIEVE hard enough, all your wishes will come true; or, at least, you'll become abundant.

Now, I do believe in magick, but I have several problems with that way of thinking. First, the world is more complicated than that. Magick, including prayer, can only do so much. It can influence the world in your favor, but it's a bit like nudging a speeding meteor so it just barely misses hitting the planet. Sometimes it works, other times the meteor hits you and it's back to clubs and spears. No matter how hard you try, sometimes magick just doesn't work. So the problem with that New Age philosophy of "the universe wants you to be happy," is that it contradicts the evidence. All the evidence is that the universe is in fact a cold, uncaring expanse of void spattered with matter and energy, that has laws of quantum physics that allow consciousness to influence the matter and energy in the universe, but only a tiny bit." Magick is basically 5%, maybe 10% the magick part, and 90% to 95% real-world hard work.

Second, the whole notion sounds very privileged to me, something obviously thought up by people who have had little or no experience with the real world, much less of being poor. And they get people to believe it either by those people also being very privileged, or by people being desperate to believe that if they believe hard enough, they can better their lot in life; people who need to have something to blame that they have no control over, when it fails. I know, because I used to believe that malarkey. I used it as a means of hope, I used it as an excuse for why it wasn't working, and thus I blamed myself for not trying hard enough when it didn't work. It may or may not have been intended to be victim blaming, but that's what it often is.

Third, it sounds suspiciously like the belief of many Christians that God rewards people He loves and approves of with material abundance/wealth, an idea that is mostly used to justify victim-blaming poor people. Like, "Oh you're homeless? You must be praying wrong, or to the wrong God." The same thing happens a lot with people who believe in karma. "Oh you're homeless, you must have been horrible to homeless people in a past life." It's a nice little way to deflect the realities of the world, and continue to live on in blissful ignorance, rather than taking a hard look at reality and recognizing that it takes a lot of hard work and compassion and understanding to make the world a better place. Which, frankly, is true even if karma is real. The people who blame the homeless person for being horrible to poor people in a past life are, in turn, being horrible to poor people in this life. But they're so caught up in victim blaming as a reality deflection tool, that they're not stopping to think that they may be setting themselves up for a hard life in their next life. Or maybe they don't care, since their current ego will be dead and they won't remember any of this. Either way, the result is the same: keep yourself in blissful ignorance, not bothering to put forth the effort to better the world, because hey, karma, so it's their fault they're poor.

Furthermore, that kind of thinking assumes some kind of universal Overmind that is capable of understanding and caring about human beings, in a universe that is unfathomably fucking enormous. The smallest electron in the smallest atom is closer in scale to our sun than our sun is to the local galactic supercluster, and the local galactic supercluster is to the universe at large as the electron is to the galactic supercluster. And that may well be a severe understatement. So it seems pretty absurd and egotistical to me to assume the univere's Overmind is even capable of noticing humans, much less of giving even a tiny speck of shit about us and our welfare. Now maybe there's - I dunno - some kind of local solar system Deity that can help people out, but even then, there are problems.

Because really, even if the universe (or the solar system deity) DOES want you to be happy, that doesn't change the fact that the rules of this universe prevent it from being a magical cure-all, so the result is the same: you have to recognize that 90% and stop thinking the 10% is all you need, stop blaming others for being victims of circumstance, and stop blaming yourself when things aren't going your way.

And like I told my roommate, who was also complaining about the same thing, a good thing to say to people who say that kind of bullshit is "Oh, so I take it you think the victims of the Holocaust asked to die horrifically by Nazi hands? What about the victims of other genocides? Or ebola patients that die? What did the millions of First Nations people who died because of European invaders do to deserve that? Are you telling me that the slaves imported from Africa called that upon themselves?" Because there's only one of three possible reactions to that: 1. "Holy shit, you're right! I'm wrong!" 2. "Of course not! [Insert some convoluted logical labyrinth to attempt to plug the logic hole.] or 3. "Yes, they did."

I can't speak for y'all, but the only people of those three options that *I* want to be spending any more time with are the ones who realize that they were wrong.
fayanora: arch (arch)
Something else that occurred to me while watching that Taking of Deborah Logan movie, was that it made me remember a dream I had once where I was using Shao-Kehn's name and symbol (in the icon) to ward off demons and ghosts. Which was pretty awesome, I must say. And remembering that made me think about the Christian god, and how he's supposed to be this loving forgiving god (if you discount the old testament shit, which doesn't jive with the new testament), then something they said in the movie about cleansing with fire mixed around in my head with other ideas, and from there I had the thought, "What use is that kind of god anyway?" Because basically, I don't understand why you would want that kind of a god in a fight with a demon. I dunno about other people but if something scary was attacking me, *I* would want something scary that was on my side, to face it. Which is what Shao'Kehn is. She is a kind, loving, comforting, motherly Deity, but also She can be fucking terrifying when She needs to be.

In fact, that dream is not entirely just a dream. I have entered places with ghosts in them before, and felt them just long enough to know that the instant they see me, they flee in terror. I have become convinced that they're sensing Shao'Kehn, it's really the only explanation, as I myself am not scary.

LOL, had another thought, and it's funny. Now I'm wondering what Harry Dresden would see if he used his Sight on me. :-D I imagine he would see my protective sphere of red-hot barbed wire and razor wire and flames that is my empathic shield, only more intense because it would be Shao-Kehn's protective sphere rather than an empath shield. And Her burning eyes inside. But he would probably get a sense that She was benevolent, if a bit Protective Mama Bear like.

But yeah, it would be cool to see a horror film where a Pagan priest/ess is performing the exorcism, rather than a Catholic priest.
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
The Wordsmith has some things to say about crowdfunding and music, which are pretty cool. These things prompted me to respond, and I think my response is worth repeating here:

Capitalism distorts the value of things. In Ancient Egypt, they had the right idea about art: it was one of the most valuable things in their world, sacred even. (There wasn't much creativity, but oh well.) But capitalism puts most people in survival mode, which distorts the value of things. Let's look at the things that are underpaid and under-appreciated in our society:
* Teachers
* Artists (there are exceptions, but on the whole, it's true)
* People who work with the developmentally disabled

These, and possibly others, should be of the HIGHEST value, and should be getting paid the MOST to do their jobs, especially teachers. But no, corporate America wants people smart enough to run the machines but too dumb to question authority, and well-funded schools tend to produce kids that are too smart for our plutocrats to abide.

And then, too, some groups find ways to inflate the value of their work to absurd heights. A good example of this is the medical profession: important, yes, but the price of everything in the medical profession is so absurdly overpriced that doctors make money hand over fist. (If you don't think medical prices are absurdly overpriced, my roommate once got charged $300 just for a single ride in an ambulance. That's at least 1000% higher than it ought to be, and I only wish that were an exaggeration. An ambulance ride should be $30; 1000% of 30 is 300. And then you get professions like chiropractors, which back in the 90's were charging $30 for 10 minutes of pushing on your back. And therapists, charging as much as $100 an hour for you to vent your feelings at them. WTF???)

Another good example of a group artificially inflating their worth is colleges. College tuition is absurdly high, and literally the only reason for it is greed; the people running the colleges keep raising the tuition to see how many gullible people they can get to pay those ridiculous prices, putting themselves into lifelong debt they cannot legally claim bankruptcy on. Add to it the absurdly high cost for books, the fact that used books are not allowed in most colleges, and the fact that going to college is a gamble anyway, and it's a Ponzii scheme to make Enron look like chump change.

I would count sports figures in that group, too, but honestly *their* value is being inflated by the people making money selling tickets to the games, the owners of the teams. But the basic value distortion is the same: here we have a group of people who shouldn't even be able to make a career out of tossing a ball around, or at the very least should be making just enough at it to get by, but instead they're making millions of dollars every year. Honestly, the salaries for sports figures and teachers should be switched around. But capitalism encourages people to care about nothing but greed. It is an inherently evil economic system but the evil just keeps perpetuating itself because greed is a powerful motivator, and money is power.
fayanora: wtf Picard (wtf Picard)
I was just thinking on something someone said ages ago about the book "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov. What they said was that it isn't a romance story. And that's correct, it's not. But their reason, or one of the reasons for saying that, was "Humbert Humbert is an unreliable narrator." Which means that his credibility is not high. Which means, basically, that he's a liar.

I understand why they say his credibility is low, but to say he's an unreliable narrator... I don't think so. Maybe that would be true if he tried spinning us a tale of Dolores falling madly in love with him, and Quilty trying to snatch her from his loving arms so he had to defend her, but that is NOT the story he tells us.

In fact, Humbert seems quite candid, to me. He's honest about his actions and his motivations for them. He was honest about his obsession with his lost love, honest about the fact that he was obsessed with Lo as a replacement for his lost love, honest about the fact that he led Lo's mother on so he could get closer to Lo, honest about the fact that Lo was not a consenting partner in all of this, and honest that he killed Quilty because Quilty got between him and Lo, at Lo's behest.

So I'm confused. If he's supposed to be lying about something, what is he supposed to be lying about? What exactly is it that makes him an unreliable narrator? Is it just the fact that he's a child molester? If so, that's a pretty weak reason, given the evidence. If the version of the tale he gave us was him lying, I can't imagine why he would paint such an unflattering and unsympathetic image of himself for us. Because in the end, he still admitted to child sex abuse and to murder. And given that he was, as far as I can tell, only charged with murder of an adult man, I can't imagine why he would volunteer the information about his sex abuse of Dolores. Even accounting for the fact that it was a different era, I'm pretty sure sexually abusing a child was still illegal back in the 50's.

Come to think of it, thinking of things this way, there are only three possible solutions to explain these facts. Because child molesters come in two basic varieties: 1. Unrepetant repeat offenders, which lie and make excuses and never volunteer information of their crimes. 2. One-time-only offenders who feel remorse and can be rehabilitated, but who still aren't likely to volunteer information about their crimes. (Though it is possible.)

Either 1. The book never mentioned that the cops also knew what he'd done with Dolores, or 2. Humbert Humbert is a completely unrealistic depiction of a child molester written by a man who didn't have the faintest clue what such people were like, or 3. Humbert was so full of remorse for how he messed up Dolores's life that he volunteered the information about what he'd done to her.

Number 1 being true would not give any reason for him being "an unreliable narrator" other than the fact of his being a child molester and murderer, which given the fact that he confessed to those crimes and does not make excuses for them, is a weak reason.

If number 2 is true, then the fact that he's written by a man with no clue what child molesters of any kind are really like, then that basically means Nabokov was writing to deliberately make him look bad, and I can't see how his being unreliable is relevant, since he's still telling the truth, even if he is poorly written in this scenario.

And if number 3 is true, well, he's still telling the truth. Unless the truth is somehow even worse, which still wouldn't explain the unflattering and unsympathetic picture of himself that he paints for us.

So however you slice it, the only reason to call Humbert Humbert an unreliable narrator is the fact of his being a child molester, a supposition which is in direct contradiction with how he tells the story. So basically, No. He is NOT unreliable. He was wrong to do what he did, he messed up Lo's life, he murdered a man, and he deserves prison, but as far as I can tell, he was honest about his deeds, his motivations, and that what he did was wrong.*

And even if he were indeed an unreliable narrator, how exactly does that fact contribute to "This is not a romance story," when the story is literally not even remotely written as one??? Whoever said that took one fact and one supposition, neither of which was related to the other, and somehow tried to make a claim that they were related. Which is really fucked-up logic from where I'm standing.

Like I said, they're not wrong about the fact it's not a romance story. Anyone who's ever actually read the book, and paid attention, knows that much. But to use the questionable supposition of Humbert being an unreliable narrator to support that statement is just absurd.


* = The only thing I can think of is that maybe the critic in question couldn't see Humbert's honesty because it got lost in all the flowery language? Which just means that whoever it was needs to reread it a few times, and/or expand their vocabulary.
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
Something occurred to me today. So, to start with, our society considers child abuse and neglect to be some of the most heinous of crimes, even more so than murder. I'm going to set aside the ridiculousness of making the snuffing out of a unique human being to be a lesser crime than a whole slew of other things for now, and focus on something else: that there is rampant child neglect that is known to be happening but nobody is doing anything about it.

Let me here tell you what sparked this realization in me. I read a newspaper headline saying something to the effect of "New school lunch program to feed even those who can't pay." My reaction was "Well I should hope so! To refuse lunch to a child because they or their parents don't have the money to pay is basically child neglect, which is the worst form of child abuse there is." Once I consciously made that connection, others quickly fell in place.

The first was that, yes; I have always believed that letting anyone go without food or shelter or any of the basic necessities of life is a form of abuse. I just hadn't been able to put it into those words before.

Secondly was the next obvious thing: if we work from that point of view, then the upper management of places like Wal-Mart are all guilty of child neglect. By not paying their employees a living wage, they are keeping food away from children, and possibly shelter as well. We have some really fucked up priorities in this country. The government will actively take children away from loving families just because they can't afford to feed their kids. How about instead of doing that, we charge the upper management (including CEOs) of corporations like Wal-Mart with child neglect? If corporations want to be people, then they can reap ALL the rewards of being people, including its management (the brain, if you will, of the corporation) doing prison time for 1000's of counts of child neglect if they refuse to pay their employees a living wage.

Of course, we'd have to add a few more provisions to the laws:
1. Add "families with children" to the anti-discrimination laws.
2. If any corporation's management move to another country where they can't be prosecuted, then the law should let the government say "Okay, fine. In that case, you will be considered a foreign company, and you can make up the difference in extremely high tariffs. We'll use the money from those tariffs to fund Food Stamps and other welfare programs." Basically, force them to choose between paying a living wage or paying the equivalent in tariffs.

And why stop there? How about all those corporations that ignore safety problems until someone dies or is severely wounded? Let's see... charge anyone who knew about the issues AND was in a position to do something about it, with negligent homicide. And if the corporation has a policy of "don't tell us about safety issues," whether official or unofficial, charge all the upper management with negligent homicide, too. (Or reckless endangerment, or whatever else applies.)

Oh yes, and everyone in GM who knew about the faulty cars killing people, and did nothing about it, they should all be charged with negligent homicide as well.

I think these changes would be far more effective, because we live in a world now where corporations can shrug off the ridiculously small fines for their crimes. I mean hell, if we're going to continue with using fines for these crimes, the government should at least make it a figure the company will actually miss. Like 25% of their annual profits for each conviction. Let's see the corporations shrug THAT off.

Oh yeah, and any attempts by the company to hide or obscure who the guilty parties were, would be dealt with by treating all the upper management as the criminals in that case. So they'd have to rat out the individuals who knew what was going on, to save their own hides.

And let's see, what else?
Pollution: Treated as attempted mass murder, maybe? Yes, that sounds right.
Killing bees: Envirocide, conviction brings in 50% of the last two year's annual profits, all the fine money going to projects to help save the bees.
Oh yes, and Monsanto's genetically engineered frankencorn and other frankenveggies interbreeding with the normal corn of other farmers, that should be considered pollution, because it IS pollution.

So yeah, I really think we need to change the way we punish corporations for their crimes. If they were forced to choose between paying their employees a living wage, or being tarriffed for the difference, and their upper management going to prison for child neglect, if they were to face REAL, significant consequences for their crimes, then maybe they might change for the better. And if a few corporations go under because they can't recover from the consequences of their crimes, then so be it. Hand of the free market, and all that bullshit. Adapt or die.

But I doubt any of this will happen until we forbid corporate money from politics, and actually ENFORCE that rule.
fayanora: Chloe (Chloe)
On Tumblr there was a discussion about which Hogwarts houses differnt non-Potterverse characters would be in, and I decided to do that for my own characters:

For my own characters, I would put Lyria in Ravenclaw because she's brainy, even though she's also morally ambiguous and ambitious; I do this because her ambition is not self-serving, ultimately. Money is only a tool for her, and she doesn't seek power for power's sake; she has things she wants to do with that power. Good things, even if she does a lot of bad things to get that power. Lyria is also loyal, but I think her intelligence is the stronger trait, because while she would choose her loved ones over her ambitions and her inventing without a moment's hesitation, she would regret it forever if she couldn't go back to those things.

Forizano would be a Hufflepuff, because his strongest trait is loyalty. Yes, he's also brave, but he doesn't go into a situation requiring bravery unless he has to, either by being drafted into the military, or to protect the people he's loyal to.

I think I'd put Serret in Hufflepuff as well. Especially with new background info for her I came up with a few days ago. Basically, she would die for Lyria even if she knew Lyria couldn't bring her back to life.

I would put Meriel - Lyria's 9 year old daughter - in Slytherin, I think, because while she, too, is brainy enough for Ravenclaw (being at least as smart as her mom, if not as knowledgeable), she's cunning and sneaky and will go to any lengths to get what she wants. And though it hasn't really come up in the story yet, she's also very manipulative. I may even end up making her even more morally questionable than her mother is, farther down the road.

On to my Traipah universe now. I think Nokwahl... hmm... probably either Griffindor or Hufflepuff. *Thinks* I think I'll go with Griffindor, because she gladly goes into risky situations to help people in need, and if that's not bravery, I don't know what is. It's also daring, and nerve. She's also kind and compassionate, which I guess is close enough to "chivalry." (I have issues with that word.)

Alex Davison... hmm... I think I'd say Hufflepuff there. Sure he can be brave, but his bravery is a lot like Forizano's bravery. Sure, he'll also do all he can to help the innocent, but... well I guess a case could be made either way. I think the Sorting Hat might have a hard time making up its mind on him.

D'Reenah (Nokwahl's younger sister) is definitely Ravenclaw. No doubt there. Her braininess is mostly in creativity, writing, etc., but it's still braininess.
fayanora: Hermione not amused (Hermione not amused)


There’s been another school shooting, this time in Santa Barbara, and the culprit is an Aspie. We all know what’s coming: blaming autism for his actions. Which makes about as much sense as blaming someone’s actions on their being male, or on their preferring pistachio flavored ice cream.

We need to have a serious talk in the media about how wrong it is to blame mentally ill people for being violent, when it's almost always violence and ableism and bullying that causes people to snap in the first place, and that most people who snap do so internally and shut down or commit suicide, and only a very few will snap outwardly, which is true of all people, even neurotypicals. Push anyone hard enough and they will either implode or explode, and whether they're mentally ill or not has very little to do with which they will go with; and my guess is, that if being mentally ill affects that outcome at all, it will affect it more towards implosion than explosion.

All these school shootings are not a fucking coincidence, they are happening for a reason, and that reason is that our entire fucking society is broken and needs to be repaired or replaced. A broken society creates broken people. Even if mental illness or mental difference *did* somehow correlate to violence, the cause is the same: society. School is a fucking war zone these days, and was long before Columbine. School sucked when I was growing up, and it has gotten at least 10 times worse if I can believe all the things I've read, and I do. We overload our kids with so much homework - an activity that doesn't even do anything positive - that they break down into tears and get PTSD. Nothing is done about bullying, and that adds to the stress, and creates depression and climbing suicide rates. School is literally Hell these days, and we wonder why our kids are suffering. The system is broken, if it ever worked in the first place, and needs to be replaced, because I believe it is beyond repair. And we can go a long way towards fixing those problems by taxing the rich, giving more money to our schools, and replacing the broken school system with a better one. We can go even further along the road of peace by removing the stressors that cause violence, by making sure everyone has enough food and water, has dependable shelter, and people don't have to work themselves to death just to survive. Do that, and crime and violence will plummet like a stone through air.

These issues, after all, do not exist in bubbles apart from each other. Taxes affect education, education affects mental health and stress levels, basic survival affect stress levels of kids and parents alike, high stress in adults leads towards a heightened chance of domestic abuse which causes more stress for the kids, and heightened stress levels that never really let down will cause a certain percentage of all kids, whether neurotypical or not, to become violent. It's basic "fight or flight." And since the adult world is little better in some ways and worse than others, some people just feel there is no fleeing, and that fighting is the only option. Fix the tax system by taxing the rich and punishing those who evade taxes, combined with coming up with a newer and better education system, will go a LONG way towards slashing the rate of violence.

In the mean time, blaming mental illness on the violence without looking at the real causes of the violence is just as effective toward solving the violence crisis as Republican denial of climate change is going to solve that crisis.

The world is changing, and we don't need mindless manufacturing worker drones anymore; we need intelligent minds to invent ways for us to abandoned short-sighted capitalism and move towards a future where everyone can be free of the stress of not having enough food or shelter and clothes, and can focus instead on chasing their dreams and contributing in meaningful ways to society. We have the technology already to provide more than enough energy, food, and shelter to everyone on the planet several times over. The only thing keeping us back is the greedy capitalist system and the even greedier, short-sighted fools who benefit from this system. And if we don't start acting soon, we will self-destruct our entire species, whether by environmental catastrophe, increasing outbreaks of violence, or both.

So please, let's stop blaming the victims of the system and start placing the blame in the hands of the system victimizing them, and the more-real hands of the people whose profit and greed makes them the real victimizers.
fayanora: pensive (pensive)
So [personal profile] alex_antonin just wrote this awesome post about solipsism and how it is the cause of 90% of humanity's problems. If you've ever wondered about the origin of stereotypes about gays and lesbians, like the one that homosexuality and pedophilia are the same thing; or if you've ever wondered where things comments "next we'll be legalizing marriage to goats!" come from, then this post will explain it: CLICK ME.
fayanora: Fay doll icon by me, original pic by Lady Dark (Fay Doll still)


I have never understood this kind of BS armor. The female warriors in my fantasy writing have proper armor that covers everything, even the head and face. (Except the eyes.) Lyria's soldiers all have essentially identical-looking armor, and it's impossible to tell the males from the females when they're in full armor.

Lyria herself does not appear to wear armor, but does in fact wear mithril (living silver with the strength of adamantium) armor under her clothes. Kialu Laiu, a female Faery warrior character, also wears mithril armor. Mithril can shapeshift at the mental command of its wearer, so their whole bodies can become protected if need be. Lyria also wears a magical belt that provides an invisible personal force shield. Her daughter, Meriel, also wears a force-shield belt. (Though she is too young to be a warrior.)

The way mithril moves, one could wear only mithril armor and it would be both sexy and protect everything. Which Lyria, as an asexual, wouldn't like, which is why she wears the armor under her clothes. Kialu is a Fae, so she likes elegance, and she doesn't think of "mithril only" as being elegant enough for her taste.

And why adamantium for Lyria's soldiers, and not mithril? Because adamantium is easier to make, and cheaper. Mithril is so hard to make that Lyria, as the only human taught how to make it, can get the equivalent of half a million dollars for a bit of mithril the size of a baseball.

EDIT: People have made some good points, and one of them is that "mithril" was an Elven word in Tolkein's stuff. So I've decided to go with a bastardization of Czech, and call the living metal "zivotnikov." I've also decided that zivotnikov will be sentient, know its owners, and refuse to cooperate with thieves. The value is also different. I don't know how much, but a good point was made that a baseball's size of metal isn't much.

A thought.

Feb. 14th, 2013 08:51 pm
fayanora: by lj user holdonbaby (Elle looks up)
So when the trio needed to get into Hogwarts toward the end of the 7th book, why didn’t they have Kreacher help? He could’ve apparated them all in!

Also, what happened to Professor Trelawney?
fayanora: by lj user holdonbaby (Elle looks up)
Not long ago, Alex made a post quite uncharacteristic of himself, over in his LJ/DW. He talked about how he was tired of always feeling like he had to be "the angry one," and how he felt like he has to keep maintaining this facade in order to keep himself active and distinct. (In his mood at the time, quite forgetting all the times he remains distinct even when happy or sad.) He was quite genuinely worried, or else he wouldn't have written it to begin with, and surely would not have posted it if the worry had not been genuine.

Well, Pi at least must have heard him, and listened. Pi has been more active since then. He's written two new poems since then, we went out on a walk one night, and the summer weather has been bringing him out more, in the form of hisses and other discomfited noises whenever bright sunlight gets in our eyes or the temperature gets too high.

Which of course made me wonder, today, a sort of chicken/egg question: Which came first, the body's discomfort at bright sunlight and heat, or Pi? Did Pi form, at least in part, because of the body's preferences, or the other way around?

Of course, looking back on it, unless some kind of proto-Pi always existed, I think the body always had those preferences, because of it being a ginger. Easily sunburned, always had sensitive eyes, etc. Though I do remember going outside a lot more as a child. I remember being able to tolerate it better even in my teens. Like I've been slowly losing what little tolerance I had for heat and sunshine ever since Pi.

And I can't deny, there is a difference between Pi's preferences and the body's tolerances. It's kind of weird in here, actually. Pi likes the darkness, even has trouble with artificial lights sometimes. (Whereas the body only has trouble with artificial lights if its having a migraine.) Pi actually LIKES Portland winters, and the constant grey light of them. Whereas Alex merely tolerates pretty much any and all weather. (Seriously, Alex's comfort zone is so narrow it only occurs in nature once every three years, I swear.) And then Molly hates grey skies, prefers the skies to be either pure white with fluffy clouds, or bright blue, or both. She can't stand the heat or direct sunlight much better than the rest of us, but doesn't mind bright yet indirect sunlight, so long as it's cool and/or breezy outside.

That reminds me of other in-system differences. The body experiences greater physical strength when directed by Pi, Negarahn, or Alex, than for any of the others. Alex and Lo share a lot of music in common, but some things Lo loves drive Alex up the wall. Most of us hate country-western "music," except for Molly, who LOVES it. (Of course, she also loves "earworm" songs, and sings them over and over and over again until the rest of us go completely mad.) Most of us prefer dark colors; favorite colors range from black to dark blue or dark green, and other dark shades. Whereas Molly's favorite colors are shocking pink and bright yellow; she also has a fondness for the "neon" shades. True to her status as the inner child, Molly LOOOOVES bright colors.

~ ~ ~

*Sigh* Because of becoming recently aware of my issues with psychic noise, I was thinking of going to this free psychic self defense lecture tomorrow. But the damn thing is tomorrow and they don't even have a location for it yet! I'll hopefully check it from the library tomorrow in time to go, and hopefully it will be somewhere I can get to and get back from without too much trouble. We shall see.

Vulcans

Aug. 9th, 2012 04:33 pm
fayanora: pensive (pensive)
Earlier, I thought about what the Ah'Koi Bahnis, specifically a Shao'Bahn, would say if someone explained the Vulcan philosophy to them. The response I got was, "I have never heard anything so completely absurd." Pushing the matter further by asking why it's absurd, the Shao'Bahn answered, "Because suppressing emotion never works for long. The bottled emotions build in power and intensity until eventually they will come exploding out. Assuming the Vulcans, as advertised, were even possible, they would eventually experience a personality implosion. They would go completely, irrevocably insane. Violently insane. Their race could never work as explained, through suppression; they would either revert to their old ways or kill themselves off in the bloodiest incidence of species-wide psychotic rage ever. They would not have lasted more than 100 years or so attempting it. The Vulcans, as they have been explained by the canon, are impossible, and therefore absurd."

I poked a little further, and from the Shao'Bahn perspective, the only way to even get close to the Vulcans as they appear on the show is if, instead of suppression, they had a buffer between their emotions and their behavior; they would still feel emotions, they would just be able to choose how to behave in response, sort of like the soldier who puts aside his or her grief or other inconvenient emotions for later. But such a buffer wouldn't last long. If the behavior they chose didn't satisfy the emotion's need to be expressed, it would need to be dealt with in private later, or could get into "bottling" territory.

Still, even with that system, you still wouldn't get the appearance of the cold, logical Vulcan, not always. It would be unhealthy to do so. Bottled emotions can do a lot of psychic damage. I should know, I have years of personal experience with such things.

Ha! OMG, I just checked to see what the Shao'Bahn would say if confronted by a real, honest to goodness Vulcan as they appear in canon. Her basic response was "You must have used genetic engineering on your whole species; otherwise, what you say you've done would have been completely impossible. The mind just doesn't work that way, without being modified somehow first."

Another thought I had about Vulcans: I wonder if there were any groups popping up after First Contact with the Vulcans, of people convinced the Vulcans were responsible for historical sightings of elves or Faeries. :-)
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
Enlightenment is a never-ending process, not a destination. It is not a place you can reach with enough work; the work never ends. The road to enlightenment is a circle. Yet you always make forward progress, as long as you walk the path, and even when you find yourself ending at the beginning and beginning at the ending, you are better off than you were before. The hamster that runs in his wheel is mocked cruelly by the hamster that does NOT run in his wheel, yet which one is better off?

By making no progress, you make progress. This is a paradox, but then, what isn't? The people of Traipah have a word: ny'ky'kii'oks. It means "life is paradox." When you realize that everything is a paradox, you become enlightened.

Chaos and Order are viewed, erroneously, as two distinct entities. Those who percieve existence as largely Orderly say Chaos is the lack of Order. Those who view existence as largely Chaotic view Order as an illusion, or another form of Chaos, since it is true that "imposition of Order leads to escalation of Disorder." (Or "imposition of Anti-Chaos leads to escalation of Chaos.) But the truth is far more esoteric even than that. Order and Chaos are, in fact, two ends of a single spectrum.

Click here for the whole long thing. )

All for now!

Drahk

Jul. 28th, 2012 02:18 am
fayanora: by lj user holdonbaby (Elle looks up)
The people who made Babylon 5 always did an excellent job on the effects. Even when you could tell it was CGI, it didn't matter, because it was good enough that the excellent story made us ignore the effects. (Though I have had a lot of fun, this time around, spotting who amongst one race played another. Like the Narn character who was obviously played by the same man who played a lot of the speaking Drazi characters. He has a distinctive voice.)

Except in one case: the Drahk. Now, the Drahk were supposed to be the apprentices of the Shadows, making them Big Scary Evil, right? Well, when we see them... the makeup is a joke, and looks like a bad Halloween costume. As if to try to cover their mistake, and apparently inspired by the fact that we almost never saw the Shadows more than a little, they made the Drahk all blurry, like they were always moving really fast even when they were standing still. This was a mistake, because it makes the Drahk look even cornier than they would have anyway. And as if those two mistakes weren't bad enough, the actors playing the Drahk made them constantly in motion, like they had ADHD or something and couldn't hold still. This had the appearance of someone harmless trying to look scary and failing miserable. All in all, I would not be afraid of a Drahk if I met one in a dark alley; I would laugh. Hell, Vir Cotto is scarier than the Drahk!

But those one-eyed tentacle monsters that sit on people's shoulders and pull their strings... THOSE are terrifying.

A thought

Jul. 23rd, 2012 08:32 pm
fayanora: Steph perv (Steph perv)
The Ah'Koi Bahnis have a long, retractable, prehensile penis that looks like a very large green roundworm. The Centauri males of Babylon 5 also have a large, retractable, prehensile penis, which looks a little like a squid tentacle. I find myself in the strange position of wondering what a, uh... "swordfight" between the two would look like.

My brain is a strange place.

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