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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Netflix What If?

If you got "Arrival" and "The Departed" from Netflix at the same time, does that cause a black hole?

What if the Death Star Used Lighsabers?

What if the Death Star's laser cannon is just a bunch of lightsabers or lightsaber crystals fused together. Wouldn't that be ironic?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The March for Science Write-Up

So as I mentioned before that I was going to the March for Science in St. Paul, Minnesota. And given the amount of trepidation I've had over it, I figure I'd be remiss if I didn't leave a note. You see, ever since Trump was elected, I felt I had to do something against this evil authoritarian/bully. I considered the Women's march successful IMO -- especially given the contrast to the previous day's dismal inauguration. People I admire on Twitter documented it, and I watched. My own sister was there in Boston. And moreover, it emphasized the feeling of "I've got to do something against this regime, because if no one does anything, that's when they win."

So after playing Starcraft for a little while (it's free, you know), I got in my car and headed to downtown St. Paul, toward the Science Museum parking ramp. And I put in my motivational music, music to foster the rebellion's purpose inside me, which was... I don't want to say... Come on, do I have to?

Fine, it was Newsies. But just the good songs, okay? Fine? There, I told you. Anyway, because there was a Minnesota Wild game (playoffs) also happening at 2:00. As a result, parking at the ramp was $20 (which is quite high). I walked up to street level, where the Wild pre-game activities were going on. But it wasn't hard to find some other marchers, so I just followed them. More and more gathered and soon it was a mass that blocked traffic. I don't think we were supposed to block traffic on this route, but it felt like the march had begun. Until we stopped.

At this point, the anxiety began. I felt very exposed and alone. People were taking pictures, marching with friends and family, holding up signs. I was alone in my black polo shirt, trying to blend in. Not that I thought riots would break out, but I'm meant to be the observer, not the observed. Made me wish I'd taken another venlafaxine that morning. There were a lot of families there and it made me miss my own. Not that I asked they be here -- this is something I wanted to do for myself. But it would have made a great Girl Scout project.

The point I stopped was a street corner before Cathedral Hill Park (where the starting point was supposed to be). I could see the Capitol building from my uphill angle. At this point it's about 10:30-10:40 -- the march starts at 11:00, so I had time to kill. But there was plenty to look at -- science signs and costumes, many witty and colorful. I can't remember where I read it, but one of the ways to make a successful movement is to make protests fun. Yes, that seems contradictory, but on-the-fencers won't attend if the process is drudgerous. No one wants to chant like monks walking up a hill, banging a book against their heads. This felt like a convention. I didn't catch anyone around me being too political. Presence there was enough, and there's no point in preaching to the choir.

I could see the march's start -- people holding a banner like a barricade -- and the capitol was not two blocks away. Short march, I guess. From where I stood, I was already halfway there. Then there was a movement of people, and I just followed them. I didn't see anyone there who wasn't already part of the march. Several people were standing at the sides watching, holding signs. I'm not sure why they weren't marching -- they weren't taking pictures and it didn't seem like they would have been in people's way. Nor were they dressed in a way that they wanted to be seen. 

With shuffling steps, we moved to the lawn in front of the Capitol. I was able to maneuver into a shady spot under a tree when I looked at the clock. Ten minutes. That whole thing took ten minutes, and there was still fifty minutes until any speakers were to begin. And it wasn't supposed to end until 2:00.

This brings me to my main thought. It was all... kind of boring. Besides the waiting, the speakers weren't very interesting or notable (all were local). D.C. got Bill Nye and ?uestlove. A few times I thought about ducking out -- I already did my part. I didn't need to listen to people in the science industry eloquenting about the value of science (see prev. statement re: preach/choir). But that wouldn't be very honorable. People were going to be taking pictures of this event and every head adds one. 

Besides some interstitial kids reading prepared statements, there were four speakers. Three worked in the field of science. One was a politician (a St. Paul senator) who didn't sound like she'd written her speech the night before (but I think that's par for the course for politicians). Among the 13-18 year olds, some were better speakers than others. One reminded me of Vanessa Bayer's "Laura Parsons" character on SNL Weekend Update, the child actress who reads news that's way too adult.

It was scheduled to end at 2pm, but at 12:50, the last speaker had finished. And everyone turned around and went home. Like literally. No pomp or circumstance or pledges to take action or resolutions by congresspeople. We just started walking back the same way we came. And it felt a lot longer the way back. It didn't feel as immediate or vengeful (in a good way) as the Women's march was, but that makes some sense. After that Access Hollywood video leak, I would feel defensive and vulnerable too. But also, after all the tweets and build-up (some of which was made in my head), I'm left wondering...

I look over to Washington at the higher-ups on Capitol Hill. I know Donald Trump doesn't give Fuck One about climate change or environmental regulations or "facts". Those things impede his business from making profits. And the congresspeople and cabinet members are either "on his team" or looking the other way so they're not targeted. Is any of this going to change anyone's mind? Did it make a difference? Did I have an impact? Did any of it matter? Was any of this worth the stress I placed on myself?

I guess time will tell.

Monday, April 24, 2017

More What Ifs from The Little Mermaid

What if Ursula never gave Ariel a vagina? What if she didn't know what one looked like, since she's been under the sea for so long and has no interest in humans. So she just left her blank down there, like a Barbie doll, because she didn't know there was supposed to be something else. That would explains Ariel's lack of reaction to the new features between her legs (in that there wasn't anything to react to).

Boy, wouldn't that be a surprise for dear old Princey.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why I Shall March

When Donald Trump became president in January, it became immediately apparent that this was not going to be a run-of-the-mill presidency. Iran-Contra scandals and blow jobs in the oval office--those are issues that reach far away and don't affect me. Let the kings play their game of thrones, I have a family to maintain.

But this one's different. I worried about George W. Bush, but he played a political game. This one has made promises that will affect my friends. They will worsen the lives of people I know, people I work with, creative people like artists and authors, even porn stars I like. To say nothing of making others suffer.

Granted, it's appearing that the big braggy show won't be as immediate (or even as constitutional) as thought before (given the failure of health care and the "Muslim ban"). But that's because people are fighting. They're going to town halls, they're talking to representatives, they're paying attention. Good for them. Those people are my heroes, because... I'm simply not capable of doing that. I'm too introverted. They say the most effective way to fight is to call your congressperson, but I could never do that. Yes, people more introverted than me have--there are even scripts you can read--but I just couldn't. People have listed "step-by-step" what to do so that it's easy. But I HATE the phone.

I could write a letter. Not even an e-mail, but one that's typed and stamped and everything. But the written word is too easy to ignore. You could write pages and pages and they end up in the circular file. But I've got to do something.

It would be easy to sit down as I've always done: watch the world pass, go to work every day, eat a good breakfast, and wear my seat belt. But that's not what a hero would do. It's not what's right to do. I have to show my daughters that being a good person is important in day-to-day, but to enact change, it takes sacrifice.

Now I'm saying what I'm doing is, in the grand scheme of things, any great feat. It's no Rosa Parks or even a Million Man March. It's no MS Walk-a-thon. I'm not saying what I'm doing will affect anything. But it's a hurdle for me. At work, I can go for days at a time without saying a word to anyone.

But ever since Trump was elected, I feel like there's a bad guy out there to fight against. There's a Emperor Palpatine/Nurse Ratched/Red Skull/Henry Potter out there, the kind heroes fight against. Even if it's just sending a message. Or I'll just be one of those people who said nothing when they came for the Jews/Muslims/Klingons/what-have-you. I've got to do something, even if it means being another head in the crowd. That's one more head, one more voice. I read that the "tax march" had some effect of irritating him. If that's all the March for Science can do, that's enough for me.

A lot of people have compared what's happening to Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. I think this trivializes the situation a bit (one is a real person who can affect real life, the other is a revenant with no nose who can talk to snakes). Even J.K. Rowling said that Voldemort was "nowhere near as bad" as Trump. Probably because the things Trump does are real. Also, Voldemort never targeted specific races or genders. He was never nepotistic. He never used his power to accumulate wealth for himself (which is kinda obsolete when you got magic anyway). And he never wasted time at his restaurant or golf course.

But the thing about books is that they are "life-simulators". They allow us to escape into a totally different situation and see what would happen. And sometimes what should be done about it. And in this, the similarities can't be dismissed: a totalitarian taking power, who advocates torture, removal and blockade of "undesirable" foreign others, who favors loyalty over capability, focused on "winners vs. losers", spreading misinformation. And the theme of Harry Potter is "doing what's right versus doing what's easy".

It's thankful that he is only one man, and that the point of Congress and the Supreme Court is to override when necessary (and they've done so sometimes) but the partisanship is ridiculous. "My constituents and basic morality disagree with what you say, but you're on my team so that's more important. You may be an asshole, but you're my asshole." There must be accountability. If there is not, that's how we end up with Kings who think their right to rule was given by God so no one can protest. You end up with Catholic priests allowed to continue molestations. You have police taking unjustifiable actions with their firearms.

I hope you enjoyed my ranty thoughts about this. The fact is, this has been an internally raging battle within myself for the past four months -- should I go, would I go, could I go. It's a big step for me--it's very outside my comfort zone. But, as all the motivational posters say, do things outside your comfort zone. Do things that scare you. You regret the things you didn't do more than the things you did. You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take. Jesus saves, but Gretzky rebounds, he shoots, he scores.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Soraya LeBlanc

Here's a character I made up for some Reddit thing that's going nowhere.

Name: Soraya LeBlanc
Occupation: a wizard, specializing in divination and transfiguration
Age: forty, been in magic training since eighteen
Where: born in south of France, in a rural area. She's a big city girl like Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City"
Motivation: obtaining wealth and luxury, but not through marriage if she can avoid it (unless that gets her to a goal -- she's interested in what's hers, not what someone else owns)
Tool of choice: Magic--using divination to predict the future to profit from the outcome or transfiguration to make things into more valuable things. Also uses her "milf-ness" to advantage when needed.
Education: Bonne Motte's School for Development of Magic for Girls
Likes: Fine foods, bright colors, thick books
Dislikes: Dirt, vegetables, things that are gross (grew up with two little brothers who annoyed her to no end with pet frogs and boogers)
Quirk: Obsessed with clean teeth, always makes sure they're white and spotless, spends money on this
Symbols: Adorned with fake roses, but really wears fluffy things underneath

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Words for the Weak

We need some new words for when someone is acting weak or cowardly. Like real derogatory insulting ones. All the good ones we have nowadays imply some unchangeable characteristic of a subgroup i.e., they're all references to women. Women are not weak and not cowards, so these no longer have any meaning. Yelling at someone "stop being a girl" carries no weight when people exist like Ronda Rousey and Malala Yousafzai and Simone Biles and Hillary Clinton and Winona LaDuke and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elizabeth Warren and Leslie Jones and Emma Watson and on and on.

The word "pussy" refers to female anatomy. I guess if you don't have a penis, you're missing the thing that gives you strength. Clearly, this one's gotta go right out. And no, I don't think there's a way to change this into meaning "a cat". We'd just be fooling ourselves. And I wouldn't want to implicitly insult cats that way either.

I can't use "wimp", because that's what nine-year-olds say when they're too afraid to cuss. It's what they used in PG movies in the 1980's like E.T. Plus it might also be derived from something feminine. There's a thing called a "wimpole" which is a head/neck covering for women. But it probably came from Wimpy, the hamburger-lover in Popeye.

The word "wuss" is just a combination of "wimp" and "pussy" so that's right out. (and for you fact seekers, this word was invented recently, first used in "Fast Times as Ridgemont High" (1982) -- I love these research topics).

For "chicken", all I can think of is Back to the Future II and III, where Marty has a forced personality quirk where he never backs down if he's called a "chicken" (or "yella'", if you're in the old west). It's so odd, the word's lost meaning. Also chicken is delicious.

The word "pansy" is derived from a flower and is derogatory for an effeminate gay man. Can't use that one.

Quite obviously, "sissy"is rooted from the word sister. Feminine.

"nidgit" -- I found this one while looking up other candidates. Problem is, this is WAY too close to another "N" word.

Don't ever say I'm a man who only points out problems but never provides solutions. There are few words that we might be able to substitute in, maybe to the point of getting them adopted to full-time use.

"git" -- well, we steal everything else from the British, why not keep going? "Git" (not referring to the code repository) means "worthless person", origin: 1946, derived from the Scottish originator "get" which means "illegitimate child, brat" (because it comes from "beget"). It's a bit terse, doesn't invoke the intended vindiction well, but it's our best bet, I think.

"jackhole" -- I believe Adam Carolla created this when he needed something to use on the air that couldn't be censored. It sounds like a swear--combining the less offensive parts of "jackass" and "asshole", throwing a bit of "jack-off" for good measure--but has nothing inherently offensive about it. It's a delightful Trojan horse that, if properly applied, can become contextualized.

"coward" -- sometimes you just go for the denotative term. I think it's too formal for modern use, but it's often my go-to when I need to call someone what they are.

"caitiff" -- Now here's a word that fits the need but no one uses. It's just sitting there waiting. And they sound great. "Caitiff" means "wicked man" or "scoundrel" in 1300, rooted in Old North French for "captive". A bit old timey and not exactly hitting the nail on the head, but I like the idea of someone captive to their own weakness. And with no current connotation, the slate is clean to appropriate it for our purposes.

"poltroon" -- another old-timer, for those who like the "p" sound in "pussy" and "pansy", here's one for you. It means "coward/scoundrel" and from Middle French. As far as I can tell, the deepest root of this word comes from "couch" or "pillow", which implies laziness, I guess?

"weakling" -- it's a word that's used today, but I so often seen it in video games, usually referring to minions or cannon fodder. That makes it not a strong candidate. The "-ling" suffix makes me think of a group (compare "zergling"). Another flaw is that it comes from Luther's "Weichling" which means "effeminate man", even though I don't think anyone associates that anymore.

So there are my new, cool, hip words. Spread them around like wildfire.