Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hell is time spent with my family

Can I start with "FUCK!"?  Because, seriously, fuck.

Today was just supposed to be shoring up the fence.  That was it.  That was all of it.

So of course we don't do any work on the god damned fence for forever and then my sister says she's leaving and I keep on asking what's happening to me because she's the one with the car and she won't god damned answer but it eventually transpires that we're going to my mother's concert and I could use some advanced notice about these things but I have time to rinse the top layer of sweat and dirt off of me and change into non-sweat drenched clothes and we arrive late and I'm naturally malnourished and dehydrated as all hell which means that the fact that the new conductor (this was sort of the old one's retirement celebratation) has roots in percussion which means "Hit shit with other shit but make it fucking loud," probably isn't for the best because I have a headache on a level that can only be topped by a concussion (which I thankfully do not have at the moment) and after the concert things get bad.

If I hadn't been worked too hard and fed and watered too little the concert probably would have been great --I like my mom's band and the things they usually play-- though the fact that we were late was a problem and the fact that I rushed myself into new exhaustion to not make us later with the speed of the rinse and change and then we didn't move was kind of a problem.

But there was also a Jensen.  And that's a good thing.  Three and a half year old full of innocence and fun.

But things were already headed to shit and I'm not talking about my dehydration or lack of nourishment.  My mom's boyfriend is an ass.  There was a time when I was less open about saying that.  I'd talk about being worried about possible warning signs in wishy-washy ways.  I'm passed that.  He's a fucking asshole and whatever positives he has had better be pretty damn amazing because my mother deserves better than "asshole".

Plus, she already had that with my father who has mellowed significantly but is still an ass to this day, but we get off topic.

Halloween is tomorrow, my sister is supposed to have several hours to work on Jensen's costume before handing him off to my mom because my mom is supposed to be going to dinner with her boyfriend (where he'll presumably show his positive traits, the ones I never see) except he's thrown a fit and is ready to leave her in the lurch as soon as he can find an L word to do it with.

So now my sister has no idea what the fuck is going on and is trying to do work on the costume during the concert, he storms out soon after we arrive, though in a show of his neutral traits the acknowledgement he gives me as he passes is perfectly acceptable.  I've seen him neutral.  I've seen him, usually at a remove, bad.  I've never seen him good.  But he does neutral with all of the skill that many overt assholes lack.

At the end of the concert my I bring Jensen on the stage with me, he says hi to my mom, he calls her Bee instead of something meaning "grandmother" for whatever reason, and I lead him through the process of picking up and putting away his first music stand.

My sister and I have helped the band pick up since we were small, but I very much doubt we did it at three and a half.  So that's cute.

But then my mother is trying to contact her boyfriend to find out what the Hell is up and he's not answering, and my sister is complaining about the fact that she needs to go right now because she left part of the costume at home and she's not legally allowed to take Jensen home and so we need to part ways and she needs to go which she's not doing because she's fucking talking about needing to go instead of going like she needs to and FUCK!

For future reference, if you need to go right now this is what you do:
Step one: Say that you need to go right now.

Step two: Leave already.
Yes, she needed to establish that my mother was taking Jensen, but since that was done . . . fuck.

Members of my family have perfected the Vogon poetry genre that is, "I need to go but not nearly so much as I need to bombard you with words about how I need to go until blood starts dripping out of your ears."

It's a much wider genre than you'd think, and oh my fucking god is it painful.  Sometimes we forget that words, ordinary words as opposed to something like hate speech or bullying, can hurt.  Let me remind all readers: words can hurt.  [Insert death by torture comparison here, probably explicit and gory crucifixion description along with praise of how much more merciful it would be.]

Eventually we (my mother and I) get Jensen to a playground to work off some of his energy.  Could be where I lost my fan.  Did I mention how hot the concert was?  Fuck do they need better air conditioning.  It was a very nice folding fan with wood frame and orange fabric of some kind, almost certainly not silk, as the fan surface.

My mother still makes excuses for her boyfriend.

My aunt is still evil.

Everything is still shit.

Lawyers dwell on small details.

We picked up pizza.

That was supposed to have us arriving at our eventual destination at the same time as my sister who is going back to the house Jensen can't legally be taken to to pick up the missing costume part.

Eventual destination is my dad's place, and anyone who knows anything about my family could reasonably conclude, just from the words ahead of the "and" in this sentence that this is not going to end well.

Lots of waiting for my sister during which tempers flare.  At some point I note that the person talking about how much better it would be if we just knew where Jen was is the proud owner of a cell phone and could just call her.  Apparently that's not as fun as complaining, but things do settle down for a time.

Jen arrives, this is the time she was supposed to be working on the costume while my mom was with her boyfriend so she gets to work on that but my dad goes from peeved to pissed off to "why didn't we install cooling rods in this thing, evacuate everyone downwind because this will make Chernobyl look like the most non radioactive thing in the history of things that aren't radioactive," at a decent clip.

When he finds out about the whole, she was supposed to have more time to sew, and there isn't that much to sew, so this wouldn't have been a problem if things had been as they were promised he calms down a bit, but then time drags on.

And on.

And I didn't sign up for this shit.  I didn't know about the concert, I certainly didn't sign on to be sitting in the middle of this pit of anger and harsh interactions for hours on end.

I was just supposed to work on a fence.

I'm trying to keep my head down and doing most of the interaction with Jensen, everyone else seems to be putting great effort into getting their most abrasive side forward and rubbing.

While I avoid any direct confrontation, the shrapnel hurts.

It all would be done much faster if people didn't insist on taking time out to be irritating to one another.  Except it should be noted that the previous "seems" (two paragraphs back, look and you shall find) is indeed just a "seems".  In fact they do this by nature and god help us all if they ever start mindfully acting in such a manner because that is a force that could tear civilization itself apart.

Then it's done.

Is that the end of it?  Of course not.

My dad's trying to insist that everyone else leave, and when no one listens he talks about leaving (his own home) himself.  Let me repeat myself:

Members of my family have perfected the Vogon poetry genre that is, "I need to go but not nearly so much as I need to bombard you with words about how I need to go until blood starts dripping out of your ears."

And it's done, and every fucking person but me and the three and a half year old are complaining about how they have to go now, and NO ONE IS GOD DAMNED LEAVING.

More suffering.

I don't know who I'm leaving with.  I was thinking and hoping it would be my mom.  Was my dad.  He's bad enough when he doesn't have legitimate grievance.

Some asshole turns the corner ahead of us, switches to reverse, backs back around the corner, and back down the road, when he shows no signs of slowing my dad beeps at him.  No good.  He stops where he was apparently planning on stopping anyway, which happens to overlap with the space our car is in.  Apparently no real damage was done but . . .

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

I'm not entirely convinced the fact that I made it home alive is a good thing.

And taxes are due next month.  $65o-something?  $670-something?  It's the same every time but I always have to look it up.

So yay.  I'm still dehydrated.  I'm going to drink some water.  If I were to actually drink enough to be hydrated it would take so long that I'd be able to add sleep deprived of the list of things I am.

Fuck.  Fuck.  And did I mention "Fuck"?


And this doesn't even get started on the shit going on with Jensen's biological father.

On the good side while he will be in Maine instead of New York where he was pretending he just moved to get custody, he doesn't want to see Jensen for at least two weeks.  If we could make it two decades that would be better, but I have so little to take that I have to take what I can get.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

From a purely financial standpoint, overdraft fees make no sense.

Now, let us be clear here, if you throw out everything about finances and view the world through a paradigm best described as "EVIL!" (all caps and exclamation point compulsory) they make perfect sense.  But let us not do that at this moment and instead think of what an overdraft is and what would make sense when one occurs.

You've got a bunch of stuff going on on one day.  Money is coming into your account, money is going out of your account.  When all is said and done, you should have $28.73 left in your account.  That's good because in two days you need to pay $20 even.  This is a tough time for you, things are riding close to the edge of ruin, but it's ok.  The closest you'll come to emptying your account again is having $63.81, and after that you'll never have fewer than 100 dollars in your account.

But things don't go right.

On the day a bunch of stuff happens everything goes out of order.  Payments to you take too long to clear, payments from you clear right away.  Your account goes negative: -$1.98 cents.

By day's end all payments have cleared and everything is done.  What just happened?

You had an overdraft of $1.98 and the bank made a loan to you to cover that $1.98.  Makes sense, banks do loans.  That's how they make money.  Mortgages, car loans, business loans, personal loans, loan this, loan that.

The bank loaned you $1.98 for less than one day.  Let's round up for the sake of ease.  Say the bank loaned you $1.98 for one whole day.  The average rate for a bank loan is 3.something%  Again, for the sake of ease, let's round up.  4%.

4% annual interest rate continually compounding is an APY of a little over 4.08%.  That's a bad deal because of the rounding up we did, but let's get back to the loan that the overdraft was.

It was $1.98 for a day, not for a year.

Well, there's an easy way to tell how much that is after a day.

(For time t after taking out a loan)
[What you owe] = [what you were loaned]*e([interest rate]*t)

So we plug in some numbers:
--You were loaned 1.98
--The interest rate was 4% per year, which is expressed as .04
--You paid back the loan in one day so t = [one over the number of days in a year], which is:
     1/365.2425 (have to remember leap years)

So we plug that in:

[what you owe when you pay back the loan] = 1.98*e.04*(1/365.2425)

And we get this:

[what you owe when you pay back the loan] = 1.98*1.0001095...
[what you owe when you pay back the loan]= 1.980216854109...

A little over $1.98 (interest on a single day is seldom very much) banks round up so that you don't get shit for free, which means that you owe $1.99, right?

So at the end of the day you have $28.72 left in your account, more than enough to cover the coming $20 draw, and at the next tight point you'll hit a bottom of $63.80, and then it's smooth sailing because the next low point is more than $100 and you'll never dip under $100 again.


Well, no.

You get hit for 35 dollars.  You end the day with -$6.27, the next time anything comes out of your account at all, even a penny, you'll get another overdraft because there is less than nothing in there.  So when that $20 is supposed to come out with $8.73 to spare, you get hit for another 35 dollars.  Meaning that that time you were going to have a mere $63.81 in your account?  Yeah, that's $6.19 more than you have in your account.  You get hit for another $35.

Now you have $105 fewer dollars in your account than expected meaning that the whole "never have fewer than $100 in your account" has been transformed into "Your balance will never go lower than negative $5" which isn't very comforting.

All of this because you got charged $35 for a one day loan of $1.98.  Some interest rate.  But how much?

* * *

Well, we flip the equation.  Now the interest rate is unknown but we do know [what you owe when you pay back the loan].  So we plug in what we know and then just solve for [interest rate]

1.98+35 = 1.98*e[interest rate]*(1/365.2425)
36.98 = 1.98*e[interest rate]*(1/365.2425)
divide both sides by 1.98
18.6767... = e[interest rate]*(1/365.2425)
Get rid of the "e" by taking the natural log
2.927280... = [interest rate] * (1/365.2425)
Multiply to isolate interest rate:
1,069.1672... = [interest rate]
convert to percent
106,916.72...% = [interest rate]

Now remember, this is APR not APY.  APY is the one that you really want to look at.  Fortunately the conversion equation is easy.  The APY is . . .

Ok, so here's the thing.  For numbers that start with .0 APR and APY tend to be close, for credit cards they start to diverge, by the time you get to an APR of 1 (100%) you have an APY of 1.72ish (172%ish) and from there it gets, well, exponential.  I mean, it already was, but after you pass one things explode.

An APR of 10 (1,00%) is an APY of 22,025.47ish (2,202,547%)
An APR of 100 (10,00%) is an APY of 26 tredecillion.  26--fourty two zeroes--decimal point

We're talking about something with an APR of great than one hundred thousand percent.  I tried to use Google's built in calculator, it just rounded the number off to infinity.  I shit you not.

So, what is the APY on the overdraft loan?
APY > 2[followed by 464 zeroes]

Technically I'm supposed to subtract one from that answer but the rounding error in the above figure defies description.  The one hundred thousand times the high end estimate of the number of atoms in the universe (that we know of) is smaller than the rounding error.  This is a "1 = 2 for very large numbers" situation.

* * *

Now $1.98 is a value that sticks in my mind because that once set off an overdraft cascade in my life (the other numbers are random) and one could reasonably point out that not every overdraft is quite that small.

So, how large would an overdraft have to be for an instant cost of 35 dollars to be fair?

Pretty easy to plug the simplification of a reasonable interest rate (actually high) from before in and figure out how large the loan would need to be to get 35 dollars in interest in the first day.  You'd need an overdraft of $319,634.71.

Stop, for a moment, to think about that.

Banks do not front over three hundred thousand dollars, collateral free, to the kind of people they hit with overdraft charges.  If you believe otherwise then we're going to have to check you for psychotropic cooties.

Regardless of the strange ways your mind (psyche) may have been turned (tropos) it's clear that looking at the size of the overdrawing isn't going to bring things into a reasonable state.  If it has to be in the hundreds of thousands to even begin to make sense then we're on the wrong track.

One might think that this is a sign that the instant nature of overdraft fees that's the problem.  Maybe if there were some reasonable leniency period before the fee kicked in it would work well.

Let's try that.

* * *

We'll go back to our old equation but this time solve for time.

[What you owe when you pay back the loan] = [what you were loaned]*e(.04*t)
36.98 = 1.98*e(.04*t)
18.6767... = *e(.04*t)
2.927280... = .04 * t
t = 73.182009531313373002331274372038

Seventy three years, two months, five days, eleven hours, twenty seven minutes, forty six seconds.

If the bank let you have a grace period like that, no one would ever be hit with an overdraft charge.

What if someone overdrew by $100 dollars, what would it take for $35 to be reasonable then?

135 = 100*e(.04*t)
1.35 = e(.04*t)
.3ish = .04* t
t = 7.5026148112584520187628033656259

Seven years, six months, no days, twenty two hours, 55 minutes, fifteen seconds, and change.

That's a lot quicker, but if you're a bank you don't want to give someone a seven year long interest free grace period on paying you back.  So a grace period doesn't seem to be the answer.  It's not a bad idea (credit cards charge usury, but even they give you a grace period from purchase to the beginning of the next billing cycle) but it's not the answer.

* * *

The problem comes down to the fact that no matter what you do, $35 doesn't make sense.

You could posit some cut off for overdrafts that are too small (like the $1.98), or some grace period so that you don't have the absurdity of paying so much for a loan that may last mere hours, but 35 dollars doesn't work out no matter how you run the numbers.

When you overdraw the bank either bounces you or spots you.  Overdraft fees are about when they spot you.  Maybe they spot you two dollars, maybe they spot you two hundred.  But the thing is, it's a loan.  They want the money back.

Banks know loans.  They know how to do loans.  They know that fees are a downright stupid way to do loans.  Loans work on interest.

That takes into account how large the loan is and how long it takes to get paid back.  The loan is small, it takes the interest a long time to make a burdensome fee, the loan is large not so much.  The loan is short and there wasn't time to accumulate much interest, it's long and it does.

And, importantly, even at credit card rates it still wouldn't be as fucked up as $35.

Credit card rates are important to us for this simple reason: every time you make a purchase on a credit card (debit cards are different) you're getting a collateral free loan that you didn't consult anyone at the loan providing company about.  Exactly like when the bank spots you the amount you overdrafted.

They do not charge a fixed rate of $35 per transaction.  That would create all kinds of fucked up incentives.

A teller at my bank told me that if I was going to overdraft I should go big.  Set up a withdrawal, or a wire transfer to another account of mine, that covered all of the money I could possibly need.  Then I draw on that for a while and thus only have to pay 35 dollars once instead of it setting a cascade of $35 $35 $35 $35...

And that is the logical thing.  If it's a fixed rate per fuck up, you should fuck up spectacularly once.  Bleed the bank for every penny it will spare before it says, "Fuck overdraft, this is bouncing," and then draw off of that take, rather than your bank account, so that you only get slammed with one fee instead of an unending cycle of fees and debt.

So, from a purely financial standpoint, overdraft fees make no sense.

But, as noted at the beginning, if you throw out everything about finances and view the world through a paradigm best described as "EVIL!" (all caps and exclamation point compulsory) they make perfect sense.

Then the cascading failure that pushes someone from solvency to ruin is a feature, not a bug.  They could never get away with $35 if they called it interest on a loan, because then they'd have to say the interest rate and people would flee in terror.  So instead they call it an "overdraft protection fee".

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Super People Get Together: vaguely thought out idea

So they all come together for RPG night.

The one who uses the super-speed and equivalently fast thinking to move through mountains of of paperwork in moments.

The person who delivers papers and parcels for a living, and canvases like you wouldn't believe during the political season, all using teleportation.

The person who uses their super-strength to bend get the stuff they're sent (which is never to spec no matter how many complaints they lodge) to fit together correctly on the manufacturing floor.

The one whose social anxiety isn't helped at all by knowing that people hold zir in high regard through telepathic means because what if the power is wrong, what if that's what the person wants zir to think and deeper down . . . social anxiety cannot be stopped by logic, reason, and telepathy.

The person with wings who has to hide all the time because they're so conspicuous but has a friend sell their aerial photography.

The cook at the brick oven pizza place who is having troubles because ze happens to be heir to some of the most powerful bloodline linked magic in existence and none of it makes any sense.  (Loves AD&D (second edition) because the magic is all explained and quantified in a thousand rule books.  Unlike the real thing that just slams you with something that overturns your paradigm every time you think you might have the cursory beginnings of a theory.)

The immortal, child of Pompeii, who thought ze finally understood the modern world until World War I and is still reeling from how bizarre and inconceivable the whole thing is.  Works as a research assistant.  Zir Latin is impeccable, the English could use some work.  It limits the value of the translations.

The experiment.  Passes for human in dimly lit places with the hoodie hood up.  Climbs walls like a gecko, has gills like a fish, retractable claws that serve as a paralytic delivery system, healing is second only to the immortal, eyes that can see the full spectrum and the various polarizations, so on, so forth.  Works inventory at a big box store.  After hours of course.

RPG night is on Saturdays, and once a month they try to do something bigger together.  A lot of them gripe about people telling them that they've got great responsibility.  Why?  What hideous crime did any of them commit to deny them the chance at a regular life given to others?

Pizza, soda, the immortal has all the best wine, and some of the others bring beer.  Sometimes there's pot.

It may be the time when they're most openly different, but it's the only time any of them ever truly feel normal.  They kick back, have fun, and relieve stress with people who see them as people.  Not gods.  Not monsters.  Not protectors or threats.  People.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The way elections and radical activism fit together.

[Originally posted in the comments to a friend, well . . . acquaintance, but I'd be proud to call her a friend and we are facebook friends,'s  facebook post.]
[So some pretty extreme hardcore activists who know every single thing that candidateshave ever done wrong and tend to be disillusioned to the point they weren't in favor of voting at all were talking about the need to change the system itself, challenge the two party system, and so forth.  That's context.]

So I came here today because I was thinking about how I wish I could meaningfully vote for someone like Meaghan [LaSala], but since there's this discussion. . .

It seems like every election I've been eligible to vote in has been a choice between bad and worse.*  I don't like that. I want to vote for good, but that option never seems to be on the ballot. So faced with bad and worse I always vote for not-worse.

Yeah, we keep on getting the choices of, "More of the same or make things worse," and "more of the same" isn't good. But at least it's better than "let's make things worse."

When it comes to the presidency we get four years to try to make things better. We get four years to try to challenge the system. But when those four years are up, if we haven't changed things yet, and we haven't, we're faced with a choice between three alternatives: Democrat, Republican, or leave it up to other people to make the call (except possibly in Utah where a vote for Evan McMullin has a serious chance of making a difference. A weird difference, but a difference.)

With the House we only get two years to try to change things between the times we have to make a choice we won't like, but House districts are small enough that people have actually had successes at challenging the system at that level.

Fixing things has to come from the bottom up, which means it's not about who you choose for President or Senator and probably not about who you choose for the House.

Breaking things can easily come from the top down, which means that if you don't want things to get worse it _is_ about who you choose for President and Senator and probably, but not definitely, for the House.

And that's fucking terrible. But it's the way things are. Between elections you work to make things better, but on whatever day you vote or choose not to it's about trying to make it so things don't get worse because the work to make things better, by and large, hasn't broken through to the viable choices on the ballot.

It's one day every year or two (depending on where you live) which leaves 364.245 days, on average, in which you can actually work on making things better.

- - -

* So there's some editing for the crowd in that.

Obama wasn't my first choice in 2008, but my first choice wasn't running.  She still isn't.  That said I did feel like he was "good".  in 2012 a vote for him was a vote for more of the same which given that we'd had two years of Tea Party wasn't a vote for good.  That was bad.  Mitt Romney in charge of the executive with the Tea Party congress would have been much, much worse.

In 2010 Libby Mitchel was a weak nominee, Culter was worse, LePage was apocalyptic.  We've been living in apocalyptic for almost six years now and I still have yet to meet Furiosa.  That's just plain unfair.

Other than 2008 Obama, I've never really had the opportunity to vote, "Let's make things better."  But I did vote for 2008 Obama.  And, damn, I just remembered, I voted for Kerry which would be "Let's make things better," given that he was running against Bush.  I guess that one was too painful and I purged it from my mind.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The people who can take away your children

Ok, so the thing is, in Maine and Massachusetts I know people dealing with the people who can take away kids.

Now, far be it for me to speak glowingly of the tyrannical bastards who denied us our freedom until such time as political maneuvering centered on Missouri made it expedient in 1820, but Massachusetts does this better.  Way better.  Worlds better.

As in I mention what I've experienced and heard of in Massachusetts to people in Maine and they're all "I wish things were like that here."

A strong possibility as to why is that Massachusetts has a agency to actually handle the difficult matter of deciding whether or not to break up a family.  In Maine it's DHHS itself.  Department of Health and Human Services.  The people who give me food money so that I don't starve.  The people who give me insurance so that my depression doesn't rule my life and I have a flat rate of a 3 dollar co-pay even though the only medicine that works on me is one of the more expensive ones out there.  The people who do everything, and then a bit more.

If instead of DHHS we had an isolated (standalone) CPS or DCF in which the people were specifically trained to deal with this shit, then maybe our people who can break up families wouldn't be so terrible.

It's a necessary job, some families need to be broken up.  No soul-having individual (few soul-lacking individuals) want to see kids suffer needlessly.  Child abuse is a serious problem, child neglect too, and these and all related problems need to be dealt with.

But on the flip side, breaking up a family for no good reason is bullshit.

By the time DHHS got around to saying what needed to happen for my sister to get her child back, they knew that everything the accuser had said to them was a lie.  He'd changed his story to them three times (making four stories) and when he had to make a legally binding report he recanted all four of those stories and presented a fifth.  Granted he didn't present it to them, but they knew he said, on the record, that he'd been lying to them.

With only lies telling them to break the family up, and a lot of stuff telling them not to, they're digging in, trying to get better leverage, and refusing to budge.  They're doing everything they can to delay giving my sister her child back.

Now, in Massachusetts they take a different approach.  If there's no abuse or neglect, but there are other problems, they take a position of, "This is what you need to do to keep your family together, let's get it done as soon as possible because then you don't have to worry and I can move on to dealing with children who need my intervention more."

That seems a better approach.

The people who can take your children away are given enormous power because they have enormous responsibility, they should also be given excellent training and be subjected to great scrutiny, because without good training and effective oversight great power and great responsibility are a recipe for disaster.

That's what seems to be happening in Maine.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Trump and losing

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.]
[So, for context someone said . . . I'll just copy it.]

Tsotate wrote:
He might be happy at taking the party down with him, but he'll never be happy about his name now becoming synonymous with "loser". There's a facebook event with over nine-thousand people signed up to stand outside Trump Tower pointing and laughing on November 9. That's not the sort of response Trump can be happy about.
So I responded with:


He's the best at everything. He even loses big. He's the best loser. Other people might lose their car keys, but Trump can lose so much more. Nobody loses like Trump.

Did over nine thousand people show up to point and laugh at Mitt Romney? No. But they will for Trump. Why? Because when Trump loses he loses YUGE. Nobody loses better. Trump loses best.

Trump is great at losing. Why they ought to call it, "Trumping" he's so good at it.

- - -

Did I say there were four Trump things?  I think I did.  That means we've reached the end of "Trump Trump Trump Trump"  Woo!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Four Realms: Luke and Ella

There are not many things that the upper echelons Heaven and Hell agree on, and those areas where they do agree tend to involve the distant past (such as certain details about the creation of the universe.)  In fact, it's difficult to get the upper echelon to agree with itself in either Heaven or Hell.

But amoung the most powerful of the powers that be, it is universally agreed that the Luke and Ella theory, the Ella and Luke theory, the Ella or Luke theory, and all possible permutations of such theories are not merely false but outright blasphemy.

In fact, there is less stigma attached to the "God is dead" theory in Heaven than to the Ella theory, and there is less stigma attached to the "Lucifer bit the dust" theory in Hell than there is to the Luke theory.

Yet in spite of this the theories persist, and are indeed pervasive.

Some of this can be attributed to the fractured nature of the rulerships of Heaven and Hell because while the top echelon may denounce the theory, there are members of lower echelons with no clear oversight and some of them are indifferent about the theory or even supportive of it.  However, the prevalence of the theory cannot be solely, or indeed mostly, attributed to these safe harbors.  Within every organization of a certain size in Heaven or Hell it is all but certain that at least someone believes the theory.

The hostility toward the theory is not just that it involves assuming the leader of Heaven, Hell, or both left the entire population thereof out of the loop.  In fact, many of the theories to explain the absence of God, Lucifer, or both that see instituional support take this as a given.

Nor is it merely because the idea that the most powerful beings in the universe (God and Lucifer being those beings is another of the few things that Heaven and Hell agree on) decided to leave their jobs and live as humans, the youngest and arguably least impressive of the eight races, is considered absurd.

Likewise it cannot be attributed to the fact both Luke and Ella have been confirmed to be completely mundane humans in the few remotely credible sightings where attempts were made to test their nature.

It must be acknowledged that the largest part of the resistance to the Luke and Ella theory is ideological.

Many might accept that God, Lucifer, or both determined that the fate of the universe would be decided not from the top down, but from the bottom up.  From there it is possible to make the leap that says they would do this by taking on the forms and limitations of the lowliest and most ephemeral of the eight races.

Where the theory breaks down and gets denounced is in the characters of Luke and Ella.

If Luke really is Lucifer, then serious questions must be asked about why he acts the way he does.  Luke does not attempt to drive souls from the Heavenward path.  Luke does not attempt to corrupt humanity.  Luke does not appear to dislike humanity.  Luke cannot be said to be evil.

Instead Luke spends his time helping people and, if he can be said to be opposed to anything, it is institutional power, not God.

If Ella really is God, then why doesn't she care about religion?  Why are her actions secular?  Why is she willing to break bread with Satanists?  Why does she ignore the dictates of religion?  (Whichever religion the angel in question holds true.)  Why does she cavort with atheists, antitheists, and maltheists?

Why would she, like Luke, simply wander the earth helping people regardless of religion.  Instead of teaching people rules to live by, as God obviously would, she seems instead to have a flexible situation dependent understanding of ethics that makes it difficult to divine any set of fixed rules her actions exemplify.

She seems to favor helping those who are victims of individuals or small groups, such as bullies or gangs.  She does this even on the Sabbath day and regardless of what commandments, strictures, pillars, or other rules the victims may have broken.

The fact that she is reported to have said that, "Don't be an asshole," is a sufficient rule to live by incenses many.  This would be anarchy, they argue.  The few who dare to argue against them point out that actually living by that rule requires extensive study and constant work, which is the sort of thing that a religion could be used to speed up and direct.  This argument has not been met with approval.

Another problem is that there are rumors that Luke and Ella have worked together at least once.  If Luke and Ella are simply wandering humans then this is easy to believe.  Both would rush to help the victims of bullies with institutional power.  If Luke and Ella are Lucifer and God this is more difficult to accept.  The two meeting ought to be apocalyptic, it is argued, and they would not set that aside to meddle in the minor affairs of humans.

The theory also suffers because there is no definitive proof that either Luke or Ella actually exists.  Certainly there are many individuals with those names, but that the ones described by the theory exist is much more difficult to determine.  The fact that the characters of the two are consistent across reports lends some credence to the idea they exist, but it could be that those making such reports only did so because the character of the individual they met was consistent with reports already made.

It should be noted that outside of Heaven and Hell the theory meets little resistance.  In addition to it being entertained, variations often crop up.  Amoung the Norse there are those who believe Loki, in one of his excursions as a human, is Ella, Luke, or both.  Others point to Odin as a likely candidate.

The theory is harmless, and it would be prudent to stop suppressing it.  The arguments against it would likely be given greater weight if they were supported not by the fear of punishment but instead their own soundness.

The current situation has led to the theory flourishing in darkness and private spaces.  It has also made it difficult to debunk the claim that where Luke and Ella go there are often miracles of an unknown sort using magic undetectable by ordinary means.  This is because such stories are generally told in such a way as to obscure the source, and thus protect each story's originator from any official sanctions.

The greatest mystery surrounding Luke and Ella sightings is what caused them to be identified with Lucifer and God, respectively, in the first place.  Neither Luke nor Ella has been reported to have claimed to be more than human.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Vergil overused superlatives but he was not on the level of Trump

[Originally posted at Slacktivist after people were talking about Trump's excessive use of superlatives.]

Vergil overused superlatives and thus we have other Latin poets mocking that, but it wasn't directed at himself and it wasn't nearly as frequent and he was Vergil so he had some points in his favor.

He didn't write:

Muse, take the day off, I can speak of Arms and the Man better than anyone. I have the greatest knowledge of Arms. Nobody knows weapons like I do. And as for the Man, I am the man. Aeneas and I are like twins, except I'm smarter and better looking. No one can tell the story of Aeneas the way I can tell the story of Aeneas...

And so on.

Someone probably did write that. Someone who got lost to history because they fucking deserved to be forgotten.

Making money by blogging.

The blog started in 2011 (it actually just turned five last month) and I applied to add ads late that year and noticed that they'd finally went active (because I earned a penny) on December 29th.

Today I was informed that I finally had earned enough money for them to pay me (the threshold is 100 USD.)  In fact, I earned more than enough by 49 cents.

This allows us to do some math.  $100.49 per 1759 days equals 5.7 cents per day.  That's actually way better than I would have thought because usually I'm lucky to earn a penny or two, but then again there are some days when the stars align and . . . I'm not totally sure but I think what happens is that someone clicks an add and then browses the site in a way that the site logs as "potential customer" and on those days I've been known to earn as much as a dollar, so days like that have obviously brought the average up.

So, you know, become a blogger and you could earn between five and six cents a day.

It almost goes without saying, but doesn't quite, that being a beggar/busker is way more lucrative.  That's basically what the donations are: they're the money thrown in my open guitar case on the subway while I regale you with my rendition of . . . what's the guitar equivalent of Twilight/Narnia/Left Behind?

That got my boiler fixed, which I still think of as a furnace because that's what we always called it, thus saving me from going homeless in the dead of winter in Maine.  To afford that on my ad revenue would take 288 years, 72 days, 14 hours, 20 minutes, 58 seconds, and one tenth of a second.

Oh, also, programming note: I went back through my disqus log to dig up any things to be posted and came up with four things on Trump, two of which have already gone up.  I'm trying to write some lighter, or at least less Trumpish, posts to break up that string of Trump Trump Trump Trump.

The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Trump

[Originally posted at Slacktivist after Daniel said that Trump is the mind killer, which I've added to the start of the following since Daniel's post isn't reproduced here.]

Tump is the mind killer

Trump is the little yuge death that brings total obliteration.

I will face the Donald.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
Keep it the hell away from me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the Trump has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.


One might argue that diferent pronouns would be better, i.e.:

Tump is the mind killer

Trump is the little yuge death that brings total obliteration.

I will face the Donald.

I will permit him to pass over me and through me.

Keep him the hell away from me.

And when he has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see his path.

Where the Trump has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

* * *

On a programming note, I don't even know what to tag this.  Poetry?  Regular blogging stuff?  Bah?  I probably do need a "Blah" tag.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I hate everything

Earlier today there was something good.  Something I wanted to make a post about.  Something fun and light.

I don't remember.

Being subjected to my sister talking to someone is Vogon poetry.  She showed up at my house and talked to someone, someone from DHHS (which includes CPS) who is either extremely stupid or was a victim of her superiors trying to pass of their own incompetence as that of the Cape Elizabeth Police Department, on the phone.*

Don't know, don't care.

What I do know is that it's difficult to comprehend physical pain as horrible as having to listen to her side of the conversation.  As soon as that was over she called someone else.

This continued almost all the way to my psychiatrist appointment and believe me I would have rather walked the two fucking hours than ride while my sister was on the phone because that shit hurts.

It's not like I can't walk.  Sure I sprain my ankle every so often, but that's never stopped me from getting where I was going.  My new psychiatrist knew of me (not by name as that would have violated patient confidentiality) because of the local group getting together and taking notes and,  "The person who walks in from another city, and then walks back afterward," apparently got mentioned more than once.

So that meeting went well, but then I was back to the farm and . . . I was the only one fucking working.  I know why.  There's important paperwork to be done when people are trying to take your son away for good and shut down your farm and the neighbors have made not-so-thinly veiled death threats.**

Still hard to work on your own, especially what I was trying to do (prefabricated stiff wire fencing mixes with irregular inclines about as well as water with potassium.)

Anyway, the sweat pours out of me, sometimes onto my glasses (it all depends on the angle of your head.)  Apparently I took them off once and then didn't put them back on.  It's unclear what happened, but the only part that might survive salvage are the lenses.  I have often thanked what gods may be for the fact they use durable plastics now instead of glass.

And I hate everything.

In the car, as I was forced to listen to my sister on the phone, I found myself thinking about how it would doubtless be far less painful to jump out of the car and let the high speed landing mangle me as it would.

That was before.  When I found what was left of my glasses it was more of a mental collapse.  I hate everything.  I'm done for the day.  Fuck it all.

- - -

On a side note.  They're not even the right prescription.  The most recent glasses with the most recent prescription were lost down Lonespark's toilet ages ago.

These were my emergency back up glasses.

I need new glasses.  I'll probably just start using the previous emergency back up.  I need a new prescription, instead I'll be going back to the one before the one before the out of date one.

If I had the money to pay for new glasses . . . well I need that money elsewhere.  I can't even make minimum payments at this point.  Just waiting for the day when no one can pitch in anymore and it all comes apart.  Could even be this month, but if I were making odds I'd say November is more likely.


Fuck this blurry word.


* DHHS, you see, has their own version of events.  Well, they have several.  Four to be exact.

This presents a problem because they're telling my sister that she can't have her son back unless she confesses and demonstrates remorse.  Confess to which version?  Confessing to any version would be denying that the other versions happened which is what DHHS does not want.

Why do they not want it?  No fucking clue.  None of their four versions match what any present party claimed happened.  Apparently they've got a crystal ball that let them know what was happening better than my sister's family, the neighbors family, and the police combined.

So when my sister pointed out that they hadn't even decided what they were actually accusing her of and had presented four mutually exclusive accusations . . . this is where it gets hazy.

Either the people working the case can't tell the difference between themselves and the Cape Elizabeth Police Department or they tried to claim that the four different versions they had were because the police report was revised three times resulting in four versions.

If the first then the person my sister was talking to had called up the Cape Elizabeth Police Department under the mistaken impression that it was an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services.

If the second then the person called up the Cape Elizabeth Police Department because their superiors said, "It's not our fault that the story changed, it's the police departments," and she followed up on that mistakenly believing that her superiors were honest people.

Either way, all that this resulted in was her finding out what everyone else already knew: the police report is not, in fact, allowed to be changed every time the reporting individual is caught in a lie.


** Specifically, after noting that they can see the entire worked area of the property from their house they said that they'd never see my sister's boyfriend again because they had someone coming to "take care of" him.  Shortly thereafter they tricked a cop into rushing onto the property unannounced with his gun drawn, apparently in hopes that my sister's boyfriend would mistake him for a common murderer, try to defend himself, and get shot to death.

If the cop had done his job he wouldn't have been able to be tricked, wouldn't have had his gun out, would have allowed the situation to quickly deescalate when he saw that he'd been lied to and there was no danger, and wouldn't have written his police report in such a way as to imply that he smashed down the door without even touching it.  (He might not be bright, but he can kill you with his mind.  Apparently.)

But it was still the neighbors who tried to get my sister's boyfriend killed and used the police as their weapon.  The rules and regulations that police are supposed to follow should make that impossible, but remember that my sister only didn't get murdered by that cop because she informed him that she was pregnant.

The neighbors, in their generosity, have responded by scheduling a court date for my sister's due date.

Word of the Day

This is the first email I received when I got up this morning:

with Anu Garg



1. Something showy but worthless.
2. Nonsense or rubbish.
3. Deceit; fraud; trickery.

From French tromper (to deceive). Earliest documented use: 1481.


This week’s theme
Words that appear to be coined after someone (but aren’t)
I couldn't have defined it better myself. For someone to do it in 1481? Remarkable in their foresight.


[Random thing that came from thinking about video game training levels, with the one from Hover: Revolt of Gamers being foremost in my mind.]

The mental imprinting does give you a general idea of how to use your body, but it's pretty generic, mostly it makes sure you know how the body you have works as opposed to a body belonging to a different species, so--

Worth noting that given the number of species the labs can still produce and the amount of data that can be stored on the surviving imprinters, we really didn't have the option of giving you more detail.

The point is that you're going to have to get to know how your body works and you're probably interested in that suit you're in.

The labs may be falling apart, but there have been some improvements.  Back when I was created you were dumped out of your pod-thingy completely naked.

I'm sure that having one of our new compatriot's earliest memories be hearing you sharing that anecdote will ensure a life on the right track where everything is ice cream and lollipops.

I do what I can.

Anyway, back to what I was saying: to help you get adjusted to your body and your suit we've set up a training course.

We have not.

We have most definitely set up a training course that will help you to familiarize--

We have in no way set up a training course.

Could you stop?

What my colleague is trying to say is that we were too lazy to make it so you can just walk out of there and have therefore done the bare minimum work required to make it possible to escape and --as a result-- by the time you actually do get out you should be familiar with all of the basics of the way your body and your suit operate because you're going to need to make use of more or less everything both can do to get yourself out of there.

But don't worry because we'll walk you through it every step of the way.

And it's not that hard anyway, mostly you'll just need to be told about the capabilities you have that the imprinting didn't cover.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Skewed Slightly to the Left: Nicolae's speech to Americans

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.]
[Canonically after giving a rousing speech to the UN general assembly that consists of listing the countries of the UN in alphabetical order Nicolae then gives a press conference where he tries to ingratiate himself with people from the US by talking about how as a little boy in Romania he always looked up to us.  Except it's written so badly that people would be more likely to go, "Wha?" than "'Merica: Fuck Yeah!"]

This was a press conference for Americans, so naturally it began with Nicolae saying what an honor it was to be in America. "Especially at this historic site," he added. "It may seem strange, but I have dreamed of coming here since I was a small boy in Cluj. A dream that only intensified as I grew older.

"This place was built on blood soaked land, for it was in the slaughterhouse district. To turn blood to peace was such a potent symbol. As a child in the so-called 'Second World' it so often seemed like there was little hope. Ceaușescu's rule became more oppressive as time went on, basic necessities were kept from us. Many starved while he built an opulent palace, and to even tell a joke risked harsh punishment. Criticism was impossible.

"So I dreamed of this country, one that lacked a brutal and ubiquitous secret police. One where you could speak your mind freely. One where you could trust people --at home one in three people had been bribed, blackmailed, or intimidated into informing on their friends and neighbors.

"Then everything changed. The 'Second World' started to collapse as freedom spread from country to country. By the time the Cold War ended in 1991 and your President Bush spoke of a 'New World Order' I had finally breathed free and the words made my heart sing.

"A new world order free from oppression. A new world order where we would fight poverty rather than create it. A new world order were the blood of revolutions past would water future peace.

"Standing here so soon after the catastrophe that has shattered the world we knew before, I think back to my dreams as a child. To see peace, freedom, and cooperation rise from the bloody ground.

"When this site was given to the United Nations it was changed from a place of blood and death to a place of hope and life. The entire world has been struck by blood and death, and worse still the bloodless disappearances of the children and a handful of others, but we must pull together and change our world from a place of blood to a place of life, from a place of chaos to a place of order, from a place of conflict to one of cooperation.

"We must not allow the recent crisis to be exploited by the worst among us, we must not allow the pain and hurt we have all felt to multiply. We must come together.

"And that is why I am so honored to be standing here. America is a diverse country. A place with fifty states, no two alike, that is able to serve as a shining beacon of cooperation.

"In order to deal with a global crisis we will need a global solution, and America will lead the way. The United Nations will need to be rebuilt. Larger, stronger, able to deal with the problems that now plague the world. To this end I will look to you, America, and build the new United Nations on the model of the United States of America.

"Long have you led by example, as leader of the United Nations I intend to follow that example like never before. By following your example I will allow your greatness to shine over the entire world more brightly than ever before."

Pandering to the crowd always worked, and so there his speech was followed by applause.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Correction: The police lied about more than I thought, which means the neighbors did slightly fewer bad things than I thought

My sister still isn't ready to go public with everything, so I'm still holding back a lot of details.  It's also the case that I haven't been given every clarification I would like because there are other more pressing matters than providing me with a complete play by play of the entire convoluted mess.

However it is the case that I may have previously indicated here or elsewhere (or both) --I'll have to check-- that the neighbors lied to the police in such a way as to get my sister held at gun point, her door kicked down, her boyfriend tased and taken to jail, and her three year old son thrown to the ground, --all of which is perfectly true and accurate-- and then once that had happened the neighbors called a plethora of other agencies in hopes that the fact the house was now doorless, my sister was now in trouble with police, her boyfriend was now in jail, and her three year old had now been thrown would cause the other agencies to take action they otherwise wouldn't --and that part needs correction.

After the neighbors lied to the police (and the police bought in so much that they broke many of their own rules ending up in a totally avoidable situation where one officer found himself holding a gun to the belly of a woman who was six months pregnant) they sort of sat things out for a bit while watching with their patio.  None of the statements made to police or others indicate whether or not they had popcorn.

As previously noted, when my sister indicated that she was an unarmed pregnant woman, instead of an unarmed woman whose fat distribution merely resembled pregnancy, the officer switched to a taser.

Not previously noted is that he pretended to go along with her suggestion to discuss things calmly in the driveway until she was on the enclosed porch (she was getting her boyfriend, who had gone inside when a man with a gun came onto the property not like a police officer but instead like an angry neighbor, so that he could come outside to talk to the officer who was by now well lit enough to be recognized as an officer) then revealed his somewhat different plan, trapped her on the porch and put the taser back to her belly.  Because . . . Jasper?

As previously noted he eventually decided to move passed her, not request that her boyfriend leave the house, and instead kick in the door.  The door, I'm pretty sure, was unlocked.

Then was the whole thing about throwing the three year old to the ground and tasing my sister's boyfriend before arresting him for . . . nothing.  Seriously.  About the only thing that all parties agree on at this point was that the claim of trespassing that brought the police to the property was entirely fraudulent and the neighbors were in fact the ones trespassing when they threatened to kill the pigs, not my sister's boyfriend when he didn't threaten to do anything.

So . . .


Breathe in; breath out.

After that it was not the neighbors who called all and sundry agencies the first time.  My sister told the police that she believed they had used excessive force and would use the legal system to act upon this belief (because we do not live in an action movie, otherwise all of this would have been finished in less than week.)

It was at this point, immediately after learning that they were looking at legal proceedings regarding excessive force, that the police, not the neighbors, called all and sundry agencies.  Now, to be clear, even they admit that what they did was bullshit.

For example, they told the people who could (and did) take away the three year old that my sister's boyfriend had been holding a machete to the neighbors while they (the police) looked on.  In their own police report they said that nothing of the sort happened, every single one of the neighbors likewise indicated that nothing of the sort had happened and further noted that they were all more than a hundred feet away at the time either on the patio (again, no mention of whether this is with or without popcorn) or inside the house.  When I said "About the only thing that all parties agree on" this was the reason for the "about".  The police, the neighbors, my sister, her boyfriend, and pretty much everyone else who was involved, even merely in a documenting statements capacity, agrees that the police lied in order to get my sister's three year old taken away.

Even the people who took the three year old on the basis of this admitted lie admit that it was a lie.  (They also noted that my sister wasn't supposed to have gotten a copy of that particular lie and was only supposed to have been given the later, revised, version of the lie in which people got together to make sure their stories agreed.  Oops.)

So the corrections:
It was not the case that the neighbors were the first to call code enforcement after the incident.  The police called code enforcement under the claim that my sister was improperly running a junk yard.  My sister does not own a junk yard and the code enforcement guy was befuddled as to what he was doing there.

The neighbors repeatedly called code enforcement back, but unlike the police they made sure to give passable reasons, even if the excuses could use some work ("I forgot that the car was registered, honest.  I keep calling you about them having too many unregistered vehicles on the property because I keep on forgetting about the vehicles being registered.")  And yes, they did take pains to document and report how long it takes to replace a door when you're being beset on all sides by people trying to ruin your life, but that was only after the police made the call.

Now that time that they smashed down the back wall of the tractor garage and then called code enforcement due to the lack of a wall before my sister could call the police due to them smashing down the fucking wall . . . that was all them.

It is not the case that the neighbors called DHHS to get my sister's three year old taken away on the basis that the house had no door, her boyfriend was in jail, and she was in trouble with the law.  The Police called DHHS to get my sister's three year old taken away on the basis of things they admit to be lies.

I think the neighbors have been contributing to the ongoing efforts to keep my sister's three year old, Jensen, away from her, but only insofar as they've been asked things on account of being neighbors.

It is not the case that the neighbors called the animal welfare people to try to shut down my sister's farm on the basis of "bwha!?"  The police did that and no one really knows what rationale they presented.

In fact, rather than using legal avenues, the neighbors are trying to shut down the farm by blackmailing my mother into "getting rid" of all the animals.  They seem to have forgotten, however, that blackmail requires that you have the dirt on someone and the only dirt on my mother is potting soil.

It is not the neighbors fault that all of these people (and possibly more, I haven't actually done a head count) arrived at the same time.  The police did that even though it meant interrupting someone on his lunch break just before he could take the first bite of his sandwich.

Any and all other agencies called to the scene were probably called by the police after they learned about the excessive force thing, not by the neighbors after they successfully got the police to do their dirty work for them.


So, those are the corrections.

I apologize for any bad information that I stated or implied.  It's kind of hard to talk about because I'm still not in a position where I've been authorized to give all the details, and when I do get information it usually isn't when I'm in a position to get clarification because for almost two months now the situation has seriously been, "The sky is falling, we have to build shelters, but if we pick up tools with which to build them we might get shot for 'being threatening'."

As an example:

Custody of Jensen is still an open question and the group with the most power apparently favoring the idea of punting Jensen to New York (state, not city) where he would be looked after by someone who spent the first three and a half years of Jensen's life (Jensen isn't four yet, so consider how little time that leaves for him to be acting differently) denying he had any relation to Jensen (and has neglected Jensen every time he's had control over Jensen) and (because that guy is homeless and the only member of his family who cares about Jensen lives in a home that wouldn't pass inspection) someone who has avoided the responsibilities of raising a child so long and so well that he managed to become a grandfather without ever doing any actual child rearing.

So .  .  . that's scary.  As are a lot of the details I'm not allowed to share yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Snarky Narnia: Aravis and Lasaraleen after the Tisroc left

[Originally Posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[At this rate I'll need a Snarky Narnia index]

Lasaraleen: How-- wait, you're shaking too? I thought you were the tough one.

Aravis: If even one of them had so much as considered giving a cursory check that the room was empty at any point, we'd be dead. That was a long time to be afraid that we'd be killed by one of those three being hit by a bolt of competence.

Lasaraleen: Is that your version of: Even tough people get scared.

Aravis: Something like that, let's get out of here. Things are already going well behind where I'd like them to be and we just got slammed with another side quest.

Lasaraleen: How are we going to save the third cook?

Aravis: I'm not sure. I'm also more than a bit curious as to what happened to the first two.

Lasaraleen: I know that.

Aravis: And?

Lasaraleen: Don't ask.


Lasaraleen: You really, truly, do not want to know.

Aravis: Ok, then. Moving on.


Lasaraleen: Now that we've saved the cook, there's something I've been thinking, which I know you won't like, that I'd like to suggest.

Aravis: You're my friend. Suggest away.

Lasaraleen: We should go back.

Aravis: Come again?

Lasaraleen: Go back rather than go forward with our earlier plans.

Aravis: Into forced marriage and such.

Lasaraleen: It's not as bad as it could be, I didn't you hear how "great" your assigned husband is.

Aravis: He says things all involved know just so he can hear the sound of his own voice, he speaks what will be best received, and he's all up for murder by proxy.

Lasaraleen: Not to mention that he thinks he's clever when he clearly isn't and is so full of himself that he'd hardly notice if someone else, someone like you, were manipulating him into whatever you wanted.

Aravis: And if I wanted a divorce?

Lasaraleen: That might take some time but . . .

Aravis: Yeah, see, that's the thing.

Lasaraleen: Ok, but our plan is kind of crap and there are other ways we could approach things.

Aravis: I know what you would say, and it would seem like wisdom, but for the warning in my heart.

Lasaraleen: Has it, perhaps, occurred to you, that the warning in your heart comes from strange gods not of our lands?

Aravis: Of course, but I have no reason to think that the dread lion should have some form of grudge against me. He hardly ever gets involved directly and when he does it's to change the fates of nations not to do harm to one such as me. If he is nudging me toward his lands, why not follow? I was going there anyway.

Lasaraleen: I hope that you're right.

Aravis: Thanks.

*they hug*

Aravis: I'll understand if you don't want to risk helping me.

Lasaraleen: I don't want to. I'm going to.

Aravis: Thank you again.


Groom: I feel like my part in all of this was rather meaningless and you could have taken my place.

Aravis: I needed to be present for some exposition, but you can go home now. Of course to do it now is to do it illegally, so there are questions you must ponder before taking action. Here is money, go and ponder elsewhere.

*Groom exits stage left*

*Aravis starts hugging the horses*

*Shasta enters stage right*

Bree: We're all here now.

Hwin: it's as if some sort of otherworldly force--

Bree: A God-Lion.

Hwin: --such as a bad author brought us all together again.

Aravis: Yup, so I'm going to transmit the exposition that got dumped on me now.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Monthly Financial Update

As always, the short version is that I could use money and Paypal is the way to get it to me.

There is a conveniently located "donate" button in the upper righthand corner of the blog, though if you have a Paypal account and consider me a friend there is a different way to do it that allows me to receive the full amount (Paypal usually takes a cut.)

The way that doesn't involve the donate button is to go to your Paypal account and "send money to a friend" (under "send and request" I believe) then use my email [cpw (at) maine (dot) rr  (dot) com].

There's a new song from Lucinda Holdsworth

So the thing about people on the internet is that they can drop off the radar and you very seriously have no idea whether they're alive or dead.  You hope and assume that they're not dead, but you don't actually know because anything that would keep them from doing things you could see/hear/read/whatever on the internet is a possible explanation.

And it had certainly been a while since she made a peep.  Probably why this was the text (other than the lyrics) accompanying the song.
So I wrote this a while ago, but here's the thing: I currently don't have a camera, microphone or piano, so I've just had this version badly recorded on my laptop hanging around for a while, hence no video. I wanted to record this and a whole bunch of other things properly, but at the moment, I just don't have the resources, so I wanted to put this up just to prove I do still exist, and also as a thank you for how many lovely subscribers I've gotten. I'll try not to go so long without uploading something this time round. Thank you for your patience!
The song is called "Daredevil" (no relation to the character) and it's good.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Snarky Narnia: Ahoshta and the Tisroc after Rabadash leaves

[Originally Posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[The only previous Snarky Narnia to speak of is here.]

Ahoshta: Bye Bye, Prince!

Tisroc: Have fun storming the castle!

*once Rabadash is out of the room*

Ahoshta: Think it'll work?

Tisroc: It would take a miracle.


Tisroc: It, of course, goes without saying that I didn't send my son to his almost-certain doom.

Ahoshta: Of course.

Tisroc: And this meeting never happened.

Ahoshta: I'm not even convinced I'm standing here.

Tisroc: Of course if he dies then the throne would pass to Secundus.

Ahoshta: Since I am not standing here, and we are not having this meeting, I do not fear reprisal for my reaction of: ugh. Still, better than Septimus.

Tisroc: Most are better than Septimus. I have 18 sons, doubtless we can winnow them to an acceptable field of successors by the time I am ready to pass on.

Ahoshta: Inasmuch as this meeting is not taking place, know that I do not have an library filled with directions to nigh suicidal adventures that irksome princes might find interesting.

Tisroc: Inasmuch as this meeting is not taking place, know that that is not why I like you so much.

Ahoshta: Thank you, sire. Now I fear I must go, for I have other places to not be. In your service of course.

Tisroc: Of course. Go and don't do the things you shouldn't do while not in the places that you shouldn't be.

Ahosta: To hear is to obey


Sunday, October 9, 2016

"One does not simply walk into Mordor" "Of course not, you do necessary preparations first."

[This popped into my head, mostly the gas masks and slightly later the spider repellent.  Lonespark said I should write it right now.]

One does not simply walk into Mordor.

Of course not, one walks in having done all of the preparations.

Its Black Gates are guarded by more than just Orcs.

Adding spider repellent to the shopping list.

There is evil there that does not sleep,

Sleeping medicine so we can bribe the insomniac evil, check.

and the Great Eye is ever watchful.

Invisibility cloaks, Visine, and fire extinguishers.  Got it.

It is a barren wasteland,

We'll have to carry enough provisions to last the whole trip.  Ok.

riddled with fire

I'm, making a note not to wear flammable clothing.

and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.

Gas masks that don't get clogged by particulate matter.  We can do that.

Not with ten thousand men could you do this.

So we have to use a small force that doesn't face the same problems as an army.

It is folly.

Oh, nonsense, we just need to do some shopping first.

* * *

Also this, which I found when I was looking for the exact quote:

Also, apparently when Google maps walking directions were still in beta and it always gave you that warning in a yellow box, it had a special one if the destination was Mordor:

Walking directions are still in beta.
Use caution - One does not simply walk into Mordor

The usual warning was "Use caution - This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths."

Saturday, October 8, 2016

How I would do a The Miracle on the Hudson movie

So, we didn't see a movie today.  Did get in two more episodes of Luke Cage.  In episode three I had a moment of "Show, I think I know exactly what you're going to do.  For the love of all that is fucking holy prove me wrong," and it didn't, and I am irked, but this is about not seeing a movie.

There wasn't a lot playing at the place where we would have seen the movie.

One thing that had some promise was Sully, but that promise was somewhat marred by the fact that it was called "Sully" when all five crew members were heroes.  Moreover, whenever there's a movie that should be great it runs the risk of, "That would have been an enjoyable movie, if not for the fact that any movie about that/like that should X times better and so I'm just left disappointed."

Watch bad movies on the See Fee Channel and you'll very rarely get let down.  (Though some times they pull off that execrable feat.)  Watch movies that should be fantastic and you invite a certain melancholy into your life as you constantly note how much better things could have been.

So, anyway: what it should be.

The thing is, "The Miracle on the Hudson" was the most successful ditching in aviation history because, basically, everyone did their jobs and nothing beyond the obvious (bird strike, boom boom, now this is a very poorly designed glider) went wrong.

So the movie shouldn't be Sully it should be Flight school and crew training and how they decided to write what they did in the manuals and air craft construction standards and . . . stuff.

And to really capture that what you'd want to do is have the flight (which lasted about six minutes) and evacuation with extensive flashbacks cut into both.

Something happens, flashback to what went into making the procedures and such used to deal with that, return to show the crew doing those things.

It's not enough that people opened the doors in such a way as to deploy those inflatable slide things that doubled as life rafts and when one failed the manual handle was used.

You need to show the decision to make them life rafts, the work that went into the design, whoever said, "Of course it's supposed to happen automatically, but we need a backup in case it doesn't," to get the manual handle on there and so forth.

AND you need to show what led to flight attendants getting training on that because when the fucking Titanic was launched the crew didn't know how to properly load a life boat and that makes a difference.  (Sure, they didn't have enough boats for everyone, but it's not as if they saved everyone that they did have boats for.)  Then, of course, the flight attendants getting that training, then return to the incident where they used the damned training.

It's not just Sully, in this case more than many people that get movies made about them.  Sully didn't do anything special, instead he did normal things well.  Very well.  Almost unbelievably well.  Then again so did the four other people on the flight crew.

And if you really want to tell the story you don't just need to have them doing these normal things well, you need to tell the story of why these things are normal.  And also how if you're in a panic on a sinking plane you shouldn't open a door that the crew hasn't authorized you to open because that makes it sink faster.

But mostly what went into the technology, the information, and the training that led to things going right.

Ditching is not something one ever wants to do because planes that are not made for water landings have a tendency to sink and people have a tendency to die.

The plane was packed.  The standard layout for an Airbus 320 accommodates 150 passengers and that is exactly how many passengers there were.  Add in the crew and you get 155 people.  The reason it's called a miracle is that 155 people survived.  That . . . usually isn't going to happen.

And yet how it happened was people doing what they were trained to do.  Nothing more.  Nothing more was required.  All that they had to do to become heroes was do their jobs, and you'd want to depict that.

Also, that type of plane was specifically designed so that it would hold up well in a forced water landing (ditching.)  You'd want to depict that.

The things that went into the events of January 15, 2009 were things that were set into motion years in advance.  Incorporating that into a movie wouldn't necessarily be easy.  It requires being unstuck in time.  Story progresses this much, flashback to the series of events by which this thing or tidbit or bit of training came to be in play, show how it played out, story progresses a bit, another flashback to a Connections-esque journey through time to see how the next important bit got there, and so forth.

I don't think I've ever seen a movie done that way, I have no idea if it would work.  But it's how you'd really have to do it.

How did it become required that flight attendants be trained in water-landing evacuation?  Because that saved lives every bit as much as the flight attendants who used that training.

So on, so forth, rinse, repeat.

* * *

Short version:
The reactions of all members of the crew, the split second decision making and the handling of this emergency and evacuation was 'text book' and an example to us all.     -Air Commodore Rick Peacock- Edwards, Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators
An example to us all, yes, but the thing about the heroics of textbook operation, is that credit is due to the textbook as well.  How did the textbook get written in such a way that following it could make you a hero?

That's as much the story of US Airways Flight 1549's incredibly successful ditching on the Hudson river as what happened on the plane itself.

The entire crew, and at least one of the passengers, were definitely heroes.  But they were only able to pull off "Everybody lives, Rose.  Just this once, everybody lives," because of everything that had come before.

* * *

This is, perhaps, not as good as it could be.  Lonespark thought it important that I just get it done, and she's probably right.  When I wait to write something it often doesn't get written.

* * *

I looked up the plot of Sully.

I'm glad we didn't watch it.