jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
2013-04-05 10:59 am

Aether Torrent.

I keep my LJ icon in my bookmarks toolbar out of nostalgia if not frequent use, but today I have done something worth noting.

I recently finished Aether Torrent's second season. 26 episodes, 185,000+ words -- 187,949 if you count every single word in all the MSWord files. All done, all mine.

And now I have obtained a federal copyright for the work. Cost me $35 and two hours.

I am quite happy about that, and thought it merited a post here. So: here it is.

jackscarab: (Sideways tree)
2013-03-05 10:20 pm

Tales from IRC: We are bad because our stories are bad.

Scarab> That discussion of Homer actually meshes very well with the end of the discussion about Sam Witwicky.
RobotLyra> yeah, it's kind of sad when you think about it
Scarab> One of my favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut.
Scarab> It takes a lot more than the points raised in that video to make me sad.
RobotLyra> back when the simpsons first came out, my parents forbade me to watch it, but the stuff from the first episodes was positively wholesome compared to some of it now
Scarab> I find it illuminating, like a marsh light over a floating corpse.
RobotLyra> I wish my period would hurry up and arrive so I could be morbidly amused by that darkness rather than haunted by it
Scarab> My apologies.
RobotLyra> it's okay, blame it on the estrogen!
Scarab> But yeah. People not getting the point of the story can be blamed for many of our ills.
Scarab> The Science of Discworld books examine at length how integral storytelling is to humanity. We would not be the creatures we are if not for the invention of stories.
RobotLyra> well I'd say then it's up to us to make some more positive stories, then
Scarab> Exactly. Which is how The Simpsons went downhill. They started off satirical, attempting to prod and shove us into being positive, but too many of us didn't understand the point.
Scarab> So ignorance becomes acceptable, so people act more ignorant, so stories are constructed to appeal more to a celebration of ignorance, so ignorance becomes acceptable...
Enker> Woo, degeneration!
Scarab> Flip a few chapters ahead, and you get Sarah Palin.
RobotLyra> http://cdn-9.nflximg.com/images/7561/1047561.jpg
* Scarab touches his nose.
Scarab> Though Idiocracy had it as a matter of breeding, not of stories.
Scarab> Which itself is a bad story. That idiocy is necessarily genetic and unfixable.
Scarab> That people can't educate themselves out of ignorance. That science isn't a candle in the dark, so to speak.
Scarab> But it's easier to understand. Dumbed down to the base level to maximize the story value of Stupid Is Bad.
RobotLyra> I'm anxious and I no longer know whether simple placation is worthwhile or a time-delaying bandaid.
Scarab> I'm sorry, I'm not very conducive to peace of mind when I tip down my glasses and stare at something in words.

Don't we all, don't we all. The human condition, right there.
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
2012-12-23 06:27 pm

All attempts at defining physical "perfection" are suspect.

In 1912 and 1913, having no sense of foresight about declaring a scientifically ideal specimen of humanity, Cornell University touted the 24-year-old, 5' 7" (1.7m), 171lb. (77.56kg), 35-30-40, illness-resistant, blue-eyed blonde Elsie Scheel as the "perfect woman."

I suspect most people would leave it at that. Skim the article, move on, perhaps reflect briefly on how physical ideals change over time, perhaps with a touch of bitterness for modern conventions of beauty.

But there is much more to be learned here.

Ms. Scheel's description revealed a woman highly engaged in her own health. Her habits included no "delicacies," no tea, no coffee, little if any candy (she had "no taste" for it), and "bracing tramps" as opposed to dances.

A student of horticulture with an ambition to grow vegetables on her father's farm, she tells the paper that she is an ardent suffragette and that 'if she were a man, she would study mechanical engineering as she likes to work about an automobile.'

The article about her, and the glowing praise of the newspaper scans, provide a valuable educational insight into the American feminine ideal of one hundred years ago -- but Scheel wasn't the "perfect woman" for 1913 Cornell University because of her body alone.

She was a well-traveled university student with a "splendidly alert mind" who followed an "Athletic, Fresh Air" lifestyle, which is a "Product of Modern Civilization."
She exhibited intelligence. Fearlessness. Happiness in simplicity.

Oh, and a firm belief in eugenics.


Frustratingly, the article scan cuts off just above where it mentions eugenics. Luckily, through the astonishing magic of Google, I found the whole page inside the archived issue of that very newspaper: the Sunday Morning Star of Wilmington, Delaware, February 2nd, 1913.

Let's take a look:

"But what is the secret of your own wonderful health? Did you follow any special system of living?"

"Not at all," answered Miss Scheel. "It is simply natural for me to be healthy, but the real reason is to be found in the clean living which has characterized my ancestors on both sides. None of them was rich, but they all lived clean, sane lives."

That one statement of Miss Schell is a wonderful testimony to our eugenics theories, in which, by the way, she is a firm believer. The Venus de Milo was the product of the skilled hand and brain of a single artist, but this modern "perfect woman" represents the best of the whole host of her forefathers.

"Women should be able to exact as much from the men they marry as the men demand of them, and if they must continue to passively accept men as they are, then the race will degenerate," said she emphatically."


The "perfect woman" of 1913 was a eugenicist, an academic scientific racist, like far too many intelligent people of her time.

It's like the most delicious dinner in the world, served on a plate of asbestos.

It's like the most comfortable bed in the world, built on a frame of plutonium.

It's like the most moving concerto in the world, played on vuvuzelas.

It's like... well, it's like a smart, healthy, productive person who turns out to be a racist.

And that, folks, is how much an ideal can change in 100 years. All for the better. All for the better.
jackscarab: (Asplode)
2012-11-25 04:47 pm

Dragon Effect

In the span of these past two weeks, I have played through Dragon Age II two times on two Hawkes: the rogue Tori and the mage Avani (of course I would). I played a little of the first game after Tori's run to get some background lore, but I quickly put it down to return to run through the sequel with Avani.

Let me repeat that: I stopped playing the first game because it took valuable time away from playing the sequel for the second time in two weeks. Those who know how I love doing things in order may find that surprising.

Whereas the Mass Effect series had me adventuring throughout the galaxy over the course of about three years, DA2 kept me in the dark medieval city-state of Kirkwall and surrounding environs for seven years. It was different -- more personal, with a heavier emotional investment by proximity -- yet equally immersive due to the stellar writing in dialogue, scenario, and lore. I mean, I liked the Normandy and the Citadel, but they were just a home base and a place to visit. Stark, filthy, socially-unstable Kirkwall was "my city" for over seventy hours.

The characters were entrancingly fleshed out and well-acted. The team banter had me astounded and rolling in turn with all its vitality and personality. I never once had Aveline out of my party; she's among my favorite female video game characters. Varric was seldom absent too; I would go so far as to say he is the greatest dwarf in all of fiction this side of Discworld. I could sit and watch and listen to either of them say words for hours, twice over... which is in fact exactly what I did.

Here Bioware took up the unenviable task of making yet another Dark Ages fantasy using the Tolkien trinity of man/elf/dwarf. They succeeded well enough with the (somewhat clunky to me) first game to make a sequel which absolutely knocked it out of the park with social commentary, an excellent combat system, and an amazing cast. They built a new world with old parts and let its audience absorb its glory through a handful of masterwork characters.

I think I'm in love with Bioware, to such an extent as one can love a game-producing company.
jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
2012-11-11 03:44 pm

Izumicon 2012, Sunday


Sunday is the dead day at most cons, and one as comfortably small as Izumicon is no different.

Few pictures as a result. )
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-11-10 03:55 pm

Izumicon 2012, Saturday

Saturday: another day of supporting my local nerds.

Also food vendors. )
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-11-09 07:47 pm

Izumicon 2012, Friday

Yep, I'm still going to this thing, because I enjoy supporting the semi-local nerd community.

It also helps to get me out of the house for more than work.

Pictures! )
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
2012-11-03 04:18 pm

Stay away from the Internet, Sonic. Trust me on this.


Wreck-It Ralph

Cute movie, great premise.

But as a writer, I have a good many Questions.

Questions about the world presented in the film.

Which naturally contain spoilers here and there.

jackscarab: (Default)
2012-10-31 08:30 am

Yesterday's News:

Disney acquired Lucasfilm
Sony acquired EA
AT&T acquired Sprint
Apple acquired Nintendo
Google acquired Yahoo!
Time Warner acquired NBC
Wal-Mart acquired Big Lots!
Toyota acquired Honda
McDonald’s acquired Tim Horton’s and Sonic
Microsoft acquired Mozilla, Adobe, and Java
Amazon acquired Barnes & Noble
The United States acquired Sweden
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-10-16 10:35 pm

Haven't left.

So what have I been up to? Twitter and Tumblr, mostly. I've checked here often, but haven't written much. So...

I wrote some things on my revamped website.

I started up subbing again.

I watched some debates on TV.


Frankly I feel like I haven't been angry or interesting enough lately to merit long LJ posts, even about the legitimately angrifying things Romney said in tonight's debate.

But I'll try to get back into it, because if you're reading this, you're awesome enough to be posted at.

In conclusion, did I mention I have a new website? I totally do.
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-07-30 08:29 pm

Otakon 2012: The Dork Knight(s) Rising (Before Noon)

I am at this moment in an airport. By the time I finish, I'll be at home.

Otakon happened again, and was great fun with only a little soreness.

The consensus for last year seemed to be "That was awesome!"

The consensus for this year seemed to be "That was fast (and also we all realize we're aging)!"

And as usual, I took enough pictures for everyone.

May Contain Ponies )
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-06-08 05:59 pm

It's rock maple, most of it.

So: context.

A decade or so ago, my mother's mother ("Grandma J") married the man she was seeing before both of them split and had long eventful lives with other people who died before they did. His name's Jim.

About a month ago, Grandma J had a Parkinson's dimentia episode combined with being fed up with staying at home all the time with a nigh-immobile husband. She, essentially blind, just up and walked away from the house. That finally, finally convinced Jim to concede to moving to an assisted living facility.

Well, Jim's in the hospital now. I don't know the full details of what's wrong with him, but given his age and physical state, he might be on his way out.

If he goes, that would mean Grandma J moves to another assisted-living place much closer to us. That would mean moving a lot of furniture, not only from her home but from her house. And a lot of furniture presents a logistical problem.

My mom floated the idea of my sister and/or I getting an apartment or renting a house for the express purpose of having a place to cram all that stuff. It's what she and her brother did when their father died, I'm told.


It seems to me that just selling the stuff or putting it in long-term storage is a more efficient and cost-effective way getting rid of it than moving out in order to keep it company.

If moving out were simply a matter of possessing enough furniture to live comfortably, I'd be gone. There's a whole darn house worth of the stuff in the garage, the shed and the back room, just waiting there for me and/or my sister. One hundred percent of it could vanish tomorrow and the only thing this family would feel is relief that we have free space again. If and when Grandma J moves closer to us, we will own approximately three houses worth of furniture.

I mean I'd like to have it all, in my own place, two years ago, but moving out usually requires a reason like "I make a sufficient wage in addition to my savings," "My parents have ordered it / requested it / suggested it might be nice," "I have a significant other," or "My current living arrangement has become uncomfortable in some way," not merely "The furniture needs a custodian."


Maybe Jim will pull through whatever it is and all will be well for a while. But I'll be recommending selling the stuff we can't live without.

... Anybody want a lot of tables and chairs and things?
jackscarab: (Asplode)
2012-05-22 08:17 am


Enjoy a dramatic reading of a best-selling novel this morning.

(This is the greatest thing since his Aristocrats routine.)
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
2012-05-20 07:08 pm

(Features some fan service in equal measures.)

Interested parties may now find Aether Torrent episode #18 in the usual place.

Unbelievably, an advertisement/website designer friend on Twitter approved enough of my roleplaying certain Mass Effect people that she offered to overhaul my entire site pro bono. Just looking at her early work on it, I can say that the site will be unrecognizably good when she's finished.

It's now what you know, kids, it's who you know. And who I know are mostly nerds who enjoy video games.
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-05-17 07:12 pm

All the nerds know each other at that school.

So there are three school days left in the year. Today the yearbooks came out.

One of the Smart Kids asked if I could sign her yearbook. Sure, I said.

The yearbooks now are a bit different than the ones I had. The main autograph space is in the back, in a separate thin booklet which is lightly glued to the back hardcover. I took only a moment to look over the new advance in yearbook technology, which was long enough for the student to point out how the yearbook's binding was new too. She was "such a nerd," she said, she "knew about all kinds of book binding."

I turned to the front page of the signing booklet, took out one of the teacher's Sharpies, wrote "It's perfectly fine to be a nerd," and signed my name.

It was something that needed to be written.
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
2012-05-15 10:37 am

Wherein I wonder about alternate histories.

This Cracked.com article, "6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About the Founding of America," could be one of the most interesting I've read -- from an educational perspective -- in recent memory. (I can ignore overlooking St. Augustine as this continent's oldest European settlement because the article told me that Monk's Mound is a thing.)

I was taught none of the stuff therein, of course, when I was in school. Mostly it deals with how thoroughly the native inhabitants were screwed.

I even learned something new from it. I knew that plague destroyed most of the natives, but the article put numbers and colorful descriptions to the devastation. Sobering, both.

It all goes to explain why U.S. culture is apocalyptic at times. I've noticed we always seem to look forward to the end of the world -- Y2K, 2012, Apophis, Israeli domestic policy -- but never quite put my finger on why that was. Now I have a better idea: we've seen an apocalypse already. The one which allowed this very culture to exist.

And we wonder in the back of our national skull how many days we must wait until it's our turn.
jackscarab: (Default)
2012-05-13 07:06 pm

Wherein I fight for Livejournal's relevance.

My sister and I had a Tumblr conversation worth sharing.

Assuming you haven't already seen it there. )
jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
2012-05-12 11:45 pm

Well they're no friends of mine

It's interesting to see what has become of anime music videos.

The AMV embedded above is "PencilHead," a project by the guy who turned Noir into a beautiful James Bond intro. Both AMVs are of the "Death By After-Effects" variety, but PencilHead is the new crown jewel of the genre.

You will see why.

Fortunately, that type does not rule all AMVs. New classic-form ones, which involve one show set to one song with excellent timing, still exist.

Not that I have anything against skillful editing, of course. Here's another newish one which uses video-splicing skills to great effect -- by presenting something fun, not making the editing the star of the show.

It's all making me excited for Otakon, months away. AMV Hell 6 will be there. The crowd will go wild, I'm sure.
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
2012-05-11 04:07 pm

Japan: making a smaller and more efficient population.

The population of Japan increasingly becoming elderly, and of impressive health into its extended longevity, is not a surprise.

The statistically concerning lack of babies to replace them, however, is.

Their demographic situation is such that:

Japanese researchers have now warned of a doomsday scenario if it carries on this way with the last child to be born there in 3011 and the Japanese people potentially disappearing a few generations later.

I suppose that is the price of extreme homogeneity. Luckily, they have about a thousand years to solve it with a lot of sex, even if they must eventually do it with foreigners.

The article suggests some possible reasons for the lack of human mating over there. It does not mention the robotic butt, yet it ought to, since "some suggest many young Japanese people prefer "virtual" friends with a robot or on the internet."

Which makes me wonder: Wait, they already have robot friends over there? Not just "robot friends" wink-wink, but automaton companions?

Get with the program, United States!