silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
I welcome all of the following types of comments on ANY of my entries:
  • Single or two word comments, e.g. , woo!, yay, yes, no, please, thanks, absolutely, agreed, seconded, so much, no way, etc.
  • "+1" or Facebook style "like".
  • Otherwise brief comments, e.g. single sentences.
  • A comment that is a punctuation mark(s) to let me know you read, e.g. a period, an asterisk.
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  • Long, wordy comments. Rambling is totally okay.
  • Comments and links on related topics.
  • Comments on single links, entities, paragraphs, topics, or words in the entry. I throw out a lot of things each entry, and I don't expect anyone to have to come up with a coherent comment on each and every one of them to comment.
  • Sequential commentary. It's totally okay to comment about one thing as you read it, then another thing in a separate comment, then a third thing after you've chewed on it for a while and feel ready to talk about it.
  • Incoherent comments. It’s all good. I would rather have you here and showing interest,, even if it's just a *flail*, than for you to stay silent because you are afraid or unable to get the perfect comment out.
  • Talking amongst yourselves in the comments is fine. I like creating a place where people get to interact!

I also welcome:

  • Comments on older entries, access-locked or public.
  • Comments on VERY OLD entries, access-locked or public. I have many years of archives.
  • Comments from people who are not subscribed to me.
  • Comments from people who I’ve never met.
  • Comments from people who haven’t talked to me in awhile.
  • Comments from people who’ve never talked to me.
  • I like knowing the provenance of new commenters. If you're new, I'd love to know where you came from and what brought you here.

My great anxiety is that there's nobody out there and I'm shouting into the wind. If you’re feeling like you want to comment with something, feel free to comment with what feels good and comfortable to you, whether that’s leaving a !!! or an essay. If you don't have the spoons for any comment, that's okay, too. No pressure, no obligations.

How I reply to comments:
  • I mostly try to reply to comments.
  • I normally try to reply to comments as soon after they arrive as I can.
  • My comments will probably try to elicit more discussion and longer-form commentary. Part of it is my professional training, part of it is because I like discussions.
  • You are never obligated to reply to a reply, nor to write longer-form than you wish.
  • If you would like a response to a comment, I encourage you to let me know. “I would appreciate a response to this if possible,” etc. is totally fine with me.
  • Absentminded. If I have forgotten to reply to something you want a reply to, a poke is totally okay.

Linking to my entries:
  • If it’s public, it’s fair game.
  • It’s access-locked, ask me.
  • Please do not archive my work without asking me first.
  • If you do link to me elsewhere, it warms my heart if you tell me where you linked, but it's not a requirement.
  • If something I linked or wrote inspired you, it warms my heart if you link me to it. Also not a requirement.

Transformative works:

As of the time of writing this (02013-09-09), the content of my blog is licensed CC-BY-SA (3.0 Unported), which says that if you use my work for something, your work should attribute me (the user name and a link back to my blog is usually sufficient) and your work should also be licensed under a license similar to the Attribution-Sharealike license. The stuff I link to is not governed under this license and may have additional requirements for you to use.

Adding and access:

If you want to add me, go ahead! Please feel encouraged to do so.

I like new subscribers. I also respect access-locks - if something you created is That Awesome, I'll ask for permission before excerpting or posting elsewhere.

I may not add you back - I tend to evaluate based on what's available on your entries page. If you're mostly access only, it may take some comments or a conversation in a third space before I have an idea of whether I want to subscribe. If your journal is a repository for your fiction efforts, I may not add you back, because I do not have near enough time to properly read anyone's fiction as a part of my daily list crawl. I would probably enjoy it, if I had the time.

I don't give access, generally. For one, nearly everything posted is public, so you're not missing out on anything by not having that access. If I do post something under access-lock, it is probably something intensely personal, and so I'd be hand-selecting who I want to see it.

(This idea stolen and modified from [personal profile] trascendenza, who first broached it in their own journal when talking about commenting culture and their own anxieties.)
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
We begin with the importance of reading things again - the second read often reveals more about the book than the first. Additionally, the ability to write plot that doesn't have a conflict.

And then, the wonders of evolution...that produce drug-resistant STIs.

Also important, useful information for those who menstruate.

Also, people that believe modern expression has taken away from the Platonic ideal expressed in older times. To which, for spite and malice, I present classic dance sequences set to Uptown Funk.

The Dead Pool double-whammied us with Ziggy Stardust / Jareth, King of the Goblins, at 69 years and Hans Gruber / Severus Snape / The Metatron at 69 years, both to cancer. (David Bowie and Alan Rickman)

If you want to visit the national parks of Canada, go in 2017, when admission to the parks will be free.

Having an extensive vocabulary of curses is an indicator that someone's vocabulary outside of curses is pretty good, too. which goes with more of the idea that putting in practice at something improves skill to match taste and a book to assist in building fantastical creatures using anatomy and what follows from there.

A short comic about coming to the realization that someone is ace, along with a peek inside what happens to the partner whose husband transitioned to be a man during their relationship and a partnership where both people are pregnant at the same time.

The women's versions of products, otherwise identical, are often significantly more expensive. This is just one of the ways women get shut out - there aren't nearly enough women making culture and media without the aid or oversight of men. And media is only slowly coming to appreciate works with "unpleasant" women in them, while qualified veteran pilots are excluded from a national cemetery because they are women and powerful celebrities amass significant amounts of accusations against them and still manage to keep the benefit of the doubt because they are men.

Having enjoyed the ability to consume and dispose that comes with perceived economic good times, many are now returning to the idea that products should last for an extremely long time, and be made repairable for further longevity.

Peek in at a game writer for Bioware.

There are more stories about women falling in love with other women than there are movie plots about it. Because real people have intersecting identities, like queer and Muslim.

People also have to deal with other people doing shit and the emotional damage those attacks cause.

Some things that may help prepare you for and get you through the next depressive episode, along with other things that might help blunt the impact of emotions.

There needs to be black Hermione, because black Hermione represents so, so much to many more people.

A TEDx talk about trying not to take it personally when someone tells you the thing you said or did is -ist, which covers the thing that grates the most on hearing it - it's not that you are a bad person because you said a racist thing, it's that you're a good or bad person depending on what you do afterward.

One should not have to rehearse a process that likely ends in death - instead, one should try to do something about the situations that lead to those deaths.

Finland had changed the educational system to focus on clusters of things together in a topic, rather than disparate subjects with no admitted relationship to each other.

A rape account was handled incredibly poorly, including charging the woman reporting with a false report - when it turned out her account has been true, and she had been victimized by a serial rapist. To the credit of the city involved, the police department received additional training and the city apologized, cleared records, and settled with the victim.

The X-Files can still exist in a world that had 11 September 2011, because it was ultimately a story about the characters. Characters the show creator said were in a strictly platonic relationship.

Fans see actor roles in relation to each other, such that similar characters at different points in the actor's career often end up with fanon about one transforming into the other over time.

One of the most famous bridge collapses of the United States happened not from resonance, but from flutter and a cable that failed.

That which is billed as easy and quick cooking is only so if you are a chef or aspire to be one.

Selling used books on the Internet for a cent plus shipping can turn a profit, so long as your sale volume is big enough.

Opera singers on taking care of the vocal instrument and avoiding sickness.

Wonderful photographs from a collection called "butch" that celebrates those who choose masculine appearance and/or identify as male.

A founder of the Pirate Bay points out that the Internet is replicating a toxic society instead of overthrowing it, and says it is a better idea to let the society be destroyed and take the Internet with it, so that whatever comes next will be built on a better society. He's probably also not happy about the way that streaming sites have taken up most of our bandwidth.

A segmented worm toy for preschoolers will change its behavior based on the way the segments are assembled, giving preschoolers the opportunity to learn about robotics programming. The rest of us get things that Star Trek did well and paved the way for others to do the same with. And The understanding that video games can help with depression and anxiety, by forcing focus or allowing for low-risk interaction.

Here are some things you may want to disable in Windows 10, which we put by An algorithm that generates a passpoem of excellent entropy and iambic pentameter, trying to make passphrases that are both secure and memorable in the xkcd vein.

By changing the category number on the end of a Netflix URL, it's possible to access the many incredibly specific categories Netflix uses to tailor movie recommendations. If you use services intended to make it possible to watch Netflix offerings in other countries, Netflix intends to make it harder for you to watch content not licensed in your country, because the copyright holders think their distribution deals and ideas will be less effective if people can just watch it.

In a different societal failure, striving for your ideal does not require sacrificing everything in pursuit of it, but it can require that you do your best not to shut out genuine allies and people on the same path you are. Of course, even people who are allies can screw it up pretty easily.

There's ways to notice when privilege is at work, understanding that those who benefit from the privilege won't give it up, not after being systemically told that's the only thing they have. And then they protect that small thing with great violence, while abdicating the responsibility to educate and mentor children and the ways they can be thoughtful and appreciative without appropriation.

A founder of The Toast talks transparently about the finances of running the site and the luck they have had so far about profitability and not having lots of debt incurred and the general ideas behind much of the content on The Toast.

Staying on writing, a profitable ghostwriter tells young writers to do the same if they want to make a steady income, instead of gambling that their own prose will be saleable.

The current backlash against non-white, non-male protagonists appearing in media everywhere is a tantrum being thrown by people who don't want to have to share and who are now getting a taste of what all the other reindeer have been experiencing the whole time. By focusing too much on the past and the future, they cause great harm in the present. And even if they thought were being worse for them, understand that women start out with the same ambitions men do, but lose that ambition faster than men do, due to many aspects of patriarchy, like a lack of role models, the Smurfette Principle, and, oh, yes, the copious amounts of misogyny in the workplace.

The way the current War on (Some) Drugs is structured, life expectancy in developing countries is going down due to the step up in violence.

Princess Leia is, by far, the most important character in Star Wars, for reasons in the universe and out of it.

A very useful guide of ingredient weights and volumes. Also, common things that should be recyclable, but aren't.

There exists a corps of people who volunteer for the tricky task of detangling yarn that had knotted itself horribly.

Pictures of life in New York City in the 1950s, discovered many years after they had been taken. Also, color footage of Toronto in the 1940s, the best pictures taken by drone, and the same apartment floor plan ten times, with different furniture inside.

A digitized lift the flap book from the 17th century, covering the subject of anatomy. Contains crotch demons.

See inside a cave that has developed an entire ecosystem of its own, since the top of it collapsed early enough to allow in vegetation and waterfalls. Then, wood cut and painted like gemstones. And then, pictures taken by things and people in space. (Additionally, heliocentrism makes maths calculations a lot easier.)

Yes, there is a network of scientists who help films and television shows make their science fiction more science-y.

Following the chain of vendors for solar projects sometimes leads to prison labor paid less than a dollar per hour for the work, monkeys have been trained for a long while to pick coconuts from trees, and current formulations of sunscreen are causing coral reef damage. Oh, and while they aren't now, it's possible that the manufacturers of personal trackers could sell your health data to other parties.

Vegan cheeses are pretty competitive with dairy cheeses for taste, texture, and behavior, although more than a few cheeses produced in the world cannot be imported to the United States, since they are made with unpasteurized milk.

The story of a dog's life, illustrated. Very heartstrings-yanking, especially if you've ever lost a pet if your own. Recommend against viewing unless you really want to cry. Same for Rhianna Pratchett remembering her father and his accomplishments.

A leash-trained cat takes excellent vacations, tiny animals taking baths, more wildlife photographs, rescued owls, elaborate cat perches and walkways, what magpies actually do,

and animals think and be social, sometimes like, sometimes unlike, sometimes in cooperation with, humans.

Last for tonight, musings on the reality of Canada and pleasant surprises of the immigrant experience.
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
In your own space, talk about what you're taking away from this challenge. Did you learn something? Did you interact with new people? Or did you try out different fandoms or formats or relationships? What's changed between Day 1 and Day 15 of this challenge?

Well, in both cases, it was an experiment, seeing if this landscape calling itself fandom had a place for someone who writes less of pairings and threes and more of reasons why vampires playing baseball would look very different than humans. I'm pretty sure there's a place for me in there, but it seems like me and my fellow travelers are the nomads of the universe, wandering about and staying in the various cities of fandom, but not necessarily building houses there.

I did learn of the presence of podfic, which seems like an awesome thing and I salute the people that can carve out enough time to actually perform works. I can only guess at the amount of time needed for things of multiple chapters and hundreds of thousands of words.

I got to see a pretty good range of major fandoms at work, with not too many things mentioned that I hadn't seen or at least knew what was going on. I got to read some neat fiction bits in things I didn't expect, like incompetent time-traveling saxophone haters or planetary bodies and science instruments.

Most of the people participating were user names that I had never seen around, so that was neat. I don't think too many of them would take a look at me and think of my journal as a place to follow, but I did get some nice comments on the Night Vale ficlet I wrote on day four. That was encouraging, at least.

And I had to write the exercise of things you like about yourself, which is one of the hardest things to do. So, all in all, I'd consider the whole thing a success, even if I didn't find the secret enclaves of Meta and the group that are all about analyzing the same shows that I'm watching. I'm sure they're there. Of course, it would probably help if I ever actually said what kind of shows I was watching. Or books I was reading, or albums listening, and all of that stuff that helps build a community. Maybe I'm afraid of people making fun of me for it. (That would be a holdover from teen years - I've been away from that for a long time, but it was during that perfect time when you form your opinion of yourself and others using the people around you as the template.)

Anyway, still not sure that I'm that far up on the canon of the more popular things to participate in exchanges...or that I have time for it, but maybe I'll keep peeking in for things that aren't that demanding on the time.
silveradept: The emblem of the Heartless, a heart with an X of thorns and a fleur-de-lis at the bottom instead of the normal point. (Heartless)
In your own space, share your love for something fannish: a trope, cliché, kink, motif, theme, format, or fandom.

Where to start? (The Beginning.) I think I'm always going to have a soft spot for the newspaper comic style, even though I haven't regularly read any sort of comic, save Unshelved, xckd, and Girl Genius, all delivered to me, regularly. If I think about my comfort reads in comics, they tend to be slice-of-life style stories. What that life consists of can be plenty weird, as it is in Calvin and Hobbes, Ozy and Millie, Sinfest, early College Roomies From Hell!!! (the three exclamation points stand for quality), xkcd, Yotsuba&!, and Lucky Star, but it tends to be serial, slice-of-life, and drawn in a four-panel style with bigger sets on occasion. There's something about the format that's good for me, like it isn't demanding too much time, there's usually going to be a joke involved somewhere, and a lot of the subjects touched on there do so without sliding off into the darker places. (Not universally, of course - there are plenty of serious subjects that happen in strip form.) Maybe it's just my nostalgia filter being tripped, and comics in that style recall memories of a previous, happier, less responsibility-burdened time. Even as I was reading about Watterson battling his syndicate and dove headfirst into Dana Simpson's political spinoff (I Drew This), the adult concerns expressed in those places weren't as real as they are now, having lived without the protective shields put in place to make sure I could get to adulthood safely.

If I keep going like this, I'm probably going to harsh someone's squee about the things I've mentioned so far. Happier thoughts, happier thoughts, like the independent spirit on display in those comics. Calvin, Millie (and Ozy, on a much quieter delivery), Yotsuba, Konata, Ayamu, Chiyo, and most of the cast of these comics are doing their thing, regardless of social pressures. Those pressures, when presented, tend to take the form of comedy, even if it wouldn't be quite as funny now to watch a character obsess about their weight and others their cup size. And my fingers still wince in sympathy for Saki. None of the characters in the comics receive severe and permanent consequences for their decisions to be who they are. They might have sheep for rivals, and the visual metaphors might be a bit much from time to time, but their stories don't reflect the reality around them, just outside their universe, where the readers are.

I wonder if that's part of the draw of fanworks - to be able to set up the world in such a way where sometimes, everyone lives. Or gets the person they are happiest with, or finds their happily ever after, villains included. To build the world we want to see, fully realized, as a break or a counterweight to the world outside, which is nowhere near fully realized and still needs a lot of work.

Oy. Melancholy again. I like comedy, and to laugh, and clever wordplay and pratfalls, and my stories as a relief from the world outside, as Pratchettian little lies and big ones, and to see heroes defeat villains, for the reasons that are right to them.

I like my stories happy, because I've had more than enough of my fill of depression and anger and negative self-talk, and those things will just keep coming, so what I like in my stories is the ability to set that aside and pretend, even if for only a little while.

What I get fannish about, most of the time, is a world that isn't this one.
silveradept: Domo-kun, wearing glass and a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie, sitting at a table. (Domokun Anchor)
I've been a little light on the politics lately - you could probably call it burnout, although in my case, it's more that my usual daily politics dose got put behind a paywall in the visual form and now only exists as an audio daily form. And, perhaps, that one can only read so much about the deliberate injury that a major political party intends to inflict on people you know and are friends with before you start wanting a buffer.

Plus, it seems that everyone agrees that it is election season since the middle of last fucking year. I don't want to cover candidate shenanigans until those candidates start acting like serious people or they start winning their contests. Which extends most importantly to the current media trainwreck. So, I've probably missed some important things over the last few months by going media-light on current affairs. Self-care, though, is still a valid life choice. Maybe I'm ready to get back into things now, starting with this.

As required by the Constitution, "He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." So, on the evening of January 12, 02016, Barack Obama gave his eighth State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. I'll be using The official enhanced address from The White House and its associated official prepared remarks for the speech.

To start off, I think we all have to admit that Barack Obama is a master of the self-deprecating joke. He's had to be, since he's been the subject of attacks based on perception of who he is as much as the policies that he's been espousing. He's also acutely aware that since the control of one house of Congress changed to control of the Republicans, the citizens of the U.S. have basically assumed, and been proven right, that the law-passing branch of the government would be unable to get its act together and actually govern.

The actual speech begins with the idea that, as it always has been, we live in a world of great and accelerating change, and that the spirit of the United States takes on new challenges instead of retreating to the past. Thus, the recovery from the recession, the Affordable Care Act, more green energy, better military personnel care, and marriage equality are a direct result of embracing the change of the future head-on.

That's great rhetoric, but for each of those things, there's a metric ton of trench work involved in bringing them to fruition. Saying the stimulus worked is accurate, but the recovery also involves the private sector. Marriage equality is decided by a court case, not an actual law. So there's a lot of that Hufflepuff work ethic outside your Slytherin rhetoric.

The four questions that the President proposes as long-term ideas are also the structure of his speech. Question one - "how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?"

Before actually addressing the question, the President hammers hard on the idea that the recovery and economy are going excellent and the government deficit is going way down. (Which they are, both of them. The data on the economy and the deficit back up those claims.)

Then comes the prime objection to looking at the country in this way - the economy doing well means the rich are doing well, and means nothing at all for the grand majority of people who work. In those areas, the President starts with the idea of universal pre-K and enough STEM work so that graduates of high school can take technology jobs right out of the gate. The President adds in to this the student loan reform already implemented and his proposal for two years of free community college for "responsible students", essentially extending the public education phase of life for two more years.

I would like to know how that idea would apply to those accepted to four year universities - would they also receive two years free, or an equivalent amount of money to be spent on the credit-hours of their university?

More importantly, though, would there also be a requirement that the four-year colleges accept the credits in transfer from the community colleges? Some places, including the University I attended, made it policy that they don't accept credits from other institutions they deem not up to the standards of their instruction. I'm sure this could all be detailed in a bill, were one ever to originate. Since the House controls spending...

There's also the big tenants of the Democrats - Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act, transitioning into how much the President wants a robust private sector and that there is bureaucracy to be trimmed, which is the best applause line he has from both parties. Being at least a nominal populist, rich, he has to mention the truth that the rich and corporations don't trickle down, and that immigrants and the poor don't cause financial collapses.

He certainly doesn't go any father than that, though, and as we'll see, he's not aligning himself with Anonymous, the Occupy protests, or other people who think that the wealth and power of the rich and corrupt needs to be broken and redistributed.

Question Two is "how do we make technology work for us, and not against us -- especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?" The name-dropping about innovation are gender-balanced, at least, and all in science and tech (Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride), but then the President says he protected an open Internet. This is not true. The President supports the methods of the copyright cabal and their treaties intended to subjugate other countries to the laws of the United States. He supports the ways that those cabals keep things out of the public domain. He should stick to the environmental things, as he does in the next passages, rather than champion himself as a supporter of an open Internet.

After putting Vice President Biden at the helm of finding cancer cures, the President shifts to climate change, where green jobs and inexpensive energy resides.

From climate change and cheaper, cleaner energy, the President transitions into bellicosity about the strength of the United States. This is his introduction to question three: "how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?" There's an awful lot of chest-thumping about military might and protecting freedom and citizens and a nonzero amount about how militant fanatics should not have their view of the world reinforced through the actions of the United States.

The President wants to highlight his ability to work with other countries to solve problems, regarding the coalition in Syria, the lack of nuclear Iran, preventing the ebola outbreak from becoming significantly more widespread, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of those vehicles of the copyright cabals, and the normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

And he dangles the possibility of curing HIV/AIDS and malaria within the near future, juxtaposing it with the need to close Guantanamo Bay.

That's also the transition to the last question, "how can we make our politics reflect what's best in us, and not what's worst?" The President goes for the low-hanging fruit to start with, that politicians and citizens that attack Muslims do the country a disservice and help the radicals that claim to be Muslim. He pivots to the need for compromise to make the process of government move forward, which requires believing others are acting in good faith, instead of calling them unpatriotic or claiming they hate America...or proving that elected representatives act in the interests of their people, instead of corporations and wealthy donors.

For the President, that means reforming money in politics, making voting easier, standing up for those who are weaker, and being engaged in the political process and public life. Serious reforms about money in politics would be welcome, as would rolling back all the Republican-led efforts to make it harder for segments that don't vote Republican to vote. Handing off the redistricting process to true nonpartisans would also help get representative districts properly drawn.

And it might also not hurt to have people other than career politicians in the roles of government for a change.

The closing statement is the ritual incantation to the state of the union being strong and the other incantation to The Being Represented By The Tetragrammaton to show favor on the United States.

The President is a skilled orator, and always has been, but action would be the loudest thing to say for either side to indicate their support, or at least a willingness to commit to getting a bill put together.

What we got, instead, was the official Republican response, with accompanying transcript of the 2016 Republican response accompanying.

Governor Haley of South Carolina was tapped to deliver the response, which seems calculated as a way of trying to make the Republicans seem less the party of White Men. Governor Haley had her own big thing this year, when a black activist scaled a flagpole in a state cemetery and removed the Confederate flag flying there.

The opening of the speech makes a strong assertion that the President's record falls short of his oratory, especially on the matter of the economy and health care. Which seems like waltzing through a minefield to me, as the Republican Party can pretty easily be tagged for the failures of both, since they insisted that the health care reform reward the health insurance companies, they have trouble passing budgets, and their usually bread and butter constituency are the people responsible for the economic meltdown.

After that somewhat rickety start, Governor Haley shifts to immigration, first by recounting her own immigrant heritage, then declaring that immigration had to be fixed by stopping illegal immigration, requiring vetting of immigrants, and refusing refugees whose intentions can't be determined. The idea of reforming the system by closing off parts of it doesn't seem to be one that would hold water, not to mention the difficulty of figuring out what a refugee's intent actually is.

The governor engages in a non-sequitur about a different tragedy from this year involving a man shooting others in a church, and the response that came from it meant to heal the area, instead of...listening to the loudest and angriest voices. If that really were important to the GOP, Donald Trump would not be at the top of the candidates' list, as he qualifies on both counts.

After this, Governor Haley is ready to go down the list of high-pitched whistles to the base. Observe:
If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we'd put the brakes on runaway spending and debt.
Once again, the deficit is shrinking for this year, as it has been for the many years before it. And if the government really wanted to get serious about paying down debt, it could probably add a significant amount of income and debt reduction just by removing various methods that the richest use to avoid their taxes.

We would encourage American innovation and success instead of demonizing them, so our economy would truly soar and good jobs would be available across our country.

We would reform education so it worked best for students, parents, and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats and union bosses.
I'm not sure where the talking point about demonizing innovation came from. So I can't say much about that.

Education, however, seems to be a matter of funding a way to make sure that the poorest districts have enough money to be able to conduct operations. "Bureaucrats and union bosses" are the whistle, there, because if seems to be a matter of dogma that public school teachers are lazy is uninspired because the security of their union job makes them complacent. To that, I say the Republicans should shadow public school teachers and then ask again whether they are lazy. And that they should note that for-profit charter schools will create tiers of education, where the inability to provide the tuition for a private education will give a student a second-class designation for years.

We would end a disastrous health care program, and replace it with reforms that lowered costs and actually let you keep your doctor.
You've had long enough to produce the plan. Put up or shut up.

We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.
"We wish the icky gay men and lesbians were forced to stay closeted and barred from getting married, and align ourselves with the most conservative of churches and denominations."

We would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.
"Guns and 'States' Rights' forever.

We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.
if you think Israel isn't thrilled at the prospect of a non-nuclear Iran, you are very much mistaken.

And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them.
"War forever, maybe with even more money and hardware put into it."

And with the ritual invocations to the Past That Never Was and the Being, that's the end of the response. It was light on substance - take advantage of your hypertext and start cracking on the specifics. Plans are what drives the legislative process. Without that, the country won't take your party seriously.

Worth mentioning at the end, there are more than a few people in Twitter putting lyrics from the musical Hamilton to images and ideas from the speech. It might be the most tweeted thing about the speech.

And there's your speechmaking. Into the election year we go from here, I suppose.
silveradept: Criminy, Fuschia and Blue (Sinfest), the girls sitting or leaning on stacks of books. Caption: Read! Chicks dig it! (READ Chicks)
In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you did not create.

One way to level up today's challenge is to try to rec any of the following: tiny fandoms, rare pairings, fanworks other than stories, lesser known kinks or tropes. Find fanworks that have few to no comments, or creators new to a particular fandom and maybe aren't well known or appreciated. 

And, a last quick bit of advice: if possible, do your fellow fan a favour and give warnings for triggery fanworks (deathfic, noncon, etc.) You'll get good fannish karma in return. :)
Solid advice with regard to this challenge - recommendations should come with the possible issues accompanying. It makes it easier to decide whether to forge ahead or shelve the recommendation.

As for my own, first, I want to highlight a couple items using the technique of psychocronography to analyze various media in their contexts. The Near-Apocalypse of '09 is looking at episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, with the idea that Batman, despite being a vigilante operating outside the law, is always a character working to uphold the structures of order and society in the face of more chaotic figures such as the Joker. The Super Nintendo Project (link is to first post in the series) uses the various games of the platform as a reflection on an idealized past, the one populated by various Puppies, Gamergate adherents, and others who believe firmly in the nerdy version of The Past That Never Was. Since the subtitle is "A Sixteen-Bit Ritual to Destroy Gamergate", you can see where it will be going.

The very first fandub I saw was Evangelion Re:Death, a blisteringly funny send-up of Evangelion, where Gendo intends to become the Uber-Pimp. Since it came out in 2000, you can probably expect less progressive views on sex and sexuality, and a lot of things about the women characters get sacrificed in favor of the broad satire characterization of Misato as a drunkard, Rei as an ice queen, and Asuka as butch (with bad Schwarzenegger-accent).

On the pure fiction side, however, I can thank the Snowflake challenge to introducing me to On the Mating Habits of Muggles & Naturalist Witches (OR Muggles in the Midst), which tickled my funny bone with the way that it portrayed Luna. (Admittedly, Luna became more crystallized for me from the movies, but the actress portraying her nailed it.) The way that she his about attempting her studies makes me hope for a sequel where Luna and Arthur Weasley compare notes about the Muggle World and its inhabitants.

As for fanart, I have a lot of it stashed. But, for a single piece that I like, here's Konata doing what she does best - trolling everyone.
silveradept: A head shot of a  librarian in a floral print shirt wearing goggles with text squiggles on them, holding a pencil. (Librarian Goggles)
What makes you fannish? And by that we mean, what is it about a tv show/movie/book/band/podcast/etc that takes you from, "Yeah, I like that," to "I need MOAR!!!" Is it a character? A plotline? The pretty? Subtext that’s just screaming to be acknowledged?

In your own space, tell us what it is that gets you to cross that line into fandom.

As it turns out, non-main characters and the ensemble in ensemble cast often spark the fannish idea. I'm not sure whether it's that we only see into their lives a little bit, whether they're allowed to be written a little bit more loosely, or what it is, but the presence of a good cast can make a lot of difference.

Compare, for example, Warehouse 13 and Haven, shows aired on the same network. Both have meh main characters in Pete (The Warehouse's everyman chauvinist jock) and Nathan (the man afflicted with a trouble that prevents him from feeling anything with his skin). Where the Warehouse shines and Haven flops, in my opinion, is in their other characters. Myka, Claudia, and Helena are all far more competent Warehouse agents, and Jinksy is Pete's foil on toxic masculinity. Nathan has Audrey, who is useful in that she is immune to Nathan's troubles and far more empathetic than he is, and Duke, who is mostly there to snark at Nathan and occasionally use his own Trouble. It's a very different dynamic, and I like 13 better, despite the violence the showrunners did to their own universe by putting Pete and Myka together as the Official Couple, when Myka and Helena are clearly the correct call.

I like lower decks episodes and beach episodes and stories that pause a bit or shift perspective off of Our Hero(es) so that we can see the world around them and learn what passes for normal around there. I like to see villains with logical reasons and well-built relationships last.(Joss Whedon, I'm giving you the biggest side-eye ever on this.)

Show me that your world has more dimensions and give your characters more to do than relate to the protagonist, and you're well on your way to making me a fan. (Doesn't hurt if you can hang a lampshade or two along the way, too.)

I'm not busily pairing characters in the background, though, which is why a lot of fandom can sometimes feel a little orthogonal to the way I'm viewing / reading. Playing matchmaker isn't necessarily a thing I'm interested in. Evaluating whether a relationship presented in the text / screen is a good one is. I like looking at the world and poking it to see if it falls apart. And, in many ways, seeing if I can build it better.

Which is, I suppose, one of the core fannish impulses.
silveradept: The letters of the name Silver Adept, arranged in the shape of a lily pad (SA-Name-Small)
In your own space, make a list of at least 3 things that you like about yourself.

Well, that didn't take long. Goal 2, called up to account already. So, here it goes, I guess.

Thinking of things that you like about yourself raises a few spectres. If you read the guest post I linked to in an earlier Snowflake (about Twilight as a story of a girl desperately trying to get away from all the attention focused on her), there's a really big strain of perfectionism, and it's accompanying binary thinking, baked into my being as a defense mechanism against children that exemplified Tall Poppy Syndrome. If they can find no fault, then I'm safe. What that also does, though, is set up the duck problem (those placid-looking waterfowl gliding on the surface of the water are actually paddling furiously underneath it - everyone else looks like they're gliding along effortlessly on the river of life, while you know you're just trying to stay afloat) in such a way that things that might be good things about you are discounted or qualified, because you know that you're not all those things.

Incidentally, this is the best illustration of the duck problem that I have seen.

The other issue is the one of scope. With our communication methods and worldwide connectivity, we have the idea of "local celebrity" or "Internet celebrity" - the making explicit the domains by which sunshine can become a famous person, with general worldwide fame as the pinnacle and a place in the history books as the ultimate goal. Since very few people actually make it to that point, it's very easy to discount everything you do because you're not like those people who have the world hanging off their every word.

And then, of course, there's feedback. Many of the talents and skills we have are great, but without someone else noticing them, how will we know that they're good and have had impacts on someone's life? I got a very nice piece of feedback last week about a young woman that had come to a beginner choosing class I had put on. Apparently, she caught the programming bug, to the point of her parent enrolling get in camps taught by a local company. Without that conversation, I wouldn't have known what happened. Now I can be confident I put at least one child on the programming path, and I hope that nobody and no society dissuades her from it.

These things all run interference with trying to find good things about yourself. I've been trying to fight them off with daily ([community profile] awesomeers) and weekly check-ins ([personal profile] synecdochic, among many others) that challenge is to talk about the good things that have happened and what we are proud of. Some days the proudest thing we have is that we were still here the next day. Other days are happier. I don't know if it's causing big changes, but I stare at that prompt every day, trying to see what I can come up with that was a good thing. And sometimes I'm supporting others more than talking about myself.

So, here are three things that I can say I like about myself:
  1. I'm a wizard. Seriously. I make magic every day with finding useful material, doing programming, making recommendations, presenting, and learning. It's very Hufflepuff magic, the kind that doesn't create a lot of flash and that doesn't anyways generate a lot of feedback, but it's magic all the same. For as much as I get aggravated and annoyed with the way The Organization runs the place, I can see the magic happen regularly, whether by me or by others in the same profession.
  2. I'm creative. That's...surprisingly hard to write, but if I stop thinking about creativity in a narrowly-defined zone of "stuff that produces a product" like art, writing, code, and the like, and include the things I do actually do, like essays, teaching, troubleshooting, technological and code adaptation, documentation, problem-solving, and engineering, as well as the fantastic grades obtained all throughout schooling, then there's creativity in spades at work in my head and all around me. It takes some perspective to get it, though, when you've been raised on the idea that creativity only has a limited domain. If I actually think about it, when younger-me wrote a noir detective spoof, the audience laughed when I read it aloud. Current-me still gets people having a good time at Story Time. These are creative endeavors, and they need to be acknowledged as such. As is the practice of arranging links next to each other such that their context days more than their individual selves, or that they tell a story despite being from disparate sources.

    Remind me of this frequently, please. It is difficult to remember.
  3. I'm making an effort. I often describe my upbringing as provincial for a reason - the state is not particularly friendly to people who don't fit in the boxes, and the town I was in did not particularly find compassion for people who expressed something other than the ideal of provincial normal - cis, straight, and very interested in "traditional" gender roles. One teacher had their classroom destroyed as part of a malicious prank while I was attending - I now don't think it a coincidence that she was unmarried, teaching advanced maths, and took no shit from anyone. Since then, she did get married, but that was the only change. There are lots of homophobic jokes, rumors about various acts that would actually satisfy one of the more outspoken feminists, and the stereotyping that accompanied any students that weren't white. I thought things got better at University, and they did, somewhat, just by exposure and by being in a culture that valued a more diverse experience. Now that I'm working on my community, I get the full thing of navigating an entire body of possible identities and cultures, and am charged with providing good service to all of them. And I'm friends with a very diverse group of people that teach me more about the experiences of their lives every day. Rather than throwing in the towel and declaring that my brain is full and I'll never be able to understand, I'm making the effort. I'm going to fuck it up, probably spectacularly, a lot in my life, since I already have before. So long as I can keep making the effort, though, I can be proud of that.
That's a really hard exercise for me. I'm much more comfortable talking about flaws and foibles than things I consider strengths. Possibly because I'm still holding on to the defense mechanism against those that want to cut down the smart and talented kids so as to make themselves feel better.

Here's hoping it comes easier later.
silveradept: Domo-kun, wearing glass and a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie, sitting at a table. (Domokun Anchor)
Starting, as befits the time, holiday-related cheer, epic holiday music, a mash-up of ballet and burlesque, cats that are ready for holiday cheer, cookie recipes, and marshmallow cats.

Then a reminder that the festivities and their accompanying social obligations are not a universal good for everyone.

A lack of motivation may be due to inefficient brain connections causing more energy and work to be expended in the decision-making process.

The skills acquired in one's hobbies and fannish interests are potentially worth putting on one's resume and being used to acquire jobs.

Fanfiction is a great gift to give during the holidays, and plenty of other times, too. If your traditional role is the filling of stomachs, there are plenty of delicious projects to create.

Having read a lot of books in a year, a librarian learns a lot about the art of reading books. #1 is essential.

Surviving the dark means finding beauty in it - having a big social group to do things with doesn't hurt, either. It may involve discarding or modifying tradition to the point that it seems unrecognizable. or it might be taking refuge with the other people who aren't celebrating. It could even involve poking some gentle fun at half-hearted attempts to celebrate or finding a prediction from the past that looks laughable today. As it turns out, there may be a genetic component to how strongly you feel your emotions.

Methods of disposing of holiday trees other than the landfill.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar focuses on the similarities of the Christians and the Muslims with regard to their December celebration. The United States House of Representatives decided to focus on similarities, too, in passing visa discrimination that would bar people from getting approval if one of their parents is classified as from a forbidden area, even if that parent has never lived in that place and neither has the child.

Something very unhappy indeed - a grand jury did not indict the officer that shot a child playing with a toy gun in a park, because they believed the police saw a threat and reacted appropriately to it. Black Lives Still Matter, and protesters filled the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport.

Black women need a more diverse representation in video games.

After being refused the care she needed, and refusing to leave until she received it, a woman died in the custody of the police called to remove her from the hospital. The number of failures compounds exponentially.

Learn from the ways structure benefits those more privileged than you, so that you can avoid replicating their mistakes in your own space.

Pastafarians in New Zealand area now able to perform wedding ceremonies. Rejoice.

A blog that replaces guns in the hands of Republicans with dildoes. Makes sense to me why someone might want to put the sex-negative death dealers in a different light.

Because they could not talk about the film before it released, cast members of The Force Awakens had to resort to other things to get through their interviews. Carrie Fisher and her dog, Gary, acquit themselves very funnily in this Good Morning America interview. Which is good, because otherwise she would have to cut somebody for their insistence that weight loss was necessary for her to go back to Star Wars. Actually, several people might have to be sliced to ribbons for those body comments.

Carrie Fisher also gives interviews as good as she takes them.

Having been in a movie that was all about black bodies, and lots of conversations about beautiful black bodies, Lupita Nyong'o chose a role where it would only be her voice on display.

A style guide to various forms of grammar and capitalization with regard to the Star Wars franchise.

If you are so inspired, there are lots of academies to learn lightsaber as a martial art.

J. J. Abrams says The Force Awakens looks like A New Hope in the skeleton, but all the rest of the body is different.

George Lucas owes a lot of the success of his films to his first wife, but most of the official Lucas* data on her has been scrubbed after the divorce.

To understand and write in any genre, a grounding in the works considered classics is useful. I'm not going to say necessary, as the article-writer does, because I think there is something to be said about writing the book first, and then letting the agents wrangle what genre, if any, to sell it under.

Because emoji originated in Japan, the pictures follow Japanese grammar - which makes it more difficult for English writers trying to tell stories in pictures.

Many women suffer from issues of their pelvic floors moving, displacing their organs and causing pain and other issues. Also, the many ways that women avoided pregnancy and childbirth that don't involve hormonal birth control.

The care that Japan takes for all aspects of life includes significant thought about toilets and restrooms.

Gender politics in Panem - balanced representation and trope distribution, and quite a bit of characters behaving in the binary-opposite stereotype. Which is a lot better than the way television writes white women and casts minority women in those roles.

When observed from the outside, the United States has several obvious and glaring shortcomings in how it treats women compared to other nations.

The election of the Liberals to Canada's Parliament has a lot of people hopeful about the damage that Trudeau can undo.

Lots of countries other than the United States got goodies into their public domains this January. The U.S.? Bupkis.

For adults, a parody of Les Miserables. For children, a lesson on how you can tell someone's emotions by looking at their faces and bodies. This is the Sesame Workshop at work. They would probably also have a field day with words whose contexts determine one of their potentially conflicting meanings. And they might enjoy menu ordering by Venn diagram, which, I admit, looks really good.

How much do we give of ourselves out into the universe for others to appreciate? What do we keep tucked in close, and does it prevent us from doing what we love? How many of the things on this list are things we worry about daily?

Facebook fails to grasp that the name someone chooses for themselves is their real name, refuses to rescind their policy, despite meeting somewhere that has many reasons and examples to show them that they are wrong.

The high stress environment of poverty and neighbourhoods with high visible poverty make their residents heavier, because the stress triggers the survival instinct to hoard energy.

The downfall of the website known as the Silk Road, in a very longform piece from Wired.

The Kitty Convict Project asks indoor cat owners to put orange on their cats, so that if they get out, others will recognize the cats as lost rather than feral.

Popularity is the wrong metric to measure books by, as is great amounts of sales.

What we think of as clutter now may be priceless family and cultural artifacts to those who succeed us, which may mean that decluttering might not be the way to go. Decluttering does make you feel better about yourself, though.

The unexpected success of the KitKat chocolate bar in Japan, with chefs producing bars with different flavoring as a high-end chocolate. Also, chocolate slices. Which is nearly the opposite of food plating decisions that are, at best, strange.

Art from people-made beach debris, of which there appears to be a rather inexhaustible supply. Art of the waves that batter a lighthouse in Wales, which are pictures of the majesty of nature. As are the angry waves of Lake Erie.

An MIT hydrogel looks like it could be used to encase sensors, which could make for smart bandages. Harvard has a collection of historical pigments for art conservation. Ibuprofen patches for direct application of pain relief without some of the side effects of pills. London has a dedicated team of gaslamp lighting, extinguishing, and repair for the few remaining streetlights lit by gas.

The men who try to mansplain Lolita to a woman know not the way that they are totally missing the point of both the novel and their explanations. After all, books about women don't win awards, so taking that contempt into the world around them suits those men just fine, stupid as it is. There's plenty of bullshit to go around, anyway and lots of people looking for any reason to take someone out of context. Or to give reductionist advice about the presentation of women's speech (and packaging it as an app) while ignoring that it's women that are the problem for misogynists, not their speech. (To which no less a luminary than Albert Einstein offers advice on the matter, too one Mme. Curie: "Don't read it if you don't want to." We think he might also have said to not feed the trolls, too.)

Working at a job considered beneath most people helps get rid of the idea that there are jobs beneath most people.

A list of excellent graphic novels, all written and many drawn by women. Also, why you should read romance novels, and why doors are always important in stories involving children.

Jessica Jones suffers from the injury violating morals and social contracts inflicts on victims in addition to their physical trauma. Despite that, Jones never quite gets to go all the way into the kind of character she would be if her backstory was played out realistically. And the show itself engages in some problematic treatment of fat women.

To see someone have a take on the trauma of Steve Rogers, The creator of American Captain may have just the thing for you.

The cartomantic origins of the Tarot are a bit murky, but they definitely turned what are otherwise playing cards into something very different.

Lipstick - the history of, up until recently, poisoning yourself with lead to look prettier.

Human beds with pet beds built into their bases, the very rare sea sapphire, icons of television without their suits fully on, cat fish, cows at play, an egg candle that reveals a dinosaur as it burns, adorable pictures of dogs, a video of common holiday items that are not good for pets, a different video of a seahorse giving birth, the possibility of pet jellyfish, facts about hagfish, folding wetted paper to make animals with curved lines, a tiger-goat friendship, green turtles, a Maine coon and their small human, an unexpected sea otter gives birth, comedic wildlife photographs, smiling, happy cats, a herd of elephants that will walk through a hotel to get to the mango tree they have been eating the fruit of for generations, creatures named after Star Wars characters, and cats at kami shrines.

Random facts from books read, a mushroom trip can shift your personality, and advice on how to read aloud to an intimate partner.

Last for tonight, as befits the post, little lies are practice for big, necessary ones, a thing that only DEATH could know, which is contrasted with truths that are difficult to keep in mind. And Christmas has more than its fair share of those who punish the naughty as well as reward the nice, cats that devour the lazy who don't have anything new, as well as plenty of stories of ghosts and spirits.
silveradept: A dragon librarian, wearing a floral print shirt and pince-nez glasses, carrying a book in the left paw. Red and white. (Dragon Librarian)
In your own space, post a rec for fannish and/or creative resources and spaces. Tell us where you go to dig up canon facts for your fandom, or where you get all the juicy details about your favorite ship. Where do you like to hang out and squee like a squeeing thing?

Well, I touched briefly on this in Snowflake 02 - the Phenomenal Cosmic Power bit of being an information professional is that once you understand the structure and organization method of any given system, you can basically find anything, assuming that it's been indexed properly. The Internet being what it is, though, it may surface inferior resources at first pass when the search is just starting and generate a lot of frustration.

Here's a problem of the Internet and many other resources - keyword searching by itself is intuitive, but inefficient. Because keyword searches match the words themselves, and not their context. Natural language processing techniques and deliberate exclusion of common words from search results helps to make our keywords a little bit better, but for the most part, just typing in words isn't going to cut it, unless those words are in a unique combination that will point at a useful resource. Just typing in words will usually run a Boolean OR or Boolean AND search, looking just to see whether the words are there on the page and nothing more.

Google, for example, offers site search operators that will help you do more specific things with their engine. Which is nice.

What if, though, you could search the Internet in the same way that you can search academic resource databases like DIALOG? (Every librarian reading this is freely allowed to wince or make any other gesture of pain - many learned the power of searching on that system, often by cursing out the system for returning exactly what was requested and offering no help on how to make the search better. That DIALOG charges by how long you are connected in addition to any other elements you actually printed meant many hours of query construction went into building one excellent search, to be run and its records retrieved, selected, and printed as fast as humanly possible.) Some engines have wildcard or truncation support, most have "exact phrase" support, but very few, if any, handle proximity operations.

To supplement knowledge of the inner workings of search, it helps to know the terminology of what you're looking for. Sometimes, the whole point of the search is to find the right terms, which then yield the desired results. And for that, there are more than a few resources available.

Wikis tend to accrue lots of knowledge through their nature as "anyone can edit" devices. Any fandom that has been around long enough will likely coalesce around a few resources that manage to become encyclopedic and definitive through the luck of having an active group of contributors. In active shows and fandoms, the out-of-universe material is handled by Wikipedia, the in-universe material handled by a thematically-named wiki, and the meta handled by TVTropes. In older items, or finished series, both in and out of universe material may be handled or migrated over to static webpages, possibly with a forum attached for discussion, to archive the things that won't be kept on Wikipedia.

This isn't any sort of absolute rule, of course, but using those three items in combination with each other will probably net enough terminology to then go out to a search engine and sweep the wider world of fandom to find the details, speculation and fic that you want.

As for what engine I use, I've basically switched off Google as my primary search entity because I much prefer the bang syntax of DuckDuckGo that lets me search various sites directly instead of having to go out to their site, find their search bar, and then search that way. I also like that their results also include spaces for images and videos as well as text pages. DDG is a great engine with many helpful features, and can be best used in conjunction with learning a little bit on the Internet about how search engines work, so that you can structure your queries to include the most important information and use the appropriate operators to get the results you want. (Content creators: please don't neglect your metadata, your alt tags, or your semantic markup. It makes it easier for the engines to find you and put you in the place you want to be.)

As for hanging out and squeeing and actual fannish behavior, I'm pretty much Elsewhere, whether it's friends' spaces or websites devoted to deconstruction and review. The Slacktiverse has a nice list of assorted reviews and deconstructions.

So, mostly, my resources for you are things to help you search, wherever you may be searching, so as to more quickly find the perfect resource for yourself. Hopefully it's helpful.
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
In your own space, set some goals for the coming year. They can be fannish or not, public or private.

Goals are tough things for me. They come with the possibility of failure if you set them at about the right spot, and failure is a thing that I haven't done well with in my life. That's a lot of privilege talking, but it's also the stark reality that all of that privilege hasn't actually been able to insulate or shield me from the realities of adulthood. The emotional crash hits harder when you realize that you've been playing on an easy difficulty and the game is still too hard to be able to succeed and thrive at. Goals are hard to create for yourself when you feel like just staying ahead of doom is going to take all your effort and resources. 

That's catastrophising, though, and hopefully, needed perspective will arrive to keep the brainweasels out when they threaten to get in. Preferably not, however, by having my friends get hammered harder and invite comparison of one's relative privilege. 

Another difficulty with goals is their scope. For some reason, hearing "goals" seems to invoke "major life choices and decisions", and, well, that privilege has actually got me to completion on most of those. Required education, check. Degree one, check. Degree two, check. Professional, full-time employment at a job I enjoy doing, check.

Become respected professional in field...insufficient data. How do you define respect? Publishing articles? Done. Giving presentations at conferences? Done again. Sparking a nationwide movement? Not so much. Being a well-known name with millions of Twitter followers? Not happening. Getting an idea approved at the workplace and having it come to fruition? Unlikely. (The Organization doesn't do a lot of solicitation of ideas from the front lines, and doesn't have a whole lot of process for dealing with them anyway.) Some other thing, then. Must be, and I'm sure I'll be happy to have it when it arrives.

So, goal-setting things that I see say that goals need to be small, measurable, attainable, and so forth. Think very directly, so that you can plot out the path to the goal, know when the goal will have been met, and take concrete steps on the path. If asked, though, I...tend to draw a blank. I don't want my goals to be "keep doing the things I'm already doing", but "do something new" is scary, because it's possible that someone might not actually like what I do. Or, people might like it, but it might not be the most popular thing ever, or there's someone else over there that's better than I am and I should just quit. This probably sounds familiar to a lot of other fannish people, who have each found their reasons to forge ahead anyway.

From talking about fears, worries, and processes in this entry, a few goals do all manage to appear.
  1. Try things that are interesting
  2. Be proud of yourself
  3. Support others where you can
The decision to do Fandom Snowflake was based on looking at a friend's page and thinking it was interesting enough to do. Maybe I'll see an exchange or a prompt fill request later on and decide to do it. And then I have to remember to be proud of doing it and that it will likely be just fine and well-received because I took the time to do it for someone else in a fandom and pairing they want. Supporting others on their way is always good practice - they might be the people that have something good to wipe that I'll enjoy, too.

So, maybe they're not the most concrete of goals, but they definitely have steps that can be taken to feel like I'm getting them accomplished!
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
Comment to someone you haven't ever interacted with before or introduce yourself to someone you've interacted with and friend/follow them.

That said, what if you want to add more sparkle to the challenge? Well, how about leaving feedback on that one fanwork (fic, podfic, fanart, fanvid, meta post, knitting pattern, etc.) that you've always loved in a lurk-ey way? People love getting feedback on their creations--yes, even if it's something they posted way back in the pre-Geocities era. *g*

Another option is to follow/subscribe/grant access to someone you want to get to know better on whichever platform you prefer.

The point is to reach out to someone you normally wouldn't and connect with them, even if it's only for the briefest moment.

One could argue that the Internet is the world's largest and longest continuously running fan convention, given the amount of output and creativity that is posted on even a minute-by-minute basis, if YouTube's claim of millions of hours of footage being posted every minute is true. There's certainly more than enough panel discussion, workshopping, celebrity interaction, tournaments and contests, Artist Alley work, video programming, spontaneous glomping and more going on in each space.

The activity of the convention, though, isn't there for the sake of the convention itself - if it were, there would be no need for attendees and the amount of money they bring in. The real purpose is convention is twofold - it brings the fans together to be fannish with each other, because many fans have always corresponded with each other through whatever remote method is cheapest, and it brings the fans out in sufficiently large quantities that they can suspend some of the rules of the society around them and create their own society, even if only for the weekend.

Sometimes the rules suspended are ones that work better when intact, which necessitates codes of conduct and explicit reintegration and enforcement of those rules that ensure a good experience from everyone, but most of the time, the changes made are ones that benefit the community - it becomes normal, at convention, to wear costume, to adopt roles, to focus on the minutia, to engage in obvious squee, to admire craftsmanship, and to function on an economy that has room for sharing your Pocky or your animation while you wait in line. To take part in a community openly, among peers, rather than having to keep that identity carefully curated so that those who do not understand or will not accept it do not know. (Principle applies outside of fandom, as many kinksters are well aware.)

So, while this challenge is complete through the acts that have come before it, as a natural consequence of seeing things that are new and interesting, the point of the challenge is making the connection. The point of the convention is making the connection. It's just that the Internet needs better maps, signs, and helpful guides to get the attendees from the place that they are at to the spot that they want to be, talking with the people that are interesting to them. (See also: essayist in meta land feels like inhabitant on island of misfit fans) It needs space for the people that are bold and dive right in, and it needs ambassadors that will walk the walls of the room and introduce themselves to the people there, to encourage them to participate and to tend to their needs and self-care decisions. Because someone bold in one context may be a wallflower in others. New situations are both exhilarating and terrifying, and the presence or absence of people whose job it is to understand and empathize with the terror can mean the difference between participation and lurking. (As can the visible presence is people whose job it is to swiftly react to breaches of good behavior in the community.)

Finding someone new to talk to isn't very easy for me, unless I know beforehand that there's a common thread to pull on that can be used as an icebreaker or conversation starter. It's why I wear fannish buttons and floral print shirts at work - they help reduce the gap between me and others sufficiently that we can have a conversation. At convention, it's easier still to start conversations - you are rarely ever in a group that doesn't have a shared purpose of some sort. The rules have changed from the world outside.

At least for the weekend.
silveradept: Domo-kun, wearing glass and a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie, sitting at a table. (Domokun Anchor)
Share a favorite piece of original canon (a TV episode, a song, a favorite interview, a book, a scene from a movie, etc) and explain why you love it so much.

A thing worth noting, I suppose, is that even in strongly visual media like television, movies, and video games, I'm often listening more than I am watching. This makes me more typical than you might think - Leslie Nielsen, when talking about Police Squad!, the television show better known by its movie franchise The Naked Gun (the first movie has "from the files of Police Squad!" on it), he reflected that a lot of the homes in the show didn't work as well as they had hoped because during the daytime, even the show was on, the target demographic of at-home parents were usually doing something else while the television was on. Strictly visual gags didn't work because the audience wasn't watching.

Unsurprisingly, I also get glared at by other people in my life when it doesn't look like I'm watching a movie fully. I haven't yet figured out a way of saying "If I'm not watching the movie, it's because the movie is not doing enough things that will engage my attention." Usually, that translates to "the story isn't interesting enough and the main characters aren't, either." It also means "movies should be enjoyable by people with disabilities", including things like the descriptive video service and subtitles, but also that a movie should cohere pretty well if you removed the visuals or if you removed the audio. Paying attention to the details makes the experience better.

Here's an example, from a show I like a lot - Person of Interest.

This is the opening credits for the first season. Unlike other shows, the actors' names are not mentioned, and while the voiceover is of Harold Finch, the creator of the machine that gives him and his partner, John Reese, the numbers to investigate, the perspective is that of the machine itself, signaling who the main character actually is.

The credits sequence also foreshadows who will be the person of interest by inserting a small amount of episode footage into the credits. It's a small detail, easy to overlook unless you are watching many episodes next to each other, but since these episodes are from the perspective of the machine, it madness sense for the credits to include the person who is the target of the episode, in case later retrieval is needed.

This is Season Two, which introduced a rather neat trick into the opening - not only is there a new character on the "hunted by the police", indicating the arrival of Detective Fusco by this point.

At a certain point in Season Two, the Machine comes under attack from a computer virus. In other series, where credits and other such things are considered outside the universe of the show, nothing would happen to the credits even as the Machine continued to suffer. In Person of Interest, though, we get this:

And that's not the entire sequence, just what I could find available. Since the Machine is crashing, the credits are also crashing. The details are important.

Person of Interest does a lot of this in their opening sequences - swapping in new narrators, new looks, and occasionally messing with the flow of the credits sequence, depending on the status of the Machine and the humans. In some ways, it resembles the way that Fringe would also shift its title sequence around to give clues to the audience about the state of its universe. (I doubt this is coincidental, given that several names are in common between the two.) They all might also owe the idea to the short-lived Dilbert animation, which also changed things in the titles between every episode.

With the advent of digital recording technologies, season-at-once watching, and the ability for entire seasons and shows to be broadcast and financed at once, so as not to need to structure sorry around advertising breaks, I can only see this trend of titles tampering continuing as birth a way of informing viewers, but also as a way of getting a viewer not to simply fast forward or skip their way to the next chapter point.

Details are what help make fandom work. As creators and experiencers, we can both do well to pay attention to them.
silveradept: Domo-kun, wearing glass and a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie, sitting at a table. (Domokun Anchor)
In your own space, create your own challenge. What’s something you want to see more people doing in fandom? Is there something you’ve tried that you think other people would enjoy if they gave it a go? Dare your friends to try it out, and have fun with it.

Well, I suppose I could make a game or challenge of some sort of of this. Here's a prompt generator.

Here's a prompt generator for those that understand why Cards Against Humanity is both terrible and terribly popular (NSFW prompt generator).

So, those are the tools, and the challenge is to make a fanwork based on the random prompt that shows up. Use your favorite pairings more universes or anything else that you have that will help complete the game. Spend exactly as long as you want to on it.

Maybe challenge someone else to a game of animal spelling, going back and forth between yourselves, making small works in short time-frames, rolling up new prompts every time a new round begins. Maybe try to fill Yuletide treats and fandom stockings and other challenges while also fulfilling the prompts.

Get creative with it. Because, really, you're probably better at it than I am.
silveradept: A head shot of Firefox-ko, a kitsune representation of Mozilla's browser, with a stern, taking-no-crap look on her face. (Firefox-ko)
Leave feedback for a fanwork. Or multiple fanworks. It can be as simple as I liked this to a detailed list of all the things you loved about the fanwork. The key is to leave some sort of feedback.

If you've already left feedback in the course of a previous challenge, it totally counts. But you're free to leave more feedback.

The accompanying message for this challenge reminds us of the asynchronous nature of creation and consumption.
Creators create for a number of reasons. Often, we find ourselves inspired, and in the moment, we create. But creation doesn't occur in a vacuum, and it's too easy to walk away from a fanwork without saying anything.

Creators create for themselves, but they need to know that they have an audience and that their fanworks are being enjoyed by others. Feedback is a way to get some validation that what you've created is good.

Sometimes we go to comment on a fanwork and we find ourselves without the words to express how we feel about the fanwork. Or we become overwhelmed by all the amazing comments the fanwork has already gotten. 

Don't let either of these things stop you from leaving a comment. There's no prize for the Best Comment Ever, and the creator just needs to know that you enjoyed the fruits of their labor.
Since the only people who seem to have unlimited surveillance powere are government agencies and advertising corporations, the rest of us have to rely on someone telling us that they've experienced our work. This is the basic intersection of fandom - I'm brave enough to put this item out here, and hope you're brave enough to let me know you experienced it. Because commenting requires bravery, too - going on the record that you like something, or offering criticism, or your own perspective, is a brave act, with how many ways it could go pear-shaped through no fault of the commenter.

Which is why i also wanted to talk about a most useful post on this subject - [personal profile] trascendenza posted about anxieties and commenting on other people's work, along with an idea of creators making an explicit statement about what kinds of comments and feedback they would like and having it somewhere handy so that people who are new to the space can feel more confident in leaving comments. I think it's a wonderful idea, and that's why it's my sticky post for this space. Because I want people to comment and feedback on what they see in these entries, instead of worrying about what would be appropriate comments.

So go! Leave comments! Create culture statements to go with your transformative works statements. And enjoy the shared experiences of fandom.
silveradept: The logo for the Dragon Illuminati from Ozy and Millie, modified to add a second horn on the dragon. (Dragon Bomb)
There were some very cheering words from the challenge prompt today that I think deserve reproducing, and I think they can be repeated across many other vocations and professions. Swap a few words, and it's just right for open source and technology, too.
One of the things that's hard to remember is that you don't have to be a creator to be a fan. It's not a requirement, there's no rule that says you must be this *holds hand up chest high* creative to be in fandom. Lurkers (who totally support me in email) are just as much fans as those who run challenges and create fanworks.

Don't let an arbitrary definition of fan keep you from claiming your space in fandom.

Having said that, keep in mind that what constitutes a fanwork shouldn't be limited to a small handful of formats. Fanworks are more than fics and art. Maybe your fannish creativity takes a different path. Don't discount yourself just because you don't write or make art.
This is important, and one of the ways that you might figure out there's a place in fandom for you is by dipping your toe into the pool of fandom and reading material, viewing art, and following recommendations for things. Doing that, though, can be very scary, because you immediately encounter all these talented people doing great things, and there's clearly more than a few people with lots of followers. It can be intimidating to be confronted with the likelihood that your stuff may not be as good as their stuff, and may never be as good as their stuff.

When I was looking for the previous entry to do recommendations with, I ended up coming across a guest post I had written about Twilight as a story where Isabella Swan desperately just wanted people to stop paying attention to her, because her formative experiences of attention would have been almost universally negative, given her traumatic upbringing, unstable family structure, and the near-constant negative attention she would likely receive for, heaven forbid, being smart, female, and occasionally, as we all are, wrong. The post was about the suffering that goes on when your coping mechanisms tell you that the only way to avoid negative attention is to do everything flawlessly. In a social-media magnified world, it's that much easier for someone to get attention, both positive and negative, and the fear of the latter, especially for women, might keep them out of fannish circles they would otherwise participate in, because very few people want to invite the trolls and dudebros in and would rather just create without sharing.

Today's challenge is, then, a prod to try and overcome all of these things getting to get in your way:

In your own space, create a fanwork. Make a drabble, a ficlet, a podfic, or an icon, art or meta or a rec list. Arts and crafts. Draft a critical essay about a particular media. Put together a picspam or a fanmix. Write a review of a Broadway show, a movie, a concert, a poetry reading, a museum trip, a you-should-be-listening-to-this-band essay. Compose some limericks, haikus, free-form poetry, 5-word stories. Document a particular bit of real person canon. Take some pictures. Draw a stick-figure comic. Create something.

Which, stuff above might qualify as a fanwork all by itself, being a fanwork about fanwork. But it's really an extended riff on "You know, putting your creative self out there is really fucking hard." With a side of "Going back and reading your own work is highly recommended, but also quite a trip." Because I recognize my own writing, but I appear to have changed some in the intervening time.

Anyway, here's a shot at something more akin to traditional ficcing, most likely classed as a ficlet by virtue of a low word count. It's Welcome to Night Vale. If you're not familiar with it, think of it as a town where all the conspiracies and horror stories are true, and the residents don't notice. Too much, anyway. The only glimpse you get into the inner world is through the community radio station and its charming host, Cecil Palmer. And the occasional guest, or guest host, as the case may be...


"Hello, listeners. Um, it seems like Cecil isn't back from his petting session with Khoshekh, the cat that's still floating in the men's bathroom, and station management is sounding very irritated that they can't sell their advertising spots as quickly and thoroughly as they want, so I guess it falls to me to sit down at the microphone and try to make a little magic. I'm......not going to say my name, since just thinking about it just caused the station management office door to display a sigil that looked unmistakably like a threat to move on, unless I liked having my entrails removed from my body and then used as the City Council's holiday decorations. I'm an intern here at Night Vale Community Radio, and this, I guess, is the Community Calendar."

"A-hem. Monday is scheduled for the Apocalypse of Saint Bernard. Night Vale will experience a rain of adorable domestic animals, with fluffy coats, fuzzy features, and a vicious killer instinct. Citizens approaching the domestic animals will be eviscerated. The Sheriff's Secret Police are looking for volunteers to help them herd the domestic animals to the dog park. If you are chosen, the Secret Police will contact you by dragging you out of your home during the rain."

"The City Council would also like to remind you that dogs are only provisionally allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. Personally, I don't see the point of having one of you can't go in, but I'm told the Hooded Figures use it to keep the town safe from...things, so I suppose that's okay."

"Tuesday is the Apocalypse of Saint Basil. Night Vale will be flooded with waves upon waves of detectives, investigators, sleuths, old women who write mysteries, and meddling kids. The Sheriff's Secret Police will employ street sweepers, helicopters, and volunteers to herd the deluge of people into their proper home in Radon Canyon, where they will be able to attempt solving the greatest mystery of all - life. That sounds kind of grisly. Couldn't we do something more humane with them, like sacrifice them at Eternal Scout ceremonies?"

"Wednesday is a time correction day. You will feel like you have had this experience before, but you will be unable to pinpoint exactly why. Don't worry about the why, and instead try to right previous wrongs or get yourself out of any pesky time loops."

"Thursday is a figment of your imagination. Pay no attention to it, and it will eventually go away."

"Friday is a time correction day. You will feel like you have had this experience before, but you will be unable to pinpoint exactly why. Don't worry about the why, and instead try to right previous wrongs or get yourself out of any pesky time loops."

"Saturday is the day when the heavens open and things of unspeakable beauty rain down on civilization. That is, if you are part of the underground civilization currently living under the pin retrieval area of Lane 5 of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex. For the rest of us, the City Council reminds you that Saturday is Earthquake Preparedness Day and that there will be several drills with real earthquakes to ensure all citizens are fully compliant with Council Ordnance 23-B."

"This has been...what's this? Listeners, I am informed by a note on the desk that Station Management has enacted a policy that declares no interns are allowed to broadcast over the air, purposes. Any interns violating this policy will proceed directly to termination."

"Well. No wonder this station keeps losing interns. I'm going to talk with Cecil about this. Maybe that will finally pull him away from the cat. Since I'm already in trouble enough as it is, and I've always wanted to say this, I will take you to...

"...The Weather."
silveradept: A dragon librarian, wearing a floral print shirt and pince-nez glasses, carrying a book in the left paw. Red and white. (Dragon Librarian)
In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you have created. It can be your favorite fanworks that you've created, or fanworks you feel no one ever saw, or fanworks you say would define you as a creator.

When your creative output (or rather, what you think of as your creative output) is so small, recommending your favorites is easier than it might be if you had a giant amount of possible works to choose from. It doesn't say a lot about the breadth of my fandom, though, unlike those who have a lot to choose from.
  1. As a fantasy reader, primarily, I tend to key into dragons as a large part of my reading choices. Preferably dragons not in the one-dimensional Ultimate Evil forms. So the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Wrede) are great for a young me to see that those stories exist (with bonus active princesses, invisible dusk-blooming chokevines, and wizards being melted with dish soap and water. Argelfaster.) and books like Seraphina and Shadow Scale (Hartman) successfully showing how living as a dragon in the human world is full of the sad experiences of discrimination.

    And then there's The Dragonriders of Pern, which at the time of reading it, seemed like a good fit for a dragon-loving child. It was because I liked it a a kid that I decided to go back through it and see how much I was looking at it with rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. As it turns out, a lot. So one of my recommendations is an ongoing giving-of-grief to The Dragonriders of Pern, because I can't change that I liked it as a kid, but I can go back to it and understand what it was I liked.
  2. That is not to say that I think it's wrong to like problematic things. As our social consciousness expands, we look at things from our last and realize how far things have come from days when everyone assumed slaves were an essential part of a functioning society - at least now we try to hide it better. For all their faults, and those faults are legion, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey advance the goal of a literate society by providing them with entertaining works to read.

    Being fannish, though, often means noticing details and their execution (or lack thereof). Being able to apply your own expertise to a story to make it better or to fix issues of Did Not Do The Research can help salvage an otherwise excellent fandom. So, number two is An analysis of the baseball scene in Twilight, pointing out as many ways as I could think of that proper baseball fans who are vampires would not be doing what the Cullens do (with extra care for Isabella Swan's life and health than the Cullens show).

    Speaking of baseball, the last two years I've been writing various essays about the game, its players, and some of the things that make it compelling and wonderful. The frame that helps give it coherence and scope has been a deck of Tarot cards with a baseball theme. Of the comments received on this series, the people reading certainly seem to enjoy them, which is nice to hear. They are all filed under the December Days: Baseball Tarot tag - please do look and comment. I love comments.

    So there's a sampling of the stuff that I do - it may not be your favored flavor, but it seems to be what I'm interested in writing.
silveradept: A head shot of Firefox-ko, a kitsune representation of Mozilla's browser, with a stern, taking-no-crap look on her face. (Firefox-ko)
In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for - a fannish wish-list of sorts. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your wish-list if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe someone will grant a wish. Maybe you will grant a wish.

One of the interesting things about being an information professional is that you learn an epic amount of stuff about search - both how things get organized and how people usually traverse that organized space to find what they're looking for. This can make it look like I can work miracles when a couple of fragments of information end up being all I need to help someone find the object of resource they want, or to produce something new for them that they will enjoy.

Which makes a question like "What do you want on a wish list?" a bit off-balancing, because if I'm looking for, say, the Root/Shaw pairing from Person of Interest as anthro characters navigating the issues and ramifications that come with having extra appendages to hack and/or kill people with, I can bend a search engine to my query and be reasonably sure that if I don't get any results, it's because they haven't been written and made public yet, not because I don't know where to look.

So we're back in meta territory already, and I haven't really said anything about what sorts of fannish things I'd like, pointing out the structure things that would make the experience better for a lot of different fans. Like tags and warnings and transformative works statements. And websites that are just as good on phones and tablets as they are on desktops. Like scripts that will nicely wrap up an arbitrary amount of fiction into a portable file to be read offline or with electronic assists that come with certain formats. And strong tools to block and bury harassers, along with police departments that will take those claims seriously when presented with proof. There's a nearly-infinite amount of work to be done on the infrastructure of fandom, and that's without the jerks that are actively trying to undermine it or try to keep other people from joining in.

I want licensing structures like Creative Commons and transformative works statements that allow for playing within the structure of the copyright law, but more than that, I want a culture that ushers creative works into the public domain in a timely manner. By this point, several icons of the culture should be available for use and expansion of their stories and canons without having to cross one's fingers and pray that they not be sued for using. Fanworks are wonderful, and many of the people that create them should be able to make a living on them, as E. L. James has, but that only works if the "limited monopoly" part puts all the weight on the "limited" and not on the "monopoly". It's not as immediate an issue as, say, policing that kills people based on their race and then evades accountability for those actions, but fannish culture is impoverished even more every time a megacorp gets another copyright extension passed.

I want information professionals for fanworks. As with just about any other form of entertainment and information in the 02000s, it is not a question of managing scarcity, assuming access is possible, but a question of managing the volume in a meaningful way such that a person going to find a thing isn't deluged in such a way that they give up. Information professionals have developed tools, vocabularies, shortcuts, and methods to help them sift to find the really best thing in the pool of possibilities. Where is the Archivist of Our Own and their staff of human and robot indexers, taggers, and categorizers, planting an agreed-on interoperable framework and taxonomy on fanworks such that tools can be successfully used to find content? Who has crosswalks written so that someone can build a federated search for AO3 and and any other site that wants to join in and contribute their archive such that someone can type in a fandom and get relevant results across sites? And, of course, a way of filtering and constructing such that people who have specific pairings, ratings, or warnings to select for or avoid can do so. Fandom already has a pretty robust classification system in place - maybe it just needs a machine-readable cataloging record and metadata system. This doesn't mean having to create one from scratch - if there's already a markup system or a database structure that can be put to use, use that. There's already incentive in place for fanworks to be thorough in their metadata for discoverability purposes - surely it can be harnessed and standardized in such a way as to make the machines do the work.

And perhaps most personally, I want fandom to be inclusive, not exclusive. It feels good to have people who share interests and to build a community with, and having lots of people taking part makes the feeling spread. Part of being in fandom, though, is trying to find the attitude of "what you do to be part of fandom is pretty fucking awesome" (assuming it is good faith awesomeness and not trolling or abuse or the other kinds of community behaviors that rightly get called out for violating Wheaton's Law), whether it's beginning material or the latest polished work from your favorite creator. Inclusive fandom means that people like me will be more likely to participate, even though what we're contributing isn't what people think of as fannish activity. And takes place in other people's spaces, a lot of the time.

So that's my wishlist. Maybe another challenge will actually get me to reveal something about my fandoms.
silveradept: A head shot of a  librarian in a floral print shirt wearing goggles with text squiggles on them, holding a pencil. (Librarian Goggles)
In your own space, talk about why you are doing the Fandom Snowflake Challenge? What drew you to it as a participant? What do you hope to accomplish by doing these challenges?

I'm not exactly forthcoming with fannish glee about shows, movies, media, games, and the like, at least in my own space. I'll link to others doing it, and I will post in comment sections with my own thoughts about things. My most visible fan project right now is giving The Dragonriders of Pern a lot of grief for what it wrote and the society it created. I am the Suck Fairy, in that case, and in other places, I moderate and speculate, and occasionally write short fixfic, I guess. (Twilight annoyed me for a lot of reasons. At least I could provide some insight on why the baseball was handled poorly.)

I do not fic, really. Or vid, art, podcast, mix, spin, or really do anything that constitutes the bulk of fannish expression. I don't have an AO3 account. I am an essayist hanging out in meta land, and for that, it doesn't always feel like I'm part of fandom.

I also haven't done a whole lot of writing code, although I use and adapt programs and scripts all the time for my own nefarious purposes. Even on Dreamwidth, I'm better suited to the task of working with documentation than in coding. (Unsurprisingly, my signature achievement for my career this far is the creation of a new hire documentation manual, after I got fed up with the lack of one and decided it would be better to smooth the path of those that come after. Why yes, I am a Hufflepuff, which sidelines me from most of the action of Harry Potter, too, because it's a story about Gryffindors.) So I don't necessarily feel like I'm part of the projects because I'm a user or a documentation person, not a coder. (I totally enjoyed Open Source Bridge because they explicitly make room for people who don't code to show off things.)

You can sense a pattern here - of course, the Snowflake explicitly days everybody is welcome, but reading a few a Yuletide gifts has helped remind me of the breath of fandom, and so maybe this will work out. If not, there are more than a few people who are participating that I'll get to see the responses of, so that should be fun of itself - fandom is vast and contains multitudes, so seeing someone else's interpretation should be quite the fun time.

And maybe I'll find that fannish voice ready to express in some other form.
silveradept: A dragon librarian, wearing a floral print shirt and pince-nez glasses, carrying a book in the left paw. Red and white. (Dragon Librarian)
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.] 

Besides being the only permanent rule of Calvinball, no two baseball games unfold exactly alike. Many are close enough to each other that some general rules and strategies can develop and some percentages can be played and statistics-driven baseball is likely to be, on paper and in simulations like video games or fantasy sports, a way of believing the numbers mean things.

Of course, many of the memorable games of baseball are the ones that defied numbers and statistics - a man with an injured leg hits a game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth and can thus take all the time he needs to circle the bases, for example. Or, having just hit what would be the game winning home run, a player suffers a ligament tear that absolutely prevents them from going any farther under their own power. And so, in a stunning display of sportsmanship, because the rules prevent any member of their own team from assisting them, fielders for the opposing team pick up the player and take them around the base path, stopping at each base so that the player that hit the home run can touch each base legally and ends the game that they have won. The other side could have refused, and the batter would have had to find a way to get around the bases themselves. But they understand the shared pain of playing, and ultimately that a fellow human is suffering. At a certain point, the game is set aside, because the entertainment is soured.

In these scenarios, as was said when wrestler Owen Hart died from a malfunction of safety equipment, "This is not part of the entertainment tonight.
This is as real as real can be here." (Jim Ross, play-by-play commentator.)

Enough of depressing things. The actual point is that each instance of baseball, each pitch, each hit, each play, can be influenced by numbers, but plays out in still not-modelable reality, where pitchers and batters both take advantage of the mental state of each other to achieve their ends. The best hitters in the world still have slumps, the worst hitters come through in the clutch. Hero, Goat, Winning Streak, Slump, All-Star or Rookie, everybody goes through cycles. And yet, despite those cycles, or pertussis because of them, some players build careers that stick a little bit better in our heads. Our they have the good skill and fortune to participate in games that have special significance, either for the game, for the team, or for themselves. There probably wasn't anything special about most of the games Cal Ripken, Jr. played. But then you realize that he played in every game, without fail, without a game off, without injury or sickness strong enough to necessitate missing a game, for almost fourteen years before breaking the previous record for most consecutive games played. That level of health and fitness seems impossible these days. As does the lack of being part of or requesting trades that might otherwise cause him to miss a game. It's unlikely that his intent was breaking the record when he set out on the journey.

There are a lot of names in the Hall of Fame that are only really known to dedicated baseball scholars and the fans of the team those players played for. They had great careers in baseball, but unsure not the first names that come to mind when one thinks of baseball players. As with everything involving fame and memory, it seems like it's random in determining whether or not one player or another lives on after their baseball days are done.

I think, though, after having done these series, I realize that a lot of baseball, sport, careers, and perhaps even life in general, once someone learns the rules and mechanics, is mostly about telling stories. And if that's the case, then really, none of us are in control about whether we become legendary. We can try to set ourselves up for being part of a good story with virtuous behavior, pursuit of passions, voicing our opinions, excellence in our careers, and so forth, but many of our stories are about single moments. Accumulation of enough of those single moments can mean a career of stories, and if those stories are repeated enough to enough people, they can pass into legend and become instructional material for the next generation. The player is often transformed into a demigod or full deity of the domain of the stories that are told about them, and, in some ways, risk becoming only the stories that are told about them, as the people that know them pass on and their knowledge is lost. The Legend lives on, often independently of the being that have birth to them.

Legends are primarily figures of adoration, respect, and good will of their particular fields. The basic canon of stories generally starts with creation, then moves forward to the old times before, and progresses toward the current era's heroes - there's a little bit of ego involved in putting the current as the very best, and usually a little bit of pride in telling the stories that we have experienced ourselves, as opposed to those that have come before. There are always stories of villains, too, but wherever possible, villains show up accompanied by heroes that will defeat them. It's one of the Pratchettian Big Lies, of course, that villains and cheaters are always caught and punished, because it tends to be more likely they don't, but without that bit in place, the stories lose their coherence and the legends are swiftly overwhelmed by the ne'er do wells. The bad side needs acknowledging, though, and so usually the stories retain a couple monsters to try and keep everyone else away from that path. The "Black Sox" scandal, for example, and the strike-shortened seasons are there as reminders of when things went astray and needed to be brought back.

We choose our stories based on how others see us. Those new to the game will get different stories about why this sport is worth following and watching than those who are already here. Much like how experts see the world differently through the lenses of their expertise, the stories traded from people who understand the details and intricacies of the game will be different, and quite possibly a little bit more arcane. Stories with the intent of persuasion leave off some details in favor of a more convincing narrative. Legends are there both for the people who are trying to understand and for those who are trying to deepen their appreciation. Sometimes within the same story.

Retirement is scary. Nostalgia is tempting. Becoming legendary while still being around to appreciate it is the goal of many, even those that know that the truth of one's legends is much the same as the truth of funerals - they're not there for the person being talked about, they're there for everyone else. Many people will go onward without knowing that they have become a legend to someone. If you have the opportunity, now would be a good time to let your legends know how much you look up to them.

The card itself is the Rider-Waite equivalent of the Emperor, a person invested with temporal power and absolute authority over the people that are his subjects. Emperors are often styled to be related to gods, if not gods themselves, with corresponding stories of their majesty, part, and divine right to rule to follow with them. As with all of our constructed stories, it requires shared belief to elevate anyone to a role above others, whether in small ways, elected ways, or divine ways. Our legends tell anyone who listens about what our values and beliefs are, even if they can't quite understand why we believe it.

The presence of a Legend in a reading says that the stories are important to understanding - looking to the paths of those gone before and extracting the important parts of their stories to apply to the situation at hand. It's not necessarily the case that the good things and the heroes are the important parts of the story and are the only things to pay attention to. The whole story is important. Pay attention to all the action going on to gain full understanding.

As in baseball, as in life, as in so many other things.

This concludes the second year of baseball tarot. The remaining cards available would only cover a half-month of material, so for next year, maybe I'll spring them out somewhere in the All-Star break. This means I need a new December Days topic for next year. Suggestions greatly welcomed.
silveradept: A dragon librarian, wearing a floral print shirt and pince-nez glasses, carrying a book in the left paw. Red and white. (Dragon Librarian)
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot. If you would like to prompt for a part of the game or a card from the deck, all the rest of the month is available for your curiosity, about either baseball or Tarot. Leave a comment with a prompt if you want in. All other comments are still welcome, of course.]

Baseball, as a game, all else being equal, would seem to be tilted in favor of the defense, who can put nine players in a defined zone to be able to record outs in many different ways, as opposed to the one to four players of the offense, only one of which is empowered to hit the ball. (One might say the same about cricket, except that the cricket field has 360 degrees of possible hitting area to work with and position the fielders on. Admittedly, there's only a partnership on the field for the offense, but still, they can score centuries if they do well. Baseball players only get the opportunity for four at a time, and only three times a game are guaranteed.) The statistical categories tend to agree with this - great offensive players are those that succeed three times out of ten over the course of their careers. Not exactly an impressive mark for an impressive achievement.

Each hitter only gets three strikes when they come up to the plate. Strikes are assessed at pitches that pass through the strike zone and don't get swung at, pitches that are swung at that don't connect, and balls that are hit but fall foul, unless that would be the third strike, unless the attempt was a bunt. Collecting three strikes is an out for the defense.

Strikeouts tend to happen two ways, both of which can be embarrassing to the hitter. Strikeouts by swinging at pitches can be reasonably okay if they were going to be strikes already, somewhat more likely to happen if a hitter is pursuing a more aggressive attempt at making contact, or entirely embarrassing if a hitter swings at a pitch that is well out of the strike zone, or bites on a breaking pitch that drops quite far out of the zone. The bailout swings or attempts to hold up once the realization sets in makes a lot of professional baseball players look very awkward. Admittedly, that's a much a testament to the skill of the pitcher add it is the embarrassment of the hitter, but still, it's not fun to watch, or be a part of.

Perhaps the more embarrassing variant of the strikeout is the called third strike. Being "caught looking", or as Ernie Harwell put it, "window shopping", means a walk back to the dugout without even the revise of having made an attempt at hitting the ball. Sometimes it's being frozen by a breaking pitch that looks outside the strike zone and then dives back in at the last second, other times it's being at the mercy of the umpire's sight and the catcher's framing of the pitch, and sometimes it's not trusting your first instinct to swing, only to find out that it was a pitch to swing at. And that's before the fanatics chime in with their opinion of how your at-bat went. The "best" opinion they can have is a belief that the umpire is not enforcing an appropriate strike zone. It goes downhill from there, including things like the Bronx cheer, the boo birds, and many, many colorful phrases involving relatives and anatomical impossibilities.

For pitchers, of course, strikeouts are good things. Statistically, the number of strikeouts follows the earned run average as the measure of effectiveness for a pitcher. Strikeouts are easier to achieve by having several pitches to be able to select from or by having velocity and accuracy that is difficult to catch or wait out. At least, that's what I'm guessing from viewing other games - my experience as a pitcher is that I never got that many strikeouts because of not having much velocity. The other pitcher did, and they had a higher quantity of strikeouts. I just had lots of ground balls and needed all the fielders behind me to produce outs. (This is a valid strategy, but it also requires good fielders behind the pitcher.)

The meaning of this card depends on whether you're hitting or pitching. If you're the batter, well, strikeouts represent failure. It might be am inability to execute, it might be a problem of judgment, or it could be something entirely out of your control and someone else has determined to be not good enough. In any case, as with other times of getting out, it means you'll have to wait until the next time and try again. There's things to learn from this time up that may be helpful next time, one pitch selection...and what's the umpire is calling strikes. Try not to be discouraged and be ready to go again.

If you're pitching, congratulations. You're one more out closer to the goal, and you were able to execute the pitches you wanted to do it. Take what you've learned about this batter and keep it in mind for later. Now, however, you have to face the next batter, who will have a completely different plan and set of pitches to face. The temporary nature of your success is important, but you can certainly enjoy the victory that you have achieved at this point.


silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
Silver Adept

January 2016

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