dragoness_e: Raven strolling (Raven strolling)
It occurred to me that The Eagles song "Life in the Fast Lane" would be a great theme song for Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship in Wuthering Heights.
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
I don't plan on watching the Superbowl this year. I can always catch the cute ads on whatever site likes to showcase them afterwards, but the NFL will not get my advertising eyeballs for this fake championship.

On the one hand, we have the New England Patriots, known serial cheaters. Am I supposed to take seriously that they're really the AFC champions when they feel they have to cheat to win?

On the other hand, we have the Lame-A** Rams, who are illegitimate, Non-Champions of the NFC. You're not a champion when the championship game gets handed to you by crooked refereeing. I don't recognize the Rams as NFC champions, because they didn't win the NFC championship legitimately, therefore this SubparBowl is fraudulent, a game of two second-class teams pretending to be the battle of champions. I don't care about either team, and the game is a second-class fake of the real thing, so why would I watch it?

As the NFL is hoping to make their usual huge profit via you watching a fraudulent game that's not what it is represented to be, I encourage you to show them what you think by not watching the Subpar Bowl either. Also, if the NFL can't be bothered to make sure that the referees are honest and competent, then the game itself has no integrity and isn't worth watching. Who cares what the results of a game are if it's rigged in advance?

I hope the Patriots flatten the Rams in a massive blow-out, like 45-0, because Tom Brady is actually a great quarterback, and coach Bill Belicheck has advocated for some time that all plays be challengeable and reviewable, like the Canadian Football League does it. If that rule had been in place, that crooked "No-Call" in the Saints-Rams NFC championship would have been challenged and overturned, and we wouldn't be left with bitterness and a pointless fraud of a Superbowl. Also because the Rams players are jerks, and were gloating over benefiting from the obvious crooked refereeing. They deserve to have their Superbowl hopes and dreams crushed like a squashed cockroach.
dragoness_e: (gaming posts)
For those of you interested in the Minecraft mods I maintain:

Hadite Coal is in testing. It loads, and I can even display some of the textures! Still needs the rest of the models and recipes and stuff.
dragoness_e: Me in the pink straw cowboy hat (Pink Hat)
If you are making baked apple desserts such as apple pie or apple cobbler... use Granny Smith apples. When baked, the tart apple flavor mellows slightly, and combines with the usual apple pie spices and sugar to make for a delicious tangy fruit taste.

DON'T use Red Delicious. This utterly tasteless apple, when baked, becomes a mushy, utterly tasteless apple-thing. This message brought to you by experience.
dragoness_e: (gaming posts)
A set of posts to another DBZ fan about Minecrafting, which I will continue as a report on my world:

That sounds like an interesting world. I may have to try that seed. (From Jenny Islander: The seed is (take out the spaces) 7267 5644 6546 4405 901).

Right now, I am playing through a peaceful run of Direwolf20's 1.12.2 2.2.0 modpack. I added "Hunger in Peace" to the pack because I like food to matter even on Peaceful mode, and "Smoother Fonts" because being able to anti-alias fonts and pick the font you want for the tiny print on tooltips and buttons is really nice. I also updated a few mods in the pack before Direwolf20 did, because I don't like keeping known bugs that have already been fixed. The official pack has since caught up. I also set the world to a "rare" Lost Cities with Biomes O' Plenty (BOP) configuration, but someone's definition of "rare" is a lot different from mine, because there are abandoned, crumbling cities at various distances in all directions.

I spawned in a BOP Highlands area right next to a Thaumcraft Magical Forest (which means all the oaks are giant branching oaks, the grass is bluegrass, and there are Greatwood trees--a Thaumcraft (TC) specific tree with huge branching trunks and a very dark wood, like Dark Oak only darker. There are also TC Silverwood trees, which are magical, birch-like trees with branching trunks, and giant mushrooms and weird mushrooms.)

Magical Forest biome

As the pack also includes Botania, and BOP has a lot of biome-specific plants, there are strange flowers galore, everywhere. Since my base style tends to be "tunnel into the nearest hill before it gets dark" and expand from there, I have my base on the border between the Magical Forest (the lowland entrance to my base) and the Highlands (the mountain interior of my base).

Entrance to my base

Entrance to my base

My sheep pen is up in the Highlands, as I found dozens of sheep up there.


Sheeps

I also built chicken pits there, after bringing a few stacks of eggs back from one of my major expeditions to the nearest "Lost City".

Chicken Pit

My current base load power generation is up on the mountain, too, as is my nether portal and, just built last night, my Astral Sorcery crafting table.

Highlands power gen area

I'll explain the power generation another time. You can see a "Lost City" on the upper left, not very far away. The dead "city" (more like a small office park) nearest me has been a treasure trove of glass, iron bars, anvils, bookshelves, crafting tables, furnaces, the occaisional enchanting table and brewing stand, flower pots, and endless stacks of terracotta, which were the Minecraft material used to generate that 'modern brutalist concrete' architecture look. (McJty's Lost Cities mod defaults to using vanilla materials to generate the dead cities). That terracotta has turned out to be useful in some of the other mods, saving me the trouble of digging a lot of clay out of the bottom of local ponds. The dead office park has also been a trove of other junk, such as mob spawners; since I'm doing a Peaceful mode play-through, they are mostly useless and harmless. I guess I'm bypassing the intended difficulty of pillaging the abandoned office park by being on Peaceful; apparently its supposed to be infested with zombies, skeletons and giant spiders. OTOH, I don't get to use the monster spawners to make mob farms. I'm going to have to get mob drops the hard way: breeding BEES!

There were also "feral" chickens; on one of my later visits, I penned some chickens in the bottom floor of one of the abandoned office buildings and bred them until I collected several stacks of eggs, which I took home to start my chicken farm. (Chickens don't transport easily long distances, but eggs do).

The Magical Forest lowlands had wild cows and pigs wandering the forest, so I used some of the extensive supplies of wood I had lumbered off to build cowpens and pigpens, and lured some breeding pairs in. I still haven't found any carrots, but it turns out that pigs can be bred with beetroot, and beetroot seeds drop from breaking grass in this modpack, like wheat seeds do. So I have everything I need to breed my sheep, cows, chickens and pigs, which keep me in meat, wool, eggs, feathers and hides. (And help power my power plant, but that's another, more complicated story). As for the rest of a balanced diet, this modpack includes Pam's HarvestCraft, which has all the fruits, vegetables and recipes to use everything you could want. I have already found and started growing many different vegetables and leafy spices. The main things I am still missing are carrots, potatoes, and orchard trees, though I have found the latter on my travels--they just didn't have ripe fruits for me to pick and take home and plant.

I have far more I could tell you about; Direwolf20 the YouTube guy likes to play around with different tech mods and has a very easy-going style on YouTube (i.e. he's competent at making a good video, but can get too enthralled in the "exciting" tasks of making things in a crafting table). His modpack is what they call a "kitchen sink" modpack: some of this, some of that, mods tweaked as necessary to play well together, no special emphasis on "balance" or "progression". Very much a sandbox to play in rather than a game to play through, if you get my drift.

The pack includes some nifty little tools that make building easier, such as Building Gadgets and MeeCreeps. Also /dank/null turned out to be the most useful device for storing (and/or auto-voiding) all that junk/potential building materials that you dig up when mining--cobblestone, dirt, gravel, diorite, etc.

Building Gadgets include the Builder, which is like a Builder's Wand on steroids--it will let you lay down lines and walls of blocks from your inventory without having to place each one yourself. If you've ever hung off the edge of a roof or cliff trying to place another row of edging, you'll appreciate it a lot. The Builder will work with the /dank/null widget and pull blocks out of its inventory, if they exist. I have found the combination handy in mining--an iron /dank/null holds 1152 of any individual block in it, like cobblestone, so as I mine out all that cobblestone, it gets stashed, and if I need to bridge a chasm, out comes the Builder and I can use it to toss up a quick bridge from that stash of cobblestone. (It also has an 'undo' function, so I can take that bridge back down when I'm done with it).

The other Building Gadget is the Exchanger, which lets you switch a block in inventory with a block in the world, also in walls, columns, etc. This is handy for laying pretty floors and paneling your underground base's walls in something better looking than stone cut by random seams of diorite/granite/andesite.

MeeCreeps are summoned by a widget craftable by vanilla stuff you will collect in deep mining, such as diamonds. They are turquoise-blue enderman looking dudes who will carry out simple tasks, depending on where you summoned them--if you summon one by clicking the widget on a tree, it will offer to cut the tree down for you. If you click on the floor, it will offer to flatten the area, or build a cobblestone platform, or dig down to bedrock, or whatever. Extra materials do need to be provided by you: if you want a platform, throw stacks of cobblestone at it if the local area doesn't have stone.

More to come, I hope...
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
Horror can stop working as horror if the reader has a sufficiently different cultural background from the author, because what horrified the author may be mundane to the reader. Alternatively, what the author accepts as good and right may horrify the reader in ways the author never intended. This can happen over time as well as across borders.

I recently read Arthur Machen's The White People. Not only couldn't I find any horror in it (beyond the mundane horror of how badly Machen treats female character in general), I had trouble finding any plot or even what the hell was going on. I can't say I agree with H.P. Lovecraft's analysis of "what was going on"--it's not really in the text and I think HPL pulled it out of his aft. Machen's idea of horror seems to be Women With Agency Doing Things, which really, really doesn't age well.

And then there's H.P. Lovecraft, who wanders freely between cosmic horror of "man was not the first, and won't be the last being to rule the Earth, and they will return when the stars are right", the existential horror of losing your identity to undeath, body-theft, gender-change, or species-change; and the racist's abject horror that Those People live in his neighborhood, possibly even right next door!. Guess which aspect of HPL's horror has not aged well?

Writers need to pay attention to the classic horror tropes they're using, or they might find themselves saying "Genocide is morally good" or "Slaves are by nature inferior beings whose lives and desires are worthless and meaningless" in the themes of their stories. (Looking at you, Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft). Or you, the writer, could think about those tropes and deconstruct them instead, giving us wonderful stories like Elizabeth Bear's "Shoggoths in Bloom".
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
I maintain some Minecraft mods. One of the "joys" of Minecraft modding is that the APIs, the frameworks, have a nasty habit of changing in unexpected and poorly-documented ways from major version to major version. This is because Minecraft was not designed for modding by outsiders. Modding is permitted and tolerated and, PR-wise, encouraged. However, for a long time, the internal code was simply not designed to encourage it. However, since the original Minecraft was written in Java, it was easy to decompile and possible, thought not easy, to deobfuscate. People did that. People originally modded by writing replacement classes for Minecraft classes, and then inserting them into the Minecraft jar.

Modding this way was not easy, either for the programmer or for the end user, who had to master the art of unpacking jar files and inserting the provided modded jars.... not something that gamers are normally encouraged to learn or do.

Eventually, some bright lads came up with the idea of a standard mod loader, that would automatically load those modified classes as Minecraft launched, so that the end user didn't to do surgery on their game executable. They also decided to solve the other problem, that if two different mods modified the same base class, you'd have a mess.

They created an API for modding, so that mods would play nicely with each other, and have a standard interface with which to mod Minecraft. That combined mod loader and API is called Minecraft Forge. Originally, you had to do surgery on your Minecraft executable to install Forge, though it would then handle all the other mods, but the Forge guys got tired of explaining how to do that, so they wrote an installer to do it automatically, and the rest is history.

So, I write mods using the Forge API. At some point, Mojang (the developers of Minecraft, now owned by Microsoft), decided to start cleaning up the internals of the game to make it easier to write mods and other add-ons. This necessarily required large internal changes, which made modding across major versions... interesting. Players who don't write mods have little-to-no idea about this, and just want to know "have you ported your mod to 1.8 yet?"

Repeat ad nauseum for every single major version change from 1.6.4 => 1.7.10 => 1.8+ => 1.9.4/1.10.2 => 1.11.2 => 1.12.2

Not ONE modder I've ever heard tell about likes being nagged about porting code. Not one. Fortunately most forum moderators figured out a long time ago that "When are you going to port your mod?" is 99% of the time, a passive-aggressive way of demanding that you hurry up and port your mod, and so forbid the question. One, it is rude and entitled to demand that modders work for you for free, and two, annoyed modders have been known to quit modding. Or put explosive bees in their mods.

So don't do that.
dragoness_e: Ghost Duskwing with no text (Duskwing_no_text)
Cybertron has been rebooted, post-DST change. Carry on.
dragoness_e: (Echo Bazaar)
I'd forgotten how hard it is to actually get words out in quantity. Writing feels like it's flowing along, but then I do a word count check after a few hours and find out I have a whole 600-odd words.

Good thing I'm only aiming to complete a short story, not actually complete a 50,000 word light novel.
dragoness_e: (Echo Bazaar)
So our company is getting bought up/merging yet AGAIN, and we had a phone-in meeting about it. (That's where we all sit around the speaker phone in the conference room and listen to the head honchos yammer somewhere at the other end of the country). It was a pretty dull meeting; I made notes in my notebook about it to keep from making snide comments out loud... very often. Here are my transcribed notes, with the names changed to protect the annoying.

* The Big Boss repeats the entire contents of the announcement letter we got yesterday. I am not excite.
* Describing Power Point presentations verbally is even more boring than watching slides.
* Buzzword bingo fest.
* Do I get a share of this $XX billion business? If not, why do I care?
* We are merging complementary businesses. That's nice, but I'm not the Board of Directors, nor the venture capitalist that actually own us. It's not like I'm deciding anything.
* I get the impression they don't want people panicking about their jobs and jumping ship. *a few minutes later* CALLED IT!
* I have spent 26 minutes listening to Big Boss pat himself on the back and re-state the announcement letter. Oh wait, he started up again. But we can download the Power Point slides. 29 minutes now.
* Q&A session: Big Boss starts up again on the first question, which I could not hear. He assures us he's really humble about being the Big Boss of the new company, too.
* we will have locations everywhere--might make it easier to move somewhere else.
dragoness_e: Raven on the wing (Raven on the wing)
Three New Orleans museums are admitting people free of charge to their air-conditioned buildings on days forecast to be 95°F or above. Details:

https://noma.org/art-ac-free-admission-noma-august-temps-hit-95-degrees/

Bravo for Fine Arts and basic decency!
dragoness_e: Raven strolling (Raven strolling)
Now and then I read something really interesting, and never think to tell anyone about it. This time, I'm telling you about it.

The Gunpowder Age, by Tonio Andrade, Princeton University Press 2016, ISBN 978-0-691-13597-7.

From the Introduction:

Historians have long studied gunpowder's revolutionary effects, but they've paid most attention to the West. Indeed, you've probably heard the saying, false but often repeated, that the Chinese invented gunpowder but didn't use it for war. This meme is still widely circulated, appearing in scholarly works, and even in China itself. But in fact the Chinese and their neighbors explored gunpowder's many uses, military and civilian, for centuries before the technology passed to the West. These Asian origins are often glossed over, and most studies of gunpowder warfare focus on the early modern period (ca. 1500-1800). This was, historians have argued, when the first gunpowder empires were born, and when the "gunpowder revolution" and the "military revolution" helped transform Europe's feudal structures, laying the groundwork for Western global dominance.

But the gunpowder age actually lasted a millenium, from the first use of gunpowder in warfare in the late 900s to its replacement by smokeless powder around 1900. Examining its full sweep can help us answer--or at least clarify--the question of the rise of the West and the "stagnation" of China.


The book is a study of the history of the development of gunpowder in both Chinese and Western warfare, and refutes or attempts to refute many of the classic theses for China's so-called "stagnation". (Answer: it wasn't what most people think). The author is a professor of history at Emory University, who specializes in Chinese/European contact history, among other things. The book is clear and straight-forward to read, not bogged down by academic jargon, but it is a well-documented academic work--everything is footnoted and referenced in the extensive bibliography. The author does not rely on regurgitating other English-only works, but uses and cites original Chinese sources. I approve. Always go to the original source if available, because other people's interpretations of a source are just that: their interpretation.

I learned a LOT from this book, including the fact that I had a lot of misconceptions. I'm one of those people who was taught that the Chinese never did anything significant with gunpowder. Oops, wrong as wrong can be. They did bombs, rockets, guns, incendiaries, and other fun things like "fire lances", which were an early predecessor of the gun that shot fire (burning gunpowder) out of a tube at people. (It took them a while to work out good enough powder and barrels to use gunpowder as a propellant rather than an incendiary. However, it worked as a short-range anti-personnel weapon. I suspect that being set on fire by burning gunpowder was at least as unhealthy as catching a bullet).

I also learned that medieval armies were using early cannon starting in the 14th century--you know, during the Hundred Year's War, that classic late-medieval war that brought us Joan of Arc and those classic demonstrations of English long-bow awesomeness, Crécy and Poitiers. Speaking of which... did you know that Joan of Arc was a skilled artillery tactician? Apparently one of the things that made her armies dangerous to the English was her knowing how to deploy cannon in a siege. Did you know that there were volley guns deployed to protect the longbowmen from any charging knights? Their arrows would kill horses and did a number on the crossbowmen, but they didn't actually penetrate plate all that well.


A tidbit for people looking for an historical, multi-ethnic setting for adventure:

The period from the 1540s to the 1560s was a golden age of East Asian piracy, and the pirates were a motley and multiethnic lot. Most were Chinese, but sources make clear that they worked with Japanese, Portugese, Siamese, "black Malaccans", "black barbarian demons", "white and black mixed types," and various other "barbarians". They exchanged ideas, techniques, and technologies, creating what one scholar has called a "hyrbrid maritime culture." Although arquebuses weren't widely used by the pirates, they were certainly present, and Ming officials took note. According to one source, a pirate band led by brothers surnamed Xu "lured the barbarians from the land of the Franks... and they came in a continuous stream." The Xu brothers established an island outpost, Shuangyu Harbor, which, according to one scholar, "became the stage for the dissemination to all of East Asia's maritime realms of every kind of gunpowder weapon." The Xu brothers worked with many other pirates, including Wang Zhi himself, as well as a man named Bald Li. Some sources suggest that among Bald Li's adherents was "a barbarian chief who was good at guns." -- p.171.
dragoness_e: Raven on the wing (Raven on the wing)
...are the names of two of the many dwarf planets (Trans-Neptunian Objects) out beyond the Kuiper Belt.

Varda's moon is named Ilmarë
Manwë's moon is named Thorondor.
dragoness_e: NASA F-15A #837 (NASA Starscream)
I recently finished reading an interesting book, After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America by E. C. Pielou. (I'm researching what parts of the Earth looked like for humans at the end of the last glaciation, when the big ice started melting and the sea levels started rising.)

In researching Ice Ages, I learned a number of interesting things. One is that we are still in the Quaternary Ice Age; we are merely in an inter-glacial within the Ice Age. The Ice Age will not end until the continents stop surrounding the north pole and the Antarctic continent moves off the south pole. That's a very long time in the future. In the meantime, glacials and inter-glacials are governed (mostly) by Milankovitch Cycles, though the changes in Earth's orbit affect temperature in complex ways. Note that neither element (plate tectonics, orbital cycles) is under human control. There will be another glaciation, and there is not much we can do about it.... except maybe dump lots of CO2 in the air.

But wait, isn't everyone worried about anthropogenic global warming (AGW)? Well, yes... and no. The warmest period of the current interglacial, the Holocene Climate Optimum (aka hypsithermal), ended about 5000 years ago, about the time of Egypt's Old Kingdom, which developed during the warm, wet period. It's cooler now than it was during the Optimum; in North America, various temperature-sensitive ecosystems were several hundred kilometers north of where they are now. Right now, we might warm back up to that temperature; the main thing that climate scientists are concerned about is the rate of warming, which seems greater than what has happened before. On the other hand, sudden climate changes don't show well in the fossil record; the resolution isn't that good. We know it warmed very rapidly at the start of the Optimum.

The Little Ice Age may have been the start of the next round of glaciation (the "neoglacial")--if so, it was reversed right around the time industrialization started dumping CO2 in the air in a big way, about 1850. AGW may well be what is staving off the next glaciation; we don't know enough yet. What we do know is that panicking that "global warming will destroy the world!!1!!" is stupid hysterical nonsense.

Another glaciation, on the other hand... well, look at the last glaciation. There is nothing quite as devastating to an ecosystem as grinding it under a few hundred feet of ice--not even strip-mining for coal is that bad. Nothing lives on an ice sheet, and nothing bigger than microbes and algae lives under it. (Although there are cave refugia under the rock under the ice where cave lifeforms carry on...). The sheer weight of a continental ice sheet depresses the continental crust under it (this will be important later); the presence of a continental ice sheet alters the weather in major ways, as icy catabatic winds howl off the ice sheet to sweep the lands surrounding the ice (it also carries dust for hundreds of miles, piling up massive loess deposits beyond the ice). All that water locked up in a continental ice sheet is no longer part of the water cycle; the whole planet becomes drier and more arid. Polar deserts and tundra surround the ice sheets; boreal forests persist in humid areas of what used to be the temperate zone. The rest of the mid-latitudes are cold steppe. Temperate forests get pushed back to the humid sub-tropics; the tropics become more arid and rainforests nearly vanish, replaced with steppe; the old steppe becomes deserts. The Sahara desert enlarges far beyond the current nightmares of desertification. Alpine and tundra life persists at the edge of the ice, or in isolated refugia along the coast or on nunataks. The sea-level falls 100-120 meters.

The end of the glaciation was also devastating. The great ice sheets slowly thinned and melted back, revealing land scrapped bare of soil except for the layer deposited by the retreating ice. Vast icy lakes of melt-water formed at the melting edges of the ice sheets, because the land was still depressed from the weight of the ice. Beyond the ice sheets, the land had bulged upward in isotatic reaction; as the crust rebounded from the weight of the ice, the land beyond the ice sheets sank back down to its normal position, adding isostatic sinking to the eustatic sea level rise from the melting ice. (Because the bordering crust had bulged upward, at first the glacial melting didn't raise the sea levels much...then it suddenly did). As the crust that had been under the ice sheet rose, the proglacial lakes switched drainage routes, and/or drained away--the vast freshwater sea that covered what is now the Great Lakes and most of Ontario eventually settled into the Great Lakes; the inland freshwater seas further west shrunk into the Great Bear and Great Slave lakes of the present day. (Fish populations re-populated the interior because of these lakes and drainage switching around, as fish can't walk to new lakes or rivers). Plants slowly migrated northwards, from the south or from refugia, first the pioneers that could grow in rock dust, sand and gravel, later the plants that needed damp, organic-heavy soil to root in. Animals moved in as fast as the plants they could browse on, though the big carnivores could cross sea ice and barrens in search of prey (Newfoundland is top-heavy with carnivore species because of this). Humans moved in where there was sufficient food, and hunted mammoths.

The sea level rose and rose and rose as the great ice sheets melted and the crust rebounded, up to 120 meters in some places. Beringia flooded, and became Siberia and Alaska. The dry land ('Doggerland') between the British Isles and Scandanavia floods, becoming the North Sea and the English Channel. Much of Southeast Asia becomes the string of large and small islands that we are familiar with today, instead of the low-lying continental mass it was during the glaciation. The face of the world changed.

Note that I am not arguing that global warming is happening--that it is undebatable fact, measured by satellite for several decades now, and by buoy and ground station for over a century. We have the numbers. There is a correlation with global CO2 levels. What we don't know: how hot does it get before Earth's feedback mechanisms kick in and damp it down? The oceans lock up and deposit excess CO2 in the form of carbonates via the Carbonate-silicate weathering cycle; the hotter it gets, the faster that happens, until enough carbon dioxide is pulled out of the atmosphere to cool things down to Ice Age glaciation levels again.

Panic and hysteria help no one and nothing, except someone with an agenda that requires people to react without thinking. They certainly don't solve the problem of AGW...if it is a problem that can be solved, or even needs to be solved. Climate does change, it has changed drasticly in the past, it will change in the future, it is changing now. Things will never be exactly like they were last Tuesday, that's just not how the Earth works.
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
[Inspired by recent incidents in the Canadian writing community]

Cultural appropriation is a good thing. It means the majority culture is learning to appreciate and is curious about something besides themselves. It means the culture isn't stagnating. It means The Other is good, not bad, and a friend, not an enemy to be suppressed or exterminated. It means The Other is stopping being "Them" and is becoming "Us". We humans love Us; we humans regrettably tend to hate Them. Better for all if they are Us.

The notion that cultural appropriation is bad is one of the more snowflake, dumb-ass and downright poisonous ideas to come out of the left. The logical end-point of "cultural appropriation is bad and you mustn't do it" crowd is cultural segregation and apartheid--everyone is only allowed to write or make art about their own racial and cultural niche, and no one will be exposed to any culture but their own. That would be bad; we learn to tolerate and accept People Not Like Us by getting to know them in person; ditto for cultures.

At worst, badly-done appropriation comes across as crass, rude and insensitive to people of the originating culture. So don't be crass, rude, or insensitive. However, there is not a single damn thing wrong with braiding your hair differently, eating different food, or wearing different clothes than those you grew up with. Don't let anyone force you into a creative or life-style strait-jacket because of what they think is appropriate for you.
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
I finally deleted my old livejournal. From the reports of others, the rotting corpse of the former journaling service is allowing lots of porn spammers in the comments; I don't need my name and works being used for that kind of crap.
dragoness_e: Fanart of G1 Starscream with F-22 kibble in robot mode (Starscream F-22)
For readers of my Transformers fanfiction: This lovely picture is almost exactly how I envisioned Octane's "Beyt'al-Ocatane" crew (Talifeyah and the rest), years ago.



The only difference is that Al-Octane's crew uniform is a white hijab with sky-blue uniform tunic and trousers. But don't they look like they could be sitting in Skyfire's cockpit?

All congratulations to Royal Brunei Airlines and their first all-female crew.
dragoness_e: NASA F-15A #837 (NASA Starscream)
We finally finished semi-binge watch of The Clone Wars, and then re-watched Revenge of the Sith as the finale and bookend to the series.

Well then.

In general, Clone Wars (CW) was much better than Revenge of the Sith (RotS). The contrast between the quality of acting in the one vs the other was shocking and dramatic--the CW voice actors were quite good; with the exception of Palpatine's film actor (Ian McDiarmid), the RotS acting was terrible!

Matt Lanter, Anakin Skywalker's CW voice actor, did a much better job of sounding resentful, rebellious and dangerously angry than Hayden Christiansen did. Christiansen's performance made Anakin sound like a whiny, emo, entitled brat instead of a powerful young Jedi sliding inexorably towards the Dark Side. He simply did not sell Anakin as Sith Apprentice Darth Vader. Most of the time he sounded like he was stoned and phoning his performance in.

I blame inexperienced actors in the hands of a lousy director. Natalie Portman is supposed to be a decent actress, but her performance as Padmé was lackluster, to say the least. She also came across as phoning it in. Ewan MacGregor's performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi was better, but he still had a lot of scenes that should have been redone to actually show emotion. James Arnold Taylor, the CW VA, delivered a much better and more consistent performance as Obi-Wan. Samuel L. Jackson's performance was hampered by terrible dialogue (don't let Lucas write dialogue. Just don't!), but he delivered his lines well enough. Even so, Jackson's performance in RotS wasn't anywhere near the quality of his performance as Jules in Pulp Fiction or Nick Fury in the MCU movies. I wonder how much better RotS would have been if Tarantino were directing it?

The one stand-out was Ian McDiarmid's performance as Chancellor Palpatine. I thought his performance was better than Ian Abercrombie's in Clone Wars. I suspect he was an experienced enough actor that he could deliver a good performance even without a good director. He did a very good job of portraying Darth Sidious being, well, insidious and manipulative: showing Chancellor Palpatine acting like Anakin's apparent good friend and mentor, all the while slyly planting seeds of discontent and mistrust.

I can't say much about Chris Lee as Dooku in this movie, as his part was so short and a lot of his screen time was taken up by his stunt double. Corey Burton, Dooku's CW VA, did a damn good Chris Lee impression as Count Dooku, and was delightfully menancing. Of course he was--this is the guy who played TFA Megatron! (He's also Cad Bane, another convincingly scary character. Looking at his credits at IMDB, it's somehow appropriate that Burton plays Dracula in a lot of cartoons--a part that Chris Lee was famous for in his younger days).

Another thought I had is that the RotS actors are film actors, and had to do a lot of green-screen work in this movie, where they wouldn't have seen the special effects that are going on around them in the movie. The worst performances seemed to be in scenes where the actor would have just been sitting in a chair in front of a green-screen, imagining they were reading those lines in a ship that was on fire, crashing and exploding. A good director could still have coaxed a good performance out of them. Conversely, in Clone Wars, the actors were mostly experienced voice actors, used to bringing characters to life when they can't see anything but a microphone and maybe some of the other actors reading their parts. Note that Ian McDiarmid was lucky enough that almost all of his lines were delivered in a more traditional film acting situation: to other actors on the same stage with him. That probably helped. Also, Clone Wars was NOT directed by George Lucas, unlike RotS. That probably helped Clone Wars.

The fight choreography also seemed a bit lacking compared to either Clone Wars or any MCU movie. Only the final fight scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin, and Palpatine's massacre of the Jedi sent to arrest him conveyed the sheer viciousness of Sith vs. Jedi lightsaber battles that I saw all through Clone Wars. The rest of lightsaber battles looked like a couple guys sparring (badly), to the point where Dooku suddenly losing both hands was almost Pythonesque in its absurdity. There was no energy to those battles. I would chalk it up to the limitations of film vs. CGI, except that (a) the lightsabers are CGI, and (b) any fight in the MCU movies involving Captain America was done ten times better. Or, for examples with sword, any sword fight in an Errol Flynn movie, or the incredible fight choreography in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Tellingly, I cannot find credits for a choreographer for RotS.

However, I found this interesting tidbit on IMDB:


George Lucas allowed his friend Steven Spielberg to help design some sequences during pre-production. This was partly because Spielberg wanted the experience of using the 'pre-visualisation' techniques pioneered by ILM as he was going to use them for War of the Worlds (2005). It was also because Lucas felt that his roles as Writer, Director, Executive Producer and Financier were taking up too much of his time and he needed another director to bounce ideas off. Spielberg's main contribution was in the climactic lightsaber duel between Obi-wan and Anakin.


...it shows.

I want Obi-Wan's varactyl as a mount in WoW.
dragoness_e: (gaming posts)
I hear Netflix is going to be discontinuing streaming "Clone Wars" in March. Guess what I'll be binge-watching? I'm already halfway through season 3, so it's not that far to go to finish it.

On WoW, I got Bedewyr (my warrior) to level 10 (woo-hoo!), found the bank in Stormwind, and finally unloaded all those crafting ingredients into storage. Not enough bags, captain! I also learned the sad news that WoW does not have shared banking slots. WTF? How are you supposed to trade gear between alts? Later, Becky told me that you use mail to send stuff to your alts. That's all well and good, except where it isn't: one, as a trial player, I don't have access to mail; two, I tend to use shared slots as a central depot that all my alts can come pick over for supplies. I don't see how to use mail for that. So, when it comes to altoholic friendliness, WoW is not so friendly as EQ2 or EQ1.

I also started my Tauren druid, Finvarien. Gee, I see why Becky said the human zones suck--the Tauren starting zones are so pretty! Even the hideous Thornsnarl area appears to be a shout-out to a certain Disney movie. Even if the mixed fantasy native American aesthetic of the Tauren is wildly anachronistic, it's a refreshing change from pseudo-medieval European everything (also usually wildly anachronistic).

I figured out how to reset the tutorials, so I would get the explanations again. Yay me! Low-level stuff is still very handholdy--I have yet to be in serious danger from anything. Even with Bedewyr, the only time he took enough damage for me to bother eating some food was after fighting 5 wolves without pause (3 at once during the fight). Does it get tougher at higher levels, or is this a sign I should be pushing on to tougher stuff?

ETA: Craftwise, Bedewyr is a Blacksmith/Miner, and Finvarien is a Leatherworker/Skinner. No doubt I'll have others.

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