Jan. 28th, 2010 12:27 am
There's a MUD I've played for ages, which has been going since longer than anyone can remember, 198X. Its playerbase is dwindling, people have been manoeuvring their characters and wizpieces in an attempt to warp the environment completely, in quite underhanded and disgusting ways. I've written a number of complaint letters to admin in the past months, and there are two of those five who I trust. The others are owned by player factions.

Well, the two good admin have just quit. It might've been the ton of complaints, or it might be the banning of a wizard who was destroying another player's character codewise and is now on an OOC campaign to humiliate him. It might be internal struggles, since I expect one of the admin wants a wizard who's a lot more nepotist to join their ranks. Whatever the case, I feel like mourning. This might be the death knell for the place.
It's a DualCore Dimension C521 slimline Dell, which means you have to put it on its side to put anything in the CD-rom drive, and it's just the most bizarre little thing. The processor is glued to the underside of the weirdest cooling unit I've ever seen, you have to remove the CD drive to get at the harddisk bay, it has no normal mouse or keyboard ports but six USB slots. And it has a mass of audio-ish ports on its back that I don't even recognize, also six. They're marked with constructions of brackets and bars that I think are astrological symbols for exoplanets.

(I'm not a hardware geek, but I love this thing anyway. It's like an evolutionary dead end. And, even with the 280V power supply, the best desktop machine I own.)

I haven't gotten around to installing ABP for Firefox yet, so I can actually see the ads LJ foists upon me for a change. And they're ads for a Hindi dating site, and the '1 weird old tip' ad localized to German for some reason? Must be a seventeenth-century banner ad.

Edit: The ad talks about belly fat reduction, yet the fat in the woman's face and limbs also decreases, and her breasts become less droopy. It's sort of like plastic surgery through wishful thinking.
It's finally happened. I've spent too much time among the lulz dregs of the net and am no longer able to tell whether something like this is a troll or not.
A friend of mine linked to an article about Sega's Bayonetta, claiming she's a straight-up empowering figure for female gamers. And while I value my friend's judgement, I have to disagree in the strongest possible terms here. I'll focus on Leigh Alexander's argument here, obviously not having played the game myself.

The author clearly takes a devil's advocate position, but the argument is based on little more than an audacious bluff. I actually find myself agreeing with large parts of it: I'm really not in favour of censorship, and I'm the last person who'll play gender role police. But the rest of it is held together with string.

Hypersexualized femininity is nothing new. While the 90s were the decade of Xtreem, the 00s take it even further in terms of femininity— a casual glance at the pop charts will show that it's being distorted into fanservice, and pop divas are held up as 'strong women' as well. There's a strong role model element attached to the portrayal of women in media, one that's just not there when it comes to men. Women's bodies are much more obviously commodified, for one, so there's certainly no repression of this particular brand of femininity elsewhere. Much of their lyrical content is put out by male songwriters, for another. We're often blind to this because we think of 'male' as the default.

"[C]ontext is the most important consideration in judging whether an element is appropriate or not," Leigh Alexander says, but there's some sleight of hand going on here. Whether it's appropriate or not isn't the issue— is it empowering? On the face of things, Alexander makes a sex-positive feminist statement, but when you spell it out, it sounds a lot like it's empowering when male programmers and designers stylistically oversexualize a female character on your behalf! It's hard to see where the empowerment comes in, and the designers have a strike against them already: if direct statements are made 'on behalf of' they're not genuinely empowering anyway.

Alexander claims that "Bayonetta takes the video game sexy woman stereotype from object to subject", and she does, but that's only trivially relevant. The game context is completely artificial, so it's uniquely malleable. There's no idea that Bayonetta has achieved anything to become who she is or obtain her powers, and conflict with the Enemy makes a poor substitute. And computer games of this sort need a protagonist and often have a main antagonist; of course neither of these are portrayed as powerless! (By contrast, a side character cannot end up more powerful than the main character and the antagonist or solve the player's problems for him; that's why there's such a throng of cute female sidekicks and healers. Might be fun to subvert in a highbrow indie game?)

So if it's not empowering, what is it, then? I'm inclined to accept part of Alexander's argument here: it's a loving paean to the games industry's fucked up portrayal of femininity. It's deliberate, and there's probably a myriad of motivations underlying it, but in essence, this is a parody. The same school of thought inspires drag queens. (Come on, 'Bayonetta' is a drag queen name.)

And frankly, I'm fine with that. These portrayals exist, and anything that holds those preconceptions to the light is a good thing. Bayonetta's personality sounds like a finely tuned trait mix intended to highlight them, so it's not empowering in itself. Any inherent empowerment is left as an exercise to the player. Or, to quote Alexander again,
To prohibit a character like Bayonetta, and rush to cover her up in disapproval, is a rejection of her particular brand of femininity. Why do that? Because she makes men uncomfortable? If men feel uncomfortable with Bayonetta, maybe that means she succeeds.


Jan. 7th, 2010 05:35 pm
I wish I'd waited until I'd figured out a username I actually want before making this thing.
At least it makes for a good placeholder?
The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon, a holy book with rather few adherents, which claims to present a history as well. Worth reading, I think.
Zerthimon was the first to know the way of freedom. Yet it was not he that first came to know the way of rebellion.

The knowing of rebellion came to the warrior-queen Gith, one of the People. She had served the illithids upon many of the False Worlds as a soldier, and she had come to know war and carried it in her heart. She had come to know how others might be organized to subjugate others. She knew the paths of power, and she knew the art of taking from the conquerors the weapons by which they could be defeated. Her mind was focused, and both her will and her blade were as one.

The turning in which Zerthimon came to know Gith, Zerthimon ceased to know himself. Her words were as fires lit in the hearts of all who heard her. In hearing her words, he wished to know war. He knew not what afflicted him, but he knew he wished to join his blade to Gith. He wished to give his hate expression and share his pain with the illithid.

Gith was one of the People, but her knowing of herself was greater than any Zerthimon had ever encountered. She knew the ways of flesh, she knew the illithids and in knowing herself, she was to know how to defeat them in battle. The strength of her knowing was so great, that all those that walked her path came to know themselves.

Gith was but one. Her strength was such that it caused others to know their strength. And Zerthimon laid his steel at her feet.
Discussion — In what way might this parallel the Christian Bible?

Night in a teapot
where water caresses
leaf, leaf water,
a light vapor
leaves the spout.


He eats. So his surroundings stay bare.
As long as he lives he needs to live
and to live he eats leaves.
The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon, a holy book with rather few adherents, which claims to present a history as well. Worth reading, I think.
Know that the Rising of the People against the illithid was a thing built upon many ten-turnings of labor. Many of the People were gathered and taught in secret the ways of defeating their illithid masters. They were taught to shield their minds, and use them as weapons. They were taught the scripture of steel, and most importantly, they were given the knowing of freedom.

Some of the People learned the nature of freedom and took it into their hearts. The knowing gave them strength. Others feared freedom and kept silent. But there were those that knew freedom and knew slavery, and it was their choice that the People remain chained. One of these was Vilquar.

Vilquar saw no freedom in the Rising, but opportunity. He saw that the illithid had spawned across many of the False Worlds. Their Worlds numbered so many that their vision was turned only outwards, to all they did not already touch. Vilquar’s eye saw that much took place that the illithid did not see. To the Rising, the illithid were blinded.

Vilquar came before his master, the illithid Zhijitaris, with the knowing of the Rising. Vilquar added to his chains and offered to be their eyes against the Rising. In exchange, Vilquar asked that he be rewarded for his service. The illithid agreed to his contract.

At the bonding of the contract, a dark time occurred. Many were betrayals Vilquar committed and many were the People that the illithids fed upon to stem the Rising. It seemed that the Rising would die before it could occur, and the illithid were pleased with Vilquar’s eye.

It was near the end of this dark time when Zerthimon came to know Vilquar’s treacheries. In knowing Vilquar’s eye, Zerthimon forced the Rising to silence itself, so that Vilquar might think at last his treacheries had succeeded, and the Rising had fallen. He knew that Vilquar eye was filled only with the reward he had been promised. He would see what he wished to see.

With greed beating in his heart, Vilquar came upon the illithid Zhijitaris and spoke to his master of his success. He said that the Rising had fallen, and the illithids were safe to turn their eyes outwards once more. He praised their wisdom in using Vilquar’s eye, and he asked them for his reward.

In his greed-blindness, Vilquar had forgotten the knowing of why the People had sought freedom. He had lost the knowing of what slavery meant. He had forgotten what his illithid masters saw when they looked upon him. And so Vilquar’s betrayal of the People was ended with another betrayal. Vilquar came to know that when Vilquar’s eye has nothing left to see, Vilquar’s eye is useless.

The illithid gave to Vilquar his reward, opening the cavity of his skull and devouring his brain. Vilquar’s corpse was cast upon the Fields of Husks so its blood might water the poison-stemmed grasses.
Discussion — Do this chapter and the previous one praise or condemn subterfuge?
when it's raining
don't let her get wet
and when it's storming
hope she won't catch a cold

and I also think
that this thinking
doesn't help things

because it will neither rain
nor storm for you
ever again

it's much worse
than you think
if you think
it's even worse
The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon, a holy book with rather few adherents, which claims to present a history as well. Worth reading, I think.
Zerthimon labored many turnings for the illithid Arlathii Twice-Deceased and his partnership in the cavernous heavens of the False Worlds. His duties would have broken the backs of many others, but Zerthimon labored on, suffering torment and exhaustion.

It came to pass that the illithid Arlathii Twice-Deceased ordered Zerthimon before him in his many-veined galleria. He claimed that Zerthimon had committed slights of obstinance and cowardice against his partnership. The claim had no weight of truth, for Arlathii only wished to know if flames raged within Zerthimon’s heart. He wished to know if Zerthimon’s heart was one of a slave or of a rebel.

Zerthimon surrendered to the illithid punishment rather than reveal his new-found strength. He knew that were he to show the hatred in his heart, it would serve nothing, and it would harm others that felt as he. He chose to endure the punishment and was placed within the Pillars of Silence so he might suffer for a turning.

Lashed upon the Pillars, Zerthimon moved his mind to a place where pain could not reach, leaving his body behind. He lasted a turning, and when he was brought before Arlathii Twice-Deceased, he gave gratitude for his punishment to the illithid as was custom. In so doing, he proved himself a slave in the illithid eyes while his heart remained free.

By enduring and quenching the fires of his hatred, he allowed Arlathii Twice-Deceased to think him weak. When the time of the Rising came, Arlathii was the first of the illithid to know death by Zerthimon’s hand and die a third death.

Amid trees a pigeon
chooses a tiny perch
revolves spinning on its axis
and comes spiralling down.

The charm of its descent rises
when it lacks room.


I wish I could comprehend
fury in its virtue
and make it into nature
as a tree roots into leaves.
The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon, a holy book with rather few adherents, which claims to present a history as well. Worth reading, I think.
Know that flesh cannot mark steel. Know that steel may mark flesh. In knowing this, Zerthimon became free.

Know that the tentacled ones were of flesh. They relied on the flesh and used it as tools for their will. One of the places where flesh served their will was the Fields of Husks on the False Worlds of the illithids.

The Fields were where the bodies of the People were cast after the illithids had consumed their brains. When the brain had been devoured, the husks came to be fertilizer to grow the poison-stemmed grasses of the illithids. Zerthimon worked the Fields with no knowing of himself or what he had become. He was a tool of flesh, and the flesh was content.

It was upon these Fields that Zerthimon came to know the scripture of steel. During one of the turnings, as Zerthimon tilled the Fields with his hands, he came across a husk whose brain remained within it. It had not been used as food. Yet it was dead.

The thought that one of the husks had died a death without serving as food for the illithids was a thought Zerthimon had difficulty understanding. From that thought, came a desire to know what had happened to the husk.

Embedded in the skull of the husk was a steel blade. It had pierced the bone. Zerthimon realized that was what had killed the husk. The steel had marked the flesh, but the flesh had not marked the steel.

Zerthimon took the blade and studied its surface. In it, he saw his reflection. It was in the reflection of the steel that Zerthimon first knew himself. Its edge was sharp, its will the wearer's. It was the blade that would come to be raised against Gith when Zerthimon made the Pronouncement of Two Skies.

Zerthimon kept the blade for many turnings, and many were the thoughts he had about it. He used it in the fields to aid his work. In using it, he thought about how it was not used.

The illithids were powerful. Zerthimon had believed that there was nothing that they did not know. Yet the illithids never carried tools of steel. They only used flesh as tools. Everything was done through flesh, for the tentacled ones were made of flesh and they knew flesh. Yet steel was superior to flesh. When the blade had killed the husk, it was the flesh that had been weaker than the steel.

It was then that Zerthimon came to know that flesh yielded to steel. In knowing that, he came to know that steel was stronger than the illithids.

Steel became the scripture of the People. Know that steel is the scripture by which the People came to know freedom.
Discussion — What is the meaning of the discovery of the sword?
The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon, a holy book with rather few adherents, which claims to present a history as well. Worth reading, I think.
Know that we are the First People.

Once all was chaos. The First People were thought drawn from chaos. When the First People came to know themselves, they were chaos no longer, and became flesh.

With their thoughts and knowing of matter, the People shaped the First World and dwelled there with their knowing to sustain them.

Yet the flesh was new to the People and with it, the People came not to know themselves. The flesh gave rise to new thoughts. Greed and hates, pains and joys, jealousies and doubts. All of these fed on each other and the minds of the People were divided. In their division, the People were punished.

The emotions of the flesh were strong. The greed and hates, the pains and joys, the jealousies and doubts, all of these served as a guiding stone to enemies. In becoming flesh, the First People became enslaved to those who knew flesh only as tools for their will. Know these beasts were the illithids.

The illithids were a race that had come not to know themselves. They had learned how to make other races not know themselves.

They were the tentacled ones. They lived in flesh and saw flesh as tools for their will. Their blood was as water and they shaped minds with their thoughts. When the illithids came upon the People, the People were a people no more. The People became slaves.

The illithids took the People from the First World and brought them to the False Worlds. As the People labored upon the False Worlds, the illithids taught them the Way of the Flesh. Through them, the People came to know loss. They came to know suffering. They came to know death, both of the body and mind. They came to know what it is to be the herd of another and have their flesh consumed. They came to know the horror of being made to feel joy in such things.

The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon is the knowing of how the People lost themselves. And how they came to know themselves again.
A progressive Baptist blog, a site with fetishy shoes, a rebuttal to Holocaust denial, a few pages of a trans* character from Street Fighter, a Ch'an Buddhism page, the UK's most pathetic motorways, a discussion of the evolution of the emo subculture, and a comprehensive listing of all border markers in the immediate neighbourhood. (Did you know that #369 isn't where it ought to be? It kept inconsiderately washing out to sea from its post in the Zwin. And Baarle is insane.)

This possibly tells you more about me than you'd want to know.
Why do ducks have webbed feet? To stamp out fires.
Why do elephants have flat feet? To stamp out burning ducks.
Hi, everyone. I'm back, a little saner, older and wiser than I was. Burnout's a bitch.
My friend Mox is a history teacher, and he's correcting the latest batch of tests.
The Israelites think the Jews murdered Christ so the Holocaust is the solution.
I don't think that's a pass. Really, though, history education has improved a lot here. When I was in Catholic high school, not only didn't we ever talk about Israel and Palestine, we were also not asked our opinion on anything, ever.
One of the best things about playing Dwarf Fortress is that it gives rise to all kinds of stories, some you make yourself, and some that just come about. Right now, I'm playing my first fortress where I managed to attract the Queen, and the goblins are at war with me, like they typically are. Recently, however, their ambush squads have been showing up with champion elves in charge. Even in the civilization screen, it lists four goblins as military leaders, and about 14 elves.

Those mystery elves actually lived under the goblins - they have goblin names - at the dark tower. Of course, goblins do send out a lot of baby-snatchers, and these must've abducted enough elves that they got several generations of them. It also figures that the first sieges were nothing but goblins, since you don't want to confuse the player into thinking the elves are attacking him. Which brings us back to cool stories, from the dev log:
Kivish Soarcrafted the dwarf was abducted at age 3 and moved to the Cruel Tower in Felldweller. He became a farmer and married Olin Roofchanced, another abductee, and eventually joined the guard. The humans and goblins were fighting a lot at this time, and the demon and many goblins were slain in the wars, as well as Kivish's wife. Kivish then personally led four defenses against the human onslaughts on the dark tower, and by the year 33 there were only 11 defenders left. In the year 34, only 4 defenders remained, and Kivish became the leader of the goblin civilization, such as it was. More attacks followed, and in the year 35, Kivish stood alone against twenty four human attackers, defending Felldweller and a goblin baby that had been born in 33, the only other resident. Kivish was victorious, but the dwarves then launched an assault on Felldweller, and Kivish faced 22 dwarves in the Forest of Dashing outside Felldweller, killing 4 of his own kind before being fatally shot by a crossbow bolt. Although the dwarves were victorious on the field, the humans slipped in and installed a new leader in Felldweller, who lived alone with the goblin child, Amxu Blottedvile, for a year before more humans decided to move in, establishing a temple to Odel the goddess of truth called the Truthful Temple in 37 and a mead hall called the Muscular Voice in 54. The original human city declared war on the dwarves after this and was eventually conquered, and the humans there died out over fifty years, with dwarven populations established in two mountain fortresses and the formerly human town. Felldweller, now a human-populated dark tower, never went to war again, but without support from the original human city, the humans left there eventually died out. I'll have to check out exactly what happened there.

Amxu had entered the priesthood of the Truthful Temple by this time, and as the last of the humans aged and died, Amxu, the last goblin in the world, became the high priest of the Cult of Honesty, worshipping the human goddess of truth alone in Felldweller. Amxu continued in this capacity for 157 years at which time play began. I decided to start an adventurer, and I only had two choices -- a human from the dark tower (it doesn't check for existing critters, just the controlling culture), or a dwarf from any of the the dwarf-controlled sites. I started as a human in Felldweller. It was a strange place. There were three goblin towers, a full set of empty stores, many hovels, the mead hall and the Truthful Temple. I met Amxu there. I asked him about his family, and he told me about several goblins that had died in the wars 300 years ago.
Well, goblins are effectively immortal. As for me, I don't know whether the leader of the goblin civilization is still a demon - if he is, he won't come and lay siege to me - but if it's a goblin? I'll do my utmost to kill him, preferrably at the hands of Ilral Snakemetal the Most Container of Organs, my greatest hero. And I'll promote an elf to the head of the goblin culture. That would be wicked.
A little moe manga series about Afghanisu-tan, the cute little girl, and her friends Merikan, Pakisu-tan, Kyrgyz-tan and many more. Each of them comes with a little sidebar which the comic's based on, so you can learn a little more about the history of the country. Did you know carrots are originally from Afghanistan?
[livejournal.com profile] hahaucntcme, I got your card today. You rock. <3


Dec. 24th, 2008 02:35 pm
Yesterday was a good day, and it was made that way by two occurrences: me going to my study counselor, and meeting [livejournal.com profile] foxgrrl for breakfast. We had vindaloo, which was a first ever for me, and we chatted.

[livejournal.com profile] foxgrrl is basically the spitting image of a hacker chick, with her multicolored hair, her cute fox backpack, eye for bringing out aesthetics, quiet voice and complete lack of ego. We talked - she seems like a private person in some ways, but she's really easy to open up to. I felt a little bit intimidated before I went, but I'm glad I did. The only pity was that it was too briefly - I stuck around for a while, wandering the streets of Leuven before going home without a second shot at seeing her.

Maybe sometime later. In the meantime, heart.
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