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See that mountain there?

A powerful witch lives there.

She stops death there.

Her valley is fruitful there.

Her people never die there.

All you need is to get there,

With a token of your God there,

Learn handspeech and live there.

Forever.


Part 1 - The Witch
Chapter 1 - The King
Chapter 2 - The Merchant

 
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I composed this poem in IPA. English Orthography version below. I think it looses something that way though... oh well. Enjoy!

C
o:
ˈʤrægnˌflaj
wɛr ˈʤu go:
wɛn ˈju daj

A
aj
ˈgo tu ˌɚθ
ðə ˈsem ples
əv ˈmaj bɚθ

C
waj
ˈkæn ʧuˌsi:
maj ˈgadz ðæt
kn ˈnat bi:

A
aj
ˈno: mor ˌbaut
ðoz ˈdæm gadz
ðæ ˈʧu taut
o:
ˈju por ˌfuɫ
ˈhu gev ˌju
ˈrajt tu ˌruɫ

C
maj
ˈon gad ˌgev
mi ˈpawɚ
for tu ˈsev
ju:
ˈpɪtɪˌfɫ
ˈsɪnɚz ˌaɫ
jɚ ˌʤʌst ˈfjuɫ
for
ˈgadz straŋˌræθ
ju ˈʃʊd rʌn
frəm ˈgadz pæθ
ðɛn
ˈkloz jɚ ˌa:z
ˈfalo ˌgadz
ˈju diˌspajz

A
don
ˈθrɛʔn ˌmi
ˈfir kn ˌnat
mek ˈmi si
fʌ:
kɪŋ dɪsˌgres
ju ˈkænt pruv
jɚ ˈdʌm kes
so:
ˈʌntɪɫ ˌðɛn
liv ˈmi bi
fɚˈgatɛn
aj
ˈwont hɚt ˌju
tu ˈmi ðiz
ˈrajts ɪmˌbju
rajt
tu ɛgzɪst
tu
nat falo

riliʤn
ai
grænt ju ðiz
rajts aɫ ðə
tajm, so pliz.
aj
dont biliv
dont hoɫd ɪt
əgɛnst mi


C:
Oh
Dragonfly,
where d’you go
when you die?

A:
I
go to earth,
the same place
of my birth.

C:
Why
can’t you see
my gods that
cannot be?

A:
I
know more ‘bout
those damn gods
that you tout.
Oh,
you poor fool.
Who gave you
right to rule?

C:
My
own god gave
me power
for to save
you
pitiful
sinners all,
you’re just fuel
for
God’s strong wrath.
You should run
from God’s path.
Then
close your eyes;
follow gods
you despise.

A:
Don’t
threaten me.
Fear cannot
make me see.
Fu
-cking disgrace!
You can’t prove
your damn case.
So,
until then,
leave me be,
forgotten.
I
won’t hurt you.
To me these
rights imbue:
Right
to exist
To
not follow
your
religion.
I
grant you these
rights all the
time, so please.
I
don’t believe.
Don’t hold it
against me.
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Oh what the hell, no one reads my blog anyways. I wrote a highly technical paper for my Historical Linguistics class that uses my own theories, instead of just regurgitating other people's theories. I'm really proud of it. But, I don't think many people will be able to understand much of it, or care.

Chain Shifts and Two Opposing Forces Theory of Phonetic Change

Understanding Chain Shifts is the key to understanding why language is constantly, never ceasingly changing. What makes them so fascinating is the symmetry the sounds move in and preserve. A Chain Shift is like a toy train set sitting atop a tray. Just tipping it slightly to one side, and the whole thing rolls off the tray together. To better understand Chain Shifts, we’ll look at Grimm’s Law and the Great English Vowel Shift in detail. Then we’ll organize the characteristics that are universal to all Chain Shifts, and finally, we will figure out why and how this dramatic set of changes is even possible.

Grimm’s Law

Arguably one of the most famous Chain Shifts, and a good starting point. In this Chain Shift entire natural classes of sounds changed all at once, which as it turns out, is a pretty common occurrence in Chain Shifts (and phonetic changes in general). Here is a table copied out of Lyle Campbell’s Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, page 49-50, illustrating Grimm’s Law.

-voice, stop>fricative +voice, stop>-voice +voice, +aspiration, stop>-aspiration
*p > f *b > p *bh > b
*t > θ *d > t *dh > d
*k and *k̂ > x/h *g and ĝ > k *gh and ĝh > g
*kw > hw *gw > kw *gwh > gw

The carets indicate palatal consonants that appear in Proto-Indo-European, but that merged before or during the Chain Shift. There are a few modifications I’d like to make though. First, the /*p/>/f/ change is missing a step. I think it should be /*p/>/ɸ/>/f/. Going from a bilabial stop to a bilabial fricative involves less changes than going to a labial-dental fricative. The change from bilabial to labial-dental easily could have taken place after the initial change. Second, I think that the /*t/ was a dental stop, not an alveolar stop. If it had been an alveolar stop, I think that /*t/ would have merged with /s/ instead of making a brand new fricative. Actually, this makes a lot of sense, considering that there were four places of articulation for stops in Proto-Indo-European. To make these four places spread out as far as possible, bilabial-dental-palatal-velar makes a lot of sense. After the palatals merged with the velars, the dental sounds easily could have moved back to the alveolar ridge.

The Great English Vowel Shift

Vowel Chain Shifts are common. Vowels themselves are quite mushy. Any one vowel phoneme is actually a range of sounds that we think is the same sound. For example, compare Northwestern US vowels with Japanese vowels: (data from me, for I speak these languages)
Japanese Vowels North Western US English Vowels
As you can see, the organizing and sorting of these sounds is quite different, but both languages identify more than one place of articulation as the same sound- as well as everything between the two sounds. So, the lines of the categories can easily shift. The Great English Vowel Shift itself: (illustrated by Robert Stockwell in Studies in the History of the English Language – A Millennial Perspective, page 17)

The Great English Vowel Shift

fig. 4

This Chain Shift, the bane of many children learning how to spell, only deals with the natural class of long vowels. Except for the high vowels, the change that happens is vowel raising. After the vowel raising, some more diphthongization happened to the mid vowels. One thing that this chart doesn’t cover is that vowel length as a phoneme in English disappeared, so /a/ didn’t vanish from the language.

Characteristics of Chain Shifts

Chain shifts follow a specific pattern and have some very specific characteristics. At one end of the chain, there will be a change that doesn’t fit the pattern of the others. At the other end, a sound will be lost. The changes happen in two phases.

Phase one is where the change that doesn’t fit the pattern happens. Examples of this are the voiceless stops becoming voiceless fricatives in Grimm’s Law; and the high long vowels becoming diphthongs in the Great English Vowel Shift.

Phase two is where the rest of the changes in the chain happen. These changes won’t be very drastic, often staying in a category of some sort and only tweaking one feature (as far as I can tell, I’ll need to examine more Chain Shifts to see if this holds true). The rest of the changes in Grimm’s Law are from one type of stop to another, and they all kept their places of articulation. In the Great English Vowel Shift, the vowels stayed in their category – front or back – and simply moved up. Finally, something will be lost from the phonetic invatory. In the Great English Vowel Shift, vowel length was lost, and in Grimm’s Law, aspiration was lost.

But why? Why do Chain Shifts follow this pattern? Both Trask and Campbell write of it in terms of “drag/pull chains” and “push chains”.

The Problem with Push Chains

Trask defines a “push chain” as “a chain that starts with a movement of one segment dangerously close to a second one, causing the second one to move out of the way and do the same thing to a third segment (108).” This, doesn’t make much sense to me. When segments get dangerously close, they merge. Certainly, there is a universal pattern of human languages’ phonetic structure wherein the sounds are as far apart and different as they can possibly get – but that appears to be a function of keeping the sounds as spread apart in the mouth as possible. And what would constitute being too close? Looking back at the NW US English vowel chart versus the Japanese vowel chart, the English vowels are much, much closer together than the Japanese vowels, but they aren’t pushing each other out of the way, and have been relatively stable for the 500 years since the Great English Vowel Shift. There seems to be little resistance against mergers. For example, look at the changes to ancient Greek vowels: (Trask 110)

Greek Vowels

This chart shows a small chain shift, actually. Look at /o:/>/u/>/i:/.

Pull/Drag Chains

Trask defines a “drag/pull chain” as “a chain that starts with the introduction of some holes [in the phonetic structure] which ‘drag’ other segments into them, thereby creating more holes which in turn drag other segments into them, and so on (108).” This makes a lot of sense to me, and sounds quite natural. It likely describes very accurately what happened to the Greek vowels above. But, I’m not sure it can be so easily applied to entire classes of sounds so easily. It’s certainly possible, but I think there’s probably another force at work.

Two Opposing Forces

We may have a glimpse of this force in Campbell’s definition of push chains.
“Sometimes the notion of ‘maximum differentiation’ is called upon in the instances. The idea behind maximum differentiation is that the sounds in a sound system tend to be distributed so as to allow as much perception difference between them as possible(48).”
This is a great theory, but I don’t think that it could explain the sounds pushing each other out of the way. All this means that before we can figure out how Chain Shifts work, we’ll need to figure this out why phonetic change happens. This leads us to many more questions about the nature and structure of phonologies and phonetic change in general. From here on in is my own musings, though I’m certain I’m not the only one too look at Chain shifts and think this up.

The first step into figuring this out is to ask some questions:
  1. Why are places and manners of articulation often reused with the phonology of a language? One reason that the IPA chart works so nicely when organizing the sounds in a language is because all languages will already have the sounds within them grouped and organized.
  2. Why are the sounds spread so far apart from each other in the mouth? This has the odd byproduct of making the phonetic charts look symmetrical, because they are based on where the sounds are made in the mouth. This is the most noticeable in vowel charts.
  3. Why aren’t words getting endlessly long? It’d mean they could be made up of very easy to say sounds.
  4. Why Fortition? Lenition is easy to figure out – making words easier to say is a very easy trend to spot. But more difficult? Why bother?
My “maximum differentiation” theory is a bit different from what Campbell writes about. I think that there is another piece to the puzzle, one that has completely incompatible goals. I think that these two forces of language change are in a ceaseless battle against each other: Ease of articulation, and Ease of differentiation.

Ease of articulation’s goal is to have the fewest number of different places and manners of articulation to learn for speech, and for those sounds to flow easily from one to another. It also doesn’t let words become too long.

Ease of differentiation’s goal is to have lots of different sounds far apart from each other in the mouth and made in many different ways that are easy to tell the difference between when listening to the speech. Speakers will say words in more difficult ways if it means they will be understood more easily.

With such different goals, it’s no wonder that language is constantly changing. Neither side can ever be happy.

Applying Two Opposing Forces to Chain Shifts

And we’re back to the problem of Chain Shifts. What gives them their peculiar shape? I think that the reason that change can be sped up is that a language’s phonology can be destabilized. If a change happens that upsets the delicate balance between the two forces, change will happen very quickly to correct the balance. Ease of differentiation will spread the sounds out, and ease of articulation will be look to use efficiently the places and manners of articulation.

In phase one, a change happens that upsets the balance. Ease of Differentiation will cause instability because the sounds are no longer spread out as far as possible. Ease of Articulation will cause instability because the manners and places of articulation are no longer being used efficiently.

In phase two, the sounds spread out as Ease of Differentiation wants, but staying in the categories that Ease of Articulation holds them to. One segment moves at a time, never overlapping, else there’d be mergers. Possibly, a segment could gain and lose ground at the same time, making the changes happen all together, like a slack chain laid out on a desk, being pulled taunt from one end.

Works Cited

Campbell, Lyle. Historical Linguistics: An Introduction - 2nd ed. Edinburgh University Press, 2004
Stockwell, Robert. Studies in the History of the English Language : A Millennial Perspective. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2002
Trask, Arnold. Trask’s Historical Linguistics - 2nd ed. 1996. Ed. Robert M. Miller. London: Hodder Education, 2007

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I really haven’t been keeping up with my weekly writing regimen, but oh well. I’ve been swamped with homework and barely been able to breathe at all this semester. As I write now, we are in Seattle for SakuraCon - our yearly Spring Break adventure. Trevor (my husband) and I watched the premier of the Dragon Age animated movie. The creators of Dragon Age worked with Funimation to put it together, so we were pretty stoked. Right after that we went to a panel about sexism in the geeky-nerdy community and how we can fight it – so that definitely has colored our review of it. After the feminism panel, we went to a fantastic Indian restaurant called A Taste of India. As we waited in the incredibly long line to get in, we discussed the movie at length and jotted down notes for this article. Therefore, it really is from both of us. This will be heavy in spoilers.

 

Spoilers! )

 

Voice Acting

It was kinda obvious that there hadn’t been much in the way of directing of the voice actors. They were supposed to be so-totally-not-French accents, but the voice actors’ accents were all over the place. Many of the actors ended up blending accents or going back and forth between three or four different accents. Some actors gave up and just went British or their American accent. Other than that it was pretty good.

Animation

Definitely a low-budget production. The motioncapture looked great, but there were a few times that they didn’t use it which ended up looking really bad – especially with the horses. They cut a lot of corners, including almost never animating facial expressions. In fact, Cassandra’s face was left in a blank, emotionless state for most of the movie, which jarred with the voice acting often. The design of the scenes went for wow-they-were-in-a-hurry to Oh COOL!!!!, and there’s a lot more cheap shots than nice looking ones.

The animation of the magic was sometimes awesome, and sometimes lazy. The fire spell was really, really cool. The fight scenes – not so much. It basically consisted of throwing balls of light around like water balloons. We’d thought that the magic they’d use for fighting would involve making the environment fight for you, since the Templar can shrug off magical attacks with ease. Things like making the ground turn into quicksand to impede their movement or making lightening strike them or pieces of buildings fall on them. That would have been so cool! But, we get magic glowing water balloons instead.

In Conclusion

The cheapness doesn’t bother us near so much. Cheap movies can be awesome if the rest of the movie is well done, and this wasn’t. It really feels like a lazy, last-minute slapped together project built to cash in on Dragon Age – but it could have been a lot cheaper and a lot more offensive as an addition to the canon. This was mediocre, but at least it had a great main character and an a few admittedly awesome fight scenes.

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So, I have a You Tube account now. I was bumbling about, and found some "Sindarin". I shall translate it back into English, to illustrate how bad these translations are.

The original video

Translation:

I name you in my feä of some races of a heart
I desire ever festive it dreams
Naear of numerous uncountable biting
Across Nienor at ending we will meet.

In uncountable wrong doings with all hateful shadows
We will know blue heaven to us it shines
I will stray distant under the shadow of death
I will garia light now in my wides chair

To a silent heart I will die at last
With a lion the two of you will listen to a singing world
It lives and it gwennas, like its own all lives
Little flower, air, a tower of nóner and they will be

Original Lyrics:

yondeiru muneno dokoka okude
itsumo kokoro odoru yume wo mitai
kanashimi wa kazoe kirenai keredo
sono mukoude kitto anataniaeru

it's calling out from deep within the heart
I always want to dream cheerful dreams
sadness can never be counted but
I will be able to see you on the other side

kurikaesu ayamachi no sonotabi hito wa
tada aoi sora no aosawo shiru
hateshinaku michiwatsuzuite mieru keredo
kono ryoute wa hikariwo idakeru

every time people repeat mistakes,
they know the blue of the simply blue sky
it seems as if the road continues endlessly but
these hands can find light

sayonara no tokino shizukanamune
zeroni narukaradaga mimiwo sumaseru
ikiteiru fushigi shindeiku fushigi
hana mo kaze mo machi mo minna onaji

the quiet heart when parting
the ear listens as the body changes to zero
living, mysterious, dying, mysterious
the flower, the wind, the city; they're the same
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I can't really add much to what so many before me have said about these bills, so I'm going to write about what could happen to my little website.

My website stands at the border between copyright infringement and scholarly inquiry. If someone decided that the content on my website infringed on their copyrights, they wouldn't be required to prove it before I got sued into oblivion and my website got blocked. Worse yet, they could target the company that owns the servers my website is on.

We cannot trust that the government, lawyers, and corporations won't abuse the power granted them in this bill.
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The past few years I've been getting into the cosplay world. It was kinda inevitable - seeing as I've been sewing since I was 5. I've always loved figuring out how the various shapes in fiction would be achieved. But often, I see stuff that is just impossible to pull off - not without some serious deviations from the intended design. There is only one way that I can think of to make people start designing clothing for their comics/anime that would be logical. Teach them how to sew. Show them why this stuff is impossible.

This is actually three rants put together. Why artists should at least be familiar with clothing design, designing functional clothing and designing clothing for a new culture. It is an expansion on my short rant in my review of Tokyo Majin.

First off - sewing is really easy. No really - it is. Your ancestors have been making their own clothing by hand for millions of years. Once you get used to putting together 3D shapes from 2D material, wear the clothing that you made. If it isn't working right - you did something wrong. Try again, and adjust the design. It's actually really really easy. If you're an artist, you'll already be able to visualize and foresee how to the shapes would change. You'll notice that a lot of things don't work the way you thought it would. Like gravity. Gravity works on clothing. Those gigantic boobs will need a support system built into that strapless dress, or some way to cover up the support underneath.  There's a trend in anime designs lately which has these detached sleeves that are tied around the upper arm. You'll discover why this is stupid. You'll discover that a design that requires double-sided tape isn't a good idea when designing something that needs to be worn every day.

Designing Functional Clothing

This is probably the biggest problem in fiction. First thing to think of is "How does the clothing interact with the plot?" Often times, I see writers describing and artists drawing clothing styles that are impractical or down right dangerous for the characters to be wearing. Everyone remembers the "running in heals" cliche, and plenty of people have ranted about the uses of armor in fantasy fiction. This is kinda like that - just with regular clothing.

Take the rather innocent lovely blue-green dress that Sophie wears in Howl's Moving Castle.

It's a late 1800's style dress - built to go over the top of a corset and several layers of peticoats and bloomers.

Somehow, that dress becomes this:


And then back again!

Firstly, if you've ever stretched a T-shirt collar out, you'll notice that it it doesn't ever regain it's shape. This stretching out is an extreme of that. Why hasn't her dress, which just previously was a petite little thing, which was obviously designed to be worn over a corset - suddenly a large, baggy dress? There are several dangerous problems in this transformation not covered. The collar in the young version is very tight. She'd be strangled by the dress as she transformed! And what happened to the corset? She'd be like someone stomping on a tube of toothpaste - except with internal organs and ribs spewing out. Why is she wearing the corset again later on in the story?

A better way to handle the transformation would have been to have her go to bed in her nightgown, which is much more roomy and lacking in constricting undergarments, and when she wakes up she finds herself old and fat.

Transformations aren't the only times that the restrictions of clothing needs to be taken into account. The ambient temperature is also important. People wear heavy clothes during winter. They wear lightweight clothes in the summer. On a windy day, a wind breaker. On a rainy day, a raincoat. Think of all the different ways that you adjust what you wear in accordance to the air around you. If you're cold - you throw on a sweater. If you're hot, you take a layer of clothing off, or change into something more lightweight.

So, your ultra-cool protagonist is hitting the streets in its continuing mission to slay demons for the protection of mankind, in the middle of winter. You started the series when it was summer, and you have a really cool costume for your masked fighter. Great. Now, there need to be some adjustments made to make it feasible during the middle of winter. And no, I don't mean "add a scarf." Scarfs on their own don't do much.

I hate this one so much. Yeah, she's hot. Why does she have protection for her knuckles but none for her internal organs?

I mean, you're going to have to change your masked fighter's costume to match the weather. If the only way your character can be recognized is because of its one costume, perhaps you should work on the design more, or work in ways to identify the character when not drawn in its main costume. The best I've seen this handled was in Fullmetal Alchemist. The problem of the way metal reacts to cold temperatures and Edward's automail was actually dealt with and not ignored. A nice touch.

By the way, short skirts aren't very warm. Hot chicks are still hot when they're wearing pants.

Now, lots of artists and writers love to describe/draw long flowing clothing. There is a very good reason not to give long flowing to your characters.



Long flowy clothing gets caught on stuff. Or stuff gets caught on it. The reason that the long flowy designs get popular for the upperclassmen in many cultures is that it is very constricting. If you can wear long, flowy clothing, you don't have to do much manual labor or anything that requires you to be able to move around with ease. The same idea applies to hair. Long hair is like a handle waiting to be grabbed and yanked. Factory workers at the turn of the 20th century had to chop their hair off or wear it in tight buns to keep it from getting caught in the machines. So, artists and writers should not only have to make the clothing but have to wear it. Try running through an obstacle course in that gown. It's really hard, isn't it?

When you're designing your characters' "look" - make it fit what the character does. Don't put it in things "because I think they're cool!" but because "this is what this character would wear". If the character prefers to wear something impracticle - then it'd have to suffer the consequences.

Designing a New Culture's Clothing

Oh, the weird ass shit I've seen in fantasy series...

First thing to do when coming up with a clothing style  for a new culture is to forget your own, and look at it like an anthropologist. Actually, you should have been doing this all along. I've already mentioned the Prestigious Clothing concept - a mark of prestige is wearing impracticable, constricting, difficult to wear clothing. Keep that in mind.

Start simple. VERY simple. Most clothing styles of cultures has developed in two ways:

Wrapping the material around oneself:


This sort of clothing resulted in kilts, togas, and saris.

Poking a hole in the fabric for your head

The poncho start results in clothing like the Japanese kimono, Roman tunics, and modern-day T-shirts. It's likely that pants also developed from this starting point.

It's perfectly fine to mix the two, or have one for men and the other for women. The idea is to not just recycle our own history's styles or throw them into random cultures of our world's clothing.

If you look into how clothing and clothing styles develop, you'll notice that there's very little original thinking going into their development. They just revise or add to what they already have. Japanese kimonos are identical for men and women. The difference is the sashes. Women wear incredibly restricting sashes that are wide and made of stiff fabric - often with lots of padding to give them a cylindrical shape and gigantic knots to tie them off. Men wear a narrow sash with a small knot.They obviously come from the same idea.

Think of how the different styles would develop for the different classes. The lower classes are going to have clothing that is easier to make, easier to wear, easier to move about in, and that require less material. They'll also have ways to easily mend the clothing.

In cultures with a very large difference between the upper and lower classes, the lengths that the rich will go to to prove that they don't need to do any manual labor will be to the extremes. In China, wealthy men would grow out their fingernails to insane lengths to prove they never had to use their hands. In Rome it went the other way - men who could spend their time body-building and tanning their skin weren't having to work a trade. If the culture also puts men or women above each other - it will be reflected in the clothing. Keeping women as incapable of movement as possible is a trait of patriarchal cultures. You'll see it in Chinese foot-binding and in the ridiculous corsets in Europe. If it takes a lifetime of mutilating your body to achieve, you must have had a life of leisure. You can actually see this happening in our culture today - with cosmetic surgery.

Another important point is that different styles will often develop to be used as markers of different sub-cultures. Think of the goth sub-culture. The clothing and adornment isn't actually all that different from the main stream, it's just been altered a little bit.  Think also of the hippy movement in the 60's. Then, a lot of foreign clothing styles were adopted to mark that subculture.

Often, the clothing changes to meet the needs of the profession - Cowboy clothing styles - and later gets expanded on to other layers of a society when the society revolves around that profession.

So, you can use clothing/costume design to tell your readers a lot about the cultures you're designing. You don't have to be restricted to a bunch of modern cliches and archetypes of other cultures.
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I hear that this isn't common knowledge, as I once had assumed. So, hello world. I'm bisexual. "Bisexual" is an adjective to describe someone who can be sexually attracted to men or women. I've been attracted to men and women, therefore I'm bisexual.

How do I know?

I was a late bloomer. For a while, as my friends were going through radical hormone changes and discovering their sexualities, I was left behind, very confused by what all the fuss was about. For a while, I figured that I was asexual. It was actually kinda a joke amongst my friends. They passed around pictures various scantily clad men, and I was bored. They started talking about whomever they thought was hot, and I was bored. They started flirting with guys, and I was bored. I didn't start to feel sexually attracted to anyone until highschool. At first, I was attracted to another talented flutist, who was male, and we kinda dated, but it never got serious in any capacity, and looking back, I wasn't really ready to date yet. I kept him at arms' length, and we ended up breaking up.

Then something unexpected happened. I developed a huge crush on one of my best friends. She was nerdy and weird like me. She was kind and gentle. She was playful and fun. She was booksmart and intelligent. I spent as much time with her as I could, and even braved my telephonophobia to give her a call over the summer break. I wasn't entirely certain what it meant, but I knew that I wanted to be near her.

It was around the same time that I became a mod on a Harry Potter forum. It was a pretty big forum, so there was an entire section devoted to matters of sexuality. There was a thread about coming out of the closet, and people helping each other out and giving encouragement. It was then that I had an epiphany. I really liked this girl. I really really like-liked this girl. I wanted to be her girlfriend.

Then the fear set in. I was friends with a transgender boy and his girlfriend, and I had seen how much pain and grief they went through at school. I was already a nerdy outcast who was constantly picked on by my peers. Coming out and dating her - if she said yes - meant the torment that we faced would increase ten-fold, and worst of all, that she could face rejection from her religious parents. On the other hand, if she said no, would she be uncomfortable being around me? Would she tell other people? Would I lose the precious few friends that I had? It seemed like there was no upside to this situation.

So, I never let it develop into anything. I stayed by her side as her friend, choking back my desires. After two years of letting my crush fade, I discovered Trevor. We were good friends for 6 months, and eventually we started dating. He is nerdy and weird like I am. He's kind and gentle. He's a talented artist and writer. He's book-smart and intelligent. For a while there, I thought that I might be a lesbian, but it turns out that I'm bisexual! Is there a word for someone who's only attracted to nerdy, intelligent, kind people? If so: that's my sexuality.

That's how I came to realize that I am bisexual. It's such a simple thing really. Men or women - it doesn't matter. Their personalities, however, do matter.

I've heard a lot of really weird assumptions about being bisexual. For all of those times that I wish I had piped up and said, "No, you've got it all wrong...

  1. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I'm into threesomes. No really, it doesn't. There are people who are into threesomes. I'm not one of them. Orgies aren't my thing either.
  2. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I would cheat on my husband with a woman. Yes, it would be cheating. Yes, it still counts as cheating.
  3. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I'm not satisfied with my husband. I really really like-like him. I'm not even sure what this talk about "satisfaction" is. Could someone give me a clear meaning please? (ETA: Apparently this is a euphonism for "do you crave vaginas and penises and desperately need both to be sexually satisfied?". For me, sex isn't about the genitalia or the position or the tools, it's an expression of intimacy. So, I don't crave vaginas or penises; I crave intimacy. My husband satisfies my needs for intimacy. Maybe it's different for others, but that's how it is for me.)
  4. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I'm promiscuous. There's nothing wrong with promiscuity, but I'm not.
  5. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I have any weird fetishes either. My fetishes are totally normal. I'm sure that your fetishes are totally normal too. By the way, weird fetishes aren't restricted to any sexuality.
  6. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I've become heterosexual because I married a man. I'm still bisexual. I'm just in a relationship with a man.
  7. Being bisexual doesn't mean that I'm confused about whom I'm attracted too. I know exactly whom I'm attracted to. That's how I arrived at this conclusion in the first place.

So, there it is. If you were confused over the meaning, that should clear it up. If you are still confused, feel free to comment, and I can answer your question. If you think you are bisexual and are worried and afraid - I've been there. Let's talk about it.

Free Will

Dec. 9th, 2011 04:53 pm
dreamingfifi: (Default)

I’d say it was luck, but it’s not. These events corresponded to make me. I am the happy effect of these causes. There is no “could”; it happened this way. There was no other way for it to happen, because this is the way it happened. We can argue about the “how it happened” for a millennium, because we can’t relive moments with a billion ways to scientifically record the data. In the end, it doesn’t matter all that much. I am here. I’m sitting on a couch, typing. The battery of my laptop is slowly dying. My friend is texting me, and I set aside the computer to answer her back, and I was struck by this thought, which I struggle to put to words.

What is free will? The most instant answer that popped to mind is “The ability to make decisions that aren't controlled by outside forces.” Every decision we make on our own then is exercising our free will. But there is a fatal flaw in this definition.

Could influences that result in poor judgment or seemingly abnormal judgment and decision making be considered the lack of free will? “Driving Under the Influence” and “Criminally Insane” come to mind as examples of this. These particular ideas seem to be based on the idea that free will can be compromised. What about advertisements then? Could they not be considered taking away our free will by influencing our minds into buy their products or services? What about peer pressure? Mob mentality? Hunger? All of these things are outside influences on our decisions.

But, what does that mean?

Nothing. Free will is irrelevant. Claiming to have or not have free will is redundant at best, superfluous at worst. Our wills are the products of our current environment juxtaposed against our past environments and a healthy dose of our personality. What goes into weighing our choices – the criteria and the weights that we assign them – means that our decisions are not random and therefore not “free”, and are always under the influence of something.

For example: my choice to not eat ice cream during my lunch break isn’t because I don’t like ice cream. In fact, I love ice cream. But, I’m lactose intolerant and eating ice cream would make me sick without taking medication before hand. So, (using Optimality Theory because I’m a linguistics nerd) I’ve made a little chart to help explain this.

 Lactose IntoleranceStinginessLove of Ice Cream
Eat Ice Cream with Lactade *! 
Eat Ice Cream*!  
→Don’t Eat Ice Cream  *

If you don't know Optimality Theory then I'll explain this chart for you: (*) means "violation". (*!) means "fatal violation". The constraints on the top are listed by importance, from left to right. (→) means "winner". (Normally it's a little hand, but I don't know the HTML for it, so I went with a little arrow instead.)

It doesn’t matter if there is or isn’t free will. Our wills and decision making processes don't work that way, so the idea isn't applicable to reality.

But, that we have will is very important. It keeps us breathing, working jobs, struggling through boring classes, and drives us to achieve great things.

Did I just disprove Free Will with Optimality Theory?

dreamingfifi: (Default)
Recently I watched NOVA's The Bible's Buried Secrets, and it made me really happy.

Ever since I read the Bible, I was troubled by the possibility that the atrocities listed within could have happened. Perhaps not in detail and most definitely exaggerated, a horrifying genocide nonetheless. The Bible's Buried Secrets covers the archeological investigations done in Israel that disprove the Old Testament. the Israelites are the people they claim to have slaughtered.

I don't really have time to get into it at the moment, (with the Holiday Art Fair and finals) but I wanted to share with the internet: One of the bloodstains on humanity was proven to be nothing more than ink.

my latest sewing achievement

I'm selling this at the Art Fair! I love the sleeves.
dreamingfifi: (Default)

So, I just watched The Season of the Witch.

I’m still trying to hash out what I think of this movie… but I’m pretty sure that I don’t like it.

The first thing I noticed was that the music was all wrong. The music is a bombastic, heavy, orchestral, with screaming choirs (imagine listening to the Nazgûl theme from LotR for 97 minutes) and very much NOT 1300s sounding. It’s hard to put my finger on why exactly it bothered me so much. Maybe it was because it didn’t match the emotions on screen, and never tried to build a setting. There should have been at least a little madrigal music in there, but there wasn’t. The music was flailing its arms and yelling, “This is epic, dammit!” but the problem was – it wasn’t.  “Epic” is thousands of orcs attacking Minas Tirith. It isn’t four guys and a girl in an abbey.

The dialogue I could forgive for not being archaic. English at that time was pretty unintelligible to us. The catch phrases, I couldn’t forgive. “Tonight, you’re buying!” was repeated way too much, and I was left gritting my teeth every time I heard it. I get it. These are Men Of Action. I can see they are kicking ass. Can’t they do it with less banter? Also, the smell joke was really lame. It’s a supernatural horror movie set in the dark ages. They wouldn’t be making modern observations about the smells that they lived with daily.

 

Spoilers! )

 

I don’t know why, but I really wanted this movie to be good. I heard that it did poorly and that the critics didn’t like it, but I wanted it to have been good. It feels like it could have been. Maybe with a different score, and a few more months working on the script so it wasn’t so holey and hokey.

To give it an arbitrary value, I’d say that it’s two out of five. Parts of it were entertaining, but the excuses for the entertaining parts were so badly flawed that they drowned them out.

Also, WTF is with the title? Seasons had nothing to do with the story at all!

dreamingfifi: (Default)
My husband and I are working on a webcomic together! I'm hoping to every few weeks post a new page of it here. Let's see how it turns out.

Smoke and Mirrors

Set in a fantasy world where magic has been outlawed, Daniil, the son of a court scribe, studies magic in secret.

Title Page

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