asakiyume: (aquaman is sad)
We've reached it: Yet Another Asakiyume Rant on the Trolley Problem. When I first committed to writing this, I was all fired up. I was sure I had a totally new and many-splendored rant that would *not* merely be a rehash of my past rants. Now that some time has passed, I ... think I was wrong.

Here's the slim thought that seemed new at the time: trying to find out which of two (or however many) awful options a person will take in a controlled simulation is asking the wrong questions. It's assuming a forgone conclusion (death) and so it asks, which deaths? who dies? But the future is never known, and it's much, much more meaningful to have people exert their energies toward other solutions. "What can be done in this situation?" That's the question to ask--open ended, not an either-or. Letting people imagine deploying secret brakes or giant trolley airbags or robot rescue dirigibles might appear to be an exercise in escapism, but it also might generate actual ideas for ways actual situations could be made safer.

I think the rest of what I'm tempted to say is all stuff I've said before. [personal profile] sovay asked me once whether I thought even just the act of engaging with the trolley scenario in imagination was harmful, and as I recall I equivocated, but coming back to it now, I guess I think yes, if it won't allow for alternative answers, it is. It's a way of compelling people to accede to death and rehearse manslaughter.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I'm going to be on just one panel at Readercon, but it's a fun one:

Our panelists will discuss the fictional futures they find most appealing and would be happy to live in (maybe with some caveats). Does the work that depicts these futures provide a path or hints as to how humans might get there? What makes these futures worth rooting for and aspiring to?

I have some thoughts on the topic, but what I also have is a question:

What books have you read that are set in appealing futures? What books have you read that are set in unappealing futures? That's the main question: even though I have have thoughts, I want to try to read a few more books so I have more to draw on than my limited stock. Send me titles!

I also have a follow-up question: Are there cases where you'd like to live/wouldn't mind living in an unappealing future? Why? And are there any cases where you wouldn't care to live in an appealing fictional future? Again, why?
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
On Twitter people were posting the three things they need to write. It was interesting because people were taking it in all sorts of different ways--very abstract or big-picture, or very particular and concrete. Some were external things and some were internal. So for instance, Virginia Molhere listed "A decent pen (non-traditional ink color helpful)" as one of her three, and Aliette de Bodard listed "A universe (basic idea of the thought system and where my MC is on the scale)."

Care to share your three? Not limited to writing--apply it to the creative endeavor of your choice.
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
Your poem reminded me about some thoughts I'd been having re: weight/mass and gravity, [personal profile] amaebi!

If you imagine something the size of a baseball, but that you are unable to pick up because it's so heavy, then that item is going to affect the ground it's on more/differently than a baseball would. If the ground is soft, the uncannily heavy ball is going to sink into it more, right? And if it were so heavy that an earthmover couldn't lift it up, it would--under normal physics--probably sink deep into the ground, right? Because an earth mover could scoop up **underneath** it otherwise--and the only way that wouldn't work would be if the thing were at the bottom--which it would be, if it were heavier/more massy than stuff around it... right?

So if you want to have an item that can't be lifted, but **doesn't** deform the land around it in this way, then normal physics aren't in operation.

... Is that correct?


Jan. 25th, 2018 06:25 pm
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
A guy I follow on Twitter is doing a couple of polls about greens (the things you eat, not the members of the political party... I mean if you're a cannibal that distinction might not be valid but I suspect for most of you it is, plus--no capitalization!)

Here is a link.

For those of you as click-averse as I am, there are two groups of greens:

First group:


Second group:

beet greens
mustard greens
turnip greens

You have to choose your favorite for cooking in each group. (You can go vote if you want--it will add a new dimension to his polling base.)

So .... do you all have favorites? Opinions? Beloved recipes? I cook spinach, kale, and beet greens; I have cooked mustard greens now and then, and sometimes chard. I did not know you could *eat* turnip greens--it's an exciting new piece of information.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
In the last entry, [personal profile] osprey_archer, [personal profile] sovay, and I got to talking (thread here) about the background premise of Every Heart a Doorway--namely, that there could be some kind of special school for young people who can't readjust to life in our world after having an adventure in another world. I realized I had some questions that go beyond that particular novella.

(1) Where does the notion that a portal adventure leaves you messed up come from? Is it all down to the fact of not being able to return to the magical world? What examples of this are there from portal fantasies themselves--excluding portal fantasies that are written as responses to other portal fantasies precisely to explore this point?

(2) In cases where the protagonists lose the ability to get back to the magical world, what elements make that most hard to deal with? To me, arbitrary limitations (like age-based ones) are more distressing than plot exigency ones (the latter being things like having to return to our world after your task in the other one is complete). Y/N? Random inexplicability is also troubling (thinking of people in folklore who have one taste of faery and then spend the rest of their lives trying to find a way to get another taste).

(3) Supposing a bunch of people who've traveled to other worlds did come together for mutual support, what kind of story would you imagine arising for them in that context?
asakiyume: (misty trees)
I have a short story that I'm going to self-publish--it's a New Year's Eve ghost story. Here's the cover!

The photo is by Mary Gordon, a Wyoming-based photographer. You can see more of her work on Flickr; she's gebodogs there. I searched on "ghostly highway" and her photo was perfect. (The original photo is horizontal rather than vertical--check it out here.)

Here's the very brief blurb (it's a very short story--about 3,880 words)

After catching her husband in the arms of another woman on New Year's Eve, Jolene spins out on the highway--but a mysterious stranger comes to her aid.

So.... when would be a good time to release this story?
(1) Now!

(2) Sometime closer to Christmas

(3) Between Christmas and New Year's

(4) Right before New Year's

(5) Some other time that you'll share in comments**

**Please don't specify a time in the past. I can't do that yet!

in prison

Oct. 27th, 2017 11:47 am
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Is it a human person or a fairy being, imprisoned behind the leaf-vein bars? What was the crime, or were they falsely accused? When and how will they be freed, or will they free themselves?

in prison
asakiyume: (glowing grass)

Out my kitchen window (... if not elsewhere in the world), the day is made of soft and shining.

flowering pussy willows

flowering pussy willows

What adjectives is your now made of?

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

Anaïs Mitchell's version of "Riddles Wisely Expounded" has these questions:

“What is greener than the grass?
And what is smoother than the glass?”
“What is louder than a horn?
And what is sharper than a thorn?”
“What is deeper than the sea?
And what is longer than the way?”

And these answers:

“Envy’s greener than the grass
Flattery’s smoother than the glass”
“Rumor’s louder than a horn
Slander’s sharper than a thorn”
“Regret is deeper than the sea
But love is longer than the way”

So here is a twofold task for you. First, can you answer one or two of the following, in comments? And then, can you add a question or two of your own, on this pattern? And, if you stop by and others have already commented, feel free to answer one of their questions rather than one of these.

What is blacker than coal?
What is more slippery than oil?
What is faster than lightning?
What is more bold than a lion?
What is more fragile than a bubble?
What is colder than ice?
What is hotter than the sun?

[ profile] sovay asks,
What is sleeker than the silk?
What is harder than the stone?

[ profile] sartorias asks,
What is purer than the spring waters?
What is sweeter than blossom honey?

[ profile] pjthompson, commenting on Twitter, asks,
What is slower than an old woman's step?
What is more barren than an icebox? a cabinet of ice?**
What is more crowded than the head of a pin?

(She supplies answers too, but I want to see what you'll supply)
**I misremembered--this latter is her actual wording

[ profile] marycatelli asks,
What is earlier than a crocus?
What is later than an aster?

[ profile] pigshitpoet asks,
What is loftier than a cloud?

[ profile] cmcmck asks,
What is fouler than a swine?
What is deader than a nail
What deeper than a mine?
And what is slower than a snail?

[ profile] khiemtran proposes some questions that can all be answered with "Holyoke Voles." (This makes more sense in the context of this thread.)
Who are faster than lightning?
Who are blacker than coal?
Who are bolder than a lion?
(Yes!) It's the Holyoke Voles!

Who are sleeker than the silk?
Who are tougher than the Moles?
Who are harder than the stone?
(Yes!) It's the Holyoke Voles!

[ profile] marycatelli has a new question duo:
What is more silver than silver?
What is more gold than gold?

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
In secondary-world fantasies (i.e., not recognizable alternative Earth), names are such a conundrum. It ties into the larger conundrum of culture creation, but I think the issue is especially acute with names. You can invent a culture that contains elements from numerous Earth cultures. For example, you might have a raiding seafaring people with a martial ethos and religious structure like the Vikings, but based in a tropical climate, so with material goods, food, etc., that are more like Pacific islanders. But you further imagine that rather than coming from small island chains, these people have a home base that's a big city on a continent. And so on. But now you go to give your warriors names. Your choices are going to cue people in to particular Earth cultures.

Those of you who write secondary fantasy, how do you deal with this? Do you use names that come straight-up from this or that language (and associated culture)? In C.J. Brightly's novel The King's Sword, for instance, she used unaltered Japanese names for some of her warriors, because, as she told me, "I wanted to bring a bit of Japanese flavor in through the language unique to soldiers, since so much of the rest of the setting was more European in feel."

Other writers, what choices do you make? Do you modify them in some way--for example, changing the spelling, or shifting the vowels or something?

Readers of secondary fantasy, how do you feel about names in fantasy?

asakiyume: (Em reading)

best pasta
My favorite shape of pasta is long fusilli.

One supermarket I go to has it (the one with the Lenten ideas, actually), but the near supermarket doesn't. I bought lots of packages last time I was at the one supermarket, and last night we had some. I love-love-love the feel in my mouth.

Do you have a favorite shape of pasta?

Knife throwee or lion's mouth?

A cafe in a nearby town has old board games for patrons to play. We didn't play any, but one that I noticed was called something like "Which would you rather?" where I guess you must have to choose between various alternatives. The one featured on the box was, "Which would you rather be, the person in the circus that the knife thrower throws knives at, or the one who puts their head in the lion's mouth?" [ profile] wakanomori and I chose opposite, but we both had good reasons. How about you?

Owl in Love

I'm reading this fun YA book that was first published in 1993. It's told by 14-year-old Owl, who is a girl by day and an owl by night. Her narrative voice is fabulous, like when she describes her human parents, who are hedge witches.

My parents are very, very honest. The would never sell a charm, no, not even the merest good-luck piece, if they did not believe it gave good value for money. On the other hand, they are both blessed with an optimistic and uncritical nature, so they are able to offer quite a large line of goods with a clear conscience.

Letter L
My keyboard isn't responding well to my attempt to press the L key. I keep on having to go back and type it harder.

Did you know it's harder to balance on one foot if you have your eyes closed? It is.

... I think that'll do for now.... I'll be back; I have to go pick up a pizza.

asakiyume: (turnip lantern)

What if Lent isn't just for ketchup? Maybe there are other inexplicably Lenten things in our world?

Please share with me any particularly Lenten cities, cars, surgical procedures, fossil fuels, fossils, celestial bodies, or deciduous trees (or things in other categories) you can think of. It's good to have a list.

(I promise this is the last entry on this theme.)

asakiyume: (miroku)
But first, an apology and some excuse making. I've had a crushing amount of work, so I haven't been here much, either to read and comment or to write my own entries (and reply to commenters). I think of my friends here pretty much all the time, and I try, gradually, to make my way to people's journals, but I do miss things--please accept my apology. Things should ease up soon.

So, what are you in the mood for? Theological questions?

faith-hope-love )

Or thoughts on plotting?

Star Wars musings )

asakiyume: (tea time)

One of the women I do essay tutoring with was telling me about the breakfasts her great-grandmother used to make for her and her siblings.

"She'd always make us the same thing," she said. "A cup of tea, and cinnamon toast."

She was smiling and her eyes were sparkling as she told me, and I could practically taste the cinnamon and feel the warmth of the tea. I love cinnamon toast.

What's your idea of a great breakfast? I remember my grandfather used to have an orange, cut like a grapefruit, so you can scoop out each of the triangles around the center. He'd also have an English muffin or toast, and he'd melt butter on one half of the muffin (or one piece of toast) by putting the other half of the muffin (or other piece of toast), fresh from the toaster, on top--the warmth would melt the butter.

asakiyume: (miroku)

[ profile] rachelmanija has an entry asking people how they've dealt with despair, how they've kept on going. People's replies, both on Livejournal (here) and Dreamwidth (here), are really moving and inspiring. It was a really wonderful thing Rachel did by asking the question, bringing together a treasury of hope and survival, but also acknowledgement of suffering and hardship.

It also shows the best of what social media--blogs and whatever--can be. It's not just one person sharing their thoughts and wisdom (or humor or imagination), but lots of people coming together and sharing with each other and with silent readers who are also there.

Thanks for that, Rachel. That was inspired question.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

What songs would you put on a playlist about refugees? I'd put on "The Seed," by K'naan.

I was a seed
planted by lovers in a refugee camp and
overseas I grew free
I grew my roots and became a tree
so now they never gonna cut me down

What else should go on the playlist?

asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
I heard something on the radio this morning, a story I don't remember any details about, but it used both the words "contentment" and "complacency," and since then, I've been asking everyone (well, three people):

How do you tell the difference between contentment and complacency?

I'm not asking for the dictionary definitions of them--I know what they both mean--but both from the inside (in other words, if it's yourself and your feelings you're talking about) and from the outside (if you're talking about other people and your perceptions of them), how do you know the difference?

In other news, I made a tumblr for quotes from Sphene in Ancillary Mercy. I haven't yet filled it up with all the quotes, but I've got a good bunch. It's at Ancillary Sphene. I hope to make a picture, too, of Sphene and Translator Zeiat at their game.

In other, other news, if it's nighttime where you are (as it is for me) and not overcast, you can take a look at the moon and all its craters and mountains in high relief, because the sun is shining on it slantwise. I got the idea to look from a two-days-ago broadcast of Strange Universe.

All right then... see you around the Internet.

asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
I have three books I'm reading right now. Two are ebooks (Partner, by Lia Silver, and The Worth of a Shell, by M.C.A. Hogarth), so I can read them at my desk. I don't have a portable ereader, though, so I like a physical book for when I'm standing around stirring a pot in the kitchen. That book had been The Night Circus, but after giving up on it, I had to pick something else, so I got The Bees, by Laline Paull. The worldbuilding--the sense of actually being a bee and living in a hive--is wonderful, and I'm loving it, though I do have a couple of reservations (for one, the plot is a bit scattered--you might think of the flight of bees or butterflies over a meadow).

I got The Bees out of the library. It came with a bookmark--an appropriate one:

And, this is a bit random, but the other day I noticed I'd somehow bought semi-fancy toilet paper. And I found myself thinking, this is really kind of pretty. It's kind of wonderful how someone, somewhere, wanted even toilet paper to be pretty. For some reason, I was able to avoid engaging Analytical Brain at that point, and I didn't think cynical thoughts about marketing and price points. I just thought, Someone designed this, and it's a simple, but pretty, design.

Oh, and something from yesterday: a book advertised as "gentle dystopian fiction." I think I get what they mean--maybe a story without lots and lots of gruesome death and torture, but still dystopic? And yet, I think that description misses something fundamental about what dystopia means. Unhappiness, privation, limitations, injustice--these can take forms that don't involve physical harm, and yet when they're present, the situation isn't really gentle. ... In other news, The Bees is called a dystopia in some places, and yet I'm not sure I agree. Or, conversely, is every society that's not a utopia a dystopia?

asakiyume: (the source)
Little Springtime works at the media lab at her university. They have a 3D printer, which, from next semester (... I think?) will be available to students to use. She tested it out and made a hedgehog.

Yesterday and today have been cold, with magnificent if somewhat ominous high winds, but the day before yesterday was warm and melty. Melted snow was coursing down the road. Or rather, it was lapping down the road.

Why does it go down the road in ripples like this? (See the smiles, one after the other? Those are the ripples I'm talking about.) Why not one smooth sheet of water?


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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