Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

Random thoughts. Incidentally, Brain misuses the word—"ponder" is not used in the sense that "think" would be in the phrase "thinking what I'm thinking". It should've been "Do you opine as I do?"—which sounds so pedantic as to suggest mental illness.
  • There is a controversy in my state about teaching that Native Americans came over the Bering land-bridge, when their own legends say they came up into this world from another. Now, I am prepared to believe a great deal of their mythology—since people have been known to die after transgressing against their gods—but the Emergence story must be interpreted at least partly metaphorically. It is essentially the Suns of Aztec mythology, denoting a spiritual change rather than a physical one.

    But hey, if we're going to teach their tribal mythologies, something must be done about the fact those myths mention white people. But we do not acknowledge having come from an emergence-hole. If we're going to acknowledge your emergence, gentlemen, then you must acknowledge Lech, Czech, and Rus, the Tuatha Da Danaan, the Fifty Black Ships, and Aeneas carrying his father and his household gods from the sack of Troy. Not to mention that Arthur ruled by the election of the fairies and Charlemagne ruled for 200 years.

  • They also get white peoples' names wrong, generally lumping us all together as if Zunis and Navajos were the same thing. The three big tribes of white people are the Brave People, the Kinsman People, and the Glorious People (Celts, Germans/Teutons, and Slavs). Celts are further divided into the White Hill People, the Abundant Country People, the Many Hyraxes People, and the Strong People (the Albionese or Welsh, the Irish and Highland Scots, the Spanish, and Gauls). Germans are the Narrow Water People, Machete People, Javelin People, West Harmonious People, East Harmonious People, and the Flowing Water People, some of whom just call themselves Our Own People (the Angles, Saxons, Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Danes, of whom the Swedes were a branch). Interestingly, "Goth" ("harmonious") has the same meaning as "Hopi", and the Navajo name for themselves, "Diné", means "the people" much as "Swede" does. The Slavs divide into the Rower People, the People of Forefather Lech, the People of Forefather Czech, and the Southern Glorious People (Ruthenians, including Russia, Ukraine, and Belorus; Poles, Sorbs, and Obodrites, probably also Slovaks; Czechs, and possibly Slovaks; and South Slavs, including Slovenes and the Yugslavian peoples).

    Then there are the Young Cattle People, and the people of many names, but who currently call themselves what might mean the Torch People (the Italians, and the Greeks or Hellenes), both of whom owe most of their culture to one of the Italian city-states, whose name means either Flowing River or Teat Hills. Until the 11th century, after all, the Byzantines called themselves Rhomaioi ("Greek", prior to that, meant "pagan").

  • My felinoids' phratry system involves a system whereby, if the phratry's lead clan has no male heirs, then female heirs pass on membership in that clan as well as in their husband's (they're ordinarily patrilineal and patrilocal). If the leading clan has no heirs of either sex, then the clan of the highest-ranked member of the phratry becomes the new lead clan.

    Similar systems were used in medieval Ireland and some Scandinavian countries, and are still used by some peoples in modern Iraq (presumably being of Persian origin). Only, lead-clan status, in the felinoids' system, is bestowed automatically based on military rank, while in most of those systems, it's electoral (eligibility to be elected is determined by heredity). We have an ideological bias in favor of electoral systems, but there's a reason most people stopped using electoral systems, in rank-inheritance—it makes every succession a disputed succession.

  • You know self-righteous idiots who say "Duhhh, Jesus wuzn't white"? Yes, actually, yes he was. Newsflash, Jews are white people—just ask Jeremiah Wright or Derrick Bell.

    Also, even Middle Eastern Jews (who you didn't know were called Mizrahim) are not very dark. You do know Jews are genetically almost identical to the Lebanese and Syrians, right? Well tell me: is Tony Shalhoub not white?

  • Remember how I was saying mimimum crew for a spaceship is 3? Well, Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets site has the final word on the matter. A highly relevant quotation:
    ...accurate measurement takes into account "core crew", the minimum number of watch-standers to steer and fight the vessel. Core crew is about 80, and represents the minimum number of crew for a long-duration warship. ... Automation will eventually halve these figures.
    So, 40 people, for a warship—including missile techs and artillery officers. Suddenly the Nostromo's 7-man crew doesn't look so unrealistic, does it?

  • He also discusses a thing called the Mission Control Model, proposed by the dude who does Rocket Punk Manifesto and Raymond McVay of Blue Max Studios (I think they make RPGs, under an incredibly cool name). As Mr. Chung puts it:
    The idea is that the ship is not run by crew members doing things manually. The ship is run by system managers who oversee and command the computers who directly run the ship. This is not quite as nostalgic as the "bomber crew" model of spacecraft crews, but it is far better than a ship with a single button on the control panel labeled "Do Mission".
    I strongly urge y'all to read that whole section, it is an incredibly helpful guide to positions on a ship's crew.

    The next section, "Control on a Budget", reveals that I may have been slightly too optimistic—the implied minimum crew is 5 people. Namely, Commander, Guidance, Engineer, Payload, and Life-Support. But as it says, Commander and Life-Support don't sit watches, and conceivably Guidance or Engineer could be in command, and Engineer or Payload could be in charge of Life-Support. That combination is, I think, the one used by the parasite battle-spacecraft ("fighters", only more realistic) in my setting; I'd already set them as 3-man ships.

  • If you think about it, Trans-Humans are basically ultra-Baby Boomers. No need to worry about economic scarcity, never dying, absolute free reign for self-indulgence... Just add in "never have to contemplate the achievements of our parents' generation" and "the few children we choose to have (purely as a self-aggrandizement) will never question any of our values or tastes", and it ticks every single box in the average Boomer's "my idea of a perfect world" list.

    Sorry, but that view of the world ceased being tenable in, oh, 1981. And anyone not a Boomer who falls for it ought to get one of those "perpetuating the vicious cycle/outmoded worldview" lectures, ordinarily reserved for violent hillbillies and ancient bloodfeuds.

  • Games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect need a descriptive term (other than "Bioware sucks", I mean). Specifically, attention must be called to the fact their only appeal is in making their players feel "grownup"—which, again, is only something the immature give a damn about.

    So I have dubbed them the Huggies Pull-ups school.

  • Late addendum: I just realized something. So read the laughable farce that is io9's article "Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation". Now, aside from all the other problems with that—like how it is neither science fiction, nor important, except in the sense the Black Plague was important—they say that the series' message is that humans are irrelevant. They actually compare it with Lovecraft, with a straight face.

    Only, bullshit. I don't know what game that slack-jawed illiterate was playing, but in Mass Effect, all the aliens are plainly wrong for looking down on humanity. Shit, not only are they mainly frightened by how much faster than them humans advance, a human being saves them all. Rather than being about how some tiny little island doesn't have the right to dictate to the rest of the world, it's actually about how a tiny little island is better at everything than anyone, and is perfect and special and the natural locus of all greatness. It's basically a British Imperialist parable that even Cecil Rhodes would find over the top.

    Seriously, this article was not written after the first game, it was written this year. But if "Mass Effect never lets you forget that we might not add one jot of meaning or benefit to intelligent life beyond our solar system", then why is the whole game about how human beings are the only thing between all intelligent life and total annihilation?

1 comment:

penny farthing said...

I always figured Brain was asking Pinky if he was thinking about the same thing, not just think the same thing, so I thought pondering made sense...