athelind: (Ommm)
Pee Wee Herman

is my Tyler Durden.



athelind: (tell it like it IS)
In a response to my post about the Doctrine of "Real" Names, [livejournal.com profile] araquan provided the following insight from a Charlie Rose interview with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg:

Facebook COO Sandberg talked about the power of relationship-based networks, contrasting "the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends."

"So that's Google versus Facebook right there," Rose replied.

Sandberg didn't agree. She thinks the entire first phase of the Web's development -- which led to "a lot of wonderful things" -- was largely based on "anonymity and links between crowds."

The next stage of development, the one Facebook has spearheaded, is built around identity. "The social Web can't exist until you are your real self online," Sandberg said. "I have to be me, you have to be Charlie Rose."


The logical fallacy, of course, is the conflation of "real self" with "legal name". You can't be your "real self" if you're always wondering, "what would my family think of this? What if my boss Googles me?"

I am my "real self" online, and my "social Web" is woven among those who know me as "Athelind" and "Your Obedient Serpent".

That other name?

That's not my "real self", Ms. Sandberg.

That's my banking information, and I know why you want it.


athelind: (number six)
It is a classic trope of science fiction that In the Future, We Will Have Numbers Instead Of Names.

In almost every instance of this trope more recent than Ralph 124C 41+, this is a sure sign that you live in a dystopia. It suggests a world in which human concerns are devalued, and society itself is engineered to make it easier for a large, impersonal bureaucracy to track and monitor its citizens subjects.

Over the last few centuries, as Nation-States have arisen and consolidated their power, there has emerged a doctrine that everyone should have one and only one name, used in any and every context; that this is your only "real" name; and that the only possible reasons to use nicknames, pseudonyms, or any alternative to the name recorded in your governmental and financial records are to conceal unsavory practices, or perpetrate outright fraud.

A name that falls outside a limited range of acceptance criteria may not be accepted as a "real" name, and will certainly engender harsh feelings from governmental and corporate bureaucrats inconvenienced by the nonconformity.

As so many things have, this memetic push has accelerated across the close of the 20th Century and the dawn of the 21st.

Be advised, and be aware:

The only difference between this doctrine of "real" names and the dystopian trope of numbers that replace names is the number of bits in your designation.


The intent is to make you easier to track. The intent is to make you a product.

Vernor Vinge warned us, thirty years ago: when someone knows your True Name, they have power over you.

Government watchlists aside, Google and Facebook aren't making money providing you with free email and search and "social networking". They're making money by selling your easily-monitored habits and interests to other corporations. If you operate under more than one name, if you compartmentalize your life and your purchasing power amongst multiple identities, you are diluting their product by making it more difficult to thoroughly profile you—and they consider that intolerable.

Enlightening References:


(I have noticed, and not without irony, that the same kind of people who once ranted about Social Security Numbers as "the Mark of the Beast" tend to automatically and reflexively agree with the idea that people only have one "real name".)
athelind: (Dragon Conspiracy)
Conspiracy rants are often amusing.

Conspiracy rants that cite Mage: the Ascension as factual material are Comedy Gold.


athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)
Several years ago, I discovered a company that was making industrial diamonds out of cremated human remains, to serve as memorials.

I then posted a discussion about the necromantic implications thereof.

In the intervening years, it seems that multiple companies have cropped up to perform the same service -- for pets.

As far as I can tell, while there are several Dead Puppy Jewelers out there, the original company doesn't yet have any competition for Soylent Gems. I suspect that most jurisdictions have substantially more rigorous (and more expensive) licensing regulations for disposing of human remains than for animal remains.

Edit: It seems that LifeGems® will now make a diamond from a lock of hair, as well, so you don't have to wait until the actual cessation of biological activity to have your Permanent Necromantic Conduit. They're making gems from the hair of Ludwig von Beethoven and from the charred hair recovered from Michael Jackson's ill-fated Pepsi commercial.

Think about that last. I mean, that's not just crystallizing the remains of an individual who was the focus of a lot of psychic energy, positive and negative, over the years; it's crystallizing the remains of one of the most painful moments of terror in his life. I've got the perfect setting for that gemstone.


I've made similar gems an integral part of the magic system in my Magnum Opus Fantasy Epic, which I really need to sit down and start writing.
For the record, if I'm ever in a situation where I have a limb amputated or an organ removed, I am TOTALLY gonna have it turned into a diamond.

athelind: (Default)
Several years ago, I discovered a company that was making industrial diamonds out of cremated human remains, to serve as memorials.

I then posted a discussion about the necromantic implications thereof.

In the intervening years, it seems that multiple companies have cropped up to perform the same service -- for pets.

As far as I can tell, while there are several Dead Puppy Jewelers out there, the original company doesn't yet have any competition for Soylent Gems. I suspect that most jurisdictions have substantially more rigorous (and more expensive) licensing regulations for disposing of human remains than for animal remains.

Edit: It seems that LifeGems® will now make a diamond from a lock of hair, as well, so you don't have to wait until the actual cessation of biological activity to have your Permanent Necromantic Conduit. They're making gems from the hair of Ludwig von Beethoven and from the charred hair recovered from Michael Jackson's ill-fated Pepsi commercial.

Think about that last. I mean, that's not just crystallizing the remains of an individual who was the focus of a lot of psychic energy, positive and negative, over the years; it's crystallizing the remains of one of the most painful moments of terror in his life. I've got the perfect setting for that gemstone.


I've made similar gems an integral part of the magic system in my Magnum Opus Fantasy Epic, which I really need to sit down and start writing.
For the record, if I'm ever in a situation where I have a limb amputated or an organ removed, I am TOTALLY gonna have it turned into a diamond.

athelind: (weird science)
You know, for years, I've referred to "the inverse of Clarke's Third Law" when discussing fantasy literature, but I never really quite hit upon an elegant way to phrase it.

Thank you, Phil and Kaja Foglio:


"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!"


athelind: (Default)
You know, for years, I've referred to "the inverse of Clarke's Third Law" when discussing fantasy literature, but I never really quite hit upon an elegant way to phrase it.

Thank you, Phil and Kaja Foglio:


"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!"


athelind: (furries for obama)
This made me happy.

(...I also really want to play in that game setting.)

athelind: (Default)
This made me happy.

(...I also really want to play in that game setting.)

athelind: (We The People)
In response to my post about "throwing the moneylenders out of the temple", [livejournal.com profile] toob asked:

I suppose a comment on how perverse it is what we consider a "temple" nowadays would not be out of order?

Generally, I confess, I have little patience for rosy-hued visions of the "Good Old Days". However... I would argue, to the contrary, that it is perverse that we no longer consider the halls of government a temple.

The 18th and 19th centuries were really the heyday for perceiving such abstracts as Liberty and Justice as benevolent goddesses, and the halls of government as temples of civic virtue. However failed that may have been in practice, I find the ideal far preferable to the modern perception of those ladies as commodities to be bought and sold.

So, yes, throw them out of the temples indeed, and rescue Lady Columbia and her sisters from the streetcorner! Put paid to the quick-fisted procurer in his top hat and his fancy zoot suit, and the plutocrats and zealots to whom he panders!


athelind: (Default)
In response to my post about "throwing the moneylenders out of the temple", [livejournal.com profile] toob asked:

I suppose a comment on how perverse it is what we consider a "temple" nowadays would not be out of order?

Generally, I confess, I have little patience for rosy-hued visions of the "Good Old Days". However... I would argue, to the contrary, that it is perverse that we no longer consider the halls of government a temple.

The 18th and 19th centuries were really the heyday for perceiving such abstracts as Liberty and Justice as benevolent goddesses, and the halls of government as temples of civic virtue. However failed that may have been in practice, I find the ideal far preferable to the modern perception of those ladies as commodities to be bought and sold.

So, yes, throw them out of the temples indeed, and rescue Lady Columbia and her sisters from the streetcorner! Put paid to the quick-fisted procurer in his top hat and his fancy zoot suit, and the plutocrats and zealots to whom he panders!


athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)

Archaeologists Find Mayan Hell; Provide Plot of Mummy IV



It's like some kind of pulp adventure tale: deep in the Yucatan jungles, there's a flooded cave complex that the Mayans believed was the entrance to the Afterlife, Xibalba. Scuba divers have, slowly and carefully, explored the caverns and found vast, air-filled chambers filled with temples.

This is right out of Call of Cthulhu -- and I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that in a "Do Not Call Up What You Cannot Put Down" way.

It's cool, yes... but pretty damned creepy. I mean, we're talkin' LifeGems level creepy. The Mayan afterlife is not a happy place; "Xibalba" means "Place of Fear".

We're talking Hell itself, people. They've found Hell. This is not the start of any happy movie; Brendan Fraser wisecracks are the best we can look forward to here.

If I were given to Omens and Revelations....

EDIT: [livejournal.com profile] halfelf reminded me that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012!

Okay, now I'm really creeped out.

Found via BoingBoing.
Coincidentally, I spent the morning reading pages at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/ -- also found via BoingBoing.

athelind: (Default)

Archaeologists Find Mayan Hell; Provide Plot of Mummy IV



It's like some kind of pulp adventure tale: deep in the Yucatan jungles, there's a flooded cave complex that the Mayans believed was the entrance to the Afterlife, Xibalba. Scuba divers have, slowly and carefully, explored the caverns and found vast, air-filled chambers filled with temples.

This is right out of Call of Cthulhu -- and I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that in a "Do Not Call Up What You Cannot Put Down" way.

It's cool, yes... but pretty damned creepy. I mean, we're talkin' LifeGems level creepy. The Mayan afterlife is not a happy place; "Xibalba" means "Place of Fear".

We're talking Hell itself, people. They've found Hell. This is not the start of any happy movie; Brendan Fraser wisecracks are the best we can look forward to here.

If I were given to Omens and Revelations....

EDIT: [livejournal.com profile] halfelf reminded me that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012!

Okay, now I'm really creeped out.

Found via BoingBoing.
Coincidentally, I spent the morning reading pages at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/ -- also found via BoingBoing.

athelind: (coyote laughs)
Since it's Friday the 13th, it seems an appropriate time to explain a phrase that I use with great frequency:

"Coyote Loves Me."



I often utter it in situations where other folks might invoke "Murphy's Law" or "Finagle's Law", which leads many people to assume that it's entirely about, well, bad luck.

That's not it at all -- or not the important part.

It's a philosophy -- and one that requires a backstory.

Though I didn't coin the phrase until many years after this incident, the definition comes from my mother: "For all the bad luck we have, we have a lot of good luck."

She said this around 1980 or so, after my stepdad -- who had been working long hours with a long commute -- fell asleep driving home on the twisting, turning country road in the backwoods of Northern San Diego County. He veered out of his lane, and had a head-on collision with another vehicle -- kind of.

The glancing impact peeled all the bodywork off the driver's side of his little blue Toyota -- and that's it. The Toy was still drivable after the panels and windows were replaced.

Nobody in either car was injured at all -- except for little cubes of safety glass in Papa's hair.

His tight, curly black man's hair.

So... a potentially fatal tragedy turned into a comically annoying nuisance.

Coyote, you see, loves us.

God is a prankster with a slapstick sense of humor, desperately trying to get a laugh... and the harder it is to get you to laugh, the harder he tries.

If you see the joke, and laugh... well, he might not go easy on you, exactly, but he might not try so hard to get a reaction.

And all the random, wonderful, serendipitous good things that happen? Those are part of the joke, too.

(For the record, my relationship with Coyote made the transition from "catch phrase" to "something akin to religious faith" after the 2004 "re"-election of George Dubya Bush.)


For further reading:
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein ("Man is the animal who laughs... we laugh because it hurts, because it's the only way to make it stop hurting.")
  • Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons ("Hey... I never said it was a good joke! I'm just playin' along with the gag...")

athelind: (Default)
Since it's Friday the 13th, it seems an appropriate time to explain a phrase that I use with great frequency:

"Coyote Loves Me."



I often utter it in situations where other folks might invoke "Murphy's Law" or "Finagle's Law", which leads many people to assume that it's entirely about, well, bad luck.

That's not it at all -- or not the important part.

It's a philosophy -- and one that requires a backstory.

Though I didn't coin the phrase until many years after this incident, the definition comes from my mother: "For all the bad luck we have, we have a lot of good luck."

She said this around 1980 or so, after my stepdad -- who had been working long hours with a long commute -- fell asleep driving home on the twisting, turning country road in the backwoods of Northern San Diego County. He veered out of his lane, and had a head-on collision with another vehicle -- kind of.

The glancing impact peeled all the bodywork off the driver's side of his little blue Toyota -- and that's it. The Toy was still drivable after the panels and windows were replaced.

Nobody in either car was injured at all -- except for little cubes of safety glass in Papa's hair.

His tight, curly black man's hair.

So... a potentially fatal tragedy turned into a comically annoying nuisance.

Coyote, you see, loves us.

God is a prankster with a slapstick sense of humor, desperately trying to get a laugh... and the harder it is to get you to laugh, the harder he tries.

If you see the joke, and laugh... well, he might not go easy on you, exactly, but he might not try so hard to get a reaction.

And all the random, wonderful, serendipitous good things that happen? Those are part of the joke, too.

(For the record, my relationship with Coyote made the transition from "catch phrase" to "something akin to religious faith" after the 2004 "re"-election of George Dubya Bush.)


For further reading:
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein ("Man is the animal who laughs... we laugh because it hurts, because it's the only way to make it stop hurting.")
  • Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons ("Hey... I never said it was a good joke! I'm just playin' along with the gag...")

athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)
I don't often talk about religious, metaphysical or philosophical matters. My contemplations in these arenas are elusive things, and words are a poor and coarse net in which to attempt to snare them.

On rare occasion, however, I encounter something that drives me, however briefly, to attempt to communicate something of my opinions.



There is nothing I consider greater evidence for the existence of a benevolent divinity than a reminder of just how amazingly, elegantly miraculous the laws of nature that govern existence are.

I understand neither the fundamentalist religionists, nor the fundamentalist atheists; the more I learn about the world, the more deeply I understand the principles that govern it, the more keenly aware I become of the Divine.

How is a Supernatural Entity assembling each individual creature in a static, unchanging world more inspiring or miraculous than a cosmos where such things spontaneously arise from the very nature of information itself?

How can you not see the Hand of God in evolution, when He has granted us the privilege of watching his fingers mold the clay of reality itself?

Emergence reflects Immanence.
athelind: (Default)
I don't often talk about religious, metaphysical or philosophical matters. My contemplations in these arenas are elusive things, and words are a poor and coarse net in which to attempt to snare them.

On rare occasion, however, I encounter something that drives me, however briefly, to attempt to communicate something of my opinions.



There is nothing I consider greater evidence for the existence of a benevolent divinity than a reminder of just how amazingly, elegantly miraculous the laws of nature that govern existence are.

I understand neither the fundamentalist religionists, nor the fundamentalist atheists; the more I learn about the world, the more deeply I understand the principles that govern it, the more keenly aware I become of the Divine.

How is a Supernatural Entity assembling each individual creature in a static, unchanging world more inspiring or miraculous than a cosmos where such things spontaneously arise from the very nature of information itself?

How can you not see the Hand of God in evolution, when He has granted us the privilege of watching his fingers mold the clay of reality itself?

Emergence reflects Immanence.
athelind: (green hills of earth)
Easterners like to snark about how the Golden State "doesn't have seasons."

Of course it does. They're just different than East Coast seasons.

We have:


  • Air, when the hills are green, the flowers bloom, and the wind is a pleasant, offshore breeze.

  • Earth, when the hills have turned brown golden.

  • Fire, when the hot devil winds blow from the mountains, and the wildfires bloom.

  • Water, when the rains roll in.



The seasons may start earlier or later, and they may be more intense in one year than another, but, by golly, they're there.
athelind: (Default)
Easterners like to snark about how the Golden State "doesn't have seasons."

Of course it does. They're just different than East Coast seasons.

We have:


  • Air, when the hills are green, the flowers bloom, and the wind is a pleasant, offshore breeze.

  • Earth, when the hills have turned brown golden.

  • Fire, when the hot devil winds blow from the mountains, and the wildfires bloom.

  • Water, when the rains roll in.



The seasons may start earlier or later, and they may be more intense in one year than another, but, by golly, they're there.
athelind: (kill everybody)
A year or so ago, [livejournal.com profile] jordangreywolf and I pondered the necromantic implications of LifeGems: industrial diamonds made from the cremated remains of a human being as an "eternal memorial".

This is one of the most disturbing, morbid, freaky, and strangely cool concepts I have ever encountered. When I first stumbled across this company, my brain immediately came up with half a dozen Modern Fantasy/Modern Horror/High Fantasy/Sci Fi plot lines.

All things considered, you could visit the web site of a company that makes tombstones, and it would be *morbid*. There's just no avoiding it. But that's MERELY morbid. There's no Steal Your Soul resonance in there. No thoughts of Really Disturbing Ways to make Psychic Power Crystals. No thoughts of, gee, if they can make over a hundred LifeGems from one person, but you can only afford to buy one or two, how do you know that the rest aren't being channeled into some Infernal Device?

Since I often refer to good "adventure seeds" as "gems", this is especially appropriate. Consider this a Jewelry Store version of the Night Gallery, where frozen fragments of nightmare take on a tangible form...

Submitted for Your Approval... )

Feel free to contribute your own Creepy Ideas.
athelind: (Default)
A year or so ago, [livejournal.com profile] jordangreywolf and I pondered the necromantic implications of LifeGems: industrial diamonds made from the cremated remains of a human being as an "eternal memorial".

This is one of the most disturbing, morbid, freaky, and strangely cool concepts I have ever encountered. When I first stumbled across this company, my brain immediately came up with half a dozen Modern Fantasy/Modern Horror/High Fantasy/Sci Fi plot lines.

All things considered, you could visit the web site of a company that makes tombstones, and it would be *morbid*. There's just no avoiding it. But that's MERELY morbid. There's no Steal Your Soul resonance in there. No thoughts of Really Disturbing Ways to make Psychic Power Crystals. No thoughts of, gee, if they can make over a hundred LifeGems from one person, but you can only afford to buy one or two, how do you know that the rest aren't being channeled into some Infernal Device?

Since I often refer to good "adventure seeds" as "gems", this is especially appropriate. Consider this a Jewelry Store version of the Night Gallery, where frozen fragments of nightmare take on a tangible form...

Submitted for Your Approval... )

Feel free to contribute your own Creepy Ideas.

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