athelind: (Default)
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It's Old English for "Noble Serpent".

I've been using it since the early '80s, originally assembling it from a "Random Old English Name Generator" table in an early issue of Dragon Magazine. If I recall correctly, "Lind" (serpent) was only on the prefix table, not the suffix, so from a gamer standpoint, I "cheated" -- no idea how well or poorly it may work on a grammatical standpoint.

The original "Athelind" was actually a Champions character, a centuries-old dragon who decided to take up superheroing as a lark.* A decade or so later, when "The Boojum Snark" decided that it would be more comfortable for the rest of alt.fan.dragons to address him by a name rather than a title, he adopted it as his nom de guerre.

And the rest is history.


* At almost exactly the same time, a comic called The Southern Knights, and that Atlanta-based superhero team included a centuries-old dragon who also decided to take up the crimefighting trade. Needless to say, my fellow players immediately brought it to my attention.
athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Fasten your seatbelts, kids; this post starts talking about current Pop Culture, then veers into politics, philosophy, personal development, and metaprogramming.

It all started when I was doing something I normally avoid: reading comments on an internet blog. Unmoderated comment boards are usually overflowing with ill-considered, insulting, infuriating nonsense that can completely ruin an article I may have otherwise enjoyed.

In this case, however, the opposite occurred.

The io9 Blog's review of James Cameron's Avatar is the same blah-blah-blah-Mighty-Whitey-IN-SPACE critique that I've heard over and over. Nothing new here. The comments, on the other claw, are full of feedback from non-whites and non-Americans that undercut that as a being a white-Americans-are-the-center-of-the-universe interpretation that's at least as insulting, if not moreso.

I think my favorite comment thus far is this one:
All stories are about someone leaving a group or joining a group, it's just that some of these groups are a racial group. Outsider Luke Skywalker joins the rebels and becomes their number one gun. That's a heroic journey story, but if Luke was the only human and all the rest of the rebels were aliens suddenly it becomes a white guilt story? I don't buy it.


And now, Mood Whiplash. This shook some things out in my head, and I think they're worth sharing:

I've been sorting through the cognitive baggage cluttering my mind lately, and you know what? I think that "White Guilt" is a particularly toxic meme. To be more specific, there's a pervasive idea that any action that may have "White Guilt" as a motivating force is automatically invalid, or just more cultural imperialism. This is bullshit. It is an invitation to inaction.

Your Obedient Serpent, when he's not a dragon, is a middle-aged Anglo-American, raised in a middle-class suburb, who's seriously considering an opportunity to teach middle school science in a "high-need", inner-city environment. The very idea of standing in front of a classroom is a massive paradigm shift for him, and coming to this decision has involved jumping over a lot of mental hurdles.

You know what? True Confession Time: One of them was "Mighty Whitey".

"What right do you have to come swooping in with your degree and your laptop and your melanin deficiency, to try and "save" these kids? That's no different than England coking along to "civilize" India!"

Sounds really stupid when you verbalize it, doesn't it?

But people keep saying this, over and over: these stories are bad, they're unprincipled, they're just new and different ways for the privileged to lord it over everyone else. And if these stories are morally suspect, and your life-choices parallel them, why, then, those must be bad choices, right?

Once again: it sounds really stupid when you verbalize it. Stupid and arrogant. The only thing more arrogant than casting yourself as The Great Savior is to walk away from helping people because you're afraid people will think that's what you're doing.

That's part of the point: there are a lot of unexamined assumptions that mass media promulgates on an entirely sub-verbal level. It's good to examine them, it's good to scrutinize them -- but it's an iterative process. What unexamined assumptions are the critiques carrying with them?

One of the big ones, in this case, is the assumption that any real person's real life is simplistic enough to use fiction as a valid model. This isn't the first time I've fallen into that trap, and I'm sure it won't be the last -- but at least now I'm aware that trap is out there.

Or in here.


athelind: (Default)

Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So is optimism.


-- distilled from Robert Anton Wilson,
"Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning".




My thinking is broken. I've assimilated unhealthy memes.

Taking control of my life means, first and foremost, taking control of my head.

Re-Reading List:
  • Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminati Papers
  • S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action
  • R. Buckminster Fuller:

    • Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
    • Utopia or Oblivion
    • Ideas and Integrities
    • Critical Path (Have I actually read this, or has it just been sitting on my shelf for years?)

  • Sun Bear, The Path of Power
  • Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
  • Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Richard Bach:

    • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
    • Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Hush. It's my metaprogramming list.)




athelind: (Default)
Got this one from [livejournal.com profile] leonard_arlotte, who in turn imported it from Facebook.



Leave a ONE WORD comment that you think describes me. It can only be one word. No more. Then copy and paste this on your LJ so that I may leave a word about you.


athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
From a significant fraction of my f-list, including [livejournal.com profile] the_gneech, [livejournal.com profile] pyat, and [livejournal.com profile] leonard_arlotte:

  • If you like, post this meme and your current wallpaper.
  • Explain in no more than five sentences why you're using that wallpaper!
  • Don't change your wallpaper before doing this! The point is to see what you had on!




This is an image from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site, which I read every evening.

I regret to say that I can't remember just what this image is. I know that it's a false-color image of... something. I do remember that I chose it because a) it's wide enough to extend across two wide-screen monitors (which I am not currently using), and b) because it's orange and purple, and vaguely, sinuously dragon-like in the way that clouds and fractals can be.


(If anyone recognizes this image, or has better search-fu on APOD than Your Obedient Serpent, please let me know and put a link to the appropriate APOD page in the comments!)
athelind: (Default)
The song title meme!

Answer the questions with song titles from a favorite group.

Repost as "My Life According to Whoeverthosedudeswereanyway."

Read more... )

Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] paka.
athelind: (Default)
1. You can ONLY answer 'Yes' or 'No'.
2. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING, unless someone comments you and asks.

Read more... )
athelind: (Default)
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Can't really say normally, but this is an Eeyore morning. This is an especially Eeyore morning. Could be any number of things, or all of them at once. Not that it matters. Went to bed last night feeling Especially Eeyore, and woke up the same way this morning. It's only to be expected, I suppose.

"After all, one can't complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said 'Bother!'. The Social Round. Always something going on."

It's only on the Especially Eeyore Mornings that I feel like I'm usually Owl: someone who sounds like he knows a great deal about a great many things, but doesn't actually contribute anything useful.


athelind: (Default)
The Literary "I Spy" Meme

Comment on this post. I will give you a letter. Think of 5 fictional characters and post their names and your comments on these characters in your LJ.

[livejournal.com profile] snobahr gave me "U".

  1. Ulysses. Or "Odysseus", if you prefer (I do). Smart and savvy, he prevailed by and large by outwitting his adversaries rather than out-muscling them. Julian Jaynes considered him the first truly conscious man.
  2. Undine, the water nymph of Paracelsus. Not one of the Sirens against whom Ulysses strove.
  3. Urizen, William Blake's "Ancient of Days", the God of Conventional Reason and Law embodied as as Malicious Constraint. While Ulysses is Reason as the Trickster, side-stepping the expectations of his adversaries, Urizen is the Binder, creating the stifling Order to crush the free spirits of the world.
  4. Uriah Heep, from Dickens's David Copperfield. Uses his reason and his insincerity to blackmail and exploit his way into power. Lent his name to an English Prog-Metal band.
  5. Ultra Boy: Jo Nah, of the Legion of Superheroes. He has all of Superboy's powers, but can only use one of them at a time. Lent his name to a game mechanic in Champions that gives a character similar restrictions. Ulysses connection? Got his powers after being swallowed by a sea space monster.
athelind: (Default)
This one's been going around lately, so I thought I'd share my answers to The Controversial Survey... )

athelind: (Default)
In Which Your Obedient Serpent once again takes a meme that's supposed to be about you and turns it into a discussion about himself.

I've lost count of how many people on my Friends List have posted the following meme:

Casting Call:
Its inevitable that as we read each other's journals we create mental pictures of each other. Post this on your own journal to find out who your friends see when they read about your life.

Two Rules:
1) The person must be in the movies or on TV [or video games, advertising, comic books etc, ed.] (but doesn't have to be an actor/actress). The person can be specific to a role (e.g. Jennifer Elhe's Elizabeth Bennet) or just the person themself.
2) Post a picture!


Conceptually, this is a different question than "Who would play me in a movie?" -- and that in turn is different from my occasionally-revisited question, "If they made a cartoon of the Internet, who would voice your character?" It's "who do you think of as me?"

I haven't replied to any of them.

Why not?

Because, well, I can't. Most of the people I know are Furries... and I picture them as their Furry Personas.

If I've met them Face to Face (f2f), I may picture them as themselves -- this seems to be directly proportional to how much f2f time I've spent with them. In some cases, I see both "fursona" and RL self simultaneously. [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com] has that level of quantum superposition, both Man and Rat.

[livejournal.com profile] pyat, on the other claw, is an unusual exception: I always picture him as his human self, even when talking to his mouse persona on FurryMuck. Perhaps it's because he posts so many pictures of himself -- and uses them as LJ icons. Perhaps it's because he's so... himself. Between his "voice" when posting and his "Fortress of Solitude" video journals, he's turned his real face into the avuncular "Geek Dad" persona that comes through in all his communiques.

For those I haven't met, don't have furry alter-egos, and seldom post pictures of themselves... usually, you wind up as your user icon in my head. Yes, [livejournal.com profile] thebitterguy, I see you as a South Park character with a goatee.

The people with no user icons at all? I honestly don't have mental images of you.

But in no case do I picture actors as you.


athelind: (Default)
This is IMDb's top 25 all-time box office hits. Bold the ones you saw in theater, italicize the ones you saw some other way instead, and leave the unseen ones alone. Put asterisks beside ones you weren't impressed with.

  1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
  2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
  3. Shrek 2 (2004) $436,471,036 * (Not Enough Dragon)
  4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459 *
  5. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444 *
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) $423,032,628
  7. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
  8. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) $380,262,555 *
  9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $377,019,252
  10. Spider-Man 2 (2004) $373,377,893
  11. The Passion of the Christ (2004) $370,270,943
  12. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
  13. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) $340,478,898
  14. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
  15. Spider-Man 3 (2007) $336,530,303 *
  16. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
  17. The Lion King (1994) $328,423,001
  18. Shrek the Third (2007) $320,706,665 *
  19. Transformers (2007) $318,759,914
  20. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Philosopher's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
  21. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) $313,837,577
  22. Iron Man (2008) $311,708,133
  23. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583 *
  24. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) $309,404,152
  25. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,40


So... I've seen 15 20 in the theaters (and of course I saw Star Wars more than once), 18 23 total, and I've been unimpressed by 7 of'em.

And to answer the inevitable comments of "Lucas really suckered you if you saw all three prequels when none of them impressed you":
  1. I'm married.
  2. To be fair, when we got all six movies in the Star Wars saga and watched them in a row, 1-6, I really enjoyed them as a whole.


Edited for bad maths.
athelind: (Default)

The Three Things Meme


Snagged from A Whole Lot O' Folks

  1. Post 3 things you've done in your lifetime that you don't think anybody else on your friends list has done.
  2. See if anybody else responds with "I've done that." If they have, you need to add another!(2.b., 2.c., etc...)
  3. Have your friends cut & paste this into their journal to see what unique things they've done in their life.

Oof. This would be a lot easier if [livejournal.com profile] eclipsegryph and [livejournal.com profile] wy weren't on my f-list; a lot of my best stories are Coast Guard tales. Still...
  1. Visited a major landmark just because it appeared in a movie -- and then had natural phenomena provide better special effects than the movie did.*
  2. Attended the funeral (or other major occasion) of one of your all-time favorite writers (or other celebrities) in an official or invited capacity.**
  3. Gone from being a child-free bachelor to a grandfather less than two years.


* Devil's Tower, Wyoming: lightning storm. The year after Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out, no less!
** I buried Robert A. Heinlein.

athelind: (Default)
I am a 44 year old male. I grew up in suburban Southern California, and settled in semi-urban Northern California. Along the way, I spent a few years here and there in Texas and a couple of summers in Arkansas. I am, by training, trade, and temperament, an Environmental Scientist.

Read more... )

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