Thursday, June 30, 2016

Short Film: The Cat With Hands

This was described to me as "an incredibly creepy piece of stop-motion animation". I see no reason to argue.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Off to Timbuktu

Nothing for today. If you want something fun to entertain you, go check out The Search for Timbuktu over at Strange Company.

The Age of Exploration was not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A conversation with my children

Me: "So that's a dragon-type Pokemon, is it?"

Secondborn: "It is the most powerful Pokemon."

Firstborn: "It's the most powerful dragon-type Pokemon."

Me: "Is there a Pokemon that does housecleaning?"

Firstborn: "I don't think so."

Me: "Because I want a Pokemon that does housecleaning. I wouldn't even try to capture it. I'd just be like, 'No, it's okay, you can just live over here in our laundry room, and we'll feed you.'"

Firstborn: "There's a Pokemon who makes clothes."

Me: "Okay, that's pretty cool."

Firstborn: "Out of leaves. It makes clothes out of leaves."

Me: "Still pretty cool."

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Bedtime Story for Secondborn

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jason. Only he wasn't an ordinary boy, he was a prince.

A hunter. I want to be a hunter.

Hush. I'm telling this story. Now, Jason wasn't the first prince, the Crown Prince, the one who would inherit the kingdom. No, Jason was born second, so he was the Sword Prince. But even though he'd been trained to use a sword almost since he could walk, Jason actually preferred the whip.

He had all different kinds of whips. He had a leather whip, that he used to snap the branches off trees and swing over ravines. He had a chain whip that he could use in battle. And he had a fire whip, to scare off ghosts and vampires.

One day, while he was out hunting, Jason found...

...A giant, talking spider.

"My goodness," said Jason. "That's the biggest spider I've ever seen." It was quite a large spider. It was so tall that its head was level with his head. It was so wide that he could have ridden on it. And its eyes were as big as cups.

"You look pretty scrawny," said the spider.

What's "scrawny"?

It's the opposite of big.

"You can talk!" said Jason.

"Of course I can talk," said the spider.

"I'm not used to spiders who can talk," said Jason.

"Well," said the spider, "you're probably used to little spiders, and spiders don't learn to talk until they're much bigger."

I think this is the part where I get to describe what I look like.

Sure. Go ahead.

Well, Jason is wearing a knight's armor. Or, he's wearing the breastplate and the leg-pieces. And he has a sword and a cutlass.

And his whips. Don't forget his whips.

{A small head nods assent.}

"Well," said Jason, "I was just out hunting."

"You weren't hunting spiders, I hope," said the spider.

"Of course not," said Jason.

"Good," said the spider. "As it happens, I was just out hunting."

"You weren't hunting humans, were you?" asked Jason.

"Of course not," said the Spider.

"I usually hunt things like deer and rabbits, and sometimes birds," said Jason.

"I think," said the spider, "that if we hunted together, we could take down something much bigger."

"I think we could," agreed Jason.

"As it happens," said the spider, "there is a herd of grok just a little ways from here."

Do you know what grok are?


Well, they're very large. They're as tall as this room, and they have big, stompy legs, and they have bone armor all over them. And they have tails with spiked balls on the end.

I think that sounds like an Ankylosaur.

Go to sleep, Firstborn. This story is for your brother. But yes, they're much like Ankylosaurs.

So Jason and the spider crept through the forest. They crept through the bushes. They crept around the trees. And they looked at the herd of grok. Now, the herd was eating grass, so they had all the big grok around the outside, and all the smaller grok -- about the height of those shelves -- on the inside.

They looked at the grok, and Jason said: "I don't think I could get my sword in deep enough to kill one of those."

"No," said the spider. "In truth, my fangs won't cut deep enough to kill one, either. But I have a plan."

What was the plan?

Half an hour later, Jason snuck back up to the herd of grok. Then he leapt out of the bushes, and he yelled at the top of his lungs: "Ai-yai-yai-yai-yai-yai-yai!" And he snapped his whip.

Now, the grok were very big, but this little creature had leapt out of the bushes at them and was making very loud noises, so they were worried. So they stepped away. But Jason followed, still yelling "Ai-yai-yai-yai-yai!" and snapping his whip. And the grok backed away a little faster. So Jason followed a little faster, and this time he took out his fire whip, and he snapped it all around him. And there was fire everywhere in the air around him.

Now, the grok were just animals, and they were afraid of fire. So they started to run away. But as they were running away, one of them ran into a very large spider web. "Quick!" said the spider. "Use your sword while it can't move!" And it dropped a few more strands of spider web around the grok to hold it in place.

Jason ran up to the grok and drew his sword. He aimed for the spot just under the arm, where the armor stopped and there was just skin. And he drove his sword straight into the grok's heart.

That night, Jason and the spider had a nice dinner of grok meat, flavored with lemons and butter.

The End.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Two Interpretations of I Don't Care About Your...

Pursuant to a conversation on Facebook (friendly, not an argument) about this graphic:

When I say I "don't care" about your gender or orientation, I mean that I'm not threatened (or disturbed, or even mildly bothered) by it. Some of the people that I know, either online or in person, are various flavors and combinations of gay, trans, Muslim, Black, Hispanic, immigrant, etc. etc. etc. None of those... identities? Is that the word I want? ...none of them trouble me. I will not measure -- or make assumptions about -- your character/value/moral worth/etc. on the basis of any of those things. That kind of "I don't care about..." is, I think, basically a good thing.

But there *is* another kind of "I don't care about..." which asserts something more along the lines of "I don't believe that we should think in those terms" or "I don't acknowledge those meaningless labels". And that kind of "I don't care about..." *is* a problem. It tries to erase fundamental parts of people's identities, and it tries to ignore some very important (and not at all "meaningless") social distinctions, or at the very least pretend that those things don't matter.

Now, I very emphatically did not mean to endorse the second sense of "I don't care about..." in reposting this meme. But I can see why my friend would find it troubling, since it could be used to mean either one.

Those things "don't matter to me" because I'm not going to judge your worth based on any of them. However, those things *do* matter to me because they're part of who you are, and I like who you are, and if you weren't those things you wouldn't be *you*. They're important to me in the context of you, but not so much as things in themselves, if that makes any sense.

But now that I think about it, the sentiment would be more precise if we substituted "worry" for "care".