a thought

Jun. 25th, 2017 10:41 pm
edenfalling: golden flaming chalice in a double circle (gold chalice)
Here is the passage from C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain that I found most striking and thought particularly apropos for today's world:

Perhaps my harping on the word "kindness" has already aroused a protest in some readers' minds. Are we not really an increasingly cruel age? Perhaps we are: but I think we have become so in the attempt to reduce all virtues to kindness. For Plato rightly taught that virtue is one. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues.

If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour's welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty. Even a good emotion, pity, if not controlled by charity and justice, leads through anger to cruelty.

Most atrocities are stimulated by accounts of the enemy's atrocities; and pity for the oppressed classes, when separated from the moral law as a whole, leads by a very natural process to the unremitting brutalities of a reign of terror.

[Chapter 4, 'Human Wickedness,' paragraphing mine]


I suspect my exposure to Tumblr's vicious witch-hunting callout culture affected my response to this passage, though it is of course applicable to many other walks of life.
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I got up at 4:00am EST on Thursday, so as to shower, eat breakfast, finish packing, and set up my apartment before heading outside shortly before 5:00am to wait for my cab. In the event, the cab was about ten minutes late, but I still got to the airport and through security in plenty of time. The flight from Ithaca to Detroit went smoothly, and I made my transfer with several minutes to spare even though they were slow to unpack the plane-side checked bags. (These are bags that would be carry-on items in larger planes, but small jets have small overhead compartments so they basically wrap a tag around your suitcase handle, stash it in the cargo compartment with the actual checked bags, and then hand it back to you at the end of the flight.)

cut for length )

As for my reading: I got through the entirety of C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, which was one of my "I am not entirely sure where I picked this book up, but I should probably read it before donating it" books, and another several sections of Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, a textbook composed of various themed excerpts from other works and brief explications thereof.

Lewis is, as always, infuriating because I disagree vehemently with a number of his assumptions, with most of his theology, and with a bunch of his implicit politics... and yet he keeps coming to conclusions about human experience and what a good life should look like that are unnervingly close to my own in some respects. So it's a constant swing between, "yes, exactly, that was beautifully put!" and "but HOW can a reasonably intelligent and well-meaning person be so WRONG?!?!" Some other day I should probably quote one of the passages I thought was most apt, and also take a stab at analyzing one point where I think he went most terribly awry.

(Also science has marched on and Lewis's chapter on animal pain and consciousness is consequently even more awful and wrong-headed than when he wrote it, though I think I would have considered it awful and wrong-headed even decades ago because he's arguing from a foundation of theological assumptions which I utterly fail to share. But that is something where I could point to actual science to prove that he is talking through his hat, whereas the other point is more of a philosophical/ethical thing, and thus less subject to hard proof... though one could probably cite various studies on criminal justice and prison reform which I believe tend more toward my side of the argument than toward his. Hmm. *makes note to look into that* But anyway, I'd want to do more research and marshal my arguments in logical order before venturing into that particular alligator swamp.)

And that is what I have been up to for the past three days. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] snogfairy:

wholesome domestic prompts

-i brought you home flowers just for the hell of it, no it doesn't matter that we've been together for three years and i've never done this before, they are pretty (and so are you i love you)

-we, the blankets, and the pet have tangled into an irreversible knot on the couch and if no one comes save us this might be our end

-we wanted to cook but now we are dramatically singing a duet with kitchen utensils in our hands, this is quality PerformanceTM

-i've had a horrible week and you just brought me home my favourite treat

-no, when i said i wanted you to help clean the house i did NOT mean you should do it wearing only, exclusively stockings, you insolent FOOL

-one of us has to get out of bed to make pancakes and it’s not going to be me ok just go and bring me nourishment

-it's been TEN YEARS and you STILL don't know how to properly tidy up the dishes!!!! these plates go here, but these almost identical ones go there, is it that hard??!? what, no, they look nothing alike!

-you can't go to work because i need cuddles

-i'm sick but no don't worry about me, go to work, no really i can handle myself, love, it's.... ok that sounds wonderful i'm giving up pls stay

-we have guests over... do you really think it's an appropriate time to affectionately grab my butt and kiss my neck... in front of the entire table.... ok

-"i know we both don't believe in marriage but let's get married for tax benefits"... "listen i know i said that but if you don't even try to be romantic about proposing so help me god. try. again."

-sometimes i just can't stop kissing your stupid face
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1. Took communal compost bin to the curb for pickup. (I seem to be the only person in both houses who remembers to do this. I am not exactly complaining about that, but I do wonder who, if anyone, would step up to the plate if I weren't here.)

2. Sliced two chicken thighs and baked them in balsamic dressing.

3. Began summer apartment photographs and turnover inspections at work, which is interesting.

4. Called my dentist to ask when I would be billed for my May 15th appointment. Apparently the office manager has returned and sent all the outstanding bills earlier this week, so I should receive mine on Friday. It's not that I especially WANT another bill, but I was even less happy about the prospect of an unknown bill hanging over my head indefinitely.

5. Bought a zester/grater at Target.

6. Saw Wonder Woman, which I enjoyed a lot! Quick impression: vague spoilers, I guess? )

7. Bought groceries.

8. Paid my monthly internet bill.

9. Recharged my bus pass.

10. Cooked the first of three Blue Apron meals. More details in this post (poll and general comments) and also this post (pictures and recipe).
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I'm copypasting this from Tumblr, because I want to have it on a more permanent and searchable site:

In reference to [personal profile] ellen_fremedon's Sedoretu Fic Fest (which is currently open for signups on AO3, and you should totally leave and claim some prompts!), [tumblr.com profile] madamehardy asked: If you don't want to offer Homestuck (offer Homestuck offer Homestuck) the Pevensies could easily be a different moiety from Jill and Eustace, or from Aravis and whatsisface.


I think if I were doing a Narnian sedoretu, the obvious method would be to have Cor, Aravis, and Corin searching for a fourth person to complete their square. This is already an unconventional marriage since Cor and Corin are, of course, both male (and obviously share a moiety, being twins), but I am all in favor of complicating these things when I can. And I think it would be an interesting political statement for the twins to say, implicitly, "The heir WILL be ethnically half-Calormene and you're not getting any other options from Corin BECAUSE REASONS."

If the Pevensies were doing sedoretu marriages, the standard thing would be for one of the boys and one of the girls to be the (pick a moiety) half of a marriage, and for the other boy and girl to do the same thing in a second square. The question is which boy and girl you'd pair up. Divvying it Peter-and-Susan and Edmund-and-Lucy by age makes a lot of sense, but that would result in a wildly different plot to HHB, so perhaps Peter and Lucy are currently staying unmarried because reasons, leaving Susan and Edmund to play the diplomatic marriage alliance game. Which presumably means HHB must involve one of Rabadash's siblings or half-siblings as a potential fourth member of the proposed sedoretu, and ooooh, the things I could do with that as a base premise… *cackles evilly*

I think possibly the most evil and intriguing thing to do to Jill and Eustace would be to slot them into a square with Rilian and the Lady of the Green Kirtle. (I think probably with the kids sharing a moiety because True Companions and the Lady and prince sharing a moiety because of the mockery of courtly love thing they have going on while he's brainwashed. Also because I am totally in favor of people being intensely attracted to the Lady and desperately wishing they weren't, because if we're going to the creepybadwrong place, let's go full throttle, yeah?) And we either go for a bad ending where they do get caught and brainwashed in Underland, or perhaps we just age them up a few years and have several days of awkward oh-no-they're-hot camping and skeevy touching where you can’t quite verbalize why the touches are skeevy on the way to Harfang or something.

Super cracky badwrong edition: Aslan and Jadis form a sedoretu with Frank and Helen. No, I have no idea how that would work. It's probably some kind of metaphorical power play on the non-mortal members' part, maybe an alternative to the Tree of Protection. (No point conquering Narnia if you're already married to its king and queen, right? WRONG. And if Jadis can't rule Narnia on her own, she will damn well make sure Narnia rules the rest of the world. Bloodily.) Frank and Helen would really like a divorce, please... except how do you go about divorcing god and the devil?
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 this afternoon, and I'd been forewarned that there were Feels as well as laughs and quality explosions, but oh man, I was not prepared.

*wallows happily in All The Emotions*

Also, this film does surprisingly well on the female characters with their own plot arcs who talk to other female characters front? Which I was frankly not expecting from this particular corner of the MCU, but there it is. And it is very nice!

Some vaguely spoilery thoughts under the cut )

Anyway, I enjoyed GotG2 a LOT. I mean, I went in expecting to have a good time, but (as I remarked to a friend years ago, in reference to Captain America: The First Avenger), that movie was way better than it strictly needed to be, and you could tell everyone involved in making it was having a ball -- and that carries through on screen in both obvious and subtle ways. :D
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
This morning, I woke up to a series of ff.net comments on Tides (a Naruto canon-divergence AU fic I wrote back in 2005), which I cannot read as anything other than performance art.

I suspect this is even how the commenter intended them, although what they thought they were performing was threatening and dismissive anger with the aim of producing hurt, fear, and a sense of inferiority, rather than the utter hilarity I actually experienced, because baby's first flame attempts are impossible to take seriously. *wry*

Content warning for misogyny, ableism, homophobia, and death threats/suicide baiting, I guess.


nine anonymous comments on 'Tides' )



I find these hilarious both for their general misreading of the manga (apparently the intended message is that Naruto is god and can do no wrong, while both Sakura and Sasuke -- you know, the people Naruto loves and would die to save -- are horrible and need to die in agony (thus making Naruto's choice of friends... wrong? impossible! pay no attention to the contradiction behind the curtain!)), and for the amount of effort expended in performative outrage when every browser comes equipped with a perfectly functional back-button. The attitudes embodied in the commenter's choice of insults are more sad than anything else, but also contribute to my inability to take anything this person says seriously.

This gift of hilarity has also reminded me that I should probably go stick a note in front of all my Naruto fics saying that they're based on manga canon only (for the very simple reason that I have never watched the anime). I mean, people like today's commenter never read author's notes anyway -- they are looking for things at which they can perform frothing outrage, not nuance -- but it would give me an additional thing to laugh about later on when they act like anime-only events should be a trump card when discussing a manga-based story. *wry* And for people who aren't performative outrage artists, such a note would be a quick and easy way to set proper expectations going in.

...I'll get to that some other day, when I am feeling up to a couple hours of internet housekeeping.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's that time of year again. :)

Here are the results from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, for comparison purposes.

I currently have 479 stories posted on AO3, which is 44 more than last year. The 'new' fics are a combination of backdated crossposts and things that were genuinely written within the past year.

Anyway, here are my top ten stories on AO3, by hit count:

1. What Isn't Broken (Can Still Be Fixed) - 20,463 [Naruto, remix]
2. Trollstuck: Make Her Pay - 5,540 [Homestuck, chaptered, WIP]
3. I Must Increase My Bust - 5,104 [Homestuck]
4. With a Vengeance - 4,766 [Naruto]
5. More Sins than Condemnation - 4,522 [Naruto]
6. Four by Four - 4,482 [Homestuck, chaptered, WIP]
7. Of Stone and of Sky - 4,257 [Homestuck, Ladystuck]
8. Dreamers of the Day - 4,140 [Inception]
9. Problems and Solutions (All Things in Time) - 4,116 [Chronicles of Narnia/Stargate: SG-1, remix]
10. The Way of the Apartment Manager - 3,485 [Naruto, chaptered]

This is largely the same as last year, barring a few internal rearrangements and "The Way of the Apartment Manager" kicking "Weregild" off the list. I am pleased that my most popular story on other sites is finally picking up steam over here, too, despite its age and backdating. :)

"What Isn't Broken" continues to absolutely crush everything else I've ever written, at least on this particular site. I am still unsure why, but hey, if people like it I'm not going to complain. *wry* It also drags its two companion ficlets ("With a Vengeance" and "More Sins than Condemnation") up the rankings... at least in terms of hit count. Their kudos count is more variable.

Anyway, moving on!

Here are my top ten stories by number of kudos )

The bookmark list continues to share a lot of commonalities with the hit and kudos lists (particularly if you go by the top twenty rather than just the top ten), and the comment list continues to be noticeably different from those three, largely thanks to Yuletide and the Narnia Fic Exchange. :)
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A random nice thing the Red Cross sometimes does is tell you what happened to your blood donation.

For example, I recently received the following email:

Dear LIZ,

Thank you for giving blood with the American Red Cross on 3/16/2017. After first ensuring that local needs were met, your blood donation was sent to University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY to help a patient in need. Your donation is on its way to change lives!

Every day, patients receive blood for a variety of conditions including life-threatening illnesses, blood disorders and traumas. Your blood donations are critical to helping save patients' lives.

On behalf of the hospitals and patients we serve, thank you for being a Red Cross blood donor.

I think this is both a nice gesture of acknowledgement and a really effective way to make people want to donate again, because it puts a tangible result -- your blood went to this place to help an actual human being who needed a transfusion -- onto what is otherwise a very open-ended, giving-to-the-void sort of activity. So kudos to the Red Cross communications team members who came up with this idea. I will even forgive you for trying to make me sign up for a half-dozen blood drives while I am still in the ineligible eight weeks after my previous donation. *wry*
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As tax day is nearly upon us and I can practically taste the return of those mythical things known as 'free time' and 'sleep,' it is time for a new writing project to-do list! Priority order is based partly on when I started doing a thing, partly on due-dates, and partly on estimated project length.


1. Finish the fourth ficlet from my latest mini-ficlet prompt meme.

2. Finish editing "Second Chances," argh, why has that taken so long?!

3. Outline FandomTrumpsHate fic, send outline to bidder for review, write fic.

4. Reread existing portions of "Intervention" and previous space battle brainstorming, then buckle down to finish the story for WIP Big Bang.

5. Write Vicky's hideously belated gift story.

6. Write Susan's hideously belated gift story.

7. Narnia Fic Exchange!

8. Work on various longstanding WIPs. The most likely options include finally finishing "Trollstuck: Make Her Pay," writing another few chapters of "The Guardian in Spite of Herself," writing another few chapters of "Lemonade," blacking out my second Cotton Candy Bingo card, and finally finishing "Harvest" (an original story I have been writing forever).

9. Yuletide!

10. Other fic exchanges as time, energy, and interest allow.

11. Mini-ficlet prompt memes if and when I get bored and/or stuck on longer projects.


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Elizabeth Culmer

June 2017

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