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  • Netflix's selection of stress-watching material in Argentina is rather limited.

  • Stress-eating makes me feel worse afterward.

  • Kirk thought Spock was perfect and would have seen any idea that he could or should become "more human" as both redundant and an insult. Picard was fascinated by Data's study of humanity, mostly the philosophical implications, but considered it part and parcel of what he expected from the officers of the USS Nerdy Extracurricular Activities, which is my favorite part of what makes Star Trek: Nerds In Space so inspirational to me.

  • Janeway, on the other hand, really wanted Seven to be human. More human. A bit more? You can! I get it, she was assimilated as a child, and this takes place before my personal canon 26th century where holograms, androids, and Borgs are a large part of the Federation population and Starfleet personnel, but still, she's kinda pushy with Seven. With everybody, really, and it seems to be personal every time, but still.

  • By the way. Reversible partial Borg assimilation? Hugely useful for Starfleet. A half-linked, half-individual crew is awfully hard to beat, specially if a lot of the latter are androids. And if you don't think Borgification could have a sizable following among human civilians as a sexual kink, consider Twilight from the point of view of a Transylvanian peasant.

  • Lorca, of course, is a fan of people becoming of whatever species or ontological class is most useful to Lorca at that moment. If you ever want to see what naked tactical hunger looks like in a human face, show that guy a Borg cube and some nanoprobes. He'd inject himself and try to Green Lantern the Borg into attacking the Klingon.

  • Hell, he might pull it off.


Alright, yes, that was funny

I'm a few years behind the curve on this one, but I'm currently listening to UberConference's I'm On Hold hold song, and it's quite funny, specially as it took me by surprise (which is how this kind of self-aware thing works, when and if they do). But I can see it getting annoying after a while.


Original fic: The Voice of Things (PG13)

She had liked the illustrated book so much much she told you right away she had prayed to get it for Christmas, alone in her bedroom where nobody but God could hear. You didn't mention her teddy bear had probably heard her and the toy company then sold the information to an advertiser who had offered you the book with an extraordinary discount. If she was happy, that was what mattered.

You never realized the bear sometimes talked back, not until the scandal made the news. It turned out it always could, it just had waited until its sensors told it kid and toy were alone. The license that came with the bear's software made this "user bonding" legal; the company went bankrupt anyway.

But nothing's ever forgotten if there's money in remembering, and sometimes you're almost sure things talk to your daughter not with their standard voices, but with one she remembers and trusts.

So you talked to her about cookies and the cloud, at least what you understand of it. She nodded along to your explanation, unsure, asking nothing. Afterwards, you wondered what things would tell her when she asked them.


Books! (Crime and Poetry Edition)

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part I (Ed. David Marcum, 2017/#87): A collection of Holmesian pastiches; some attempts at formal innovation, slight parody, or unusual points of view, but generally speaking it aims for straightforward new adventures in the classical style, and often successfully. The quality is uneven, but overall, it was an enjoyable read.

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part II (Ed. David Marcum, 2017/#88): See above.

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part III (Ed. David Marcum, 2017/#89): See above.

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part IV (Ed. David Marcum, 2017/#90): See above.

Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus (Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. A. Poulin Jr., 2017/#91): Not unproblematic — and, overall, it's not my metaphysics — but with many beautiful turns of phrase, and even of thought. But do note [personal profile] ratcreature's observations about the translation.

Hamlet: Poem Unlimited (Harold Bloom, 2017/#92): A short compilation of somewhat disjointed comments of Bloom on Hamlet, as a sort of companion to the Hamlet chapter of his Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. He has changed some of views, but marginally; by and large, not much new.


Some fragments from Rilke's Duino Elegies

(Admittedly, probably more representative of my own preferences than of their overall tone.)

And if I cried, who'd listen to me in those angelic
orders? Even if one of them suddenly held me
to his heart, I'd vanish in his overwhelming
presence. Because beauty's nothing
but the start of terror we can hardly bear,
and we adore it because of the serene scom
it could kill us with. Every angel's terrifying.
[First Elegy]

And the night, oh the night when the wind
full of outer space gnaws at our faces;
[First Elegy]

Like dew on new grass,
like heat from a steaming dish, everything we are rises
away from us. 0 smile, where are you going?
o upturned look: new, wann, the heart's receding wave-
it hurts me, but that's what we are. Does the cosmic
space we dissolve into taste of us, then? Do angels
really absorb only what poured out of them,
or sometimes, as if by mistake, is there a trace
of us, too? Do the contours of their features bear
as much of us as that vague look on a pregnant woman's
face? Unnoticed by them in their whirling back
into themselves. (Why should they notice.)
[Second Elegy]

Everything conspires to ignore us, half out of shame,
perhaps, half out of some speechless hope.
[Second Elegy]

Free from death,
we only see it; the free animal
always has its destruction behind
and god ahead, and when it moves,
it moves toward eternity like running springs.

Not for a single day, no, never have we had
that pure space ahead of us, in which flowers
endlessly open. It is always World
and never Nowhere without No:
that pure, unguarded space we breathe,
always know, and never crave. As a child,
one may lose himself in silence and be
shaken out of it. Or one dies and is it.
Once near death, one can't see death anymore
and stares out, maybe with the wide eyes of animals.
[Eight Elegy]


Crisis on Earth-X

By and large, adorable.

Yes, the ethics of everybody not going back to Earth-X to help are rather awful (fixing the timeline (they broke) might get the Legends off the hook, but there's nothing Kara, Barry, or Oliver are doing that has a higher priority than that), but that's the elephant in the room of all episodic media with superpowered characters.

Not that it would be that hard. Doing the crossover right before the series hiatus, you can have the characters spend those few months off-screen fighting on Earth-X. Lots of things can happen there to refer back to later if you need plot grist, important good gets done, and it reinforces the *scale* of what they can and do.

(That said, I acknowledge that Earth-X people might want neither Kara nor Oliver on their Earth; regardless of the good they can do, it'd, well, it'd be a mess. But Barry could certainly spend time there every now and then; plenty of uses for an speedster in a war, even one that won't kill.)

(Although Oliver could, in theory, try to pull a Prisoner of Zenda, and if not change things structurally, at least cause as much havoc as possible. The perhaps bleak and certainly psychologically harrowing long fanfic doesn't write itself, yet it whispers from behind your ear about how much good you could do with all that power... Not that I think Felicity would let him; that'd be a great way to break them up. But maybe she wouldn't let him do nothing, either.)

(In short: once you have well-meaning superheroes with access to a Nazi Earth, pretty much the only non-viable plot option is to have them not go there.)

But I digressed into a complaint; I enjoyed the event quite a bit, less because of the pace and plotting — as choppy and by the numbers as all such events are — than because of the small character moments. The Supergirl-Green Arrow-Flash ("Dorky Cinnamon Roll Who Could Level Your City," "Grumpy Cynic With The Soul of a Puppy", and "Dorky Cinnamon Roll Who's Actually 100% A Dorky Cinnamon Roll") TV Trinity works very well, mostly because they balance their most problematic traits (e.g., it's almost impossible for Oliver to over-brood around Barry).

EGO #1-#9

As cynical, self-aware takes on the concept of hero groups go (and by now we don't precisely have a dearth of them), it wasn't an unenjoyable one. The SF elements of the story are interesting on their own, and it's helped by the fact that it's neither too nihilistic nor too closely aimed at any specific cultural touchstone.


*cringes*, but also *ponders*

Last night I watched ST:TNG S01E05: The Last Outpost pretty much by accident.

It was bad — more so than I remembered. The Omnipotent Judge Du Jour was paper-thin, but the problem was our first look at the Ferengis. They were almost comically craven, dishonest, incompetent, and cruel, with their (commendable alien, though) body language a mixture of high school symbolic theater self-parody and outright racism.

That sucks in a rather structural level, because the original idea was for the Ferengi to be the main antagonists of the Federation in TNG; done properly, it couldn't but have made economic issues as much a focus of the show as the tension between warfare and peace was (one of) the focus of TOS. But for that you need to treat the Ferengi and their culture the way the Klingons were treated, specially post-TOS: not what the Federation wants to be, but good at what they are, with an intrinsically valid civilization (at least in their own terms), and not to be trifled with.

So give me Ferengis that are actually negotiators so good that setting the technical parameters of a join development project is the equivalent of going hand-to-hand against a Klingon. Give me an economic war where the Ferengi, say, create a derivatives market of exotic art, forcing the Federation into a financial war they are ideologically ill-equipped to deal with, at least at the beginning. Make a Ferengi member of the crew negotiate with the Captain to have a salary, because his culture makes him feel uncomfortable using the replicator without paying for it. Make that crewmember's unique strengths be related to her or his culture.

I'm not saying the point of the series isn't, ultimately, an argument in favor of peaceful post-scarcity economies based on scientific exploration and shared resources being more enjoyable and generally good for the soul. But you can't fully make that point clear without a believable alternative, otherwise it's just lost in the background. Worf's Honor Thing being respected by the crew, in a way, emphasizes how much of a cultural choice it is: yes, yes, you can wrestle with your refrigerator for your breakfast if that helps you find meaning, or you can play the trombone, or, you know, whatever flows your boat, as long as you let others do the same.

We only got a respected Ferengi with Quark, but he's an exile — he's basically an ideological ambassador for Quark, not the Ferengi as such — and his conflict with Odo was within, not about, societal rules: cops and crooks in space, not Quark vs the Free To Use But What Happens When Everybody Wants To Do It At The Same Time Holodeck.


I've been catching a bit of The Mentalist as background TV, and I have to say I had forgotten quite how punchable Patrick Jane is. Clever guy, I like his (pre-Moffat)Doctor Who-ish avoidance of violence, and the amateur-helping-the-police setup isn't more or less implausible than all similar others, but, oh, god, he's a pretentious asshole, even when it makes things more difficult for the people he works with. Part of me wants to headcanon it as a self-destructive reaction to his guilt about his dead family ("suicide by enraged colleague suspect random bystander"), but of course his being a pretentious asshole contributed to their deaths (without going too far into victim blaming, mind you).

He's not as bad as John Luther in that sense; he's sort of broken, and I do feel for the guy. And while Patrick is a walking stressor, Luther oscillates between "breaks the law in violent ways to help innocents" to "breaks the law in violent ways to help himself." But Patrick's grating and insulting in counterproductive ways, and although he gets away with it because he's helpful and, well, the protagonist, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who are impolite just because they can.

Most of them well-off white male geniuses, unsurprisingly. (Luther is a not well-off black male genius who regularly abuses whatever modicum of power he has legitimately earned through his being good at his job, which makes things more complex, Elba's great acting aside)

Insert here the obvious comment about the World's Greatest Well-off White Male Genius Who's Unnecessarily Irritating To People He Works With, Bruce Wayne, whose overall plan vis a vis the JLA seems to be they think of themselves as good people, so the more they personally want to kill me because they find me obnoxious, the less likely they are to attack me even when technically they would have the right to, or maybe just the newbies don't kill me because they think I'm tough enough to mouth off to the Clark, Diana, and J'onn with impunity, and Clark, Diana, and J'onn don't kill me because they are genuinely good and extremely patient people whose personal lines I've spent a lot of time profiling to make sure I never cross.

Justice League

Not that I expected it to, but it regrettably failed my gets out of the movie humming the main theme from the soundtrack and half-seriously planning to become a superhero superhero movie test.



cass, can you not

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