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imagine the avengers 2 end credits scene. imagine the camera following steve rogers on a normal non-end of the world day, as if from afar. imagine us see steve rogers buy a coffee, run with sam, help the elderly, walk his neighbour’s dog.

now imagine the camera zooming out at the end of this to show bucky barnes, unshaven and exhausted in a hoodie and jeans, looking at steve rogers.

omg and then everyone can rewatch and realise they see the same grey hoodie in the background in various scenes throughout the movie, and sometimes enemies will spontaneously fall to the ground around Steve Rogers, not often, not enough to draw attention, but every once in a while……..

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Wait. Wait. The entire fandom has been arguing for years over whether to take the 40 students in Harry’s year and multiply by seven to get Hogwarts’ total student population (280) or trust Rowling’s estimate of the total (1000) and assume there are more students than 40 in Harry’s year, even though we have the list of all of them.

But. You guys. Harry was born during a war against Voldemort, who had no qualms killing infants, and who certainly had no problem killing the young people Harry’s parents’ age.

Harry’s year is unusually small, and maybe Ginny’s is, too. Things picked up again after the war, when there wasn’t that threat of death hanging over everyone’s heads and taking young soldiers away from their spouses or significant others. And it really didn’t start until the Marauders were adults or almost adults, so… it shouldn’t have been an issue shortly beforehand, either.

Harry’s year is 40 students, instead of the expected hundred-odd, because of Voldemort. “The” girls’ dorm, and “the” boys’ dorm, are the only two dorms used by students in Harry’s year, but of course there are closed-off rooms, maybe ones that have disappeared because they don’t exist unless they’re needed. You know those empty, unused classrooms that I seem to recall hearing mention of once or twice? They’re for splitting classes that would be too big. But that’s not needed for Harry’s year. (It might be needed for the year below Ginny’s, though.)

Imagine being a teacher, or one of the older students. You’ve seen sortings before— ones with a hundred kids, or two hundred, and that’s what you’re used to.

Then you sit down, and watch the children file in for a Sorting. And there are forty of them. And you count back in your head and realize— these are the children conceived during the war. And this year is small. And so is the next. And the next.

But then the post-war baby boom starts using all the closed-up dorms and classrooms, and Hogwarts is back to normal.

was thinking about this the other night. like two-three years after harry the student population probably is waaay bigger. maybe even bigger than usual. though also a lot of people got killed so there’s that.

last night

Feb. 27th, 2015 06:42 pm
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The street cat found the dish of kibble I left out. Not only was the dish empty but the cat carefully sifted through the snow for stray kibble.
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Posted by tigtog

This is stuff regular readers likely already know, but it’s nice to have links to stuff for others. Two recent op-eds from the NYT discuss how decision makers in a wide range of gatekeeper roles are more likely to make discretionary accommodations for some people than others while not noticing that this is what they’re doing:

Ian Ayres | When Whites Get a Free Pass: Research Shows White Privilege Is Real

This elegant experiment follows in a tradition of audit testing, in which social scientists have sent testers of different races to, for example, bargain over the price of new cars or old baseball cards. But the Australian study is the first, to my knowledge, to focus on discretionary accommodations. It’s less likely these days to find people in positions of authority, even at lower levels of decision making, consciously denying minorities rights. But it is easier to imagine decision makers, like the bus drivers, granting extra privileges and accommodations to nonminorities. Discriminatory gifts are more likely than discriminatory denials.

A police officer is an out-and-out bigot if she targets innocent blacks for speeding tickets. But an officer who is more likely to give a pass to white motorists who exceed the speed limit than to black ones is also discriminating, even if with little or no conscious awareness. This is one reason the Twitter hashtag #crimingwhilewhite is so powerful: It draws attention to the racially biased exercise of discretion by police officers, prosecutors and judges, which results in whites getting a pass for the kinds of offenses for which minorities are punished.

Nicholas Kristof: Straight Talk for White Men

Supermarket shoppers are more likely to buy French wine when French music is playing, and to buy German wine when they hear German music. That’s true even though only 14 percent of shoppers say they noticed the music, a study finds.

Researchers discovered that candidates for medical school interviewed on sunny days received much higher ratings than those interviewed on rainy days. Being interviewed on a rainy day was a setback equivalent to having an MCAT score 10 percent lower, according to a new book called “Everyday Bias,” by Howard J. Ross.

Those studies are a reminder that we humans are perhaps less rational than we would like to think, and more prone to the buffeting of unconscious influences. That’s something for those of us who are white men to reflect on when we’re accused of “privilege.”

Both these pieces repeat the most important point about privilege that just doesn’t seem to sink in for some people: social privilege is not about our individual choices, it’s about what social systems tout as “normal” for everybody but nonetheless deny to some and not others. We don’t tend to perceive something we’ve never been denied as a benefit, it’s just part of the background. The dozens of times every single day that some of us are given a “free pass” or at least “the benefit of the doubt” by a decision maker because of our skin colour or our gender or our name or our accent/dialect or other signifiers of various status stereotypes sail right by most of us who receive them – as per a metaphor Kristof uses in his column, these discretionary accommodations are some people’s never-noticed tailwinds while simultaneously being other people’s always-noticed headwinds. Blocking the headwinds to make the race fairer also means blocking the tailwinds, and it’s the loss of the boost previously given by those tailwinds that is then decried as “unfair”.

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Details from the rear cover of the Lindau Gospels.

Gilt silver, enamel, and jeweled bookcover

[Probably Salzburg, ca. 760–90]

Earlier binding used as lower cover on Lindau Gospels, Abbey of St. Gall, Switzerland, late ninth century

350 x 275 mm

Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1901; MS M. 1

Source: http://j.mp/1eJFIlc

A book cover that looks like jewelry. And it’s over a thousand years old! Awesome.

Learning by Osmosis

Feb. 27th, 2015 03:19 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
AI specialists at the University of Maryland have created a robot that can learn by observing.  This one taught itself to cook by watching YouTube.

This is epic.  It's the "monkey see, monkey do" moment.  One of the most crucial steps in creating artificial life is the ability of self-learning instead of programming.  More importantly, learning by observation -- rather than being trained explicitly -- is a feature of higher lifeforms such as humans, cetaceans, and great apes.  It lays a foundation for the "aha!" moment of awakening to self.  A robot might go through the motions and then suddenly understand  what they mean.

Just remember, an AI is like a small child.  They learn what they see.  They mimic what you do, not what you say.  So treat them as you want to be treated.  Teach them well.  Then they'll do great things, instead of going insane and trying to destroy the world.  
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"he was good before i got ahold of him, huh?"

this is so important. so important. because i know it’s easy to shit on howard and boy, does he ever deserve it, but i think the distinction here was drawn very clearly between howard’s self perception of his love for steve (painted heavily by a brush of guilt and recrimination) and peggy’s perception of his love for steve, which is one i’d be more inclined to trust as she is a more discerning critic, and also, as she loved steve, too. here, we see that once howard is out of the hallucination’s influence, once he can distance himself from the guilt fehnoff teased out of him, howard knew all along that steve was good from the start. so his love for steve, we can assume, isn’t (completely) based on this selfish assumption that steve is howard’s creation. rather, it’s about steve himself.

and i think it’s important at this point in the story that we recognize that howard didn’t only love steve in a self-serving way, that he loves steve in a true, deep, friendship and loyalty, actual people type of way. because doesn’t recognizing that actually help us see what makes howard’s character progression so truly awful? doesnt acknowledging that he started out with nobler goals and intentions, that he started out with genuine love for others in his heart, that he started out letting a few people actually know him, make it worse that later in life, burdened by burgeoning pressures and a lifetime of making the wrong, selfish choices, howard turns into the abusive, wretched man we know him as now?

for me, the little nuggets we get of howard’s love for steve, his mourning of their friendship, his loyalty and love for peggy and jarvis, only highlights for me that he could very well be a good man now and be an awful man later and the true intrigue lies in discovering what changes between those two points. and even, what remains the same.

Asexuals in Entertainment

Feb. 27th, 2015 02:34 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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Here's a heartfelt post on why we need asexual characters, especially in positive roles.  But it's not just because asexual people need role models too.  It's because even sexual  people shouldn't be pressured all the time to get in a relationship.  Being single needs to be okay.

Ironically, one of the healthiest relationships in Polychrome Heroics is a quiet little villain/villain F/F.  Fortressa has declared that she is Through With Men.  Okay, fine, she can do that.  One of her henchwomen, Socket, has an almighty crush on Fortressa -- and has said absolutely nothing about it, because Fortressa isn't interested in a sexual/romantic relationship.  Instead, Socket is just always there for her, fixing up the battlesuit and making sure there's food in the shop fridge and generally trying to make Fortressa's life easier.  Because that's what true love is all about.  It's not about getting what you want out of the other person.  It's that condition in which somebody's happiness in integral to your own, so you do what you can to be there for them, however they  want you to.  It doesn't have to be sexual.  And what started out as a crush is slowly, inexorably, and quite beautifully growing into a squish which is fulfilling for both of them.

To find my asexual, celibate, demisexual, etc. characters, check out the QUILTBAG list.
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This sequence, we all knew that the sequence had to be in the film because no other movie could you have a character walking through their life in the Smithsonian. — Joe Russo

It puts him in such a unique situation. He’s constantly asking, ‘Who am I?’
Even his past is not his anymore. It’s history. Everyone here can go look at who he was. — Christopher Markus

And this is, what I love about this scene is you really start to, in the spirit of vulnerability of Cap, you really start to feel how alone he is and isolated and that his life is gone. — Anthony Russo

Even though he is a proficient fighter now, he has no identity. He really doesn’t. He’s working for S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s got a relationship with Natasha, relationship with Fury, they’re not substantial. And he doesn’t know who he is.— Joe Russo

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Directors’ and Writers’ Audio Commentary

Moment of Silence: Leonard Nimoy

Feb. 27th, 2015 01:00 pm
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Leonard Nimoy has passed away.  He lived long, and prospered.  He both was and was not Spock.  But while everyone knows that role, I have another favorite too: he also starred in Brave New World, where it was utterly delightful to see him frisking around advising the other characters to be happy and have lots of promiscuous sex.

He taught us a lot about logic and emotion; more crucially still, the need to balance both in order to live well.  Along with the rest of the Star Trek teamfamily, he taught us about tolerance -- not just of others, but of ourselves.  He showed us glimpses, not just of one future, but of many futures.  In doing these things, he left an imprint that will last as long as our culture does.

So I'm sorry he's left us -- though he has left quite a lot to us -- and I'm really going to miss that man.  But on the other side...

Leonard Nimoy looks at the enormous mob burgeoning around The Great Con in the Sky.  Two cloud buses have arrived simultaneously.  One of them disgorges a flock of angels -- is that Metatron? -- while the other lets out a stream of tzadikim.  On the front lawn, a circle of Summerlanders are spit-roasting an entire ox.

Leonard shakes his head and sneaks around back in search of an open window.  Just as he is closing the window behind himself, a soft sound makes him whirl around.  "Gene!" he cries gladly.

"Hello, old friend," says Gene Roddenberry as they hug.  "Sorry about the crush out front.  People are excited to see you."

Leonard raises an eyebrow.  "Coming in the back way was a logical ruse," he says.  "But what are you  doing here?"

"Waiting for you," Gene replies.  "Since you made your peace with old Spock, I figured you'd take the logical route.  Come on, I'll show you where we stashed the secret Green Room.  If we hurry, we can get there before Isaac Asimov eats all the cookies."

Grinning, Leonard drapes a long arm over Gene's shoulders and says, "Lead the way."

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Spock's Funeral SCENE - Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan MOVIE (1982) - HD:


"We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted, in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… [voice breaks] human.”


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