Mykhailo Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian trained architect won first prize in the competition Fairy Tales 2017, the competition is organised by the National Building Museum, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and New York architecture platform Blank Space.
for his entry “Last Day”. Mykhailo is currently based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and works at the landscape architecture firm EDSA, Inc. His entry utilizes classical painting techniques to create monumental landscapes with strange scifi megastructures inserted into them. The relatively mundane occurrences in the story make it feel like these wild scenes could in fact be real.
“Landscapes have always inspired me to put something weird, unreal and out of human scale into them. Something not feasible and not practical that contrasts with the natural surroundings, but also exists at the same scale. These satirical interventions lead to new ideas and feelings about nature – they make the viewer more aware about the environment and our harmful impact on it. We are flat surface creatures. Sometimes I feel that we crave it so much that the planet is going to be turned into pavement so cars can go anywhere, and our industries could continue expanding. The “Saturn Rings” in my proposal represent these flat surface desires but in a more poetic, optimistic, and friendly manner.” ~ Mykhailo Ponomarenko
Parents didn’t always read the orientation material.
There were a few, every year. They insisted on helping the new students move into the dorms. They sent boxes from home, full of cookies or brownies or favorite munchies. They called frequently (it wasn’t safe. Letters were safer, e-mail was safer, even texts were safer, but calls not so much.) They begged for pictures, for visits, and sometimes they accidentally-on-purpose “just happened to be in the area”.
The staff tried to deal with parents. Oh how they tried. Usually it worked. The Gentry almost never kept parents.
But some… some parents never left.
She had taken piano lessons when she was younger. Her parents approved: that was a womanly decorative thing to do. She had never played sports, because that wasn’t a womanly decorative thing. She wore dresses. She took ballet, she sang, she painted. Her parents told her every day in every way who they thought she should be, and she tried, she really did.
She was tired of not being good enough.
She applied to Elsewhere, and got a full music scholarship, and carefully out of sight in the shower she sobbed with relief and fear. Her parents loved her, they really did, they told her so. The disappointment at her, the silent treatment, the confinement and not being allowed out with her friends… well, they were just trying to protect her, right? They didn’t know the bubble wrap they tried to put around her was smothering her.
She read the orientation paperwork, every single scrap. She wanted to do everything right, because the thought of doing it wrong terrified her. Even the strange stuff, maybe especially the strange stuff, because everything in life was a test, another opportunity to disappoint.
“As an environmentally-conscious measure, Elsewhere University’s campus is not set up to allow automobile traffic. For those students who need transportation help, there are staff with golf carts available, as well as a series of campus shuttles that make regular stops. Bicycles are available for rent by the hour, the week, or the semester. Skateboards and skates are permitted but proper safety gear must be worn.”
Father was angry when campus security wouldn’t let him drive straight to her dorm. She trembled. Always, when Father was angry, somehow either she or Mother paid. He fumed while waiting for a golf cart, he clenched his jaw when the staff member driving the golf cart refused to simply step aside and hand over the keys, he was elaborately careful when helping load her things after being refused a campus map.
Her dorm was a solid brick building, a pleasant generic institutional place. Father insisted on carrying her things up to her room, on the second floor. "So I know where my little girl will be,“ he said. His anger cooled a little with the exertion, down to its usual simmer.
It only took a few trips to get all of her things upstairs. Father insisted on a hug, just on the edge of being painful as his hugs always were. She endured it, because trying to get away always earned a lecture. "I love you so much, you’ll always be my little girl, you are a disappointment because you don’t love me as much as I love you, but I will forgive you because I am better than you.”
“Elsewhere University wishes to be the beginning of a new life for every student. We ask that students choose a nickname, in order to facilitate this feeling of a new beginning. Common nickname categories are an interest, a favorite song or work of art, an aspiration, or a personal quality. It is our firm belief, demonstrated by decades of successful graduates, that this practice allows students the freedom to really expand their horizons and demonstrate both their personalities and their capabilities both actual and potential. In support of this practice, we ask that legal names not be used on campus except with the Student Services or Records and Enrollment offices.”
The driver helped as Father made one last check to be sure nothing had been left. He reminded her to call twice a week. He hugged her again, ignoring the gasp she made as he let go. "Remember to call your Mother, Susan. You’ll always be her little girl, and you know how she worries.“
“I will, Father.”
The driver watched, waiting patiently while Father said his good-byes, then cleared his throat. "Sir, if you want to attend the parent orientation, we need to be going.“
"Yes, I’d planned on attending. I need to know everything, to help keep my Susan safe.” Father climbed aboard, and the driver waved as they left. For an instant his hand seemed to have too many fingers.
She felt eyes on her as they drove away.
She climbed the stairs back to her room, looking forward to taking her shoes off and unpacking. The door, locked when she left it, was still locked, but now there was a pile of stuff underneath the open window.
“Hey! Sorry I wasn’t here when you were bringing stuff up, he looked a bit intense, oh hey are you ok?” The girl on the tree branch outside the window climbed in and sat on the windowsill.
She nodded. She locked the door behind her, then sat on one of the beds.
“I’m Magpie, second year, one of the stage monkeys for the theater. You wanna see? No obligation.”
“Yeah, I… I paint, a little.”
“You do? Cool! Hey, but if you want to go see, that outfit’s cute and all but it’ll get ruined pretty quick.”
“I’ve got some grubbies, let me unpack.”
Magpie grinned and pushed her hair behind one ear. "Your dad isn’t one of those types who thinks he’ll be visiting every weekend, is he? 'Cause I can’t hide all the time.“
"I think he was heading to the parent orientation.”
Magpie blinked. "Oh… kay.“
“There’s someone I want you to meet. They go by Melanotis. They’ll tell you about the parent orientation. Are you sure you’re ok?” Magpie pushed her hair back again.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Why do you keep asking?”
“There is no parent orientation. Here, take this. No obligation.” Magpie took a ring off of her index finger and handed it to her. It was a puzzle ring made of iron and pyrite, and it fit her index finger as if it had been made for her.
“Thanks, but why?”
“My dad was like that, too. What do you want to be called?”
The choice, the possibility of choice, was dizzying. Something to hang onto… a favorite song. "Call me Sussudio,“ she said, and smiled.
Some facts about Gen 3 Synths I’ve discovered while in the Institute
- Synths can age, but only if programmed to. They can be programmed to age naturally or they can be programmed to age to a certain point and then stop. Synths that have stopped age can have their aging process started again via reprogramming.
- The favourite food of all Gen 3 Synths is Fancy Lad Snack Cakes. Scientists are trying to find out why but haven’t discovered an exact reason yet. That’s right fellow Danse lovers; Mr Stoic Tin Can loves cake.
-Synths cannot gain weight or lose weight, a Synth that is built to be fat cannot become thin and vice versa. Unlike aging this doesn’t appear to be reversible.
-A Synth that becomes self-aware enough to express loyalty to The Institute is disposed of, The Institute dislikes Synths having free will even if it works in their favour.
-Members of the institute can have “Personal Synths” built to act as their maid, personal assistant, or lover. One such Synth named Eve was built to act as a replacement wife to a Scientist and his son when the original woman died.
-The Institute is building Synth animals as a pet project to see if they can one day repopulate extinct species.
-The scientists working on Synth Shaun are disturbed by him because they are growing to love him and see him as a real little boy instead of just as a machine. This could partly be why they don’t like creating child synths.
The White House has announced that Trump will name his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to run a new Office of American Innovation – described as a SWAT team of
strategic consultants staffed by former business executives, designed to
infuse fresh thinking into Washington and help make government work more like a business.
It’s good to have fresh thinking
about how government might function more efficiently. But it’s important to remember that government is not a business.
The purpose of government is not to show a profit. It is to achieve the common
Precisely because there are many different views about the common
good, government leaders must be capable of listening and responding to many
different opinions and perspectives.
They must also be public educators –
telling the public the truth, explaining the consequences of different options,
and conducting public deliberation about what is best for society.
Above all, presidents should enrich and strengthen democracy – building trust in democratic
institutions, avoiding conflicts of interests, and promoting tolerance and social cohesion.
So far, Donald Trump has done the opposite. He doesn’t need
more business advice. He needs more advice about how to lead a democracy.
The first school in the catalog is Redwood Institute for Magical Education, otherwise known as RIME. Here follows a brief history and information on its location. Posts on RIME’s Academics, School Organization and Character, as well as Student Life are forthcoming.
Founding/A Brief History of Redwood Institute for Magical Education
RIME was founded in 1865 by Naoki Maruyama, who arrived in California in 1851 at the age of 19, a wizard fresh from his education at Mahoutokoro who heard there was money to be made in the California Gold Rush and figured he would be at least as good at digging it out of the hills as the muggles. Naoki fell in love with the rugged attitude of the newly blossoming San Francisco, with its hard-drinking miners and simple food, with its relentless spirit, with its fierce and often aggressive independence, with its aura of possibility.
And so Naoki settled, as most miners did, in San Francisco, but unlike most miners, he actually did make a fortune there. Naoki fared much better socially in San Francisco than most immigrants, largely due to his willingness to help other miners, to point them in the direction of large gold deposits and occasionally to be around when the rock magically seemed softer, the hike quicker, the air less chilled. Camped out in the hills, Naoki lived on black coffee, sourdough and dried beef, along with the occasional rabbit stew that could be cooked up over an open campfire, one eye on his claim.
Donald Trump’s Muslim ban 2.0 was supposed to take effect today, however last night a federal judge in Hawaii struck it down. Nevertheless, organizers from Faith in New York, an interfaith federation of congregations building power in faith institutions through social justice and community organizing, held a rally in Washington Square Park to continually demand that New York be a true sanctuary city for refugees, Muslims, immigrants, and those who have been targeted by Trump’s administration.
(Society1) Hi!! So, I have a v general question, sorry about that. First of all, thanks for creating this blog! Andddd, do you have any tips on what kind of behavior a society based on violence would have? I started world building it, and so far I have three institutions: Emperor/Empress, royal guard, militias. Since the society is based on physical strength/strategy, life follows the "survival of the fittest" idea. [c]
“(Society2) Which means the strongest ones rule the country and the others are left to struggle (or flee it). There isn’t exactly something in terms of economy, since these aren’t exactly humans and moreover, their nature / culture is based on self-sustainence. Is there a minimum of institutions a society would have in order to be considered such? Or feel realistic. Thank you!”
I have a lot to address in regards to violent societies, so what I’m going to do is work on a masterpost for that, and answer your simpler questions here. Otherwise, my answer will be very long and all over the place.
When it comes to institutions, what you listed here would actually be the same institution: Government. Empress, guard, and militia would all be specific subsets of that institution. I gave an overview of the various agents of socialization in [this post], but generally, we’re certain that all human societies have had these five institutions: Government, family, religion, work, and education. Recently (well, relatively) we have added the institution of media, which would include things like news, internet, social media, TV, etc.
Having said that, there is no hard-fast rule that says your society has to have all of those institutions. You can leave some out or create new ones as much as you would like, really. All you have to make sure of is that you’re addressing all things that the society would need in order to be a society.
For example, you state that the society you’re creating values those who can provide for themselves - that would bring in a lot of mores (pronounced more-ays) and norms revolving around individuality, strength, able-bodies, etc., much like modern America does, though to more of an extreme, it sounds like. Okay. But in order to be a society, a cohesive community, there has to be common beliefs, values, morals, norms, etc. There also has to be ways to teach these things to future generations, ways to make and enforce rules about them, and reasons for the people in the society to even stick together in the first place.
If everyone can provide for themselves, there’d be no need for them to form a society. There has to be something they can get from each other that they cannot get from themselves - this is why work became an institution in the first place, why we have an economy (which, by the way, does not need to be a capitalist system - you could do bartering, socialism, communism, but there would be some sort of economy). People separated out the labor needed to sustain their society to different individuals, because no one person can do everything. It’s pieces making a whole.
The government is where the enforcement of rules comes into play, which you seem to have covered. There are two forms of rules - informal and formal. An informal rule would be something like not talking with your mouth open, not back-talking your parents, offering to help someone carrying something heavy. Breaking these norms will result in an informal sanction, like a grounding or getting yelled at. A formal rule are the laws that govern society, such as driving over the speed limit, murder, stealing. This will result in a formal sanction, like going to jail or getting a fine.
Any rule can move from formal to informal or vice-versa at any time, depending on how the society changes over time - bestiality has not always been against the law in the US, but it was frowned upon and heavily sanctioned by society (it’s also an example of a taboo subject).
Now you also have to think about who teaches those rules to new generations - do children go to some sort of school to be educated? Are they taught through religion? Do they learn from their family members? If so, whom? Parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents? Who’s in charge of shaping the next generation of citizens? Children need a structured way to learn how to be adults in their society, and school, religion, and family are the three most common ways to do that. Media also has a big effect now, with many children learning their society’s norms through TV shows, books, and movies.
Basically, when creating the institutions in your society (also known as the agents of socialization), you need to consider these things: What binds this society together? How do people obtain the goods they need to survive in this society? What is expected of each person in this society? How are norms and rules created and enforced? How do people learn these norms and rules?
If you can answer those, it should help you figure out what institutions you need and what form they’ll take.
Check out this amazing cover! 😍 The pink side is the front cover, the orange side is the back cover. The story is such a cool concept. It’s two intertwining stories that you can choose to read one after the other, or in alternating chapters. Here’s a synopsis:
A theory that I think is fundamentally right but that I won’t fully advocate until I can think through it more: there’s roughly four types of far-right praxis in the United States:
-Institutionalism: Attempting to enter the mainstream by portraying yourself as a serious thinker and activist, building institutions and media outlets to spread your message and legitimize yourself. See: Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor.
-Electoral politics: Attempting to build a popular movement through running for office; often, the media coverage of your campaign is more valuable than the campaign itself. See: David Duke.
-Violent revolution: Attempting to build a militia or paramilitary movement to intimidate opponents, engage in violent direct action, commit acts of terrorism, and, ideally, violently seize power. See: Tom Metzger, William Dudley Pelley.
-Provocation: Attempt to build a movement and mainstream oneself through public acts of provocation, encouraging opposition as a means of securing publicity. See: George Lincoln Rockwell.
The Muslim ban is in effect. The info shock-troops are attacking journalists daily. There are open calls for violence from major national institutions like the NRA. Hate crimes are spiking.
Sorry. But: the resistance is losing. And it is losing badly.
Forgive me. This is going to be a brutal little essay. And it needs a disclaimer. As a brown person, it’s easy for me to be accused of being the enemy. Somehow, we always are. So let’s be clear. I don’t want authoritarianism to win.
And yet it is. How come? Because resistance isn’t nearly enough to defeat authoritarianism. A resistance is not an opposition. What’s the difference? Everything.
Let me give you a small parable.
Today I read a tweet from Jon Favreau. I think he was Obama’s former speechwriter or adviser, at any rate he’s a powerful Democrat. He said (to paraphrase): “the right wing is buying up the media! This is bad guys!”. Sure, it is. Now how are we to “resist” that? We can’t. We can only oppose it — with real policies. Media is a natural monopoly. Natural monopolies tend to be run by cutthroat capitalists. Have you ever heard of a left-wing media acquisition spree? Neither have I. Because of these simple economics, every other rich country in the world has two things. One, strong media antitrust laws. Two, strong public media, like the BBC or CBC. Without those, media naturally, inevitably, inescapably becomes monopoly, and monopoly soon enough becomes the institutional support authoritarians need to rise.
But Obama never backed any of that, did he? The Dems still don’t, do they? Resistance isn’t enough.
The question is whether a society can genuinely oppose authoritarianism. With a vibrant and inclusive and strong political opposition. That opposition has to stand for what prevents authoritarianism —what limits, circumscribes, and ultimately conquers it — not merely what resists it. Do you see the difference? Let’s make it clearer.
Authoritarianism rises in societies with broken social contracts, that are failing the average person. That’s America, where average incomes have shrunk in real terms since the 1970s. Broken social contracts reflect failed institutions. They mean that democracy isn’t working — political institutions aren’t working. They mean that real economic value isn’t being created and shared — financial institutions aren’t working. They mean that human potential is stuck and withering — social institutions like media and education and healthcare aren’t working. Thus, a social contract in its entirety comes to be broken.
The question authoritarianism raises is about building working institutions. A resistance is a loose network of people aimed at dissent. But that is not nearly enough to build working banks, corporations, schools, hospitals, and so on. Only a genuine political opposition can do that.
Let’s make it even clearer.
What does opposition do that resistance doesn’t? It offers a positive agenda for a better social contract, embedded in institutional transformations. Like, for example, everything that Dems don’t ever propose: real universal healthcare, public media, public higher education, debt relief, real safety nets, and so on. A social contract — whole and full and true.
That better social contract is what has a chance — just a chance — to fight authoritarianism. People then have an alternative to the authoritarian demagogue’s anger and rage and fury. Without an alternative what is there but the abyss? More of the same, endlessly? That is why in country after country that has actually defeated authoritarianism, we have seen that it takes a genuine opposition, not just a resistance — whether Burma or Ukraine or even post-war Europe itself. The French resistance might have helped topple Hitler. But what really defeated authoritarianism was an opposition wise and brave enough to offer a better social contract — the EU.
No party or body in the US is offering a better social contract. Nobody. Offering people better healthcare, education, transport, incomes, savings, opportunities, chances to make the most of their inherent human potential. Yes, there’s Bernie. But Bernie proves the point — he’s rejected by all the political, social, and cultural institutions — from political parties to media to universities to schools etc.
There is not a single positive agenda for the American future accepted by its bodies social or politic.
Before you ask me what that looks like, it’s very simple, isn’t it? A Marshall Plan. A New New Deal. New institutions — or rebuilt old ones — that basically do one thing in different ways: invest in human beings at the average. That’s what, for example, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation did during the Depression.
And that is why the resistance is losing. Resistance is fine, nice, good. But it’s not enough once real authoritarianism sets in.
Resistances are needed during war time, when a nation is occupied. They lessen losses — and maybe sometimes they even win wars. But they do not win the peace. Not unless they mature into real oppositions. America is not an occupied nation. It is still some semblance of a democracy, in which a real political opposition is badly, desperately, urgently neeeded.
Growing up in a very large city, you would think that I wouldn’t have much access to the cursed locations so prevalent in small towns. But my life, eh, finds a way.
Between the ages of eight and ten years old, my father and brother and I (and once a small birthday party of children) would visit such a cursed place a few times a year. I do not remember my first visit and I do not remember the last. My brother and I rarely discuss it, as discussing it feels more like talking about an episode of TheTwilightZone or a shared fever dream than a childhood memory. This was the world of Funtastic Fun.
Funtastic Fun was in one of the seedier parts of town, just outside of the main city on the far south of a street called Broadway (which you couldn’t and shouldn’t really go down or get to without a car or taxi.) It had been open in some incarnation or another since the 1980s and was a chronically failing indoor children’s amusement park and arcade. My dad liked it because it was like Chuck E. Cheese’s without the high cost; we liked it because it was never crowded.
The place was a Bosch painting of a carnival, set onto moldy carpet rather than asphalt. In one corner lived the food court and arcade, which my brother and I never visited, but everywhere else there were the rides. Set behind low vaguely threatening gates, they were the reason we came here.
The Bounce House
Set in the furthest corner of the park, the bounce house was flanked by two giant inflatable clown heads on pikes rather than a simple doorway, and, like everything in Funtastic Fun, was coated in grime. It was overinflated, enormous, and completely unsupervised- the only rule was that you had to take your shoes off (and leave the rest of your clothes on.)
The Ball Pit
The one place that never tempted me as a kid. I was against ball pits on principle to begin with, they’re basically holes with visible germ spheres, but the Funntastic Fun ball pit was less about ‘gross, some kid probably peed in here’ and more about ‘I think a child was murdered in here in 1994 and they never bothered to fish the body out.’ It was weirdly shallow but you could still never find the bottom. The one time I was in there I grabbed at something coming out that was either rotting food or black mold.
The middle of the ‘park’ was a kind of no-man’s land where toddlers would usually chose to have tantrums. There was a slide, and one of those oversized barrels made for running/crawling in that was somehow both tacky and slippery (watching kids play in it was like watching feral hamsters.) The most terrifying was an enormous teddy bear that was probably infested with things still unknown to science. You could climb up into its lap and take a picture, but it was sort of like reliving the awful experience of a Mall Santa except now with an elder god. The bear smelled like a mummy.
The Ferris Wheel
The ferris wheel was probably the only thing luring kids and their parents into this place, as you could see it peeking through the one spot of plexiglass in the institution-like building (it was unpainted concrete but hastily decorated with brightly striped banners and window paint; the kid’s version of a neon sign for a strip club.) The cars of the ferris wheel were shaped like hot air balloons, and they would travel in a lazy arc for a little over five minutes. The whole thing was surprisingly fit to safety codes, probably because it was so popular, but that didn’t exempt the inside of the cars from being coated in gum and the carved initials of the odd teenager that had wandered into the hellscape. The most striking thing was the poorly painted mural of forests and clouds behind it, making it feel like trap that was trying to lull kids into a false sense of wonder.
The park had all sorts of more normal rides- teacups, a miniature train, and a carousel being the most popular- but an absolute favorite was the park’s resident safety hazard. The Whip is actually a fairly common fair and park ride (albeit usually with a less threatening name that isn’t hastily scrawled on a hand-drawn sign), it’s a short track with carts on it that ‘whips’ you around in a circle. This thing was exactly that, but ‘built for kids’ with much smaller carts painted like ladybugs and race cars… plus the fact that the track and carts were perpetually rusted. This made it so that the ride would run fairly slowly to begin with but with everything shaking at incredible speed, until you were taking the corners of the circle hard enough for a neck injury.
Without a doubt my favorite place in this G-rated Carnival of Souls; for all the wrong reasons. If the rest of the park was a bit creepy, the wall of shadows was downright horrifying. It was kind of hidden in the back of the whole thing near some funhouse mirrors. It was very quiet, very musty, and very dark, which was a nice relief for my sensory disorder but also felt like being inside of a stranger’s closet. An entire wall of this alcove was coated in a plastic substance the color of the ‘minty’ walls of a hospital or the sick of Regan in The Exorcist. You would stand against it for a few seconds and then step back and see your shadow stuck to it. My brother and I invested far too much of our time with it, begging to visit the wall ‘for one last go’ before each visit was over. I remember my dad didn’t much care for it, and I didn’t have the words or the emotional range to tell him that I didn’t like it either, so much as I was fascinated by it.
That moment you would unstick yourself from the wall to look at your shadow is something that is probably the strongest tactile memory of my childhood. It was cold like any plastic, but would warm up the longer you stood there, and when you peeled yourself away it was sticky like flypaper. Like all the grime of that place was trying to take you with it. Looking at your shadow was even worse, not euphoric but disquieting. It was you, but, not. I once read an article in a local magazine that mentioned that the wall looked like pictures of the aftereffects of the A-bomb, and given that thinking about the whole experience as an adult the author that comes to mind is Ray Bradbury (and That One Scene in There Will Come Soft Rains) I can’t help but to agree.
Although a related location opened the next town over that used some of the old equipment, the original Funtastic Fun shut down in 2011. I remember driving by it in high school and seeing the shell of the building, and my brother and I both exclaiming in alarm. My dad snorted at us, ‘guys, Funtastic Fun was gross. You were the ones that told me that when we stopped going.’
‘Yeah, we know.’ We both murmured, but neither of us blinked until it rounded the corner.