empire peak

10

“All my movies are about strange worlds that you can’t go into unless you build them and film them. That’s what’s so important about film to me. I just like going into strange worlds.”

Happy 70th, David Lynch!

Little things regarding the Vampire/Immortal AU

- The Lads, once they’ve died the first time, don’t age. And all three of them recently died for the first time.

- The Gents don’t really remember when they turned except that it was a long ass time ago. Geoff claims he’s been around since the beginning, Ryan thinks he was born when the Roman Empire was at its peak, and Jack likes to tell people he was saved by a beautiful vampiress during the first Bubonic Plague. Is that true? No one really knows.

- Before accidentally revealing themselves, the Gents wore contacts and used rudimentary blood magic to appear as human as possible. The plan was to befriend the Lads and slow drip their true nature over time. Ryan of course threw that shit out the window.

- Because they’re pretty distant from “vampire culture”, the Gents don’t really have access to proper magic. They kinda feel it out. Like the X-Men. But more undead.

- They’re not classic nor modern vampires in the sense of what rules apply to them– they can be out in the sunlight but not for more than a few hours. They aren’t susceptible to garlic but silver is highly deadly. They have reflections, as well as the ability to walk on most surfaces (walls, ceilings, ice, water), super strength, enhance senses, and Ryan dabbles in shape shifting. He can turn into a bat for roughly 15min at a time. He’s getting better at it.

- The Lads have the potential to have abilities but they’re quite young so nothing’s really come up yet. Their breed of immortals also have enhance senses as well as a healing factor. The more they often they die, the faster they heal. Gavin heals the fastest, then Jeremy, then Michael. They also have a high pain threshold and a decent tolerance of poison

- Did I mention it’s an OT6? Because it is.
Finn the cold-blooded killer?

I have one question for people who believe that Finn, as written in The Force Awakens, never showed regret for killing his former comrades:

Do they also believe Leia, as written in the original trilogy and more recently in TFA, never grieved her family and friends lost in Alderaan?

We never get a scene with Leia explicitly mourning the destruction of Alderaan, after all. (I’m talking about the theatrical releases of Episodes IV-VII, not media tie-ins and EU works.) We don’t see her wake screaming from nightmares, we don’t see her break down crying, we don’t see her discussing her feelings about Alderaan. Therefore she never cared about her family, friends, and people lost with her home planet, right?

Because, when you think about it, this is the exact same metric that’s being applied to Finn when some fans say he never regretted attacking his comrades and possibly killing them. We don’t see him discussing what he did during his escape from Starkiller Base, we don’t see him talk about or otherwise express his feelings. Ergo, he never had any bad or conflicting feelings about shooting at his former comrades. Right?

But, you might say, of course Leia deeply mourned the destruction of Alderaan. We know that she cares deeply for people and would go to any lengths for those she loves. Besides, what kind of unfeeling monster would feel nothing for the destruction of her home planet?

Oh, really. Oh, reeeeally. Because Leia is a warm, caring person and not a cold-hearted monster, it stands to reason that she was deeply traumatized by what happened to Alderaan even if the movies did not explicitly show it. So, applying that same logic to Finn, it stands to reason he was unaffacted by shooting at his Stormtrooper comrades because…? Because he’s a violent inhuman monster because Reasons? And what would that Reason be? Because he shot at his former comrades and never showed regret- oh, snap! Circular reasoning! Finn is bad because Finn is bad, what a feat of logic!

The above in itself should demonstrate how ridiculous this whole attempt to smear Finn is, but I’ll go further and demonstrate that TFA does in fact provide clues to show that Finn had very conflicting feelings indeed about his actions, exactly as Episodes IV onward had many clues to show Leia grieving Alderaan and grappling with her trauma. The only requirement in both cases is that you start out with the premise, or even just the benefit of the doubt, that both characters are capable of empathy and love. If you accept this premise for Leia but not for Finn, then really you’ll have to examine your own reasons why.

(TW discussions of trauma, survivor’s guilt, and suicide below the fold)


Leia first: After escaping the Death Star she consoles Luke about the loss of Obi-Wan, telling him there wasn’t anything he could have done. That scene can read very easily as Leia talking to herself as much as Luke. Her own grief is too huge and raw to touch at the moment, and if she were to start talking about her own feelings she could very well break down and stop functioning. Taking care of a grieving Luke, on the other hand, that was a manageable task and a way to start poking at the edges of her own crushing wound.

Also, when Leia told Han and Luke that the escape from the Death Star was too easy and they were being tracked, that showed two things: a) She’s really freaking smart, and b) she was knowingly leading the Death Star to the rebels’ secret base. Let that swirl around your head a little; she was leading the weapon of mass destruction that had destroyed her home planet before her eyes straight to the heart of the rebellion. It was a brilliant and desperate last gambit, of course, to bring the Death Star to the very place where the Rebellion’s full strength was gathered for a kill-or-be-killed fight. It paid off beautifully in the end, too.

However, while the strategem was ultimately a success, and it’s possible there was no other time or means to meet the Empire at the Rebellion’s peak strength (the way they were close to disintegrating in Rogue One certainly suggests so), it was still unthinkably risky. The Rebellion would have been dealt a blow it would never have recovered from had Luke not made his slam dunk.

So yes, Leia was brilliant but also incredibly reckless. I wonder what made her so willing to brave the risks to herself and the entire Rebellion from the very superweapon that had (we assume, again the premise being that she is a human being capable of emotional devastation) dealt her indelible trauma. It’s almost as if she was acting recklessly out of grief, isn’t it? As if she were suffering from survivor’s guilt and wouldn’t mind too much if she met the same fate as her people who had been destroyed before her eyes?

Then there’s Episode V and the evacuation from the Rebellion’s new secret base in Hoth, where Han shadowed Leia making sure she also left and did not stay behind in a base under Imperial bombardment. Again, in the same context as the leadup to the Episode IV finale, it stands to reason that she has been showing disregard of her personal safety and those closest to her were keeping an eye out that she did not commit, in effect, suicide by enemy–likely the only form of suicide she could accept, due to the circumstances of her loss and the kind of person she was.

I could go on, but I think this is enough to show that it’s a very reasonable conclusion, though not made explicit, that Leia felt severe grief and survivor’s guilt from the destruction of Alderaan, and showed classic symptoms such as focusing on others who had suffered loss and recklessness about her own–and in some cases others’–safety. Again, this is assuming that you accept it as a given, or at least a strong possibility, that she is capable of such feelings.

What about Finn? I have only one movie’s worth of material to examine about him, but one basic contradiction shows up very clearly to me. This is Finn’s outright refusal, at first, to face the First Order in a fight once he got away from Death Star Jr. Starkiller Base. And that should feel odd, because we know Finn did not back away from a fight with armed opponents–that he’d fired without seeming hesitation, even with evident fience joy, at former comrades in the course of his escape. This incident is at the center of anti-Finn fans’ charge that he is a ruthless killer. Yet, due to his unwillingnes to face the First Order, other anti-Finn fans call him a coward for wanting to run away. So which is it?

One possibility is that he fought in an adrenaline-induced berserker state when he was defending himself, but later realized what a close call he’d had and that he should get as far away from the First Order as possible before his luck ran out. And while that’s not an unreasonable inference, it also conflicts with the fact that Finn is not known to back down from challenging and dangerous confrontations. This is the guy who couldn’t go through with the easy “fight” of mowing down unarmed villagers, putting himself at immediate risk for his refusal, and then willingly chose the infinitely more dangerous path of freeing a Resistance pilot and breaking through the defenses of the First Order’s premier weapons facility. So it doesn’t quite fit that Finn would not willingly choose risk outside the heat of battle.

Remember our starting assumption here, the same assumption that makes it possible and reasonable to read heavy trauma and survivor’s guilt into Leia’s actions: That Finn, like Leia, has relatable human feelings. When you plug in that assumption, it becomes possible to read another dimension into Finn’s fear of the First Order: That it wasn’t confronting the First Order that he feared, but rather what he would have to do to fight it.

I mean, think about it. Where did Finn’s seeming joy at shooting his way out of Starkiller Base come from? In no small part from having a fight he could finally believe in, no doubt, but doesn’t it also stand to reason that it was actively cultivated in soldiers like him? He was, after all, taken from his family and trained up for one purpose: To be a mindless soldier for the First Order. Isn’t it not only possible that probable that a lifetime of training surfaced in the heat of the fight, leading him to fire on the enemy of the moment to survive?

Isn’t it also very possible that he felt sick once the dust had settled and he could think clearly again, thinking of the people he might have hurt, wondering if the people he knew were among the dead and wounded, hating what the Order had made him into?

Is it possible that he was willing to run to the literal edges of the known galaxy and lose himself forever rather than have to face that part of himself again, to become what the Order had made of him?

That he was, deep down, more afraid of himself and what he might become than of the First Order, and was running from being put in a situation where he might have to kill and hurt slave soldiers like he himself had been?

I’m not saying this is the only way to read his story, and in fact the layers of conflicting motivations and complex emotions are precisely what make this character so fascinating. But it is eminently reasonable to read deep regret and trauma about fighting his former comrades into Finn’s actions and choices in TFA, much like it is reasonable to read grief and survivor’s guilt into Leia’s actions and choices in the original trilogy.

We only require the starting premise that Finn is fully human with relatable human feelings, much like Leia.

And if you find that premise easy to accept for Leia but not for Finn, then you need to ask yourself some hard questions why that is.

6

There were many other Kingdoms in Africa, not just the Kingdom of Egypt, that are worthy of praise and honour. Indeed, Egypt played a great role in civilization, but it was only one of many on the continent.  Below are few of the many greats:

While Europe was experiencing its Dark Ages, a period of intellectual, cultural and economic regression from the sixth to the 13th centuries, Africans were experiencing an almost continent-wide renaissance after the decline of the Nile Valley civilizations of Egypt and Nubia.

The leading civilizations of this African rebirth were the Axum Empire, the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Ethiopian Empire, the Mossi Kingdoms and the Benin Empire.

Axum Empire

The Aksum or Axum Empire was an important military power and trading nation in the area that is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, existing from approximately 100 to 940 A.D.

At its height, it was one of only four major international superpowers of its day along with Persia, Rome and China. Axum controlled northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, northern Sudan, southern Egypt, Djibouti, Western Yemen, and southern Saudi Arabia, totaling 1.25 million square kilometers, almost half the size of India. Axum traded and projected its influence as far as China and India, where coins minted in Axum were discovered in 1990.

Axum was previously thought to have been founded by Semitic-speaking Sabaeans who crossed the Red Sea from South Arabia (modern Yemen) on the basis of Conti Rossini’s theories —but most scholars now agree that when it was founded it was an indigenous African development.

Kingdom of Ghana

Centered in what is today Senegal and Mauritania, the Kingdom of Ghana dominated West Africa between about 750 and 1078 A.D. Famous to North Africans as the “Land of Gold,” Ghana was said to possess sophisticated methods of administration and taxation, large armies, and a monopoly over notoriously well-concealed gold mines.

The king of the Soninke people who founded Ghana never fully embraced Islam, but good relations with Muslim traders were fostered. Ancient Ghana derived power and wealth from gold and the use of the camel increased the quantity of goods that were transported. One Arab writer, Al-Hamdani, describes Ghana as having the richest gold mines on Earth. Ghana was also a great military power. According to one narrative, the king had at his command 200,000 warriors and an additional 40,000 archers.

Mali Empire

After the fall of the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire rose to dominate West Africa. Located on the Niger River to the west of Ghana in what is today Niger and Mali, the empire reached its peak in the 1350s.

The Mali Empire was founded by Mansa (King) Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa. He was the grandson of Sundiata’s half-brother, and led Mali at a time of great prosperity, during which trade tripled. During his rule, Mansa Musa doubled the land area of Mali; it became a larger kingdom than any in Europe at the time.

The cities of Mali became important trading centers for all of West Africa, as well as famous centers of wealth, culture and learning. Timbuktu, an important city in Mali, became one of the major cultural centers not only of Africa but of the entire world. Vast libraries and Islamic universities were built. These became meeting places of the finest poets, scholars and artists of Africa and the Middle East.

The Kingdom of Mali had a semi-democratic government with one of the world’s oldest known constitutions – The Kurukan Fuga.

The Kurukan Fuga of the Mali Empire was created after 1235 by an assembly of nobles to create a government for the newly established empire.  The Kurukan Fouga divided the new empire into ruling clans that were represented at a great assembly called the Gbara. The Gbara was the deliberative body of the Mali Empire and was made up of 32 members from around 29 clans. They were given a voice in the government and were a check against the emperor’s (mansa’s) power. It was presided over by a belen-tigui (master of ceremonies) who recognized anyone who wanted to speak including the mansa. The Gbara and the Kurukan Fuga remained in place for over 40o years until 1645.

According to Wikipedia, Disney’s “Lion King” movie was based on the real life narrative of Mansa Sundiata Keita.

Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was the largest state in African history and the most powerful of the medieval west African states. It expanded rapidly beginning with King Sonni Ali in the 1460s and by 1500s, it had risen to stretch from Cameroon to the Maghreb. In 1360, disputes over succession weakened the Mali Empire, and in the 1430s, Songhai, previously a Mali dependency, gained independence under the Sonni Dynasty. Around thirty years later, Sonni Sulayman Dama attacked Mema, the Mali province west of Timbuktu, paving the way for his successor, Sonni Ali, to turn his country into one of the greatest empires sub-Saharan Africa has ever seen.

Perhaps, it’s most popular leader was Muhammad Askia the Great. At its peak, the Songhai city of Timbuktu became a thriving cultural and commercial center. Arab, Italian and Jewish merchants all gathered for trade. By 1500, the Songhai Empire covered over 1.4 million square kilometers.

The Ethiopian Empire

The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia covers. It existed from approximately 1137 (beginning of Zagwe Dynasty) until 1975 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup d’état.  In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite emperors and, hence, Solomon. The thus-named Solomonic Dynasty was founded and ruled by the Habesha, from whom Abyssinia gets its name.

The Habesha reigned with only a few interruptions from 1270 until the late 20th century. It was under this dynasty that most of Ethiopia’s modern history occurred. During this time, the empire conquered and incorporated virtually all the peoples within modern Ethiopia. They successfully fought off Italian, Arab and Turkish armies and made fruitful contacts with some European powers, especially the Portuguese, with whom they allied in battle against the latter two invaders.

Mossi Kingdoms

The Mossi Kingdoms were a number of different powerful kingdoms in modern-day Burkina Faso which dominated the region of the Upper Volta River for hundreds of years. Increasing power of the Mossi kingdoms resulted in larger conflicts with regional powers. The Kingdom of Yatenga became a key power attacking the Songhai Empire between 1328 and 1477, taking over Timbuktu and sacked the important trading post of Macina.

When Askia Mohammad I became the leader of the Songhai Empire with the desire to spread Islam, he waged a Holy war against the Mossi kingdoms in 1497. Although the Mossi forces were defeated in this effort, they resisted attempts to impose Islam. Although there were a number of jihad states in the region trying to forcibly spread Islam, namely the Massina Empire and the Sokoto Caliphate, the Mossi kingdoms largely retained their traditional religious and ritual practices. Being located near many of the main Islamic states of West Africa, the Mossi kingdoms developed a mixed religious system recognizing some authority for Islam while retaining earlier African spiritual belief systems.

Benin Empire

Once a powerful city-state, Benin exists today as a modern African city in what is now south-central Nigeria. The present-day oba (King) of Benin traces the founding of his dynasty to A.D. 1300. The Benin Empire was a pre-colonial Edo state. Until the late 19th century, it was one of the major powers in West Africa. According to one eye witness report written by Olfert Dapper, “The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180,000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples… . His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, is his equal.”

When European merchant ships began to visit West Africa from the 15th century onwards, Benin came to control the trade between the inland peoples and the Europeans on the coast. When the British tried to expand their own trade in the 19th century, the Benin warriors killed their envoys.

Source: http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/12/05/7-midieval-african-kingdoms/4/

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Top of the Empire State Building barely peaks out from above the cloud deck, viewed from the Observation Deck of One World Trade Center. This view is basically “the island of Manhattan” during a day where the clouds are low.

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OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! THIS IS AMAZING! Lapis Lazuli is my favorite. (this is not a leak by the way, I found it on an online news on google)

I think too many people are preoccupied building empires when they should be focusing on creating a fertile environment in which to put down their roots. time and nourishment gives birth to fruit. they render seeds that sprout more fruits and eventually there will be a prosperous garden. empires reach a peak and then crumble.