freedom to create

anonymous asked:

My dad says Zoo's are becoming politically incorrect. I've seen both arguments but I wanna hear your opinion on it: do you think Zoo's are a good idea?

Well, let’s see if I can keep this response short.

First, I’m guessing that by ‘politically correct’ you mean ‘ethically sound.’ So, is keeping animals in zoos an ethical thing to do? As with many things, there is no easy or even single answer to that question.

Without a doubt, there are bad zoos- private or roadside zoos, zoos that keep their animals in abhorrent conditions, zoos that allow visitors to engage in unsafe things like cub-petting schemes. It is obvious that these types of zoos are unethical and exploitative.

(Hint: something like this is never a good sign.)

On the other hand, what constitutes a ‘good’ zoo? In the best captive conditions currently available, is it okay to keep an animal locked up? Some say no, no matter what; some say what we have now isn’t good enough. Others say yes- the best zoos are able to provide their captives with good lives.

This of course brings us to just what a ‘good’ life is. Those who say that animals should never ever be placed in captivity usually value a sense of freedom above all else. Even in perfect captive conditions, an animal will not be free, wild, or ‘natural.’

However, we must acknowledge that ‘freedom’ is a concept created and defined by humans. A human locked in a prison knows the difference between captivity and freedom, and is able to conceptualize that certain ‘rights’ that they have are being violated. But for animals, this may be too complex to perceive. How far back do you have to move a fence before a kudu decides that he is wild again? The idea that animals sense when they are ‘free’ versus ‘not free’ is, to me, not realistic.

Animals do, however, benefit from the ability to be free to make choices, such as what they eat, where they will go, who they will interact with, and so on. Undeniably, captivity presents animals with fewer choices of these kinds than they would have in the wild. The best zoos are now implementing programs to accommodate these choices, particularly with highly intelligent animals such as elephants and apes.

One such example: the “O Line” at the Smithsonian National Zoo allows orangutans to choose one of two buildings to stay in during the day. Other animals, such as the otters, can choose whether or not to be on exhibit via spaces in their enclosure that are sheltered from the public. Scatter feeding and foraging enrichment is yet another way that zoos allow animals to choose what food they want to eat.

Still, despite these improvements, there will always be limitations of choice in captive environments compared to wild ones by the very definition of ‘captivity.’ Furthermore, while many strides have been taken to update enclosures with choices in mind, the fact remains that the implementation of behavioral science in zoos lags behind the research due to the costs, and often due to the stress of the animals themselves when trying to adjust to new schedules and norms (even if they are theoretically better ones).

A forty-year old captive elephant will have lived through decades of zoo reform, and we can’t erase those negative experiences from her mind.

One danger of comparing captive animals to their wild counterparts is assuming that captive environments should mirror the wild ones as closely as possible. But what the wild even is is not well-defined. ‘Wild’ deer roam my suburban neighborhood: should that habitat be replicated in their zoo enclosure? Wild environments include predators, diseases, and natural disasters: is it better that those be implemented in zoos as well?

In actuality, an animal born in captivity likely has no sense of what its natural environment should look like. Certainly it has natural instincts and inclinations- a tiger likes to urine-mark vertical objects and a gibbon likes to climb- but neither of them specifically needs a tree to do this with- a post or rope swing would also work. The ‘naturalistic’ look of many zoo enclosures is actually for the benefit of the visitors, not the animals. In fact, a lush, well-planted habitat could still be an abysmal one for an animal if all of its needs aren’t being met.

This brings us to one of the most important aspects of zoos: the visitors. Theoretically, one of the major purposes of good zoos is to educate and inspire the public about animals, particularly in regards to their conservation. But do zoos actually do this?

The answer is yes… to a small extent. People given surveys upon entering and leaving a zoo exhibit generally do know slightly more about the animals than they used to, but this depends a lot on how educated they were to begin with. While many visitors express an increased desire to engage in conservation efforts after leaving a zoo, not many of them have actually followed up on it when surveyed again a few weeks later. Still, most zoo visitors seem to leave the zoo with several positive if perhaps short-term effects: interest in conservation, appreciation for animals, and the desire to learn more. If a visitor experiences a “connection” with an animal during their visit, these effects are greatly increased.

However, certain types of animal “connections” and interactions can also produce a negative effect on zoo visitors. This reflects what I said earlier about the naturalistic design of habitats being more for the visitors than the animals. Individuals who view animals performing non-natural behaviors (such as a chimpanzee wearing clothes and acting ‘human,’ or a tiger coming up to be petted) are less likely to express an increased interest in their conservation, and even less likely to donate money towards it. Generally, our own perception of freedom and wildness matters much more than the individual animal’s.

The fact of the matter is that, worldwide, zoos spend about $350 million dollars on wildlife conservation each year. That is a tremendous amount of money, and it comes from visitors and donations. What amount of discomfort on the part of captive animals is worth that money being devoted to their wild counterparts? It’s hard to say.

This is a very, VERY general overview of some of the ethical issues surrounding zoos; to go over it all, I’d need to write a book. But hopefully, it got you thinking a little bit about what your own opinion on all this is. (I didn’t explicitly state mine on purpose, though it’s probably fairly clear.)

Refs and further reading below the cut!

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Aspects of Lilith

Both descriptions may apply to conjunctions.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Sun: The native has a well-defined sense of self & remarkable inner security. They thrive when in conflict with an oppressive force or structure & feed on all kinds of attention, positive or negative. They take pride in their radical traits; they are liberated by unapologetic self-expression. Shame is not part of their vocabulary. Social discord is entertaining. The identity relies on breaking stereotypes, standing out, or rebelling somehow. Hedonism can become a severe self-sabotaging issue if the enjoyment of freedom goes too far or inflates the ego to the point of unhealthy confidence. These people typically find trouble wherever they go, and are easily bored by rules & standards.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Sun: The native is constantly met with criticism, rejection, or exclusion for their individuality, and this causes them to hide or repress the most unique parts of themselves. They despise expectations, and when others have any measure of control over them they can become hostile or deeply troubled. They have a painful yearning for freedom but fear the reactions they are used to receiving. A significant amount of their energy will be spent learning how to express themselves openly & shamelessly. Social stigma or stifling of the identity in whatever form will be the primary catalyst for discovery and realization of self. They will be forced to accept themselves.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Moon: The native is comfortable exploring the darker & more unconventional parts of who they are. They instinctually understand their aberrant or taboo qualities, and they are not afraid of them; they’re naturally introspective when it comes to rejection or exclusion and intuitively realize what separates them from others. They use their emotions & imagination to highlight their individuality; they also find freedom in emotional expression. They are not tied down to the person they were raised to be, and do not limit themselves to a personal standard any more than a societal standard – they are able to break away from habitual conformity or self-stifling habits in general.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Moon: The native is emotionally upset by rejection and may cling to tradition or other metaphorical “safety blankets” developed in childhood in order to avoid social discord. They habitually repress their dark, taboo, or aberrant qualities out of discomfort & insecurity. They’re afraid of fully expressing themselves, and being free in their individuality is a frighteningly foreign concept; they shy away from situations that prompt them to stand out or rebel and will retreat into a shell of reservations when faced with the opportunity to break or bend a standard. The emotional equilibrium is ravaged by criticism, exclusion, and alienation. They feel painfully isolated.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Mercury: The native is able to logically analyze social stigmas & standards, and intellectually deconstruct the power those have over individual lives (especially their own). Reason consistently prevails over peer pressure. Their ideas and the way they communicate them are radical in some way and receive much attention, good or bad. Criticism is easily combated with the mind; they are able to see through others’ opinions and separate themselves from judgement, and are thus free to think the way they want to – free thought defines their mindscape, and they are lost without it. Mental/verbal exchanges shape their understanding of society. Controversy deeply intrigues them.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Mercury: The native has little faith in their ability to accurately comprehend themselves, others, or society as a whole, and therefore may place monumental importance on other people’s opinions. They are easily stressed by having to explain themselves or their actions; judgement and criticism easily shut them down. They are quick to label their ideas or their interpersonal & communicative mannerisms as strange and unwanted, so they may choose to be quiet and reserved rather than put their mind on display. They have a very difficult time defending themselves or rationalizing their place in a group. They can’t use their logical mind to escape twisted social structures.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Venus: The native easily merges personal freedom & social graces to create a naturally appealing individuality which gains positive attention & reactions from others, no matter how taboo or radical. Controversy is a part of the unique style; in other words, this person wears ignominy well, and may use it to their advantage in an attractive way. Others admire or romanticize their aberrant qualities. The native’s personal tastes and preferences support a happily outcast identity; criticism & judgement serve as signs of being socially relevant, and they make being different fashionable. Extreme hedonism is tied to this aspect, especially in relationships that aren’t widely acceptable.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Venus: The native is torn in a heightened conflict between individuality and conformity, particularly in the context of relationships or style. The vacillation between radical subversion of social standards and passive adherence to them is a matter of choosing between happiness and harmony, both of which are crucially important. The native may lose relationships or general popularity for their stigmatized qualities, which deeply harms their self-esteem. They wish to fully be themselves but cannot reconcile that with the risks that come with it – they are unsure of its worth, which subsequently leads to uncertain self-worth as a whole.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Mars: The native possesses an unconquerable willpower which seldom bends for anyone else, and there is little care for others’ disapproval of it. If something is desired, it is achieved; the expectations and opinions of other people have little to no influence. No social stigma, criticism, or oppressive standard can get in the way of the native’s drive. They regularly break rules and disregard structures that don’t serve their initiatives, and charge forward without waiting for anyone to forgive, accept, or get used to them. Their sexuality is openly expressed; they are proud of their taboo desires. Going against popular belief fuels their inner fire, impassions and excites them.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Mars: The native is easily infuriated by notions, structures, or actions which they perceive as threatening of their autonomy, and they typically react with hostility when others criticize or attempt to control them in any way. They are unable to handle judgement, often reject the opinions of others before they’ve even heard them, and thus usually have a narrow view of most things, lacking the capacity to see other perspectives. Their one-track mind can cause them to lack foresight & create immense social conflict/discord where it is not necessary or appropriate. All of this stems from a deep fear of of others defining them, so they invert it into aggressive opposition of others & abrasively assume the role of “outcast” before others can force them into it.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Jupiter: The native’s mind is filled with grand philosophies of the truth about society and why stigmas & standards must be broken for spiritual growth. They find enlightenment through liberation; freedom is more important to them than anything else because it fulfills them in every way and allows them to expand their intellect. Likewise, they use their intellect to expand their freedom, as well as the freedom of others. They may become something of a social pioneer or modern guru, teaching about the detrimental nature of the status quo and encouraging others to go against the norm. They don’t believe in conformity. Their beliefs separate them from the majority.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Jupiter: The native may attach to philosophies solely for the sake of controversy. They may become so invested in being different that they no longer care if they are right. Their morality is selfish; their beliefs & personal code revolve around a set of faux rules which permit them to be hedonistic or destructive for the sake of “liberation.” Unhealthy, harmful habits are proudly paraded around under the guise of self-empowered notions. Self-control feels unbearably limiting and stifling, even if it’s for their own good. They can become “special snowflake” types, and attempt to preach their flawed ideas so that others follow them in their “enlightened” lifestyle and thus validate it.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Saturn: Much of the native’s power comes from the innate ability to rework social limitations into structures that serve their purpose and growth. They are incredibly wise when it comes to the sensitivity of culture and know their place in society, as well as how to change it. They understand that freedom comes with responsibility and it does not come free; they possess the self-discipline necessary to cultivate true self-liberation and they aren’t afraid of putting in the effort to create the individuality they want to be known for. They handle stigma with grace, and rationally deconstruct the paradigms of others so that they begin to question why they believe in certain standards & “norms.”
Square, opposite, or quincunx Saturn: The native easily becomes consumed by the “process” of “becoming themselves” – they get caught up in the changes that need to be made within themselves or in their environment before they can allow themselves to be fully self-expressive. They limit themselves with their own expectations, can become hindered by tradition, and place too much importance on the judgement & disapproval of authority figures. They care about the structural integrity of society, and don’t wish to compromise its strength, so they tend to repress all that is aberrant, controversial, or radical about themselves; they see self-liberation as selfish, non-productive, and unnecessarily dissonant.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Uranus: The native possesses very extreme views and opinions on society which others either love or hate them for. They often behave outrageously for the fun of it, and do or say things that may cause discord because gives them an electric, purposeful feeling. They disregard all social limitations and couldn’t care less about acceptance. They are the bona fide rebel. Nothing & no one can prevent them from being the person they want to be. Liberation runs in their blood. They don’t believe in any social order which hinders individual autonomy, and they have a desire to change society to make room for “the atypicals” like them. They use their freedom to free others.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Uranus: Much of the traits for harmonious Lilith-Uranus aspects apply here as well, but in a harsher, more desperate sense. The native knows the pain and isolation of being rejected, humiliated, alienated, and ostracized, so they devote a lot of their energy to radically changing the social climate for the better. They have an ironic moral code; while they reject the morality of others, they follow their own rules. Their rebellion is decisive and purposeful rather than hedonistic or self-congratulating; they have a vision, a grand and noble goal of collective freedom which begins with them. They wish to change society almost as punishment for their oppressors.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Neptune: The native effortlessly, unconsciously evades social boundaries; cultural restrictions can’t contain them, because they slip away from rules and judgement non-violently, mysteriously. They live almost independent of social structure, outside of the realm of conformity. Others often romanticize their aberrant qualities & paint them as figures of graceful rebellion & unapologetic individuality, even though they may not intend to come across as such – they are just existing, but they do so with a gentle limitlessness envied by others. They draw inspiration and spiritual fulfillment from liberation, and feel most free when their soul (or subconscious mind) is uninhibited.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Neptune: The native is easily confused or lost within social boundaries; they can’t comprehend others’ judgements or the rules placed upon them, and this creates deep interpersonal discomfort which invades the subconscious mind and the soul, surfacing through dreams, art, & emotions (which are the only places they feel free). They may cling to religion/spirituality to find their individuality. They can’t differentiate external standards from interior goals/desires and often chase ideals that aren’t their own. Others demonize their aberrant qualities and label them inaccurately. They liberate themselves through deceit, illusion, and escapism, as it is the only way they know how to.

Sextile, trine, or quintile Pluto: The native is intimately connected to their individuality, possessing a raw, resilient relationship to the darkest parts of who they are which separate them from others. They are immensely courageous when it comes to experiencing the taboo & controversial parts of society, entirely unafraid of things others try to ignore. They transform through unapologetic self-expression, and find rebirth through liberation. Their sexuality is deep and powerful, extreme and different, and they are proud of this; it is part of their identity, part of the way they rebel from society’s control over ego. They never allow society or other people to control them in any way. They own themselves.
Square, opposite, or quincunx Pluto: The native is terrified of being controlled, and has extremely adverse emotional reactions to anything they perceive as having the potential to limit their freedom. They are paranoid of society’s power to erase individuality. They go to severe measures to protect their identity and autonomy, resorting to secrecy, manipulation, lies, and hostility to defend what they are afraid will be taken from them or exposed. They are fundamentally ashamed, guilty, and fearful; criticism and judgement harms their self-image. Their dark, taboo, aberrant traits are out of control, particularly their “unacceptable” sexual desires. They’re ruled by an obsession with individuality & liberation, which ironically damages or decreases their individual freedom.

Attraction--Be the Beacon

1. Want what you want, unabashedly.

Sometimes it can feel hard to get clear on what you actually want. But I call BS on that. I think a lot of the times we say we don’t know what we want because we’re either afraid we can’t have it, so we pretend we don’t want it to save ourselves the disappointment, or we think we’re not worthy of it.

We pretend we don’t know.

I’m inviting you to want what you want, my friend. Unabashedly. You don’t have to tell the people in your life about it who are cranky and judgy. In fact, I recommend that you don’t. But want it. Write it down. Taste it. Feel it. Touch it. Enjoy daydreaming about it. (Often this is the best part anyway, like getting ready for a party. The anticipation and the enjoyment of the preparation is so good!)

2. Let it go.

While this may feel antithetical to item number one, it’s not. When we white-knuckle our desires, we often suffocate them. And those beauties need to breathe. When you’re willing to let go of it needing to turn out a certain way or look a certain way, your desires have the freedom to surprise you by being even better than you could have imagined (or even more transformative for your soul, which doesn’t always feel better, but it is in the end).

3. Be the egg.

My mom talks about “egg wisdom” and the fact that quite literally, the egg sits still and emits a signal that sends the sperm wildly swimming towards it, vying for its attention. The egg doesn’t go running around trying to find the sperm, she doesn’t text the sperm a million times a day, and she doesn’t worry whether or not they’re coming. She just sits there knowing full well that at the right time, the sperm will come. And that she doesn’t need to be anything other than what she is in order for that to happen. She also chooses which sperm she’ll let in and she has the ability to repair her chosen sperm’s DNA if it needs repairing.

We all have this egg wisdom within us. In fact, we were born with it. All of the eggs you will ever have were within your body the day you were born. You don’t have to learn this. You are this.

When it comes to your desires, be the egg.

Know that they’ll come madly swimming toward you when the time is right. Yes, of course, you want to do the things you need to do to make your desires known and put the wheels in motion, but then just be the egg.

Egg your desires on. They’ll come to you.

Getting what you want doesn’t have to mean working your ass off. Let it be easy.

~ KATE NORTHRUP

huffingtonpost.com
Department of Justice sides with anti-gay bakers in religious discrimination case
The Justice Department said artists can’t be compelled to create against their religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court will soon hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery that was penalized for discrimination when it refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

Because we are living in the upside down, Trump’s Department of Justice has submitted an amicus brief for the case… siding with the bakers. The DoJ says that abiding by the public accommodations law and baking a wedding cake for the gay couple would be a violation of the bakery owner’s religious freedom. 

“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” the Justice Department wrote in an amicus brief filed ahead of oral argument in the case. “In the view of the United States, a … First Amendment intrusion occurs where a public accommodations law compels someone to create expression for a particular person or entity and to participate, literally or figuratively, in a ceremony or other expressive event.”

Businesses and other places that are considered “public accommodations” are barred by law from discriminating against people on the basis of factors like race and religion. The DOJ brief suggests that such laws should not be able to compel artists to create “inherently communicative” goods, like wedding cakes. […]

“A custom wedding cake can be sufficiently artistic to qualify as pure speech, akin to a sculptural centerpiece,” the Justice Department wrote. “In short, a custom wedding cake is not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian.”

Every day brings another sign that they are not rooting for us, and they never have been. Sigh. 

i feel like pluto is the SCREAM and saturn is the lethargy, and tiredness. and that saturn gives you plenty of warnings, and its very slow and when you have satisfied saturn you can actually FEEL it, you feel like you have achieved something, you get REWARDED but pluto is more of a divine agreement, you don’t really get much of a conscious accolade, its more of like a soul recognition, one that happens on such a sublayer that its so hard to even comprehend. saturn is our greatest potential on a human level and pluto is like the accumulation of mind, body and soul, if everything else was stripped away, the lantern of pluto would be flickering. saturn needs to be weighed down and contended with so neptune and uranus don’t obliterate you, but pluto doesn’t really demand in this way, it’s more silent, and it’s more like, ok whatever you don’t do now, you’re going to have to at one stage or another in this lifetime or the next, i will catch up with you. i believe satisfying saturn makes you feel ALIVE like it activates all the planets, and satisfying pluto makes you feel CONTENT and SETTLED like you are on the right soul purpose

pluto in the first house - I am a divine butterfly, cocooned by the darkness of pluto but thrust into eternal light by his own power. the discarded shells of my old selves are hung like portraits where i can view how far i have come

pluto in the second house - I can live in ecstasy and beautifully stripped of material concern. i can release from these vices and understand what freedom truly means. i can create the most stunning melody with the jewels within

pluto in the third house - the ether of my voice and words will live on for centuries. my thoughts are transmitted from the mystic riches of pluto and i am a scribe of the underworld. i am a beacon of truth and a glowing example of the power of words

pluto in the fourth house - i am the eternal heirloom of my family and my ancestry will remember me, from my spirit that runs through their veins, and the potions i left brewing in their hearts. i can create a temple of prayer

pluto in the fifth house - i can fall into the darkness and forge a new wonderland with my divine creativity. my inner child is at home in the cosmos, and my madness can be poured into art, delight, and pleasures. i can play a symphony for infinity

pluto in the sixth house - through my own aching bones and psychological ailment, i can see, i can feel, and i can heal. my hands are leaking with healing syrup, and my muscle memory knows the century old potions and therapies found in nature

pluto in the seventh house - i am a transformative spirit for the people in my life,  i can swirl in their bones and show them the transcendent light that dwells within. i can show them the way to reunite with infinity through my own magic. i change the lives of others

pluto in the eighth house - i rule the borderline between life and dying, and suffer ego death time and time again so when it comes time for my spirit to pass on i have become a master of the process and this gives me peace. every time i rebuild i am shown an even brighter light

pluto in the ninth house - i am a pilgrim of pluto and explore the depths of my inner world and the outer world. i am a symbol of the mythology and philosophies that have defined us for generations. i am in search of divine intimacy

pluto in the tenth house - i leave a powerfully resonant imprint on the world and my energy remains long after my body vanishes. my role in society is vital, and my spirit alone can change the lives of others. i thrive on challenges

pluto in the eleventh house - i readily see into the souls of the people around me and i am a revolutionary breath in a mundane world. i am the spirit that heals humanity

pluto in the twelfth house - through pluto is how i get home.  i feel a part of the oxygen, as if i circulate through everyone. my breath is a symbol of purity and healing, and my presence is a reunion with the divine. through isolation i reunite

-cherry

Cross-promotion................

Well shit! I’m not going to lie, that little stunt chapped my ass a little bit. In fact, I got so pissed I couldn’t see straight, but I never once directed that anger towards the girls. I knew what it was, and I took it as such. That doesn’t mean I can’t get mad about the stunts being pulled, but that’s all last nights “shade” was. A promotional stunt meant to garner headlines for both Fifth Harmony and Camila. It’s called cross-promotion, and it worked like a charm.

We should have known something was coming, and some of us did expect something. The girls’ social media activity told us shit was coming, we just didn’t know what. There have been “insiders” showing up on 5H forums left and right trying to “explain” what was happening. They have “spilled tea” about a number of ideas. I’ve heard the girls were trying to “sabotage” Camila’s solo career, all the way to Epic is trying to “sabotage” 5H and Camila’s career. With all that “insider gibberish”, I knew something was coming at the VMA’s, and that it wasn’t going to look good.

There were a few things I tried to keep in mind, going into the VMA’s. What we’ve seen, what we’ve learned, and what we’ve been told. Once you connect all the dots, you find the real story in all this mess. Let’s connect the dots and find the real story.

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Lotor and the Bad Guys

(Or, my thoughts on writing a strong villain.)

I’ve been thinking of writing a post like this for weeks now, but my hand was forced after catching up with season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender. This season was the strongest one in the show yet, raising the stakes and adding some interesting new concepts (like multiple realities.) 

But what really stole the narrative was Prince Lotor of the Galra Empire. Look at him. Look at this magnificent asshole.

Now before I get into it, I should state that a lot of my ideas on this have been formed by The Anatomy of Story by John Trudy, which is a superb book I’d recommend for anyone interested in story-craft. Furthermore I’m not getting into the original Voltron series, as I haven’t watched it and don’t really want to. I’m sticking to V:LD, with examples from other fandoms as well. 

(SPOILERS GALORE.)

Okay, let’s see. Lotor. As a villain, he immediately grabs your attention because for a start, he’s actually fabulous. Aesthetically pleasing. Beautiful hair, sharp features, dazzling smile. Lotor is supposed to be attractive. He’s created as the villain to look at. To admire. 

Then you have this great sequence where Lotor, after defeating Throk like he’s a mosquito, spares his life. You think, huh, that’s interesting. Then later in the show, Lotor orders his generals to send Throk off to some far-off Galra post, with a small grin that suggests he’s taken the revenge he sees fit for Throk’s disloyalty. 

What this suggests to me is that Lotor is interested in a kind of control that does not resort to bloodshed–not at first, anyway. Lotor likes to humiliate. It wouldn’t be enough to kill Throk if he can all but banish Throk off to some nowhere outpost. This has advantages.

a) By not killing Throk, he’s signalling to the other Galra that he, Prince Lotor, is merciful and just. He’s hitting this point harder: I don’t rule by fear, I rule by earning loyalty. After Throk surrenders and pledges his loyalty to Lotor, Lotor “forgives” him. In front of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Galra soldiers. This is a visual stunt that basically says, Prince Lotor is merciful; join him and you will be rewarded. 

b) Yet, by sending Throk off to some random outpost, he’s signalling again that, if you are disloyal, I won’t kill you, I’ll ruin you as you live. Lotor’s attack is on Throk’s legacy. The Galra, who are so obsessed with power and prestige, would find themselves destroyed if it was taken away from them. It is in direct opposition to their militaristic culture. Lotor has humiliated Throk, and that is more punishment than death. 

Furthermore, throughout the season, Lotor is a consistently active villain. I feel this was a HUGE improvement on seasons 1 and 2, where Zarkon, and the entire Galra empire, just didn’t seem like that much of a threat because all Zarkon ever did was stand there and look grumpy. He acted through his generals, which (apart from Sendak), just seem buffoonish. Zarkon is boring because he’s generically evil. Haggar, at any point in the story, seems more like its central villain because she seems genuinely interested in being villainous. I sometimes feel like you could replace Zarkon with a cardboard cut-out of Casper the Friendly Ghost and it would make no real difference to the plot. 

But Lotor. Lotor participates in his plans. In fact, he’s the most active member of his squad. He goes out there on his own to lure the paladins into dangerous terrain. 

According to The Anatomy of Story, opponents and heroes actually want the same thing, but go about obtaining the goal from different points of view. That’s where the heart of the conflict lies. In V:LD, both Voltron and the Galra empire want to influence the universe with their brand of ideology. The Galra believe in the propagation of one single ruling unit: their empire. Voltron believes in individual planetary sovereignty. It is for this goal that they compete. 

Which is why Lotor wanting to rule by creating alliances is a fascinating twist to Galra ideology, and if it works, Voltron really wouldn’t know how to cope. As the show stressed, Voltron’s forces are stretched thin, and they struggle to keep the promises they made. Lotor, with the full strength of the Galra empire behind him, has no such worries. Many planets would align with the Galra under “alliances” if Lotor promised them basic freedoms (i.e: ruling by creating a sense of loyalty, rather than fear.)

What also interested me was that Lotor is a thinking villain. He has thoughts and ideas that go beyond “I’M EVIL HAR HAR”. He understands things like loyalty, he recognises the paladins’ disharmony, his orders are very clearly focused on gathering intelligence about the enemy. He hasn’t actually launched open attack on Voltron, he’s too smart. 

His actions prompt the paladins to form Voltron and act like a team. This is what a villain is supposed to do: the challenges they pose to the hero should change the heroes in some way, either by making them stronger or weaker. Once Lotor realises Voltron is back, he knows he can’t win until he creates an object strong enough to counter Voltron. He does not want to attack Voltron until he is sure he has the upper hand. This is a smart villain. This is a villain I want to root for, because he knows what he’s doing, and he enjoys what he’s doing. It’s brilliant. 

Finally, I think Lotor succeeds in the most important thing a villain should be good at. The bad guy should hit the heroes right where they’re at their weakest.

For examples of this, let’s look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. Azula is Zuko’s foil and ultimately the villain he has to defeat to overcome his own feelings of insecurity, rage, and failure. She knows exactly what he wants: his father’s love. Or really, any kind of love. She uses Mai to lure Zuko to her side. Read Azula’s wiki page and you’ll see how she’s obsessed with being more powerful, more adored than Zuko. Even in post-series storylines, her sole focus is trying to humiliate Zuko. 

And Azula gets to Zuko.  He resents her, he feels inferior to her, there’s a part of him that wishes he could be like her. He believes if he catches the Avatar, his father will love him like he loves Azula

In the end, Azula was Zuko’s villain to defeat. 

Another great example is Sherlock and Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock.

Sherlock and Moriarty are exactly alike except for one thing. Moriarty is pure rationale that bars on madness. Sherlock is smart, yes, but he is also emotional. He has made emotional ties with John, with Mrs Hudson, even with his brother, Mycroft. Moriarty uses the people Sherlock loves to manipulate him, to get the better of him. The whole climax where Sherlock jumps to his (supposed) death is because he’s trying to protect John. And in fact, it is Sherlock’s emotional ties–with Molly, in particular–that save his life. Without Molly’s help, it simply wouldn’t have worked.

Lotor from V:LD does a similar thing, which is especially obvious in the episode “Hole in the Sky”, where Lotor wants Voltron to retrieve the comet. It would not have worked if Lotor hadn’t understood that Allura would do anything to help Alteans, being as her race is all but extinct. He also knows that Voltron is all about helping the little guy, they answer distress signals all the time. 

“If Voltron disappears from our world, then we win. If they make it out with the comet, we’ll take it from them. It’s a win either way.” –Lotor. 

Lotor is literally assuming none of the risk but reaping all of the rewards because he has hit the paladins exactly where he knew they were weakest. “Thank you for answering my distress signal, Voltron,” he says as he flies off with the comet. What the heroes see as their strengths: in this case, Voltron being a bunch of do-gooders (which was cemented by Allura’s need for wanting to find Alteans), Lotor sees as an opportunity.

Another great fandom where the villain used this same technique to attack the hero? Harry Potter, book 5! Voldemort makes Harry think he’s seeing visions of Sirius in pain, and that’s how he lures Harry to the Department of Mysteries, which ultimately leads to Sirius dying.

Tl;dr: Good villains all have a couple of similar qualities:

1) They are active villains. They go after what they want. Their goals are actually the same as the hero’s, but they approach it from a different angle. The opposition between hero and villain comes because they want the same thing.

2) Good villains should be able to attack the hero at their weakest point, or put another way, a good villain should be able to use a hero’s greatest quality against them. 

She’s gotta do what makes her happy, and tbh it’s starting to seem like leaving SM and having the freedom to create what she wants to create and having more support is the only way she’s going to get there.

I want f(x) to stay together forever, but the reality is that no groups last forever. I suspected she wasn’t happy for months now, and it’s all making sense.

SM just isn’t the place for her anymore. She deserves better, and while I do hope she can reach some kind of compromise or agreement with them, I won’t be surprised if she doesn’t.

Just continue to support her during this time. That’s pretty much all we can do while we wait.

i’ve been getting quite a bit of asks and messages about bullet journaling, so i figured that it would be better to make a helpful post about an intro to bullet journaling. i’ve compiled the basics + terminology around bullet journaling as well as some brief explanations and advice.

this got long, so i decided to put it under the cut! click “read more” to learn more about the basics of bullet journaling :)

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Passion has overthrown tyrants and freed prisoners and slaves. Passion has brought justice where there was savagery. Passion has created freedom where there was nothing but fear. Passion has helped souls rise from the ashes of their horrible lives and build something better, stronger, more beautiful.
—  Jim Butcher

Analyzing systems of government beyond checks and balances is really important if you want to determine whether or not they’re democratic.

It’s extremely simple for a country to create the illusion of democracy while actually limiting democratic power of the masses and handing that power to oligarchs who only want to increase their wealth and power. This is a prime example of why no true democracy can exist under capitalism. So long as one class has a significant amount of economic and political influence on government, politicians claiming to represent public interest will instead cater to them for money. Was the election democratic? Technically, yes. But in the end, who has the power to really control what elections mean for the country as a whole?

Representative democracies, essentially how all modern liberal democracies function, are supposed to indirectly represent the interests of voters. The entire principle of representative democracy is to represent.

People normally think of dictatorships when they think of undemocratic countries, because dictatorships do not rely on democratic votes. However, dictating and unjust power is not limited to outright dictatorships. Countries will slap “liberty” onto legislation limiting just that, call a market centralizing power to a minority freedom, and call themselves democratic while millions suffer and die unnecessarily.

These “democratic” Western countries will engage in economic imperialism to “spread democracy” by propping up dictators and destabilizing countries for financial benefit. Plenty of the “undemocratic” countries elected leaders democratically. However, they’re dubbed undemocratic for resisting these financial interests. This begs the question: If capitalism is about freedom, and in the interests of the people, why must it be “implemented” in countries resisting it through violent methods?

So, to sum things up: Do not believe a country based on terminology and illusion. Analyze actions, and ask yourself: If money carries more power than the masses, who is actually represented? Who is in control? What is freedom defined as, and how is it practiced in reality?

This is why drawing a line between theory and reality is so important when looking at any aspect of politics.

To elaborate on what I mean by checks and balances: Let’s use Putin’s government as an example. Technically, the Duma can vote against policies and appointed people, but Putin can simply remove them for doing so. If you want to maintain your position of power, you’re going to listen to the person it relies on.

An example outside government would be the workplace. You can legally get your boss in trouble for illegal activity. However, depending on your situation, you may really need to keep your job, and can’t risk being fired. Simple threats can stop people from seeking legal action. Another more personal example: mom never reported my dad to the cops when he first started abusing her. Why? Because he manipulated and threatened her. He wanted to leave us financially unstable (good ol’ capitalism). Here we see technically “free” situations, but coercion and environment limits freedom. No one is truly free when they are coerced into acting a certain way due to threats.

I realize I went off in a ton of directions here, so TL;DR:

• Governments and private institutions under capitalism do not create freedom and democracy, they create an illusion of freedom and democracy.

• Coercion and exploitation, at home or anywhere else, do not allow people to live freely.

• Capitalism specifically works against freedoms so long as they are not profitable.