it's not very often that i look at the politics in my own country

WHY TRAILS IS MY FAVORITE RPG SERIES

What comes to mind when you think of a good RPG series? Often times people will say Final Fantasy, Dark Souls, Skyrim, and Witcher 3. Others will say Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Xenoblade, or Tales. But very few will mention the Trails series, otherwise known as the Kiseki series in Japan.

The Trails series is actually a larger part of The Legend of Heroes franchise, which has been around for a long time. There are 5 other Legend of Heroes series just like Trails, but we will be focusing on just the Trails series, which is the 6th installment.

It is by far the best RPG series pound for pound in existence; very few games can rival the quality of this series such as Witcher 3 and the Xenoblade series. So why doesn’t anyone know about it outside of Japan? The biggest problem that stands in the way of the Trails series is localization.

Trails games have the largest script size of any video game series, which means they come over that much later when localized. For frame of reference, Trails in the Sky came out on PC in 2004 and PSP in 2006, but it was localized in 2011. Its sequel was localized 3 years later. The script size isn’t the sole reason for the discreprancy between Japanese and Western release dates, but it makes quality testing, debugging, and programming much more time consuming.

Long localization times mean that the game will feel dated to Western players by the time it reaches them. Couple that being in the unpopular JRPG genre, and it’s no wonder why Trails is under the radar in the West. Even in Japan, Falcom’s decisions to make most of their games on PC backfired. At the time, console gaming was more popular than PC gaming, the reverse of today’s trend.

As a result, console RPGs received more attention which was further amplified by the heated console wars between Nintendo, Sony, and Sega. What’s more unfortunate for Falcom was the decline of the JRPG genre, which earned a stigma in the West, therefore striking the global market off their list of considerations. So even by the time Trails in the Sky came out, it was already too late for them to capture a widespread audience.

If you go back in time and change a few things like platform choice, localization, and maybe going 3D, then Trails would have the popularity it deserves today. If Trails was as well known as Final Fantasy or Witcher 3, it would have dramatically changed the landscape of the JRPG genre.

But enough about that… So what makes the Trails series so worthy of praise? When you pick up an RPG, you’re probably doing it for its story and characters. The battle system is secondary to you but of course you still want that to be fun. The Trails series does all of the above and more, to the greatest extent.

The best way I can describe the Trails series is that it’s an RPG made for RPG fans. You have some of the best worldbuilding of any fictional work, profound story and characters, massive amounts of content, and an ingenius battle system. It does everything you want an RPG to do, and more.

WORLD BUILDING

It’s easy to create a fictional world but difficult to create one that has a coherent geography, ecology, history, and politics. It is essential to telling a story because it’s the setting, the driving force of the plot, and the groundwork for character motives. But worldbuilding can also destroy the storyline if it’s bad.

Let’s take a look at Final Fantasy XIII and its world of Cocoon, a floating planetoid-shaped continent floating above Gran Pulse, a wilderness of monsters. While on Cocoon, your fugitive characters are constantly on the run from the entire human race. You never have time to take in the sights and in fact, you barely get to explore any of the wondrous cities in the game. Outside of deities and the military, you know nothing about its citizens, cities, politics, economy, or what life is like for the average person. You have no reason to care about its world.

Which I guess is the point because your characters are fugitives who plan on destroying it. Except that halfway through, your characters don’t want to do that anymore but Cocoon almost gets destroyed anyway. In the end, Cocoon is saved but to what end? The players have no way to care about Cocoon even if they wanted to, so why does it matter? Its safety has no emotional impact on the player.

By the way, you can read much about XIII’s lore and background in the game’s database. But that’s not the same as storytelling or worldbuilding. Reading about something is not the same as experiencing it. The game can have amazing characters and look as pretty as it wants, but with such awful worldbuilding its story becomes the least memorable thing about it.

Now let’s talk about Trails, which takes place on the continent of Zemuria. The Trails in the Sky trilogy takes place in the Kingdom of Liberl. Zero no Kiseki and Ao no Kiseki take place in Crossbell State, and are thus known as the Crossbell duology. Trails of Cold Steel 1 & 2 takes place in the Erebonian Empire. All of these regions are within the Zemurian continent, each with their own culture, people, ideas, economy, and politics.  And there are many more countries on this continent that play a role in the Trails series, we just don’t travel there- yet.

They sign treaties, trade with each other, and go to war just like real world nations. The relationship between these regions affects the overarching events of what happens within their borders, and thus become the driving forces of their respective games.

In Sky, you have an extremist who doesn’t believe the current seat of authority has what it takes to protect Liberl. In Erebonia, you have a country built on the annexation of many other states in an expansion for power so that it can compete against its long-standing rival, the Calvard Republic. With the way Trails does its worldbuilding, you can see that everyone has a motivation behind their actions. You can see why the story unfolds the way it does. And you can also see how they intersect and affect each other.

But Trails is not simply a bunch of countries vying for resources or superiority. There are so many forces and organizations in play that make the story even more interesting. You have the Bracer Guild, a politically neutral organization whose purpose is to maintain peace and protect people. They don’t alway get along with the military, but they are loved by the people for solving their everyday problems.

On the other hand, you have the Jaeger Corps, mercenaries for hire. They are often employed by corrupt officials and evil organizations to carry out their dirty work. They operate outside the boundaries of laws and do whatever it takes to get the job done. There are different Jaeger Corps in the Trails Series, such as the Zephyr and Red Constellation, who have a bad history together. The Jaeger Corps and Bracer Guild are not necessarily rivals, but their line of work and ideals are often in opposition.

You also have Septian Churches established all over the continent in dedication of the Sky Goddess Aidios, otherwise known as “She who dwells above.” Ordinarily, these churches are insignificant to the main storyline. But in Arteria, the High Seat of the Septian Church, there is an operation of Holy Knights known as the Gralsritter. They operate with the utmost secrecy and are therefore unknown to the public. Their goal is to recover artifacts and ensure they are kept away from human hands. They have other important missions but they are a central focus of the Trails series, so there is not much we know about their Holy Knight operations. 

Also operating in secrecy is an evil society known as Ouroboros. They are the ultimate masterminds in each of the Trails games. Their intentions, members, and powers are all shrouded in mystery. Often times, their plans revolve around obtaining artifacts and manipulating influential figures to carry out their grand schemes.

The amount of detail that goes into their worldbuilding goes down to even the microscopic levels. Each city and town has its own economy, culture, and people. The main reason for Trails’ large text is because almost every NPC in the game is a named character with their own story. You have a couple traveling the world together, a hopeless romantic and his best friend, and family members living in different cities wondering about each other.

These aren’t your average generic NPCs that exist to fill up a town and make it feel alive. These are actual characters with their own stories with different dialogue lines throughout the entire game. What you get in the end is a living, breathing, organic world. It’s something you can appreciate while traveling, something you can fall in love with, and ultimately something you want to protect.

STORY/CHARACTERS

Even with amazing world building, the writers can still drop the ball on the story and characters. In Sword Art Online, the worldwide hit MMORPG anime, you have a wonderful fantasy land and an intriguing UI for players to use. Couple that with top notch animation and attractive character designs and you have a great-looking anime. Unfortunately, that’s all it is.

The show is basically being run by a Gary and Mary Stu, two leading protagonists who are perfect in every way and get what they want in the end. It’s painful and annoying to watch. The show does a great job of catching your interest but an equally good job on ruining it. SAO’s worldbuilding has great potential but it’s ultimately wasted on poor writing and terrible characters.

On the other hand, Trails does an exceptional job with their story and characters. Their storylines have actually good plot twists and their games know how to wrap up and ending better than a Chipotle burrito. Their characters have deep histories and well-written development.

Writing a good plot twist can be difficult, because it needs to have the element of surprise, impact the storyline, and make sense all at the same time. The story has to lead up to that point without giving it away. In other words, the foreshadowing needs to be just enough so that players guess something will happen but not too much so that they don’t know exactly what WILL happen. This is something Trails has done every single time.

Secondly, plot twists will change the tone or pace of the game, for better or for worse. Often times, writers just have this amazing twist in their mind but they don’t know what to do afterwards. So what you get is a sloppy ending that makes no sense.

This is a problem Trails does not suffer because you can tell that they meticulously plan out their writing from beginning to end. Their plot twists properly accomodate for everything affected so there are no plot holes or inconsistencies. And because their storylines occur over several games, their endings wrap up the current arc but end with a cliffhanger to start the next arc.

Trails does an equally amazing job with their characters. Good characters are always memorable and it just so happens that nearly all of the Trails characters are memorable. They go beyond your typical archetype because of good writing, original histories, and meaningful development.

When delving into a character’s past, Trails goes deep. You see their upbringing, what happened to each of the characters, and how those events shaped the person you see today. These flashbacks are brief and happen at the crux of a character’s development. What you get in the end is a development that flows nicely, ties in with the story, and helps you appreciate the character more.

Speaking of development, Trails has some of the most meaningful character development in the genre. Each of these characters feel very human because they have relateable flaws, flaws that they know they have difficulty coping with. And by adventuring with companions, they are able to own up to their mistakes and make amends, which pushes their characters towards completion.

For example, there are a pair of characters who dislike each other because of their personalities and social standing. They are unable to work in a team and as a result, a mutual friend of theirs gets hurt. They are forced to realize that they are the problem and begin working together. They still get on each other’s nerves, but now they are more like squabbling rivals rather than two people who hate each other’s guts.

Moreover, each of them have their own realizations as individuals. The noble realizes that he shouldn’t try to do everything alone. There are times when it is okay to rely on other’s strengths. The commoner realizes he’s too hotheaded and that he needs to be more open-minded. It’s endearing, it’s charming, and it’s entertaining. This is the kind of character writing you will come across in the Trails series.

BATTLE SYSTEM

At the end of the day, video games are video games. It can have a great story but if the gameplay doesn’t attract the player, then they might drop the game before finishing the story. So sometimes, players are forced to play a bad game to finish a story or go through a bad story that has good gameplay. With Trails, the quality of their story and characters can also be seen in the gameplay so you get the best of both worlds.

The Trails series is one of the most satisfying strategic turn-based RPGs in the genre. It’s simple enough for newcomers to understand without referring to a guide but complex enough for hardcore players to have fun with. Basically, your characters battle on a field and perform regular attacks, special attacks, or cast spells. And naturally, there are other commands such as defending, using items, or running away. But there is much more to this.

First of all, positioning. Each character has a movement stat which determines how far they can travel on the field. This is important for weapon users who need to be close to the enemy to attack. During battles, you and your enemies will be all over the battlefield attacking each other, and this is where position comes to play. In this game, spells and special attacks have an area of effect that allows them to hit more than one target. For example, a linear AoE or a circular AoE. This also applies to buffs so if your characters aren’t close enough together, some of them may miss out on beneficial effects.

Secondly, Trails’ turn-based combat has an additional factor called Delay. In most turn-based RPGs, turns are determined solely by the speed stat. In Trails, it’s based on both speed and delay. Delay is the amount of “lag” of each action, and this “lag” determines when the character’s next turn will be. For example, when unleashing a powerful spell or attack, the delay may allow the enemy to take an extra turn before your character can act again. This kind of balancing allows different levels of attacks and spells to become relevant throughout the entire game.

Third, we have spells which are known as Arts in the Trails series. These spells can be offensive or supportive. Supportive spells can buff your characters or debuff the enemy, depending on their immunities. Offensive spells are separated into different tiers of spells. Stronger spells have higher costs and more delay, but they deal more damage and often have an area of effect. Certain offensive spells also have a chance to inflict a status ailment such as freeze or burn.

Fourth, we have Crafts which are the special attacks of the Trails series. These are character-specific skills that can have any number of effects. They can deal extra damage, have an area of effect, provide a buff, inflict debuffs on enemies, heal HP, and more. They consume a resource called CP, which can only be accumulated during battles (with some exceptions).

Fifth, we have Status Ailments. Yes they exist in every RPG but Trails’ status ailments play a larger role in the outcome of battles than any other RPGs. Defensive buffs are significant enough to prevent character deaths and save you from wasting a turn on healing HP. And ailments such as Petrify or Freeze can completely turn the tide.

On top of that, Trails has a plethora of unique ailments unseen in other RPGs. AT Delay pushes back a character’s turn. Faint prevents a character from taking a turn, and any attacks that land on them will result in a Critical. Vanish temporarily removes a character from the field. The complexity of ailments adds more layers of strategy that must be considered when battling in a Trails game.

And finally, we have Orbments, yet another defining part of the Trails system. Every character has an Orbment with several slots. Players choose what elemental Quartz goes in each slot. Quartz will affect both the character’s stats and what spells they can use. For example, an Attack Quartz (Red) will increase a character’s physical damage and give them access to Fire Bolt.

Orbments work differently depending on which Trails game you play, but universally you get to choose what Quartz goes into each slot. Because of this freedom, there is a high degree of customization in outfitting your party members. You can shape characters into different roles to suit your needs.

These are the defining components that make up the Trails system. Each of these adds a layer of depth and strategy to the battle system. In most turn-based games, you’re essentially managing damage and healing. But in Trails, you’re doing so much more than that. Its sophistication allows the satisfying experience of finding multiple solutions to the same problem and playing however you want.

A battle system can have the most interesting concepts and mechanics but it’s useless without an array of enemies that take full advantage of it. In Trails, you have many different kinds of enemies that require different strategies to take down. You have enemies with high evasion or high defense, so you need to use spells to take them down. Then there are enemies who are immune or even reflect spells, so they need to be handled physically. There are enemies who explode upon KO, so you have to take them out from a distance. These are just few of the many types of enemies that you will run into in the Trails series.

You can get by on brute force, but you’ll be using more healing items and spells along the way. If you play with strategy, your battles will be more efficient and satisfying. That’s the beauty of the Trails’ battle systems. There is no single way to win a battle. There are no useless characters that get outshined by the rest of the cast (okay… I can think of one poor girl). The battle system is your playground. 

MUSIC

When people talk about amazing video game music they often refer to Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man. But the Trails series is a real contender and personally, I enjoy their music more than any other video game series (except Zelda). You have really catchy battle tunes, perfect ambient music for dungeons, and the music for cutscenes are spot-on. Most soundtracks are 50% recognizable, but Trails music is so good, I remember 80-90% of their tracks.

CONTENT

Like I said before, Trails is an RPG for RPG fans. RPG fans love a game they can sit down and play for endless amounts of hours. They love having a ton of sidequests to do as long as they are fun and interesting. They enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of fields and dungeons for hidden treasure chests. Trails caters to all of this and more.

This holds especially true for their storylines. As mentioned before, the Trails series span several games to tell the complete story. Their story isn’t dragged on or inflated for the sake of having multiple games. The scale of the stories are so grand and epic, that each arc needs to be told on its own. When playing the sequel, I want to find out badly how the story ends and what happens to the characters I’ve grown attached to. I don’t feel like the series is being milked or that they are just reusing assets to cut costs of making a new game.

CONCLUSION 

I’ve always found it difficult to explain to someone else why Trails is so good. It’s easy to say “This RPG has good stories and characters and it’s fun to play” but that’s not enough to convince someone to pick it up and play it. This is a series that cannot be summed up with a few tag lines in a 30 second commercial. I wish I could hold a lecture at a campus to describe the Trails series to RPG fans.

Also, the Trails series comes in so many different flavors but they’re universally amazing. So it’s not just one game or a duology I am trying to sell to people, it’s the entire series. I find myself saying to people “Just give it a try, you won’t regret it” and then typing in all caps to emphasize my desperate excitement. But I think in writing this essay, I’ve done a good job making it stand out from other RPGs. 

I hope you guys give Trails a try. 

How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble

History is full of examples of Mass Hysterias. They happen fairly often. The cool thing about mass hysterias is that you don’t know when you are in one. But sometimes the people who are not experiencing the mass hysteria can recognize when others are experiencing one, if they know what to look for.

I’ll teach you what to look for.

Keep reading

Fantasy Tropes in ASOIAF: The Lord of the Rings, the Wars of the Roses, and ‘the Rightful King Returns’

Martin’s ASOIAF has been openly acknowledged to draw from the Wars of the Roses (among other historical events), which can be found especially clearly in Westeros’s War of the Five Kings. Martin’s debt to Tolkien and other high fantasy classics is also acknowledged and plain to see throughout the series. If we can comfortably draw this parallel from Westeros to England to Gondor, what does it say about the nature of Martin’s storytelling and the way he will ultimately conclude his tale? My thesis is that state collapse will be avoided and the Seven Kingdoms will, like England and Gondor before them, be once again united under a monarch who will come to be viewed by the people as the only rightful ruler.

The Wars of the Roses was the cap to an incredibly bloody couple centuries of warfare in England. The end of these wars is generally considered as the cut-off date for the end of the medieval period in England and the beginning of the English Renaissance, which culminated in the rule of Elizabeth I. Feudalism declined, the power of the nobility was weakened, and the power of the monarchy and the merchant classes grew, all of which were considered factors in England emerging from a ‘dark age’ of endless civil conflicts and into a new, more enlightened and (comparatively) peaceful era under the dynasty founded by the ‘rightful’ king Henry VII.

Historians can and do debate this assessment, but it’s essentially the story that our historical consciousness has decided on, and it’s a powerful one. You can see the resonance of this trope today in the number of fantasy stories that draw on the narrative of ‘the rightful king returns and brings peace to his warring realm.’ This is the overarching political plot of Lord of the Rings, which similarly sees Aragorn take the throne and, as part of the happy ending, guide his country towards a new, enlightened age of peace and plenty. The trope doesn’t seem to originate in the Wars of the Roses - the legend of King Arthur predates it, for example - but it’s telling that Martin chose as one of his primary historical sources an event that so closely maps onto this most classic of fantasy endings.

As I’ve said before, my basic reading of Martin’s work is that ASOIAF is a deconstruction of fantasy tropes that will be ultimately followed by a reconstruction. Martin isn’t writing in order to utterly disprove the foundations of all fantasy stories - he’s a realist, not a nihilist. What he’s doing, instead, is showing his readers ‘how the sausage gets made.’ He has taken the most classic tropes of high fantasy and demonstrated how they would really play out in a world where logic and consequences apply. In Tolkien’s work, we have the magical Elves and the lost glories of their ancient civilizations that our heroes look back on in wonder; in Martin’s work, we have the lost civilization of Old Valyria, which was similarly glorious and peopled by yet another magical, inhumanly beautiful noble class - but which was also a ruthless imperial power that ended countless innocent lives in its conquests and built its glories off the backs of slaves. Tolkien’s version is the bard’s romanticized telling; Martin’s version is the historical reality of empire.

I don’t compare the two authors to criticize Tolkien - who was creating something quite different from Martin and creating it very well - but rather because setting them up side by side can illuminate a lot of what Martin is trying to do with Tolkien’s legacy. In Martin’s world, Tolkien’s mystical, mythological stories still exist, but they exist in the songs of the poets’ that his characters are constantly contrasting with the grim reality of their actual lives. And the events that his poets sing these pretty songs about are likewise always revealed to be based on yet another grim reality. Stories romanticize by their very nature; this doesn’t necessarily make them false, but it does make them fatally incomplete as reliable sources on the past. This is why Martin constantly makes reference to the difference between the two, and why his books are so overpopulated with diverse, often conflicting songs and legends. The gap we see again and again between the truth and the telling of it isn’t a byproduct of his worldbuilding - it is very much the point.

These songs and legends serve the same purpose that Martin’s deliberately biased POV chapters serve - they function to make his readers question the narrative we are given, to teach us that the truth is a slippery concept and that, in Martin’s words, “every villain is the hero of their own story.” Martin doesn’t want trusting readers - he wants us suspicious and doubting. His strategy of inserting these constant small conflicts between one character’s version of events and another’s, or one song’s version of the past and another’s, is one of the ways he is training us to become so.

The in-universe Song of Ice and Fire, the Westerosi story of the War of the Five Kings and the events that followed, is going to be told and retold by poets and singers in the Seven Kingdoms for centuries to come. It will grow more romanticized and less accurate in every retelling, and the true motivations and actions of many characters will be lost or distorted, and the true ugliness and brutality of all the conflicts we’ve seen will be forgotten in favor of the glamor of beautiful queens and rightful kings, fantastical dragons and epic swordfights. These elements are not lies, of course - we do have beautiful queens and rightful kings and dragons and swordfights - but without the context of the surrounding people and events it is impossible to understand them properly. And history won’t understand them properly. But readers of ASOIAF will understand them, because we are the only ones who know the full story. The result is a sophisticated analysis on the nature of storytelling itself, particularly as it pertains to the construction of historical narratives and the cultural values that both inform and result from these efforts.

This is why Martin’s efforts at deconstructing fantasy tropes cannot be separated from his efforts to reconstruct them. He has to take them apart to show why they fail - to show why Robb was murdered despite his honorable intentions, or why Robert was a good rebel leader but a terrible king. But he also has to put them back together again if he wants to show the gritty reality of why tropes sometimes work - why a loving and loyal family unit like the Tyrells has an advantage over the constantly feuding Lannisters and Baratheons, or why Cersei’s clumsy efforts to rule by fear alone are an ultimately self-defeating political strategy.

This is why I believe that the ending of ASOIAF will follow the standard fantasy path of seeing the country peacefully reunited under the ‘rightful’ monarch: because if Martin doesn’t do this, he can’t spend his last book exploring all the ways in which this clean and pretty conclusion is neither clean nor pretty - but in which it is still, in the end, the best option available for the people of the Seven Kingdoms as a whole. State collapse is always a violent and destructive process, and the Seven Kingdoms reverting back to seven independent countries would necessarily involve economic devastation on a huge scale. One of the major ideas of this series is that the politics and wars of the nobility, no matter how exciting and dramatic and even at times honorable in intent, always hurt the smallfolk and result in the deaths and suffering of thousands. Another, subsequent major idea is that real heroes are the ones who try to stop this from happening. Thus, it seems unlikely that any of the more or less ‘heroic’ characters we’ve been following so far would deliberately contribute to state collapse, nor that they wouldn’t take steps to prevent it if given the opportunity.

State collapse would also fail to deliver on the major epic fantasy themes which the series has so far been faithfully following. Martin drew heavily from the Wars of the Roses in particular because he is explicity writing a fantasy-version of those events - a real, in-universe horrific conflict that later generations will come to view in romanticized terms as the end of an era and a turning point for their own country’s future. The new-and-improved dynasty will most likely involve increased centralization of the state and the monarchy, a diminishment of the nobility’s power, and the first step in the evolution from feudalism to a more advanced economic and political system. This is the practical, unidealized reality of Tolkien’s ending, and the answer Martin wrote to his own question: “what is Aragorn’s tax policy?” ASOIAF is about what happens when an author takes that question seriously - and it’s a question that can’t be definitively answered until you have an Aragorn-style monarch on the throne.

Why I'm no longer an Anarchist (I think)

Arguably I got into Anarchism too quickly, being an An-cap prior I suddenly realised my beliefs were flawed, and with Stalin not being an option I figured Anarcho-Communism was the only place left to go.

However about a year into it all I started again finding holes, which as you can imagine frustrated me further. As of this point I’ve done some more research and feel ready to admit I don’t consider my views worthy of being labeled ‘Anarchist’ anymore.

Currently I find that the Anarchist goal, whilst definitely noble and ideally, the best system, I have bring my concerns to how this would work out in actuality, in other words I find it a little Utopian.
By Utopian I must address that this does not mean the cliche of Infantile Rainbows and Unicorns, after all if I could prove to you a method of getting to that goal it wouldn’t be Utopian would it? What is indeed meant by this is the effective ways to achieve the end goal.
Anarchism doesn’t view the state as a tool to achieve Communism but rather a plague that needs to be gotten rid of, this can become problematic.

Without a doubt I don’t want a state, but then nobody does, at the far end of the spectrum I’m fairly certain that the most reverent beholder of Marxism-Leninism doesn’t want a state. The only reason why so many Marxists put a large emphasis on the necessity of a state apparatus is because of its effectiveness.
With a state you can very easily coordinate resources, respond effectively to disasters, and most importantly, defend against external threats.

When you remove an entity so prevalent in the thousands of years of civilisation, and indeed the entity that allows society in its present to function properly, people don’t just suddenly go “Oh ok we’re stateless now, and there are no markets, lets just commune together” theres going to be bloodshed, theres going to be backlash. This method of bringing both down together doesn’t suddenly result in you having a stateless, classless society, what it creates is a power vacuum, and if you’re not ready to fill it in someone else will.

A lot of my movement away from Anarchism has actually been inspired from watching the state of Libertarianism slowly die and fade into irrelevance in this highly political age. People who just 2-3 years ago were preaching the love of non aggression, are now vehemently supporting things that nobody would have believed in any way fitted the stereotype of a Libertarian. Yet ironically, this brand of Libertarianism is quite possibly the most fitting, and most effective.
As time has gone on, they’ve realised that even though they love their NAP, other people don’t and are not going to be becoming Libertarians any time soon. Larken Rose can go on all he wants about how all we need is to just reject the state and accept voluntarism, but society isn’t created upon Liberty alone.
What is going to happen when another group of people who decide to use very ‘collectivist’ tactics against his homestead? He’s going to die thats what, and no matter of owning a few dozen rifles is going to protect you from a coordinated military who can block off your supply lines and bomb you with drones.
As of such, those who reject the idealism of American Libertarianism will be the ones who survive and gain progress, even though their philosophy of xenophobia and racism is barbaric in this modern age, it is what lends itself towards further support for their objectives. 1 Far-Right populist is more effective than 20 Arm Chair Libertarians.

Now I’m not going to say that Anarchists in any way are as ineffective as Libertarians, far from it, but the Libertarian transformation has been very eye-opening.
Anarchism has really been a historical failure. We can go on all we like about how the Soviet Union failed in 1917 when they become authoritarian, but fact of the matter is they survived and at least managed to improve their people’s livelihood somewhat, as it did in China, Cuba and elsewhere.
The same cannot be said for Anarchist societies, we overemphasise Catalonia to an almost comedic extent, its not to say that a lot of good didn’t come from it, but if 1-2 years of a highly fragile society is the best Anarchism has to offer we might want to have a look at why they always ended up failing in the first place.
The Fascists did indeed massively overwhelm the Catalans, but thats an argument that you make towards Liberals not other Socialists. We have to win, and if we’re serious about that then we cannot just waltz around the failure in Spain and cherry pick things to learn from it. When you are faced with a massive army over the hill there is no time to be complacent, ideals have to be surrendered for a short while or else everything you have been doing it for nought.

Whats interesting is that I have found many of my, ugh, ‘comrades’ (I hate the casual use of that word) make excuses for the ongoing experiment in Rojava, which still operates in a highly authoritarian state. They claim that because of the on going war its understandable why they do need to operate in a more Auth fashion, but why do we not say the same then for the Russian Revolution? Lenin never wanted to have a standing army, he wanted there to be as little authoritarian measures in place, but when he found that 12 other countries and rebels disagreed with him he didn’t have any other option.
If the Bolshie’s had lost because they acted like the Catalans I could only guess that people like me would have been heralding the Bolshevik failure as a great attempt by the workers to crush the state, and if the Kurds win and take up practices similar to the Soviets in our timeline we will probably be denouncing them, its an endless cycle of ideals.

I find too often that we get preoccupied on abstract notions of what our ideal society would look like, and not about how to counter present barriers towards that goal. If you asked me a year ago who I would have preferred in power, Maduro or a US puppet, I would have responded by saying “I wouldn’t want either” but thats a terrible answer because that is the reality of the situation in Venezuela right now, sometimes there are no easy options and we have to settle with whats available. Have you ever lived under a Fascist dictatorship? Spain was left to suffer under one for 40 years, and I highly doubt most of those Spaniards would have looked upon you kindly when you go around hinting that a Fascist regime is preferable to a State-Socialist one. This isn’t just rhetoric, I’ve genuinely heard people say this.

A lesser qualm I have is with the state of online youtube, it was a sobering moment when I found that ‘The Black Rose’ became an Anarchist after watching Libertarian Socialist Rants, and now presently he is a sort of Maoist. I too became an Anarchist after viewing LSR, as did others. This isn’t a criticism of anyone, but its highly interesting that many of us got into this school of thought not by reading the theory, not by researching the history of the movement, but through just 1 popular friend of mine, but then maybe thats just me being angsty.

Sometimes I just figure when it comes to Anarchism “Go that way and Die” because as good as our ideals might be, when it comes to people who are not going to fight on our terms, its always ended up in bloodbath.

I am still frankly unsure as to whether I’ve got this right or not, I might be missing a few areas here and there and I’m welcome to being corrected, but I am interested in winning, and if that means taking upon views that aren’t the Anarchist view, so be it. As time has gone on I’m not interested in specifically labelling myself anymore, I want to win, and I think you should too.

Side Notes:

- Nope, this doesn’t mean I’m ML, MLM, or Juche the Mooch, I’m currently in the privileged position of uncertainty.

- I still love Anarchist culture and prefer it to Vanguard stuff. And this doesn’t mean I don’t find a great amount of good from Anarchist theory and practice.

- This is not an attack on anybody, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try and berate me for it.

- Yes I still support Social Justice, sorry NazBols.

J. Cole, the Platinum Rap Dissident, Steps Back From the Spotlight

RALEIGH, N.C. — Ask J. Cole about when he realized that the traditional life of a platinum rap star didn’t suit him and he’ll tell the story of the 2013 BET Awards, when a stylist dressed him in a loud Versace sweater that two other people ended up wearing on the red carpet. He’ll talk about meetings with label executives and personal heroes who encouraged him to make musical decisions that, deep down, he never felt comfortable with. He’ll recall an awakening to the potency of the love of the woman he’d been with for years. And he’ll remember his trip in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown to Ferguson, Mo., where the most valuable thing he found he could do was just to listen.

And so, a couple of years ago, after he’d released two platinum albums, he began to make changes. A move back down to this part of the country, not far from where he grew up, in Fayetteville. Meditation every day, or as often as he could manage. Marriage. A commitment to asking about the needs of others rather than only his own. And a decision to make music that spoke to his own creative and emotional idiosyncrasies, no matter how far it strayed from that of his hip-hop superstar generational peers.

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anonymous asked:

Okay so I freely admit my knowledge of history absolutely sucks so this will sound stupid but - is communism a good thing or a bad thing??? I'm asking because I see SOOOOOO many conflicting ideas coming from people and everyone ends up contradicting each other, it seems like tumblr is very pro-communism but at the same time there are people on here who are absolutely disgusted with tumblr's "pro-communism" ideas and at the same time people praise Karl Marx and I'm just confused sorry.

okay, thing is, you have to make two distinctions. there’s theoretical communism and applied-in-the-real-world communism, and when it comes to theoretical communism, one thing is marx (which is why marxism is a thing and stalinism is another) and another are other communists who interpreted his thought often for political reasons. now I once had replied to a post on the topic which I never posted to avoid extra wank but I have it in my drafts let me see if I can c/p it… yeah okay no but maybe I can reuse parts of it.

anyway: communism is originally marx’s theory/system. marx conceived it in a society that was ALREADY CAPITALIST and its entire idea was destroying the aforementioned capitalist society which was founded on inequality and exploiting workers (like if you read the capital, it has chapters dedicated to child labor and how horrible it is just to mention one). communism is a philosophical and economical THEORY which does indeed look good on paper, its problem is that at most you could make it viable in small communities because it implies that everyone must be on board with it to make it work, that corruption doesn’t exist, that people do automatically their best for the others and the community/collectivity and a lot of other things that literally can’t coexist when your problem is basic human nature. never mind that marx’s system was based entirely on the situation in industrialized nations during the second industrial revolution and it’s entirely tied in that historical timeframe and it doesn’t take reading the capital for that, and now we’ve gone past that. never mind that not all nations go through what the UK did during the second industrial revolution. we’re past the second industrial revolution. marx’s system is not viable in reality because not many places are in those same conditions. never mind that marx himself knew that perfectly - ie, there’s a part in the communist manifesto which goes:

We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy. The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible. Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.

These measures will, of course, be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable. (….) When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.

Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

now, why did I bold exactly those parts? because the last one states that communism’s eventual target is everyone living in an equalitarian union, and the second is to show that according to marx communism could be a thing IN ADVANCED COUNTRIES. industrially.

and here we arrive to practiced communism which is our problem. because thing is, communism on paper is great - equality! no one is exploited! everyone contributes as they can how much they can! no classism! - but in practice, it has never been introduced in nations that were already capitalist. it’s mostly been countries that either had a strong agricultural/rural economy or came from centuries of dictatorships/monarchy, which means that regardless of how much communism is viable as a way of life or not, it wouldn’t and couldn’t have been applied there the way it was supposed to because those weren’t capitalist countries. you can’t have a communist society without capitalism first. period. and when you try to merge the two you have today’s china which is basically the worst of the two systems put together, never mind that if you look at mao’s CV, the cultural revolution and the likes it doesn’t sound to me that it’s the best way of life for everyone as marx put it. (and to add to that by the way, just the exploitation of workers in china that allows us to buy for ridiculous cheap from there is the most anti-communist thing anyone could ever conceive. and I’m just mentioning one thing.)

when **communism** has been implemented in both russia and china and everywhere else it was a thing, it was never a capitalist country. add that as I stated above in order for it to work it means EVERYONE IS ON BOARD and the people in charge don’t exploit it and you have a recipe for disaster, because if you look at it everywhere it was implemented, regardless of how much they might have started decently, it turned into a dictatorship not long later.

so this whole ‘shit happened in communist countries and people died but communism is still AMAZING’ topic is ridiculous because thing is, if one grasps the spirit, the entire point of communism as an utopian society (because that’s basically the outcome of that at the end of it) is having a society of equals where everyone contributes for what they can, there are no injustices like in capitalist society and your worth as a person isn’t put after your capacity to produce money for someone else. any so-called communist system calling itself communist and allowing people to die/oppressing its citizens/exploiting workers’ labor without allowing them to have unions/creating gulags/silencing disagreeing opinions is inherently a system that marx would have loathed because it goes against everything he wanted out of his vision. like, especially exploiting workers’ labor. that’s the reason why historically why most unions were communist/socialist when unions started being a thing. never mind that marx called for criticizing the status quo/people in power who exploited it, which should automatically suggest that most people who praise communist regimes aren’t really marxist.

(now we could also discuss over how both communism and capitalism taken in their purist form don’t benefit anyone except the people in power and so the best way is midway, because capitalism does have good aspects same as communism does, and actually the reason communism was groundbreaking in its historical moment was because it put attention on the need for equality and better working conditions when most poor people were exploited by the upper class. theoretical communism advocated a world where everyone contributes according to their own capacities and doesn’t end up sacrificing themselves on the altar of factory work, and that’s not what has happened until now in real life. taking the best from either system is what actually does work all things considered - counteracting 100% bonafide capitalism with 100% bonafide communism, which by the way can’t exist today, is fried air, as we say in italy.)

so, at this point the thing is: if you’re anti-communism meaning COMMUNISM THE WAY IT HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE REAL WORLD then you have a point or ten because most times it has betrayed its own roots (really, marx would have been horrified at basically everything **communist** regimes have implemented) and it has been a tool of oppression/communist dictators have killed thousands of people same as their fascist counterparts and so on. at the same time, if you like marx then you like COMMUNISM AS A CONCEPT THE WAY IT WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED, as in, you like the idea of a society where everyone is equal and not exploited as above. it’s two completely different things - personally I love the idea of communism as marx presented it but I know it’s not viable and I wouldn’t say that stalin or mao were amazing people TM just because they were **communist** (tbh today’s china is like the most un-marxist thing ever soooo). and at the same time I’ll feel free to praise marx to the heavens because he was a genius, came up with an amazing philosophical system which then started irl a lot of good things ie workers’ unions as above and gave the left an ideology to aspire to and because he didn’t advocate for genocide, while I absolutely loathe most applications of communism irl (and in most cases when communist ideals work out it’s in *socialist* countries, not communist ones).

we can also add that kids on tumblr being pro communism most of the time just read ‘communism = equality’ and think OMG AWESOME when they haven’t read marx or a history book so they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about so let’s not even count them into the discussion. but never mind.

tldr: communism as a theory/political ideology the way it was conceived was a good thing and is still a good thing if you take the good parts from it (tbh the US could totally do with some more marxism especially when it comes to reviving workers’ unions, striking when you want things and the likes), never mind that in western countries that were under the US influence post WWII and in european countries pre-WWI communist parties were generally the ones protecting workers/their rights to strike and pushing for leftist policies along with the socialist ones. communism as an actually applied system in the real world is almost always a bad thing because it’s not what marx conceived, it betrays its own roots and I can only understand people who grew up under the ussr when it was a thing (or eastern europe) who loathe communism since a communist regime was what fucked their countries over. (that’s also valid for places like cambodia and NORTH KOREA I mean in theory north korea is *communist* but there’s literally nothing communist about NK.) we can argue about cuba for the next century or so since when it comes to it there’s pros and cons (ie: castro was a dictator? yes, not good, not communist. everyone getting free healthcare and instruction including curing people from other countries? yes, good, marx would have approved. and so on.), but even if you consider cuba the only place where it sort of worked (sort of, because if you ask people who flew cuba they certainly don’t agree and really it’s so complicated only people who studied the situation for years or live there could give an opinion), cuba has eleven million inhabitants and it’s not CHINA or the former USSR, which makes it fairly more manageable to govern. same as I said above: it maybe sort of POSSIBLY worked out not somewhat in a small country. in large countries it’s just not a thing you can reasonably conceive.

so: some people praise marx because marx said a lot of good things, but being uncritically pro-communist means ignoring that communism when implemented (successfully-ish or not) has caused a lot of harm and isn’t that much different from other regimes, and that what marx preached was good for his historical moment and time, not for us, because the second industrial revolution is that and gone. never mind that people who come from communist regimes that hurt their nations or were political dissenters have all rights to be anti-communist, since as stated when applied irl it’s not what marxism preaches. and that said if you praise marx then you should criticize all of the irl applications of communism because marx would balk at pretty much 99% of what *communist* countries ended up being. but like there’s a lot of good in what marx says and that’s why some people say they’re communists - because they like it as a concept and want to make reality what they can of it, not because they approve of stalinism.

hopefully it was clear. xD

Just a Smile - A Zelink Short Fic

FF.NET

SUMMARY: In Hyrule palace, there was one rule left over from the time of her great-grandfather, one that most certainly could not be broken: the guards on duty were not allowed to laugh. 

But that never stopped Princess Zelda from trying.

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five 

Zelink AU where Zelda is a princess and Link is a guard who she’s trying to make laugh but can’t seem to crack. Part one of a larger fic of similar short bursts. Not attached to any particular game. Fluff af. Have fun, kids!

Writing after the cut! Enjoy!

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“I had a fun time with you“

(A/N): FYI (Y/I) stands for (Your/Initials), Enjoy x also, i have not proofread this yet i apologise 

Words: 1,845

Originally posted by jcsephsdun

“The anonymous street artist (Y/I) strikes once again…“

As soon as the familiar name is mentioned his attention is immediately drawn to the television. Apparently the mysterious person, who has been leaving several paintings all over the city, has almost been caught yesterday during the process of creating another masterpiece. Since the cops were incapable of catching hold of them, the anonymous artist has once again slipped through their fingers. 

Josh has been fascinated by their work from day one. Even though each portrait has its own individual interpretation, all of them hold the same message, which could be defined as diverse, observant, equaled and human. The country itself has been taken over by republicans, after being governed democratically for eight years. A lot of insurrections and turmoils have surfaced ever since the new president has been elected. (Y/I) paintings are often responses to countrywide but also citywide political occurrences, representing their own personal opinion, which should frankly speak to every person who has a slightly sense of humanity. In the eye of publicity their performance is seen as some act of rebellion, since the art pieces are mostly against the decisions and choices made by the new government. 

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Closing thoughts on ESC ‘17

◆  What a year, folks! In February, my closest circle of friends and I were quite despondent about the year’s offerings - it seemed like there was plenty of quality in the national finals, but little of it filtering through to Eurovision itself. I would never have dreamt of the firestorm that was about to come: Portugal winning its first Eurovision after almost fifty failed and often criminally underrated attempts is just the crowning surprise as we have a top 3 that, in its entirety, are countries getting their best results ever. 

The last time that all three “medallists” were also countries getting their best result ever at that point was in 2006, where Finland won for the first time, Russia got their best ever second place (Dima besting Alsou a few years before going for gold) and Bosnia & Herzegovina grabbing third. This trinity of victors is even more impressive, consisting of three countries who tend not to qualify, two of which (Portugal and Moldova) having not ever even reached the top 5 before. This was two fingers to those banging the drum about political voting being the be all and end all of Eurovision: here are three nations with few friends amongst juries or televoters, who won big through the strength of their song or stage show. Bravi to all three. Bulgaria has emerged as a powerhouse in the making having beaten their personal record twice on the trot with Poli and now Kristian. It’ll be interesting to see if it’ll be third time lucky to bring the contest to Sofia - and if the other two countries can build on their success last year.

◆ While we are mentioning political voting, however, that ugly beast did raise its head a number of times this year. Audible boos were heard when Cyprus and Greece embarked upon their annual exchange of douzes, but I wonder if that is more cultural than political. What I found lamentable was the overtly political voting of Azerbaijan and Armenia, who put each other last once again - and the former even put Cyprus second last thanks in no small part to the Cypriot being ethnic Armenian and pals with Artsvik. 

My particular award for “how unprofessional can you get?” goes to the Bulgarian jury, which tried to sink their closest rivals - giving no points to the much-vaunted Italians, placing Portugal’s Salvador just a few places below last and giving extremely lowball scores to Belgium, the latter countries that did very well in the televote. Juries on the whole made some very curious choices and seem to be less scrupulous than the televoters in many ways. 

◆ They seem to have favourites year in, year out - Sweden may never slip from the top 5 thanks to jurors’ lip service, and the most curious thing is their continued obsession with Australia, who would have not qualified from the semis were it up to the televoters alone - and received a humiliating two points from them in the final. More conspiracy-prone individuals may wonder if jurors are being encouraged to award Oz so that it has decent enough results to keep in the competition. On the other hand, their lowball scores to very musically meritorious entries like that of Hungary, who entered the top 10 mostly on the strength of its televotes. It feels like the juries do not know on what criteria they are judging. 

◆ At least this year should be controversy free as there was a convergence on the top 2 candidates, with both televoters and jurors agreeing that the best song was Portugal’s and the second best Bulgaria’s. It’s the first time that the jury hasn’t overriden the public vote for 3 years, and the first time ever since the introduction of this 50/50 system that they agree on both winner and runner-up. After two years of scandals and angry televoters, that can only be good for the contest. Unfortunately, there are some “fans” living in a world of alternative facts who claim it was a hoax. I feel sorry for them not being able to acknowledge the win of a country who’s waited so long to dispel their bad luck.

◆ Portugal’s win was the ultimate revindication of using your own language at the Eurovision, but not the only one. Italy did not soar to its expected heights, but got into the combined top 10, as did the tour de force from Joci Pápai, which showed that bilingual songs in which neither language is English can work! (My boss and some of my students ended up singing jáloma loma for the rest of the week xD.) The televoters, once again, show themselves much more open to other languages than many jurors: they would also have elevated the bilingual and bipolar entry from Croatia into the top 10 alongside France, making half the songs in the top 10 featuring another language than English partially or entirely - not a bad figure when that means 5 of the 7 songs featuring another language got into the televoters’ top 10, with Belarus not far behind. Will the qualification and relative success of all the non-English songs finally dispel the myth that one must sing in English to do well? I truly hope so.

◆ A less positive thing to remember the year for was the numerous fiascos at national final level. Spain screwed over its televoters by having the jury pick the winner rather than the public in the event of a tie - the opposite of what happened when Brequette and Ruth Lorenzo were tied some years prior. There were only 5 national finals this year where the public had 100% of the say at all stages - dwarved by the 9 national finals where jurors overrode the televoters’ top choice. It was a bad year for democracy at the national finals, and resulted in a number of “unloved” candidates who could not count on their country’s support.

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joannalannister  asked:

Could I ask you to talk about your idea of Westeros as an iconophobic society? Also what about art patronage vs art collections? I love your thoughts!!

This was also something @him-e asked for so here we go! ( @maravding: I’ve only now seen your reblog and I’ll do another post for the Martells and Tyrells, it’s probably going to be short but this one turned out already long enough!)

I used “iconophobic” pretty broadly, I should probably have said “a culture that looks bizarrely uninterested in pictures considering that, if we have an idea of how people in the real life historical period ASoIaF is based on thought and looked like, it’s also because they left us a shitton of visual sources” (though iconophobic is probably right for the North, but that’s farther down in the post).

It’s certainly not an iconoclastic culture because there’s no apparent ideological or religious condemnation of pictures, they just don’t seem to feature very prominently in the way culture is shared, and I think this can be traced back to a couple of issues I have with the general worldbuilding in the series: late Medieval England as a template for Westeros, and Martin’s own bias as a writer.

Disclaimer: I *am* about to nitpick and this is not a dig at Martin’s ability as a writer and worldbuilder. I think that overall, the worldbuilding in ASoIaF is impressive: you get a feeling of a rich, tangible world especially wrt Westeros (Essos is a bit more stereotyped, Sothoryos even more so), and I guess that’s exactly why the corners that Martin doesn’t explore as thoroughly stand out to me.

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anonymous asked:

Second to last Royal AU with Jon pretending to not be royalty in college. Jon/Sansa

full prompt: “i’m a prince/ss from a small country nobody’s heard of and i’m in college pretending not to be royal and you’re another student who’s always calling me out on my bs”

modern au, 2785 words, title is from “litany in which certain things are crossed out” by richard siken. tw for implied past abuse and baelish being his usual creepy self.

build me a city and call it jerusalem


She had a smile that reminded him of the scheming aristocrats back home in Valyria, false and brittle, picture-perfect and hollow. He noticed her curtain of flame-red hair the moment he first walked into his International Law class at King’s Landing, oldest and most prestigious of Westeros universities, but seeing her smile like that at Joffrey Baratheon made him resolve to put her out of his mind. He had pursued higher education abroad precisely to distance himself from court intrigue and people like her. Sansa Stark was beautiful— and bad news for the boy who would someday be Jaelon Targaryen, the first of his name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Dragon Kingdom, and Protector of the Realm.


Of course, right now, as far as the Westerosi were concerned, he was just a bumbling fresh-faced transferee going by the name of Jon Snow.

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anonymous asked:

Headcanons for Hand Soap as a medieval Japanese prince, plzz!

Yess, this was a very fun request to write! I am a big fan of medieval/feudal Japan, so I was kind of waiting for an ask like this hehe. Gave it a bit of my own twist as well, I hope you like it!

- He is the son of the Emperor of Japan and quite the intimidating one at that. The archer would be just as skilled and would have mastered every weapon which the samurai used for themselves in battle as well. He would already be giving out orders to the shōgun of the country because of his impressive talent as a leader, replacing his father and taking on his duties whenever he was not present. Even though the prince was rather stern and as rigid as a rock, he was not in any way cruel or unjust, always coming up with the most calculated orders. Much like usual, Hanzo is a direct man and his followers have grown to know him as such as well, never questioning his judgment, even though they know he is not one for grotesque punishments, his tone alone is enough to silence a crowded room.

- He frequently spars with his brother Genji when he has the time, knowing that the both of them will rule over Japan in the future and thus keeping their power and abilities at a max is a necessity for any possible challengers that could come to the palace. Genji would become his right hand and advisor, while Hanzo would take on the role of his father as lead Emperor. Their clan had gotten the leadership over the country centuries ago, because of their special connection to the spirit dragons, making them a powerful group of people and thus overthrowing all others who dared to take the throne. When the prince is not training himself, he spends his time training others and preparing the strongest and most agile warriors to become samurai and possible daimyō. It may be unusual for an empire to train its own warriors, but since the Shimada clan is a clan of samurai and ninja on its own, they are eligible enough to use their teachings for the rest of the warriors across the country.

- The man has quite a fondness for luxury, especially when it comes to exotic delicacies. He would frequently set up trade arrangements with other countries to restock on his favorite products, being rather picky over his choices in the process. The foreign traders are always happy to do business with him though, as the prince pays them generously. Even though Hanzo is a man of few words and with an appalling aura around him, he knows how to act social and charming in the favor of potential new business partners at the same time. The archer can appear extremely polite and even smiling continuously, if it’s for the sake of benefiting his country. It would be hard to see past his façade for that matter, the only person being able to would be his brother or other close relatives. The prince holds his culture very dear to him as well, often softly looking out over the gardens of his palace to see the cherry blossom trees blooming. This would by far be his favorite activity to do in his leisure time, as it gives him a sense of peace which is scarce in his time as a semi-ruler of an enormous empire.

- He would often ask his servants to bring him some tea while he silently watches the petals fall into the koi pond before him. Be sure not to disturb the prince when he is in a tranquil state though, as he is often a rather stressed person and would not take it too well if he were to be interrupted in his most precious time of the day. The people around the castle would know about this and would always make sure to await in silence in the background if they had an important matter to discuss, until the warrior turns his attention to them. This of course, goes forgotten by his energetic brother Genji, who could not care less about his brother’s melancholic tendencies and would just straight up barge in instead, dragging out a rather deep sigh from his older counterpart.

10

Art School | Q&A with Minka Sicklinger (NYC) 

Born in The Netherlands, growing up in Australia, and currently living in New York City, artist and designer Minka Sicklinger’s artwork is filled with iconography, symbolism and cultural influences from her years of traveling and living abroad. We’re not only excited to feature her and some of her mystical drawings, but we’re also excited to have her design a custom skate deck to be raffled off at this year’s Babes Ride Out East Coast event. We got a chance to chat with Minka on various topics – from her travels and early experiences with cultures and art from other countries to how the most challenging part of art at times can be yourself. 

Photographs courtesy of the artists. 

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een-dje  asked:

Hi Rava! I've got a question for you; They say a bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing. Could you give me an insight on Portuguese-Spanish relations nowadays or maybe even a throwback in history? Was Portugal blessed or misfortunate with their neighbor? Do you get along like brothers and sisters or is there some love-hate relationship between the two? Thank you in advance!

R: HI eendje! Thank you so much for your question, this one is quite interesting! Let us begin then to analyze the complicated relationship between the two Iberian siblings. And for this job I’ve asked fellow ambassador @salytierra for assistance, this way you can hear it from both POVs!

S: Jello B-)

R: So first let’s talk about History, from a Portuguese POV. Historically speaking, the Portuguese can agree unanimously that Spain is a curse. 

S: Wow, rude!

R: After gaining its independence from the Kingdom of Galicia, itself a vassal of Castille, Portugal was constantly threatened with annexations and invasions by the Spanish kingdoms. If not for expelling the Moors from the southern territories of Iberia, there was no way Portugal would team up with Castille. Not to mention that during the Age of Exploration these two countries were adversaries competing for the biggest sphere of influence, which culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas (and later on with the Treaty of Zaragoza)

S: Well, not as much competing for the biggest sphere of influence, but Portugal started its exploratory period earlier, while the Spanish kingdoms were either looking to the Mediterranean or continued fighting the moors. And the Portugeese kept their tails tightly covered. Being caught snooping around their trade routes meant automatically getting an assful of lead, no exceptions. The whole reason Ferdinand the Catholic agreed to support his wife in her decision to sponsor Columbus’ apparently suicidal voyage was for the possibility of discovering another spice route that didn’t need to round Africa, therefore – more peaceful and less full of pissy Ports.

Instead, the Americas were “discovered” and so the two iberios, with all the gall in the world, signed the aforementioned treaty.



R: The treaty upsetted most of the European powers at the time (”how can you just claim the World all for yourselves, don’t we get a part too!?”) and they ended up ignoring it when it didn’t favour their own interests, specially England, France, and the Netherlands, which would later emerge as colonial powers themselves and either take what was left to take or kick out the Iberians and rule the areas themselves.

S: Wanna hear an anecdote? There was a tradition of an insane traffic of deserters and political refugees across the border in a true “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” fashion, if someone was disgraced, persecuted or expelled from either Spain or Portugal, they asked for asylum in the other country and were taken in with open arms. Now, remember that alternative spice route for Spain? It was discovered by Magellan, who might have been Portuguese but wasn’t particularly welcomed there anymore. However, he was killed somewhere in Indonesia and the first real trip around the world was completed by a man that sailed with him: Juan Sebastián Elcano, in the Nao Victoria. Most of the people that sailed then didn’t return to Spain. An entire ship (out of 5) was captured by the Portuguese, precisely. And in the Nao Victoria itself had to do the unthinkable to avoid bumping into the Portuguese in the last part of its journey. Since asking for provisions and help in Portuguese ports would have been a BAD IDEA. Almost didn’t make it, only 18 men reached Spain. The irony is that it happened in 1522, only 4 years before princess Isabella of Portugal married Charles I, becoming Empress of Spain and the two navies were asked to “tone it down FFS!!” So the treaty of Zaragoza was their “get along shirt”.

R: The other historical moment worth to mention is the Iberian Union, that 60 year period in which Portugal lost its independence to the Spanish Habsburgs, and the very same period that most Portuguese look back on as the beggining of the end of our Empire. 

S: Wow, that’s harsh! Also, it was inevitable. They kept intermarrying their heirs for generations hoping for exactly that. It was just a lottery of whose king would die first without heirs. And sorry Portugal, you lost.

R: And even though the one to blame is our young foolish king who decided to play crusader in Northern Africa without leaving an heir, we still long for his return in a foggy morning. 

S: See? Bad luck and bad choices! Anyway, the “alien laws” prevented any assimilation; the naturals from one empire remained foreigners in another. But the alliance meant a loophole in ignoring the Tordesillas and Zaragoza treaties, specially from the Portuguese perspective. It was when Spain started asking more of Portugal than Portugal wanted to give that they did the “bitch, I’m out” and kicked a Spanish guy out of the window. Anyway, after some warring they got their crown back, we got Ceuta.

R: But now let’s leave the past in the past and focus more on what really matters, the present! Nowadays, the Portuguese opinion on the Spaniards pretty much varies from person to person (I can say for myself that I love Spain a whole lot ; D). When we think of Spain we usually think of Castille-Leon (the big bully) and sometimes Galicia (the northwestern region with very close cultural ties to Portugal, specially to the northern half) and the other autonomous regions are just…forgotten (sorry guys, we didn’t really have much History between us, did we). But generally speaking, it boils down to a love-hate relationship with both sides taking a jab at eachother while calling ourselves siblings, and if that isn’t a sibling relationship I don’t know what it is. The Portuguese even commonly refer to the Spaniards as nuestros hermanos (Spanish for “our brothers”). And Spain also serves as our #1 destination for what we call “viagens de finalistas” (and we miiiiight have caused quite a mess this year).

S: Look, Spain and Portugal are what you’d call the most cliché sibling relationship ever. It’s like they’ve grown up sharing the same room, which we all know can be… difficult for healthy, energetic boys. They threw shoes at each other’s heads, played pranks, broke each other’s toys and stole them, competed to be the coolest kid at school, argued fought a lot… for their entire lives. But at the end grew out of it. Their histories always ran in parallel and at the end what’s left are memories and anecdotes for the Christmas table. And someone to count on, even if both countries have their own lives and trajectories now.

In Spain the perception of Portugal varies geographically mostly. I live in the east and we don’t often think about Portugal, sometimes kinda forget it exists at all. 

R: Fair enough to be honest.

But in the west that relationship and awareness is tighter. I know there’s a lot of bickering still, for historical reasons. But it’s the healthy, funny kind, and affection too. I don’t think there’s anyone that has any really negative opinion of Portugal. Mostly people like it and specially like making jokes about towels and bearded women. Ah, the classics!

We can assure you though that nowadays we always come in peace. Except for the extended weekends, when we just come in masse.

R: Truth! But it’s fine, we love you <3 If not for tourism we’d be in the gutter afterall, hahaha. Well we’d both be, am I right?

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed learning more about this theme! Thanks for the question once again!

Sources: x

anonymous asked:

would you recommend going for a PhD?

This is a big question, a tough one, and one that I can only answer based on my own experiences by encouraging anyone who is considering a PhD to ask themselves a series of smaller questions. These would include:

  • What do you want to do with your PhD? Teach? Research? Write? Work inside the academy, or outside? 
  • Depending on the answers to the previous question - how viable are careers in your field doing the thing you want to do? Increasingly, at least in the US, universities rely upon exploited contract labor (grad students and adjuncts) rather than tenure-track professors due to how much cheaper that labor is, so if your field doesn’t seem to have a lot of sustainable career paths open, you’ll want to at the very least have a backup plan or two. 
  • Do you love reading? Because that’s the thing grad school has been all about, in my experience. I’ve learned how to read a lot of very dense and complex material very quickly with an optimized level of comprehension, and I’ve learned through that reading how to write my own things that other scholars would want to read. In a humanities/social science program with a 3-course semester load, I’d say you should expect to read roughly 400 pages per week, plus any writing assignments responding to those readings your professors ask for. This does not include reading in preparation for seminar papers, which can add a whole heck of a lot more on your plate.
  • What motivates you? If it’s money, even in the long run, I cannot recommend a PhD program unless you’re going to be like, an economist or something. Lots of my colleagues are motivated by a love of learning and a genuine, persistent curiosity about their object of study. Lots of them are also motivated by a fervent belief that better scholarship can lead to better culture and politics, and that by doing what we do as both writers and teachers, we can change the world for the better. More than anything I’m in the latter camp, though I obviously have to be deeply intrigued by my research topic to sustain my work. 
  • What and who else do you need to consider in taking on the lifestyle of a PhD student? If you make any money at all through a teaching or research gig, you won’t be making much. You will work nearly all the time. You might end up moving across the country for jobs several times, sometimes to places that have nothing more than their local college/university. You will probably be cranky a decent amount of the time. You’ll need to travel for conferences and the like. If you have a partner or dependents or cannot/will not live in certain places or under circumstances, you should be up front with yourself and all invested parties in those things. If you have health - physical, mental, etc - needs to consider, these things shouldn’t be a barrier to your pursuit of academic degrees, but 1) sometimes will be on an institutional level because the academy is ableist as fuck and 2) are things to be thinking about before choosing a place to move to or a program of study. 
  • What will the financial situation be? I’m lucky enough to be in a program where I receive a full tuition remission and a teaching stipend - though I do only get paid my regular wage 9 months out of the year and still live below the poverty line, my livelihood is not in immediate danger should I not secure funding for the next semester. Usually tuition remissions are tied to paid positions, so if you’re not getting a stipend, you’re often also paying thousands of dollars to attend the University. Don’t do this for a PhD. I literally cannot think of a situation in which it would be worth it to pay 5-7 years of tuition for this degree. Any program worth its salt will pay you to be there.
  • What program will you attend, and who will you seek to work with there? I only applied to programs that I would’ve been thrilled to attend - which meant I only applied to three. Lots of people apply to closer to/over 10 programs, including ‘safety schools’ they believe they’re more likely to get into. For me, it was always more about getting to do the kind of work I want with the kind of mentors I was looking for than it was about getting a PhD at any cost. I chose a program where several faculty members would influence my work in ways that excite me (which turned out to be for the best, as my advisor left for another university in the middle of my program), so the entire intellectual community of my program is one that’s exciting and helpful for me and my work. If you have a way of getting this information, I also suggest you try to find out what kind of advisor your desired mentor is - I know that there are some scholars in my field who I would not have had a good time working with just because of personalities, and my happiness is something that’s important to me even as I slog through the work!
  • Are you okay feeling like you’ve put things on hold, in even just a small way, for 5-7 years? My colleagues and I are all committed to having as full lives as possible, with families and wide circles of friends and hobbies and other things we’re committed to, but all of that takes a lot of work. And even with those things, depending on what stage of life you’re at, there might be things that you find need to wait until you’re done or almost done - buying a house, having a baby, etc. etc.
  • Related to the last one: Where are you in life generally? I was just barely 22 when I started my program, only 3 months out of my undergraduate degree, where I’d lived in a house with a cook and a cleaning crew and, despite working very hard at my schoolwork and jobs, had not done a lot of the ‘grown up’ day-to-day life maintenance stuff myself. My first year in my program was so difficult because I was juggling learning how to be an adult with learning how to be a graduate student and learning how to be a teacher and learning the actual material of my courses. It was a lot, and I also gave up my young-20′s party girl lifestyle to move to a college town where I was closer in age to my students, but couldn’t go out without feeling anxious that I would run into one of them. In the end, this is what I needed - I grew up, and I figured out my mental health (in time), and I committed myself to the kind of politics and pedagogy and lifestyle that I had come to my program in search of - but this would’ve been a bad move for tons of other people. If you’re just finishing up undergrad, unless there is a particularly compelling reason to go straight through to the PhD (in my case I like to believe there was, though I’m not entirely certain how much of that is a rationalization I’ve built up for myself after the fact), I would not recommend starting a PhD right away. My friends and colleagues who took even just a year off seem to have had an infinitely easier time coming back and feeling good about the decision and being able to juggle it all.
  • And if you do decide to start a PhD, here’s what I think is one of the most important things to know - you probably will, and probably should, have at least one period of time where you question whether or not this is the right thing for you. I’d be concerned if a friend who had committed themself to the amount of work a PhD program throws on you never once had a moment of ‘dear jesus mary and joesph is this what i want to be doing for the rest of my life’ (because while it ends, in a certain sense, when you graduate, the life of an academic proceeds in similar ways for quite a long time from my understanding). I had two big moments like this in my life - and admittedly, one of them was on Election Night 2016 when the results became apparent, so that’s less related to my desire to do academic work and more related to what I thought the world needed from me moving forward. They were both important moments. You need to let yourself have them. And if the answer to the question “do I want to keep doing this” (not “am I cut out for this?” though, that’s a different question entirely that I ask myself most days) is a resounding ‘no,’ or even a whispered ‘no,’  you should take it seriously and figure out what it means to leave graduate school. Especially for PhD students, it’s hard to see leaving the academy as anything but giving up or a failure, but it’s literally not. The academy, by and large, is a horrible place. PhD programs, by and large, are peddling knowledge that will do little good to a lot of people and offers hardly any future job security in a lot of fields. Yes, it can be right for some folks depending on their wants/needs, but it doesn’t have to be right for everyone, and you can realize that at any time. 

SO YES, THIS IS A VERY LONG SET OF QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS but that’s because taking on a PhD is a very big choice and commitment, at least for the time that you’re working on it. And the academy is exclusive and ableist and racist and sexist and homophobic and cissexist and classist as hell, and so especially for those of use who are women and lgbtq and have mental illnesses and/or disabilities and for those who are not white or citizens or American (presuming you’re considering the American academy, which is all I can really speak to despite the feeling that it’s no better in many other places), we need to think long and hard about whether putting ourselves in the position of being further exploited, further burdened, further beaten down is worth the end goal. I’m certainly hoping that it will be for me - I love the work I do, I love to teach, and I love the smart and compassionate colleagues I’m lucky enough to call friends. But it’s a big commitment, and so I hope you all take the time to think it through! I’m always happy to talk through it with you, so drop a line if you need!

DAY 3267(i)

Jalsa, Mumbai                     Mar 8/9,  2017                   Wed/Thu 2:22 am



MY OPINIONS ON THE FILM SARKAR 3



Amitji, Sarkaar 3 is your first release of 2017. What makes  Subhash  Nagre so powerful as  to be the only character of yours to be seen in three films?

ANS//

Gosh .. !! I had not realised this, but thank you for bringing it up.

Where there is continuity, there shall be desire to revert.You succeed in one vocation, you continue with it. Your team construct wins a series, a game, you continue with it. You build a happy association, you nurture and harvest it again. SARKAR 1 was a success, but I doubt very much whether SARKAR 2 was prompted keeping the success factor in mind. It was done more for the continuation of the story, from where it was left off in 1.

The character, the circumstance and the environ of the story of SARKAR has been alluring. It has begged desire to revert and to continue. It’s like those bed time stories that your Mother narrated when putting you to bed to sleep ; they all started with ‘ek tha  Raja, ek thi  Rani ..’ , and then invariably they would doze off and we the young were wide eyed and anxiously questioning ..‘phir … phir kya hua ..?’ . SARKAR’s narration has invoked similar questioning at the end of each sequel. SARKAR 3 therefore is a natural revert to that childlike question, at the end of the previous film.

BUT .. in my very limited opinion SARKAR is not just another name .. ‘SARKAR ek soch hai’ , it is a condition, a reality, a state, an order. A condition state and order, that exists in every home. SARKAR is authority, governance, politics, not just in its much renowned truest self, but one that reflects its meaning in every day life, more so in a domestic application.

Each individual is a human. He or she may have the benefit of power through political process, in a country, but these individuals have a domestic life as well. And this is what has intrigued me ; does individual domestic circumstance influence in any manner, decisions that are taken by such individuals for State, Country and Governance ? Decisions, that could affect a billion people and their lives ?!

There is a SARKAR in every home - one that guides, takes decisions, masters and commands either servility or compassion. Who rides favour with the Master, who questions, who poisons their countenance to what end, are some of the several obligations that these heads face each moment. What goes on within the closed walls and drawn curtains and for what reason, is complex and many a time unknown to the outside world. Its a politics of a different kind, often referred to as ‘Palace Politics’. Derived presumably from the era of Kings and courts and Emperors with their inner coteries and subsequent intrigues, today, every home is a ‘palace’ and every home has its ‘politics’, the nature of which is guided and abetted by the ‘politics’ it conducts !    

There is a Subhash Nagre in every home and that is why he becomes such a versatile, vulnerable yet respected and an acceptable character. Subhash Nagre is powerful not just by the presence of his conduct, to behave in a manner that he believes is right - ‘mujhe jo sahi lagta hai main karta hoon’ -  but because he commands a system that has existed from time immemorial. The power of that depiction is dynamic and most attractive and loved. Negativity sells, but when you make it credible and right, it endears even more. It’s tough to pull something such as this in film and story .. but RGV and his conviction of the character, has succeeded in doing so. Which is why it attracts continuity .. and my convinced association !

Having played the character twice before, how easy was it for you to recapture inner life of this politician-gangster?

ANS//

I have reservations about the way you express the character - ‘politician-gangster’ - of SN in this particular question. I hope I am wrong, but to me it breathes, vicious negativity !

Politics compels you to take a stand, a stand that attracts disagreement and debate. Not all are expected to toe your thought  or vision, but those that do become your ‘party’ of part of your ‘gang’. In normal terms ‘gangster’ invites crime, terror and all that is violent and against social and moral norms. But would you address all such ‘gang’ partners, or what you notify as a ‘gangster’, to only be defying moral and social norms. The British Raj identified freedom fighters as 'violent gangsters’ and hung them. Daku Man Singh and Veerappan were revered by the locals they served and looked after. Their means may have been wrong, but to them their act was right and for their own reasons - legal constitutionality not withstanding. Once that is understood, the act of performing is eased out by the concept devised by the director and the writer. My professional conviction is guided and operated by the Director and in turn the Writer. They have already ‘recaptured’ it in their initial discussions. I merely attempt to enumerate their final discussion and design it on film.

Ram Gopal Varma is a very  strange filmmaker , if for no other reason then the inconsistency of his output. Having done so many films with him. how would you  describe your working relationship with this director?

ANS//

You are so right - inconsistency is indeed ’strange’.

It is ‘strange’ because consistency is downright boring and static - for some. Not all, but for some. If one were to ‘consistently’ wear black, how would they ever discover the presence or the beauty of an alternative colour. Whether they like that range of difference is another matter, but deprived of it would be, to them, discomforting.

RGV is inconsistent because he is a restless creative mind, willing and deliberating continuously, to search valuable seed through his ‘outputs’. To have made me a part of that desire is a privilege for me. It challenged me, provoked me - a condition, I am absolutely convinced, every creative artist pleads for.

RGV’s ‘inconsistency’ may not have given him the desired results he expected, but which artist, maker, producer, director has been able to achieve consistent box office success. Has that stopped us from admiring and applauding their efforts.

Every ‘inconsistent’ offer that RGV included me in, found me striving to live upto his vision. They have all been exercises of great learning. Positive learning.

Stanley Kubrik, “cited as one of the most influential Directors in cinematic history” has had the most diverse and ‘inconsistent’ temperament in his choice of films. From the iconic and revolutionary ‘2001 Space Odyssey’ made in the 60’s, to a period film, to ’The Shining’, ‘Clockwork Orange’ ‘Dr Strangelove’ is the genius of an inconsistent Director. Inconsistency has ridden with the more recent creators too. Spielberg  shifted from an extra terrestrial experience to the Holocaust. Would you call that inconsistency questionable ??!

Yes .. ‘inconsistency’ is 'strange’  !!

Ramu has gone on record to say he regrets doing all the films he has done with you except the Sarkaar franchise.  Your comments please?

ANS//

This defeats the argument of the previous response. He is wrong. I wouldn’t mind being part of his further regrets !

Abhishek was with you in the first two Sarkaar films. Did you miss his presence in the third film?

ANS//

This is an obscure question ! Abhishek’s character dies in SARKAR 2 ! How can he be present in SARKAR 3 !! SARKAR structures have differing circumstances and stories around it, but the family is the same ..

Amitji, you continue be exemplary for the Indian  mindset with your conduct and your statements. You recently said your wealth would be divided equally between your son and daughter. What prompted you come forward with this  exceptional declaration?

ANS//

No I am not exemplary with my conduct and mindset when I declare the gender equality for my children. It is a natural belief of mine. I express it because if my face and voice can sell cement, I hope it can cement this social and moral belief of mine, among my countrymen !

Do you feel that the gender inequality that plagues our social order can  only be repaired by a patriarchal willingness to right the wrongs that cause the inequality?

ANS//

This question, questions the very tenet of gender equality. Please do not even journalistically attempt to suggest that gender equality can only be repaired by a patriarchal willingness. It should be willingly repaired and accepted if it is propagated , matriarch-ally too !!



GN

Amitabh Bachchan

Exclusive Interview: Dustin Lance Black (and his husband Tom Daley) in Paris!

It was just before their surprise wedding, on May 8th: TÊTU met the director Dustin Lance Black and his fiancé, the diver Tom Daley.

Dustin Lance Black was the surprise guest of the Mania series in Paris. The filmmaker, Oscar winner in 2008 for the screenplay of Harvey Milk , came to defend When We Rise , his mini-series tracing 40 years of LGBT activism in the United States from the early 1970s to the present. On this occasion, TÊTU met exclusively the 42-year-old filmmaker to discuss his series, of course, but also the future of militancy and his next projects. While at her side, her husband, British Olympic diver Tom Daley, was watching …

TÊTU: Your series When We Rise is aimed at an audience that knows nothing about the LGBT movement but about homosexuals, right?

Dustin Lance Black: Together! The show has been designed for a large audience but LGBTQ community members do not know much about their own story! That’s why I said yes to ABC. In recent years, I have received several proposals from other networks to work on similar projects. We would surely have had more money, more time, but in the end we would have preached converts! We would have addressed a public already sensitized. For ABC, it was necessary to build a series that people who are not from the LGBT community are able to understand. That’s why When We Rise does not start with LGBT activism, but with young people who campaign in feminist movements, for peace or for civil rights …

You were not afraid that ABC, Disney’s chain, would water down the series?

DLB: I wanted to work with them! I heard a rumor that they were trying to develop a project around LGBT issues. I asked to meet with the leaders of the chain to see if they were serious. When I realized they were, I told them “I’m going to need a year of research,” which is very long for them. They said “no problem”. It was inspiring because ABC was the only channel I had the right to watch when I was a kid. I grew up in a Southern family: Conservative, Military and Mormon. ABC was the only channel my mother let me watch because it is a family network. This show is the opportunity to touch children who, like me younger, may feel alone in the world. It is even the only reason to do it! You know, Nobody makes money with this kind of project. If you do this job for big checks, go write movies where the guys wear capes!

You started working on When We Rise long before the election of Donald Trump and yet the series resonates terribly with what is happening today in the United States. Or with what could happen in France …

DLB: Or in the UK with the Brexit! (He turns to Tom Daley) It’s your fault Tom, you started this bullshit!

Tom Daley: I know! (Laughter)

DLB: More seriously, I started writing the series four years ago. At that time, we were experiencing a very progressive and exciting time in the United States in the evolution of LGBT rights. And already at the time, I was afraid. Fear because we, the people of diversity, had lost our connection to each other. Yet there was a time when we were all in solidarity. Not only the LGBTQ, but also people who pray for another god, people from other countries, people whose skin color was different, workers … But we ended up dividing. Thunderstruck by our own struggles. We have forgotten that we must also fight for our brothers, for our neighbors, as well as for us. To say that is not politically correct. It’s being smart! If minorities do not work together then we will be easily defeated! My series puts forward several ideas, but one of the most important is that each of us on this planet, in your country as in mine, we are part of a minority. It only depends on how you divide the cake. What you can snatch from your neighbor, you can get him out tomorrow. No one is a majority. This is what When We Rise is talking about , though it is seen by the LGBTQ prism in the United States, but we can also make a comparison with the struggles of diversity here in France or England. We are part of a minority. It only depends on how you divide the cake. What you can snatch from your neighbor, you can get him out tomorrow. No one is a majority. This is what When We Rise is talking about , though it is seen by the LGBTQ prism in the United States, but we can also make a comparison with the struggles of diversity here in France or England. We are part of a minority. It only depends on how you divide the cake. What you can snatch from your neighbor, you can get him out tomorrow. No one is a majority. This is what When We Rise is talking about , though it is seen by the LGBTQ prism in the United States, but we can also make a comparison with the struggles of diversity here in France or England.

Condensing 40 years of LGBT history in 7 episodes is a real challenge …

DLB: And if we remove the ads, there is only 6 hours of program! I have a lot of rushes, maybe one day I would make a director’s cut! (Laughs) But there are tricks to get by. The first is to be very strategic and very determined on the story we want to tell. The challenge is not to tell the life of every person in the LGBT movement, only a handful of them who created a family in San Francisco to survive homophobia. It is their history, their perceptual. There are other LGBTQ heroes whose lives have not yet been told, many struggles that have never been described. I heard the frustrations of LGBT people telling me “you have not talked about this person! From this place ! Of this struggle! Instead of annoying me, it made me very happy. I said to myself, "Okay, I laid a frame, your turn to tell these lives! People begin to understand the power of history. This is something we have not had so far in the LGBT movement: a popularized and easily accessible story.

Can we see your series as a response to Stonewall , the film by Roland Emmerich, to whom many have criticized taking too much freedom with the reality of the riots in New York?

DLB: Let me tell you one thing: Roland is my friend. He has donated a lot of money to a number of causes, particularly in favor of LGBTQ youth in Los Angeles. He saved heaps of lives and I love him. So I may not be the right person to ask this question … He made me read a version of his script and I told him what I thought. When I was researching When We Rise , I had interviewed Stonewall survivors. Two have since died. I sent the recordings to him and said, "These interviews are yours. You can do whatever you want. In a way, I see how he got closer to what I sent him but I also see how he got away from it … But in the end, it’s his film. I often tell my film students, When it comes to writing about a true story: each filmmaker must decide how much he wants to twist the truth before filming. I want to twist it as little as possible.

Is that why you want the activists whose lives you depict to be consultants on the series?

DLB: I try, as far as possible, to interview myself the people who have lived the things I want to tell. I do not like to rely on books or interviews. Interviews are often edited and a book is always the point of view of its author. When I write, I want to come closer to the truth to create an essential story. For opponents of equality will always try to say: "None of this has happened! And I refuse to give them that power. Even before the series was broadcast, American ultra-conservatives were already saying "this is all wrong! I was able to answer them: "The people who have lived through these events are there to tell you that everything is true. You will not snatch our history from us! ”

You wrote Harvey Milk , J. Edgar , Part 8 , Now When We Rise … Are you the one-man man: LGBT history?

DLB: I started as a screenwriter for series like Big Love , where I was mainly talking about my Mormon education. I’ve also produced, Prophet’s Prey , a documentary about the Mormon Church and I will soon begin a mini series with Ron Howard, Under the banner of Heaven . This is another side of me, which has nothing to do with my homosexuality but it remains related to my experience. To be an artist is to be endowed with a history. The more complicated the better! (Laughs) And the more one puts oneself in a narrative, the more it becomes universal. For example, at this time,

Why are you looking at Tom?

DLB: Because Tom is the symbol of romance! (he smiles)

TD: And I’m the star of his film!

DLB: Do not say that, it’s going to make the front page of all the English tabloids! I would like to make this film next fall. And I also work on a biopic by Byron Rustin (a close adviser to Martin Luther King), who was also gay, for HBO. There is so much to tell because LGBT history has been buried for so long. Women’s movements or for racial equality have had the right to films! And it gives people inspiration. Thanks to them, they feel less isolated. All this work has not taken place on LGBT history. Forty years ago, in the United States, you were at risk of electroshock, lobotomy or prison treatment just for writing this story. We lost time because at the time, to do what I do today, the price to pay was too high. And if my mission is to rectify that,

When We Rise episodes are available on Canal Plus Series

In a Name: Ch 15

The people @pabegay1 @kristenscamander  @hannah-caitlynn @graysonmalfoy @falltoashes @solsticestorm @bingewatchingmylifegoby @elenoranave @incadinkadoo @melanin—senpai @juuliiaa05 @sigridlaufeyson @ihaveanobsessenproblem @oneweirdfangirl


You and Loki sat at neighboring tables in the library. Both yours and his plates lay empty, as the two of you eagerly finished reading your own stories.

Keep reading

Hetalia Fandom Hub Interview: @bubbleteahime!

She’s a content creator, Taiwan expert, and bubble tea connoisseur! It’s @bubbleteahime!


Hello! Can you introduce yourself for everyone?

大家好! My name is zen. I am a 17-year-old Taiwanese by blood (and American by birth) student living abroad in the Middle East. In the fandom, I used to post pwgbta art, but I’m mostly reblogging now. I write and make edits occasionally but, mainly, I serve as the resident Taiwan person– an all-around consultant, information source, and fan of APH Taiwan and Taiwan. I like predominantly historical and reality-based Hetalia and aim to spread information and awareness on APH Taiwan in order to give her the portrayal she deserves (and lacks right now) in the fandom. 

How long have you been in the fandom and how did you get into it?

My entry into the fandom had been a late one, in 2013, beyond the heyday of Hetalia. The story goes that I found PruHun fanart and found out Hetalia existed. I loved the idea of personified countries, but really, what mattered to me most was whether my own country was represented or not, and she was! To make it worse, I more or less shipped Japan and Taiwan before I even knew Hetalia existed. So after I immersed myself in all the incredible fanart on pixiv and fanfiction from Taiwan, I was already irrevocably sucked into the Hetalia fandom. In short, blame my love for Taiwan and its relations with Japan.

Taiwan seems like a really important character to you! Are there any ways, besides nationality, that you find her relatable?

She loves food and sassing people, and I find that really relatable. Food is my life, and I’m prone to having a sharp tongue sometimes. Additionally, I, too, have become more of an anxious type in recent years. 

What is your favourite thing about the fandom?

I like how it can be very educational in nature! When you find the right people, you learn so much about other countries and regions- their cultures, histories, politics. It’s a beautiful thing when done right, and I’m grateful to have found these people in the Hetalia fandom.

Why did you want to become an Ambassador for Taiwan?

I have always wanted to play a similar role in the fandom. In fact, I had a plan to become fandom famous so I can spread information about Taiwan and encourage portrayals of APH Taiwan that actually reflect a Taiwanese perspective. There has never been much knowledge on Taiwan in the fandom, and I know that from all the fanfiction and fanworks I’ve seen in the fandom. There has been a lot of misconceptions about her and Taiwan in general, and her fandom reputation hinges a lot upon portrayals that could use some actual Taiwanese perspective/research/criticism. I have wanted to rectify that ever since I joined the fandom. So when the role of Ambassadors was announced on the Hub, I jumped at the chance even before the details were even released. I’ve been ready all my life. 

What do you enjoy most about writing and editing?

What I love most about writing is how I can express my country through my words creatively. There are a lot of things that get lost in translation, but I aim to bridge those gaps with my writing. I can directly show people the Taiwan I know through writing, and that’s what matters to me. Additionally, I think writing Hetalia fanfiction is also very incredible when you put into a lot of research on it. You allow people to see and learn about the history, the relations, of different countries and places in a way that’s more subtle, more interesting than in purely academic language. With edits, I aim to do that visually, but admittedly, I am much better and more comfortable with writing than editing.

What do you find most difficult about writing and editing?

Finding the time for them would probably be my biggest challenge. I have so many unwritten ideas I had to discard because I know I won’t have time to finish them. Other than that, I would have to say researching for accuracy because it’s time consuming, and sometimes you just can’t find the information you need, and putting the information together also is not easy.

If people want to research a culture, where do you think is a good place to start?

On a surface level, CIA World Factbook is a pretty solid place to check out for basic facts about countries (though I would advise being cautious because it does have an American perspective) and checking out the country’s own government website to get the basic facts from the country’s own perspective (which, also, you need to be cautious with because this is only the government’s perspective). Next, I would say extensive research from trustworthy sources– true, blog posts may be cool places to look for observations, but more often than not they’re by tourists. The best thing would be getting publications from people of that culture, but I know that’s difficult to come by, especially when you don’t speak the language. I usually look for academic papers and feature stories about culture on news organizations from that country or culture itself because they usually have an ample amount of credibility and evidence. 

Additionally, @writingwithcolor is a wonderful resource if you have specific questions about portraying characters of certain cultures in your writing.

Do you think being culturally accurate is more important than being canonically accurate?

I think there are many ways of interpreting Hetalia, but personally, yes, I do think so. These are personifications of real countries, real people, real cultures– that in itself comes with a certain kind of weight. Sure, Hetalia is just a manga/anime, and people should enjoy it as they please, but it is important to remember that sometimes the canon depiction of certain countries do not match the actual countries themselves. Himaruya’s depictions of countries is colored by his personal views, and more often than not, a lot of them tend to lack depth in research. I mean, I can’t expect him to do that amount of research for every single country, of course, but I would like the fandom to understand that. Often, I see Hetalia being the way people gain exposure to other countries that might not exist in their daily lives, and I think that’s great. However, ultimately, I think the people of that country, that culture, would and should have most say in the way they are represented by their countries’ “personifications”– sometimes the Hetalia canon just doesn’t reflect their perspective. So it can be pretty harmful for people to have the Hetalia canon projected onto these countries in real life.

Who do you look up to in the fandom?

I must say, there are a great many bloggers I admire in the fandom, but the ones I admire most are mostly part of the @historicalhetaliacollective. There I have truly found the corner I belong in, and I have learned SO much from everyone in the collective. (It’s sappy, but I love you all so much.) To name a few, @stirringwind, @yelyzavetaart, @tomato-bird, and @ilaaer have been incredible sources of inspiration to me in how they’ve used their art and writing to express and portray their knowledge and research. A good number of them have also used their fandom fame to spread information and awareness about difficult and/or controversial real life issues and histories– something that really is NOT easy to do on this site. @excelsorum has also been an amazing friend and inspiration to me, too. He put so much research into all his roleplay blogs, and we’re in the same boat of trying to rectify our misrepresented countries. He has probably been subject to most of my ranting and has helped me clarify a lot on my portrayal and interpretation of Taiwan. @iuius has also been a wonderful friend and inspiration who has been subject to my long-winded Taiwan rants. I really admire her art and the thought she puts into her designs! Truly, there are a lot more people I have not yet mentioned, but the people in the collective are truly dear to me and inspire me to continue in my endeavors of writing and spreading information about Taiwan and APH Taiwan.


Thank you very much to @bubbleteahime for being our interviewee this month! Please check out her work as an Ambassador, writer, and edit maker!