systemic complexity

okay, so, I love all the posts that run off the assumption that humans are the most ridiculous sapient species in the galaxy

but what if it’s just the other way around

what if humans are notoriously straitlaced and obsessed with protocol. the bureaucrats of the stars.

which is obviously something we would constantly try to complain about and disprove only for some Alpha Centaurian to be like “Captain, your species formalized spirituality, repeatedly, and a recurring theme therein is that the heavens themselves are run as a bureaucracy. Even your rebellions and revolutions are meticulously planned.”

it’s not a bad thing, per se, to have a human on your team — analytical minds, good diplomats (if only because one human etiquette system can be more complex and even contradictory than the vastly varied customs of an entire species) — but be prepared for them to call attention to moral quandaries and loopholes that never would have occurred to you.

and speaking of loopholes, do be careful, because the only thing worse than a human armed with an ironclad system of rules is a human who’s found a gaping hole in them.

Since we haven’t seen any explicitly said Women Galrans I propose:
1.Galrans are gay men, their species are all men, capable of giving birth (cough keef is gay)

2. A great multitude of Galrans genders that dont abide by the ridiculous binary system earth enforces, He/him pronouns seem to be a common occurrence BUT who is to say they are all men? What if they as a whole go by he/him pronouns but really have different complex genders and all sorts of different reproductive capabilities like who knows? (Please give me complex galran gender systems & trans Galrans)

3. All Galrans are nonbinary and each have different reproductive traits

4. All Galrans are men and have children with other species which accounts for the diversity in the Galrans race

5. Galran voice: what the fuck is a gender?

On Earning the Favor of Hunters: Do’s and Don’ts

DO:

1) Compliment their cloak

In the wild, Hunters often bond via social grooming; well-timed flattery can encourage an otherwise antisocial hunter to engage. As they tend to perform better when confident, this is also a useful battlefield tactic.

2) Pick up the tab

Hunter social dynamics are built upon a complex system of favor-trading, posturing, and outright lies and bribery. The gesture of paying for a bar tab is a good way to ingrain yourself with the “Pack.”

TIP: lay ground rules early and be wary of semantic traps before offering, otherwise you may find yourself with empty pockets. For example, say “Your next drink is on me, if you order the same thing you just had within the next thirty seconds” vs. “Drinks are on me.”

3) Encourage healthy competition

Hunters are often motivated by the opportunity to show up Warlocks. If there is a Hunter on your fireteam, suggest low-stake wagers or other competitions to instill in your Hunter the desire to act. Otherwise, they may be reluctant to engage in group activities or patrols, and can become less inclined to socialize in the future. In extreme cases, a poorly-socialized Hunter can grow sulky and lazy. Intentionally losing on occasion will inspire your Hunter to double down on their attempts to outdo your successes.


DON’T:

1) Express outright disbelief

Asking for a story is an excellent way to ingratiate yourself with a Hunter, and most story-tellers respect healthy skepticism about their tall tales, as this gives them an opportunity for further posturing. Be wary, however, of outright disbelief. Responses are unpredictable, and range wildly between Hunters: back-slapping good humor is relatively common, but so is immediate violence and the occasional mating proposition. 

2) Offer anything for free

Favors and verbal bartering, while a necessary element of Hunter interaction, must be granted judiciously. It should be made clear that, even if you do not expect immediate repayment in kind, you do expect the favor to be returned. For example, taking on a part of a Hunter’s workload without establishing that you expect to be recompensed somehow, at some point in the future (remember to clarify terms as you deem necessary), is a good way to both lose the respect of your Hunter and encourage bad behavior. Remember: you must work hard early on to instill good habits in your Hunter.

3) Make a promise without knowing what you’re promising

On a similar note, never accept a verbal contract before you are completely certain what your Hunter is requesting of you. For example, on the subject of favors, the proper response to a Hunter asking if you will “Do [them] a favor” is not “Yes.” It is: “What did you have in mind?”

It is important to stay vigilant: even such throwaway terms as “Sure, I’ll help” can be construed as binding. Breaking a promise carries a serious stigma in Hunter society, and is a good way to find yourself ostracized or worse.

4) Insult their knives

This will end poorly.

- A Warlock’s Guide to Hunters // Anonymous

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

From images to virtual reality and interactive simulations, NASA offers plenty of ways to explore our solar system – and beyond – in 3-D.

1. Step One: Get the Glasses

Many of the images and interactive features require special glasses with red and blue lenses.

2. Breaking News (Virtual Reality Edition)

Big news from 40 light-years away (235 trillion miles). Our Spitzer Space Telescope revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, all of them have the potential for water on their surfaces.

No glasses required.

This image was created by combining two images from STEREO B (Feb. 24, 2008) taken about 12 hours apart, during which the sun’s rotation provides sufficient perspective to create a nice 3-D effect.

3. Free-Range 3-D Exploration

Our Eyes on the Solar System app allows free exploration of Earth, our Solar System and thousands of worlds discovered orbiting distant stars. And, you also can explore it all in 3-D!

Under visual controls just check 3-D, pop on your glasses and explore.

4. Your Star in 3-D

The STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) mission studied the sun in 3-D with twin satellites.

5. National Parks in 3-D

The Earth-orbiting Terra satellite’s Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument provides 3-D views while orbiting Earth, including some great shots of our National Parks.

6. Get in the Pilot’s Seat

Take a look inside the cockpit of our high altitude ER-2 aircraft as it descends for landing at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. This month, scientists used used the aircraft to collect data on coral reef health and volcanic emissions and eruptions. Flying at 65,000 feet, above 95 percent of Earth’s atmosphere, the ER-2 has a unique ability to replicate the data a future satellite could collect. Data from this mission will help in developing a planned NASA satellite mission to study natural hazards and ecosystems called Hyperspectral Infrared Imager, or HyspIRI.

7. Moon Views

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter creates 3-D images from orbit by taking an image of the moon from one angle on one orbit and a different angle on a separate orbit.

This stereo scene looking back at where Curiosity crossed a dune at “Dingo Gap” combines several exposures taken by the Navigation Camera (Navcam) high on the rover’s mast.

8. Martian 3D

Our Mars fleet of rovers and orbiters captures the Red Planet from all angles - often in 3-D.

9. Saturn in 3-D

The Cassini spacecraft’s mission to Saturn is well-known for its stunning images of the planet and its complex system of rings and moons. Now you can see some of them in 3-D.

10. Want More? Do It Yourself!

Put a new dimension to your vacation photos. Our Mars team created this handy how-to guide to making your own eye-popping 3-D images.

BONUS: Printer-Friendly

Why stop with images? The Ames Research Center hosts a vast collection of 3-D printable models ranging from the moon craters to spacecraft.

Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.

Follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

6

The Empire strikes back by being a bastard. Their target is the flippin shield generator, but they take some time out of their day to gun down the people on foot running away from our their giant machines of death.

anonymous asked:

Bucky my dude, Avenger animals was awesome, but what about Sam?? Sure, he's a falcon but I bet you have other ideas...

i guess ill do the newbie avengers too. 

sam would be a dolphin. fast and effective in their environment of choice but pretty useless outside it, dolphins are also very smart (dont tell sam i called him smart) and absolutely lethal to threats to their own. they also care for their own sick and injured and will even help injured or distressed humans sometimes.  and they talk freaking constantly.

pietro would be a ferret. smart, mischievous, high energy, social, and as hard to catch as greased jello. fights dirty. loves to mess around. 

wanda would be a stoat. like a ferret, they too are very clever and mischievous, but are also extremely adaptable, able to use their brain to turn circumstances to their advantage. theyre one of the smallest carnivores around and they have attitude totally disproportionate to their tiny little bodies. dont mess with stoats guys. they feel no fear and they hold grudges. 

scott would be a raccoon. fun loving and social but also total troublemakers, always getting into places they shouldnt be. and stealing your stuff. and making messes. and then looking totally confused about how on earth all this got everywhere, i was just grabbing a snack, i swear. 

peter is a bluejay. like ravens, theyre smart and chatty, and are excellent mimics. despite their small size, theyre surprisingly fierce, but they prefer cunning to force. but dont think that makes them pushovers–bluejays are tiny colorful badasses, despite how fluffy they get when its cold out. 

tchalla is a cat. i tried to reach with this one and find something else, but he totally is, nothing for it. he’s a cat. dignified and graceful, good with people but definitely still a predator underneath. also im pretty sure that if tchalla ever did something embarrassing, hed just straighten himself out and pretend it never happened, exactly like cats do. 

rhodey would be a california condor. theyre pretty much the biggest bird in north american skies, with a wingspan of over nine feet. they have an intimidating reputation and can look pretty scary but underneath they are very loyal to their chosen families. they have very complex social systems and tend to be dedicated but tough-love parents, and are also very curious about the world around them. theyre big, badass, and enduring–one of the oldest species still aloft. nothings got staying power like a condor. or an air force guy flying around in a tank. 

Dangerous Man (John Wick x Reader)

Originally posted by anothermoviepage

Working at The Continental isn’t at all what you thought it’d be. 

SPOILER FREE FIC.


You smoothed out your shirt and looked in the mirror. It was your first day on the job. You were decked out head to toe in brand new clothes. All from a designer you’d never heard of. All custom made to fit you perfectly.  All completely free. On top of that, you’d be making a salary that, at entry level, was six figures. And all you had to do was deliver room service.

But there was a saying you’d heard since you were young: If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

You should have suspected something was off when you had to give a blood sample, a urine sample, a DNA swab, and answer a thirteen page questionnaire that included things like “list the full names of your parents, siblings, and grandparents” or “do you have any experience with sutures, cauterization, or CPR?”

And then the interview, itself, felt more like an interrogation. The whole thing gave you this weird feeling in your gut, but this was also the most exclusive hotel in New York City. Getting a room here wasn’t about whether or not you had the money, but whether or not you knew the right people, and even then, it was typically booked solid. You’d even heard a rumor that The Queen of England was denied a room once. Of course they’d be picky about their staff.

But after the lengthy interview process and dozen or so signatures on papers you probably should have read, you found out the truth about The Continental.

The manager’s name was Winston. He was nice enough, though he had a very “no nonsense” attitude about him. The more you found out about the place, though, the more you understood why. It was a safe haven for a secret society of people. Assassins. Hit men. Gang Lords. The underground elite of not only New York, but the entire world. The only currency accepted from customers were gold coins. One gold coin was the equivalent to one favor. It was a simple system, Winston explained, but complex to newcomers. You’d pick it up over time. All you needed to know was that if you got a coin, you kept a close eye on it.

Additionally, the hotel followed a strict set of rules, but the two that most concerned you were that staff was never to ask questions, and no business could ever be conducted on hotel grounds. The latter of the two should have made you feel safer, but instead, it just made you more nervous.

Upon the conclusion of your meeting with Winston, he presented you with a single gold coin. You looked at him curiously. He smiled, and said simply:

“A welcome gift.”

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Can you explain your recent post about not liking cultural relativism? I don't know if I'm missing something, but I thought that cultural relativism was good bc it (in theory) prevented you from applying your cultural framework to others.

cultural relativism gets into some real freaky shit wrt “morality is completely relative and you can’t really say that oppressing / enslaving / murdering people is WRONG because that’s just their CULTURE.” which is of course racist in itself (as if those backwards brown people couldn’t possibly be expected to do any better?) & it’s also used to snidely ignore or even denounce the activism of oppressed people w/in those cultures who know that that shit’s not cute because they live it.

this happens a whole lot but recently it’s being used to defend alex tizon and that entire horrific situation because “the filipino class system is just really complex and that’s our culture and you can’t call it slavery or else you’re being western-centric” and it’s evil it’s giving me hives!!

We live in a world populated by structures—a complex mixture of geological, biological, social and linguistic constructions that are nothing but accumulations of materials shaped and hardened by history. Immersed as we are in this mixture, we cannot help but interact in a variety of ways with the other historical constructions that surround us, and in these interactions we generate novel combinations, some of which possess emergent properties. In turn, these synergistic combinations, whether of human origin or not, become the raw material for further mixtures. This is how the population of structures inhabiting our planet has acquired its rich variety, as the entry of novel materials into the mix triggers wild proliferations of new forms.
—  Manuel De Landa
10

Sorano design- Takumi Uchu

I am a web designer and director living in Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan.
I like space, science and media art.
My works are imagined from the behavior of microscopic particles to the macroscopic universe by using Processing, openFrameworks etc.
Also, I’m interested in Data visualization of the data of the universe and natural phenomena,and a complex system of network.
石川県在住のWebデザイナー/Webディレクターです。
宇宙や科学好き。

twitter : @takumi_uchu

巨視的な宇宙から微視的な粒子の振る舞いまで、自分の想像に任せてコードで表現しています。
ジェネラティブ・アートと言われる、プログラミングによるランダムと秩序を生成する視覚表現で、
抽象的でありながら有機的なデザインの研究をしています。
また、宇宙や自然現象のデータを利用したデータビジュアライゼーション、複雑系のネットワークにも興味があります。

Tumblr

An Essay Written by William Blake, a Man Who has Been in Solitary Confinement for Nearly 28 Years.

“You deserve an eternity in hell.”


Onondaga County Supreme Court judge Kevin Mulroy told me this from his bench as I stood before him for sentencing on July 10, 1987. Apparently he had the idea that God was not the only one qualified to make such judgment calls.


Judge Mulroy wanted to “Pump six buck’s worth of electricity into [my] body,” he also said, though I suggest that it wouldn’t have taken six cent’s worth to get me good and dead. He must have wanted to reduce me and The Chair to a pile of ashes. My “friend” Governor Mario Cuomo wouldn’t allow him to do that, though, the judge went on, bemoaning New York State’s lack of a death statute due to the then-Governor’s repeated vetoes of death penalty bills that had been approved by the state legislature. Governor Cuomo’s publicly expressed dudgeon over being called a friend of mine by Judge Mulroy was understandable, given the crimes that I had just been convicted of committing. I didn’t care much for him either, truth be told. He built too many new prisons in my opinion, and cut academic and vocational programs in the prisons already standing.


I know that Judge Mulroy was not nearly alone in wanting to see me executed for the crime I committed when I shot two Onondaga County sheriff’s deputies inside the Town of Dewitt courtroom during a failed escape attempt, killing one and critically wounding the other. There were many people in the Syracuse area who shared his sentiments, to be sure. I read the hateful letters to the editor printed in the local newspapers; I could even feel the anger of the people when I’d go to court, so palpable was it. Even by the standards of my own belief system, such as it was back then, I deserved to die for what I had done. I took the life of a man without just cause, committing an act so monumentally wrong that I could not have argued that it was unfair had I been required to pay with my own life.


What nobody knew or suspected back then, not even I, on that very day I would begin suffering a punishment that I am convinced beyond all doubt is far worse than any death sentence could possibly have been. On July 10, 2012, I finished my 25th consecutive year in solitary confinement, where at the time of this writing I remain. Though it is true that I’ve never died and so don’t know exactly what the experience would entail, for the life of me I cannot fathom how dying any death could be harder or more terrible than living through all that I have been forced to endure for the last quarter-century.

Prisoners call it The Box.

Prison authorities have euphemistically dubbed it the Special Housing Unit, or SHU (pronounced “shoe”) for short. In society it is known as solitary confinement. It is 23-hour a day lock-down in a cell smaller than some closets I’ve seen, with one hour allotted to “recreation” consisting of placement in a concrete enclosed yard by oneself or, in some prisons, a cage made of steel bars. There is nothing in a SHU yard but air: no TV, no balls to bounce, no games to play, no other inmates, nothing. There is very little allowed in a SHU cell, also. Three sets of plain white underwear, one pair of green pants, one green short-sleeved button-up shirt, one green sweatshirt, ten books or magazines total, twenty pictures of the people you love, writing supplies, a bar of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, one deodorant stick but no shampoo, and that’s about it. No clothes of your own, only prison-made. No food from commissary or packages, only three unappetizing meals a day handed to you through a narrow slot in your cell door. No phone calls, no TV, no luxury items at all. You get a set of cheap headphones to use, and you can pick between the two or three (depending on which prison you’re in) jacks in the cell wall to plug into. You can listen to a TV station in one jack, and use your imagination while trying to figure out what is going on when the music indicates drama but the dialogue doesn’t suffice to tell you anything. Or you can listen to some music, but you’re out of luck if you’re a rock-n-roll fan and find only rap is playing.


Your options in what to do to occupy your time in SHU are scant, but there will be boredom aplenty. You probably think that you understand boredom, know its feel, but really you don’t. What you call boredom would seem a whirlwind of activity to me, choices so many that I’d likely be befuddled in trying to pick one over all the others. You could turn on a TV and watch a movie or some other show; I haven’t seen a TV since the 1980′s. You could go for a walk in the neighborhood; I can’t walk more than a few feet in any direction before I run into a concrete wall or steel bars. You could pick up your phone and call a friend; I don’t know if I’d be able to remember how to make a collect call or even if the process is still the same, so many years it’s been since I’ve used a telephone. Play with your dog or cat and experience their love, or watch your fish in their aquarium; the only creatures I see daily are the mice and cockroaches that infest the unit, and they’re not very lovable and nothing much to look at. There is a pretty good list of options available to you, if you think about it, many things that you could do even when you believe you are so bored. You take them for granted because they are there all the time, but if it were all taken away you’d find yourself missing even the things that right now seem so small and insignificant. Even the smallest stuff can become as large as life when you have had nearly nothing for far too long.


I haven’t been outside in one of the SHU yards in this prison for about four years now. I haven’t seen a tree or blade of grass in all that time, and wouldn’t see these things were I to go to the yard. In Elmira Correctional Facility, where I am presently imprisoned, the SHU yards are about three or four times as big as my cell. There are twelve SHU yards total, each surrounded by concrete walls, one or two of the walls lined with windows. If you look in the windows you’ll see the same SHU company that you live on, and maybe you’ll get a look at a guy who was locked next to you for months that you’ve talked to every day but had never before gotten a look at. If you look up you’ll find bars and a screen covering the yard, and if you’re lucky maybe you can see a bit of blue sky through the mesh, otherwise it’ll be hard to believe that you’re even outside. If it’s a good day you can walk around the SHU yard in small circles staring ahead with your mind on nothingness, like the nothing you’ve got in that lacuna with you. If it’s a bad day, though, maybe your mind will be filled with remembrances of all you used to have that you haven’t seen now for many years, and you’ll be missing it, feeling the loss, feeling it bad.


Life in the box is about an austere sameness that makes it difficult to tell one day from a thousand others. Nothing much and nothing new ever happen to tell you if it’s a Monday or a Friday, March or September, 1987 or 2012. The world turns, technology advances, and things in the streets change and keep changing all the time. Not so in a solitary confinement unit, however. I’ve never seen a cell phone except in pictures in magazines. I’ve never touched a computer in my life, never been on the Internet and wouldn’t know how to get there if you sat me in front of a computer, turned it on for me, and gave me directions. SHU is a timeless place, and I can honestly say that there is not a single thing I’d see looking around right now that is different from what I saw in Shawangunk Correctional Facility’s box when I first arrived there from Syracuse’s county jail in 1987. Indeed, there is probably nothing different in SHU now than in SHU a hundred years ago, save the headphones. Then and now there were a few books, a few prison-made clothing articles, walls and bars and human beings locked in cages… and misery.There is always the misery. If you manage to escape it yourself for a time, there will ever be plenty around in others for you to sense; and though you’ll be unable to look into their eyes and see it, you might hear it in the nighttime when tough guys cry not-so-tough tears that are forced out of them by the unrelenting stress and strain that life in SHU is an exercise in.


I’ve read of the studies done regarding the effects of long-term isolation in solitary confinement on inmates, seen how researchers say it can ruin a man’s mind, and I’ve watched with my own eyes the slow descent of sane men into madness—sometimes not so slow. What I’ve never seen the experts write about, though, is what year after year of abject isolation can do to that immaterial part in our middle where hopes survive or die and the spirit resides. So please allow me to speak to you of what I’ve seen and felt during some of the harder times of my twenty-five-year SHU odyssey.


I’ve experienced times so difficult and felt boredom and loneliness to such a degree that it seemed to be a physical thing inside so thick it felt like it was choking me, trying to squeeze the sanity from my mind, the spirit from my soul, and the life from my body. 


I’ve seen and felt hope becoming like a foggy ephemeral thing, hard to get ahold of, even harder to keep ahold of as the years and then decades disappeared while I stayed trapped in the emptiness of the SHU world. I’ve seen minds slipping down the slope of sanity, descending into insanity, and I’ve been terrified that I would end up like the guys around me that have cracked and become nuts. It’s a sad thing to watch a human being go insane before your eyes because he can’t handle the pressure that the box exerts on the mind, but it is sadder still to see the spirit shaken from a soul. And it is more disastrous. Sometimes the prison guards find them hanging and blue; sometimes their necks get broken when they jump from their bed, the sheet tied around the neck that’s also wrapped around the grate covering the light in the ceiling snapping taut with a pop. I’ve seen the spirit leaving men in SHU and have witnessed the results.


The box is a place like no other place on planet Earth. It’s a place where men full of rage can stand at their cell gates fulminating on their neighbor or neighbors, yelling and screaming and speaking some of the filthiest words that could ever come from a human mouth, do it for hours on end, and despite it all never suffer the loss of a single tooth, never get his head knocked clean off his shoulders. You will NEVER hear words more despicable or see mouth wars more insane than what occurs all the time in SHU. Not anywhere else in the world. Because there would be serious violence before any person could speak so much foulness for so long. In the box the heavy steel bars allow mouths to run with impunity when they could not otherwise do so, while the ambient is one that is sorely conducive to an exceedingly hot sort of anger that seems to press the lips on to ridiculous extremes. Day and night I have been awakened to the sound of the rage being loosed loudly on SHU gates, and I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t at times been one of the madmen doing the yelling.


I have lived for months where the first thing I became aware of upon waking in the morning is the malodorous funk of human feces, tinged with the acrid stench of days-old urine, where I eat my breakfast, lunch, and dinner with that same stink assaulting my senses, and where the last thought I had before falling into unconscious sleep was: “Damn, it smells like shit in here.” I have felt like I was on an island surrounded by vicious sharks, flanked on both sides by mentally ill inmates who would splash their excrement all over their cells, all over the company outside their cells, and even all over themselves. I have went days into weeks that seemed like they’d never end without being able to sleep more than short snatches before I was shocked out of my dreams, and thrown back into a living nightmare, by the screams of sick men who have lost all ability to control themselves, or by the banging of cell bars and walls of these same madmen. I have been so tired when sleep inside was impossible that I went outside into a snowstorm to get some sleep.


The wind blew hard and snowflakes swirled around and around in the small SHU yard at Shawangunk, and I had but one cheap prison-produced coat on and a single set of state clothes beneath. To escape the biting cold I dug into the seven- or eight-foot high mountain of snow that was piled in the center of the yard, the accumulation from inmates shoveling a narrow path to walk along the perimeter. With bare hands gone numb, I dug out a small room in that pile of snow, making myself a sort of igloo. When it was done I crawled inside, rolled onto my back on the snow-covered concrete ground, and almost instantly fell asleep, my bare head pillowed in the snow. I didn’t even have a hat to wear.


An hour or so later I was awakened by the guards come to take me back to the stink and insanity inside: “Blake, rec’s over…” I had gotten an hour’s straight sleep, minus the few minutes it had taken me to dig my igloo. That was more than I had gotten in weeks without being shocked awake by the CA-RACK! of a sneaker being slapped into a plexiglass shield covering the cell of an inmate who had thrown things nasty; or the THUD-THUD-THUD! of an inmate pounding his cell wall, or bars being banged, gates being kicked and rattled, or men screaming like they’re dying and maybe wishing that they were; or to the tirade of an inmate letting loose his pent-up rage on a guard or fellow inmate, sounding every bit the lunatic that too long a time in the mind-breaking confines of the box had caused him to be.


I have been so exhausted physically, mental strength being tested to limits that can cause strong folks to snap, that I have begged God, tough guy I fancy myself, “Please, Lord, make them stop. Please let me get some peace.” As the prayers went ungranted and the insanity around me persisted, I felt my own rage rising above the exhaustion and misery, no longer in a begging mood: “Lord, kill those motherfuckers, why don’t you!” I yelled at the Almighty, my own sanity so close to being gone that it seemed as if I were walking along a precipice and could see down to where I’d be falling, seeing myself shot, sanity a dead thing killed by the fall. I’d be afraid later on, terrified, when I reflected back on how close I had seemed to come to losing my mind, but at that moment all I could do was feel anger of a fiery kind: anger at the maniacs creating the noise and the stink and the madness; anger at my keepers and the real creators of this hell; anger at society for turning a blind eye to the torment and torture going on here that its tax dollars are financing; and perhaps most of all, anger at myself for doing all that I did that never should have been done that put me into the clutches of this beastly prison system to begin with. I would be angry at the world; enraged, actually, so burning hot was what I would be feeling.


I had wet toilet paper stuffed hard into both ears, socks folded up and pressed into my ears, a pillow wrapped around the sides and back of my head covering my ears, and a blanket tied around all that to hold everything in place, lying in bed praying for sleep. But still the noise was incredible, a thunderous cacophony of insanity, sleep impossible. Inmates lost in the throes of lavalike rage firing philippics at one another for even reasons they didn’t know, threatening to kill one another’s mommas, daddies, even the children, too. Nothing is sacred in SHU. It is an environment that is so grossly abnormal, so antithetical to normal human interactions, that it twists the innerds of men all around who for too long dwell there. Their minds, their morals, and their mannerisms get bent badly, ending far off-center. Right becomes whatever and wrong no longer exists. Restraint becomes a burden and is unnecessary with concrete and steel separating everyone, so inmates let it go. Day after day, perhaps year after year, the anger grows, fueled by the pain caused by the conditions till rage is born and burning so hot that it too hurts.


Trying to put into words what is so unlike anything else I know or have ever experienced seems an impossible endeavor, because there is nothing even remotely like it any place else to compare it to, and nothing that will do to you on the inside what so many years in SHU has done to me. All that I am able to articulate about the world of Special Housing Unit and what it is and what it does may seem terrible to you indeed, but the reality of living in this place for a full quarter of a century is yet even more terrible, still. You would have to live it, experience it in all its aspects with the fullness of its days and struggles added up, to really appreciate and understand just how truly terrible this plight of mine has been, and how truly ugly life in the box can be at times, even for just a single day. I spent nine years in Shawangunk’s box, six years in Sullivan’s, six years in Great Meadow’s, and I’ve been here in Elmira’s SHU for four years now, and through all of this time I have never spent a single day in a Mental Health Unit cell because I attempted or threatened suicide, or for any other reason. I have thought about suicide in times past when the days had become exceedingly difficult to handle, but I’m still here. I’ve had some of my SHU neighbors succumb to the suicidal thoughts, though, choosing death over another day of life in the box. I have never bugged out myself, but I’ve known times that I had come too close. I’ve had neighbors who came to SHU normal men, and I’ve seen them leave broken and not anything resembling normal anymore. I’ve seen guys give up on their dreams and lose all hope in the box, but my own hopes and dreams are still alive and well inside me. The insidious workings of the SHU program have yet to get me stuck on that meandering path to internal destruction that I have seen so many of my neighbors end up on, and perhaps this is a miracle; I’d rather be dead than to lose control of my mind.


Had I known in 1987 that I would spend the next quarter-century in solitary confinement, I would have certainly killed myself. If I took a month to die and spent every minute of it in severe pain, it seems to me that on a balance that fate would still be far easier to endure than the last twenty-five years have been. If I try to imagine what kind of death, even a slow one, would be worse than twenty-five years in the box—and I have tried to imagine it—I can come up with nothing. Set me afire, pummel and bludgeon me, cut me to bits, stab me, shoot me, do what you will in the worst of ways, but none of it could come close to making me feel things as cumulatively horrifying as what I’ve experienced through my years in solitary. Dying couldn’t take but a short time if you or the State were to kill me; in SHU I have died a thousand internal deaths. The sum of my quarter-century’s worth of suffering has been that bad.


To some judges sitting on high who’ve never done a day in the box, maybe twenty-five years of this isn’t cruel and unusual. To folks who have an insatiable appetite for vengeance against prisoners who have committed terrible crimes, perhaps it doesn’t even matter how cruel or unusual my plight is or isn’t. For people who cannot let go of hate and know not how to forgive, no amount of remorse would matter, no level of contrition would be quite enough, only endless retribution would be right in their eyes. Like Judge Milroy, only an eternity in hell would satisfy them. Given even that in retribution, though, the unforgiving haters wouldn’t be satisfied that hell was hot enough; they’d want the heat turned up. Thankfully these folks are the few, that in the minds of the many, at a point, enough is enough.


No matter what the world would think about things that they cannot imagine in even their worst nightmares, I know that twenty-five years in solitary confinement is utterly and certainly cruel, more so than death in or by an electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, bullet in the head, or even immolation could possibly be. The sum of the suffering caused by any of these quick deaths would be a small thing next to the sum of the suffering that this quarter-century in SHU has brought to bear on me. Solitary confinement for the length of time that I have endured it, even apart from the inhuman conditions that I have too often been made to endure it in, is torture of a terrible kind; and anyone who doesn’t think so surely knows not what to think.


I Have Served A Sentence Worse Than Death.

Iconography of the Ainur

It’s pretty common for deities or saints to have certain symbols attached to them for artistic or teaching purposes, especially in preliterate societies or places with low literacy. So it seems a pretty reasonable idea that the Ainur had their own symbols developed by the elves and later adopted and modified by the Edain.  (The dwarves have no such parallel system. Language and writing have such a sacred character to them that calligraphic inscriptions serve this purpose.)

The pre-sundering elves of Cuivienen created the oldest symbols, and those continue to be used among the Moriquendi and the elves of Middle-earth. From these ancient symbols, the Amanyar elves developed a complex system to help identify the subject of an image in their art, such as the number and placement of figures, their gestures, setting and objects that appear with them. 

The Valar have a particularly standardized set of iconography associated with them. When the image is an Ainur’s humanoid form, they have a nimbus of radience or a crown of stars surrounding their head. The icon can take the place of the Vala it represents, or simply be a sign of influence or presence. The most common symbol type is animal.

  • Manwë - an eagle, a cloud, or a wind. Eönwë is specifically represented as a falcon, and other maiar as other birds of prey active during the day.
  • Varda - stars, of course, but occasionally an owl, a noctural bird of prey to match her husband’s eagle, or rarely a bat (Amanyar only, used only during the Years of the Trees). Ilmarë and her other handmaidens use a cat, ocelot, or leopard.
  • Aulë - an anvil or a smith’s hammer, raw crystals; his only animal symbols are corvids like crows or ravens
  • Yavanna - It would be inappropriate to represent Yavanna with any animal, since they feed on her plants. Instead elven artists use ripened wheat or fair trees with straight trunks. Some pollinators, like bees may be used. Yavanna’s maiar are animals that eat only nuts or fruits, the rationale being that they are helping the tree disperse its seeds.
  • Ulmo - Use of an animal symbol for Ulmo is unusual; most commonly he is a tall, foam-crested wave. But when an animal is used, large predatory fish, squid or octopus are common. No animal that must surface to breathe can be used. Ossë’s symbol is a Killer Whale, an Uinen has dolphins & porpoises. For his other maiar, various water-going animals that cannot breathe in the water are used, like whales, seals, or sea turtles.
  • Namo/Mandos - Using any living thing to represent the Vala of death is taboo. A pair of scales, an animal skull, or an hourglass are his symbols. For his maiar, the elves created a race of special mythological creatures: black coated, predatory animals with bare skulls as their heads and ghost lights in place of eyes. 
  • Vairë - Her symbol has quite the history. Her ancient, original symbol is the spider and spiderweb, but those fell out of use among the Amanyar and Sindar thanks to Ungoliant and her spawn. The Avari, Nandor and their Silvan descendents continued to use it until spiders began to plague Mirkwood. The spider was replaced by symbols of weaving like the loom, shuttle, and spindle.
  • Irmo/Lórien - He has several. The butterfly or moth, because they are animals that metamorphose from one form to another, and the Gardens of Lórien are filled with them. Colorful frogs, especially poisonous ones. Peacocks, for the ‘eyes’ on their feathers. Poppy flower, for its narcotic properties.
  • Estë - the serpent, for her role as healer. The turtle or lotus as representations of her island where she sleeps.
  • Melian - nightingale 
  • Nienna - a teardrop or tear tracks. White or grey doves. For the Amanyar, elephants, because they can cry and feel grief for a lost family member.
  • Oromë - a horse or a hound. He is a rare case of a repeated symbol; a falcon or hawk is also used, but it must be hooded or jessed as when used in falconry. Oromë’s maiar are most often represented by animals that hunt in packs, like wolves or lions, sometimes solitary predators. They are always predators.
  • Vána - flowers or songbirds, and hummingbirds who drink from flowers.
  • Tulkas - the boar, bull, or ram. Implements of war may be used, but since Tulkas is famous as a wrestler, are less common.
  • Nessa - a doe, hare, or gazelle. Among the Edain, she gained the symbol of the Horned Doe, a doe with a buck’s horns.
  • Tilion and Arien have special symbolic markings of their own. Tilion is always crowned with the moon (which moon phase varies), as Arien is crowned with the sun.
  • Melkor: We do not speak his name, we do not write his mark
  • Mairon/Sauron: too many Eyes
The Way I Feel Inside (Eggsy x Reader) Part 1

Summary: Based off of the song, ‘The Way I Feel Inside.’ (I saw Sing a month ago and honestly loved Taron’s singing so here we go)

Pairing: Eggsy x Fem!Reader

Warnings: None that I can think of

Word Count: 1636

A/N: So sorry about such a long hiatus guys. Hopefully this is a sign that my writer’s block is clearing up


Originally posted by thetaronblog



Eggsy and Roxy found themselves in a bit of a predicament.

To an outsider looking in, the partners appeared to be having a marvelous time. Eggsy twirled Roxy, her scarlet dress catching the light oh so perfectly that it sparked envy into some of the women in the room. Nevermind the fact that her date looked at her as though she were the stars to his moon, and the two appeared to whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears.

But in fact the opposite was true.

“What if they can’t reach us?”

Roxy smiled, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “Are you really doubting Y/N’s talents?”

(Your POV)

“Morgana, I must insist-”

You cut off Merlin’s protests with a simple glare. The man held his tongue, but you could see the conflict in his gaze as he rolled his chair beside yours. Your fingers moved with grace, pressing the appropriate keys as you attempted to hack into the most complex system you had met yet: the Kremlin.

“If you even hesitate for too long-”

“Merlin,” you said, clearly exasperated, though not tearing your eyes away from the monitor now. “If you ever expect me to one day take your place, you have to trust in my skillset. Why else would you have sponsored me?”

He didn’t answer, and for that you were grateful. There was enough stress surrounding your current situation, and you would be lying if you said that your main focus was completing the mission. No, it was to make sure Eggsy got out alive.

Not that anyone needed to know that.

(Eggsy’s POV)

“Galahad, can you hear me?”

Eggsy smiled at the familiar voice. “Loud and clear, Morgana.”

Roxy’s shoulders relaxed as they twirled along the dancefloor, now able to focus on their mission without worrying about if they would even make it home.

“Good. I’m looking at the blueprints right now. There’s a hallway somewhat hidden away to your far right.” Eggsy turned his head, allowing his eyes to be yours. “Right behind Ambassador Tolstoy, can you see it?”

“Yeah,” Eggsy confirmed, dipping Roxy so she could peer past the group of fat politicians.

“Do you want me to lead Fyodor over there?” His partner questioned, her eyes already searching the crowded space for the engineer they were meant to kidnap.

Both agents heard a chuckle, most likely from Merlin, when your voice spoke into the comms again. “Lancelot, no offense, but Fyodor does not necessarily go after people like you.” Eggsy could hear the smile in your voice. “Galahad, from what I’ve observed since the connection has been re-established, the man cannot take his eyes off of you.”

Eggsy’s cheeks burned a bright red as he chanced a glance to his left. Sure enough, there stood Fyodor Romanov, a Russian gangster who single-handedly led to the assassination of four Kingsman agents two months prior. The target sipped a glass of cognac, though it appeared he had an appetite for something that would guarantee a more prolonged satisfaction.

“Galahad, all you have to do is talk to him. Maybe flirt a little, maybe a kiss…”

Roxy laughed as Eggsy twirled her around. “You’re not helping,” he grumbled out.

“Merlin will be with you the whole time. Lancelot, I’m going to contact you on a separate frequency; we have something else for you.”

Eggsy led Roxy to the edge of the dance floor, where they removed themselves from each other. Roxy tilted her head to Fyodor, her eyes sparkling. “Have fun,” she said, before walking away to do whatever it was you needed her for.

As Eggsy approached Fyodor, Merlin attempted to give him a few pointers. “Just pretend he’s Princess Tilde.” Eggsy scoffed. “Right, forgot that’s a sour topic. I’m sure from a certain angle he has to look semi-appealing.”

Eggsy shook his head, grabbing a flute of champagne and chugging it. “It’s not that he’s ugly Merlin; it’s just that I can’t–”

“How about Y/N?” Eggsy froze where he stood. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed how you stare at her. I’m sure that with enough imagination, and more than just one glass of champagne…” He trailed off, hoping Eggsy could follow his method of thinking.

Eggsy siddled up to the bar, right beside Fyodor. Sending the Russian his most charming smile, he whispered to the bartender, “Your strongest. Keep it coming.”

(Your POV)

You leaned back in your chair, pinching the bridge of your nose as you tried to will away the headache that was coming on. Too long staring at a screen did that to a person. Add to that the constant worrying about Eggsy… you really needed to sleep this one off.

You felt Merlin’s gaze on you, and dropped your hand to meet it. “What’s wrong?”

“Y/N,” it really never was a good sign when Merlin’s tone was serious, “how long do you plan to go on like this?”

“I have no idea what you mean.” You did.

“After what happened with Dean, I just don’t want you getting hurt again.”

“If you’re trying to imply I feel something for Eggsy, then you might need more rest than I do.” Not wanting to speak of the matter anymore, you stood from your desk and left, heading for your quarters.

Merlin sighed, shaking his head. It was then his stomach dropped as he saw your comms unit, discarded, but online. He turned it off, for once hoping his agents weren’t listening as they so often didn’t.

But fortune was not on anyone’s side that day.

***

For the next week, a palpable tension rested heavily in the air. In an effort to prove Merlin wrong, you spent the majority of your time overseeing various missions, leaving the array of monitors only to eithe eat, sleep, or use the restroom (though you found that with the help of some friends and a pillow, you could do the first two down there).

Meanwhile, you noticed Eggsy appeared to be a bit down the last few days, when you would see him that is, but you just assumed it had to do with Princess Tilde, who had gotten married that week as well. Remembering how willingly Eggsy went to her once a month, you would be lying if you said you weren’t glad she had gotten married; even Eggsy had limits. Yet that still didn’t mean you enjoyed his sour mood.

One day, you decided to approach Roxy about the subject. You found her in the gun range, eyes fixed in determination as her bullets went through the same hole over and over and over again. In hindsight, her cold stare and rigid posture should have given it all away.

Fast forward ten minutes, and you found yourself in the infirmary, listening to Roxy apologize again and again as the nurse stitched up the result of a bullet grazing your arm.

Not a second later Eggsy comes into the room, his eyes wide as he takes in the scene in front of him. “What the hell happened?”

You cut off Roxy before she could say anything. “Tried practicing in the shooting range again. Now you know why Merlin keeps me off the field.” You tried to smile but winced as the nurse pulled a little too tightly on your skin.

Eggsy nodded, his concern fading before that icy mask fell over him yet again. “Well, after you’re done here, he wants to see you downstairs. Something about a Japanese hacker group.”

Without another word he left the room. You turned to Roxy, who now avoided your gaze. “What the hell is all of that about?”

“He’s just been really upset about Princess Tilde.” She pressed a hand to her comms unit and sent you an apologetic smile. “Sorry I have to go. I’ll make this up to you.”

As she rushed out of the room, you felt a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time: loneliness. Sure, your friends were there (you supposed Merlin counted as a friend as well), but they were all lying to you. For the first time in a while, you felt like an outsider in a place that had come to mean home.

When the nurse cleared you, you headed straight for lower ground, deciding it better to immerse yourself in work rather than face the conflict at hand.

Merlin and Eggsy were standing there, waiting for you. Your superior’s eyes trailed to the bandage wrapped around your arm, to which you shrugged, wordlessly promising to explain it to him later.

“Morgana, thank you for joining us so promptly.” Merlin greeted. He turned to Eggsy, who seemed to be looking at anything except you. “Would you like to tell her or should I?”

Eggsy twirled one of Merlin’s pens in his hands. “You’re the boss.”

What the hell had gotten into him? But you didn’t have much time to contemplate this as Merlin turned back to face you.

“Lancelot is in Tibet for the rest of the month, and, due to the bombing last week, I barely have enough field agents as it is.” He couldn’t be serious. “I need you to join Galahad on a mission.”

You listened to Merlin explain the mission details. It was a usual: high class citizen who exploits their business for the sake of profits. This one in particular is suspected of human trafficking. However, your attention solely remained on Eggsy.

You watched him avoid your gaze purposely. His jaw clenched as Merlin explained the two of you would pose as a newlyweds attending a gala in Paris. Eggsy would be the supposed bastard of some aristocrat who you didn’t bother remembering the name of. The job was simple: get in, grab the banker, and get out.

Unfortunately, when it came to you two nothing was simple.


(A/N Part 2 is in the works. Let me know what you guys think)

(A table of contents is available. This series will remain open for additional posts and the table of contents up-to-date as new posts are added.)

Part Four: Enriching the World Through Dialogue

We often think that world-building must be done through narration, that we only showcase our world and our world’s potential through the use of long paragraphs detailing the style of the carts and the architecture of the city, the clothing and hairstyles, and on and on with all the details our hearts desire. What we often forget is how tiring long paragraphs of these kinds of observations can be. Dialogue can be an extremely useful tool for introducing information about your world without feeling constrained to the narrative voice of the piece.

What’s normal and what’s not.

Have you ever been talking to someone and you mention a store you frequent or the flock of turkeys that forced you to stop on your way across town, and the other person gives you the blankest stare. Experiences across the world–even across town–are not the same (just to state the obvious for a minute). The variations found in everyone’s lives can become fantastic opportunities when you put two people from different places together because they will automatically be more likely to point out differences and ignore similarities.

Acknowledging things that are common vs. uncommon in a setting may not seem particularly important, but think of it this way: You’re writing a world entirely different than ours, which means that we can’t imagine all the things that are possible within this new world. How are we to know when something out of the ordinary presents itself to the characters unless the characters let us know? The way your characters talk about certain aspects of the world will help give the audience a better understanding of what normal life is like. To set up something scary and unnatural for the world, we need to know what the opposite looks like.

Remember that with movies, we can tell what the focus is and what the movie considers important by how much time is spent on/with it. Utilize the same concept to create the contrast of ordinary and extraordinary to help your audience easily make those distinctions. Of course, it’s not that you shouldn’t mention normal things at all, but that neither a full page conversation nor a full paragraph of description needs to be given to them. Draw attention to the extraordinary, coax it to the forefront.

Use dialogue to illustrate these little nuances. Have characters remark on things to each other and tell each other short stories that give the audience context. This is especially useful when you have a collection of character who aren’t from the same place. Regional variants on food, architecture, creatures, and customs give you great opportunities to build your world through quick moments between characters. “It’s strange to see all these grey horses. Most of ours are brown.” Even something as simple as this shows your audience that there’s more out there than what’s on-screen at the moment.

There are plenty of times when working these kinds of details into narration feel awkward. Remember that you have this other tool–dialogue–to utilize, too. Working it into conversation can work in a dynamic way not only building your world, but also your character. More on that another day.

Mechanics of the world.

When writing in worlds with some really complex systems like magic, or a very deeply developed set of cultures, religions, and all the rest that come with a whole new world, it can be very tempting to use our characters’ mouths to try to explain it to our readers. It’s a fantastic opportunity, especially when we’re able to put characters into a situation where they can ask, “Why? Why isn’t it working? Why did that happen? Why can’t we use that idea?” These platforms for information are so convenient, but without keeping a couple of things in mind when crafting these conversations, diary entries, letters, and other forms of communication, they can become info-dumps just as easily as narration can.

Keep voice in mind. Whether you’re trying to convey how something works through a written dialogue or a spoken one, your words are not actually yours. They belong to the character speaking them. Make sure you keep them in mind. You need to be using their vocabulary, their opinions, and most of all, their understanding of the world and how it functions. Just because we–as writers–know the very specific inner workings of why one magic works with another but doesn’t work with this other one doesn’t mean that your character does. Yes, it’s that very thing that enables us to set up these “why” scenarios, but it’s the same reason why answering those questions cannot and should not be a regurgitation of your planning notebook.

In a video game, we know the mechanics programmed into the server that allows for this or doesn’t allow for that, and we can explain it to each other, but our characters only know what they can see and observe through the technology available to them according to the time period of their story. Remember that. Remember that you can’t just have a character say, “I can’t cast that anymore today because I’m out of fifth level spells.” It needs to use words and an understanding of the world that are true to them, not true to us.

Lastly, with world mechanics and dialogue, keep it short, light, and in character. The more time you dwell on whatever it is you’re trying to explain, the more likely it will become uncharacteristic both for the speaking character and for the story’s tone. It’ll bog down a scene faster than a sinkhole in the road. Giving these kinds of world-building details are best done by showing the system in action rather than trying to explain it. Dialogue is the easy way out in this case. Challenge yourself to create scenarios that force your characters to use and showcase the abilities of the various systems in your world.

Next up: Character-building through dialogue!