talkswithwind: Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) getting her zappy-zappy on (CarolZap)
A question I had on a job-application a long while ago. Really. It was a joke question to be sure. But they made the mistake of adding "show your work" to it.

Which I did.

It came to three pages. I really should have said, "This came to 3 pages. If you want to see the whole thing, ask."

The short-version:
The Star Destroyer would usually prevail, largely through TIE-FIghter spamming overwhelming the targeting solutions available to the Enterprise, allowing the fighter screen to weaken the shields enough for the SD itself to finish it off. However, the Enterprise platform is a far more maintainable solution in a sustained campaign and wins the logistics fight.

Showing my nerdy work )

talkswithwind: (medic!)
The Useful Idiot's tweets about the US nuclear arsenal have been triggering many friends old Cold War anxieties. Let's talk about that.

Cut-tagged because nuclear war is still triggering to many of us. )


Apr. 22nd, 2016 08:40 am
talkswithwind: (zzmsp)
Prince has never been explicitly my jam. Not quite my style, not quite my themes, not quite... it

And yet.

I am a child of the Twin Cities. Prince was the local musical super-star, and he stayed even after he made bank.. Importantly, his rise coincided with the time I started paying attention to mass-market music, so he has always been there as far as the background radiation of music in my life is concerned.

Bowie's music wasn't that, and this is probably why Prince's death has hit me so much harder.

My High School was the blackest school in the state. I don't know the demographics of my Jr. High, but it might have been majority-minority as well. I bring this up because:
My HS was obsessed with rap and hip-hop. And yet, the theater-kids (mostly white) held Prince as their idol; Bowie's weirdness was so old it was acknowledged, but not held up nearly as high. Boy George had more impact on that market. than Bowie did. To someone with unchecked white privilege, this would look like Prince was 'transcending' his blackness to appeal to a non-street market. Instead, what he showed was the breadth of blackness, challenging the gangsta-narrative that was luring so many of my male classmates.

I have one memory of a couple of boys, who put on bandannas once they were off-campus, reacting with confusion to a discussion about Prince by some of those theater-kids. They didn't know what to make of Prince, a black man who most definitely was not street.

Prince was also queering gender before we started putting those words together. Androgyny was the term at the time, but these days queer would be a much better term for what it was he was doing in the 80's and early 90's. That resonated with me, even though I didn't notice it. Prince challenged narratives to what it meant to be masculine. His sudden loss took away one of the examples I had unknowingly been looking to for support.

So, yes. I'm taking a new look at his music right now. But he leaves a huge hole that no one person can fill.

talkswithwind: (Normal)
Charles Stross had a guest-post on his blog recently, about magic system and the world-building process. In it, the author raises several questions they ask when doing the world-building.

I'd like to put forth another question to ask when considering a world with parallel magic and scientific systems:

Is the magic industrializable, or restricted to handi-crafts?

Because that's the difference between having levitating trains and mag-lev trains with enchanted room-temperature super-conductors as a key component. Really changes how the world looks.

If magic is restricted to handi-crafts, it means it's either The Secret Knowledge and isn't involved with science at all, or is used in industrial process in places were a bit of enchantment can do a lot of good. As in, streamlines the production of cell-phones, not used in cell-phones. That kind of thing.

talkswithwind: (autumn)
How the Founding Fathers saw the second amendment.
An armed populace is able to protect itself from overreaching government and provides the sound foundation of citizen militias.

How things would actually work today if such a sanctioned usage of the 2nd amendment were to happen:
A general insurrection arises from the populace due to (event), and people reach for their 2nd amendment firearms. The police, local, state, and federal, treat this as what it is: a crime-wave, and respond with the full force of law-enforcement. With social media monitoring, telecomms interception, electronic interception, drone monitoring of movements, and a concerted effort to interrupt supply chains and disrupt ideological coordination.
Who needs guns, they've been deprecated already. The intent of the 2nd amendment has already been superseded. It's biggest effect is to turn random stabbings into random shootings, not provide a periodic overthrow of the government.
talkswithwind: (cm-government)
The Advocate:

I know I've spoken of my own bathroom usage issues, but to summarize:
Women are privileged in bathrooms. If a man walks into a bathroom and sees a woman in it, he will turn right the fuck around and leave. It's reflexive. It'll only be after he is outside will he check to see which bathroom that's supposed to be. This happens even if the woman is in front of urinal, I know this because I've bounced several men that way. What happens next depends on the guy; in my experience most will wait until the weirdo is out before going in.

If a woman walks into a bathroom and sees a man there, she is much more likely to react violently.
Trans-men talk about bathroom violence a lot more than the trans-women I know. Or at least it seems that way.

I know my own experiences come from a place of privilege. I have a fair amount of passing privilege, which allows me to use the Women's loo without comment a lot of the time. But I too have used the 'hold it until I get home' procedure when my passing privilege isn't quite strong enough for the women's but strong enough to bounce men out of the men's.

Is this observation true for more people than just me?

talkswithwind: (meditation)
Will an artificial intelligence have gender in any way?

In my opinion, that depends on how the AI comes about. Broadly, there are three routes to this:
  1. Hothouse AI, modeled after human intelligence. Hothouse here means built in an AI-lab somewhere, specifically to be an intelligence.
  2. Hothouse AI, built from components.
  3. Emergent AI, arising naturally from the technosphere.
The first two are being actively researched, the third is theorized and one we hope doesn't happen because we're pretty sure BAD THINGS will then happen. To us puny humans, that is; everything from SkyNet genocide to incarnations of trickster gods, it's bad for us.

When I'm talking about, 'having gender', I mean the AI considers itself to have one. I'm not talking about presentational gender.

Hothouse AI, modeled after human intelligence
This type of AI takes a look at how humans think, and attempts to bring about AI by modelling on the single known sentient system we have. If it worked once, maybe we can make it happen again! It's all neural nets and other things, including information ingestion as an analog of human learning.

This type of AI is most likely to decide that it has gender. It's based on a human model, and all of the information it is ingesting about how sentient beings interact is also marinated in the concept. This is especially true if the researchers self-select the information set using their own cultural biases.

This type of AI would also probably be gender fluid. At some point it may very well decide that since it is not human, the human concept of gender doesn't apply, and therefore it doesn't have one. QED. Or it may decide it liked the other one better for some reason and sticks with it as a better, or more convenient fit.

Hothouse AI, built from components.
This approach differs from the other mode because it is trying to get to sentience from a generalized model of cognition. This model includes animal models from animals we know think in sophisticated ways. The idea is that once we know the theory of thought, we're more likely to get it with the simulation systems we have available to us now. This also learns through information assimilation, though the information set is probably wider.

This is less likely to have a sense of self gender, but it still will probably come about. It may very well stay in agender/other and select presentational genders based on circumstances.

Emergent AI, arising naturally from the technosphere
This type of AI shows up on its own, and we might not even recognize it when it happens. Are the cells in our liver aware of the higher thinking going on? Probably not. Once we notice it, there will be a lot of hot air spent on deciding if it is actually intelligent or merely clever. That's the problem with the field of intelligence, we only have a few examples of it so we don't know the full solution space yet.

Would it have gender? I have to theorize that generally these intelligences would not have an internal sense of gender. To have a sense of gender that humans would recognize as as sense of gender, it needs to have thinking processes that we recognize as sufficiently human to assign human attributes to it. I suggest that any gender we detect in such an AI is almost definitely a presentational gender picked on purpose.

This is the alien problem that SF writers have been wresting with since the beginning of scary-aliens. If you make the aliens different enough, they're not relatable as characters to a majority of readers. Unrelatable aliens are monsters. Relatable aliens can be either.

From a story-telling perspective, a great way to build will-they/won't-they tension about an AI is to make it a relatable alien. Put that alien in a body modeled after an object of desire (such as a fembot) and you add on all sorts of cultural modifiers to create tension. Because really, due to default masculinity in our culture a male-voiced bot could be either masculine or agender, and there is always a threat of violence when men are involved. By putting it in a female-voiced/shaped body, the violence, if it comes, is therefore more shocking.

It is entirely unsurprising to me that fembots or female-avatared AIs are so common in fiction. Are they SkyNet, or some new-person just looking to belong? That kind of story has more cultural punch if the assumptions based on presentation gender make the SkyNet option seem transgressive. You just don't expect that of women.

Why fembots? Because sexism.

talkswithwind: Carol Danvers having a good hair moment (CarolGoodHair)
The suicide of Leelah Alcorn has reawoken discussion over the perils that transgender teens and early adults face. This sparked both the #LeelahAlcorn and the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtags on twitter. The former focused on tragedy, calls for support, and expressions of love. The latter talking about adults who are living or transitioning, doing well with it, and overall focusing on the positive.

I find my own trans-adult experience doesn't match either narrative very well. I wasn't a troubled teen; I didn't figure out my gender issues until really late, and it took years before I did anything about it. I'm not a successful trans-adult, in that I'm barely recognizable as trans and I most definitely have not faced down negative opinion to get where I am now. The 'transition' I'm doing is from unquestionably-binary to questionably-binary, which doesn't really have an established narrative to adopt or rebel against.

The reason it took me years before I did anything about my gender issues was in part due to the lack of pain I felt over the whole thing. I had some, yes, but it wasn't nearly intense enough to get into the clinical categories needed for medical intervention. I didn't even know if I wanted medical interventions. I was running up against the fact that medical transition would give me most of the body I wanted, not all of it, and was it really worth the trouble?

It was only after a lot of internal interrogation and extended exposure to the body-acceptance corner of feminism that I came to understand what body feature I wanted but couldn't get: bones. If a magic wand came into my hands but only had enough mojo for a part-way transmogrification, a female skeleton would be my first pick for changing. If I had the right bones, the rest would come a lot easier if I so chose. I came to my gender realization about five years too late for the medical interventions that would give me such a skeleton to work.

[Had I realized a lot earlier, I still wouldn't have gotten it. When I was 12, there was no protocol for hormone-therapy of pre-majority children with trans issues. I even had a pediatric endocrinologist. It just wasn't done that long ago. I do not expect my parents would have strenuously tried to buck expert medical advice to get it for me, nor do I expect the endocrinologist to risk his licensure by doing so. And I sure as hell wasn't conflicted enough to try and force both parties to see my way of thinking. Realizing it earlier would only have bought me a lot more pain]

The final thing to come across that gave me a name for my identity were stories of college kids going by the name of 'genderqueer' and 'non-binary'. These were kids who didn't always identify as transgender, had found something else, and didn't come with the narrative of pain that transitioning did. It was a narrative that matched mine, and there seemed to be a name for it forming. Awesome.

Not all trans narratives need suicide prevention hotlines.
Not all trans narratives need it gets better campaigns.

This is why I have trouble claiming a trans identity: I haven't paid my dues. I don't speak up unless the tone of the discussion is about lived experiences and doesn't have the subtext of 'triumph through adversity'. Some trans people have trouble including me in their space because of my non-binary nature, as their own internal experience is one of fighting to achieve a binary-like identity. There is an assumption that I'm going to line up into something recognizable binary after enough time, and will do so through medical interventions. A case of this happened this past weekend when I met some members of the trans support-group at my parent's church.

Don't hold me up as a paragon of success-while-trans, I got here by being recognizably my assigned-at-birth gender for most of my career.
Don't hold me up as a living example of surviving to adulthood in spite of constant messaging that I'm not worthy, I didn't get that.

So I remain in the panel audience and not on the panel.
talkswithwind: (Confused)
First sea-water taste: Age 10, in Maine.
Second sea-water taste: Age 22, in Florida.
Third sea-water taste: Age 32, in Hawaii.

Some of us don't live near the Ocean.

Some of us don't live near enough to even go there on vacation very often.

I still have no memory of what sea-water tastes like, other than that Hawaii trip where I remember thinking, "Huh, I've been under-salting," but didn't cement it well enough to be able to figure out by how much.

talkswithwind: (cm-saywhat)
Watched it. I have thoughts.

It's all about love. )
talkswithwind: (cm-saywhat)
I've been reading some of it. Right now it's a lot of retweets, but the content is still quite striking.

I'm coming at it from a decidedly privileged point of view, as I've lived both sides of the gender coin and have benefited-from/been-subjected-to the assumptions and trials of both those sides. When it comes to women's lived experience I have a hard time speaking up because I haven't done it all my life. If I speak up am I denying the experience of someone more worthy? It's qualms like that which have kept me quiet about difficulties I've faced in adjusting to a different set of gendered assumptions.

Some of my problems absolutely stem from me only running into these things late in life and not from birth or sexual maturity. That's part of the trans experience after all, and some people are quite sensitive when I do talk about that kind of thing. I've never been sexually harassed that I can remember, which makes me a minority (or oblivious, which likely contributes).

But I have been perceived as female for long enough that I do share certain common experiences:
  • Street harassment.
    • Smile, baby.
    • Whistles.
    • When smiling: compliments on the smile.
  • Dealing with cold approaches. Also known as getting hit on.
  • Learning the hard way which groups of men are more threatening than others.
  • Getting side-eye at my prospective local comic store. The guy warmed up after he realized I actually was into this stuff. And is now gone.
  • Getting bright-eyed eagerness in the men talking to me once they realize I actually know this nerdy-linux-stuff thing.
And then there are the unshared experiences that are definitely inherited from being raised male:
  • The assumption that I can fuck anyone up who tries to fuck with me. Which means I'm not appropriately afraid to walk certain places alone.
  • Asking for things as the first step to getting what I want. Worked great so far, eventually I'll get labeled 'bitch' because of it.
  • The big fear for leaving a drink untended is germs from unauthorized sippers. At some point the GHB fear will penetrate.
There are more.

Reading this hashtag is a reminder of all the things I didn't get taught at my mother's knee and learned after the fact (if I even learned it at all).

Reading this hashtag is a reminder of what happens to anyone who is ever perceived as female.

talkswithwind: Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) getting her zappy-zappy on (CarolZap)
I've mentioned several times that I started questioning my gender identity in the wake of realizing I wasn't straight. There were a couple weeks of deep introspection after that realization, and it was during that introspection that I noticed something in my attractiveness reactions.

When having OMG-Hot reactions towards girls, there was a frisson of something at the end. My introspection revealed that the frisson was ennui over not being able to match that level of hotness.

Hm, interesting. Maybe... I'm not all male? Does my attraction to boys possibly stem from that female part of me? Must think on this.
22 years later, and I have the answers to that:


In which I go into some detail about gender identity, sexual desire, and other questionable topics )
talkswithwind: (autumn)
FandomAsh -- Malinda Lo
TagsF/F, Gen

Summary: Kaisa spent most of a summer teaching Ash how to ride a Hunter and other things. This is one of those days.


A Summer Day )


Oh Internet, my TVTropeFu has failed. What is the TVTrope name for this trope?
The Protag couple breaks up in a huff when one member sees the other member do something that (incorrectly) makes them think they're being cheated on.

You know the scene. Member and Evil person are talking and in the one moment when they're embracing, while Evil whispers Evil Things, the other couple member just happens to walk by the partially open door. Cue DUN DUN DUNNNNN music, dour look on OtherMember, and 20 minutes of Horrible Mistake with inevitable make-up.

It's freaking everywhere, and is probably one of the primal tropes. I just don't know what the canon name for it is.

talkswithwind: (cm-saywhat)
So we got the Liam story.

Spoilers, what? )
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