January 10th, 2004

documentation, writing, quill

More musings that I don't feel like bothering the List with: Barrayar/Beta Beauty

If Cordelia is plain on Beta Colony, and Aral finds her lovely -- what is the standard of beauty on Beta Colony vs. Barrayar?

The "somewhat archaic" standard of beauty on Barrayar, the one that Miles and Aral share, is the "squishes nicely" ability to survive a small famine. That's going out, as Barrayar's catching up to the rest of the civilized wormhole nexus, and has reliable food supplies, and modern medicine. "Squishes nicely" would enable one to survive a disease that involves not being able to hang onto food for long, as well as famine.

Beta Colony has gene-cleaning, so I should think that two things would happen there, as far as beauty goes.

First, greater-than-natural symmetry of feature would be achieved, as said onlist, and thus the bar would be raised. If you've got merely good bone structure, as opposed to perfect bone structure, you'd be quite plain by comparison.

Second, possibly not mentioned onlist, some physical attributes that might once have been an external marker of undesirable hidden genetic traits could be expressed without the actual flaw. Say, an eye color that's commonly linked with blindness? On Barrayar, that would be a dead giveaway that someone was a mutie. On Beta Colony, it could be a rare and beautiful trait. That could cause some clashes.

Beta Colony sounds, from all the body-modification bits, like it's a place where people can be comfortable with their body's natural balances, and if they don't like the one they were born with, they can jolly well change it. I honestly see it as having gone through all the "Okay, thin is in -- woops, not anymore, curvy is groovy -- woops, that's so last season, jack up your metabolisms again, boys and girls!" psychotic slaves-to-fashion mood swings some generations ago, and are now patiently waiting for the rest of the civilized world to catch up with them and just be themselves, the healthiest, happiest selves they can be.

Meanwhile, on Barrayar, beauty in body type is still a thing of fads. The Koudelka girls are being mildly catty about their sister's weight gain on Beta. (I read that as Kareen, freed from Barrayaran expectations on her, lets her body adjust itself to something comfortable for her.) This happens to be in fashion when she goes back, because the Empress-to-be is plump, and the beautiful-in-her-own-right Empress sets the body-type fashion for the rest of Barrayar.

Even on Beta, though, you're stuck with the face your genes gave you unless you go in for modifications. An inexpensive Betan facial mod might leave you looking too evened-out: see Michael Jackson or a store mannequin for the likely results. It takes a genius of surgery (and money) to come up with what Elli Quinn got: something that's still her, but with the minor imperfections tweaked from mild flaw into charm. Any Betan hack can probably leave you with Haut bone structure. It takes a really good one to leave you still looking like you.

I expect to see Barrayar doing fashion excesses for the next several generations -- first girls will start baring it all, and then there will be a swing back into covering everything they can, until it finally reaches some form of happy balance, probably with nods back to Barrayar's heritage.
high energy magic

Grey Jedi

What is the point at which we let go? What is the point at which we decide, each of us, that someone is irredeemable, and let loose of them?

The classic example is Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and his son.

Darth Vader is a terrible man who does terrible things. Nearly all of his influences are evil. Emperor Palpatine encourages him to embrace the darkest depths of his despair and anger and lash out with them against the world. He started out all right -- a little boy who loved his mother very, very much. Somewhere, though, it changed. He lashed out with anger, and somewhere along the line, the Jedi must have rejected him, one by one, or in one fell swoop.

Somewhere, he crossed the line, went over from forgiveable offenses to a place where each of the Jedi he didn't kill (or hadn't killed yet) had to say: "You are beyond my power to help. I can do no more," and leave him to stumble back to redemption -- or not.

Holding out hope for those who have passed beyond the point of no return is the definition of a saint, and a masochist. I suspect the difference between the two is slight, and depends on perspective, and how bad the injuries are.

And who defines the 'point of no return'? Yoda was convinced that Anakin was already edging beyond it even before he pulled his little stunt on Tatooine. I think Yoda gave up first. Odd -- I'm suddenly equating Yoda with Dumbledore, with all of Az's love and affection.

Diane Duane balanced it best, of the modern writers, I think. "Fairest and fallen: greeting and defiance." One does not snub the Lone Power when one meets It. Yes, evil. But no need for you, yourself, to become rude about that. I think that's where the Puritan-era Christians may have screwed it up. One does not cast the bathwater out because a little bit of the Devil got in. One acknowledges the presence of the le-matya in the living room, and goes about one's business taking the proper precautions, which may include removing the le-matya, sensibly -- and carrying a stunner when walking in le-matya country. Jesus hung out with hookers. Who are you, then, to doubt your faith so much as to cast out all those who don't conform to your way?

Everyone of the light repudiated Anakin Skywalker, before the last, and thus he became Darth Vader. He lost faith in himself, in his own will to be good -- perhaps in large part because no one believed he could. It was only when his son Luke told him that he still had good in him that he was obligated to try to prove Luke right.

Will I, someday, be Luke Skywalker to someone's Darth Vader? Will I be someone's last, best hope?

It's said that you can tell who your real friends are when you start having problems. Your real friends are the ones who will stick with you, and give you the hugs, the love, the sympathy, the harsh reality, and the boots in the ass, all as appropriate. They're the ones who will say, "Why the fuck are you doing this to yourself?" -- and you don't hurt them for it, because it was what you needed to hear right then.

And there are going to be people who see you turning towards things darker and darker -- not necessarily dangerous to others, as Anakin did, but dangerous to the self nonetheless -- and give you warning, and then when you slip further and further, lost and unable to find a way back towards love, they will leave you in disgust, because no one wants to get sucked down with a sinking ship.

They may have been your friends, or they could have been. It's always a temptation for the would-be saint to count those as failures, where the necessary deep connection needed to yank someone out of those depths wasn't made, couldn't be made.

Where do you draw the line? When is it right to say, "I've had enough of your bullshit. Call me if you ever figure out how to be human again."? When is it right to say, "I'll be here for you, no matter what," and follow through, in the worst of times? When does the friendship outweigh the darkness that comes up?

I heard an illustrative story, once, probably from FatherSir, about the differences in friendship, and what's called friendship. It was a conversation between a Russian and an American.

"I have two friends," the Russian said.

"Oh! So few friends!" the American exclaimed. "I have at least twenty!"

The American proceeded, after a while, to have the sort of problem that involves a crisis at three o'clock in the morning.

The Russian hears of it. "You should have called one of your friends," was the comment.

"Call one of them at three o'clock in the morning?" asks the American, bewildered. "That would not have done at all. That would not have been polite. They would not have understood."

"They are not your friends, then," the Russian says. "I am lucky. I have two friends. I can call at any hour if I need to, and they will understand, and I will understand when they call. Not everyone has even one friend."

That's the definition of friend that the saying talks about, with the wisdom that when one has a crisis, one finds out who one's real friends are.

And it's hard to be friends with someone who's demonstrating that they're not walking on the light side of the Force. It's hard to be friends, when someone has been listening to the Lone Power, and stops listening to reason...

... but what if you're their last, best hope?
  • Current Mood

I'm starting to become one of *those* cat ladies.

I'm starting to become the sort of cat lady who has deep and meaningful conversations with her cats. eris_raven has really started saving my sanity. Again. As it was back in the fourth grade, she's become my best friend. Darkside is still my human best friend, but he's been ever so slightly edged out by someone who makes time for me and gives me the snuggles I need.

She's come up with a latest trick.

The usual order of things is for the human to pet the cat. The other night, and just now tonight, she's decided that if I'm staying still, then the cat should pet me. She lashes her tail -- not anger, or boredom, or any particular usual emotion that usually makes cats lash their tails -- this is very definitely and deliberately aimed at stroking me with her tail.


I'm so very glad she's back.
  • Current Mood
    touched touched

First Post meme (from tass, via gremliness, metaphorge etc)

Despite what the calendar says, this is my first-ever LJ post.
Honing: Auntie J. vs. Ants


One or two, going about their business, are cool every now and then, and, depending on my mood, get either squished or escorted out or ignored.

When you barge into the apartment after a particularly *difficult* Beltane morning (as in Circle scattered to the four winds and all ill and all in a really *pissy* mood) and find the floor of the entry closet at least 50% gray with all these INSECTS...

Thusly were the ants smote, verily and with extreme prejudice. Then Auntie J gathered herself together, yawped at the landlady, and went on a Sithly trip with a four-year-old crosstown on bus system to fetch red pepper and cinnamon in industrial quantities, both safe for floor with four-year-old grubbing around.

Now the ants (the tiny swarming kind) are in both bathrooms, don't ask me how they got there from the kitchen for I have No Clue, and have started marching up on the rug perimiter... and my nose smells like cayenne pepper. At least landlady will spray Friday.

JL, Darth Auntie From Hell
running, bomb tech

Beef, or lack thereof

We've been on a low-beef kick in the household lately.

I've been warned two or three times now by the plasma place people that I'm just barely able to donate, and I need to get more iron.

This echoes what my body's been telling me. It may be optional for the rest of the household, but not for me. I'm wired the way I am.
running, bomb tech

Childhood memories

"boiled owl"
m&ms in film cans
Uncle Skippy drinking mountain dew
hiding under the sewing machine because of Uncle Skippy on my 4th birthday (I was so cute, cuter than Ari)
That spell -- those spells -- with the rocks and wires
painting quartz pebbles from the leachfield
Potion Very Bubbly
Hens in dresses
duck wedding, drake in tux, duck in gown
the Dog Carriage
the Arch of Happiness
Waiting for the dump truck with the garden dirt
Having the road not improved, writing the letter to Old Cat
Smashing fireweed up to get the goop from the stems
Making mud and sprucecone bricks with Geoff


That's the three of us, from 2000/2001.

That's a dragon in my hair, and I'm leaking blue sparklies.
Darkside's hair looked too much like Mama's.
I'm the one with the green hair.
Two leather-jacketed weirdoes, and then me in my cloak.
running, bomb tech

Lazy day

Sounds like it's shaping up to be a weekend. Little Fayoumis is grounded from TV for a week.

Mommy forgot her cellphone at home.

I did a survey, and I'm doing another product test, which means there are checks coming. Yay.

I need to drop by the mall for more of the same, check the mail first, and get the parts I need to make the bed stop falling apart.

I've been re-reading Cyteen again -- read it in December, and then turned around and started reading it again. After this, I think Spock's World.
running, bomb tech

I actually get productive in afternoons.

I put away some laundry. Shocking. That, of course, was so I could find things to wear to get dressed with. Perhaps my new "Thou shalt put away laundry" resolution should be to pick the clothing you need to wear from the pile of clean laundry, and to put away all the things you find in your quest for a complete outfit that aren't the bits you were looking for. I had to hang up about six shirts before I could find underpants, and then I put assloads of underpants away before locating a bra and pants.

I wound up wandering mallwards, and was snagged by one of those mall survey people (which was the intent) and wound up doing two surveys.

Of course, by the time I got done, the bank was closed, so I shan't see spend the fruits of my snarky comments on a soda commercial and a movie trailer until Monday or later.

After the abortive trip to the bank, I came back and went a little shopping: canned soup, lipstick for LF the next time he wants blue lips, chips, and (finally) the metal clippy thing that is the best piece I've found for holding the stacked mattresses together. Yay!

Evidently this iteration of the jerky was less than successful. Bah. Little Fayoumis was good today, though. He and I spent some time lying on the living room floor reading the kids' dictionary I got for him. Sadly, it wasn't the same one I had as a child, which was ever so much better, and so much more amusing.

I got to talk to Dawn, which is always a plus. She's been busy, working two jobs.