Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Some stuff you might want to look at

I wanted to have something . . . welcoming, I guess, for the people who have been pointed in this direction by Ana Mardoll.  All of my navigational aids are way out of date, I've been meaning to overhall everything for at least three years.  So, not so much as a "best of" but more of a "This might interest you."  (Maybe.  Possibly.  Or not.)

I actually wrote a post for Ana's Twilight decon once.  It's at her site here, and at Stealing Commas here.

Ana herself was pointing people to my rewrite of the punishment of Rabadash in The Horse and His Boy.  That was originally posted as a comment at her site, but since the entire purpose of Stealing Commas is to be a storehouse of my writings, it is now also a post here.


My earliest writings related to Ana's deconstructions were in response to he Twilight decon, specifically the van scene.

The comments to that post are sadly, and extremely, broken.   I haven't actually talked to Ana about this, but a project that I've been thinking of doing (well, offering to do) for a long time is going through the old posts with broken comment threads, sorting them out, and converting them to html that could be appended to the end of the post in question so that new readers can see what was actually said, in the proper order, and without duplication.  With decent formatting too.

I wrote four versions of alternate van scenes.  Probably the one that I'm most proud of is the physics version, which takes the impossibilities and runs with them.  Two others were more important.  One spawned Snarky Twilight, the other spawned Edith and Ben.  Being completely unbiased in all possible ways, I think my Edith Cullen is way better than Meyer's Edith Cullen (who was a late comer to the Edith scene anyway.)

While the physics version is my favorite van scene, Edith and Ben has to be the Twilight rewrite I'm most proud of with Snarky Twilight in a close second.


My own attempts at doing decons were stalled out by my depression, but there are some highlights that might be worth reading.  For example you can look at the post Why .hack//Sign matters.

You can read what little of Kim Possible I covered here, though the quality is variable at best.


I recently had cause to dig up this post, with important addendum, about cis people refusing to be called cis.  The two were eventually merged into a single unified whole at the Slacktiverse.

People once said that this post on (my) depression was helpful to them in some way or other.  If you do read it, things to know:
  1. We found a medication that works for me.  Well . . . apparently it just mostly works.  Recent testing has me pegged as still depressed, but considering the baseline I have to judge from it seems great to me.
  2. I graduated, I am officially a low level classicist.  (And mathematician.  I've got a bachelor's degree in each.)  So all the stuff about school is in the past.

So, you've just been turned into a zombie.

Monday, March 19, 2018

When Celessa held the Slate, Introduction (Breath of the Wild)

[While the most obvious solution to make the Gerudo Town section of Breath of the Wild not be terrible would be to just show the gate guard the Sheikah Slate, the possibility of sending someone else into Gerudo Town suggests story possibilities.  Who would Link trust?  Why?  So forth.]

The chronicler has asked me to tell the tale of the time I held the Sheikah Slate.

First, I suppose, I should make an introduction my name is Celessa and I was on a pilgrimage when the towers rose and the shrines lit up. I met Link on the road.  I call him “Link” rather than “The Champion” or “The Hero of Legend” because that is how he introduced himself to me.

He didn't tell me of his mission, or expect me to recognize his greatness, or anything of the sort.  He simply told me his name was Link and agreed that the sacred springs sounded interesting.  That was how we first began to journey together.  On the road I learned of how he'd lost his memories and therefore didn't know his way around Hyrule.

We became side tracked many times on our travels, both before and after I learned of Link's identity.  The things we did weren't what I'd have expected from a great hero, and perhaps that is why I never had much interest in the Hero of Legend: I expected something else, something that didn't impress me.

Dropping everything to help a woman find the Horse God and resurrect her lost companion made sense, of course that's what one would do. Things like escorting a monster extract fan to the skull shaped lake where the creator was staying or helping a young woman get three dragonflies for her younger sister's birthday, however, were not the sort of things I would have expected from a great hero with a great destiny.

I think, now, that perhaps it was these things that kept Link going in spite of having lost everything, even his understanding of who he was.  He never put himself above others and thus treated everyone he met as an equal or better.  It kept him in touch with the fact that saving Hyrule wasn't about a kingdom or some label on a map, it was about the people who live here.

Or, perhaps, it's just part of his character, something that couldn't be erased with his memories.  After all, I did the same and I'm not in any prophecy.

We never talked about why we did what we did, the reasons seemed self evident.  I wonder what Link will think of this philosophizing when I show my first draft of this chronicle to him.  He's never been one for using many words.  At first I thought that was because with no memories he didn't think he had anything to contribute.  Now I know that it's just who he is.

What one must understand is that by the time Link asked me for help we had been through so very much together.  I wasn't chosen at random, though he said that if I had refused he would seek out an adventurer and pay her for helping.

If I refused.

He was uneasy about asking: he didn't want to impose.  He wanted it to be clear that everything he had done for me was done without the expectation of anything in return, and I could say, “No.”

He was half right.

I suppose he was so worried about “imposing” because I'd been his first real friend or ally since he woke up.  The old king's ghost doesn't count.  Link had assumed he was some kind of spirit of Hyrule or forest spirit or something, when it turned out that the old man was really the ghost of someone he'd known before losing his memories Link soured on him somewhat.  The memory he'd awoken as we ran for our lives through Hyrule Castle had changed that to outright animus.  So, at the start, I was all he had, though it was just by chance that that had happened.

He was afraid he'd drive me away if I thought we only became companions because he expected to be repaid for what he'd done.  Let it be known to all who read this: everyone, even legendary heroes, can have insecurities.

We'd traveled all over Hyrule at that point.  We'd given apples to the ancestral shrines to get seeds for a giant leaf being's maracas.  We'd lived my dream of walking in Princess Zelda's footsteps on a level I never dared to hope possible.  I'd watched him run back toward monsters we'd only narrowly escaped because he'd forgotten to get images for the compendium.  I'd told him a thousand times, “You don't need a raft to stand on water when you have Cryonis.”  So many times we'd survived only because we each trusted the other with our lives without hesitation.  So many times each of us had saved the other.

We'd stood half dead surrounded by monsters we'd slain only for red sparks to rise from the ground, the sky to turn, and the horrible realization to sink in that we'd forgotten to check the color of the moon.  Again.  We'd run; we'd run so often and so much.

I had taken his horse to a stable to wait for him so many times –when he needed to go somewhere a horse couldn't and left via paraglider or Sheika Slate– that I don't even remember when it became my horse.  My beautiful mare, believed to be descended from Princess Zelda's royal stallion and definitely outfitted with the saddle, bridle, and reins that Zelda herself used for that stallion.

All these things –nights spent at the same campfire, helping Purah recover her physical an mental maturity after an experimental mishap robbed her of them, holding a great fairy at arrow point and explaining the meaning of “informed consent to her– meant that I knew our friendship had been genuine, he needn't have worried about that, but I also knew that I couldn't say, “No,” regardless of how much he was willing to accept that answer.

After everything we'd been through, who would I be if I refused?  It was such a simple thing.  I could go to Gerudo Town and he could not.  Of course I went.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Monthly Finance Post

This was supposed to be done yesterday, I ended up writing volumes on things only tangentially related to anything.  Thus you get the short version.  Short version:

Everything has left me behind enough on the non-monthly bills that second instances are rolling around with the first still unpaid and round about now (perhaps yesterday) that means I'm about $1,280, give or take, behind on such bills.

I'll be able to cover $286 of that leaving $994ish

These are not the bills that will get me slapped with late fees or ruin my credit score.  These are the bills that I have way more leeway on but also carry much higher stakes.  These are the "I'll lose the house if I don't (eventually) pay it" bills, but also the "Provided I actually pay it, there's not going to be penalties for being three months late" bills.

The uncertainty is good in so far as it was because of said-uncertainty that I wasn't doomed last December.  The uncertainty is bad in that it's very very stressful not knowing if the breaking point will come today, or this week, or this month.


A persistent thought that won't get out of my head is what it would take to actually get clear of everything.  Via my Patreon I'm finally making as much regular monthly non-SSI income as they think I've been making all along.  That means that, in theory, outside of major unforeseen disasters (like my boiler, which I call a furnace, breaking) I should be able to be in a place where I never need to depend on desperately begging for help again.

So, I can't stop thinking about what it would take to get to that place.  The answer isn't particularly pretty.

Ten thousand dollars.  Ten thousand dollars, more or less, and all at once.

Wipe out all of my debt beyond my low interest student loans in one fell swoop thus not allowing it to build itself back up, pay off the ~$1,000 I'm currently behind, catch up on the two-ish months of saving for the next non-monthly that I should have been doing but haven't had the actual luxury of doing.

It is at once impossibly out of reach and tantalizingly close.  When the boiler broke it took $6,000 dollars to replace it and that money materialized literally overnight.  That makes it seem close.  Yet there is absolutely nothing I could possibly do to get $10,000.

Yet I can't stop thinking that there must, somehow, be some way.  Won't God damned leave me alone.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The shape of things to come, one hopes.

No secret that I haven't been on top of things lately.  As an example: last night my depression got bad in a way that it hasn't in so long I don't remember.  Spent a lot of time laying down, crying, and hiding from the light.

Finance problems are scaring me.  Until my debt is gone I'll never be completely on top of things, but at the moment I'm not even in the same vicinity as on top of things.  The internet thing isn't close to being resolved.  In spite of it looking like my service was suspended because I was behind on my my bills, my account has been closed outright.  So I need a new account, probably with a provider that doesn't close my account without telling me.  (And the money spent to get up to date would have been better allocated to paying other bills I'm behind on, but it's too late for that.)

Inspiration hasn't exactly been striking.


Still, I have something that kind of, sort of, vaguely resembles a plan:

This part is the same as it's always been:
 • I'm going to try to get back to the myriad things that have been left to languish.  From transformative work like Edith and Ben, Skewed Slightly to the Left, and the various Kim Possible stuff, to original work like The Princess Story, the super hero verse, four realms, Ash, and such.

That's been the plan for ages.  I think we all know how well it's gone.  Which is why there are other parts of the plan.

• Other than Stumbling Toward Redemption, which is still stuck at just the one chapter, I've been left with impression that no one here is interested in My Little Pony or Equestria Girls stuff.  That's understandable as Stumbling is most definitely way better than anything else I've done in that arena.

There are places elsewhere on the internet, though, where there are those who want infinite variations on Equestria Girls stories that was lackluster in the first place.  That's encouraging and I've written some stuff in such places.  I should probably port it over here even though I worry about driving away the three people who still read my stuff here.  (In part because it really is infinite variations on the same thing.  Mostly the 2013 Equestria Girls Holiday Special.)

• The various changes made to blogger over the years have left the formatting on a lot of the old posts downright atrocious.  I need to go through them and fix that, and so long as I'm doing that I can do two things.  One is the years overdue overhaul of the indexes and navigation.

Another is that as as I fix the formatting and such, I can call your attention to the older posts and maybe you'll find something which you like and haven't seen before.

• If one takes a look at my wishlist it will be quickly noticed that every other thing is a lego set.  I like legos, I like building, and I've been considering doing a posts about that.

• I used to do more posts concerned with photography and image manipulation and I can do that again.

• I feel like that wasn't it, but I have no idea what else I might have been thinking.


• Right, I want to reboot my decons.  I was actually looking at the first episode of Kim Possible again immediately before I started writing this.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

An Introduction to Math, by chris the cynic, Part 1: One to one correspondence, sheep, natural numbers, and addition thereof.

[This is also what happens when I have no internet.  Written at the same time as the volumes on exponentiation, but given much less attention.]

We don't know what the first math was.

I don't have the internet right now, so I can't check if crows or gorillas or such can do math.  Whether or not other extant animals can, you know that earlier hominids would have had it in them, and modern humans were around for a very long time before they started writing things down.  The result is that extensive, if informal, mathematics had been worked out before writing was a thing.

It's worth distinguishing “math” from “numbers”.  It's really easy to work out what the first number was.  It was one.
I have one cat.
I have one pair of pears.
I have one set of dishes.
I have one deck of cards.
I have one flock of sheep.
I have one pile of Legos
I have one . . . empty fucking space where my stuff was supposed to be!
Anything, no matter how numerous or vacuous, can be described as one collection.

You can always have a group, a portion, an amount, or a lack.*

That, however, isn't math.  It's just a number.  It doesn't tell us what the first math was.

One theory is that the beginning was 1 to 1 correspondence.  That can easily be used to keep track of things without any formal understanding of anything.

It goes like this:

I tally my sheep by putting rocks in my pouch:
I have one sheep, I put a rock in my pouch.
I have another sheep, I put another rock in my pouch.
I have one last sheep, I put another rock in my pouch.
I check on my sheep using the rocks in my pouch:
One rock.  One sheep.
Another rock.  Another sheep.
The only number used is “one”, which we've already discussed is basically a gimme, yet it can be scaled to any number of sheep (or other discrete things) it is possible to have.  (It is not possible to have infinite sheep or one over pi sheep.)

You do need to be aware that if a sheep dies you must take a rock out, and if a sheep is born you must put a rock in.  With those considerations taken care of, it allows you to make sure you've got your whole flock even if there are too many for you to keep track of in your head and you cannot count.

One to one correspondence isn't just the math of sheep and stones.  It's also the math of tally marks.  This lends itself nicely to the creation of the natural numbers.

You give names to certain collections of tally marks.  One tally mark is called “one”, for that only makes sense.  You look upon “││” and call it “two”.  You look upon “│││” and call it “three”.

You can keep on going forever, but without a system it would be hard to keep track of all those names.  We'll get back to that later.  For now, regardless of names, the key point is that we've got all of the natural numbers (we have the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . .}).

We haven't defined any operations yet.  The numbers just sit there.

The basic operations are pretty easy to figure out.  Addition, in particular, comes very naturally.

You take two and put it next to three.  Then count up the tally marks or make a new, combined, tally with one mark for each mark in the two individual tallys.

││+│││ = │││││

Congratulations you just learned that 2 + 3 = 5.

It's also plainly clear that x + y = y + x.  .  You don't even need to redraw the marks to change one to the other, just scratch out the plus after the first x marks and stick one in after the first y marks.  So points for discovering commutative property as well.

The associative property is likewise easy to demonstrate.  It doesn't matter where you insert a “+” or parentheses, the number of tally marks doesn't change.

It's worth noting that we don't get any new numbers here.  Addition, on its own, is fully capable of giving us more numbers.  Infinity plus one of them, in fact.  But to do that we need to have a negative number and we have not yet reached that point.

Thus far everything is simple and intuitive, and honestly I'm just stringing words together now because I kind of stopped writing this after the first sentence of the previous paragraph so the content sort of ran out.

Still, it seems like if I'm going to post this I should have some sort of ending.  Not sure what that should be though.  See you next time, if such a thing exists.

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* The last part, “a lack”, does get resistance.  People don't generally dispute that 0 =  1 × 0, so they don't dispute that zero is one zero and their objection isn't mathematical in nature, but the idea that nothing, in the abstract, can be said to be one [thing] does get resistance even when that [thing] is a collection with nothing in it.

That's . . . not a major problem for us right now, but it is worth noting that (modern) mathematics is built upon a foundation of set theory and the set with nothing in it is precisely one set.  It's also monumentally important.  It's usually written as “{}”, “Ø”, or “ø”.  It is called “the null set” or “the empty set”.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

On the definition of exponentiation 1 (chris the cynic complains about something that isn't actually a problem and most people don't care about)

(This is what happens when I have no internet.  Post brought to you by Dunkin' Donuts free wi-fi.)

I've never really liked the way exponentiation is defined.

You start out with whole numbers, and that makes things easy.

Multiplication is repeated addition. “a * b” is “a” added to itself “b” times. (Which is also “b” added to itself “a” times.)

Exponentiation is repeated multiplication. “ab” is “a” multiplied by itself “b” times.

You move onto the rational numbers, then the real numbers.

Multiplication stays fairly straightforward. In fact, in an axiomatic approach, multiplication is one of the things we take as so basic that it's a given.

Exponentiation becomes “to determine the value of x to the y evaluate the natural logarithm at x, multiply the result by y, and evaluate the exponential function at that result.”

If this isn't setting off your “What the fuck?” alarms, it probably means you've already taken this class.

I say again: The expression xy is supposed to be “x multiplied by itself y times” and therefore to find out what xy is you evaluate a function, which has nothing to do with multiplication, at x, then multiply by y, and finally plug the result into another function that has nothing to do with multiplication.

Now, there is a reason for this. Two actually.

Before I state the reasons, let me convert that into a more mathy and less wordy form.

xy = exp(y*ln(x))

Now, onto the two reasons why that's the definition of xy.

The first is that the math checks out and it works just fine.

Specifically, the two functions are inverses so “xy = exp(ln(xy))” is definitely true (provided both sides of the equation actually exist), and the natural logarithm has the property that “ln(xy)=y*ln(x)” which means that the equality from the definition holds.

More importantly, we can solve it.

How is that more important than it being true?

We can make up infinite things that are equal to xy, but most of them don't help us answer the question of what xy actually is. This does.

We know the exponential. We know the natural logarithm. We know how to multiply. Thus converting “xy” to “exp(y*ln(x))” has changed something we didn't know how to solve (raising a number to an arbitrary power) to three things we do know how to solve.

So, that's why we do it. First off it's true, second it's useful.

For what it's worth, this is usually written as “xy = ey*ln(x)”.

So . . . “e”.

e is a very special number. For the moment, that matters to us not a bit. What matters is that “exp(1) = e” and, because the functions are inverses, “ln(e) = 1”.

So if you set the x in the “xy” we've been using equal to e, you get:
ey = exp(y*ln(e)) = exp(y*1) = exp(y)

That's what justifies converting “exp([ ])” to “e[ ]”. We can't, however, start with that. ex is undefined until we define it using the exponential function, so we need the exponential function first. Once we define it, though, it's equal to the exponential function and can be used to stand in for it.

So “xy = exp(y*ln(x))”, usually written as “xy = ey*ln(x)”, undeniably works and it happens to be useful. It lets us solve xy for arbitrary values of y. But do a little comparison.

As previously noted, multiplication, our “repeated addition”, is so simple and basic we take it as a given. Exponentiation, our “repeated multiplication”, is so complex and exotic we have to invent two functions just to solve basic equations. And not just any functions. Difficult functions.

Difficult enough that my word processor (I'm not composing this online since I have no internet right now, that said my html-fu likely wouldn't be up to the task either) can't actually show what ln(x) is equal to.

So I'm going to have to use words instead of symbols. You take the integral of one over t dt. My word processor can show that (admittedly badly, but it can do it): “ʃ1/t ∂t”. Then you evaluate that integral from one to x. The result is ln(x).

Or, to put it another way, you have to invent fucking calculus before you can even begin to understand the definition of xy.

You have to invent calculus, integrate a function that resists simple integration, and when you've done that you're still only halfway there.

The exponential function doesn't exist yet. We can't just say it's ewhatever either, because that's not defined until we've created the exponential function.

So first you invent calculus. Then integrate one over t dt from one to x and call the result ln(x). Then you determine the inverse of the function ln(x) and call it exp(x).

Then, finally, you look at the number whose value you're trying to determine, xy. You evaluate ln(x) at that particular x, multiply it by that particular y, and take the exponential of the whole damn thing.

And only then do you know what xy means.

‧ ‧ ‧

And that is why I don't like the way exponentiation is defined.