Indoctrination: Not exactly what you might think…

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Okay. It’s the school year, so naturally I’ll probably be posting more on politics and social theory than much else. (Sorry, people. It’s not my fault.)

Today, we’re going to talk about indoctrination. (No, don’t say that word, Erin! That’s a nasty word. It’s a dirty word. It’s an ugly word.) Well, maybe not so much as you might think.

Indoctrination is one of those words that people like to throw around in conjunction with the viewpoint that they themselves do not espouse. It’s a way of attempting to scare off debate by using words that, let’s be honest, we don’t really understand (ask two people what political correctness is, for example. You won’t get the same answer from both. I can tell you that much.) It’s one of those words we don’t really understand. It appears very often in correlation with the words “them,” which is another logical fallacy that I’ll be posting on soon. (Who are “them”? Well, that’s a post for another day.)

Let’s look up the word “indoctrination”, shall we?

Here, let’s look at Merriam-Webster Online:

in·doc·tri·nate

verb \in-ˈdäk-trə-ˌnāt\

: to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs of other groups.

in·doc·tri·nat·ed | in·doc·tri·nat·ing
 

Full Definition of INDOCTRINATE

transitive verb
1
:  to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments :  teach
2
:  to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.
Okay, there we have three different definitions. Sadly, they all (ultimately) mean the same thing.
(Now there’s radical for you, right?!)
To understand why, we have to go waaaay back. Back to kindergarten, in fact.
Or, further back still; the early days you spent after going home from the hospital with your mom and dad.
Back in those halcyon days, every moment you spent was a learning experience. Even in your mother’s womb, you were learning, from the music you could hear outside, to touch, to the difference between up and down. After you were born, you spent your time learning to recognize mom and dad, siblings, things that made you happy and sad…
You were building up a knowledge base. (Some psychologists use the word syntax, or alternately schema.) You were learning every minute.
When you got older, your parents began to teach you the basics–right from wrong, left from right, opposites, and shapes. Your political beliefs (naive as they were) were the beginnings of what you believe today. The Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” People have a hard time veering sharply away from all that they’ve been taught their entire lives.
Thus, your parents indoctrinated you. (Nothing against them, personally. All parents do it.)
Then, when you got older, if you were not homeschooled, you started going to a public or a private school. (Unless you live in some states. Then your homeschool was a private school. Yes, that’s how it works in certain states! Homeschools operate as private schools–which is seriously cool.) You had new authorities in your life, new experiences. You began to think in different ways than you did when you were too little to go to school. (You probably don’t remember the change. I don’t. It happens slowly, and unless you have a shocker moment, you’re not likely to remember it at all. Scientific studies have proven it, though.) You were the responsibility of your teachers when you were at school, and subject to their authority. And they (quite unintentionally) impressed their own worldviews on your psyche. If they conflicted with those of your parents, perhaps you didn’t care and were able to somehow reconcile them within your own mind. If you did care, you now had an identity crisis and had to decide which to follow: parent’s worldview, or teacher’s.
Again, you were being indoctrinated. Perhaps re-indoctrinated.
And finally, in high school and college, you came to understand the meaning of the word “indoctrination.” You began to think in new ways, perhaps with new depth. It was a defining moment in your indoctrination (though certainly not the final one, even if you were no longer in your formative years afterward.)
I can’t speak much for after-college experience. I’m still only in my sophomore year. (Sophomore is a fun word. Literally, it means a “wise fool!” Which means that I’m probably not as smart or learned as I’d like to think.)
But anyway, at every level of your life you were indoctrinated. Humanity needs a worldview, its rose- or green- or blue-colored glasses through which it sees the world. Indoctrination is necessary. Think about it. We don’t normally know what to think of someone until we know what their opinions are. We don’t tend to read forward in articles if we realize the writer doesn’t agree with us (shut up, you know you’ve stopped reading at these points; so have I. But mostly only if I was bored as well as objecting. If the writer has a good point to make or makes a fascinating argument, I’ll read on, and I’m certain there are other people who do. But if the writer doesn’t agree with me, I may just deem it not worth my precious time.) And we’re always pushing our viewpoints onto other people. (No objections. And we’re not to be blamed, actually. Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it!)
And yet, indoctrination is considered a dirty word. Mostly because this is a case where both sides are actually in the right. When they’re accusing the other side of indoctrinating people, they’re right. People on every side indoctrinate others. (Brainwashing, such as happens in Soviet and Communist concentration camps, is an entirely different matter. When I figure out exactly how it’s different, I’ll tell you. I just know that it’s different.)
Seriously. We need to re-think our social theories here.

What’s in a name?

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For the previous in this series of humor posts, go here.

I know everyone keeps on saying Obi-Wan’s name is Japanese, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to be. For instance, well…

You never know. It might be Welsh. X-P Just spelled phonetically for English speakers. ;-P

Or maybe it’s Russian.

Does anyone really know?

Anyway, this post didn’t have a point until I came along months later and gave it one. (I have got to stop scheduling posts and then losing my momentum…)

Basically, it’s about naming your characters. A good man is hard to name, and I’m finding more and more frequently now that they do not spring into my head fully formed and named. (Do I really want to name this other protagonist Ben as well? Or should I name him Matt? Or have his full name be Benedict instead of Benjamin and everyone just calls him Ben? Choices, choices…)

An especially difficult one to name was Rynnar (closely followed up by Halbryn, from Bound to the Flame.) Rynnar is the mentor of Winter, the protagonist of Loyalties and Generations (check out my Novels page to read more about those books!) And I needed a name for him that would sound strong, but thoughtful, and would not sound like Qui-Gon Jinn or Halt… (Nailed it! :-P) And the result? Rynnar Evremere. (That’s an awesome last name. And you know it. :-P Don’t try to deny it. :-P) I’m still not absolutely sure about the name, but it sounds good enough that I will probably leave it as is. Some characters are just so hard to name, but fortunately most characters, sooner or later, if they’re done right, make the names their own.

I also have a hard time naming my villains. Fortunately, though, I have been writing long enough that by now I have a full list of good villain names, just waiting to be used.

So, my advice? Jumble names and letters around until you find one that works. Write down interesting-sounding names in the “Master” Notebook (and if you don’t have a master notebook, start one! It will be a great resource for plot bunnies, novel ideas, and keeping your novels organized.) Make sure to keep character profiles current, so you don’t have to scramble to go find someone’s name or what they’ve been up to.

Okay, hopefully that rambling post was helpful! Please tell me if you want me to post on how to start and structure a master notebook for use in writing. Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

How to be a Villain in One Easy Step

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I know I’ve already posted on villains, multiple times, but the subject begged just one more treatment. And it probably will, yet again.

When you’re writing a villain–a very evil, nonredeemable villain–there is another good, surefire way, other than having the villain mistreat a helpless person, of getting the villain to seem like a total psychopath and garner hate for him in every corner.

You take something the audience holds as sacred, and then have your villain desecrate it. The more depraved, the better–unless you have to censor it for young audiences. (I may write a post on writing specifically for children later on.)

You may have to build up the one thing that the audience holds as sacred, however; especially if you can not count that they hold similar beliefs as you. It’s better to establish that this is the morality of the novel first before having the villains violate something that is key to it. It’s better to build things up well before trying to use them, I find.

Hope you all enjoyed this post. :-) Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

(Oh, and one quick note. I may be a bit remiss in posting for a while, until I get used to the new college campus. Please forgive me if I’m a bit more absent than usual. That’s all.)

Checkmate

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Hello, readers all!

My being sick has led to this. I offer no apology or explanation. I just hope you all enjoy it. Caveat Lector: It’s rather dark. If you want to know… partly a challenge from Iris. She wanted me to write something in first person, present tense. Here you go, Iris dear. I hope you like it. :-P


Checkmate

                I am so tired.

I didn’t sleep last night; the coughing got worse. I couldn’t sleep much. Apparently it’s impossible to sleep while you’re coughing the fluid out of your lungs. I almost wish I hadn’t been coughing all night long—just gone to sleep and drowned, quietly, in my sleep—never woken up—been at peace

No. I can’t wish that. There are things I have to do.

I press a hand to my chest as I break out into hollow coughing, yet again. It’s so bad this time that I find myself not just coughing, but throwing up as well. Just perfect. And there are red streaks in it too, which means that I’m sicker than I thought. I’m going to die soon.

I can’t die yet. There are things that must be done first. After that, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

To die would be an awfully big adventure.

I slide into a corner, trying to stifle the coughs, at least to make them quieter, perhaps to silence them. Or… since I have to sneak in, perhaps I could just cough myself dry—purge the fluid, so I could breathe—for a little longer—yes.

I force myself to cough, until I am doubled over and wrung out, panting with the effort. It hurts, but I embrace the pain. Pain is good. It tells me that I’m not done yet.

Exhaustion dogging my steps, I creep into the fortress. It is ironically easy, as if she is still subtly mocking me with this. I don’t care. I am grateful.

I don’t think she really planned for this eventuality.

The weapons room is not so easy to find. That’s not surprising. My mind is growing clouded, spinning out of control with fever and illness. But I do find it. And when I do, I destroy it.

The feeling of my fist smashing into the screen is a good one, despite that my knuckles crack and burn, blood streaming down over my hand. It gives me the illusion of power—power that I actually do, ironically, have, now. I rip out the circuits and smash the memory chip. The whole matrix fritzes out. I have just destroyed her entire operation. And even though I am weak and ill, I’ve just done it. I succeeded. It’s an exhilarating feeling, almost like a drug, and it gives me strength I don’t have, I shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t use it—but I don’t care. I am already dying, and I might as well make the most of it.

I find her. Not the other way around. I smile. I can spare her that much.

“Goldan,” she says, in a flat, dead voice. What have they done to you, littleing? I miss you. I miss you.

“Hello, sister dear.” I say, and then I fall, in slow motion.

It doesn’t hurt anymore.

Checkmate.

Why I Am A Hopeless Romantic (and other ramblings)

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This one goes out to Erin of Laughing at Live Dragons and Proverbs31teen at World of the Writer. You two are awesome.

No, I don’t sit at the top of my tower warbling “Someday my prince will come!” But I do believe in marriage, and, for me, divorce will never be an option. When love fails, faithfulness will keep me from straying until I realize at last that love was never lost, it was just hidden.

To me, love is not just the name of an emotion. It is also the name of an action. It is when the night is darkest that the stars shine the brightest; when things are hardest I will do my best to persevere and not forget. Vows are sacred; I will keep them.

No, I don’t believe in the rapture. I do believe that every day is a shrine to the most high God, to be sweetened with the incense of prayer and filled with offerings of roses, no matter how harsh and sharp the thorns of sacrifice.

No, I don’t believe that churchgoing makes the Christian. I believe that what takes place in between services is equally important. Do you keep your mind on lofty things, or do you slip into the gray areas until you realize your mind is so numb that prayer is all but impossible and you must climb, struggling and falling often, back to the heights from which you so slowly slid?

In the end, I believe that Love will conquer, that Light will chase the darkness away, that God will claim His own children and bring them to their inheritance.

I believe that God came down and became truly human, at the same time retaining His divinity. He became human, and endured our sufferings, our little aches and pains, without complaint. The Son knew the perfection of suffering and pain; He was sick sometimes, weary at heart at others. He bowed His head to human authority. He bent His back beneath the scourge. He did not call on the legions of angels awaiting His command to help Him in His agony; He did not even use His own power to stop it. Instead, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

I believe that Love died on a cross to save us, even though we did not deserve it, even though we can never deserve it.

In the end, I believe in forgiveness.

And that’s what makes me a hopeless, incurable romantic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgzXgo0K7Rg

(You don’t have to watch this if you don’t want to, but it’s well worth watching–yes, all the way to the end! ;-) )

Richard Dawkins: Social Darwinist, Generation 2.0

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To say that reading this article was a shock to me, would be the understatement of the decade. I could not believe what I was reading.

Social Darwinism, which all compassionate people hoped was dead, is alive and well, it would seem.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t know what sort of reading background is normal for my dear readers, but maybe you’re not all sure what Social Darwinism is.

Social Darwinism is the savagery that Hitler used for an excuse when he had millions of Jews, gypsies, vagrants, the mentally ill, all kinds of other innocent people, and anyone who tried to protect or hide them slaughtered in what he termed “The Final Solution,” but which history better remembers as the Holocaust.

Basically, Social Darwinism examines the theory of evolution, which states that natural selection will gradually winnow out those in a population who are unfit to live. In the wild, weak animals never last very long, and sick ones are the first to be picked off by predators. This results in the strongest animals surviving to reproduce. This is all well and good–in the wild.

However, Social Darwinism takes the idea that natural selection is a good thing to the extreme. Social Darwinism states that inferior human beings deserve to die as well. And, as dystopian novels are constantly reminding us, the human condition is such that no human being is inferior, and certainly that no human being is “worthless”!

From Social Darwinism springs the idea (much abjured especially by Charles Dickens in his work, specifically in A Christmas Carol) that we should not help the poor; that they are “unfit to live”, and we should just let them die. I don’t know about you, my fair readers, but this idea with its blatant disregard for human life and lack of belief in the value of all life horrifies me. After all, sometimes conditions are horribly unfair. They hit a man or woman when he or she is down, while seeming to reward those who cheat. For instance, even though my dad has every reason to be employed, we were forced to rely on our savings for a year while he was unemployed. (He’s a very competent computer security and risk management expert. He could have prevented one security breach at a company he worked for if the people in charge had actually listened to him. Forgive me for not giving better credentials, but Internet privacy and safety and all that.) Life has a way of knocking people down when they don’t deserve it. And people, contrary to all expectation, have a way of getting up again.

If you are all for Social Security and wellfare and that sort of thing, let me tell you… Apparently Richard Dawkins… isn’t?

Because it seems Richard Dawkins thinks that giving birth to a baby with Downs Syndrome or another mental health issue is “immoral.” According to him, we should abort all such pregnancies. (I find this especially frightening and horrifying, as such a belief was trademark of one of my–fortunately fictional–totalitarian governments which was depicted in Angels’ Reflections, and which, realistically speaking, would be a likely component of the totalitarian governments of the future. For more information about Angels’ Reflections, visit my Novels page.) From there, it’s just one step away from the concentration, and eventually death, camps.

To me, this is barbarism of the worst kind. To kill a child for merely having a genetic disorder is savagery, in my mind. Mr. Dawkins even called it “civilized.” Yes, if you want the worst of the Roman Empire. Yes, if you want to live in Sparta–which, by all accounts, was a very brutal city. One of the worst human “instincts”–the one of which we should be most ashamed–seems to be that at every level in history, we tend to slaughter our young.

In ancient times, in many cultures, including the ones now considered to be the root of most modern cultures, a baby that was perceived as “weak” was left exposed to the elements to die.

When Herod was afraid of being replaced on his throne, what did he do? The Slaughter of the Innocents.

Children killed in hospitals and death camps alike in Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

Gender-specific abortions, targeting (guess what?) mainly unborn baby girls.

And now, abortions targeting those children who are mentally ill or who have a genetic disorder that isn’t always nearly as debilitating as we are told.

Do we see a pattern here?

It seems Richard Dawkins has an interesting brand of “morality”. (Man, it’s hard not to make ad-hominem attacks when something this odious comes out… I’m trying. Possibly not succeeding. But trying.)

Let’s take this out even further, shall we?

Is there one person currently living on this earth who has never told a lie? Not even a little “white lie”? Not even a lie of omission?

Is there one person who has not been tempted to steal or embezzle at times?

Is there one person who has never been tempted to use violence, whether on others or himself or herself?

Wait, wait, wait. Those are all things that can leave you behind in the “grand” scheme of things. (Like, say, if you were registered in The Hunger Games.) Let’s talk in language Social Darwinists would understand.

Is there one human being in this world who has never made a bad business decision?

Is there one person who has never, ever made a mistake? (From a strictly amoral viewpoint.)

Is there one person who has not had to have their life saved in some way?

Also, how should we measure who deserves to live and who deserves to be aborted? Should we determine it by the righteousness of the individual? Righteous people don’t always do things that are for the amoral “good” of people in general. Should we reward those who put themselves ahead of others, or vice versa? Should we reward those who are physically strong, or those who are intellectual and intelligent? The two don’t always go together. There have been intellectuals with bad health, and strong people with bad health, and strong people who were also intellectual. (This is a big, glaring problem with moral relativism, FYI.) There are simply too many variables to measure.

And all this was before I saw his Twitter feed. (The link is at the bottom of the article I linked you to above.) Really, Mr. Dawkins? “Dislikes pretentious obscurantism”? (Well, I agree, Gnosticism was a gnarly heresy, but does it really justify hard-core materialism?) “Treats all religions with good-humored ridicule”? I’ve seen and heard some of your ridicule before, and in places it was anything but good-humored. And even if it was good-humored, it was violently–yes, I’m using that word–violently anti-religion. Dare I say, in places you were even as bitter towards religion as I am currently bitter and outraged at your inane Twitter logic.

Basically, what I’m getting at here is that, on some level or other, every human being alive today is unfit for survival. Every last person alive has known failure. I’m sure that at this point Mr. Dawkins would say, “We’re only talking about eliminating those least fit to live!” To which I would have to answer, “Who are we to say who deserves to live and die? We are mere grains of sand in a vast dune, mere moments in the ocean of time. To use the Christians’ imagery, we are mere dust. Who are we to say that one of our number deserves death when, perhaps on another level, we equally deserve death?”

We are mere dust, mere creation. But we were shaped by the hand of God, and thus though we are equal in guilt, we are also all equal in destiny. Autistic children have been known to be incredibly bright. Children who, all the doctors prophesied, would be no better than vegetables, have grown up and thrived. Inspiring stories can be found everywhere. I’m certain that our scientist friend would object that “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’!” But truly, there would not be so many instances of excellence, found in the strangest of places, if there was not some “divine spark” to be found in all men, women, and children, making all men, women and children worthy to have at least their lives and dignity respected?

Shout me down for comparing Dawkins’ philosophy to Hitler’s. I’m just calling it like I see it. But I can not be silent when I hear about this horrid fiasco going on with our educated scientist friend.

Survival of the fittest is a horrible philosophy, Mr. Dawkins, when applied to the “real world” of humanity and politics. I hope you realize that soon.

Disclaimer: The author apologizes for any bruised toes caused by this article. She does not, however, apologize for presenting her views, though she admits to being a mere human idiot (despite having a high IQ and better grades than most of her classmates,) and thus parts of this post may be inaccurate or misrepresented. She would also like to point out that this is not, technically, any kind of personal attack, especially as the words “is going to hell” did not appear in conjunction with anyone’s name, in keeping with the general theme of nonjudgmental-ness, and she opposes the principles or philosophy proposed by the victim subject of this post. She would also like it if her readers were to research the origins of the theory of evolution and the history of Social Darwinism–if they dare. :-P

I’M STUCK IN THE DARK AGES AND PROUD OF IT! X-P Hey, that should be a badge… :-P

Thanks for reading, and may God Bless you, whether you believe in Him or not! :-D

Versatile Blogger Award: Some Thoughts on Worthy Womanhood

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By the Two Trees of Valinor! It’s another blog award! This one from Proverbs31teen. Thank you so much, dear!

Apparently this one is simple. Seven random facts. And then nominate other bloggers. ;-) Someone should start one of these awards where the acceptance post has to have a newly-written short story or something. :-P Just for variety. I AM NOT STARTING ONE, THOUGH. Goodness, no. I already awarded to everyone I can think of in very recent history… that, and my awardees probably all have lives of their own and procrastinate on these nearly as much as I do. :-P

Now, because I realized I had never looked up the verse behind Proverbs31teen’s username, I decided to do so today. (The other reason why I didn’t know already is because I am notoriously bad at remembering verse numbers. I’m better at noticing background material than verse numbers.) Proverbs chapter 31 is the last chapter in the book of Proverbs. Specifically, it is the advice Lemuel, king of Massa, was given by his mother and recorded for readers of the future. She begins by warning him against reckless actions (such as drinking,) because he is his people’s hope, and calling on him to stand up for his people and help the needy. Then she proceeds to tell him what the ideal of womanhood is.

When one finds a worthy wife, her worth is far beyond pearls.

Her husband entrusts his life safely to her; in her he has a worthy prize.

She goes on to say that the ideal woman is diligent and hardworking, does her duties well, is pure and honest, and does not go in for idle pleasure. Which makes us girls think, wow, what standards! and ask ourselves if we are living up to them.

To everyone who reads this, I have a challenge. This challenge is to look up Proverbs Chapter 31 and break down your favorite female characters to see if they measure up. Does Katniss Everdeen ever stop to ask if she’s being diligent? Did Cinderella use her new-found affluence to aid the impoverished? Did Rapunzel try to make Eugene better? What about Belle? What is this “something more” that she wants, really?

However, you must bear in mind that this applies not only to married women, but unmarried ones as well. Also, you really have to read in between the lines to understand it fully. Today, we talk more plainly than the various writers who put pen to paper under divine inspiration to make up the bible did. Rather than saying exactly what they mean, they use imagery as metaphor. Thus, a “lamp burning brightly after dusk” means that the lady of the house is still keeping busy, no matter how late the hour she stays up to. And the fact that “Her husband sits at the gates of the city with the elders” means not just that he’s influential or works actively with the others in the city council, but that his wife encourages him to aim high and supports him in his endeavors and even tries to make him better by her own efforts. (Which is undeservedly resented, these backward days.)

A quick caveat: I read the chapter in the New American Bible and it… well, it just seems incomplete. (Yes, I do despise this particular translation. Grrr.)

And now, for the actual award stuff!

  1. I do occasionally swear by the Two Trees of Valinor. (If you do not know what that is, then you really need to read The Silmarillion.)
  2. Most people I know tell me “you think too much!” every once in a while, despite the fact that I think it put my IQ in the gifted range…
  3. I have a tendency to ramble on posts. (Hence the fact that this is not just a simple acceptance post.
  4. I can’t find my headband. Thus, my hair is in my face.
  5. I love hot cereal, but I love muffins even more.
  6. Right now, my biggest concern is getting my spot in the Orientation Days for college… though, thanks to bureaucracy, it looks like I will be missing out. Thank you to whoever had that bright idea that required all this Social Security/federal loan/paperwork stuff!
  7. My second biggest concern is finding a part time job. :’-(

Yes, my life sucks right now. It would be nice if someone could invent the next-generation version of Turbo Tax to help people get in their schooling paperwork on time.

Now, I would like to nominate Robyn Hood because she is a wonderful blogger and honestly, I can’t think of anyone else who I haven’t just nominated… :’-(

Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

Theoretic Science: Pandemics and Nuclear Warfare: How to Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse

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Warning: This post is intended for humor and pseudo-scientific postulation purposes ONLY. The author neither endorses a belief in zombies, nor does she believe herself. Neither does the author intend to attack believers in the Voodoo religion; she intends merely to cast light on a historical religious practice that she believes unethical. She apologizes in advance for her very Western, Christian, white-middle-class-American tendencies and narrow worldview. The following post’s practical value is only in preparedness for worldwide epidemics, natural disasters, and nuclear threats. Thank you for your attention.

She also apologizes for speaking about herself in third person for two whole paragraphs. Haha, she does love bold-face font…

Good, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here we go. (You can find the first two posts of the Theoretic Science series here and here.

I am known far and wide for being both a nerd and a geek, with a tendency to over-think magic systems, theoretic technology, etc. And I tend to have thoughts that other people don’t ever seem to think. It is most emphatically not my fault. I read too much fiction, maybe.

Anyway, one of my more celebrated exploits occurred not because I thought it was “cool”, but because I was volunteering for summer camps at a local nature center. Basically, I dressed up as a zombie to help out with a summer camp. The idea was to study ethnobotany (basically, the traditional uses of plants in medicine, arts and crafts, and food), wilderness survival, emergency response, disaster recovery, that sort of thing. Don’t worry, no one went too wild with it! But there was a pizza party at the end… just saying. :-P

But while I was there, I mentioned to some of the other volunteers (as we got flour put in our hair) that if we were actually a threat, then bug spray, of all things, would be among the campers’ best weapons.

“Don’t you mean zombie repellent?” another volunteer asked.

I said, “No, I mean bug spray.”

(Yes, for those who were wondering, they did manage to “cure” us. The cure was jewelweed pounded in water. Which also works for poison ivy, incidentally… But not diluted.

I was rather uncomfortable, actually, afterwards. I had hid and lain down on a nettle. Ouch. And the face paint was sticky and greasy and not very pleasant to wear.)

Fast forward several weeks. I posted about geek fandomery, and made a mention of the same thought, adding a note about iodine supplements as well. (I didn’t make that up myself. That one is from my volunteer supervisor, actually.) Several people expressed interest in the comments. So, this is my answer.

Zombies originated in the Voodoo religion of Haiti. Basically, they were the mindless servants (sometimes they are actually re-animated corpses; sometimes they are living people who, Voodoo practitioners believe, have had their souls stolen) of anyone who had the know-how to either reanimate zombie servants for themselves or turn living people into zombies. No one believes in the reanimated zombies any more, but it is true that living people were drugged to fake their deaths, then drugged again to keep their minds and intellects from resurfacing, so they could not just walk away from their slavery. (In the third book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, SPOILER ALERT something similar occurs. END SPOILERS) However, even if the drugs were to stop, very few people, sadly, ever had a chance to return to their homes and families, due to brain damage and memory loss caused by the drugs–in extreme cases, the withdrawal of said drugs could lead to death. (Addicted to what kills you, this is more common than you would like to believe for your peace of mind.)

So much for reality. Now we go to the popular culture side of things. (Yes, I just called pop culture unrealistic. Live with it.)

In popular culture, zombies and the zombie apocalypse are a big thing. In popular culture, though, zombieism is not caused by some machinating Voodoo priest or priestess… We can’t have that! Goodness, no! It’s not politically correct! (Even Disney didn’t dare, they had to level out their precious dark sorcerer by putting in a benevolent one as well.) So, instead, zombieism in popular culture is more like a plague, or is caused by some other meddling with either the human genome or some so-called “miracle serum” or something. (See Norman Osborne. Yoikes.) However, whatever incarnation we’re talking about, normally zombies can transform normal people into zombies by biting them, scratching them, etc. So far so good. The plague doesn’t spread by air. Possibly you could catch it by drinking contaminated water or contact with bodily fluids, but think about it. If there are zombies (which can’t feel pain) out there, they’re going to get bitten by mosquitoes if they still have any circulatory fluids in them. They won’t be slapping the mosquitoes. And then those mosquitoes will become plague carriers, and you won’t just have to defend yourself from zombie bites, you’ll have to protect yourself from zombie mosquito bites, too! Whether the mosquitoes themselves become zombiefied or not, bug spray is still your best friend, since I doubt that a zombie mosquito has any less brains than a non-zombie mosquito. Instinct is still there, probably. Keep the mosquitoes off. Defend yourself from the plague.

(In real life, malaria spreads when mosquitoes bite, too, so in the case of a real pandemic of ANY sort, if there are mosquitoes around, stockpile bug spray and protect yourself. I don’t know if HIV/AIDS can spread from mosquito bites–research in this department seems woefully inadequate–but it could be possible, I suppose, provided the AIDS part didn’t strike the mosquitoes before they could bite another person.)

Now, about the iodine supplements.

If your hypothetical zombie apocalypse is not caused directly by human meddling, but instead becomes widespread due to a nuclear blast (and believe me, most nuclear blasts that have actually occurred, though powerful, have been limited to one area, unlike in fiction,) your best defense against zombieism is to probably keep yourself uncontaminated by radiation. In nature, iodine quickly absorbs a lot of radiation. The human body requires iodine to help regulate the function of the thyroid gland, if I am correct. (That’s why they add it to table salt, to prevent iodine deficiency.) Now, of course, iodine is toxic when consumed in large amounts (as are lots of other things!), but in small doses it’s necessary to keep you healthy. You can absorb natural iodine from the food you eat, but if you don’t need iodine, you won’t absorb it as quickly, protecting you from the radiation-toxic natural iodine. Thus, carefully stored iodine supplements become your best defense in a fallout zone. There are other strategies as well to protect you from stray radiation–look up the research, it’s fascinating–but I just thought I’d mention this one, just because. (All credit goes to my volunteer supervisor for this section. Well, I did the writing. Credit for the idea, that is.)

Hopefully this helps you in your disaster preparedness and such, and gave you some food for thought. (Zombies are unrealistic, really. Unless you happen to be a necromancer and a horrible person. If you are, please don’t comment unless you want a barrage of replies shouting you down in a sadly narrow-minded and politically incorrect manner.) Thanks for reading, and God bless you all! Indiscriminately. :-P

Archivist of Selay’uu’s Journal: Welcome to Camelot

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Yesterday (Tuesday) was exciting! Exciting, complex, and busy, as a matter of fact. And I’ve only just begun my internship. If every day is like today, I will never be bored while I’m in Camelot.

Early in the morning, I got up and went to say my last goodbyes to my favorite people. Though I’ll be in and out of the chateau fairly frequently, this is probably the last good talk I’ll have with them in a while. Faramir, being the gallant person he is, offered to carry my suitcase down from my room for me. I’ve never been able to really say no to him, so I let him do it. It seemed to make him happy, and I could tell his wife approved, so I guess it’s a win-win situation all around.

We got to the war room (which is one of the names we call the experiment room; the others are, in no particular order, the testing place, the disaster area, the mess-which-it-is-forbidden-to-clean, and that-which-shall-not-be-named, among others.) It’s a huge, long room that seems to extend the whole length of the house, in the old section of the house that has not been built over in centuries. There are a few doors along the sides, each leading into a different room. It may have been used for a hallway once, or it may have been a gallery of some sort, and there’s evidence in a few places of demolished interior walls, but now it’s just called the experiment room. It is the one room in which we are allowed to do anything we like, anything at all, so long as it doesn’t hurt another person. It’s not a lab, so you’re free to safely blow stuff up there. (I’ve had to practice my magic and Force talents there, since they can be unintentionally destructive.) It’s a great place to perform unpredictable experiments. It’s the one place where paintball wars and indoor archery tournaments and other tournaments, the kind where we partner up and ride at the ring on our partners’ shoulders, are permitted, and sometimes we even strip long pieces of the wallpaper off, when we’re in bad moods. One time, Iris and I painted it all zebra stripes and then blamed Horace. Good times… Anyway, it’s also the only place indoors where we are permitted to begin tessering procedures, or to portal into other worlds, except in the case of invasion or emergency (such as the Harry Potter fiasco.) Pfft, what am I saying? An invasion is practically an emergency! If the Harry Potter lot break too many walls, then we could end up with a broken space-time continuum, or the barrier between matter and energy could be destroyed, which would force a rapid leap forward in intellectual evolution for the human race to survive at all. (Complex Doctor Who stuff, ask Iris.)

There was no hitch in portaling to Camelot. I found myself in Albion, a few miles out from Camelot. I could see the city’s spires in the distance. I began to head toward the city; before I could get far, Merlin, who had probably been waiting, came out to meet me, and we headed back towards Camelot together. The country surrounding Camelot is picturesque in the extreme. The deciduous forests are interspersed with pine and spruce; the terrain is somewhat rocky, but nothing I’m not accustomed to, what with all the hiking I do.

Camelot is a busy city, and it’s not nearly as dirty or squalid as some people seem to think that it should be. The people are welcoming (most of the time,) and when we walked by there was nobody in the stocks (I’m sure all of my readers wanted to know about that!)

Anyway, Merlin introduced me to Gaius. (He’s a nice man, he only pretends to be cantankerous.) And then, we all got down to work. At least, we tried to…

We were in the middle of reading the treatise on the origins of magic and the history of magic theory when Merlin was called away. Arthur was going to have him clean up the stables, and I sort-of just trailed after him. It was sort-of my fault what happened next, as well.

I startled Merlin. And he blew up the stables accidentally by accident. (Sir Leon was not too happy about that.)

It just happened that there was cake for desert at lunch. They brought in five big ones–everyone just happened to be eating lunch at the same time, together… and I blew up a cake in the Prat’s face accidentally on purpose. (This time, Sir Leon was amused.)

Then Merlin and I went back to studying. Gaius had some wisdom to offer (he told us that to be a knight is not the only honorable calling), and I pranked Kilgarrah with a typo turkey, and got to visit Balinor, and it was just epic! ^_^ I’m writing about it all in my journal–I will post about it as soon as I can get a decent Internet connection. Hopefully I will be able to post without having to use the free Wi-Fi at the tavern where Merlin never goes. Well, if Merlin and I can get my service to work, I shouldn’t have to.

[Archivist's note: Tonight I'm posting from in Gwen's room. She doesn't--technically--have Wi-Fi, but for some reason this is a mobile sweet spot. Thanks for reading, all!]

Teens Can Write, Too!: Accidental Self-Insertion?

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Hello, everyone! I’m taking part in the Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain once again. Why? Because it’s fun to connect with other bloggers, that’s why!

This month’s prompt is, “Which characters are you most like?” Well, that’s easy. The calculating, logical ones who don’t really “get” emotions. (Yes, really.) It’s seriously freaky, because people like Obi-Wan and Sherlock could be my alter egos. For some reason, though, girls like this are rare… it’s almost like there’s a stereotype that keeps people from writing girls like this. Unequal representation, I say!

More and more, though, I keep finding that the people I’m really most like (at least in my own work) are the villains. Don’t get me wrong, my own personal goals could not be farther from the villains I love to write. I don’t go around in my spare time planning world domination, or plotting how to turn my friends to the Dark Side (nope, no Palpatine for me, thanks!), or just randomly bumping people off. That’s not me.

I think it’s easiest to identify with people like us, which is why there is such variety in character types (put the Doctor, Obi-Wan, Jack Frost, Sherlock, Anakin, and Doctor Watson in a room together and what do you see?). But more and more, I find that my heroes tend to share only facets of my personality and develop minds and personalities all their own. I think that there must be something of the actor in a writer, something that allows them to take on the role of these characters and play them to the best advantage. It’s a rare ability–and perhaps, becoming rarer–to step into somebody else’s shoes, know how they think and act, and then walk a mile in those shoes. But I believe it can be developed–in the interest of compassion, people should take up creative writing as a hobby!

Villains, though, though painful to write, can be frighteningly easy to portray… basically, all you have to do for a villain is to summon up your selfish side, think of the times you hurt someone, and then transfer your self-hate to the villain on your paper. Though villains are characters too, they are mostly characters who slip where the heroes hold firm, and though we hate them for it, it makes them so horribly, frighteningly human, that sometimes it’s hard not to try to make your villain too sympathetic… (Forgive the rambling. I have the flu at the moment.)

I think that we can write because we are both the heroes and the villains of our own stories. It depends on the point of view of the outsider watching, really.

But as to the prompt itself (sorry for the long ramble that you didn’t ask for and probably didn’t want to read), the characters I think I’m most like (apart from the villains), would have to be the ones whom no one sees or can quite understand without some kind of shared intuition, also the ones who are unusually intelligent (though I don’t think I am myself; my IQ test came back as just “gifted”, nothing more. I just know better ways of thought, I guess?) Thus, I identify very closely with characters who tend to be more intelligent, or think differently than the people around them. Characters like Charles Wallace Murry…

This is not my mental image of Charles Wallace.

If only we could still call on Asa Butterfield for this one. Gah. I HEREBY DISOWN THIS MOVIE AND DESIRE FOR A BETTER ONE TO BE MADE.

Sherlock…

Whoops, what happened here... I need to ask Doctor Watson for help, obviously, since you can't see this picture.

Okay, not so much with this one, but I have been known to randomly make deductions about people.

Hornblower…

Yes, this is one fandom I will admit to...

I just had to pick the one with this expression. D’awwwwwwww!

(For those who do not know Mr. Hornblower [and I pity thee!], he’s a British naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars and later, and is known for risky but brilliant strategies. I also identify with him because he consistently self-depreciates in his own mind, and I know just how that feels.)

And last but not least, Obi-Wan (and not just because he’s a misunderstood intellectual–I think I posted about that here… but because of the amount of grief he had to put up with from Anakin and other people besides. He’s sort of the older brother character in Star Wars, and I’m the oldest sibling, and I certainly can relate to all the nonsense he had to put up with.)

Yes, I do think this is funny. Erin's blog is broken. Hmph.

Yes, Rosalie, I borrowed your image. MWHAHAHAHAHA.

But there are other characters, too… Merlin, because, well, social awkwardness… need I say more?

For some reason, I can't embed this the other way... what's wrong with it...

Poor Merlin. The Master of Awkward. (Don’t we all feel like this sometimes?!)

Will from Ranger’s Apprentice!

Yes, I know this is certainly someone’s fan art… sawry….

I think I identify with Will because his coming of age story is very much one that we all understand… And I think I have the same sense of humor… Anyone else getting the feeling of deja vu?

No, I couldn’t pick just one. This is awesome fan art. Seriously. (And it doesn’t look like it’s copycatted from Lord of the Rings… wheeeee! ;-P)

Speaking of Lord of the Rings

Sam is down-to-earth and loyal, and though I’m not really like Sam when it’s the down-to-earth bit, but I try to support my friends the same way he supports Frodo.

Teehee….

The main reason I’m putting this here is because I love the relationship development between Hiccup and his father, but the other reason is because I share Hiccup’s curiosity and eagerness to learn. Maybe not so much his inventiveness and willingness to accept and create new traditions, but still.

Okay, I know I should probably include some girls in here… grrr…

Marguerite Blakeney!

Because! (Actually, this is probably the one female character whom I am most like. She’s bright and intelligent and clever and tries to fix her mistakes and she gets to work with her husband saving lives!!! Okay, I’ll admit it. Percy and Marguerite is my real OTP.)

Ahsoka Tano!!!

“Snips” is the queen of sarcasm, and she’s a teenager who’s a Jedi and growing up in a war and totally gets teenager problems! Seriously. If Marguerite is my grown-up side, then Ahsoka is my teenaged, sassy, warrior-maiden side.

Padme!

Of course I picked one from the Clone Wars!

Yes, Padme, purple is your color. (I still hate this dress, though.)

Like Obi-Wan, she had to put up with a ridiculous amount of grief, because Anakin is an idiot. (I don’t actually blame her for thinking that she might be able to change that… Whoopsie, unintentional Merlin quote…) I admire Padme because she’s courageous and willing to stand up for things other people don’t stand up for. But like the rest of us, she’s human and makes wrong decisions. And she’s actually a mature person. (Anyone else feel like something was missing from Revenge of the Sith?)

Mary Morstan Watson!!!!

I never did get a good look at this dress…

Talk about strong female characters! Mrs. Watson could quite literally wipe the floor with several of the guys in Sherlock. (I’m not specifying who, though…) Former CIA, assassin… And a lady who makes mistakes, but still tries to rectify them. (Noticing a pattern here?)

And last but not least, Tigress!

Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda II (deliberately taking them as one piece here) was a boon. Not only did it have a better plot than a bunch of other recent movies, it also had female leads (Viper, as well as Tigress) who were strong without overwhelming the male characters (which is a problem, in my opinion, equal to the lack of strong female leads in the first place!), funny without making racy jokes (TAKE THAT, SEXISM!), and, especially in Tigress’ case, had a strong character arc and were good at giving relationship advice, besides! (Added to that, the sequel actually lived up to–and even surpassed–the first movie. Will DreamWorks’ next KFP movie live up to its predecessors? Only time will tell…)

Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post!

5th – http:// semilegacy.blogspot.com/

6th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

9th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

10th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

11th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

12th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

13th – http://uniquelyanonymous.wordpress.com/

14th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

15th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

16th – http://nutfreenerd.wordpress.com/

17th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

18th – http://writers-place-for-you.blogspot.de/

19th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

20th – https://taratherese.wordpress.com/

21st – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

24th – http://theweirdystation.wordpress.com/

25th – http://teenageink.wordpress.com/

26th – http://www.adventuringthroughpages.wordpress.com/

27th – http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

28th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

29th – http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

and http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

30th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

and http://www.turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/

31st – http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

and http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

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