The Nine

What happened was I had so many ideas I just threw them at the page. This is how I write. I like it. But it means that I have to write a second draft when the ideas are already down, and I couldn’t do that with the Nine because of an update cycle.

I was also in the middle of second/third/…/eighth drafts for Mara, so the Nine was just a fun write. Drafts 2+ become work.

But now there’s a choice. I either ditch the thing or write a second draft.

On the one hand, I’m still pretty annoyed by AO3’s mods. I don’t like the way other people can work with my published stuff but I can’t. Who the hell are you to tell me I can’t write with my own characters while other people can? AO3, frunk yourselves.

The other hand is I invested a lot of myself in writing the stupid thing, the ideas are cool, and I just hate leaving things like that unfinished.

There’s a third hand (Corwin, come here. Hold out your hand) holding grad school, a job, and other books to write. Hector and the Fairy Godbear! Death Mountain! A dissertation!

So, IRL, I can’t just be doing whatever. I’ve only got so much time.

I dunno.


I’m not sure how logins and guest accounts work.

Last time I tried this, I had spam and security problems. This time I’m doing something different with user logins.

They might be open for registration. It’s possible.

Geothermal Energy Intro

This planet and it seems most reasonably old (1+ billion years) other planets are heated by nuclear decay. In a supernova before the planet formed, the elements that make up the planet were fused. Some of these elements are radioactive and unstable. They will decay naturally. Many of these are high mass, which in practice means high density, which in further practice means by the time a planet is a billion years old, or 4.5-ish for us, those heavy, unstable elements have fallen to the center of the planet. Especially at the beginning of a planet’s time, it won’t have a crust. So it’s a true ball of churning molten rock, and the heavy stuff in the molten rock, e.g. uranium, will sink down to the core.

This unstable stuff decays, and releases other stuff, the one we care about is heat. Heat is just chaotic energy. That energy keeps the center of the Earth from firming up more than it is. Right now it’s solid, but it’s very hot, so it has a consistency sort-of like refrigerated butter. You know how you can shove a knife through refrigerated butter but with difficulty? The core is solid like the butter. The term is plasticized. Were it truly cold, it would be truly solid, and you couldn’t shove a fork through it without breaking everything. Think frozen butter, but deep-freeze frozen, sub-zero. As it is, the rocks are kinda-solid, so when one rick hits another, they get a little squishy.

But regarding that energy, there’s a finite amount of it coming off those radioactive elements. This energy is called geothermal energy, and harnessing geothermal energy is a low carbon way of getting this energy out. But that ‘finite’ bit comes back into play here. Since there’s only so much energy involved, is harnessing geothermal energy a good idea? Could we cool the planet, such that the core freezes? Then the crust would stop moving, water isn’t released, and Earth would turn into Mars. That would be bad. However there is a lot of energy in the core, so maybe this is such a small point as to be meaningless.

For a long time, we thought the heating effects of emitted CO2 were so small as to be meaningless. This did not prove to be the case. For a long time we thought space was really big so emitting trash, loose screws, bolts, and flecks of paint into near Earth orbit, would be so small as to be meaningless. This did not prove to be the case. The tides are caused by the Moon-Earth system, and harnessing this energy does reduce the Moon-Earth binding energy. Tidal energy capture IS so small as to be meaningless on the Earth-Moon system, though in a billion or two years, the Moon will escape and fly off into space. Do we have to care about the geothermal energy taking enough of the Earth’s limited radioactive thermal energy to make a difference?

I’m going to be doing some math on this one, and I’ll edit this post later to include the various bits of math.


Noun, the ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings: synonym: pity (American Heritage Dictionary)

I posted earlier about how most conflicts have two elements. The ability to understand the other side’s elements is a function of empathy. To see what the other side is going for in and of themselves, not existing solely as a force in opposition to you, requires empathy.

Johnathon Bernstein just gave a masterclass on what a lack of empathy looks like.

If one goes down a bit, one sees the situation of his preferred side:

“1. Biden and pretty much every congressional Democrat want a very large infrastructure package, which would include funding for a sprawling hodgepodge of both traditional and less traditional stuff.”

This bullet lays out the situation, the objectives and stuff the Democrats want.

He addresses the people-side of things of his preferred side:

“2. A handful of Democrats, including Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, care deeply about burnishing their reputations for bipartisanship.”

Continuing, Bernstein addresses the people side of the Republicans:

“3. Quite a few Republicans would like at least some of this spending to pass, including several who also want to prove their bipartisanship.

4. Most Republicans, whether they want infrastructure spending or not, have exactly the opposite goal. They very much do not want to be seen doing anything that looks even remotely bipartisan. If Biden is for it, they want to be against it.”

There is no indication of the Republican situation, the stuff the Republicans want, and the people-side of the Republican position is laid out mostly in antagonism, more specifically, it’s in terms of Democrats. The Republican position is addressed as a reflection of the Democratic position. The Republicans aren’t presented as having an internal existence, merely being a force of antagonism.

This is pretty typical of the emotional coldness of the political commentariat, and I want to connect it to writing.

The Bechdel Test, one of the most useful and applicable tests of whether or not a party has independence, says basically that that party should have stuff going on other than in reference to another party. So applied to female characters, those characters should have some measure of existence outside of male characters. This is what the conversation test measures, and it does a fantastic job of it.

The Republicans in Bernstein’s article, and virtually all editorials on Bloomberg, wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test. They don’t exist outside of influencing Democrats. There is nothing in Bernstein’s writing that addresses what Republicans would talk about with mentioning Democrats.

I see this an awful lot in the writing of bad-guys, antagonists, and people who do things the author doesn’t like.

This was why I disliked The Way of Kings so much. The people don’t exist. In the Way of Kings, the military types never talk about the war on the plateaus as a thing. There is no discussion of the situation outside of reflecting ‘is war good or bad?’ The people exist as reflections of that, and they could disclose their entire existences in nine paragraphs of author-speak. ‘War is bad but profitable.’

Brian Sanderson has obviously little to no experience with war, warfighters, or the situations.

But people who write romances do the same when characters don’t have day jobs, they just exist as sex-objects for the romantic lead.

Bloomberg editorial writers do the same when they write about other people.

There’s no understanding, no immersion, no empathy.

Now this is a little understandable in terms of fiction because the people aren’t real. Warlord-whoever and Sexy-Mc-Studdly aren’t people. They don’t have jobs, personalities, or desires. If the author doesn’t give them depth, they don’t have it.

But in the real world, real people are people even if the writer doesn’t like them. And that’s the problem with these bizarre articles. Because the writer and readers will never understand why other people do things if they don’t try to understand. Instead, when the other people do things, people will ascribe forces of antagonism to them, resulting in the assumption that everyone who disagrees is evil, wrong, or stupid, and thus, failure ensues.

Because the people side of the term does exist, and it is real. It is ‘true’ but incomplete. Yet if one denies the rest of the person or character, and yet the character or person remains in opposition, man’s search for meaning will force one to overweight their antagonism for lack of anything else.

Role Playing Games

My dream game right now is the Illearth War in Exalted. Thomas Covenant would have to be removed, but the Lords could be Solars, the lillianrill and rhadhamaerl would be Dragon-Blooded, Ravers are Infernals, etc. The Ramen would be enlightened mortals or possibly Wood-Aspect Dragon-Blooded. The Giants are… I dunno.

The Bloodguard should be enlightened mortals. Or maybe Sidereals, but that fits Sidereals more than the Bloodguard. Sidereals are all about martial arts and service to the powers, hence Bloodguard, but the Bloodguard are all about not using powers and weapons. To them there is a sharp distinction. The one fits the other better than vice versa.

Drool would have been an Abyssal. The Cavewrights and Ur-Viles would be those weird minions of the Deathlords.

The Elohim are the Fair Folk.

It would work.

Movies where the literal events don’t make sense but the metaphor does

So there’s a lot of complaining about Titanic, because Jack could have fit on the door, and so forth. The metaphor in the movie works; the literal events don’t. Titanic was about letting go of loss, etc. The problem was Jack could have fit on the door! Victor Frankel talks about suffering in his Man’s Search For Meaning, possibly the greatest book I’ve ever read in terms of literary meaning, and he notes that in a situation of suffering, one’s primary responsibility is to end the suffering. Only if that isn’t possible should one find meaning in suffering, grow, yadda yadda. Again, Frankel puts this better than I can, so read his book.

Anyway, within the realm of narrative fiction, if some situation happens to support a metaphor but the situation could just be resolved, the characters should just resolve the situation. Otherwise the situation is absurd. Hence the problems with Titanic (he could have just climbed on the door). I tie this to Frankel because if the movie makers don’t resolve the literal events, the direct problems that cause the plot, and instead skip to finding meaning, growth, blah blah, when the characters could just climb onto the door, the movie makes no sense.

My favorite movie which does this is Signs. It’s about faith. There are aliens in it, but it’s about the metaphor.

The problem is the aliens don’t make sense. Someone could repel them with a squirt gun. The literal events don’t make sense. The metaphor is great, and it talks about faith, the meaning of it, and I got a lot out of it. M. Night Shyamalan does a surprisingly good turn as a bit character, and I’ve always liked that role. Of course, his part only tangentially addresses the aliens. He’s really there to say something about faith. But they don’t need faith, they need squirt guns! Buy a Super Soaker, save the world!

Of course Titanic made a billion dollars, so no one cares.

But we can argue about it here. My blog, anyway.

What really happened with Titanic is that the target audience related to Rose and wanted to be taken care of. They wanted to be special. So Jack dies to save Rose, which makes Rose special, which makes the identifying audience special, so the movie made a billion dollars. The problem is the success. If Jack had just climbed onto the door, Rose wouldn’t have been the more special one of the two. As it is, of the special people, she was the more special. So, again, a billion dollars. Know your audience, I guess.