Fractal of Loops

Academic Politics in Numb3rs: A Millie Finch Appreciation Post

 So the subplot in Numb3rs Season 3 episode “Waste Not” is Charlie and Amita’s conflict with their pushy new Head of Department, Millie Finch. Millie Charlie and Amita’s relationship gets a good deal more friendly in later episodes, but in this episode in specific, its pretty hostile. Central to the conflict, Millie demands that Amita serve on the curriculum committee and Charlie serve on the graduate admissions committee.

This sounds like an annoying bureaucratic request, and it is. But its worth talking through the way that committees work in universities, because it’s a bigger part of Charlie’s character arc than you might think.

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On A Fandom Terminology Gap

So there’s a lot of tropes and trends that exist either in media or in the fandom that surrounds it, that are problematic (term used here without irony).

And some of those things really are straight up problematic. Whitewashing and straightwashing characters and settings for example, is pretty much always unnecessary and gross. Characters who are based around ableist stereotypes (*cough* Sheldon Cooper *cough*) are pretty much gross wherever you find them.

And then there’s a lot of things that are “problematic”, not because they’re intrinsically bad, but just because they’re so overwhelmingly common that they’re drowning out all other narratives.

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Come Stand Under My Umbrella

I will say this for The Thinking Aro, they always make me think, even if sometimes, what I’m thinking is, ‘please stop’.

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Book Review: Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, by Ann Herendeen

This was originally published at in January.  And I’ve only just realized it never got cross-posted to this blog.

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Master Chief is not like Grant Ward!!!!

So yesterday (well, it was yesterday when I started this, it’ll have been a few days by the time I finish it) my friend, and our resident loremaster Haruspis encountered a terrible thing. This terrible thing. Look at it. Its terrible.   So we had a little discussion about how terrible this was. Which is here, if the screenshot isn’t readable.

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What Would Happen if We Got Paid for Fanfiction

Over the course of my life-time, I will only buy a certain number of couches.  Every couch I buy from Ikea, is one I’m not buying elsewhere, and every couch I find on the side of the road is one I’m not paying for at all.  This puts all couch sellers in competition for my couch buying dollars.  And the same goes for food, shoes, bedsheets, and most other commodities.

This children, is called Capitalism.  And its invasive and inescapable.

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Aimless Meanderings about Headcanons and Representations

As part of the current rush of pre-Halo 5 rush of information, Michelle Lukes, a mixed race British actress, was recently revealed as the new voice for Kelly-087.

A tweet announcing that Michelle Lukes will voice Kelly-087 in Halo 5, an image of Kelly-087 from Halo 5 aiming a pistol, and an image of Michelle Lukes doing the same.

Kelly is a long standing and beloved character in the Halo’verse and has, in addition to Ms. Lukes, been portrayed by voice actress Luci Christian (in Halo Legends) and actress Jenna Berman, who are both white.  This does technically leave a certain amount of room for interpretation of Kelly’s race.  But as far as I’m concerned, Kelly is now a canonically mixed race character, and I think you should all agree with me.

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Earthly Knights

John and Cortana’s relationship is, in essence, one long retelling of The Ballad of Tam Lin.

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Medieval Thought in High Fantasy

Inspired by this Tumblr thread and because I’ve started reading the Song of Ice and Fire series.

One of the more interesting courses I took during my undergraduate degree was called A History of Magic, Science and Religion. Which was about exactly what it sounds like. One of the more interesting things I learned during that course is that the modern idea of progress is relatively recent. Nowdays we tend to see progress as more or less linear. We assume that technology will get more advanced and society more sophisticated and just as time goes on.

But this originated sometime during the Victorian era (I can’t remember exactly when anymore). Earlier than that, and during the Medieval era especially, people believed the opposite. Most medieval scholars believed that the Greek and Roman eras represented a Golden Age, and that both people and society were deteriorating. So while a modern person given a time machine might be tempted to travel into the future to see the various innovations they would expect, a Medieval person, given the same opportunity would probably much rather travel back in time to see the wonders of the past. They would expect that the future would look very much like the present, if not worse.

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Golems of Reach

In Halo: CE the player is introduced to the Master Chief, the series primary protagonist.  Within the game Master Chief is presented as a singular figure, a faceless, nameless and seemingly emotionless being with physical abilities far beyond those of the regular human NPCs.  The limited amount of backstory that comes with the game explains that Master Chief is the last surviving member of a group of biochemically augmented super-soldiers called Spartans who were created and trained to fight the implacable Covenant, a group of technologically and numerically superior alien races who were on a religious crusade to destroy the human race.

This origin story bears a striking resemblance to the legend of the Golem of Prague.  The legend relates that the golem was created in 16th century Prague by Rabbi Loew to protect the Jews of Prague from anti-Semitic mobs, here corresponding with the religiously motivated Covenant.  The golem was a giant man made out of clay who was superhumanly strong and tireless, like the Master Chief.  The Golem also could not speak and while Master Chief can, he is also famously taciturn.  Eventually though, the golem was destroyed, according to one version of the legend, to prevent him working on the Sabbath, or in another, because he fell in love with the Rabbi’s daughter, but either way he falls apart and is stored in a box in the Temple so that he can defend the Jews of Prague when the need next arises.  This last element corresponds quite well to the end of Halo 3 where Master Chief, stranded in uninhabited space after the destruction of the Arc and the defeat of the Covenant, enters cryogenic stasis to await rescue, literally climbing into a coffin-like box.  Being a playable character, Master Chief is also controlled by the player.  In that context he becomes the player’s virtual golem.

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