Warbreaker Reread: Chapters 52 and 53

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:00 pm
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Posted by Alice Arneson

Warbreaker Brandon Sanderson

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Siri was taken captive, Lightsong withheld his vote on the war proposal, and Vasher was captured when he went to rescue Siri. This week, Vasher is tortured physically, and Lightsong psychologically. The Avalanche is at full steam now.

This reread will contain spoilers for all of Warbreaker and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. This is particularly likely to include Words of Radiance, due to certain crossover characters. The index for this reread can be found here. Click on through to join the discussion!

 

Chapter 52

Point of View: Lightsong, Siri, Lightsong
Setting: Lightsong’s Palace, the God King’s bedchamber
Timing: The same evening as Chapter 50 and 51

Take a Deep Breath

Lightsong drinks and watches his servants bring in and pile up the things he’s been given by his worshippers over the years, and engages in philosophical discussions with Llarimar. He is stewing over the decision he must make which will so drastically affect the fate of those same people: whether or not to go to war. Llarimar presents a fairly balanced evaluation of the pros and cons, and Lightsong pushes him—if he had to choose, what would he do? He removes his priestly headgear and speaks as a friend, offering a suggestion which just might work out well for everyone.

Siri waits alone in the black bedchamber, terrified of what’s going on and how she’s being guarded and kept isolated. Susebron has not been allowed to come to her; the only person she has seen is a crass soldier type who checks on her periodically, and who apparently replaced the Lifeless and the priests who had guarded her at first. With no information and no idea when this imprisonment might end, she has to hope that Susebron will somehow break free and rescue her.

Lightsong and Llarimar peer through the bushes toward Mercystar’s palace, and Lightsong recognizes the scene from his dream. When the guard patrol passes, they run for the wall and sneak in through a window. Once in, though they’re forced to brazen it out when the indoor guards see them. They make their way to the trapdoor, watched by a helpless guard, and follow their noses to the Lifeless barracks. Moving farther, they find lights and hear voices—Denth and another man talking about the war and having captured Vasher. As they confer, they hear a scream, and then Blushweaver shouting at someone to let her go. Lightsong finds himself dashing off to the rescue, and bursts out into a dungeon where Blushweaver is now gagged and bound to a chair. Lightsong charges, taking the men off guard, and seizes the sword of the man he knocked down. Unfortunately for him, when the soldiers engage, he turns out to have no skill with the sword whatsoever; he and Llarimar are promptly taken down.

Breathtaking

He was interrupted by a loud scream. Lightsong jumped. The sound came from the same place he had heard the voices, and it sounded like…

“Let go of me!” Blushweaver yelled. “What do you think you’re doing! I’m a goddess!”

Lightsong stood up abruptly. A voice said something back to Blushweaver, but Lightsong was too far down the tunnel to make out the words.

“You will let me go!” Blushweaver yelled. “I—” she cut off sharply, crying out in pain.

Lightsong’s heart was pounding. He took a step.

“Your Grace!” Llarimar said, standing. “We should go for help!”

“We are help,” Lightsong said. He took a deep breath. Then—surprising himself—he charged down the tunnel.

This is such a heroic moment… momentarily. Of course, it leads into one of the gut-wrenching twists so characteristic of Sanderson’s climax scenes, but it’s nice to enjoy it while it lasts. Last week, Siri and Vasher were captured just at the moment they looked like breaking free; now it’s Lightsong’s turn. I haz a sad.

Local Color

I highly recommend that you read the annotations for this chapter. They’re full of spoilers, but so is the rest of the reread, so… go for it. To quickly summarize: Lightsong subconsciously chafes at the way all the intangible things he used to value have been replaced by all the stuff that he’s given as a god. The relationship between Lightsong and Llarimar is meant to be a parallel of sorts with Vivenna & Siri, and knowing Lightsong so well as Stennimar necessarily complicates Llarimar’s religious beliefs. Siri is going to be stuck for a while in “damsel in distress” mode, but it’s sort of needed in the plot right now, and she hasn’t been built as a character who can do armed combat.

Having built dreams & prophecy into the magic/religious system, it made sense to use a prophetic dream to get Lightsong to the right place at the right time—if it were sheer coincidence, it would be a bit too convenient. (There’s a nice long section on the history of the tunnels, and how the Pahn Kahl finagled their way into the system. Go read it.) Finally, the twist wherein we expect to find that Lightsong is an expert swordsman and he turns out to be a complete tyro is needed partly to be unexpected, partly because it makes a better story, and partly because given his backstory, it wouldn’t make sense for him to be any good at combat.

* * *

Chapter 53

Point of View: Vivenna, Siri, Old Chapps, Vasher, Vivenna, Lightsong
Setting: Various locations in T’Telir and the Court of Gods
Timing:
Into the early morning hours of the same night

Take a Deep Breath

Vivenna paces, anxious because Vasher still hasn’t returned from his “quick scouting mission.” Wondering why she worries, she realizes that Vasher is the only person she knows besides Siri who never wears a false persona.

Siri wakes to the sound of a second round of fighting outside her chamber. Suddenly Treledees enters, urging her to come with him. Since she assumes he’s the villain, two of the city guardsmen with him have to bring her forcefully. She screams toward the sound of more fighting down the hallway as they carry her away.

Old Chapps, disposer of inconvenient corpses and sometime fisherman, follows the advice of the sea to drop his weighted net in just the right place. It snags on something too heavy, and he pulls it in to find a sword tangled in the net… silvery, with a black handle. It speaks to him, and Old Chapps admires his find.

Vasher regains consciousness, wrists tied with his own rope, hanging from a hook in the ceiling. He’s been stripped to his undershorts, and everything around him is drained of color. It doesn’t matter, since he has no Breath remaining. Denth is waiting; along with his anger over Shashara, he wants to know how Vasher killed Arsteel. They snarl back and forth for a bit, ending with Denth pulling out a knife and claiming he’s always wondered what Tonk Fah enjoys so much about causing pain.

Vivenna gets dressed as dawn approaches; it’s clear that something has gone wrong for Vasher. She thinks about how she’s failed at everything she’s tried since leaving Idris, but realizes that she has to deal with failure if she’s ever going to do better. Determined to try even if she fails again, she puts on one of Vasher’s tassel-cuffed outfits, followed by his spare cloak, then Commands the clothing as she heard Vasher do: the cloak to protect, the sleeve tassels to grip when she does, and the leg tassels to strengthen her legs. Tying on her sword, she sets out.

Lightsong sits in a cage, watching Blushweaver cry. She admits she’d been working with the God King’s priests, but they have betrayed her, accusing her of withholding things. Lightsong turns to Llarimar, in the cage next to his own; he believes that if he can just get the right tool in his hands, his instincts will let him pick the lock on the cage. Llarimar suddenly shouts at him, revealing the truth about Lightsong’s former life—a scribe and his own trouble-maker brother. Before Lightsong can respond, a priest approaches and demands the Command phrases. When Lightsong refuses, the other priests pull Blushweaver from her cage and, without further ado, cut her throat. Lightsong frantically strains at his cage, unable to reach or aid her, as she dies. The priest explains simply that they needed him to understand that they were serious and would do whatever it took to get his Command phrases. Lightsong says they can beat them out of him, but their torturer is busy elsewhere; they simply move to Llarimar’s cage, promising to kill him. As they hold a knife to his brother’s throat, Lightsong breaks and gives them the “Red Panther” code. The priests leave, and Lightsong is left staring at Blushweaver’s corpse, trying to convince himself that it’s all a hallucination.

Breathtaking

“I still owe you for Arsteel’s death, too,” Denth said quietly. “I want to know how you killed him.”

“In a duel,” Vasher said in a croaking voice.

“You didn’t beat him in a duel, Vasher,” Denth said, stepping forward. “I know it.”

“Then maybe I snuck up and stabbed him from behind,” Vasher said. “It’s what he deserved.”

Denth backhanded him across the face, causing him to swing from the hook. “Arsteel was a good man!”

“Once,” Vasher said, tasting blood. “Once, we were all good men, Denth. Once.”

I thought this was sadly profound, and a timely reminder of who they used to be. Once, the Five Scholars were worthy of honor and respect. Once, they were good people who sought knowledge and understanding for the good of humanity. We don’t entirely know what happened to change that; probably Nightblood, along with several other things.

Local Color

There are about forty brief annotations here… The first scene is just a quick update on Vivenna, and the second is a quick glance at Siri being retrieved by Treledees, who has taken advantage of Denth’s preoccupation with Vasher to regain control of that corner of the palace. Then there’s Old Chapps—a random, unhinged old dude with a seriously creepy way of looking at life death, who is therefore open to Nightblood’s touch.

The next bit is longer, concerning the conversation—if you can call it that—between Denth and Vasher. Mostly it clarifies that Vasher was wrong about Arsteel, whose motives were actually good even if his understanding wasn’t, and that Arsteel had never intended the duel to be deadly. He just wanted to talk some sense into Vasher, as he saw it. Also, there is some slight measure of good left in Denth, as shown by his effort to limit Tonk Fah’s proclivities to animals instead of people.

There’s a short note about Vivenna & Siri—they’re both out of their depth and ought to be useless, but they still do what they can, because they’ve matured that way. Sanderson also notes this moment of decision as Vivenna’s first step toward becoming her new self.

Then there’s another longer comment about Lightsong and Llarimar. Horrible as it was, the priest was sort of right about killing Blushweaver—it’s one of the very few ways they could have destroyed Lightsong’s assumption of invincibility. Also, the story about the only other time Lightsong landed them both in prison is… funny, in a cringe-making sort of way. He ends the annotations with a bit of philosophy: the need to allow the bad guys to do the smartest thing just because it’s smart, not because they necessarily like doing it. While he assures us that the priests wouldn’t have killed Llarimar right away—and lose their last bargaining chip—they’d probably have started cutting off his fingers. Anyway, the big effect of the whole scene was to turn Lightsong’s arc from fun-and-games to deadly serious.

* * *

Snow White and Rose Red

Siri and Vivenna, once again, are mostly bit-parts right here, but there are things worth noting. We’re supposed to still be unsure of the priests motivations, and I’m sure on the first read, we still were. On a reread, it’s a little sad to see Siri’s response to Treledees—though, of course, he never gave her reason to react any other way. Vivenna doesn’t actually do much this week, but she’s setting up for next week. So… we’ll talk about the girls more next week.

As I Live and Breathe

Oddly enough, the only person do even use Awakening this week is Vivenna. I have to wonder if she realizes just how difficult the Commands are that she used in this scene—“Protect me;” “Upon call, become my fingers and grip that which I must;” “Strengthen my legs.” Vasher used them quickly and apparently casually, but these should be way beyond her ability… and I’m refusing to look ahead and see if she was successful or not. However… it makes me wonder if objects can become habituated to Commands which are given them multiple times.

Clashing Colors

We know that the Pahn Kahl are behind all of this mess, but of course no one in-book (besides Denth and the Pahn Kahl themselves) knows that yet. Lightsong, though, notes several times that something is “off” about the priests. Again, I’m not looking ahead to get the answer—I’ll get there soon enough—but it’s impossible not to assume that something about either the look or the demeanor of the priests is more Pahn Kahl than Hallandren. Like this bit:

“No,” the priest said, shaking his head. “We’re actually new to all of this. We don’t know how to torture very well, and it would take too much time to force you to talk that way. Those who are skilled at torture aren’t being very cooperative right now. Never pay a mercenary before the job is done.”

I can’t quite see any of Susebron’s priests—or anyone else’s, from what we’ve seen—being humble enough to admit that they don’t know how to do something. It just seems terribly out of character, right? So… just pointing that out.

In Living Color

If you’ve been reading the spoiler annotations—or for that matter, if you’ve been reading the reread!—this wouldn’t have been as much of a shock, but on a first read, Blushweaver’s murder was like lightning out of a clear sky. WHAT??? It isn’t unbelievable, especially by the time you read the next page or so, but it’s blindingly unexpected, even if you thought she might die somewhere along the line. It was just so abrupt. No lead in. I don’t know about you, but as a way to make Lightsong’s arc take a sudden turn, I found it frighteningly effective.

In these two chapters, Lightsong goes from adventurous would-be sleuth and hero to a broken shell of himself. He thought (with some reason, of course) that he was pretty well invincible, but suddenly he finds that he’s a completely inept fighter, in his former life he was scribe to a local moneylender, Llarimar is his brother, and gods are terrifyingly susceptible to murder by someone who doesn’t want their Breath. Ouch.

Then there are our former Scholars, Vasher & Denth, and Vasher isn’t doing too well in this particular encounter. Denth has all the advantages: along with having his whole team against Vasher alone, now he has physical freedom while Vasher hangs by his wrists from a hook. On top of that, Denth just has a lot wider moral latitude—he’s way better at lying to himself (as well as others), while Vasher acknowledges the truth about himself to himself. As a result, Denth even manages to win the ethics argument—or at least Vasher doesn’t try very hard to defend himself because he still feels guilty about the things he did. I have to grant that having your sister killed by her husband, who was also one of your best friends, would tend to sour a person, but Denth seems to be one of those people who justify their own heinous behavior by pointing out all the things other people do wrong instead of taking any personal responsibility.

As per the annotations, Arsteel probably wasn’t as far gone as Denth; he didn’t really understand Vasher, but he didn’t intend to kill him in that duel. This makes me wonder what role he and Yesteel played in the balance of the Five Scholars. The recent annotations, though, make me think that Yesteel is functioning either like Denth—“Revenge for my brother!!”—or like Shashara—“Cool new technology!! Let’s see what we can make!! Teach it to everyone!!” Speaking of which, I’d really like to know more about Shashara’s motivations, beyond that one note about how she felt she had something to prove when one of the others came up with improvements to the Lifeless.

Don’t Hold Your Breath (Give it to me!)

Then there’s Shashara’s most notable creation… Nightblood. I was amused by the comment in the annotations: “Really, Denth, you should have known to toss Nightblood someplace far deeper than the shallow bay.” It’s almost funny; Lightsong hears Denth’s voice, clearly on his way back upstairs after pitching Nightblood into the water, and then the “priests” lose their skilled torturer because he’s too focused on settling old scores. Apparently he figured that removing Nightblood from Vasher’s immediate vicinity was good enough. Hah.

Exhale

You always know when you get four or five POV characters in a single chapter that Sanderson has launched the Avalanche. In this particular case, it starts with such a rush that there is hardly time to realize what’s happening. In the span of four chapters, five major characters are captured: first Siri, then Vasher, and suddenly Lightsong, Llarimar, and Blushweaver all at once. Before you have time to assimilate that much, Blushweaver is dead, Lightsong’s past is revealed, his lightheartedness is forcibly crushed, Siri is hustled off by the priests again, and Vasher is being tortured. Vivenna is probably going to go try something she’s not capable of doing, and we have no idea what’s happened to Susebron. Welp.

Now, join us for the comments, and then come back next week. We’ll be tackling Chapters 54 and 55, in which Vasher suffers, Siri sees, Lightsong seethes, Vivenna sneaks… and more.

Alice Arneson is a SAHM, blogger, beta reader, and literature fan. The gamma read of Oathbringer is about half done (though the progress bar only shows 32% as of this writing), Lyndsey Luther has launched a series of articles on cosplaying the Stormlight Archive, more Stormlight articles are soon to come, and we’re not far from the beginning of the early-release excerpts. Speaking of avalanches…

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Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

I would like some advice on how to deal with this. Let’s start in the beginning. It was the beginning of the school year (8th), when a boy asked for my number. (We will call him Earl) I gave it to Earl only to wait for practically half the school year until I get a text from him. Of course, I could have talked to him in the single class we share. But I was extremely awkward and did not know how I could initiate a conversation with him. Our text conversation was very awkward. After several other conversations, Earl suddenly asked for a selfie of myself. Right after that, he sent a (unwanted) photo of himself, which made me feel like I had to send him a photo in return.

Several weeks later, I saw Earl in the hallway and was about to greet him when I saw him walk towards another girl and hug her. I assumed that she was either a family member (many students’ relatives attend our school) or a close friend. I later found out they were actually dating, that Earl was actually a player, and showed off the pictures he acquired from multiple other girls to other boys. He also asked for a few of my friends’ numbers, even when I was in the same room! I was devastated and felt like it was my fault it happened. Earl even sat with my friends and I during lunch and asked for their names (Just thought I would add that). That was a month ago. We have not talked in that time. Two days ago, he began texting me again. Once again, Earl requested a photo of myself. This time I declined. Immediately after I said no, he just (and I quote) said “K, gn”. I would like to cut ties with him completely. I’m not sure if this is a bad enough problem for you to share some advice, but I would be grateful if you could help.

Sincerely,
Troubled Teen

Dear Troubled,

I am so sorry this is happening to you. It is gross and scary and NOT YOUR FAULT. I’m glad you wrote to me, though, because you are not alone and we need to figure out how to stop this kind of stuff and how to make that process safe for kids like you.

To be clear, I don’t think you were talking about clothed selfies of the human face in your letter, is it okay if I proceed with that assumption? If I’m wrong, well, I’d love to be wrong. It would be the best wrong I’ve been all year.

You have met a predatory and manipulative jerk. You didn’t do anything wrong. “Earl” did everything he did on purpose. He does the exact same thing to lots of girls and his way of operating makes y’all feel like it was your fault and that you’re the only ones it’s happening to. The photos he sends you are deliberate – They make you feel obligated, even if you say “Ew, no” it still gives him a thrill and a feeling of power to cross your boundaries like that and get away with it. The photos y’all send him are his “insurance” that you’ll be too ashamed to tell anyone or that, if you do, you’ll be in trouble yourself for also sending a picture.

It’s time to talk about informed consent, which means, roughly, that before you take any course of action you should know clearly what you’re getting into so you can make the best possible decision for yourself based on all available information. Informed consent, not coincidentally, is what Earl denied you by sending you a photo of Earl Jr. without asking first if you wanted to see it.

There are probably going to be commenters who tell you to drop what you’re doing and “Call the police right now!” Involving the police might be the right thing to do and it might extremely not be the right thing to do, depending on where you live and what the laws are like there. It also depends on what was in the photo that you sent vs. the one that he sent. There are some places where, even if you and Earl were girlfriend and boyfriend passionately and consensually sharing these images, you could both be convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography and end up with very scary sex offender convictions. I wish I were kidding about that, but here’s a link to an article by a lawyer about these laws where I live, Illinois, USA.

What Earl is doing seems to me like a clear pattern of predatory behavior designed to trick girls into sending him compromising photos and it needs stopped, for sure, but it’s risky for you when the laws can be so badly designed. Adults are completely terrified of teen sexuality and without knowing where you live and what the laws are like and what the general “Oh well, boys will be boys, what can you do?” attitudes are like, I can’t make a clean “Oh yes, def. call the police on this pooplord!” recommendation as much as I’d like to. More like, if you want to call the police do it with the help of a lawyer who can expertly guide you and protect you in the process.

There are probably going to be commenters who insist that you tell your parents what happened immediately. Some parents will be understanding and supportive and take action to protect you but also listen to and respect what you want to do. Some will absolutely flip their lids and take action (like bringing in law enforcement without fully considering what that means for you) (or freaking out that you sent a photo, too, and punishing you) that might not be what’s actually best for you. I 100% hope that you can tell your parents, but I grew up in the kind of house where my mom would be so ashamed of and angry at me for complying that it would probably not be worth it to tell her because the “What were you thinking?” “How could you be so stupid?” cloud of judgment would be worse punishment for me than anything that might happen to Earl or the prospect of 1 blurry photo of my teenaged nubbins out in the world. You are the expert on your own parents, so, trust your instincts here.

If you do decide to tell your parents, maybe do it in a note? Sample text or script you could adapt:

“Mom, Dad (or Mom & Mom/Dad & Dad), I need to tell you something really uncomfortable that happened and I am scared that you’ll be ashamed of me or mad at me.

A boy at school that I liked asked for my number and we’ve been texting. He sent me a naked picture of himself and asked me to send one in return. I’m embarrassed to say this but I did. After I sent it I realized that he doesn’t really like me and that he does this to lots of girls. I want him to stop doing this to all of us and I don’t know what to do.

I have been scared to tell anyone about this because I sent a photo, too. Since it happened I learned that there are laws about this that could get me in just as much trouble as the boy. Before we do anything can we talk to a lawyer who knows about this stuff to make sure I won’t get in trouble for coming forward?”

One common piece of advice is that you tell a trusted adult – a family member, a teacher, or maybe a school counselor what happened. Someone who can stop Earl and get him out of this pattern. I think this is 99.9% a very, very good idea with some reservations. Teachers and school counselors and anyone at your school are probably “mandated reporters.” That means that if they know or suspect abuse of some kind is happening, they must call law enforcement. This is to protect kids, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t ever tell them scary stuff, but it means that if you say “If I tell you something, do you promise to keep it between us?” sometimes they legally can’t make you that promise. They could lose their jobs, or be charged as an accessory or sued for covering up the problem.

This is why a lot of people use hypothetical situations to have these conversations, like the classic “I’m asking for a friend” scenario. For you it might mean saying “If I thought a boy at school was sending nude pictures to girls and trying to get them to send them back so he can show his friends, what should I do?” The obvious question on the teacher’s mind is “Which boy” (or, tbh, “It’s Earl, right?“) or “Did this happen to you?” but if you give everybody a fig leaf of plausible deniability at first you might get an idea of the teacher’s approach before you tell more details. “Can you tell me what the process of reporting that looks like? Have you ever had to deal with something like this before? What happened? What would happen to the boy? Would the girls get in trouble, too?” Figure out how informed, how aggressive, how sexist* this person is before you pour your heart out.

I’m sorry that so much of what I wrote is hypothetical and not a clear recommended course of action. It’s hard to be a kid and to not have much control over your situation, and it’s hard to live in a culture that is so inconsistent in how we treat victims of this kind of behavior. It’s hard to have such a clear right answer – “Stop this dude before he rapes someone!” – and to have so little trust in the processes or systems that exist to protect you. But I think there are a couple of things you 100% can control and that will make you feel safer:

Talk to a trained counselor outside of your school & the mandated reporting umbrella. For example, here is a link to the crisis resources available at Scarleteen, including a message board for staff & peer support, a texting service, and anonymous online chats. You’ll find people will believe you, who won’t judge you, who won’t think you’re weird, who are aware of how depressingly common what you went through is. You can get a real-time sounding board while you figure out what to do. Telling more comforting strangers (like you told us) can make it easier for you tell other people. (P.S. Scarleteen is a national treasure and they run that place on love and a shoestring. If you’re a grownup reading this and looking to fund some good, here’s a donation link).

Take screen shots of everything he sent you and that you sent him, including the pictures and email them to yourself or save them somewhere so you have documentation of what happened.

Block his number, forever and always. Preemptively block him on all conceivable social media platforms. Congratulations, Earl is now dead to you. Blank his pathetic ass in the halls of academia.

Beware of his gross friends who looked at the photos without saying “Whoa, not cool, man.” Those boys do not get your phone number in this lifetime.

If he gets in some trouble, good. You didn’t “get him in trouble” or “ruin his life.” If he’s harassing the girls in his class this way, he needs to deal with some consequences, and now, while he’s still a kid, is the right time for some serious intervention. If he threatens you, harms you, retaliates against you, makes you feel targeted and unsafe, damn the torpedoes and tell an adult.

Learn the rules about sexual harassment in your school. Does your school have a policy about this? What does it say? Is it good enough? Down the road, maybe through student government or the school newspaper, you could help shape a better policy that would protect kids like you from pervs like Earl? (Part of me is like AUGGGGHHHH YOU ARE 14 YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO RESEARCH THIS, and part of me is like FUTURE AMAZON WARRIOR IN TRAINING!!!!!)

giphy (23).gif

Image: Robin Wright as Antiope, riding a horse like the mf general she is.

 

Ahem.

Tell other girls. “Hey, have you ever had anything weird happened with Earl, where he sends you pictures and tries to get you to send him one, too?” You’ll be able to tell from how they react, and you can say “Yeah, that happened to me, too. It’s not your fault!” Spreading the word about him is powerful. Reminding yourself and each other that you’re not alone and that it’s not your fault is powerful. Other girls could maybe, all go with you to tell a teacher or a school counselor as a group.

Warn other girls. When you see Earl single someone out, you can warn her – “I know Earl seems cool, but chances are he WILL send you a dick pic and try to get you to send him a photo so he can show it to all his friends.

Be a safe landing place for other girls. Say you warn a girl, but she’s under the Earl-spell so she blows you off at first, but then it happens to her and she’s clearly embarrassed. Be kind to her. You know how she feels. Don’t blame or judge or “I told you so!” her. Don’t ever look at the photos if they get forwarded around, or make fun of her for it. Just say, “Yeah, you were kind of a jerk to me before, but I probably would have done the same thing before I knew what he was really like. It’s not your fault,” and add her to your powerful girl-army.

I wish I could build you a world without Notes From A Boner, where I never had to use the words “The next time you get some random screen peen…” but, there will be a next time and it will always kind of ruin your day a little because WHY ARE DUDES?

However, one tiny benefit of this upsetting situation it’s that your NOPE! meter will work much better from now on and it probably won’t ruin your week. The next intrusive wang you see will get a “Weird, why would you send me that?” and the cold release of the block button. Or, (true story) when you’re older and trying to sell a bike on Craigslist and some dude sends you a pathetic and revolting photo from realname@whereireallywork.com,” you’ll forward the email to humanresources@wherehereallyworks.com with a note saying “I got this from one of your employees today, you might want to check to see if he’s been hacked? Surely no one from your excellent company would send something like this to a stranger. I hope you can get to the bottom of this embarrassing incident, good luck!” Instead of wondering if it’s your fault somehow, Future You will let these losers reap the whirlwind of your contempt and indifference.

Sending so much love your way, Troubled Teen. We believe you. It’s not your fault.

*”Aw, boys will be boys, amirite?” = ABORT & possibly tell someone in authority “I tried to talk to [Teacher] about a sexual harassment situation and he said ‘boys will be boys’ and would not take it seriously at all.

 

 

 

 

 


Incoming Legendary raids confirmed!

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:51 am
kirin: Kirin Esper from Final Fantasy VI (Default)
[personal profile] kirin posting in [community profile] pokestop
Official announcement here: http://pokemongolive.com/en/post/legendarypokemon

Probably coming worldwide shortly after the Chicago GO fest, as I imagine them unlocking it is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Though it seems like Legendaries will be releasing gradually into the raid pool. I'l also heard scuttlebutt that Legendary raid eggs will have an extra-long lead time, to make it easier to coordinate a large group, though I'm not sure where that info comes from.

Someone over on the Silph reddit also did a pretty nice write-up on which pokemon that you can raise now will be most useful for Gen 1-2 Legendary raids: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheSilphRoad/comments/6ogm5u/last_minute_preparation_for_legendary_raids/



For me, right now I've got one Bite/Crunch Tyranitar and one Rock Throw/Rock Blast Golem, plus the usual complement of Eeveelutions and one each excellent Scizor w/Bug, Houndoom w/Dark and Dragonite w/Dragon, so that's a start at least. Sadly neither of my Omastars have the useful legacy rock moveset, oh well.
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Posted by Emily Asher-Perrin

Conan the Barbarian, sword

Tumblr did the math. And then it got weird.

Whenever big tough fantasy types want you to know how big and tough they are, you may come across the phrase “forged from the blood of mine enemies” where weaponry is concerned. But is that really a practical exercise for sword-making? Inquiring minds want to know.

Turns out, you can math that.

Tumblr blog macaedh graced the internet with a text exchange from “Ethan,” who apparently worked this whole problem out. And with the addition of a few more math-minded pals, the exact amount of dead enemies have been worked out for more than one type of sword. Check it:

blood sword math

blood sword math

So. High fantasy math has made it clear that you need to kill at least 225 un-friends before you get such a fancifully morbid weapon. But 400 is probably the average for a big ol’ blade.

Anyway. Life goals.

Music meme: day 13 of 30

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:32 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )

Ethereum Hacks

Jul. 20th, 2017 02:12 pm
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Posted by Bruce Schneier

The press is reporting a $32M theft of the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Like all such thefts, they're not a result of a cryptographic failure in the currencies, but instead a software vulnerability in the software surrounding the currency -- in this case, digital wallets.

This is the second Ethereum hack this week. The first tricked people in sending their Ethereum to another address.

This is my concern about digital cash. The cryptography can be bulletproof, but the computer security will always be an issue.

Interview

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:36 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I told people I didn't have my heart set on the job I interviewed for today, but they ended up running a half hour late by the time I got asked on, and I spent that half hour in the café talking to the finance/admin person, who was basically there to open the door before the café opened and chat to people. We talked about our dogs (she has lurchers!) and bringing family over to visit (she's Dutch) and what this place is like to work for (friendly and relaxed, and it seemed lovely when I saw her interacting with co-workers). I saw the person I vaguely know which is how I found out about this job, and she chatted with me about the local Pride planning since that's how I know her, and she complimented the brooches on my waistcoat (well, neither brooches nor waistcoat are mine, [personal profile] mother_bones loaned it to me so I didn't have to wear a suit jacket in heat or humidity) and...

In one way it was really nice not to have to just sit and wind myself up while I waited. The bus timetable meant I got there about fifteen minutes early, too, because it was either that or be late, so I'd actually been sitting quite a while and it didn't seem like it at all with someone nice to talk to.

But it did mean I ended up really really hoping I get this. Which is really really inconvenient.

I had vague answers at some points where I think specific ones would be better. But the interviewers seemed more impressed with me than I would've been if I were them, so I dunno if I'm being too hard on myself or they're just really nice. Well, they are really nice, but I don't know how much that was masking their thoughts!

They said they hope to have an answer for us by the end of today or else tomorrow. So at least I don't have long to wait.

I woke up long enough before my alarm this morning thst I was both extra-bothered by needing a haircut and actually had time to do it. So I did, and I took picture after I got dressed (in my fancy clothes, not the grubby ones I walked the dog and went to the post office on first) and put it online and have had a lot of nice and supportive comments. I know selfies can boost self-esteem but I don't think I'd ever actually had it happen to me before! So that was fun.

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Posted by Beth Elderkin

In the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones, Queen Cersei sent a message to Winterfell, demanding Jon Snow come to King’s Landing and swear fealty to her. Now we have her summons, and it’s just as kind and courteous as you’d expect it would be, which is to say not in the slightest.

Read more...

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Posted by Brian Ashcraft on Kotaku, shared by Rob Bricken to io9

This weekend, it was announced that Kingdom Hearts III will be released in 2018 and feature a Toy Story world. In the most recent Weekly Famitsu and on Famitsu.com, KHIII director Tetsuya Nomura revealed how Toy Story finally came to Kingdom Hearts.

Read more...

The Strange Bird

Jul. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
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Posted by Jeff VanderMeer

The Strange Bird is a new kind of creature, built in a laboratory—she is part bird, part human, part many other things. But now the lab in which she was created is under siege and the scientists have turned on their animal creations. Flying through tunnels, dodging bullets, and changing her colors and patterning to avoid capture, the Strange Bird manages to escape.

But she cannot just soar in peace above the earth. The sky itself is full of wildlife that rejects her as one of their own, and also full of technology—satellites and drones and other detritus of the human civilization below that has all but destroyed itself. And the farther she flies, the deeper she finds herself in the orbit of the Company, a collapsed biotech firm that has populated the world with experiments both failed and successful that have outlived the corporation itself: a pack of networked foxes, a giant predatory bear. But of the many creatures she encounters with whom she bears some kind of kinship, it is the humans—all of them now simply scrambling to survive—who are the most insidious, who still see her as simply something to possess, to capture, to trade, to exploit. Never to understand, never to welcome home.

With The Strange Bird, Jeff VanderMeer has done more than add another layer, a new chapter, to his celebrated novel Borne. He has created a whole new perspective on the world inhabited by Rachel and Wick, the Magician, Mord, and Borne—a view from above, of course, but also a view from deep inside the mind of a new kind of creature who will fight and suffer and live for the tenuous future of this world. Available in digital format only August 1st from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

 

The Escape

The Strange Bird’s first thought was of a sky over an ocean she had never seen, in a place far from the fire-washed laboratory from which she emerged, cage smashed open but her wings, miraculous, unbroken. For a long time the Strange Bird did not know what sky really was as she flew down underground corridors in the dark, evading figures that shot at one another, did not even know that she sought a way out. There was just a door in a ceiling that opened and a scrabbling and scrambling with something ratlike after her, and in the end, she escaped, rose from the smoking remnants below. And even then she did not know that the sky was blue or what the sun was, because she had flown out into the cool night air and all her wonder resided in the points of light that blazed through the darkness above. But then the joy of flying overtook her and she went higher and higher and higher, and she did not care who saw or what awaited her in the bliss of the free fall and the glide and the limitless expanse.

Oh, for if this was life, then she had not yet been alive!

 * * *

The sunrise that blazed out from the horizon across the desert, against a wall of searing blue, blinded her and in her surprise made the Strange Bird drop from her perch on an old dead tree to the sands below.

For a time, the Strange Bird kept low to the ground, wings spread out, frightened of the sun. She could feel the heat of the sand, the itch of it, and sensed the lizards and snakes and worms and mice that lived down below. She made her way in fits and starts across the desert floor that had once been the bed of a vast sea, uncertain if she should rise for fear of being turned into an ember.

Was it near or far? Was it a search light from the laboratory, trying to find her? And still the sun rose and still she was wary and the air rippled and scorpions rustled out and a lunging thing upon a distant dune caught a little creature that hopped not far enough away and the air smelled like cinders and salt.

Am I in a dream? What would happen if I leapt up into the sky now? Should I?

Even as under the burning of the sun her wings seemed to grow stronger, not weaker, and her trailing passage grew bold, less like a broken wing and more like a willful choice. The pattern of her wing against the sand like a message she was writing to herself. So she would remember. But remember what?

The sound of the patter of paws kicking up sand threw the Strange Bird into a panic and she forgot her fear of the burning orb and flew off into the air, almost straight up, up, and up, and no injury came to her and the blue enveloped her and held her close. Circling back over her passage, against the wind, taxing the strength of her wings, she spotted the two foxes that had been sniffing her trail.

They looked up at her and yipped and wagged their tails. But the Strange Bird wasn’t fooled. She dive-bombed them once, twice, for the fun of it, and watched them yelp and look up at her with an injured look in their eyes, even though behind it lay a cold gleam and ravenous smiles.

Then she wheeled high again and, taking care not to look directly into the sun, headed southeast. To the west lay the laboratory where they had done such beautiful, such terrible things.

Where was she headed, then?

Always to the east, always veering south, for there was a compass in her head, an insistent compass, pushing her forward.

What did she hope for?

To find a purpose, and for kindness, which had not yet been shown to her.

Where did she wish to come to rest?

A place she could call home, a place that was safe. A place where there might be others of her kind.

 


The Dark Wings

The next day a vision of a city quavered and quivered on the horizon alongside the sun. The heat was so intense that the city would not stop moving through waves of light. It resembled hundreds of laboratories stacked atop and alongside each other, about to fall over and break open.

With a shudder, the Strange Bird veered to the southwest, then east again, and in a little while the mighty city melted into bands and circles of darkness against the sand, and then it vanished. Had the sun destroyed it? Had it been a kind of ghost? The word ghost felt gritty in her head, something unfamiliar, but she knew it meant an end to things.

Was the laboratory a ghost now? Not to her.

On the seventh day after the intruders had dug their way up into the laboratory . . . on that day, the scientists, cut off from supplies, and under siege in the room that held the artificial island meant only for their creations, had begun to slaughter the animals they had created, for food.

The Strange Bird had perched for safety on a hook near the ceiling and watched, knowing she might be next. The badger that stared up, wishing for wings. The goat. The monkey. She stared back at them and did not look away, because to look away was to be a coward and she was not cowardly. Because she must offer them some comfort, no matter how useless.

Everything added to her and everything taken away had led to that moment and from her perch she had radiated love for every animal she could not help, with nothing left over for any human being.

Not even in the parts of her that were human.

 * * *

She encountered her first birds in the wild soon after she left the ghost city behind, before turning southeast again. Three large and dark that rode the slipstream far above her and, closer, a flock of tiny birds. She sang out her song to them, meant as friendly greeting, that recognized them as kin, that said although she did not know them, she loved them. But the little birds, with their dart-dots for eyes and the way they swarmed like a single living creature, rising up and falling down wavelike, or like a phantom shadow tumbling through the air, did not recognize her as kin. There was too much else inside her.

They treated the Strange Bird as foe, with a great raspy chirping, the beat of wings mighty as one, and raked at her with their beaks. She dropped and rolled, bewildered, to get below them, but they followed, pecking and making of their dislike a vast orchestral sound, and she wore a coat of them, felt their oily mottled feathers scraping against hers.

It was an unbearable sensation, and with a shriek the Strange Bird halted her dive and instead rose fast, tunneling up through a well of cold air, against the weight of her kin, until the little birds peeled off, could not follow that high and they became a cloud below, furious and gnatlike. While the cold wind brought her a metallic smell and the world opened up, so the Strange Bird could see on the curving edges that the desert did end, and on one corner at least turned green and wooded. A faint but sharp scent of sea salt tantalized, faded into nothing, but spoke to the compass within her, which came alive once again.

But now the three dark-winged monsters that had been above her drifted to either side, the feathers at the ends of wide wings like long fingers and their heads gray and bereft of feathers and their eyes tinged red.

They rode the wind in silence for several minutes, and the Strange Bird was content to recover in the dark wings’ company. But a prickling of her senses soon became an alert that the dark wings were probing the edges of her mind, the defenses the scientists had placed there. Walls the Strange Bird hadn’t known existed slid into place and, following certain protocols, a conduit opened while all else became a shield wall, sacrosanct.

Origin?

Purpose?

Destination?

Words that appeared in her head, placed there by the dark wings. She had no answer, but in approaching her, they had opened themselves up and because they were older, they had no sense yet of the danger, of how their own security had been breached by the complex mechanisms living inside the Strange Bird. Much of what was new in them, of their own making, had arisen solely to talk to each other with more autonomy, to become more like birds.

For the Strange Bird realized that, just like her, they were not strictly avian, and that unlike her, parts of them were not made of flesh at all. With a shock, she came to understand that, like living satellites, they had been circling the world for a vast amount of time, so many years she could barely hold them in her head. She saw that they were tasked with watching from above and transmitting information to a country that no longer existed, the receiving station destroyed long ago, for a war that had been over for even longer.

In their defenselessness, performing their old tasks, keeping data until full to bursting, erasing some of it, to begin again, the Strange Bird gleaned a view of the world that had been, saw cities cave in on themselves or explode outward like passionflower blooms opening, a tumbling and an expansion that was, at its heart, the same thing. Until there was just what observed from above, in the light and the dark, sentinel-silent and impartial, not inclined to judgment . . . for what would the judgment be? And how would a sentence be carried out now that all those responsible were dead and buried? But in these images, the Strange Bird knew that, perversely, the laboratory had functioned as sanctuary . . . just not for the animals kept there.

The dark wings needed no food. They needed no water. Ceaselessly they flew and ceaselessly they scanned the land beneath them, and never had their talons felt the firmness of a perch or their beaks food. The thought brought an almost human nausea to the Strange Bird.

Shall I set you free? she queried. And in a way, she meant to set the world within them free, too.

For she could see that this was possible, that with the right command, the dark wings would drop out of their orbits and think for themselves, in their way, and rejoin the landscape beneath them. What they would do then, she didn’t know, but surely this would be a comfort to them?

But the query alarmed the dark wings, tripped some internal security, lurching back online. All three gave out a mighty cry, and right there, beside her, they burst into specks of blackness that she could see were miniature versions of their larger selves and the specks dispersed into the thin air. The dark wings vanished as if never there and the Strange Bird’s heartbeat quickened and she flew higher still as if she could escape what she had seen.

Whether in a day or a week, the specks would find each other and bind together again, slipping into the old, familiar pattern, and once more three dark wings would glide across the invisible skin of the world on their preordained routes, performing functions for masters long dead. They might fly on for another century or two, dead-alive, until whatever powered them grew old or distant or the part of them that was flesh wore out.

Yet even as specks roiled by the buffeting wind, the dark wings communicated with one another. The Strange Bird could hear them, mote speaking to mote, sharing intel about her. Telling what must be lies.

Excerpted from The Strange Bird, copyright © 2017 by VanderMeer Creative.

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