Peter Brannen Is Kind Of An Amazing Man

Date: December 1st, 2017

Other Title: My Interview With The Amazing Peter Brannen

Look how adorable he is!

Book cover: 

Peter Brannen is kind of an amazing man. Tis true, tis true. He is the author of The Ends Of The World, a book you must read now if you haven’t already. Here’s a link to buy it: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062364807/the-ends-of-the-world

The Ends Of The World is about the five major extinctions our planet has endured. It is highly scientific, but for me at least, it reads like a novel – rightly emotional, fun, sweet, dark at times, and uplifting in the end. I loved the book so much that I annotated it. For fun. I got a pen and sat wherever I was reading it at any given time and expressed my feelings about the book, in the book. No teacher told me to. Peter sure didn’t.

The man’s Twitter feed is miraculous (some are missing their pictures or context, click each for full tweet):

I had the great honor of interviewing him, and here it is for your reading pleasure:

1. On Twitter, in reposting this post (https://twitter.com/Paleocreations/status/928695855439376384), you said “Earth has been many different planets over its lifetime.” This is sort of a two parter…Of all the “planets” Earth has been, which one is your favorite? And where is your favorite place to be on Current Earth?

 This is a very difficult question for me to answer, because it tends to change based on which period I’m researching at that moment. Some worlds, like the Cambrian world (illustrated in that link), I just love because of how alien they are. It’s difficult to believe that that world and our own both shared this same little plot of real estate in the solar system, even if we are separated by hundreds of millions of years. Of the periods I highlight in the book, there is the same sort of alien appeal for me in the Ordovician: the continents were nearly as desolate as Mars, but underwater, in places like tropical Ohio, it was just this explosion of sea life, and almost all of it was invertebrate–bug, squid, starfish-like etc.—and our ancestors, the fish, we’re all but irrelevant. It’s just a totally bizarre planet. And although it’s more recent, the Permian-Triassic planet is similarly alien to me. I’m fascinated by this version of planet earth in a sort of macabre way. It just gets so unbelievably hot and desolate. In fact, in these huge lifeless expanses of Pangaea there’s evidence that at one point earlier in the Permian it got as hot as 163 degrees Fahrenheit!

My favorite place to be on earth today is in front of any new rock outcrop with a geologist who can tell me what I’m looking at, and there’s good rocks everywhere. Geology has made the whole world more interesting to me.

2. What is your favorite fictional kingdom? 

I was struggling with this question, when I suddenly remembered a series of books I had when I was younger called Dinotopia. I just google image searched it and the illustrations are as incredible as I remembered. That is a fictional kingdom I would like to visit.

3. Who was the kindest scientist you met on your journey of writing The Ends Of The World? And who was the most eccentric? (I think I might be able to guess your answer for most eccentric, but I’m gonna let you say it.) 

All of the scientists were exceptionally kind in letting me barge into their offices and accompany them on trips to the field, and for not rolling their eyes when I asked a dumb question, so I’m going to be diplomatic and not single anyone out. “Eccentric” might have a slightly negative connotation in this context so I’ll just say that Gerta Keller certainly has the most interesting back story. As you know from the book, she basically ran away from home as a child, traveled the world, was later shot in a bank robbery, and today is easily the most divisive figure in the mass extinction community because of her iconoclastic interpretation of what killed all the non-bird dinosaurs 66 million years ago (not an asteroid, she says). As a group of people who spend their lives traveling to extremely locations to piece together answers to the big questions about the history of the planet, geologists and paleontologists are, as a rule, interesting people. But even among them Keller stands out.

4. What is your favorite element on the periodic table? Why?

I was tempted to say something crazy like astatine because of this xkcd piece https://englishatlc.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/randall-munroe-periodic-wall-of-elements.pdf. But I will be less exciting and say carbon. We’ve all heard before that we’re carbon-based life forms, and that carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, but I think we fail to appreciate just how central this element is to the whole crazy project of life on this strangely habitable planet. Through volcanoes it moves from the rocks to the air, from there it gets incorporated into our bodies, and, if we’re shell-building organisms, or we get turned into oil or something, it goes back into the rocks again. It keeps the planet warm enough to survive, and when it gets too warm it naturally subsides in the atmosphere. Only in extremely strange and rare episodes, like during the continental flood basalt eruptions associated with ancient mass extinctions, and in our own current effort to liberate as much of carbon from old rocks as possible by burning coal, oil and gas in power plants does it get wildly out of balance and threaten the stability of our biosphere.

5. What (who?) is your favorite prehistoric animal? 

Another impossible question. But I think I tend to gravitate towards either creatures that are underratedly terrifying, like Dunkleosteus which, as you know from the book, is this heavily-armored sea monster with a guillotine for a mouth, or animals that are truly bizarre. In this second category the Tully Monster comes to mind. I invite you to google it—the artists’ impressions of it are too strange to even describe. Others in the extremely strange camp that I love (to name just a few) are: Anomalocaris, one of the bewildering creatures that shows up at the dawn of animal life, and Tanystropheus, a marine reptile with a neck so incredibly long that it seems like the reconstructions must be wrong (they’re not). And like most people who enjoy visiting natural history museums I’m also drawn towards the extreme outliers in size, whether it’s Indricotherium, a hornless rhinoceros that was several stories tall, Leedsicthys, just this impossibly large, dumb-looking fish that lived in the Jurassic, or Quetzacoatlus, a pterosaur the size of a giraffe with a wingspan that rivals some small aircraft. Sorry to be so long-winded with these answers, there’s just too much from earth history to choose from.

6. During the researching and writing of the book, did you learn about something that particularly excited or scared you?

 I’m both excited and scared, in this perfect mix, by the vastness of deep time. I don’t think I fully appreciated it before. I think astronomy gets a lot of credit for being mind-blowing but I think geology does the trick just as well. For instance, I’m on the east coast (in Maine at the moment) and if I went for a walk with each step representing a century, I would be done with the history of human civilization by the end of the driveway. But I could walk across the entire country to Los Angeles without even getting back to the Cambrian period 500 million years ago. And even then I would have covered less than 10% of earth’s history! Now that I’ve fallen in love with geology I am constantly having that same mind-blowing experience every time I look at a rock.

7. In The Ends Of The World, on page 130, you say: “Though climate science was long an esoteric field, today a familiarity with the basics should constitute a core part of any responsible civic education for citizens of planet Earth.” Yes. Absolutely. Who or what inspired you to become so interested in climate science and extinctions? 

I’ve always been interested in the natural world, and I think my interest in climate science grew out of that. Like a lot of people my age I read Jurassic Park as a kid and was obsessed with dinosaurs. And then when I grew up I was a reporter writing about the ocean and all the modern changes we’re seeing to its temperature and chemistry. When I found out there was this deep connection between the subjects of earth history and climate change, that our experiment today with the climate has analogs throughout the history of life that we can look to for a glimpse of our possible future, it felt like a subject tailor-made to my interests.

8. In your opinion, is the problem with humans and global warming that we are capable of stopping it but generally apathetic, or that we are not capable of stopping it at all? 

I think we are physically capable of stopping human-caused climate change but I have strong doubts about the political will to do so. The most realistic path to reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting ourselves to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 requires the entire planet to completely stop using fossil fuels well before 2050, and then to somehow start sucking an incredible amount of CO2 out of the air every year after that with technology that (for all practical purposes) doesn’t exist yet. That is quite the tall order. At this point I think it’s a question of what degree of climate change we are willing to live with. At the lesser extreme we could get our act together and live in a slightly warmer world that—though it certainly will have more extreme storms, and droughts, and heat waves, and things like that—might be manageable for us to adapt to as a civilization (though there will still be losers, especially in tropical, poorer countries). And at the other extreme is the unthinkable: that we just keep burning carbon buried by ancient life, like coal and oil, and catapult ourselves into an alien greenhouse climate from tens of millions of years ago.

I don’t have the words to describe how catastrophic the second option would be, but I don’t think there’s any reason we would ever have to get to that point. It would require another century or two of burning everything we can find in the ground, and even in the current toxic political environment there are reasons to be encouraged, especially by younger people, that voters are beginning to take the need to transform our energy system seriously. That said, in the very long run, over thousands of years, even the small changes we make to the climate will have dramatic effects. A recent study showed that the entire ice sheet of Greenland could melt with as little as 0.8 degrees of warming. We’ve already warmed the planet 0.8 degrees and will likely warm it by much more. The good thing is that to completely melt the whole thing takes thousands to tens of thousands of years (the bad thing is you don’t have to melt all of Greenland to raise sea level a lot). As for ocean acidification (what happens when CO2 reacts with seawater) it will take something like 150,000 years for nature to restore the changes we’re causing to ocean chemistry today.

9. Do you think we, citizens of the U.S, will ever have a “scientist President”? Or even a “historian President?” Someone who understands and is interested in science and history and enjoys learning? Someone who is kind but who also tries to be somewhat logical? (If you think you could ever run for President, you would definitely have my vote.) 

Haha, that’s very kind of you. I sincerely hope we have a scientist president, and soon. So many of the problems we face today, and in the decades to come, will be scientific ones. And given the polling on questions like “How old is the earth?”, and an obvious dearth of critical thinking skills in the country in the age of “fake news”, it’s obvious that we’re massively underinvested in education. If I were president I would invest (probably to a slightly psychotic degree) on education and basic research. The National Science Foundation and NASA would do quite well in my administration. That said–and this is something of a digression–not all policy questions can be decided by science. There will always be a role for philosophy and ethics to play, along with a whole bunch of other subjects that I think too many scientists are too quick to sneer at as squishy.

For instance, Neil DeGrasse Tyson recently proposed a utopian society where every policy question is decided by data and scientific research alone https://www.facebook.com/notes/neil-degrasse-tyson/reflections-on-rationalia/10154399608556613/. I think there’s a lot to recommend this vision of society, especially when you compare it to our current scientifically illiterate one. But there would be major limitations to it as well, some of which would quickly become ghastly. Take Tyson’s example on how we should decide whether to have the death penalty, which he says should depend on the data on whether it’s effective at deterring crime. But this data is useless without some prior system of ethics. For instance, there would likely be a strong deterrent effect on the crime of shoplifting if we made it punishable by death, but I don’t think that this would inform us whatsoever on whether it’s the wise or just path for a society to take. There will always be these moral questions for us to decide.

10. In your opinion, what was the worst mass extinction so far? 

The End-Permian mass extinction is the worst mass extinction in the history of life and there’s not really a close second. Enough lava erupted in Siberia 252 million years ago to cover the lower 48 United States a kilometer deep, and the volcanoes injected so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere it caused temperatures to spike something like 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Up to 96% of life in the oceans died. Trees all but disappear in the fossil record for 10 million years after the mass extinction. Coral reefs are replaced with piles of bacterial slime. The planet basically had to reboot after the catastrophe, and it took millions of painful years to do so. It was the worst moment in the history of the earth. And yet, the earth recovered. And it did more than just recover. From the ashes of the End-Permian mass extinction blossomed the age of dinosaurs and, after that, the age of mammals, and everything we see living in our world today. Life is incredibly resilient and even after the worst disaster in its history the earth enjoyed its greatest flourishing. I think there are some lessons we can learn from our wonderful planet.

. . .

Peter Brannen is a huge nerd and a problem solver (and he referenced two of my other favorite people, Randall and Neil!). Like he says on page 130, I believe it is important to see the planet not as your world or my world, but as a planet. Operating on geological time, functioning as a whole. Seems obvious. Isn’t. I guess I love Peter so much because he is rare. He sees the planet as the whole that it is. He is both kind and smart, something you don’t often see. He recognizes the importance of the ocean, penis worms, and you and I.

And this is to remind you what he looks like.

 I ended up searching Dinotopia on Google Images. My favorite fictional kingdom is Britain as it appears in the Harry Potter series, but Dinotopia looks very cool. I might like to visit there if I could.

 

Throwing My Hat Into The Ring

Date: October 13th, 2017

Hewlett-Packard, also known as HP, teamed up with Launch Forth to create a series of challenges and projects. These challenges and projects ask people to design vehicles, architecture, and infrastructure to be used on Mars.

This is the challenge I chose: https://launchforth.io/hpmars/mars-valley-urbanization-concept-challenge/brief/

And this is my entry: The Domes And The Library

This is a first draft. My first draft that follows all regulations and guidelines. It is a precursor to something much grander, something that will over evolve over time. I sent it in on a deadline, and I hand-drew it to give it an “organic” feel.

Although rudimentary, my entry is charming, and I did my research. I drew inspiration from multiple sources and cited them. I might not win, but it is not guaranteed I will lose. My entry is worth sharing, and I certainly hope that through it, Hewlett-Packard, and the others watching the challenges be completed by people all over, can see my untapped – and tapped – potential.

I will continue expanding my Mars plans whether or not my submission becomes known through them. On the subject of Hewlett-Packard, I am completely neutral.

I am not done designing and writing for Mars. Design is not stagnant. There will be many sketches, many first drafts, many final drafts, many essays, many stories, many updates to come. Interior design is perpetual. Architecture is perpetual. Learning is perpetual. My Mars plan is fluid in nature. I will never pretend to know everything, and I will never pretend I’m a scientist. I am an artist and writer and constant student and baker and doodler. I will post my plans on my blog.

This is me tossing my hat into the Martian ring. Elon Musk, Lockheed Martin, countless other relatively older white men with – er – unique names have already revealed plans and made a name for themselves. It’s my turn. If I may remind you, I’m not that impressive right now. But “me right now” is a young agender/genderfluid female who’s still in high school. Not many people are that impressive at my age, and those that are simply get even more impressive as they get older and their accomplishments increase. My Mars plan right now hasn’t even taken off with a running start yet. I’m just beginning my journey now, and I’m hoping you’ll follow it. One day, if life works well enough to bring me success at at least this, I will be one of the names you think of in reference to who will bring Mars a little closer in the sky.

My Martian playlist (I love using music to express my feelings!):

My Martian Pinterest board:

https://www.pinterest.com/zmkf/zmkfs-mars-plan-inspiration-and-references/

Mini Blog Post: Godlike

This is a reactionary opinion piece. The only reason I’m posting this is because it’s too long for an Instagram caption.

Date: July 27th, 2017

This is the thing I’m reacting to: “Scientists are pushing wild climate hacking scenarios to save the planet” via ScienceAlert

They call it climate hacking, I call it owning up to the godlike power we have. Humans are pretty cool. We’ve built deep into this planet with our sewers and our mines and our pipelines, learned how to fly and refrigerate food and drink, and mapped planets we haven’t set our own feet on. These are things we take for granted, of course. But those who say – and I paraphrase many a famous quote here – that humans are an atom’s way of studying atoms are correct. We’ve been somehow blessed to be able to learn. And the more we know, the more we can manipulate. REMINDERS ABOUT “CLIMATE HACKING”: ⚔️ 1. This is not a one time thing. Gods have to work hard, especially if it turns out they’re actually human and “unforeseen consequences” are a thing. The more we manipulate, the more good – or bad – we can do for ourselves and for the planet. But the more we do…certain things will create domino effects. Once we take responsibility for the earth as the superpowered parasites-turned-engineers we are, we can’t ever “take a break.” You will have to deal with a problem, and then you will have to deal with a problem caused by your solution. Which is not to say all we will ever cause is problems. But we need to communicate and accept in preparation for this huge undertaking. God may be dead, but if he ever lived, he never stopped being God. ? 2. Humans are animals. We are apart of nature. We happen to be the part of nature that can “detach” from it for most of our lifetimes, but we all must return sometimes. (I choose nature documentaries and traveling a lot as some sort of salve.) In taking responsibility for this planet, we must realize that the rest of the animals (and plants and stuff) are just as important as we are. I’m not even talking going vegetarian. (Shmeat is a thing meat lovers can turn to in a few years. It’ll take a while to go commercial. And don’t diss shmeat. It ain’t plant-based, and it ain’t fake. It’s the same thing. Just way less cruel. Look it up.) Right now, animals’ intelligences are compared to ours, and most animals are judged by how well they respond to our cues and directions. We must learn, one day we will (hopefully), that all animals are equal. We must learn that animals are worth more than the money we spend trying to keep them out of our cities. When we become gods, it’s the animals who will guide us. ❄️ 3. If we are to do this, we have to do this right. We can manipulate without micromanaging. We can love without breeding dependence.

Video Games Are A Tool – Good Or Evil Depends On YOU

Date: June 28th, 2017

I love games. Board games, capture-the-flag, hide n’ seek, computer games, video games, mobile (phone) games, pen and paper games. All games.

But this blog post is about mobile and computer games specifically. Often also categorized as video games when it is used as an umbrella term, they seem to be the enemy of good parents and the friend of neglectful parents.

I am here to defend them.

I’m also here to praise them.

1. POPTROPICA

Me in Poptropica Worlds.
*casually stands on roof*
Me in Classic Poptropica. What’s funny is, I change both looks all the time. I’m Smart Sun, by the way. Howdy. 

Poptropica was my first video game. I’m a “fresh” 16 now, and it must’ve been years ago when I started playing.

For the lay person: Poptropica is a child-friendly world of “islands.” On each island, there is a problem to solve. For Time Tangled, you have to go in a time machine and assign objects you come across to their proper time period. That island was cool. You went to visit the Vikings, Leonardo Da Vinci, and some weird Oracle sitting in an Ancient Greek temple. You could potentially take one piece of clothing from each time period and end up with an awesome Time Traveler costume. (There’s an idea…) Hey, speaking of Ancient Greece showing up in Poptropica, there’s also Mythology Island! As we all should know from reading the Rick Riordan books, Zeus is a dickhead. (Pardon my French.) And he wants you dead. You get to dress up in a swaggy three-piece suit made up of crown, trident, and cloud and beat him into the dirtiest dirt imaginable – the Mt. Olympus dirt. It’s one of my three favorite islands.

The other two are Twisted Thicket, and Reality TV. Twisted Thicket was beautiful and poignant. The art was amazing. It inspired a fantasy of mine – that one day I’d wake up and there’d be a gate in my backyard, small enough to fit just me, but it would change size if I wanted to invite taller friends. Go through the gate, and enter a haven of endless tall trees, climbable and strong. Rivers and streams would wind through it. Butterflies, but no bees or wasps. Perfect for two of the games I mentioned, capture-the-flag and hide n’ seek. Now, that fantasy takes on a higher meaning. Just as the thicket was safety for those magical Poptropican spirits and animals, I imagine opening the gate every time a species is about to go extinct. Or even anytime a single animal is about to die. An imaginary Eden that we can never open the gate to, teeming with life. Twisted Thicket inspired it so deeply that if I ever write a book taking place in my Eden, I’ll thank Poptropica in the acknowledgements, where Gods and Parents normally go.

Reality TV’s challenges are so fun. Honestly, I’m so glad that you can go through the “show” again without having to restart the whole island. My favorite challenges are the climbing pole one, fishing one and the turtle shell one. And I’ve figured out a trick for that one actually. There’s a palm tree in the background, right? Put your arrow right underneath the farthest (from you) little leafy thing. You’ll never miss the 20 shell again. And one thing I was surprised about – from the characters invented for the island to the others brought in from elsewhere, the contestants had personalities. They behaved like real people. Try to vote them off, they’d return fire. An interesting behavior I recognized is that because they could never vote off the winner, they’d vote off whoever was in second place, to get rid of the second best so they could move up a notch in comparative ability. (Love analyzing Poptropica.) I adopted that behavior, and took advantage of it. More recently, I’ve started changing clothes during the show to copy the outfit of whoever I wanted to “take down” next. Yep. I’d made enemies. Like Lassie Lasso. Whenever I played, she hated my character. No one else was always malicious towards me. She and I were enemies. Kept voting each other off. Over time, I got used to getting rid of her first. And I congratulate the Creators for making her behave like a person. She was entertaining.

I’ve always loved Poptropica, and always will. The music and design for Poptropica Realms were ingenious, of course. I really love Realms. (But lately, it keeps restarting me at Asgard and deleting everything else.) I hope they bring Realms to Poptropica Worlds. That would be brilliant and too kind of them. But Poptropica Worlds has already drawn some criticism, most eloquently voiced by this person:

Part 1
Part 2

I have to agree with Mr. Dr. Pepper. Yes, I am getting older, but I could still play Cryptids now, or Super Power Island, or Wild West (I can never get that darn cow!), or Arabian Knights, and be just as thrilled and captivated. Which means its not us. It’s them. I can understand wanting to direct your islands at a younger audience, but that means leaving the older ones behind. It’s not like we’re trying to slowly wean ourselves off of Poptropica. The easier it gets, the less fun it is. Which kinda sucks. Poptropica is special to me. It’s been with me that long. Having superpowers is plain entertainment to an average kid – I use a wheelchair most of the time, can’t walk very well – so being transported to another world, either by reading, writing, or playing, is something I’m actually grateful for. Cryptids and Survival reminded me cleverness and resourcefulness (we literally found that dollar in a bush, remember?) are too important to waste. Time Tangled, Nabooti, and Astro Knights reminded me how much I love exploring. Twisted Thicket, Lunary Colony, and Atlantis all reminded me that boundaries are written on the world in marker by those who believe in power over kindness.

I sympathized with the Binary Bard because he was different, too smart for those around him, and saw the darkness in the world even though he was born in a kid’s game – if there’s ever a Poptropica movie, I volunteer Jared Padelecki or Sebastian Stan for that role.

The wonderful thing is, Poptropica isn’t addictive. At all. I don’t go on it unless there’s a new island or I’m still working on an old one. So that’s one thing you don’t need to worry about. Addiction. A valid worry, and a menacing problem.

I will always love Poptropica. I might not always play it, though.

But I’ll make sure my kids do.

2. CHOICES: STORIES YOU PLAY

Choices is like a choose-your-own adventure on a phone. It is hilarious, and so well written. I was expecting teen drama all the way – think about it. It’s a mobile game with story titles like “Rules Of Engagement.” I’d scoff if I hadn’t tried it out. My first book on there was The Crown And The Flame Book 1, of course. Queen Kenna is bisexual in the non-fetishy way, as are most of the characters in every story. And Queen Kenna is brave and strong and fights off the assassins sent to kill her herself. She is bad*ss. In every book she’s in, she saves the day with some fancy moves and royal flair. She does require help, but in her own special way, she shows that both women and men can need help and have friends and still kick *ss. The list of people I ship her with is endless. The Haunting Of Braidwood Manor and Endless Summer were both worth their own blockbuster movies, and don’t even get me started on Love Hacks. I wish to marry Sereena, and I also ship her with that woman she ran into at grad school. Love Hacks is so diverse and funny beyond belief. It’s like if I wrote it. (Way to not brag, Z. But hey! If all else fails, I could go work there!) One book I wasn’t sure I would like was The Royal Romance. Cheesy, right? Except not at all. Our main character is a woman (to be named by player, I named her Lady Fuzzycheeks Breastjude), a waitress from New York who accidentally meets a prince, moves to his kingdom, and falls in love with a woman. (That’s how I’m doing it, anyways.) And of course we have this gem (see Figure M):

Can I marry you, too? You’re pretty and ruthless. (Figure M, for Madeleine.)

She was speaking about another character who had just “boldly” kissed the Prince in the middle of the ballroom. Daaaaamn. That is a burn, Madeleine. Madeleine is just one of the lovely women you’ll meet on this crazy ride.

The male characters in every book are funny and sensitive. They have hard problems to deal with.

This game, I swear – it is so diverse, and intersectionally feminist and it defeats toxic masculinity.

Hey, maybe I really will go work there.

3. TERRAGENESIS

Terragenesis is about terraforming. One of my favorite pastimes. (Just kidding. I’m not actually terraforming planets for fun. Not yet, at least.) Sometimes I play Terragenesis just to listen to the music. It is composed very well, and it is very relaxing. The driving force of the game is Mars, but you don’t only get to terraform just one planet. You get to terraform Earth to guard it against global warming, and if you don’t fast enough, everyone dies, you run out of money, and don’t get it back either (you need money to build the things that give you money *sigh*), which is sadly pretty accurate. You also get the moon to terraform, and Jupiter’s moons, and the Trappist system recently discovered. But on Mars, running out of money isn’t the end of the world. Well, it shouldn’t ever come to this, but all you need to do is shut down the colonies, disabling anything that costs money, then build the mines back up again and slowly add all the stuff back. I love terraforming. Not just this game. I have my own plans for the real thing. But the point I must stress is, if you can’t do it in the real world yet, settle for a book. Or a game.

 

My Terragenesis Mars from just a few days ago. 

My current Terragenesis Mars. It changes so often and the graphics are so pretty. I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. WAR DRAGONS

This is my Kinnara, who I’ve named after my friend Celeste. She’s my favorite dragon. Chain lightning and she can summon a tiny dragon to further damage things.
My Arborius, Ham. Second favorite dragon. 
And this is ihatebees. Because it looks like a bee.  

This game just helps me get my anger out in a somewhat healthy way. You get to name your dragons funny names and destroy things. What more could you want? (I love destroying things. It is too entertaining for me.)

5. RUSH BY MURO STUDIOS  

This is my favorite Rush character, Imp. I didn’t name this one. Whoosh whoosh. 

Really, Rush doesn’t satisfy me emotionally like Poptropica or Choices. It’s just a very quick tap tap tap game with really, really good art. Tap tap tap tap tap. Whoosh. Whoosh. Crunch. Growl.

All in all, my video game taste is varied. From Poptropica to Rush, they all deserve to be defended from the onslaught of parenthood. Hear me out, I know this sounds crazy – video games don’t care about melting your brain, or enriching it. Some video games are art, some are stories, some are fighting games or superpower games. All are here to represent worlds in which humanity is free from those marker drawn boundaries. (For instance: “Gee, I’m sorry I’m not able to fly without a plane in the real world…”) Games are innocent in the fight against laziness and a lack of creativity!

From ScienceAlert: “When the researchers looked at 24 participants who had played the game for 30 minutes a day for two months under an MRI machine they found that they had increased grey matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum, compared to a control group that hadn’t played any game.” This was taken from an article about the benefits of video games. It reaffirms the idea that reality and the affects different experiences have on you are directly influenced by how your brain processes them. When rats run through mazes, they dream about their day at night, and their brain goes through the same chemical patterns their brain did doing the actual thing. Gamers are learning when they play. When you learn to shoot a gun in a game, you’re not learning the “real” skill, but you are learning a skill.

Of course, experiments are called “experiments” and not “already proven fact” for a reason. It is not good for you to stare at a screen for hours, no matter what you’re doing. And just because you’re learning doesn’t mean you’re learning anything useful. Benefits don’t immediately constitute a lack of problems. (Also, fun fact, that article was sponsored by a game studio to essentially promote their new game.) But under an hour (at least for me, personally), everything goes smoothly. And I know that listing a few good things and referencing my own likely biased experience won’t fix all the very real problems. I’m here to debunk a few fake ones.

The idea that violent games breed violent kids is actually backwards. “The best physiological indicator of which young people will become violent criminals as adults is a low resting heart rate, says Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania…’We think that low heart rate reflects a lack of fear, and a lack of fear could predispose someone to committing fearless criminal-violence acts,’ Raine says. Or perhaps there is an ‘optimal level of physiological arousal,’ and psychopathic people seek out stimulation to increase their heart rate to normal.” From The Atlantic. For many children, violence is the only thing strong enough to shake them out of, basically, a stupor. Because violence – murdering someone, getting in a fight, robbing a home or store – gives the crime-committer adrenaline. Or the things that accompany adrenaline if not exactly that.

And when I was fighting the Binary Bard while he was sitting in the giant robot, dodging his projectiles, in the final scene of Astro Knights, I certainly felt something like adrenaline, a higher heart rate. Gamers know this feeling. Video games don’t have to be particularly “good” for you to get invested during a fight or chase scene. Whenever the music gets faster, or maybe your breathing does, and you’re saying a curse word over and over again while your avatar is running around the room as you’re looking for something, anything, to help you on your journey…when you get invested in a video game, you jump at the jolts. You feel the difficulty. And I’m not saying Poptropica is enough to heal these kids. Maybe it’s not the right type of game. Maybe it is. But either way, there you go. There’s a benefit, that I don’t think anyone’s tried yet. (If you have, hit me up. You’re cool.)

I’m still an artist, even though I play these games. Maybe my brain has melted just enough to teach me a few lessons. But often, while I’m playing a game, I’m multitasking in my head – I’m inventing my own game, trying to figure out the real world equivalent of any given thing, writing a book, creating a dragon from scratch, and designing my own planet.

Are there more important things to do than play these games? Heck yes. Like save the world from very real global warming. Or racism. Or sexism. But people are, by their nature, just as much Creators as the Poptropicans are. We like inventing worlds and exploring them in our downtime (or maybe uptime, I don’t blame you). Humans are gods of the worlds inside their heads, and others’ heads. This is the gift of imagination. And you may have noticed that I say both video games and books can be used to travel these worlds outside of heads. I use them almost interchangeably. Video games don’t kill creativity. (Well, not all do. Candy Crush does, and I’m guilty of playing it.) Most of them heighten it. They are exactly like books in the what they do. Books are far better. But the choice between book and game shouldn’t be a choice between good and bad. It should be a choice between book and game. Some games like Choices are literally mobile choose-your-own adventure books.

When I say I’m a gamer and proud, it doesn’t mean I’m more proud of that than I am of my writing or drawing skills. Or my kindness and intelligence. And it doesn’t mean that’s what I do all day. It means…”Here I am…and by george, this is fun.”

A final note for the Poptropican Creators: I know we’ve rushed you with this whole Poptropica Worlds thing. Which might why you’ve been getting comments that the game is lagging/glitching, and the inbox and doors aren’t ready yet. We’re all just very excited. And don’t let constructive criticism control you. It does help you build a better game, yes. But – I trust you guys. Take all the time you need, have all the fun you want, and make it an awesome free world. You guys work hard. I respect you fellas and gals intensely.

Good game.

Disabled Stalls In Public Bathrooms Are For Disabled People, You Crusty Bilge Waffle!

Date: June 16th, 2017

Public bathrooms truly are gifts to this world. Think about how lost you would be if you needed to use the toilet at the movies, or in the mall, or at the beach, and there weren’t a place to do your business.

A few weeks ago, before going into the theatre to see Captain Underpants (those books were my childhood, I enjoyed the movie very much) my dad suggested he and I use the piss-spot (I try to find synonyms). It’s always a good idea to use the ToiletTM before a movie. Good thing we still had a few minutes before the movie began.

A woman kindly pointed the disabled stall in the corner of the large bathroom out to me. I went over to it and sat by it, moving my wheelchair back and forth every so often, looking at my fingernails for about seven minutes. I leaned down to see if I could see any feet dangling over the Bowl at about the two-minute mark.

When the stall door finally opened, a black-haired, older woman with glasses – not old enough to attract sympathy – walked out. I only saw her face for an instant. No one I recognized. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw her pause with a twinge, possibly wondering if she should help me open the door to make up for her fuckery.

I did not say anything to her. But in my head, I was thinking, “What the foonzy, woman? You do not get to pity and look down on me, imagining that I can’t open the lightest door to ever grace this earth, after doing that.”

She was an older woman, but I mean – older than fifty. She was not disabled, or too wide to get through the other stalls’ doors. She was not frail.

And there were about ten other empty “normal” stalls right next to the one she was in.

Disabled stalls are there to give the people who need more room more room. People with wheelchairs, or walkers, or canes, or who need help with…you know what. When there are empty stalls next to you, please do not pick the disabled one. What do you need that much room for? Standing? Ooh, maybe you like to pace before you attend to your rear business!

Disabled stalls are for disabled people.

I Am With You, France, No Matter Where I Choose To Live

Date: June 5th, 2017

Emmanuel Macron put this on his Facebook four days ago:

In pulling the U.S out of the Paris Accord, Trump quickly went from douchebag to dangerous. This is not a series of jokes. This is a series of hard blows against our integrity, safety, and capacity for compassion. And this is a big deal. A big, scary deal. Let yourself get scared by this. You are afraid because you are aware, and because you aware, you have the power to fix these problems, however daunting they are.

But the funny thing is, the worse it gets, the better my outlook is.

These are just the first few results I got from Googling “companies and mayors paris agreement:”

1. Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord

2. PressTV-US cities, states, companies commit to Paris accord

3. US states and businesses will still meet Paris targets | Environment | The Guardian

4. Which Cities Have Pledged To Follow The Paris Agreement? Over 150 Mayors Have Agreed

(Please actually look at these links. I try to write about some good stuff, but I don’t know everything, so I cite people who know more than little old me. It’s educational, guys.)

This is happening, guys, gals, and non-binary pals.

Trump screwed up, and now, maybe because it falls on us no matter whether we accept it or not, we are taking charge. And then there’s my man Macron. He knows that the current President of the United States only represents a small but loud group whose headquarters lies in Trump’s hairy, wrinkly, orange armpit. He knows most U.S citizens share something powerful with most French citizens…and most Indian citizens, and most Chinese citizens, and most Japanese citizens, and most German citizens. There are going to be bad, sucky, horrendous people everywhere. No country is perfect. Not even Sweden. (However, Sweden is willing to admit it.) But there are also going to be good and great, innovative, kind people everywhere. Macron’s favorite type of person. Everywhere. Regardless of age, race, culture, sex and sexual orientation. It is all fine and nice to be patriotic, and it is wonderful to let the borders dissolve when we need to. Countries can be countries. We don’t have to try and build a world government (that would be disastrous). But countries and nations can and should work together without spite, because it is not the government or reputation that matters, it is the people. Every country holds people worthy of love within it. Not one country is better than another, not in that way.

The French spirit is the Brazilian spirit and the Morrocan spirit and the American spirit and the Bulgarian spirit and the Kenyan spirit and the British spirit. Because the best people share it no matter where they are. We are not our worst: The KKK, ISIL, Boko Haram, the Nazis – nope. And we are not our dictators. Saudi Arabia, the U.S, Russia…we pride ourselves on our best because we are forced to. We are not who is in charge.

Which brings me to Macron’s offer.

He asks the scientists, engineers, and designers of the U.S, the innovators fighting climate change in a sea of bullshit and hate, to come to work and live in France.

My point isn’t that I am not going to go to France ever. My point is that I am probably not going to France anytime soon.

I am a writer and designer, and I hope to own a bed-and-breakfast when I am older, so I may write and design when I want to as opposed to on a deadline. With that in mind, I can be relocated nearly anywhere, as long its pretty enough to support a cutesy bed-and-breakfast. And it is not as though I do not like France. I have never been there, but I have learned about the country from my French language class and – *sighs* – Google. It is very aesthetically pleasing, the schools are – generally – better, and they are prepared to deal with global warming. “As in the UK, France has adopted a series of carbon budgets with the first three running 2015-2018, 2019-2023 and 2024-2028. To meet its 2050 target the country needs to cut 9-10 megatonnes of carbon dioxide every year says the report, and cut energy emissions 96% by mid century.” From France delivers 2050 climate plan to UN.

But even though I can easily be picked up and plopped down somewhere else, there are still things I cannot control that keep me here. My parents need to be in Los Angeles for their work. Not only that. My school is here. And while the French education system might be better, this particular school I go to is one I’d miss. It is not traditional, very open, relaxed, and filled to the brim with use and value. How do you take a school with you on a plane? One of my favorite teachers just retired, but there are the students too, and my remaining wonderful teachers. My best friend moved away to Napa, and the other’s always busy – but Napa’s easier to visit than France! (Unless I kidnapped her and took her with me.) Then there’s my other friends, slowly becoming besties. I can’t make anybody move just because I want to. I suppose this is decision making, weighing the things in your life to help you decide what to do. But the decision isn’t only mine. As I may have mentioned, I have two parents I can’t get rid of until at least college. Each with their own lives, friends they won’t want to move away from, careers. Not too mention – we like our house. My house is a good one.

And then there’s the whole guilt/anger factor to moving away to “escape Trump.” Read: Movers And Shakers.

There is much to think about.

But if you do move, France is a great place to move to!

Maybe my family and I will move to France in a year. Two and a half years. Four years, after Trump is out of office anyways. Maybe we’ll move to Singapore, or Barcelona, or a part of Croatia. Maybe we’ll stay in the U.S.

But wherever we are, we will stand with France.

It is not one President we are fighting. It is a lack of progress. So whether you fight in the U.S or overseas, you are fighting with peace and love, and that is what matters.

I will stand with you, France. Stand with me?

#makeourplanetgreatagain

#vivelarevolutionforearth

Good luck, everybody.

It’s Not My Fault That I’m Optimistic About The Future!

Date: May 28th, 2017

The difference between daydreams and visions is that with one, you’re hallucinating.

There’s a lot going on right now. As John Oliver (whom I simultaneously think of as both the father I never had and the son I want) constantly stresses, each Trump headliner hides something even more sinister underneath its fifteen-second fame. This is not normal. And as I and many others have mentioned before, it is not just Trump – Trump is simply the amplifier. This is what we have to remember, getting rid of him will not magically solve all of our problems, but it will confuse and damage the ego of those currently being amplified, which will certainly make room for progress.

However, there’s an insane amount of obstacles in our way, the very least of which is a man who never ever gets in trouble no matter what he does or says. There is always some justification given to us. Between Trump and all the other problems we face, it’s hard to imagine that there could ever be a sunny day.

Yet even now, I have very specific, very positive daydreams about what the future will hold. And I don’t even try. They just are there for me to look at and hope for. Right now, I shall tell all of you about each daydream and how it could correspond to realistic progress:

1. The Frozen Yogurt Stop

The daydream always begins in a medium-size courtyard. Look forward, you see small trees – palm trees and Japanese maple – and benches everywhere. Look up and around, you see we are on a hillside, crowded with natural vegetation. Blue sky. The plants are relatively lush, but present a lighter green than most plants thought of as “lush,” such as the ones on the sides of freeways in New York, Washington, and Wisconsin. Look to the right, and you see a train stop. Fairly modern architecture. Open to the air. A basic white, block-like design with stripes and polka-dots added on in just the right size and amount for color. There’s only enough space for two trains right next to each other. One train is waiting. It is white, with blue and pink stripes flowing front to back. One of the wider blue stripes has the name of the train system on it: Dragons Of The Midwest. There is owl and eyeball art on the wall defining the barriers of the stop. Look to the left, and across the platform, you see an ice cream/frozen yogurt shop. It is narrow but wide, with its own seating area. The colors are blue and pink, again, but pastel this time. Flavors include vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry.

Correspondence: I have to talk about California, it’s where I live. And California actually gives us a good example of regional transport – there is a project coming up to spread high-speed rail throughout the state. The project “will eventually encompass over 800 miles of rail, with up to 24 stations. Because the project is so large, and will run through areas of the state with extremely different geographical, environmental and economic issues, the project has been broken into ten separate sections.” (From http://www.hsr.ca.gov.) Each section has to go through ecological “footprint” testing before construction can begin. The total project goes from Sacramento, and the Transbay Transit Center on a separate train line, down to San Diego. Impressive. But I said the Dragons operated in the Midwest. Turns out, there is an equivalent – actually, two: the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. Both are Midwestern train organizations set up to become major players in the U.S transport game, even as it evolves. Trains are thought to be the most environmentally conscious transportation option, and environmental consciousness is still rare in many states. The latter of the two is aptly tag-lined “Reinventing Travel. Reinventing The Midwest.” So guys – it’s your move! – get some fro-yo up in there.

2. The Spreadcity

The daydream starts up high, in an invisible helicopter (that is totally not realistic). We are slowly panning over one of those four-leaf-clover highway loops. The highway is an interstate highway, and right now, we are between northern Nevada, Idaho, and Utah – in Idaho, exactly. The highway has made minimal negative impact on the plain it lays over due to the way it was designed. The flowing golden grass gives the whole thing a shimmery effect. The city is essentially a rural county, but everything is modern and connected by bike paths and sleek, small roads. There should be at least one mile of natural space for every building. The only buildings right next to the highway are hospitals, malls, and one huge school that looks like a university except it functions for all grades.

Correspondence: Most of Idaho is already open country, so if one wanted to found a spreadcity, all they would need to do is connect a soon-to-be-not-county – anywhere, really – and create a system by which transportation is quick and efficient, and the governmental buildings and larger parks and service-buildings form a spreadcity center.

3. Sittyhils

Sittyhils are an original idea of mine – a particular type of arcology. The etymology of the word is “city + hill + fun way of spelling = sittyhil.” Sittyhils are basically huge cities, compacted and opened at different areas so they form a mountain-like structure. The idea was formed because I was thinking about Barcelona as it is described in this article: Built-Out Barcelona Makes Space for an Urban Forest. I was delighted, and began to wonder – what if some cities were made with this attitude in mind? What if cities no longer displaced wildlife, what if they just lifted it up? Bushes in the windows and on apartment decks, flowers on the outer walls. Cities are as tall as hills at their core, why not become hills? So dense, but so ecologically stable and positive, that it literally becomes Figure 1 – big, green, and gnarly.

Figure 1: Is this a bad drawing? Yes, yes it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correspondence: Barcelona is already doing a very good job of minimizing its negative environmental impact and encouraging biodiversity, as I mentioned. So is Singapore, with its National Biodiversity Centre, and Gardens By The Bay, and then there’s this: “We have recorded a total of 392 species of birds and at least 2,100 native vascular plants, of which more than 1,500 species are classified as extant in Singapore. Find out more about our Wildlife in Singapore and learn about the different Ecosystems that exist in Singapore.” (From https://www.nparks.gov.sg/biodiversity.) And just 1 day ago from the time of writing, the Straight Times reported that “NParks announced that over 500 species were discovered or rediscovered over the last five years in joint surveys with nature groups. The agency has also put the afterburners on its Species Recovery Programme, increasing the number of species to 94, up from 46 last year.” Cooooooool. Coincidentally (or not), Singapore and Barcelona are now my two favorite cities. I want to clone myself and send one of me to each city.

Everyone has dreams about what the future will be like. They hope, and hope is good, but they hope, thinking that it is hoping that will make the thing happen. We need more.

Here’s how I like to think of this type of situation.

You are standing in an empty plot of land. There is rope in front of you, going up into nowhere. You reach out and touch the rope, and suddenly you see visions of your dream house, the one to be built on that plot of land. Instead of standing there touching the rope, letting the visions cloud your senses, pull the rope down. It is taking a huge risk, something that is confirmed when you hear a huge crash as dimensions collide and your house becomes what is there. Instead of it floating up there in a cloud, you brought it down into the grit and crust and mantle. But it is worth it, for the house is just as wonderful as you knew it would be, and you were not inactive. You pulled down your rope.

Find your daydreams of the future.

Pull down your rope.

Make it happen.

Public Parks, On Private Land!

Date: May 9th, 2017

There are those who say that if we, as the species of engineers we are, do not strip something from the land, whether it be an animal for food, or a tree for a lumber, or a mineral for mining, then we are missing out on valuable resources. But public lands, lands that exist for the people and other species that roam this Earth rather than for companies or development, are some of the most valuable resources we have. There is a quote by Theodore Roethke: “Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light.” Famous, slightly vague quotes can have a slightly different meaning for everybody. I won’t tell you my understanding, I’ll just let his words sink in. Ever since humans started thinking, we’ve found joy and peace in nature. Using it as a remedy for depression isn’t a waste of your time. Obviously, medicine created to combat depression works directly and chemically. But this doesn’t disprove that there is an inherent “light” in nature. Speaking from my own experience, I use nature as a solvent for negativity. In the future (hopefully this behavior will start sometime soon), nature will be looked at as a necessity, not just for recreation, within and outside of all our cities. It is just as much of a needed thing as electricity, copper, or a citrus farm is.

The fact that there is an entire branch of federal government devoted to our emotional wealth is a fact that I love to think about. The federal government has a lot of problems – but this is one of the upsides to having a nagging mother, always present, that is obsessed with red tape.

There’s just one problem.

What if mother goes back on her promise to uphold one of the only purely good things she does for us?

Normally, when a particularly rich person owns a swath of land, it is for them and them alone. There is a gate around the entire thing, with a sign at the entrance reading “Private” or some variation of that word. But what if the sign said “Part of the Private Lands Conservation group. Please park around corner after entering through gate. Two dollars for parking. Enjoy”? (The Private Lands Conservation group is real thing, I’m positively ecstatic to admit that this is not my original idea: https://www.nature.org/about-us/private-lands-conservation/index.htm – I’m just writing about it!)

What if mother doesn’t want to hurt us, but is being forced into going back on her promise by a giant orange crayon?

As Elizabeth Warren reminded me when I went to see her speak, the government is not evil. You are not immediately mean and sour if you work for the government, and you are not weak if you rely on the government. The government does indeed have many dangerous flaws, but ones we can fix over time if we work together and diversify. Examples? Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Yates, the Obamas, Hillary Clinton (she ain’t perfect but she works hard and tries to be there for us, which we need right now), Bernie Sanders, and the thousands of relatively – sadly – unknown people working to undo damage and prop us up. Most of them are just in the wrong positions (Elizabeth Warren for President!)…or maybe the exactly right positions. Most things can take time.

Global warming and conservation can’t. Which is why I say we rip our “valuable resources” out of the orange crayon’s hands as soon and as painfully as possible. And no, it’s not just the orange crayon! It’s just that people like me have to keep mentioning him when something comes up because he’s the Big Loud Orange Megaphone for everyone we’d mention if he wasn’t sitting right smack dab in the middle of the Oval Office! Where was I? Ah yes. Hit him where it hurts and save the world at the same time.

As some of you may know, I plan to own and operate a bed-and-breakfast (small hotel) as my base career to earn enough money to write and design when I want as opposed to on a deadline.

The bed-and-breakfast will be in an area populated enough that I earn money from it, but secluded enough that I can make the area around the bed-and-breakfast a giant public garden, roughly the size of the smaller state parks.

Ambitious? Hell yes. A bit daunting? Maybe. But for those looking out for me, this is a good investment: Conservation should not only be in the hands of the government, a thing which noticeably changes every four years, even after Mr. Orange Crayon leaves office. If we truly want to save this world from environmental catastrophe, the right type – a philanthropic, environmentally sound type – of private ownership should be more common.

This “privablic” land would be private in the sense that there is a person, family, or even corporation who owns it, but public in the sense that anyone can come and enjoy it. How do we further incentivize this already existing approach? Larger tax deductions for private owners who donate their land for public use would be helpful. Also, some cities require that for large developments, per a certain amount of private space developed, a portion of it must be allotted to public access. All cities and states should require the same.

I enjoy being hospitable and taking care of people (as well as meeting strange folks from across the country and world), and I’ve also started a financial plan earlier than most people my age (emphasis on most), concentrated on saving money and remaining stable throughout my adult life. I have a strong belief that the bed-and-breakfast will work out for me, that way I can do odd jobs when I want without losing money.

I do not doubt that the public garden will work just as well, but just in case I can’t pay for it with the money I make, I hope the Nature Conservancy will have my back.

#goprivablic

Movers And Shakers

Date: April 26th, 2017

During the campaign period for the 2016 election, I heard the usual: “I’ll move if Trump wins.” Once he did – still sometimes sadly incomprehensible to me, that he won – those types of comments were seen as jokes. Often a plain case of “Oh, I changed my mind.”

Why? Why would so many people change their minds on such a pivotal thing without giving it much thought?

If they saw his victory as urgently, terrifyingly negative then (enough to move!), why do they not now? More has come out, if anything, he should be seen as worse!

There were about only 9 people, who actually moved out of the country, that have been mentioned by a major news source. (The BBC wrote this.) At least 20 people have moved in general. At least 20. As the BBC writes, one woman “is ‘totally heartbroken’ and had always thought she would raise her two daughters in the US.” These people, who moved, all have one thing in common – fear. Fear can be a good thing, or a bad thing. These people were heartbroken and afraid enough to move. When I say afraid enough to move…you’ll notice that this post is tagged with many tags, including the word “complacency.” I tag my posts with it quite a lot. It is a fantastic vocabulary word.

Definition by Merriam-Webster.

 

 

 

 

 

Complacency is a funny little state of being. And it is “the public” of any country or nation in one word. The truth is, with the United States of America in particular (it is where I – currently – live, after all), enough has been unearthed about the government and our societal practices that there should have been a full-scale rebellion a few years ago. We are lulled to sleep. For example, look up the phrase “will the Hunger Games ever happen” or some variant on your preferred search engine. Most articles that answer this question end with “Probably not.” The common explanation is that as a species, which has many societal gains to back up our inborn humanity, we simply wouldn’t let it happen. But the people of the Capitol are just as emotional and sentimental as we are. They’re just more tolerant. Every good or bad idea will be opposed at first. But depending on who they idea panders to, soon, it will gain traction. ISIS (ISIL, DAIISH, etc) is doing a more modern and therefore more aggressive version of what the Christians did back in the old days to become a major religion. Unless we deal with it now (and in the correct way! It is an ideology, not an army), it will morph into common culture. There are always going to be people who will resist the public processes and ideas, but in today’s culture, they are conspiracists and harmless rebels who hide themselves in their run down house, hoarding newspapers and food. Once the snowball gets to a certain size, it will get bigger and bigger without encouragement from the person who started the roll down the hill. Sneak the snowball in without people knowing, and the people will except the snowball as one of their own. Eventually, everything becomes accepted.

Heartbreak and fear are two good ways to break out of the cycle of complacency.

So it appears that most of us are not sufficiently heartbroken and afraid.

Why the hell not?

LISTEN. 

Poverty is rampant. It has been normalized, and yet the impoverished people themselves have been alienated, to the point where you are taught to ignore and avoid, ignore and avoid. Homeless people are scary, and yet simultaneously, dirty and broken little humanoid sacks of meat bent on destroying your nice white picket fence. We think of them as bad pieces of furniture. They ruin our views. Even those who sympathize with them stay away from them. I sure do. And sure, mentally unstable people are dangerous to be around, but we act as if every homeless person is dangerous. We do nothing. When they ask, we act as if we have nothing.

We already lived in a dystopia before Drumpf was elected.

People with darker skin or the “wrong” facial features face humiliation and a higher chance of dying every day.

We noticed it. We pretended to cry over the fallen.

It is seen as bad to be a woman. By default. Without evidence to suggest that this is correct.

And yet we do nothing.  

Gender has become two neat little boxes we’re all supposed to fit in. To the point of abuse.

We are awARE WE?

Wake up.

Wake up now.

The revolution. I am not the stereotypical rebel. I am blonde, hazel-eyed, already 5’1 and I use a wheelchair. Adorable. Short. Smart. I’ve got glasses. And I’m a pacifist. I can never remind you people enough. To clarify, I am not a passive person. I made a promise once to never kill, and to never let anyone die.

The revolution is now.  

Moving…is not the right move. You’ll hear of a few celebrities who weren’t “kidding” about moving out of the country, but had decided to stay and fight.

The revolution has become a trend, of 15-second fame.

TRY TO FIGHT BUT FAIL. TRY TO RISE BUT SLEEP. BE LULLED TO SLEEP.  

If you are one of those who decided to stay and fight…FIGHT. Maybe not physically. But don’t just post on your favorite website. Don’t just use that hashtag. I don’t encourage you to damage the personal property of the innocent, but have an affect!

You may be thinking, as a close friend or Facebook user my mom knows, how dare I accuse you of being complacent? How dare I preach?

Well…I apologize.

We are all complacent. And it is time to break down the wall. Not just poke small dents into it.

BREAK IT DOWN.

You’re going to drive down your lane in your car listening to your music doing your business…having done nothing to solve the problems that need it most.

This Is How We Fight

Everyone talks about going green.

But what about going blue?

“Going blue” already has a widely accepted meaning. It means, slang-wise, “being cold.”

Which is kind of a lovely coincidence.

What is the one thing on Earth, in the universe (multiverse?), that could scientifically be considered to have the power and reach of a god or goddess?

It’s water.

Water is the most valuable material we have. Water is a solvent, capable of cleaning plates and leveling cities. It is responsible for nearly every helpful feedback loop keeping Earth in check.

And we can use water even further than we have, but for good. Not for our own enjoyment – to help the planet.

Here are two ideas of mine:

1. Introducing A New Feedback Loop, Or Multiple

Movement cools.

Unless the air, or water, is just too hot, turbulence will always cool it down. Why? Forced convection sucks heat out of things.

Wave machines would do this with water, producing a cooling effect where it is most needed, and since waves affect movement of the air, this a very basic way to cool the earth. It would require a lot of sustainable, non-harmful engineering, and it certainly wouldn’t be enough, but it would be what we require – a start.

2. Building Better Dams

I had this idea in the bathtub.

Don’t worry, I am going to describe the idea, not my time in the bathtub.

I was doing a little rub-a-dub here, rub-a-dub there, when I realized – whenever I made a teeny weeny wave, the part of the wave going in between my legs grew higher than the part of the wave outside. My knees were bent, and so formed a near triangle with a path in the middle of two halves for the water to go through.

Hydroelectric dams rely on the kinetic energy of falling water to spin a turbine that powers the generator it is connected to. There are two types of dams, gravity dams and run-of-river dams. Gravity dams are the ones you’ve heard about. (Cool video on dams! Check it out, I’m probably not the best to teach you.)

My bent knees provided a slight ascent for the water, and the thin path increased pressure for the wave. My thighs are also rounded – because I’m not, y’know, a rectangular alien – and that provided the finishing touch. The water wasn’t hindered by the taller “structure” that gave it jumping power, because it was smooth, and it was able to glide along it for a short time, instead of stopping short.

My “dam” doesn’t block any river, doesn’t need any reservoir, and is a relatively simple, small engineering project. This means it won’t be a problem for wildlife.

In honor of how it was invented, I name the idea the Jumping Knee Dam. Pretty funny image there too. This is my original idea, if you want to build one, please talk to me.

Go blue.

Water still has secrets. If we can uncover them without hurting the planet, we have a chance of saving it.