History’s “New” Fluidity

History has interested me for decades. While the first Dear America book, Journey to the New World, originally peaked my curiosity, I think the The Royal Diaries book series began my real interest. I read the first The Royal Diaries book on Elizabeth I and ended up reading them all, even once I was out of the “target age.”

I read all sorts of historical fiction and biographies and watched biographical and historical documentaries through the years, which fed my passion. Through my voracious consumption, I found that while an author’s perception or opinion may differ from another’s, the facts were generally the same. History was history, after all. It was practically, and sometimes literally, carved in stone.

But recently, we (humans) have started questioning historical “fact.” We’re acknowledging that history is written by the victors and may be biased or even completely fictional.

It’s been fascinating to “watch” as history is remade closer to unbiased truth. For example, rather than “promiscuous tart,” Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, has been vindicated as an abused child. Henry VIII himself, while not entirely absolved of his more heinous actions, is acknowledged as likely plagued by a personality-altering brain injury. Marie Antoinette is more readily accepted as a scapegoat, rather than a monstrously selfish spendthrift.

I eagerly await future historical discoveries that “change” history. While the new information may not always be palatable, it’s important for us to know what “really” happened. It gives us a very different view of history.

If history’s fluidity is of interest to you, I suggest you look into the “Biggest Fibs” series Lucy Worsley narrates. It includes British History’s, American History’s, and Royal History’s Biggest Fibs. Three parts each for the first two, and six parts (two “seasons”) for the third. Also fascinating is The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo. It examines how the Anne Boleyn we “know” so well today compares to the minimal facts we have about her and where the extraneous information came from.

Have you noticed historys “new” fluidity? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

Learning Languages

At the time of writing, I just finished watching a fascinating three-part video series about North American Accents. It’s definitely meant for linguists or language enthusiasts, referencing multiple terms I didn’t quite understand.

However, it got me thinking on a topic I’ve pondered before.

In order to speak a language, you must make the correct mouth and tongue movements. You have to be sure that your lips and jaw form the correct shapes, and that your tongue is in the right location to make authentic sounds.

Somehow, as children, we pick this up easily, without needing explicit tuition, for the most part. However, as adults, that seems to elude us. Dialect coaches teach, even focus on, these movements with — from my point of view — a better success rate than traditional language education.

Why then, are these movements and positions not explicitly taught in school, especially when language is taught later, as it is in much of the USA? I don’t have an answer, it’s just something that’s been buzzing around in my brain for a while.

Sometimes Technology is Amazing

I had a moment of awe the other night for just what the internet allows us to accomplish. I’ve been following Josué Gómez on Instagram for a few months now. I love his artwork, especially his more recent work.

On Sunday, he posted this painting, and I finally had to ask if his work was available to purchase. It was; yay!

It took a bit of back-and-forth, but, within approximately 20 minutes, I’d initiated a bank transfer to rural Guatemala and purchased his painting. And that’s pretty freaking cool. It would not have been possible even just a few years ago, because all this happened a 9 o’clock at night!

For those interested, the service I used was Xoom, run by PayPal. The fee was $2.99, and according to the emails I received, it took 30 minutes to complete the transaction. Seriously awesome.

This is just one example of the amazing way technology is positively influencing and changing the world.

Kudos to Etsy

With April right around the corner, the time approaches that many dread: Mother’s Day. With a deceased mother, I especially dislike the multitude of emails “reminding” me how important it is that I find the right present.

But this year, there’s a shining light of hope that I won’t have to go through this every year until I die.

I want to take a moment to applaud Etsy for being the first — that I’ve seen — to make a move that, admittedly is long overdue.

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Teleworking, 1 Year Later

As the COVID vaccine rolls out and we really start thinking about “life after COVID,” I find myself wondering what work will be like. Today marks one year since I started teleworking 100% of the time.

At first, I was concerned about it. I didn’t like working from home, mainly because I didn’t (still don’t) have a good office setup — I sit at my dining room table. Also, I was sure that the distractions and easy access to food/snacks would prove problematic for me. The lack of dual monitors struck me as an additional hurdle to leap.

It’s Not Bad, Though

As time marched on, I began to see the benefits of teleworking. My commute is seconds long. Pajama pants are perfectly acceptable. Furry coworkers are abundant.

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I Learned to Drive Stick Shift

Some of you may know that I used to be terrified of driving. I didn’t get my license until a couple of months after my 29th birthday. And learning to drive really only diminished my fear, it didn’t eliminate it. In the intervening nearly 4 years, I’ve hardly driven at all. In fact, I didn’t drive on the road at all until December of last year.

That’s because we only have one car, and it has a manual transmission. Jim tried, right after I got my license, to teach me to drive stick. But, he’d driven stick for long long that it was all muscle memory for him. He had trouble explaining to me what to do. And he loves his car so much that it freaked him out when I keep stalling it out.

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2020’s Silver Linings

Despite everything that has happened recently, and my last post, I still want to share this, because it holds true. Here’s hoping there are more, and larger silver linings to 2021.

So, 2020 is finally over, after an indeterminate number of years. There’s no denying that it was a terrible year for many. Or that it was a year unlike any ever seen. And, in some ways, it’s not over yet. We’re still dealing wtih most of the biggest issues of the past year.

However, among the plentiful negatives, for me at least, there were little nuggets of positive that keeps 2020 from being an unmentionable black mark in the past. I’d like to take a post to look back on the positive silver linings of 2020 as an uplifting start to 2021.

#1 & #2: It’s a Tie

My top two items tie for first: adopting our kittens and Bumbledore’s improvement.

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A Dark Day in American History

I had a different post scheduled for today, one about the small silver linings of 2020. But I couldn’t bring myself to let it post. I unscheduled it, and will put it up another day. I tend to shy away from politics, from divisive posts, but I just can’t bring myself to stay silent today. Yesterday’s actions must be universally condemned in the harshest manner possible.

I thought, at this point, with everything that has happened in the last four years, and especially last year, that I was somewhat inured to bad news. We’re already living in times that will go down in history as overwhelmingly bad. But then this.

The world watched with America as we gawked in horror at our phones, computers, and TV screens. We watched a sitting president attempt to stage a coup and overthrow a democratic election by using people who are too stupid, or too stubborn, to accept that they’re being used. We watched elected leaders attempt to help the president with his mission, although most of them hastily changed their mind as a result of the idiot-mob. We watched police that — less than a year ago — reacted with force to mostly peaceful protests, virtually stand aside and welcome rioters into the Capitol building.

It was disgusting. And even more disgusting and depressing is the likelihood that not one of the leaders who directly defied our constitution — with full awareness of what they were doing, I might add — will face more than social backlash.

Despite how my post likely sounds, I don’t hate the idiot-mob. I pity them. I pity people too blinded by hate, prejudice, fear, or stupidity to realize that they are being used, that they are fighting for something that doesn’t exist, and has never existed. Trump doesn’t care about them, he cares about power and money, and is throwing a tantrum now that his ill-gotten gains are being taken away. MAGA supporters can’t even agree when America was “great.” They’re small, scared little people who feel that America only deserves to be “great” for them.

As people are saying across the world, yesterday would have looked far different if that crowd had been anything other than white. The comparisons between yesterday and the Black Lives Matter protests prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If ever there is a time to use deadly force, it is when an insurrection is in progress, even more so when a nation’s leaders are put at risk. Make no mistake, yesterday was an insurrection. An unsuccessful one, perhaps, but one nonetheless.

What I Would Like to See Happen

At this point, what’s done is done. But Congress can still impeach and remove Trump, who is clearly unfit for office. They can bar him from ever holding any form of office again. Pence and the cabinet can remove him from office using the 25th Amendment. Either, or both, should happen. It’s clear that leaving Trump in office is dangerous to our nation, and our nation’s people.

I firmly believe that yesterday has cemented Trump’s reputation for the history books. He will be known as the worst president — I really hate writing that — the United States has ever known.

I fervently hope that someday the name Donald Trump will be viewed with more disdain than Benedict Arnold. He deserves to be forgotten to time. An unnamed blemish on American history studied only as a reminder of how bad things can go. An abberation of the democratic process that was appointed to office when he lost the popular vote by millions. But, since that’s virtually impossible at the very least, he ought to be remembered with the contempt he and his actions inspire.

NOTE: To anyone who is new here, ALL comments are held for review. That is not unique to this post. And I WILL NOT approve any hateful comments.

Ubisoft, Market Your Female Protagonists!

This is my second, and final, negative post about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (ACV).

For those completely unfamiliar with the game, ACV gives you the option to play either:

  • entirely as a female version of Eivor,
  • entirely as a male version of Eivor,
  • or let the animus (the device in the game universe that lets you relive past memories) decide.

The Animus choice is the default. It means you play as a female Eivor through most of the game, only playing as male during “potion”-induced visions.

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Conflict in Books

I hear often enough that without conflict, there is no story. That a story without conflict is just a boring series of events. But when I read, I prefer either a short conflict, something that I’ll read the resolution to before I have to set the book aside to go back to life, or light conflict, that you know the character can make it through. I’m guessing this puts me in the minority.

But here’s the thing — reading is my escape. There’s plenty of conflict in movies, the news, and my own life to last me ten lifetimes. To escape from that, I want something different. Let me say, I’m specifically referring to fiction here. Obviously, I don’t expect non-fiction to lack conflict or to be anything other than truth.

I appreciate a book where it’s obvious from page one that there will be a happy ending. It means I can just lose myself in a stable, happy story. I can also work with a story with conflict that gives you frequent highs to get you through the lows.

But when the main character, or any character you can become emotionally invested in, is hit by problem after problem, it’s depressing. Where is the escape in that? What’s the point in a book that makes you feel worse by the time you finish it than you did when you started it?

What’re your thoughts on conflict in books? Like it? Love it? Let me know.