Cultural Crossovers #13: Captain America – Civil War

Here we go again, into – this time – a land of some controversy:

  • Your codewords are pleasantly random, but the ISS would have picked a language that wasn’t theirs to use. Of course, Russian Hydra was probably trying to frame the rest of Russia.
  • We do love paranoia jokes.
  • The Falcon’s drone is adorable. So is the (later) fact that he named it.
  • Angry man with a power fist.
  • Moving things with your mind, eh, everyone does that. Molecular sorting with your mind, now that’s special.
  • Grenade in your own still-manned vehicle? Ah, Hydra. An organization that somehow persists despite being most lethal to its own men and contractors.
  • Aww, thank the drone. Machines need love too.
  • Oops.
  • That is some nifty sophotechnology.
  • Also, Tony Stark continues to act like a plutarch, seeding the future. Looks like his relationship is not in good shape, though, which, shit.
  • Yes, that was entirely Tony’s fault. Not like Ultron had, y’know, free will or anything, even if his creation was, charitably, a Very Bad Idea.
  • Okay, is everyone on this planet stupid? The only person who can reasonably be held responsible for those deaths was the guy who set off the bomb vest; the only legitimate criticism of the Scarlet Witch is that she didn’t save as many people as she could theoretically have saved in the optimal case – despite saving the crowded marketplace – and the only one in a position to expect perfection is a god.
  • Someone give that girl a hug, an explanation of the above, and arrange some more training scenarios.
  • And seriously, has no-one heard of collateral budgets? Because the alternative scenario here has Hydra walking away with a bioweapon, which I’m sure would end with hugs and bunnies.
  • Basically, RATIONALITY TRAINING FOR THE EARTHLINGS, PLEASE.
  • Hey, you didn’t say “through the door”.
  • Oh, god, it’s you. This will go well.
  • Ah, yes, here come the control freaks trying to use this to seize authority they haven’t earned. Rather the opposite, in fact.
  • Well, we’d call ’em “awesome adventurers”.
  • The only thing worse than trying to guilt people with pictures of them saving millions of lives is that they actually buy into this bullshit.
  • Do you seriously think you have any jurisdiction over Thor?
  • Correlation, causation, and also how is oversight supposed to prevent challenges? Especially when for a lot of that time they had oversight, and look how that worked out.
  • Oh, Tony, what the hell happened to you? You used to get it. Now you want to hand over control to the same people you once flipped off in Congress? So you fucked up once; unstir your damn brains. And do whatever you have to do to get Pepper back, for the love of hats. She betters you.
  • Yes, it’s the UN. A different, bigger collective-irresponsibility organization. Responsibility is always personal. Also, how many of those 117 delegations do you think might be, in the light of past history, Hydra-influenced?
  • And Agent Carter delivers Best Quotation posthumously: “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, *you* move’.” Now there’s something worthy of a standing ovation.
  • Captain America: still the best followee.
  • So: back under control or a fake?
  • You really didn’t agree with your father about the accords, huh?
  • And the first thing the new boss does is issue a kill-on-sight order for someone known to have been involuntarily brainwashed. Nice ethics, there.
  • Guess it was a fake, if Zemo is still learning to pronounce the command codewords.
  • And they’re also making the same mistakes as Hydra, like sending a bunch of mooks after the guy who they ought to know is capable of kicking all their asses.
  • Still make a pretty good team, huh?
  • Oh, look. New player. With shiny new claws.
  • Well, that’s one way to requisition a car.
  • In the next week, local clinics will be full of people who tried mounting skimmers the way Bucky just mounted a motorcycle. (A week after that, the microskillware goes on sale.)
  • “You’re a criminal.” “…and a good man.” At least if anyone imported Pirates of the Caribbean, too.
  • So, maybe the answer is synthetic amygdalas all around.
  • Oh, so you’re the smiley jailer? Cute.
  • Again, T’Challa, brainwashed.
  • Ah, yes, “due process”. We have dismissed that claim. You’re a Ross, all right.
  • Ah, this is a bifurcated-qalasír tragedy after all. The mistakes love helps us make…
  • That’d be a pinch, and your vetting procedures suck.
  • A wristwatch repulsor. Nice.
  • Is that… Howard Stark’s attempt to recreate the super-soldier serum? Shit, Hydra are lucky they didn’t end up with a whole pile of Crimson Crania. Or Hulks, funny as that might be.
  • The mantle of “government stooge” fits you poorly, Tony. Especially for that jackass.
  • Everyone’s doing insect themes these days.
  • Secret identities; still less than explicable. Also, curious view of responsibility, but the urge underneath kinda-sorta translates.
  • Thanks, Clint. Haven’t heard many people make that much sense today.
  • And, Vision, seriously. You haven’t figured out doors, but you’re entirely clear on emotional manipulation?
  • We very much like Agent Carter Jr.
  • Yep, there’s the other insect dude. And, man, this is the whole collection of people who do the right thing in the technically wrong way for unapproved reasons.
  • Brainwashed, dammit, does no-one remember that?
  • Right there with you, Spider-Man. And why not have a chat during a fight? Just don’t get distracted.
  • You know, those cars belong to someone. I mean, a certain amount of collateral damage, sure, but still.
  • Yes, please read the hazard markings before throwing things.
  • Oh, yes, the collective good. The favorite excuse of everyone wanting to do the individual bad. Damn utilitarians.
  • Uh, he ran because you were trying to kill him, maybe?
  • The only way for an ant to fly!
  • We’re with Spider-Man on the holy shit quotient of that one.
  • (We’re not even asking how badly that screws physics.)
  • Yes, Vision, a catastrophe you helped induce by your actions to prevent a catastrophe. Please consider this a learning experience.
  • And does anyone on the planet except Cap understand what brainwashing is? And that the person who undergoes it is also a victim of one of the worst crimes possible? Someone who is by definition not culpable? Someone you help?
  • And it’s a big submerged gulag for the Avengers. The audience is pretty damn sure Ross has been pleasuring himself nightly to the thought of this place ever since we first met him back in The Incredible Hulk. Nice choice of people to align with, Tony. Seriously.
  • Well, ain’t that interesting. But then, we figured personal revenge was on the menu as soon as we heard “Sokovian”.
  • Oh, gods, the sheer exquisite cruelty of it. Zemo, you bastard. For all the ethics of it, hearts in the audience are bleeding for Tony right now. Well, for everyone, really, but…
  • …and even for Zemo.
  • The humanity of Earth’s justice continues to impress. Just kill the poor bastard. He’s already lost everything but his life; torturing him subsequently is in even poorer taste than usual.
  • Nicely done, Cap, both the rescue and the reaching out. Also, graciously done, T’Challa, for forgoing revenge in favor of helping another victim, even if belatedly.

So, from the Imperial perspective, a magnificent movie. But gods’ teeth, what a tragedy, and while there is no question as to which side the audience will come down on, the sympathy is felt all around.

(And the audience is culturally primed to expect the Subsequent Triumph, and the Redemptive Actions of Tony Stark. It will not be happy if it doesn’t get ’em.)

 

What Do You Mean, It Doesn’t Grow On Trees?

What is cryptid-currency? It’s the latest brainstorm to come out of the convergence of bankers, cryptographers, and genetic engineers – a blockchain-based form of cryp designed to use the photosynthetically-powered computing capacity of mesh-networked genetically enhanced trees to provide the validation and storage necessary to operate the cryp’s backing protocol, combining environmental friendliness and stealthy operation in a single package.

All you need to do is find the trees. You’re looking for at least six (the minimum needed to form a functional server-grove with enough combined power to reach distant networks) – and bear in mind that since many varieties have been created, such as the byteoak, the moneple, the wishwillow, the cashelm, and the greenwood, not all trees in the grove are necessarily identical. Indeed, the converse is also true, and identical-appearing trees may be of different protocol varietals.

At this point, you can register an account with the appropriate wallet application for the cryptid-currency in question, running on your more conventional computing device. Since no special peripherals are required on ubiquitous cognitive radio hardware, all the data is stored in the tree’s logs (sic), and cryp applications tend to support steganographically concealed keys, a self-destructing app can effectively hide your use of tree-cryp from any and all nosy chaps out there.

So now let’s take a look at some of the more popular cryptid-currencies out there…”

– excerpted from Profiting on the Woodblock-Chain:
A Guide to Cryptid-Currency

For The World Is Hollow

The second of the Precursor megastructures held by the Empire, Thalíär is a peculiar world by any standards. It is a three-layered shellworld – which is to say, it has three planetary crusts, separated not by simple caverns, but by skyvaults which can exceed a mile in height.

Unlike some shellworlds proposed by writers of speculative fiction, rather than being made up of continuous shells, Thalíar’s upper- and mid-crust are cut away in many regions to expose the lower crusts, and broken up by large shafts and canyons – the Clefts – permitting travel between the layers. Plant life spills freely down the walls of these canyons, and both natural caves and cut balconies offer spectacular views.

As the planetary gravity is relatively low, and given the multilevel nature of the world, flight is the most common method of transportation used on Thalíär. Wings are highly recommended as the most rewarding means of personal exploration.

THE ENIGMA OF THALÍÄR

The question everyone has when they come to Thalíär, even before they disembark from the Loadstone beanstalk, is how exactly it works. There should not, indeed, be any way that a three-layer shellworld could exist without reinforcements of exotic materials, and yet neither the walls and pillars which support the upper and middle crusts, nor the upper and middle crusts themselves, show any sign of such structural reinforcement. Rather, they appear in all ways to be native rock, showing no sign of the strain which ought to cause them to collapse under their own weight.

Those studying the shellworld at the Loadstone Geophysical Institute have recorded signs of extremely powerful magnetic fields interacting with bodies of superconducting orichalcium, various possible side-effects of metric engineering, and unexplained emissions of sterile neutrinos from opaque bodies buried deep within the planetary mantle.

All of which is no more than to say that they have had a great deal of success in defining the parameters of the enigma.

LOADSTONE

The capital of Thalíär, the jack city of Loadstone forms a circle around the base of the planetary beanstalk, sitting on the tip of a mid-crust promontory supported by a solid pillar beneath. The promontory itself is surrounded on three sides by a wrinkle in the Curtainfall. As such, the villas scattered around the perimeter of Loadstone enjoy spectacular views and perpetual rainbows as the waterfall cascades into the mid-crust’s Twilight Sea, and are some of the most expensive volumetric property in the system.

Other landmarks to be found in Loadstone include the Probable Technologies Academy of Crypto-Archaeology, the Loadstone Geophysical Institute, and the headquarters of the Megastructural Colloquium.

The CURTAINFALL and the STREAMING OCEAN

As well as the highest, Thalíär also hosts the longest waterfall in the Empire. The Curtainfall marks the point at which the uppermost crust ends in mid-ocean; prevented from draining in its entirety by a ridge of hard rock – as well as the replenishment it receives from the nearby Hydrocaust – the waters of the Streaming Ocean cascade down into the mid-crust along nearly a thousand miles of edge.

The EYE OF ALDÉRÉ

A single, ruler-straight shaft which descends from the highlands of the upper crust directly to the Undersea, the Eye of Aldéré is notable for providing an excellent view of the stars at any time of day. The astronomical orders of Aldéré have claimed the site as a hallows, and constructed a floating shrine to the eikone of the celestial vault thereupon.

GLITTERING HALLS

The Glittering Halls are a series of caverns large enough to house small cities, located within the planetary mid-crust. Massive quartz formations above the Halls, coupled with the cut-away upper crust above the region, allow natural light to penetrate miles deep and illuminate the caverns. Plentiful geothermal energy, meanwhile, bubbles up from the solid pillar below. It is one of the most populated regions of Thalíär, centered around the cities of Shimmer, Brilliance, Scintillation, and Tinct, and the buried industrial center of Drophammer.

SARDAL’S PEAK

The highest mountain on Thalíär, readily identifiable by its unusually flattened peak, Sardal’s Peak rises 28,947′ above upper crust datum. It is named after Sardal Elemtieros, the first-in scout who first set foot on the planet in 4196.

The SKY’S TEAR

A roughly teardrop-shaped section of the upper crust connected neither to the main body of that crust nor to the mid-crust below it, the Sky’s Tear is an island floating free in Thalíar’s sky.

Unlike the cloud coral islands of Torachal (Talie Marches), however, or the floatstone mountains of Calríäkay (First Expanses), the Sky’s Tear is a solid body of normal, native rock – just one, to the dismay of geologists, hanging in the sky in a manner not typically characterized by rocks.

The Sky’s Tear Exodochium, built into the island’s lower surface, is recommended to all visitors. The caves nearby house small populations of the airthia and xoxixa reconstructed by the Mythologae Immanentization Initiative, the latter in particular taking well to the intense geomagnetic environment of the region.

THUNDER WELL

As might be expected, Thalíär also plays host to the highest waterfall in the Empire. The Vorissevel river plunges over five miles straight down from the upper crust directly into the Undersea through the shaft of the Thunder Well. The force of the water crashing upon the volcanic plug at the base of the Well sends an endless peal of thunder reverberating for hundreds of miles across the Undersea.

The UNDERSEA, and the HYDROCAUST

Within the dusky world of the lower crust is the resting place of all Thalíar’s waters; a mostly-lightless ocean whose waters embrace much of the planet, warmed by geothermal vents, home to pale fish and darkness-adapted cephalopods, from minuscule plankton-feeders to the mighty kraken. This is the Undersea.

The most notable illumination found in this shadowy realm is the Hydrocaust. Where a series of deep clefts brings light to the ocean, a curiously stable magma plume also brings heat from below, raising the temperature in the vicinity to near-boiling. The plumes of steam gushing from these clefts are responsible for much of the cloud formation, and hence rainfall, on the shellworld.

The particularly heavy rainfall on the slopes of the nearby Precipice Range keeps the Streaming Ocean full, and so the Curtainfall spectacular.

THALÍÄR SURVIVAL COMPLEX

A city-bunker providing for the survival of civilization against the largest of natural disasters – potentially even such cosmic catastrophes as gamma-ray bursts or nearby supernovae – the Survival Complex is buried deep within the lowest of Thalíar’s multiple crusts. Armored in continental plates, this last redoubt rests secure beneath multiple protective layers of rock and water, miles-thick.

– excerpted from Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Core Worlds

Eldraeic Words of the Day: New Places

A couple of words that are likely to be relevant in explaining many of the complexities of explaining to the audience the background needed to understand Black Panther, when we get there:

mahamoníë: Colony; literally “made-polity”. Applies specifically to polities created ex nihilo on terra nullius; there are variants of the mahamoníë, such as the semahamoníë, the reciprocal colony exchanged by allies, or the covíënqármoníë, the “wealth-price colony”, founded on a free sale and a fair purchase, but neither nations admitted by mutual agreement (and thus peer constituent nations) nor acquisitions by force (see below), formal or informal, can be referred to as mahamoníë.

rianqármoníë: Conquest; literally “sword-price polity”. Applies to any polity annexed by force. Any territory previously occupied by a population and not admitted by mutual agreement is necessarily a rianqármoníë, whether the force is formal or informal, exercised in fact or in duress, etc., etc.

And thus the necessity to translate “colonizer”, as an epithet, into traän-rianqármoníë daráv for anyone to understand it properly.


Eldraeic Word of the Day: Leirlaras

leirlaras: (lit. “mist-word(s)”). A term referring specifically to words, phrases, paragraphs, or even entire works deliberately so constructed as to be void of meaning, misleading, or obfuscatory. Depending on circumstances, it may be pejorative (when used to describe a collocutor’s evasions, for example), or complimentary (describing a skillful piece of adversive diplomacy, likewise).

The etymology of leirlaras was, of course, deliberately selected in honor of Leiríah, eikone of mists, illusions, deceptions, trickery, wit, and intrigue.

Revolutionary

blacklight (n.): an external window in a large space habitat, looking out into space (see: the black). The word was deliberately coined in opposition to skylight, since due to the operation of spin gravity, the majority of blacklights are in the floor.

It is considered both polite and practical to throw a rug over the blacklights when flatlanders come to call.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

(Well, no-one’s going to call an UV light a blacklight when they can see UV natively, are they?)