(The title means, technically, “what do you want?” – it’s Klingon for ‘hello’.)

This might be a little familiar to you…

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

No? Are you sure?

Are you really, really sure?

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

That is the inscription on the One Ring – the artifact at the center of Lord of the Rings. We all know it in English, but the original poem – and the actual inscription on the ring itself – are in a language called ‘Black Speech’, one of Tolkein’s many, and I mean many-

-constructed languages. Tolkein actually made the languages, first, then wrote his famed novels to show them off. In many ways, he is the grandfather of contemporary language-making…but, it’s a hobby (or in his words, ‘a secret vice’) that predates him by centuries.

Realistically, it probably goes back a LONG time, but the first recorded conlang we have evidence of is the Lingua Ignota (Latin for ‘unknown language) – and it dates back all the way to the 12th century. Created by the Abbess of Rupertsberg, Hildegard of Bingen, it was a ‘divinely inspired’ language used for mystical purposes. It had grammar, vocabulary, and even a 23-letter writing system called the litterae ignotae.

The next significant instance of conlanging we have is from the 15th century, and it’s the Voynich Manupscript.

…or at least we think it’s conlanging – seeing as it’s never been translated, we don’t actually have any idea of what it says. A book full of mystical maps, mysterious astronomical charts, and unknown plants and animals, no one knows what the book was even supposed to be used for.

(Officially, anyway).

For centuries, these languages were ‘created’ more by divine inspiration rather than intent or purpose. They were languages presumed to come from higher powers and used to communicate as such, with the most well-known instance being the Celestial Alphabet.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, though, conlanging took a sharp turn from the religious to the philosophical. We all have enough frustrations with our own, native languages to understand how frustratingly irregular – and sometimes downright nonsensical – they can be. It became a trend among intellectuals to try to create a ‘perfect’ language, especially philosophically, with the entire universe and everything in it neatly accounted for. These were very technical, very elaborate, and very unusable languages. John Wilkin tried to, quite literally, classify the universe:

That turned out about as well as you’d expect.

Conlanging started to veer towards the forms we know today sometime around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a time of great global conflict and international upheaval. Unbeknownst to the world, the violent stage for WWI was being set up, with entire nations coming and going by the decade. Interest drifted towards an international auxiliary language – the idea being that a universal language could be the pathway to peace.

In comes Ludwik Lazarus Zamenhof – or as most people know him today, Dr. Esperanto, named after the language of his creation.

Esperanto is a language combining elements of over a dozen other languages. While it earned him much mockery and intellectual shame at first, Esperanto has since grown tremendously in popularity – to the point that despite it being an entirely artificial language, today there are 2nd and even 3rd generation native speakers, people who learned Esperanto as their first language.

Part of the language’s popularity is that it’s highly derivational – most of the vocabulary comes from a few root words with extensive prefixes and suffixes to give them meaning.

It even appears in popular culture – the language of ‘Blue’ in the acclaimed comic series Saga is actually Esperanto.

That leads into the most well-known form of conlanging seen today: popular culture. Apart from Tolkein, the next most well-known fake languages come from Star Trek.

Most of them are largely writing systems, like Ferengi-

-or Romulan-

-or Vulcan, which has several writing systems and some phrases, as well as fan-developed language, but no canon/official grammar or extensive vocabulary beyond phrases uttered on-screen:

The most well-known language, though, is Klingon:

With its own writing system, unique phonology, developed grammar, and extensive vocabulary, it is well and truly a language. It’s so popular, there is even a Klingon Language Institute.

Yes, you can actually get certification in Klingon fluency.

Get fluent enough, and you can read the entirety of Hamlet in Klingon!

(Why Hamlet? I don’t know.)

But Star Trek, and more importantly its languages, are a bit old-school in terms of fake languages in the media. Reading this, more people will probably be familiar with the Dothraki language in Game of Thrones:

Other made-up languages you’ve probably heard are Na’Vi from Avatar and the Dark Elves’ Language from Thor: The Dark World.

Even I’ve made a language! Several, in fact.

Click on my ‘Conlangs’ tab up top, and you can even see the start of my own little foray into Conlanging. My current project is Tengarsa, a Celtic-based language for nomadic, magical tribes in a fictional universe I may actually one day write a book for. With six different writing systems (each with elaborate histories and uses), as well as extensive vocabulary and grammar, it is probably my most well-developed colang to date (which is saying something, since I’ve been conlanging since I was 8 years old).


And those vertical writing systems are bidirectional, meaning they can be vertical as you see above – or horizontal, like this:

Dreidel challenge

It also has its own number system, a Base-12 numeral system (as opposed to the decimal/Base 10 system we use today):


However niche and obscure it seems, today conlanging is a thriving community – the Facebook groups alone often have thousands of members, and those are rather on the edge of the conlanging community.

And yes, there is a community. They even have a flag with the Tower of Babel on it:

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Because I Am Getting Sick of Having to Say This Over and Over Again

[Reposted from here.]

Here’s the thing: yeah, he hated men, too. But the views he expressed against men, the actions he took against them? Not that common. The reason why women took issues with the views on women he expressed? Those are. Every day, women are killed by men like Rodgers, every day women are subjected to viewpoints like Rodgers’, and every day violence against women is dismissed and ignored because of attitudes like Rodgers’ – and more often than not, that stuff is kept from getting attention and ignored when someone speaks up, anyway.

One of the #YesAllWomen tweets perfectly summarized it with “shamed for saying yes, killed for saying no” or something to that effect. Women experience sex-based and gender-based violence ALL THE TIME and people ignore it, or worse, somehow say it’s her fault – because of what she was wearing, because of what she was drinking, because she had the audacity to walk alone at night, or worse, she had the audacity to trust a man when they took advantage. No matter how drunk you are, if someone steals your wallet, it’s seen as the thief’s fault – but if you are drunk and someone rapes you, it’s seen as your fault. No one ever tells a carowner that it’s their fault their car was stolen because they had a nice car, but all the time women are told their rape was their fault because of their appearance, regardless of how they looked or dressed at the time.

Women are accused of “leading men on” when they try to be polite – but if they coldly reject someone, then not only will people accuse them of being a cold bitch, there is a very real chance that the man will retaliate with violence. Take a look at the girl who was stabbed to death because she turned down a boy’s request to take her out to prom.

Women aren’t reacting to the shooting because it’s unusual, but because it ISN’T. This sort of thing happens all the damn time, but our culture ignores it, normalizes it, tells women to just suck it up even to their deaths.

TL;DR – Even if his actions were one of someone who was mentally ill, his viewpoints, his motivations, his statements, and his attitudes – those are all things expressed by men every day, things I see around me in popular media and broader culture and the news and the institutions and in other men around me. EVERY. FUCKING. DAY. And that’s what women are talking about in #YesAllWomen. If a mass shooting is what it takes to get men to see the casual, passive sexism they condone with their silence and to listen to women about the harassment and violence they experience on a regular basis, then so be it.

If you’re getting sick of reading about this, imagine how sick I am of living it out all the time.

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Sites to Bookmark for Introductory Web Design

It probably goes without saying that this is an assignment for my web-design class, but we were asked to link to a few sites and discuss why we liked them. I decided to go on-theme and stick to ones that would actually be relevant to this class.

Given that the WC3 is currently the most widely accepted authority on web design and mark-up standards, their HTML5 page is probably a solid go-to to settle various conflicts and mark-up snarls that might come up in the process of designing a website. I am personally very fond of the hierarchal list of links used as a Table of Contents near the top of the page. I wouldn’t call this a good web-design decision, as many people find this kind of list overwhelming. But for my own personal use, I quite like seeing everything there is, and where they belong in relation to each other.

HTML5 Rocks
Their variety of tutorials and slideshow presentations look like they will be helpful down the road, and show me roughly what to look forward to right now. It’s a very simple site on the surface, with a few links to the most important sections of the site that in turn contain the real value of this website. I’m not too fond of the excessive whitespace between the elements of the site, but I can see why it was used here – namely, trying to offer a very low-text, graphical counterpart to the high-text, line-by-line topic the site’s content centers on.

I greatly appreciate that along with the color-coded, clickable graphics/tiles that make up the bulk of the page leading to various sections of the site, there is also a handy and well-organized list of links in the sidebar that lead to the sections as well, and the predominant sub-sections/lessons worth nothing. A very simple design, yet can appeal to image-oriented and structure-oriented people at once. Given the breadth and depth of their mark-up language lessons, how can I not keep this site bookmarked and on hand at all times? Funny you should ask that, actually, because…

According to the Front-end Dev community, W3Schools has no actual affiliations with the WC3, despite the name, and the information it provides is inaccurate and possibly harmful to the web. I don’t know enough about web-design to confirm or refute this, beyond the fact I’ve found W3Schools to be helpful and accurate thus far. But I will be sure to keep an eye on it, and I will keep this particular site on hand if W3Schools ever fails me in the future. That said, the amount of whitespace between elements is excessive, as is the scrolling necessary to get to different portions of the homepage alone, even accounting for the floating naviation bar that takes you to the parts without taking you to another page. I do commend them on the smooth navigation, though, as many sites attempt such a feature but only get clumsy sub-link jumping instead of the sleek movement through the page that they want.

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A Very Brief Primer on Religion in the World of Tengarsa

In the Tengarsa world, magic has long been a contemporary of our world. The Old Religion (named Tencreda, though rarely called that in English) is like an extremely institutionalized and much more formal version of Paganistic faiths, one that has existed alongside and in the shadow of Catholicism. Indeed, where “the Church” is metonymically used to refer to Christianity/Catholicism, “the Temple” usually refers to the Old Religion. The Tengarsa culture is very matriarchal, and as such priestesses generally run the Temple. There is, however, no single institution like the Vatican, as most Pagan faiths, while seen as denominations of each other in this world (i.e. the overlaps in the Greek and Norse pantheons are usually seen as minor variations in names and stories of the same gods), are too different to really fall under a single institution. Rather, there a network of centralized institutions that is the closest parallel to the Vatican.

While the Temple and the Church have always been at odds with each other, for most of history that was just at the institutional level, while the individual priests and priestess got along just fine. The culture-deep animosity that leaves even individual members of these religions/institutions at odds with each other is very recent, and mostly due to some recent historical events.

The Matter of Britain (aka the legends of Camelot) are, in-universe, an old ideal for how these two religions can balance. Arthur and Morgana start out as adversaries but neither one is an antagonist – Merlin acts as a mentor to them both (though in different ways), and together, this pair of half-siblings, Arthur representing Christianity and Morgana representing the Old Religion, came together to rule Camelot and bring the kingdom into a Golden Age, with Merlin seen as being a bit of both worlds.

While this institutional friendship dissolved, throughout the Dark Ages, Christian Priests and Old Religion Priestess got along just fine. Often they shared duties of acting as community moral support, coordinating resources and education, assisting in basic healthcare, and generally acting as a basic and rudimentary social structure in this extremely chaotic time period. That said, this kind of shared responsibility and friendship was dangerous – while rarely used for its own sake to attack someone, both institutions are rife with politics, and being “caught” in any kind of friendship or partnership with someone of the “opposing” religion could get one excommunicated/cut-off or even executed. But that obviously never stopped anyone for long. There was even a century or two during the Middle Ages where it was common for the extremely narrow level of middle-class families, regardless of their central/true faith, to send their sons off to the Christian priesthood and their daughters off to the covenant. (Higher and lower class families never had this kind of split faith – either they were entirely Christian or entirely Old Religion).

For a while, many Catholics even saw pagan deities as merely grossly misinterpreted early prophets of God, and conversely many pagans saw Christianity/Catholicism as a misinterpreted/extremely-hierarchal pantheon, with God taking on the role of a central creator and king of gods, and angels, saints, and prophets just being misinterpretations of existing deities. In modern parlance, many Christians who still have some respect for the Old Religion will refer to pagan gods as “the stone saints” (a reference to a time when Renaissance artists would be commissioned by the church to make statues of Pagan gods, but instead of long-lasting marble or oil paints, it would be done in cheap and weathered stone or watered paints, commissioned by the church to make a statement that these were old misinterpretations of gods and the Christian church was now the correct interpretation, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t once have SOME value long ago – later religious crusades saw these artworks mostly destroyed). Meanwhile, in Tengarsa, “the Young Son God” (not sun god, son god) means the Christian god, and is basically a reference to how the Christian god is basically seen as the rebellious teenage son of “real” gods – but still a real god, just one better off ignored than indulged.


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Two Worlds in One Room

In a high school dance class I had, along with the actual teachers was the “official” teacher who was basically the class administrator.

Now school policy, officially, was that if a student was sick, they needed a doctor’s note of some kind. In practice, they just took a parents’ phone call as well, seeing as they accepted a phone call to the parents for every other kind of justified absence, anyway. This teacher, though, said if someone missed a class because they were sick, they needed a doctor’s note. (Again, causes absence other than illness still passed muster with a phone call to the parents and a note from the admin office confirming it). If not – a single detention. Small punishment, but still a penalization.

So of course I one day got sick, and when I got better one of the first things I did upon walking into the class after the one I missed was go up to the teacher and effectively ask for my detention. While filling out the slip, my teacher asked how I could be so prepared yet not have a doctor’s note.

I responded that I didn’t feel like spending $50 just to avoid a detention. Though she didn’t say anything, the teacher looked confused.

To this day, I still don’t know why she was confused. $50 was the cost of the co-pay and transportation/parking. Didn’t everybody have to pay to go see a doctor? And detention at this school just meant sitting quietly in the gym during lunch, and unless you got too much they didn’t really impact your record or anything. It was such a small “punishment” – wasn’t it reasonable that I would prefer that to spending money just to satisfy some stupid bureaucratic requirement?

What was so confusing?

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What motive COULD there be to kill elementary school children like that?

No, I’m serious about this question – what motive could there possibly be to take a machine gun to kill your mother and a bunch of elementary school students? Did anyone expect any kind of logic, here?

This is why people want guns banned. Because they are desperate to keeps guns away from people can’t be trusted with them. Trying to go for the “if everyone is armed, no one will shoot” mentality is great, until you deal with this one crazy person who will shoot – and if everyone is armed, then when one person shoots, everyone shoots.

People never looked upon the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction very fondly. That principle applies, once extrapolated, to gun control.

Little kids safely tucked away in school end up dying, either way.



Gender Bias in the Media

New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film

Media informs us, informs what we do and how we think. Our worldview is built on what we see and hear, and more and more often what we see and hear is the media.

And the media is a racist, sexist institution that is still catering to the racist, sexist audience of decades ago instead of the audience of the 21st century.

Is it any wonder so many people still hold subtle signs of sexism and racism in their worldviews? Is it any other people are still surprised to hear women are leaders in politics and business when they’ve grown up seeing women as nothing but sex toys or props to male narratives?

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