« New KDE, still broken | Home | インバルクと言うお祭... »

Tsukurimashou close to release, other notes

Sun 30 Jan 2011 by mskala Tags used: , ,

Last time I checked the windchill, it was -44. That's the level where if you go outdoors, you come back encased in a three-centimetre layer of ice, like in that scene from Excel Saga. Inasmuch as I don't have a hyperactive redhead to warm me up afterward, I'm cancelling or at least postponing my plan of going grocery shopping today. If I'm lucky, it'll be a little warmer in the afternoon.

I've had, for years, a pay-download copy of the album Sociable by the Dust Rhinos, and one track starts with a spoken intro in which one of the bandmembers talks about some pub where they regularly go to perform - "There's a little place called the Toad in the Hole Pub, down in Osborne Village..." - but then last night, when I was out having a beer with some co-workers, I looked around me and realised, wait a minute, that was exactly where we were. I'm not sure I'd even known that the Dust Rhinos were from Winnipeg, and up until that moment, although I was probably aware that the pub mentioned on the album probably really did exist somewhere, it still felt like something imaginary and not somewhere I'd ever expect to actually visit in the normal course of events. And then the world shifted and all of a sudden it was not only a real place but an ordinary place, a block away from my apartment building, where I pass every weekday morning on my way to work.

I'm very interested in that kind of question from the other side: what things are ordinary to me but exotic to someone else? And given something that is exotic to someone other than me, what's the impression they have of it? This kind of question is one thing I seek out, and seek to create, in science fiction (both my own and other people's). We maybe have some idea, some emotional impression, of what kind of person a Grey alien or a Reptoid or a Vulcan or a Klingon is. I think that's often based on visual appearance and comparisons to assumed human physiognomy. But we don't even have to go as far as hypothetical space aliens, and it's no accident that "alien" has an older meaning. What do human beings from other ethnic backgrounds assume about me because of their assumptions about English-speaking mixed-European descendants? I'm not just talking about basic racism, but the more subtle details of the impressions we have about cultures. What does it feel like to be the kind of person - and they certainly exist - for whom "nerdy white boy" is special and strange, even a sexual fetish? Hell, I'm confused enough - though certainly not complaining, and I recognize the evolutionary necessity for it - about the fact that a lot of human beings say they desire men at all.

I've posted a new version of the Tsukurimashou demo PDF. It's almost at the point where I'll be willing to make a release of source code and font files in a form others can use. About all that remains before that is to tweak the calligraphic effects on most of the katakana in the mincho style. If you look carefully at page 6 of the demo file, you can probably see which characters have had that done and which haven't, though it's complicated by the fact that some strokes are subroutines used in more than one character, so there are some characters that now have some calligraphic adjustment applied because of subroutines, but other strokes clearly not yet adjusted.

3 comments

Tony H.
MS: "We maybe have some idea, some emotional impression, of what kind of person a Grey alien or a Reptoid or a Vulcan or a Klingon is. I think that's often based on visual appearance and comparisons to assumed human physiognomy. "

Several canonical SF writers (Asimov, Bradbury, others I'm sure) wrote stories about meeting the arriving aliens, but only at the last moment do we realize that the aliens are human, and the story is told from the "real" aliens point of view. So perhaps this is an approach to some of this; obviously these are constructed with all our biases and world view, but trying it on may be a good exercise.

MS: "But we don't even have to go as far as hypothetical space aliens, and it's no accident that "alien" has an older meaning. What do human beings from other ethnic backgrounds assume about me because of their assumptions about English-speaking mixed-European descendants?"

For a start I think their categories are probably very different from ours. Same as in France everyone asks if I'm American or German, but never Canadian (hypothesis as to algorithm on request), so the very existence of whatever categories you expect is probably wrong. Most likely they chunk the attributes quite differently. Another analogy might be the description of a criminal suspect as male, 5'10", light brown hair, blue eyes, where in other places these last two are irrelevant because "everyone" has black hair and brown eyes. Tony H. - 2011-01-30 21:22
Matt
The "surprise, it was us all along!" plot is common enough to have a lengthy page of its own on TV Tropes. I think it's often a little different from what I'm talking about, though, because it usually depends on some amount of deception and leaving out critical details.

One of my favourite "aliens think we are weird" stories is the one where the President of the United States, and an alien leader of similar rank, have the opportunity to meet, but only for ten minutes, and the aliens and humans won't be able to contact each other again for a hundred years. They discover that the alien has a bag of gold nuggets, which he snacks on like popcorn; and the human has a box of pencils, which he uses for writing notes. Matt - 2011-01-30 21:44
kiwano
I think that lovely Winterpeg weather like you're writing about here is the actual inspiration behind the Venetian Snares album whose title includes the term "frozen shithole" (and now he's a local artist for you). kiwano - 2011-01-31 13:10


(optional field)
(optional field)
Answer "bonobo" here to fight spam. ここに「bonobo」を答えてください。SPAMを退治しましょう!
I reserve the right to delete or edit comments in any way and for any reason.