Four Years of Co-Geeking

We’ve been keeping Co-Geeking going for four years now, and it’s still as much fun as when we started back in 2015. Here’s a quick look back at the past year.

 

Our favorite posts

Eppu:

My favorite post from the past year is not a major one, but it was delightful to write: the comparison of Dalaran cupola library in World of Warcraft to real-world libraries. I’m so used to libraries with regular ranks of shelves and perpendicular walkways that doing a search on rounded shapes made for a very nice departure.

Erik:

It may be self-serving of me, but my favorite post from the past year is still the preview of my book, Barbarians in the Greek and Roman World. That project was a big part of my life for several years. It took a lot of work and I can’t help being proud of the result.

 

Our favorite geeky thing that happened in the past year

Erik:

Battle for Azeroth. The latest expansion to World of Warcraft has had its ups and downs, but on the whole I’ve found it very enjoyable. Gorgeous landscape design, new and different gear for transmogging, and chatty turtle people have all enlivened my gaming time this past year.

Eppu:

Of the things I’ve talked about here, my favorite thing is the release of two Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero movies with women up and front: Ant-Man and the Wasp plus Captain Marvel. Mind you, both movies do have their problems, but they nevertheless have the most successful treatment of female characters Marvel has put out to date. (Outside of Black Panther, of course.)

Pandemic Breaking Out New Boardgame

Also, we were introduced to the cooperative board game Pandemic. If you haven’t tried it, it’s about a team of various scientists and experts (2 to 4 players, with 5 possible specialist roles) racing to find a cure to 4 virulent diseases that have broken out throughout the world. It’s challenging but fun. (And apprently there’s a computer version of Pandemic on Steam!)

 

We hope you’ll be with us for another year of Co-Geeking.

Image by Eppu Jensen

Announcements from your hosts.

Advertisements

Quotes: Cribbage Boards Are as Common as Wooden Spoons

Cribbage boards are as common as wooden spoons in the kitchens of this island. Children raised in this part of Maine often learn to play cribbage before the can tie their own shoes.

Linda Greenlaw writes about Isle Au Haut, Maine, not far from where one part of my family has its roots in the rocky coastal soil. This was one of many parts of the book that had me nodding in recognition. I can’t honestly say whether I learned to play cribbage (a curious card game for which you keep score on a wooden board) or tie my shoes first, but I can say that I don’t clearly remember a time in my life when I couldn’t do both.

Greenlaw, Linda. The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island. New York: Hyperion, 2002, p. 111.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

Some “Deleted Scenes” from Barbarians in the Greek and Roman World

They say good writing is good rewriting. They also say to kill your darlings. Both are good pieces of advice. The process of writing involves a lot of false starts, changes, and reworkings. Sometimes it means having to let go of something you worked hard on, that you like, but that just doesn’t serve the needs of your project.

In writing my book Barbarians in the Greek and Roman World, I had to kill a lot of darlings. A lot of text just got deleted and rewritten, but sometimes I had to cut out things I liked and was happy with, but that just didn’t belong in the book as written or that I had found better ways to express. In those cases, rather than delete the the text entirely, I cut and pasted it into a separate file to save just in case I decided to put it back in future revisions, or maybe to some day develop into its own project. That file ended up being longer than any of the actual chapters in the book.

In the spirit of DVDs with deleted scenes from movies, I present to you a few choice bits that didn’t make it into Barbarians, but that I still think are worthwhile on their own.

On the significance of the Greco-Persian Wars in later Greek culture:

The Athenian playwright Aeschylus was a giant of classical literature. He was the first author to put multiple characters on the stage at once, thus introducing conflict and inventing Greek drama as we know it. He won the Athenian dramatic competition thirteen times and was praised for his compositions by both contemporaries and later generations. But when he died his epitaph celebrated only one achievement: he fought at Marathon. Such was the importance of the wars against Persia in the later history of Greece.

On the connections between Persia and Macedonia:

Alexander trod the path that had been laid down by Cyrus the Younger generations before. He had grown up in a Macedonian court that hosted Greek intellectuals and Persian exiles. The similarities between Cyrus and Alexander’s campaigns are hardly accidental. Both were efforts from the edge of the Persian world to capture the center. Alexander may have started his campaign farther away from that center than Cyrus did, but the ties of politics, diplomacy, and personal relationships that connected Macedonia to Persia were just as strong as those to ran through Anatolia and Greece.

On the shifting definitions of Greekness:

In other words, although both ideas always had some currency, in earlier times it was more common to argue that Greeks were Greeks because they were descended from Greeks, while by the later fourth century it was more common to argue that Greeks were Greeks because they acted like Greeks.

On the political ramifications of culture in the Hellenistic world:

Behind all of these complicated relationships was a fundamental political fact: Macedonian kings now ruled most of the territory of the old Persian empire. These kings and their supporters in the ruling class had chosen to identify themselves with Greek culture. In the past, some Greeks had exercised power over non-Greek populations—particularly in major colonial cities like Syracuse and Massilia—but never on this scale. Now vast new populations had to come to terms with the linking of political power and Greek culture. Their responses ranged from resistance to collaboration to indifference. The Greeks in these kingdoms also had to come to terms with new ways of being Greek.

None of these cultural innovations could erase the boundaries of status and privilege that the Greco-Macedonian ruling class had erected between itself and the peoples over whom it ruled. As in many more recent colonial contexts, the rigid enforcement of cultural lines may itself have given impetus to the reinvention of the cultures of both the rulers and the ruled. When being “Greek” was the key to social and political advancement, it is no surprise that some people looked for novel ways of being Greek while others strove to reassert the value of not being Greek.

All of these selections got cut for good reasons, but it’s a pleasure to be able to share them with you now.

How It Happens is an occasional feature looking at the inner workings of various creative efforts.

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day!

I’m the kind of geek you can (within reason) egg on to doing something by saying most people don’t act in a particular way or do whatever it is you’re describing.

Case in point: our high school math teacher told us that most people won’t ever learn the approximation for pi further than 2 or 4 decimals places. So, I had to go and memorise it to 8 decimal places. I can still remember it: 3.14159265.

Dinner3 Dessert

Don’t ask me why it was so important to me—I can’t remember anymore. I am, however, surprised that I can still produce it without any hesitation whatsoever even though I haven’t used it in decades. (It only works in Finnish, though; clearly there’s some connection with the rhythm and sounds that made it easy for me to memorize.) I wish I was as speedy with my U.S. social security number, for instance. 🙂

P.S. For a full appreciation of my dorkiness, look at the tags for this post. :p

Messing with numbers is messy.

Happy New Year 2019!

2018 was a tough one for us, but it’s almost done now—phew!

Two Candles for FIN Independence

May 2019 simply be better for you in any way you’d like to define it.

I’d like to finish with a quote from Executive Director and diversity educator Shay Stewart Bouley‏:

“Centering yourself and treating yourself with the love you give to others allows you to be in the work and have a healthy perspective. Less reactionary. I can extend grace when I’m well. I can see what’s real and what’s not.”

Stay safe.

Image by Eppu Jensen

Announcements from your hosts.

Top Five Posts for 2018

Well, that was 2018! Here are our posts from the year that have gotten the most attention:

  1. Call for Help: Where is Miss Sherlock? Eppu’s post about a new mystery series that transposes the characters of Holmes and Watson to modern-day Japan and makes them both young women for good measure. Unfortunately, we’re still not sure where or how we can watch it, but it’s nice that so many other people are also excited by the idea.
  2. Arisia: A Point of No Return for Us Our statement in support of Crystal Huff and against the repeated failure of the Boston-based Arisia convention to effectively address problems of sexual harassment and stalking not just at the con but by members of the con staff itself.
  3. Quotes: Finland is Weird. Finland is Different All together now, Finland fans! A gratifyingly bewildered quote from Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Ironclads.
  4. “At Least It Made You Feel Something” Erik’s rant against creators who justify storytelling choices that aggravate fans by patting themselves on the back for making us feel something.
  5. Barbarians in the Greek and Roman World Preview A preview of Erik’s book, published in September, about the concept of the barbarian and the realities of cross-cultural interactions in the ancient Mediterranean.

Some of our old posts remain perennial favorites, too. Here are the overall top five Co-Geeking posts that people viewed in 2018:

  1. Do-It-Yourself Fantasy Place Name Generator Erik’s name-generating technique from back in 2015 still gets a lot of attention. Apparently a lot of you out there are making up names for things!
  2. Sean Bean on the LotR Joke in The Martian Eppu’s 2015 post on Finland’s Yle News interview with the delightful Sean Bean on the Lord of the Rings joke in The Martian. Such a treat, and still well worth watching today.
  3. Hogwarts Dueling Club Tablecloth Transformed into Wall Hanging Eppu’s post about a home-made version of the moon-phase dueling cloth from Harry Potter, posted in 2016.
  4. Custom is King Erik’s translation of a favorite passage from Herodotus’ Histories, posted in 2017.
  5. Call for Help: Where is Miss Sherlock? Eppu’s post from this year

Thanks for hanging out with us this year. We hope you’ll join us again in 2019.

Messing with numbers is messy.

Happy Holiday Wishes with Northern Lights Seen from the ISS

I grew up seeing Northern Lights every winter, so for me they’re not a novelty—except when seen from space.

NASA Instagram ESA Alexander Gerst Northern Lights from Space

This amazing photo was taken by the European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst at the International Space Station.

I think it’s fair to say we’re living in an age quite unlike any previous one from a scientific and research perspective. It’s amazing and incredible.

We’re vacationing for a week or so. Until then, Happy Merry!

Image: Northern Lights from space ESA/NASA-A.Gerst via NASA at Instagram.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Arisia: A Point of No Return for Us

We take this stand as a response to Crystal Huff’s blog post where she shared her experiences with Arisia’s response to serious safety concerns, including stalking both during the convention and elsewhere.

Arisia is a volunteer-run con for fans of science fiction and fantasy, in all forms of media, held annually in January on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Boston.

The con staff and/or Arisia Executive Board have failed in following and enforcing their own Code of Conduct and problem reporting process. This failure has been long-standing, and has had the practical effect of protecting a stalker.

Therefore, we will not return to Arisia nor recommend the con in the future. It is unacceptable to hold people to a different set of rules depending on who they are.

Read more at Crystal’s blog (content note: references to rape, trauma, sexism, gaslighting, harassment, intimidation, and stalking) or Eppu’s open letter (note: an f-bomb or two).

Announcements from your hosts.