(read the title).
(read the title).
(Wherein, having tackled Sex, I will now discuss something much less controversial) ;-)
So I was thinking about the issue of religion in Equestria, and beyond it on the whole planet.
There is a concept in TV Tropes called the "Flat Earth Atheist," whose article points out:
Atheism in a clockwork universe ostensibly overseen by a completely non-interventionist divinity is one thing, but what about a world that's practically the playground of the mythic forces that created it?
This is more than a little bit relevant to the Ponyverse, as this "a world that's practically the playground" of various kinds of mythic forces. The realm in which all the major character live, Equestria, is ruled by a Physical Goddess who moves the Sun and Moon around. And she's not at all distant: you could have an audience with her, or for that matter run into her when she was out getting some coffee and doughnuts. Claiming that Celestia doesn't exist would be on a par with claiming that, say, Barack Obama or George W. Bush didn't exist, except that she's in many ways more accessible!
The show is even less likely to get into religious questions than it is into sexual ones, because any such thing would be even more controversial. Still, due to the nature of the characters and plots, it can't entirely avoid them, at least by implication.
There are two possibilities. Either the Ponies are polydactyl (multi-fingered) as were the ancestors of modern horses (the atavism sometimes recurs today, as witness Bucephalus and Dactylus, the horses of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar respectively) and able to oppose some of their fingers, or they have some other means of grasping objects -- one which, while not as effective as human hands (ask Lyra Heartstrings!) suffices for many purposes.
I considered a limited form of the telekinesis which unicorns all use. This is actually still possible, but if so it's very weak and subtle, because we never see the telltale glow that accompanies the use of unicorn magic in canon.
Fortunately, there's another possible mechanism -- one which doesn't even require any magic.
The hands and feet of geckos (reptiles of infraorder Gekkota) use a combination of the secretion of a sticky fluid and the geometry of tiny suckers on their surface to generate adhesion with other surfaces through Van der Waals forces (what gives water "surface tension"). This is astonishingly efficient at their small size, and humans equipped with "gecko gloves" can actually generate enough friction in such a manner as to be able to stick to walls, even supporting their own weight provided that the reverse slope isn't too severe.
I postulate here that some such mechanism, controlled by a mind and nerve system far more advanced than that found in any gecko, enables the Ponies to grasp and even manipulate objects with some dexterity. The Pony's mind simply wills to grasp more or less firmly at any given point on her hoof, not consciously thinking about it any more than I consciously think about the complex and detailed finger motions I make in typing this sentence. The glands and suckers respond, in a manner learned by the Pony in infancy, exactly as humans learn to control their own fingers (Unicorns, and probably alicorns as well, often partly forget how to do this because their magic is more dextrous, unless they are perfectionist craftsmares such as Rarity Belle). It is a miracle of nature, which of course most Ponies simply take for granted -- just as we take our own hands for granted, until we injure a finger.
I go into some detail here because of the scene where Applejack saves Twilight from falling off the cliff. Applejack is the strongest non-alicorn mare yet shown in canon, and possibly the strongest non-alicorn Pony of either sex, aside from her Big Mac, her huge brother. She is also about as well-coordinated as any mare who is not a specialized athlete, as she demonstrates in her own descent down the cliff face.
Humanoid Applejack could have easily saved humanoid Twilight in that situation. Human thumbs and fingers provide firm grips, and the "acrobat's grasp" (fingers to wrist, fingers to wrist) is almost unbreakable given two remotely healthy humans -- their shoulders might dislocate first. That is because humans are descended from semi-arboreal creatures, who lived much as do modern chimpanzees or bonobos.
The Ponies are not. They are descended from plainsdwelling herbivores whose hooves were optimized for running and secondarily for fighting. Hence, Applejack's problem on the cliff, and Luna's admiration for her skill and courage. AJwas doing the equivalent of a human attempting a complex underwater rescue. Her hoof-grasp would have given way under the full force of her equine musculature: either fore or hind, dooming one or both of them. What's really impressive is that Applejack was acting against every instinct, save her social ones. She is a rock of courage and determination.
You go, AJ!
And Lyra -- you have a point there. Hands are definitely better for grasping.
In the Interwar Era, the Western world greatly reduced its military spending. The consequence of this frugality was World War II. In particular Britain and France, by saving moderate-sized amounts of money in the 1920's and 1930's, lost millions of lives, far greater amounts of money than they had saved before the war, suffered devastation to their cities, and in the end lost their overseas empires and were reduced to third-rate Powers.
We are making the same mistake right now. Courtesy of Richard Winchester, "The Decline and Fall of American Deterrence," American Thinker, December 12th, 2013.
America's military strength is also being curtailed. In addition to the meat-ax approach to America's naval, air, and ground forces required by the Sequester (which originated in the White House), the Obama Administration is reducing the Pentagon's budget by hundreds of billions of dollars. Obama is also slicing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Once all the military budget cuts are in place, the United States will have the fewest naval vessels at sea since before World War I, the smallest Air Force ever, and an Army and Marine Corps with severely diminished capacity. The nation will have only 300 or so nuclear weapons. The hollow military which we heard so much about during the Carter years will be back.
And why should Xi Jin-Ping have listened to Biden? Biden is the number two man in an Administration which has weakened its objective strength and just demonstrated moral cowardice regarding the Spratleys. What reason has the Obama Administration given the Chinese to respect us?
Also note my use of the word "enemies" to describe the Chinese. I wouldn't have termed them such a decade ago. What has changed? Our weakness has encouraged them. The Chinese (unlike the Iranians) are basically rationalist, and they are quite rationally choosing to take advantage of our current (and probably temporary) weakness under Obama to snatch up territorial claims while we are still weakened by the fool we have now elected twice to our Presidency.
American voters don't seem to care. They take the military supremacy we've enjoyed for the last three generations, which we've purchased only at great cost in treasure and at least some cost in blood, as if God Himself had come down from the heavens, attended by clouds of angels, and handed it to America as a present for putting Christmas Trees on the White House lawn.
I keep thinking about Britain, in the 1930's, taking her naval superiority for granted while Germany was building submarines and superbattleships and the Japanese dive and torpedo-bombers, and the horrible, horrible days of 1939-42 in which one after another of Britain's proud battleships went to the bottom, because she had made the mistake of confusing a tradition of victory and supremacy for the actual articles. And the years during which the British homeland was repeatedly bombed and her cities devastated from the air, her freighters sunk and her people brought to the brink of starvation.
I pray that our own awakening prove less traumatic than theirs.
(1) - Totally failed to restrain Iran, even if the Iranians honor it (the deal lets the Iranians process nuclear fuel to a limited degree of enrichment, as far as I can see binds them to no effective means of inspection, and in three years lets them process any amount of fuel to any degree that they wish. And do you notice that the deal is set up to let the Iranians do this only after the 2016 US elections? Obama appears to imagine that the Iranian threat is only relevant insofar as it makes him and the Democrats look good or bad in the polls -- he doesn't seem to grasp that the threat from religious fanatics with nuclear missiles might be existential. Let me repeat: Obama doesn't seem to realize that America is threatened by ENEMIES WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Enjoying your hope and change yet, Democrats?
(2) - Alienated Israel and Saudi Arabia, through treating their security concerns regarding Iran as meaningless, to the point that I'm not sure that they're even US allies any more. Israel is still trying to be reasonable, because they're a Western country run by sane people, but the Israelis are approaching a decision point -- try to take out the Iranian reactors (difficult) or risk becoming Iran's first target when they get nuclear weapons. Meanwhile the Saudis respect Obama so little that they are publicly complaining that Obama isn't doing what they want (as if they were in charge of US foreign policy) and threatening to raise oil prices. If the Saudis weren't so vile, I might sympathize with them: after all, they are the most rational target for Iran to attack, as they actually have both religious centers and objectively vital resources.
So, basically, Obama is laying the grounds for a nuclear war in the Mideast while simultaneously wrecking our relations with our most important allies in the region.
God, I wish sometimes that the real world was run by a rainbow-maned sun goddess and inhabited by Technicolor ponies. Reality is starting to look very dark.
I would start from the assumption that most ponies are straight, or at least bisexual, since they seem to have a human-like family structure with the major exception that ponies seem to leave home for good younger than is common in 21st-century America (but not younger than was common in the America or Britain of 1850-1900, which had a comparable technology to Equestria). In general, the Ponies seem to fall in love and get married (generally to members of the opposite sex, though there is at least one possible same-sex couple in canon), and have children mostly in wedlock. Since there is no evidence of any medical technology (or magic) which would enable same-sex procreation, it probably either doesn't exist or only exists on a very high level of their capabilities.
[Addendum: it's occurred to me that there is probably a sex-changing spell, because Twilight bluffed Trixie with the claim to have one, but that it's fairly high-level magic. So I guess at least the Major Alicorns could use it].
Their culture seems sexually restrained compared to that of early 21st-century America, and I would guess that their society is more "traditional" in the sense of having less casual sex (note though that even in the 19th century pre-marital sex was very common between engaged couples, or couple close to a formal engagement). They are, however, very romantic and sentimental about love and affection (possibly in part because "friendship is magic"). There is no sign that they are "puritanical" in the sense of considering sexuality between those actually in love to be bad.
We should keep in mind possible biological differences. Humans are unusual among animals, even among sapient animals, in being in a constant state of potential sexual arousal. Most animals, including actual equines, have either a monthly or a yearly estrus cycle, during which time they are extremely receptive to sexual advances. Real horses have a slightly-shorter-than monthly estrus cycle. As the Ponies are very obviously not real horses, and probably not even in the genus equus, they may have whatever sort of cycle the writer wishes. Also, as the Ponies are not only fully-sapient but actually civilized, it is very improbable that they go mad with lust during their estrus cycles and simply mate randomly -- even real horses have stronger emotional preferences than that!
One obvious clue is that the Ponies have an actual romantic holiday (their equivalent of Valentine's Day) called "Hearts and Hooves Day." It is extremely likely that this holiday coincides with some sort of yearly peak in their monthly estrus cycle. Since horses carry their young for about a year, if Hearts and Hooves Day takes place toward spring, this would mean that there would be a surge in births during late winter / early spring.
This is significant if we imagine the pre-industrial predecessors of the Ponies. Before they had steam power, enabling adequate heating of homes and the transport of foods to areas where there were shortages, the winter would have been a very rough time for foals. Those foals born at the end of winter and start of spring would be born when their mothers were once again able to obtain food, and then would have most of a year to grow before the next winter. This would very definitely aid their survival.
One obvious aspect of Pony culture is that they seem to be considerably less aggressive and vicious than modern humans -- though they are far from perfect: we've seen at least bullies, scoundrels and snobs of various kinds in various canon episodes. We haven't seen actual organized crime, though there very well may be brigandage in the wilder areas. I imagine Princess Celestia would not long tolerate any organization in her society willing to perform murder for hire or in the routine pursuit of their business, and with her abilities, it would not be hard for her to suppress such serious malefactors.
The Ponies being generally nicer than humans would make it easier to have "free range children" (the most obvious example in canon being the Cutie Mark Crusaders), as they would be much safer from sexual and other forms pf abuse or harm than would be the case in our society. Remember that even in our society, we allowed children to run around essentially unsupervised when not at school until the 1980's, and that this sort of thing goes in cycles.
Another implications of their being nicer might be that they might be willing to accept variations of love that 19th-century America and Britain found repulsive, particularly homosexuality, bisexuality, and various forms of polyamorous marriage. I've noticed that most fanon assumes this despite the complete lack of evidence for this in canon: I suspect that the fanon is actually right here, especially because it's the sort of thing that in canon "dare not speak its name," thanks to commercial considerations.
Thus there's nothing, in my view, to prevent any particular members of the Mane Six being gay or bi. It's unlikely for statistical reasons that all of them would be so oriented -- though one should remember that the Mane Six are not just six random mares -- they are Celestia's champions chosen to channel cosmic forces against evil, and each one of them has in canon what amounts to low-level (and in Twilight Sparkle's case not so low-level) superpowers. This could cut either way: for all I know, wielding the Elements of Harmony and becoming Fire-Forged Friends has given them all massive lesbian attractions to one another!
They would, however, have to behave with "discretion" (whatever that means in their culture). Merely being lesbian or bi might not be seen as shocking: publicly mating in the middle of the town square would probably be considered at least tasteless. And there is absolutely no way they are not celebrities (unless you assume that Celestia imposes absurdly ironclad censorship in Equestria): they've not only saved their country and perhaps planet 3-4 times already by my count, but have repeatedly been seen rushing into danger or assuming leadership in various crises.
This means pretty much what it would in our world. It means, for instance, that if Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy walk down Main Street openly cuddling and kissing, there is a very good chance that this will wind up in every gossip rag from Canterlot to Las Pegasus. Unlike in 19th-century Western societies, this might not be viewed as terribly shocking, but it would get noticed and talked about. And I suspect that Fluttershy, for one, wouldn't want it to be, because she's ... well ... shy. (This was one of the reasons she didn't like being a fashion model).
Rainbow Dash acts very butch, and she acts a bit lesbian (or bisexual -- note that in canon she's shown some sort of attraction to male Wonderbolts, but it's not obvious whether it's romantic, friendly, hero-worshiping or some variant of all three). There's strong hints of some sort of history of mutual feelings with Fluttershy, and there's the whole almost slap-slap-kiss-kiss thing with Applejack. So -- maybe.
On the other hand, RD also acts emotionally rather immature for her likely age and job responsibilities, and it strikes me as possible that she doesn't have any serious romantic attraction to anyone. It also may be that she [i]does[/i] but is totally inept at any display of softer emotions. It's even possible that (as some people imagine) she is sexually promiscuous. IMO she'd be the most likely member of the Mane Six to be willing to have casual sex, because she's so "masculine" in many ways.
[Addendum: I've somewhat changed my mind on the plausibility of RD's promiscuity. RD's dislike of "mushy stuff" is more an unwillingness to show her feelings than a lack of such feelings, and she doesn't seem sufficiently capable of the act of emotional detachment necessary for casual sex. She would probably be deeply hurt if somepony had sex with her and then treated it as nothing special -- though she'd also probably be afraid to show it. However, her impulsivness would put her in danger of falling into exactly such a scenario].
Fluttershy seems to regard RD in some sort of sexualized manner, or feel that RD regards her in some such manner. But, well, she's Fluttershy, so even if the show was willing to go that route, it might be a while before we ever found out. If Fluttershy was romantically-attracted to someone, that pony would have to make the first move: otherwise she would just blush, stammer and hide behind her own mane. I'd say there's a decent chance she's lesbian, or at least bisexual, if only because she probably finds most stallions even scarier than she finds most mares.
Applejack, despite her fairly butch attitudes, doesn't seem to be particularly lesbian or bisexual. I've simply never seen her display any sexual attraction toward anyone. The most I've seen her do is dance with a stallion (and I mean public folk-dancing, not romantic slow-dancing). Given her personality it's quite plausible that she isn't willing to get romantic (let alone have sex) until she's sure she likes that somepony that way, and that it will be serious and long-lasting. She's Honesty, after all.
Pinkie Pie is ... well ... Pinkie Pie. I have no idea to whom or to what she is sexually attracted ... if she has sexual feelings, which is far from obvious. She parties a heck of a lot, but this mostly involves her bouncing all over the room, greeting and hugging everybody, and eating and drinking lots of sweet stuff. She has in-canon never been paired even tentatively with anyone. The PonyPOV idea of her being a survival from a lost timeline that didn't have sexual reproduction (the G3 verse) is surprisingly plausible where she is concerned. It is canon that she has genuine equine emotions, but mostly at the level of a filly rather than a full-grown mare.
[Addendum: FWIW she obviously comes out of a very puritanical family by Equestrian standards. OTOH in reality people often revolt against such upbringings and go out of control rebelling against them when they have the chance to leave. OTOH (remember, Ponies have four hooves), throwing constant parties is a form of rebellion. OTOH, her family accepted[ at least the first party she threw (though I suspect she may have had to go it on her own if she immediately started throwing constant parties ... Wow. That was run-on. Now I feel like Pinkie.]
Rarity has in-canon been romantically attracted to at least two males (Prince Blueblood and Spike, though the first ended the first time she had to spend much time with him, while she probably doesn't act on the second because Spike is an underaged member of a different species) and has been shown to have at least one possibly-romantic friendship with another (Fancy Pants). She is also an outrageous flirt -- but only with males. So I think she's straight. Note, however, that the nature of the game she plays with most males means that she wins by getting what she wants without having sex with them, while the male she seems to love the most is an incredibly-inappropriate mate for her. So I don't know that she actually has sex with anyone.
[Addendum: At least one person has pointed out to me that Rarity just views Spike's attention as a coltish crush. Sure, and that's why she wouldn't act on it now, but I also see her in canon doing things to encourage it, and Rarity does not act blindly in matters of the heart -- under the whole melodramatic emotional display, Rarity is highly intelligent, logical and even ruthless compared to the rest of the Mane Six. And she views displayed emotions as ways to manipulate others (I'm sure she knows, for instance, that her friends have seen through most of her emotional posturing and continues it with them as a form of teasing and entertainment).
[Would you want to -- as a cruel game -- lead on a dragon (whom has morphed into an Economy-Sized form twice so far in canon) whose adopted big sister is one of the most powerful mages in Equestria and the known favorite of the ruler of the land? Now, none of the parties named are particularly vindictive sorts, but aside from the fact that two of the ones named are her friends, one would think that social climbing would dictate quite the opposite strategy. Also, I've never seen any sign that Rarity is cruel -- at least to those who have done nothing to merit cruelty from her.
[It strikes me as far more likely that Rarity genuinely finds Spike attractive on some level but is confused by her own emotions. Spike's love for her is pure and intense, and this has been proven in-show by its ability to override his normal draconian instincts. Rarity is complex: on the outside, there is a definite veneer of romanticism covering cynical calculation, but under that cynicism she is truly very romantic. And who with a warm heart could not love the tale of Beauty and the Beast?]
Twilight Sparkle spent most of her life as an extremely asocial person: the only males she seems to have spent much time around were her father, brother, and adoptive younger brother. She very recently crushed on Flash Sentry -- a crush that (notably) began when she was in humanoid[ form (probably of a race having a human-like constant sexuality, too). There's no evidence in-canon that this crush has lasted since that brief flustered moment when she got to see his Pony analogue. I would say that it's extremely likely that Twilight has no sexual experience -- I don't even know if she's ever had a real kiss. I do think that her sexual orientation, such as it is, is probably straight, since we've never seen her have any sexual attraction at all to females of any species.
[Addendum: And I write this in full awareness of what I'm doing in the Twi/Luna fics I've been posting. Let's just say that giving characters good reasons for internal emotional conflict makes great drama, though it is arguably less fun from the POV of the characters involved in it].
The writers do seem to like dropping Under the Radar hints about the sexual attractions of the characters, far more so than in most such shows, so I wouldn't assume that nothing will come out. After all, in canon we've already had one wedding and one foaling, involving two different couples, so we shouldn't assume that this is bound by the extreme limitations of most shows assumed to be "for children."
Still, I was having plenty of fun freerunning this summer, and my weightlifting is going well so far this autumn (records set in the last fortnight: 80kg bench, 115kg squat, 130kg deadlift, 50kg shoulder press), so I'm trying not to worry about it too much. It did remind me that it's been a long time since I took some progress pics though, so I figured I'd do that today and see what's what. So here we go...
( Semi-naked photos, proceed at own risk...Collapse )
... I think my boobs have got bigger. :-p
More progress pics from October 2012
This entry was originally posted at http://denny.dreamwidth.org/740285.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Jordan S. Bassior
After looking at the Moon long and lovingly, then lowering it for the night, Luna retired to the relatively small snack room that both of them preferred to any of the great formal dining halls of the Palace. and long sat there. The servants moved very quietly around her: it was plain to them that she was not in a mood to be disturbed. She was glad when they left.
Luna sat there, eating corn chowder with little crescent-shaped crackers, and sipping hot chocolate. She only peripherally-noticed the taste of her meal – her mind was very far away, in times when her life had been very different.
I’m sitting here in a palace, she thought to herself. I’m the Princess of the Night in a kingdom run by magic and technology which has just gone through its Industrial Revolution and will probably start building its first real computers in a few decades I just put away the Moon for the night, which I do every night, so why does it suddenly feel so strange? And before that I was a madmare living alone on the Moon, for a thousand years. And before that I was the Princess of the Night, in the same kingdom, only it was more like being a medieval queen, like something out of one of those swashbucklers we’d see at the drive-ins. And before that, my sister and I were wandering heroines in a world riven by chaos. And before that, we lived in a mystical house, older than known history, in a post-apocalpytic wasteland. And before that …
Before that had been the life she had relived for a moment, when she had been talking to Twilight Sparkle, when Luna had been Moondreamer and Twilight had been Dusk Skyshine and everything seemed so damned simple because the Universe all made sense and magic and demons were safely relegated to the pages of mythology and weird fiction. Simple, she thought wryly. I was the world’s top astronautical engineer, and the fate of all Ponykind depended on my designs. Most people in that age wouldn’t have considered her life “simple.”
And before that …?
Her mind reeled as it flitted across all her past lives, her other lives, all the people and things she had been, all connected through the matrix of her oversoul. Ponies. Humans. Far less describable beings. Some in appearance would have terrified the little ponies. Some would have terrified them in personality. Some terrified her, from the point of view of her current personality.
What is the nature of Princess Luna's identity crisis? Find out on Fantastic Worlds.
Stone Number One
PG, season 9 speculation for theoret, 4050 words approx.
They have a home, they have friends, they have the King of Hell locked in their basement. They could have a good Christmas this year, Sam thinks, if he could only keep track of time–-