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Silver Adept
09 September 2013 @ 08:41 pm
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My great anxiety is that there's nobody out there and I'm shouting into the wind. If you’re feeling like you want to comment with something, feel free to comment with what feels good and comfortable to you, whether that’s leaving a !!! or an essay. If you don't have the spoons for any comment, that's okay, too. No pressure, no obligations.

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As of the time of writing this (02013-09-09), the content of my blog is licensed CC-BY-SA (3.0 Unported), which says that if you use my work for something, your work should attribute me (the user name and a link back to my blog is usually sufficient) and your work should also be licensed under a license similar to the Attribution-Sharealike license. The stuff I link to is not governed under this license and may have additional requirements for you to use.

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I like new subscribers. I also respect access-locks - if something you created is That Awesome, I'll ask for permission before excerpting or posting elsewhere.

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I don't give access, generally. For one, nearly everything posted is public, so you're not missing out on anything by not having that access. If I do post something under access-lock, it is probably something intensely personal, and so I'd be hand-selecting who I want to see it.

(This idea stolen and modified from [personal profile] trascendenza, who first broached it in their own journal when talking about commenting culture and their own anxieties.)

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Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Mitsuda via Valente - Schala's Theme
Silver Adept
[This is the very last of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot. It's been a fantastic journey with all of you, and I hope that it has been helpful to you in your own journeys.]

Here we are. The last card remaining, deliberately chosen as the last of the Major cards, representing what is the final stop of any given season - the World Series. At this point in time, several teams were eliminated at the end of the season from continuing, and yet others in the playoff series, culminating in this, the champions of the American League and the National League facing each other for the Major League Baseball title. Many players will go their entire careers, some destined for the Hall of Fame, without even setting foot on this stage. The World Series, even though it is poorly named, is the thing that all seasons strive to reach and then win, a cycle that begins anew each year with the realization that in the eyes of the win-loss columns, all teams start equal. The influence of the Rookie right next door spills over, planting the seeds of a new beginning right in the middle of what is supposed to be the end. If we can only solve the Last Question at the end of the universe, even at that point, the seeds have been laid to begin it again, and work on solving the question one more time. We are born, we age, we get sick, we die. We are born again and the cycle continues.

Some people get to the Series early, others later. Some can go more than once, although the nature of baseball, its rather punishing season and propensity for teams imploding down the stretch and in the playoffs makes it hard for any one team to return the next year, much less win it. Baseball does not create dynasties, and those that try to exist are usually powered by unsustainable amounts of spending.

What I find interesting about this card, and its Rider-Waite equivalent, The World, is that this card is not and doesn't signify winning the World Series, just getting there. The culmination of a lot of hard work and dreams and stories and training and everything else that's in this deck, but not actually winning the games. That still has yet to be done. The season is not yet finished - four more wins are required before a team can hoist the trophy. Everything that has come before is important, informative, and provides the background, but there are still games to be played and won, and only the things that happen in the now will determine how it all turns out. Vegas may have odds, but odds are only guesses based on past performance. There are no foregone conclusions. The games can play out in any way at all - the powerhouses can choke, a pitcher can throw better or worse than expected, a manager can call up a trick play, or what should be a routine ground ball ends up slipping under the glove and through the legs of first base and the winning run scores from third. Everything is still possible. Even at this point, the arrival at the last series of the post-season, the games ahead are full of infinite potential.

Perhaps it's a design thing about Tarot decks that they have the ability to speak positive aspects and negative aspects and otherwise encompass the full range of experience and possibility in each card and in the deck as a whole. Maybe it's because we're humans and we want our cognitive assistance tools to do that, when they could be much more definite about their usage and meaning. But that even here, at what would normally be the spot to put in the most "Congratulations, you have achieved your victory! Revel in it!" card that you could find, there is still ambiguity and the possibility of things not going as well as we had hoped. After all, there are still two teams playing in the World Series. People remember the winning team, but there's still another one there, and they have to deal with having been the team that made it all the way to the end and came up short. It can be devastating to the psyche, it can be the bubble popping, the end of the Cinderella story, or it can be a team completely proud of the achievements they have done that season and entirely at peace with not having won it all. Sometimes the people most disappointed in how a team does in any given year are the fanatics, who expected their team to be better than they were. (Those whose expectations have always been fairly low are instead pleasantly surprised when their team does better than expected.) The fanatics may have more of their identity invested in the team than the players do, and so they are more strongly affected by the swings of fate and business dealings. One of the things that gets obscured, except when buying tickets and concessions or reading about contracts, is that baseball is a business that makes billions of dollars, and that the things that result in a good baseball team may not be the same as those that make a profitable one. The balance between being profitable and spending enough to attract enough fanatics to be profitable are important business considerations, and they interfere with decisions that would be made to create a good baseball team.

Infinite Potential in every pitch, every swing, every call, every time ball meets bat. Every out, every inning, every game, every season. To get here, to the World Series, one generally passes through all the other cards first, gathering experience and karma and knowledge along the way. But, as we noted at the beginning of this series, counting works in both directions. It's entirely possible that someone can walk their way back, taking the skills they learned as an All-Star, developing the mental state of the Rookie to new situations, and arriving at the great successes needed to achieve the World Series. It's rare, but it's possible.

The presence of the World Series in your reading indicates that you have had great success in your season and you are now ready to take on one of the biggest stages of your career. Your work has paid off, your team is strong, and now its time to go play for the big one. Good luck on winning.

If the happy context doesn't make sense, the downside of the World Series is being somewhere that you are utterly unprepared for. You've become yet another example of the Peter Principle, promoted to the level of your incompetence, and there's a good chance you are going to go splat on the biggest stage possible. Now might be a good time to talk to your manager of the coaches to try and get up to the standard. If you can't do that, now might be a good time to ask to be benched until you can get the actual skills needed to participate.

And thus, we are finished. I'm so glad I got all the way through the deck. I also hope that this has been somehow helpful to all of you that are reading, whether in your own decks and practices, or in giving you some insight into the Game of Nerds and why there are so many people still loyal to it.

If there are any remaining questions, about the cards, about baseball, or other things, feel free to ask them, including on their card pages. If you would like more depth on anything you've read, please ask.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me. Maybe I'll see you again for something else in the future.

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Current Music: Carl Orff - Ave Formomissima
Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

A squeeze play in baseball is a thing that combines the worst potential consequences of a steal and a bunt, and also their best possibilities. With a runner on third base, the batter is instructed to lay down a bunt so that the runner from third can attempt to score while the batter attempts to get to first. Because of the presence of the runner and their attempt to take the plate, the bunt has to be exquisite and placed well away from any fielder so as to give the runner enough time to get home. Squeezes are attempted rarely, and succeed rarely.

There are two forms of squeeze plays. The safety squeeze demands that the pitch thrown be a strike, or the bunt is pulled and the player waits for a better pitch, and the runner on third doesn't break for the plate until the bunt has hit the ground, ensuring that they will not be part of a double play due to a fielder cleanly catching the bunt before it hits the ground and throwing back over to third. This delays the squeeze for some amount of time, making it more difficult to achieve.

The significantly more reckless cousin of the safety squeeze is the suicide squeeze. It earns that moniker because this squeeze is on, no matter what. As soon as the pitcher commits to the pitch, the runner on third breaks for the plate. Regardless of how well-delivered the pitch is, where it is, and what kind of pitch it is, the batter must lay it down as a bunt or risk having the runner tagged out at home. A bad bunt will result in two outs, instead of one, or a foul ball that negates the squeeze attempt in the first place and puts the defense on alert as to what might be possible on the next pitch. To attempt a squeeze, one must put aside good sense in favor of desperate tactical decisions.

To attempt the squeeze is to do something incredibly memorable. Whether it fails or succeeds, someone will be talking about it on the highlight reel show. It is an incredibly bold action with a low payoff rate, but when it works, it works REALLY well.

So what is it doing here with the card that represents Learning New Ways of Action? The squeeze is one of the last things someone learns how to execute, because of the extreme rarity of actually being called for. And because it basically requires two players to abandon just about everything they know to be able to make it work successfully. How else are you going to learn new things?

We're near the end of the journey that started with The Rookie, the character that represents the state of Beginner's Mind, a player that was unattached to anything, and thus could learn everything. But more importantly, he could forget everything she had previously learned. There's a scene in the movie The Forbidden Kingdom where the character playing the role of Tripitika, the T'ang Priest, is detailing all the moves they are hoping to see from the Kung Fu masters, moves seen in Kung Fu movies. The Monkey character, played by Jackie Chan, is pouring tea while this litany is being recited, and continues to pour tea past the point where the cup is full. The pain of the hot tea overflowing onto his hand is what breaks the recitation. The T'ang Priest complains about the tea, and Monkey remarks that his mind is like the cup - overflowing with supposed knowledge, which prevents him from actually learning Kung Fu.

The Coach of Bats is the hitting coach, who has to work with both mechanical errors in the swing (or bunt technique), mental errors in seeing the right pitch to hit, and those cursed things that can be categorized as "the yips". The yips are mental blocks that affect technique - they often result from thinking too hard about the swing or the mechanics, or trying to overcorrect something that the hitting coach has said needs to be changed. The yips get beaten with success at the plate. Success at the plate happens when someone forgets the details and the specific thing getting in their way and goes back to a nice, easy, corrected swing. Learning new ways of action requires forgetting the old ways, but also not stressing too much about the new ways and their details.

Because if you did stress about the details of a suicide squeeze, you'd never attempt one, including at the crucial point in the game where one needs to happen.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

Baseball is mean. It is a game designed to crush streaks, humble braggarts, punish mistakes, suppress the unskilled, provide ample opportunities for failure, create tension, pressure, and stress, and generate chaos despite the very best attempts of anyone to impose any sort of order or general rules and abstractions on it.

Baseball is a nice game. It rewards persistence, has opportunities for big plays all the time, promotes teamwork and communication, fosters camaraderie, provides multiple layers of enjoyment, and is really good at keeping people who are introduced to the game as players continuing on in the game as coaches and umpires, even if their dreams of playing stop. It has mentorship, physical, and mental challenges, and promotes fun.

As with life, the constant of baseball is that it changes. While there is a moment of stilness before the action begins, after that, the game is in constant motion, even with the changes between half-innings, until it is finished and all the celebrations are done. If things are going well, that's great, but understand it's not forever. If things suck, well, that won't last perpetually either. Them's The Breaks, kid.

The Breaks is the Baseball Tarot equivalent of the Wheel of Fortune. Not the glorified game of hangman with a randomized element, but the songs and lyrics of Carmina Burana that talk about people who are on top of the world and those getting thrown out of pubs, despite being the abbot of the nearby monastery. The Wheel is always in constant motion, with all of us attached to it as it raises us to our highest points and also grinds us into the mud. This reality is fundamentally counterintuitive to human beliefs. Humans see patterns and ascribe motivations to them, so that things can be explained as "hot", "cold", "lucky", "unfavorable", or other things that are not explainable with the models of simulation and calculation that we have. There are ways of trying to prolong the good and shorten the bad, many of which are superstitious, many of which involve prayer to a supernatural entity of your choice. There are other ways as well, things involving charms and rituals and attempts at preparation for the bad things, which sometimes are adequate and sometimes are so far beyond the scope of what could be considered that no preparation would be sufficient for them. The reality that the universe is still so very far out of our explanation and control is frightening and scary and persists, even in baseball. Someone may not have the skills to progress beyond minor league baseball. A batter may hit a ball back at a pitcher sufficiently hard to end his career through head injury. Sliding into second may cause a ligament tear that requires a lot of physical therapy, recovery, and retraining before someone is able to return to the place where they were. These are all possible outcomes, even with all the strength, exercise, and experience that someone may have in baseball. Ultimately, retirement claims us all, and some earlier than others. Those, too, are The Breaks.

Of course, it works in reverse, too. A man who could not run the bases at full speed hits a home run to win a game, allowing him to take all the time he needs to circle the bases. A hitter staring down an 0-for-5 night ends up going 1-for-5, with the winning run batted in on a bloop single. A team bats around (goes through the entire batting order at least once in a half-inning). A pitcher that has had no control or power the entire game fans (strikes out) the side in the bottom of the last inning. A fielder times their jump correctly to pull in a home run from leaving the field, preserving a lead and cutting short a rally. A suicide squeeze succeeds. An otherwise unremarkable pitcher has the best night of their career and tosses a perfect game, with a little help from the fielders.

A team makes it to the World Series and loses in four games. A team makes it to the World Series and wins in seven games. The good and the bad are so tightly interwoven that every action in the game is both good and bad for someone. The good is to be celebrated, the bad endured. The wheel keeps turning. Them's the Breaks, kid.

...which actually makes this card really hard to interpret without the context around it. Sometimes The Breaks are an indication that your fortune is changing. Sometimes it's a reminder that good (or bad) circumstances are the reason why you're in the situation you're in, and that shoring up your position against a bad break is advised. Sometimes it represents the complexity of everything, and can either be a recommendation to not stress out too much about the details of it all, or a warning against trying to control too many things (or people), because the unpredictable is precisely the thing that will happen and crush your plans.

Sometimes it's just a reminder of the impermanence of everything, in the sense of "this, too, shall pass" and/or "getting attached to mutable things generates karma."

The Last Question is unlikely to be answered in our lifetime. We can make progress on it, but until it's done, there will always be something that is out of reach, something that feels like fate or destiny. Those, too, are The Breaks.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

The Suit of Bases is fixed and immovable, breakaway bases to help avoid serious injuries at the learning levels notwithstanding. They are the anchor points, used both as safe havens for the offense and touchpoints for the defense to collect outs. They define the basepaths, the line between the infield and outfield, and the division between fair and foul territory. Without bases, there cannot be baseball. Cricket, maybe, but not baseball.

One would think that such a well-defined suit would not need a coach to help players with them. They seem straightforward, and they supposedly work according to rules that are easy to remember.

As with all things baseball, apparent simplicity conceals incredible complexity. How one interacts with the bases is a strong determiner as to how successful an offense or defense will be in the game. And thus, there is a need for a baserunning coach to explain the proper way to interact with the bases.

At the learning leagues, for example, batters are first taught that if they hit the ball and have to run to first base, they are to run through the base. In this case, that means running full tilt, making sure to touch the base, but not trying to stop on the base. Running through the base prevents injury to both batter and fielder alike, as the batter is not trying to stop and occupy the same space as the fielder, but only passing through. To that end, several stadia of the learning level use a double base for first, so that the batter doesn't have to try and get entangled with the first base fielder at all.

Beyond learning to run through the base, though, and that one should always turn back into foul territory when coming back to the base, the next thing to learn is that if one hits a base hit into the outfield, one should turn a bit toward the next base, in case there is a fielding mishap or a badly thrown ball coming back into the infield and one should attempt to collect the next base. Turn too far and you get picked off by an enterprising fielder. Turn too shallowly and you miss opportunities.

Some of the other cards in the suit of Bases reflect things that require coaching - Hugging the Base, for example. In other places as well - when to Steal, how to spot a Pickoff, how to try and get the pitcher to Balk. All of these things are elements that require the touch of a baserunning coach.

What might be one of the hardest things to teach on the basepaths is how to tag up and when to tag up. The rules of the game say that in any ball that is caught on the fly, baserunners may attempt to advance to the next base at their own peril, provided they have first made contact with the base they last legally obtained after the catch. For most fly balls, a baserunner is advised to position themselves sufficiently far away from the base that they can get back to it safely if the ball is caught, but can also take the next base or two if the ball isn't caught. For particular situations, especially for fly balls hit a bit more shallowly, the baserunner holds on the base, creating a constant tag-up situation so that they can take off for the next base as soon as the catch is made and hopefully beat out the throw arriving from the outfield intent on making another out. If the ball is hit behind the baserunner, the coach can serve as their eyes to tell them when to start for the next base. Thus, even when the player knows all the right things to do, they can still use a coach to help them.

The Coach of Bases is in the domain of Learning New Ways of the World. For most people, learning the ways of the world are characterized as figuring out that the world is cruel and doesn't give a damn about you and that other people will screw you when they get the chance. This is not true - it also entails learning how to hit the Goldilocks standard of confidence in hostile environments, how to trust that someone else is looking out for your interests (and when to ignore their advice), being able to juggle more complex interactions and decisions, and knowing when to retreat to the base and tag up so that you can advance.

As with all the coaches, a happy result is from being able to incorporate their lessons. And the possibility of you being the coach or mentor that someone else needs to have. The bad side is being unable to learn those new ways and getting stuck in old ways, or worse, refusing to learn the new ways because of bad reasons. The Coaches are powerful forces in shaping and reminding players, and they should not be taken for granted. That, too, is a way of the world that has to be learned.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

Baseball games do not normally end in ties, certain exhibition games that are roundly booed by fans and pointed to as catalysts for making that exhibition game Count notwithstanding. Unlike other sports of the world that routinely end in draws, baseball must have victors and losers. What happens, then, when twenty-seven outs are recorded on both sides and neither team has more runs than the other? Extra Innings.

Each extra inning is a full and complete inning - the visiting team gets to bat for three outs, and the home team gets to bat for three outs. As in the bottom of the ninth inning, if at any point the home team scores more runs than the visitors, the game stops and victory is declared. If both sides bat and the score is still the same at the end of the inning, another one is played. This can mean some late night games go well on into the morning until someone breaks the type and keeps it broken to the end of the inning. One minor league game made it all the way into the twenties of innings before the tie was finally beaten and everyone could go home. Many of the fans had already left by that time, of course, but those that stayed got more than two games worth of baseball. Not bad for a minor league ticket's price, yeah?

So the visiting team has the harder task of winning in extras - they have to score runs and then go out and field well enough to stop the home team from scoring more. The pressure, such that it is, sits mostly on the visiting team to try and win. At least until they do break the tie - then it's the home team's turn to feel the scrutiny of the fanatics. One way or another, this game will end, and hopefully, all the fans will be happy that they got to see a little more baseball than the nine innings promised, whether or not their team won. (And if they didn't, it's a shame.)

The presence of Extra Innings in your reading is about delay. Whatever it was that you were doing or hoping to achieve, it's going to take longer than you were hoping for. There's a thing in the way, and extra time and effort will have to go into it to make it a victorious affair. Nobody knows how long the delay is going to last, so you just have to keep playing the game to win in this inning and hope the other team doesn't do you one better. Or worse, match your increased effort with just enough of their own to keep everything locked up without anyone getting any sort of win. The fanatics on both sides of the baseball are both happy that they haven't lost and very irritated they haven't won yet. Because baseball is supposed to be done in nine innings and their team is supposed to have won. This indecision is grating, and yet enjoyable at the same time, because if you enjoy watching baseball, or if baseball is a social event for you as much as a sporting event, then getting to spend more time at the ball park is a good thing. Too much of a good thing, of course, but a little bit isn't bad.

The good part of this card is when the delay is put to use making things better and that everyone is still playing the game at their highest ability. It produces a better end and makes everyone feel better about it, as well. It can also be used to evaluate things like accessibility or diversity or better design, make revisions, and ensure that the finished product is even better in the end.

The downside of this card is useless delay or unproductive delay. If there's reason to hold things up, or the delay is there just for someone to assert their power over you, then it's stupid delay and you might need to engage in yelling as a service and/or other methods including voice or exit. Because stupid delay is one of the things that saps energy and morale. And eventually people. Unproductive delay is often endless meetings rehashing things that are commonly agreed upon, requiring forms to be filled out that have nothing to do with the project but are yet required by someone's bureaucratic rule (that do not, when poked, have any sort of good reason why they exist), or letting one's own personal politics interfere with the process for the sake of grandstanding, showboating, or because of inane or asinine promises made to not do work because someone else has a different view than you do. (Principled objections don't count here.)

Extra Innings doesn't always happen, but when it does, be prepared to take advantage of the extra time so that your end results will be better. Someone else will if you don't.

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Silver Adept
11 July 2016 @ 09:01 pm
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

Outs come in many forms. Strike outs, ground outs, fly outs, pop outs, foul outs, outs on appeal, double and triple plays, and more. Outs are the way of the baseball game - without them, it can't end, as there's no clock or timer or other pressure to move the game along. Outs are a fundamental structure of the game of baseball.

Of course, they're also in a limited supply. Each team gets only twenty-seven of them guaranteed, and their management is crucial to whether or not a team will win their games. Standing in contradiction to this is the reality that even the very best baseball players are still more likely to make an out going up to the plate than they are going to make a hit. If one simulated baseball solely on the long term results of every player, it wouldn't look like anyone scored any runs out for any hits or was a standout everything - all of them all got out more than half the time. That's kind of depressing - what other game celebrates such futility by putting players who do poorly, but slightly better than all the others, in their Hall of Fame?

To any fanatic of baseball, though, what happens for things that aren't outs when your side is up to bat combine with the outs your team creates while on defense to have a complete baseball partisan experience. The highlight reels provide airtime for both displays of offensive power and excellence in defensive fielding, and the fanatics will cheer both of them equally, because they understand that both are important to winning the game. So outs are both beneficial and harmful, depending on which side of the bat you are on.

Umpires have two basic signals that they use to communicate their calls visually - the indicators of out and safe. Because appeals and other requests of the umpire are always framed so as to give yes or no answers, they are also easily communicable with the out or safe signals.

To indicate an out, the umpire makes what is classically called "the hammer" - a closed fist, with their arm bent at a right angle, with the sign given in a motion reminiscent of a hammer being swung. If one is watching televised baseball, the home plate umpire in the Major League division may use an alternate hand gesture to indicate strikes or strikeouts such as the "punchout". This is technically not in the rules, and the hammer gesture is to be used preferably, but good television and all that. At the lower levels and the learning leagues, the hammer gesture is much more prevalent for strike calls. As one might guess, the hammer is also widely visible to anyone watching the game, so that even if one does not hear the umpire boom out the call because of the background noise of the fanatics, one can see what the call was.

The out gesture is also used as the affirmative in appeal questions such as "Did the batter swing at the pitch?" or "Did the runner fail to legally touch second base?" because many appeal questions will result in outs if they are upheld. This makes the gesture practical as well as visible.

The presence of an out in your reading can mean a temporarily setback, if you are hitting. It is an incremental step toward the end result of your plan and process. Spectacular and flashy outs are more visible, but most of the outs collected in any given game are "routine", indistinguishable from any other out hit that way. This is encouraging to the hitter, actually - most of us will encounter mistakes and failures and commit mistakes and failures, and even though the majority of times will involve mistakes and failures, they provide experience and learning that can be put to use later on. Yes, sometimes those outs are the ones that end the game in a loss, but most of them just mean taking another walk to the dugout. Plus, it's still possible for you to be put out through no failure of your own - you happen to be the lead runner and the batter hit the ball right at the base you have to get to. And sometimes, type being asked to sacrifice yourself to help your team out. Those are also outs all the same, but they're outs according to the plan. Execute them well, and hopefully you will be rewarded. Forgive yourself your mistakes, learn from them, and then understand that the next time, it's another chance - everyone has more experience now, but it's still a chance. One percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. And every now and then, you will succeed and have a reason to celebrate.

If you are fielding, an out represents another step of progress toward your goal. Every time you get three, you can come in and pick up the bats to hit with. Skill in fielding leads to chances for hitting. Aligning the Mitts, Balls, and Bases means that the Bats will follow. Outs for fielders are rewards of practice, mental acuity, and determination, and occasionally good luck, reflexes, and sheer physical ability.

The thing to remember about an out is that it's small, it's temporary, and you need more of them to create a change in situation. Trying to resist getting out is trying to engage in perfectionism. And no team or individual can sustain perfectionism forever. The game must go on.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

The Suit of Mitts is the suit of the Heart and Spirit, associated that way because of all the tools on the baseball field, Mitts are the receptive ones. They hold Balls, touch Bases and interfere with Bats. In fact, they're the only equipment that can contain an entire suit within themselves.

Mitts also come with different varieties to suit their intended purpose - the first base mitt has some extra length and width so as to catch less well-thrown balls in the stretch to make outs. The catcher's mitt has a significant amount of extra padding to compensate for having to collect regular offerings at high speeds. Each person's glove is unique to their hand and their playing style.

The domain of the Coach of Mitts is fielding, a staple of defensive power. Fielding is the power to be able to get a glove on a batted ball in a hurry and deliver that ball to the right place to collect outs and prevent runs from scoring. Considering, however, there are nine distinct positions on the field that each have different responsibilities, the fielding coach has to be able to understand every place and how it interacts worth all of the other places, and give both individual and group instruction on how to do the necessary parts of the defense. And how to support each other - one of the things you don't see unless a fielder mistimes a dive or takes a bad path to the ball is that there are other fielders also covering the same area the ball is at or going to. The catcher, for example, has to hustle themselves down on a ground ball to back up first base in case the throw is off-target, so as to prevent the batter from taking an extra base on the throw. Outfielders regularly back each other up so that one drive didn't get extra bases because the player missed their dive. The shortstop and second base have to learn which of them will be the one to go out and be the cutoff person for throws coming in from the outfield and which will cover the base for any plays that might happen there, and whether that assignment changes based in which part of the field the ball is headed out to. (It usually does.) Players need to know their coverage assignments on balls hit to their side of the field, the other side of the field, steal attempts, pickoffs, and all the other things that might involve the application of mitts (often with balls inside them, or transitioning through them).

All of this requires a group working in concert to learn and support each other. One must have a team to be able to field effectively, even if the personnel on that team shift around through trades and injury. If you cannot work well with others and know when to pass off the ball to someone else, you will not go very far at all. These are matters of heart and spirit because even if your head knows what to do, if your heart isn't in it, you can't give it full effort. If you aren't fully present in the moment of a game, with your spirit fully attuned to the field, you will be too slow, think too long, or deliver the ball too late. Things off the field can distract, things that happened earlier in the game can interfere, and then you are no longer present, and the team's power is not quite all there.

Communication is also a prerequisite to good fielding. Chatter is communication. The Signs are communication. Even rhubarb is communication, albeit not very productive or positive communication between teams. There is an established process for appealing to the umpires about the rules, and rules that govern that communication so that nobody gets thrown out for asking questions. A field that is silent is a field that cannot do its job.

The Coach of Mitts is the coach of receptivity, protection, and communication, all of which are needed to effectively build and maintain a team. Being able to work and talk with each other and stick up for each other when the time comes is the way to create a group of players that will be able to reach their full potentials. The Coach's positive aspects are in team-building and communication. The negative aspects of the card are in selfishness and praising the individual above the team, because that sows discord in the team's dynamics. If dysfunction is your goal, don't do what the fielding coach tells you to do. Just don't be surprised when you end up being responsible for the error that costs the team a run of two, or the game.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

The grand slam is the only play in baseball that scores four runs, the maximum possible in any one play, without an error. To be even able to potentially collect a slam, the bases must be loaded, already generating tension and pressure for everyone on the field and, generally speaking, reducing the number of pitches that can be hit well to near nil, as the pitcher consciously avoids trying to put the ball anywhere but the absolute edges of the strike zone. Out of that situation, the hitter must make contact, and so do well enough to put the ball sufficiently out of reach of the fielders that all four players will score.

In short, one must jack a junk ball with the bases juiced.

A grand slam brings the fanatics to their feet in applause and generally allows for a bit of soaking it in while the batter makes the home run trot. This is the singular offensive achievement, the Holy Grail of the hitter, and the feather in the cap of the Power hitter, who hopes to collect many, many more of them over the course of their career. To hit one will be immensely fulfilling and may very well get you a round or two of drinks at the bar after the game. The record books will put you in a good category, even if your career is otherwise unremarkable. Short of hitting a walk-off, where the winning runs get scored without the defense being able to stop it, this is going to be the place where hitters find a hero. This is a happy, happy event for the hitter and should be celebrated.

There's one tiny thing to remember, though, about a grand slam. Much like finding the Golden Snitch, a slam by itself does not guarantee victory. It helps, a lot, certainly, but unless those four runs are exactly what you need to win in the bottom of the ninth, there's still the rest of the game to be played. getting a slam when down eight is great - you've cut the deficit in half. But if your defense gives up another three in the next half-inning, then you're basically back to where you started. You have experienced a local maximum - the point on the curve that is currently the highest at that point, but is not the actual highest point on the curve - that happened sooner or will happen later.

For the pitcher, this is an unmitigated disaster, to give up four runs on one swing, and a swing that the defense could not even make an effective play on. There's some small consolation in the fact that being the pitcher that gave up the grand slam doesn't mean you, too, will end up in the record books unless you continue to distinguish yourself by giving up more of them. It's frustrating to give up a home run, and even more so this kind of home run. But now you have another batter to face and the game continues.

This is a generally positive card, representing great success in your affairs, sometimes even the very best success that is possible, unless you really feel that you're the pitcher in this affair and you've just had something blown up in your face. Just keep in mind that showboating is still frowned upon, and that there's still game to be played.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

"Bases Loaded", in baseball or softball, signifies that each of first, second, and third bases are occupied by baserunners with outs still to go on the half-inning. The batter currently coming to the plate must be dealt with - a walk will advance all the runners one base, including the one on third, who will score a run without having to put in effort to avoid being put out. Most scenarios that have batted balls will result in a run scoring unless the defense can make enough outs off force plays to prevent that run from counting or make an out and be close enough to the next pay for the runner on third not to chance being thrown out at the plate.

For both pitcher and hitter, the bases loaded scenario is very high pressure baseball. For the hitter, they gave am opportunity to do some very serious damage with a base hit, or even keep the pressure on by walking in a run and continuing the bases loaded situation for the next batter in the lineup. That is countered by the possibility of striking out, hitting into a double play, or flying out shallowly, and only contributing an out instead of something better. For the pitcher, it's the prospect of giving up the big hit or home run that's the worry, and getting the K, the ground ball, or the short fly that's the benefit. Diametrically opposed goals with runs at stake in a showdown situation where someone is going to come away with a victory? Yeah, that's a pressure situation. Notice the fanatics are paying a lot more attention to the game at this point.

Because of the higher stress of these moments, mistakes are much more likely to happen and be consequential for the team that commits them. If you're looking for the players that are going to be The Hero and The Goat in any given game, barring last-inning heroics, what happens during the bases loaded scenarios are likely candidates. What constitutes a mistake in these scenarios have a much tougher standard. Even a pitch that is called a ball or a strike can have huge implications in the at-bat, in the way that it influences the pitch selection for the rest of the time. The more balls that have been accumulated, the more likely the pitcher is going to throw something that cannot be mistaken for anything but a strike, which means the batter can look for that pitch and take it for a ride. More strikes means the pitcher can dip into their arsenal of breaking and off-speed pitches to see if they can get a batter to chase something outside the strike zone. The ease with which both pitcher and hitter can mentally psych themselves out or overthink can make a situation like a Choke much more likely.

The best advice in this situation is usually the ones that are dispensed by the coaches to each of the players. "Just make contact." (i.e. "Don't try to swing for a home run and muscle the ball out. A normal, natural contact swing will do the job just fine.") "Throw strikes." (i.e. "Pitch balls the hitter will swing at and trust that the eight other positions defensively will be able to assist you in getting outs.") These are well-worn mantras of the coaching path, and players will hear them in just about every league and situation, but they are still the most relevant and sage words for the task at hand, because there's one thing more to remember about a bases loaded situation, even with all the pressure raining down on you to perform and execute: it's all potential. Nothing has happened yet. Breathe.

This card, in your reading, represents great potential. It can go well, poorly, spectacularly, disastrously, or remain mostly unchanged but for some movement in one direction or other. It's okay to feel the pressure of the situation. It's okay to panic and feel nervous and worried about it. Ultimately, though, trusting your training, assuming that the training and practice you've gone through is germane to the situation, is going to be the way to get through it.

The down side of this card is cracking under the pressure. Trying too hard to get through the situation is going to make it more likely that things will explode in your face. Running away from the situation isn't going to help, either - there are no bases to give, and going up hoping to walk will probably result in striking out, instead. (If it happens, try not to be too hard on yourself, okay?)

Throw strikes. Just make contact. The rest will follow, whether as in a Zen experience or a big ball of chaos.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

...control. Where Power is generally brute force gathered and moving at high velocity, not easily resisted or dissipated (but often easily redirected), Control does not usually gather enough force to have someone standing in direct opposition to them. That makes it harder to spot the use of Control until it's too late. Control is patient and waits for an opportunity to attack, having spent a lot of time setting up the right scenario beforehand.

Hitters that exercise Control are generally considered hitters for average - they may lack the showstopping power of hitting home runs, but when they get up to bat, there's a good chance they will get on base, through patience at the plate and an uncanny knack for hitting balls where the fielders just can't get to them. Singles, bunts, and the occasional steal, along with speed on the bases, make the Control player manipulate the game to their own speed and desired ability. Enough Control players near each other in the lineup can manufacture a run of two by themselves or help begin or extend a rally that could become a high-scoring affair. The snowball effect is the way Control hitters work - little things strung together that suddenly create big things. Apparent coincidences or seemingly weird behaviors turn out to have had a plan behind them the whole time.

Control is usually applied to pitchers more than hitters, in the same way Power is usually applied more to hitters than pitchers, helping to set them up as opposite powers of the game. A pitcher must have command and control of their pitches to deliver them to the spots requested by the catcher in the manner requested, or they will have to deal with the consequences of wild pitches, hitting batters, or having those batters hit their pitches to the farthest reaches of the ball park. Usually, though, when taking about Control and pitchers, the archetypal one is a pitcher that lacks velocity as their singular effective characteristic, and instead has a variety of pitches to select from, most of which have some form of break to them, so that it is incredibly difficult to predict what pitch will be coming next, where it will originate, and what kind of movement it will have. In this situation, hitters are often reduced to reacting to the pitch and hoping to foul off enough wrong guesses until they collect a right one and do something with it. Control pitchers are starters and middle relievers, whose game has gone beyond sheer velocity into finesse and manipulation. They know when to take heat off the ball as much as when to put it on.

Control's weaknesses, though, are just as present than those who rely on Power. Applied Power is often able to withstand or break schemes involving Control, by taking advantage of the ease in which a single mistake or out-of-place support or action can bring down the entire affair. A power hitter only needs one lapse of control to hit a home run or an extra base hit and drive in several runs. A power pitcher can often overwhelm a control hitter and prevent them from getting the placement they want by keeping them trying desperately to just catch up to the pitch enough to put it in play.

And, sometimes more so than with power pitching, control pitchers get tired more quickly and have their time on the mound shortened by every batter who takes more than the plan's allotment of pitches to them. Control pitchers are also usually away from their intended game and style when there are runners on base, providing pressure that might rush the mechanics or pull the defenders out of alignment. It is quite possible for a Control pitcher to snowball themselves in the same way a spinning top eventually develops a wobble and then comes to a halt, no matter how well-spun the top was at its beginning. The chaos that develops when things come crashing down is the risk of trying to impose your control on others.

Ideally, Power and Control are in harmony with each other in a player, equally able to harness either as the situation demands it. This doesn't produce quite the extremes of good associated with either, but it also doesn't produce the excesses of bad associated as well. The best players can do both consistently, and usually that requires coaching to develop the part that the player naturally lacks.

The Tarot equivalent of this card is The Chariot, which requires a driver of multiple horses to be in control of them so that they will work together. Classically, the chariot races were matters of big money and prestige as well as entertaining spectacles for the watching audience as the chariots would jostle each other for position in the track - not unlike race car driving in our own times. The card represents the influence of control on the situation, and it can be self-control or other control. It's not necessarily a universal good, either - the card may be signifying control exerted that needs to be broken or adjusted to produce good results. It depends on where you are and what sort of forces are arrayed against you. Fighting Control with Control can work, and it can just as easily become a very tangled mess. Handle with care.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

There are two supposedly-contrasting forces for offensive players to maneuver toward - hitting for average, and hitting for power. Hitters for average are stereotypically smaller of build and fleeter of foot than others, with incredible bat speed that allows them to get the bat around on any pitches coming their way, no matter how poor the offering is, and punch it through the holes in the defense to get on base. Hitters for average are supposed to be the artists of the batted ball, specialists in placement and sneaking hits into places that don't seem like they could be responsible for a base hit. Those are the hitters...for the next post.

Instead, we're going to talk about those who use Power as their main method of baseball operations. For most power hitters, the key statistics are Home Runs, Runs Batted In, and the On-Base and Slugging percentages. These are all measures of offensive prowess and the likelihood that this hitter will produce multiple runs with a single swing of their bat. A power hitter lives for big plays and single moments, the bases-clearing hits and extra bases that end up on the highlight reels, the sports programs, and the newspaper columns written about the game. They are dangerous because they will hit anything that's not perfectly thrown and drive it very, very far.

On the other side of the plate are the power pitchers. Power pitchers might have two or three pitches in their repertoire, but their danger comes from sheer velocity. Pitchers that regularly throw in the high 90s and beginning 100s of velocity basically require hitters to decide whether the pitch is worthwhile almost as soon as it leaves the pitcher's hand. If the reflexes are too slow, it doesn't matter whether or not the player wants to swing, they won't have the opportunity to make contact before the ball is already in the catcher's mitt and the umpire is making a call.

Power is intimidating, and its skillful use can create an aura around the player that is very difficult to break. Some players exude that aura so well that they will be intentionally walked, just so they don't have to be pitched to. Others, especially pitchers in the closer role, rely on that intimidation aura and the sudden change in velocity to put players away with their fireballs in short order, bats still on their shoulders and mystified by what they have just seen.

The confrontation between power hitters and power pitchers is often a salivating affair for the observers, and the fanatics of both sides will sing the praises of their chosen partisan in an attempt to intimidate the opposition's fans. Power is intoxicating, even to those who are marginally proximal to it. Once the question is resolved in the rivalry at that point, power has been demonstrated. But the other person is only waiting for their opportunity to demonstrate their own power.

Power players have weaknesses, however. Power hitters, in their quest for extra base hits, will often take pitches they should be swinging at and will often swing at pitches they should be taking. Hitting for power often increases strikeouts, decreases walks, and hurts the batting average as well. Power pitching relies on a small set of pitches to be effective. Against a batter with good eyesight and high bat speed, sitting back and waiting to see what a pitch does for as long as possible, and with a remarkable talent for fouling off pitches that aren't just right, a power pitcher will eventually repeat themselves, have to go to one of their less effective pitches, or tire a bit and lose some of those velocities, and then a hitter can take advantage of these lapses for their own power hitting. Relying solely on your own power to get you through the game might work here and there, but it's not going to be the prefect solution for all situations.

This is usually the card of Strength in a more traditional Tarot deck, and much like its counterpart, Strength is useful in several situations, it is very flashy when put on display, but there are times where applying too much strength to a situation only results in things getting broken. For that kind of situation, you're going to need...

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

While television broadcasts, fantasy sports, and commentators focus on individual players and their progression through the game and the season, baseball is a team sport. The offense has to work together to score runs. The defense has to work together to collect outs. While one or another player may be having a hot streak, or may be the marquee player for any given squad, it's very easy to make one player utterly ineffective by hitting away from them or pitching around them. Two, close in the lineup, are much more dangerous, and the more that the team itself is able to do things from any position, the better the team itself does.

Sometimes, however, the needs of the team override the desires for individual glory. Runners on the bases need to be advanced and scored, even if that means trading an out to make this possible.

This is the essence of the sacrifice. A team trades an out from their stock to advance or score runners and create a better situation for the remaining runners to also score. Official Sacrifices generally come in two varieties, the sacrifice fly ball (sac fly) and the sacrifice bunt (sac bunt).

A sacrifice bunt is a deliberate attempt by a batter to advance runners on base by bunting the ball. So long as a runner advances at least one base and isn't put out in the attempt, the bint is classed as a sacrifice. These bunts don't count as at-bats, since penalizing a hitter for giving themselves up in a tactical exchange doesn't make sense.

Sacrifice bunts require a certain amount of finesse to complete well, mostly sharing the same kind of skill needed to bunt yourself on to base. A bunt that drops almost immediately, gets nice and close to the foul line without crossing it and that forces the player fielding it to have to turn around to throw to get the lead runner will generally do quite well as a sacrifice bunt. The main point is to put the ball in such a place and way that the only out the defense really has its to throw to first and get the batter. Before the general overall increase in fitness and strength among baseball players characterized by an era of steroid scandals and other performance enhancing substances, it was almost a staple of a National League baseball game that the pitcher, so as to save their energy for throwing, would generally attempt to lay down a sacrifice bunt if they were in a position to be able to do so, so that other batters would be able to drive in runners from there. At the time of these posts, interleague play and continuous improvement in training and strength had pitchers taking swings seemingly more frequently than they were before, including hits that can travel far enough for home runs. The increase in pitcher hitting has helped spread the duties of sacrificial bunter to many other spots in the lineup, making the bunt possible at any point in the game.

Sacrifice bunts are also a characteristic of a team that plays "small ball", whose game plan involves manufacturing runs in small batches and using stellar defense and pitching to keep the score low. A small ball team is geared toward winning a game 1-0, rather than 13-12, and their willingness to trade an out to advance runners into scoring positions is attempting to provide a high percentage chance of making the few hits of the game productive ones. Small ball is an interesting game to study and use, and it can make teams with limited payrolls competitive against titans that throw money at players to build a lineup of power hitters.

The other official sacrifice is the sacrifice fly ball, which can be a little trickier to recognize, as it is generally not a deliberate action like the sacrifice bunt, but instead a decision made by the scorer on fly balls hit to the outfield. The criteria are that there have to be less than two outs, the ball must be hit out of the infield on the fly, the ball has to be caught on the fly, and, most crucially, a runner has to score on the play without a defensive error allowing them to. Most sacrifice flies, then, have the characteristic of being a sufficiently deep-hit fly ball to the outfield that the runner on third base is able to advance and score before the throw from the outfield arrives and a tag is applied to them.

As with sacrifice bunts, a sacrifice fly is not counted as an official at-bat, but the run that scores is added to their total of runs batted in, resulting in a net positive to the offensive statistics of the batter that flies out. So even the individual metrics go up when a player helps the team score runs. Which is the idea for helping remind us of the team nature of the sport.

There is one other notable sacrifice that happens infrequently in baseball, but it is generally recorded HBP (hit by pitch) rather than as a sacrifice - at certain levels of the game, when the fundamentals of the game regarding throwing strikes should be firmly established, pitchers start being taught how to locate their pitches to be the least hittable, and to generally move from attempting to get all their pitches in the strike zone to starting to get their pitches to the edges of the strike zone. In three directions, this doesn't mean much, but the migration of pitches toward the batter's edge of the strike zone means there's a greater opportunity that a pitch will slip too far inside and strike the hitter. Hitters, at this same level, are being taught to "crowd" the strike zone and present themselves in such a way that any mistake too close to them will result in the batter being awarded first base for being hit by a pitch. As velocities increase, so does the likelihood that being hit by a pitch will hurt. And that's before things get to the point where a pitcher is "accidentally" throwing at hitters that have displeased them. (The umpires frown heavily on such actions and have been instructed to eject anyone they perceive as deliberately throwing at a batter and several other personnel along with them.)

In any case, being hit by a pitch is sometimes euphemistically referred to as "taking one for the team", with the expectation that the personal physical sacrifice of the player will be appreciated by their teammates, and possibly rewarded by being a run that eventually scores. Even if they have bruises and soreness afterward.

The presence of this card in the reading is fairly simple - there's a sacrifice being asked of you. Someone else might need what it is you are looking at more than you do. You might be asked to mentor someone else's big project, reducing your own glory but increasing goodwill and possibly giving the other person the confidence they need to succeed at full potential. Sometimes, that may even mean having someone else take your place on the team. You could sacrifice your own privileges to help others get a leg up. Sacrifices in baseball aren't easy, but they're not the same as sacrifices asked in life. But the sacrifices asked of in life often come with benefits to those who can make them.

That said, constantly being asked to make sacrifices (unless you're the pitcher) is probably an indication of team dysfunction - make sure you're not being taken advantage of by your team. If you're a person that likes to help by nature, this is a difficult thing, sticking up for yourself.

The downside of the card is the person who won't make sacrifices at all. The person that cannot give way, accept help, or do anything other than stand in the spotlight and try to draw all of the attention to themselves. As with everything, a little bit of self-aggrandizement is okay, but putting yourself in front of everyone else constantly is going to end up with the team not supporting you when it would otherwise. Bad Ends often catch up with time.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

With its bevy of statistics and numbers tracked, it would surprise very few people that baseball is a game that seems good for simulation purposes. Statistical models are usually in play for more than just fantasy league players trying to make decisions about who to draft and trade - the teams themselves are running similar models to try and determine which if their players is going to be helpful, which need to be gotten rid of, and what kinds of roles need to be fulfilled if the team wants to compete for a playoff spot. Mathematics is the underpinning of baseball, and computers are really good at doing all sorts of complex mathematics to see whether or not a player is going to be valuable.

That's all very off-field material. On the field, maths and logic are just as important in determining defensive placement (and whether to use the shift or not), pitch selection, how big a lead to take, whether to steal, and whether to take, swing, or bunt. All of these factors interact with each other in myriad ways. A slow pitcher with a catcher that can get rid of a ball quickly is a different scenario than a fast pitcher with a slower catcher. A hitter with a tendency and a pitcher with a likelihood adjust their choices accordingly.

Prioritization is a huge part of the defensive decision tree. With runners on base, opportunities to get the lead runner out are a priority - except when the batted ball would result in two outs instead. Then you can give up a base, and sometimes even a run, in exchange for two outs. Except if the infield really needs to make sure that lead runner doesn't score the winning run - then you might only get one out, or none, so as to avoid losing the game. The outfield always attempts to deliver the ball back to the infield one base ahead of the lead runner any time they have to handle retrieving it, fly out or not. Force outs are preferable to tag outs, ground ball outs to fly ball outs (and strikeouts over all), and before every pitch is thrown, every defender knows what to do with the ball should it be batted their way, in the case of runners trying to take the next base and in the case of runners not trying to take the next base. They also know what to do if the ball is batted to a different defender - pitchers are often required to cover first base on balls batted to the defender normally covering first base. This can mean for a very interesting 3-6-1 (first base-shortstop-pitcher) double play if the defense can hustle fast enough to get everyone in place. Shortstop and second base trade off as to whom is covering second base on balls batted to the left or right side of the field, and whom is covering second base in case of a throw down to prevent a steal or attempt to pick off the runner, based on the situation and the batter at the plate.

The foundations of these heuristics are taught at the learning level, with practice scenarios repeated until the fielders are making correct decisions, even if their arm strength can't quite deliver the ball to the correct destination in a reasonable amount of time. It's why some of the chatter between defenders are reminders to themselves and others as to which decision tree to use for the upcoming batter. And then those decision trees end up having to account for the rare scenario, usually accompanied by a field-level below of "BUNT!"

A computer could very well simulate the entire decision tree that every player goes through on every pitch and accurately replicate most of the mental game as thoroughly as possible. The physical game, not as easily, but they're trying all the same, through increasingly sophisticated dice rolls and random number generation. The mental game is present for those that can read the signs, and if you're tapped in to that part of the game, even the mundane experiences give clues to the unfolding shape of the contest.

All of that goes into this card - Fielder's Choice. Officially, a Fielder's Choice is defined in Rule 2 as "the act of a fielder who handles a fair grounder and, instead of throwing to first base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an attempt to put out a preceding runner." It's a way of statistically accounting for the presence of a batter on the bases on the scorecard without the official scorer having to credit them with a hit (which would raise their batting average). A Fielder's Choice is considered an official at-bat, so statistically, the batter is punished correctly for not hitting safely, even if they subsequently manage to get on base due to how the play unfolds.

For example, a batter who starts what would be a 6-4-3 double play but manages to beat the relay throw to first thanks to their speed on the basepaths or their teammate's work at disrupting the rhythm of the play (actual disruption of the play itself that doesn't give the defense a fair shot at making the play in the eyes of the umpire is interference, and will get the batter declared out) will be scored as a Fielder's Choice - the defensive player could have decided to put the batter out, and probably would have, but they chose to go after a higher-priority runner already on the base paths. In the cases of double plays, the batter might still end up getting out anyway based on further decisions, but the initial decision was to focus on something else.

As you might expect, the presence of this card is about making decisions. The artwork of the card itself depicts a fielder with the ball and in the motion of making a throw, with other fielders ready to receive that throw. The throwing fielder, however, is giving no body language as to which fielder they are going to throw to, and may, in fact, be hesitating just a little bit before delivering the ball, a hesitation that could be costly.

The upside of the card indicates choosing a course of action based on your understanding of the situation and following through on it. Even if you're not sure that the option you picked is the optimal one, you should at least be able to get an out from the decision or otherwise help your team. The option you choose may be different based on the scenarios that you choose, but at this point in the game, you hopefully have enough information about the state of play that you can confidently make a choice that will be helpful.

Which makes the downside of the card about indecision. Paralyzing indecision, of trying to choose between options where there is no clear indication as to where to go, or between competing options that are both loud and mutually exclusive. If you can't choose, try to determine why not. A lack of information can hopefully be remedied with research or questioning. Or applying what you already know to the situation at hand. Sometimes the decision is there, you just need to actually notice it.

Baseball is a game of choices, from the front office to the field of play. Even if only one specific thing actually gets recorded as something in the scorer's book. Seeing the decisions that lead to the current situation helps makes later decisions easier to make.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.]

You can go an entire career without personally seeing it happen, even though in the aggregate, there's usually one that happens to somebody every year or two. The situation that has to exist to potentially being it into existence is pretty rare by itself - no outs and at least two baserunners. And then, what has to happen after that is, quite frankly, a mistake. A gamble that turns out horribly, some errant baserunning, or a series of mental mistakes by the offense that are capitalized on by the defense. In any case, when the dust settles, the unthinkable has happened - three outs recorded in one play. The half-inning is over in a single sequence of action.

The triple play is not quite the Holy Grail of defensive efforts, as many of those kinds of actions are more properly classified under what it takes to be The Hero, but it is a near guarantee of a space in the record books and admission to a relatively exclusive club. As a singular defensive play, it is the perfect expression of everything coming together just so, between fielder coordination, baserunner decisions, and the intangible luck that sometimes comes from good planning, training, and repetition.

There's a very strong argument to be made that if a defense is in a situation where a triple play can be made, the defense has not been in their best game at that point, and one might be tempted to attribute more of the triple play to luck than anything else, as most triple plays are initiated by a line drive that is caught by a fielder without having to do a lot of movement, who can then double and triple off two runners that were in the midst of a hit-and-run and can't get back to their bases in time. It looks a lot like somebody got really, really lucky in this situations. Like the double plays in the last post, what appears to be fortune is supported by a bedrock of practice, mental awareness, and concerted effort so that the fielders appear in the right places at the right times to get the outs and move the ball along to its proper destinations. It's easy to forget, when looking through the lens of the television camera, but there is nothing that happens in a baseball game that hasn't had thought and analysis of into it, often right before the event happens. That, and much of the time, players are moving in anticipation of something happening somewhere else on the field. If you can, when you watch games live, try watching a game without following the ball and see if you can develop a sense of knowing where the ball is without having to pay attention to it. The information on display all around the field should make it possible to direct your eye to where the play is going to go without having to follow the little white sphere exclusively. All of that going on away from the ball is what makes it possible for spectacular things to happen with the ball.

I have been on a team that turned an unassisted triple play at the learning level, and I still remember who did it (Duke) and how it happened (fly ball in the infield to third base - ball caught (one), base touched to get out runner who did not tag up (two), tag applied to runner arriving from second who did not tag up either (three)). I remember trying it myself when I had a similar opportunity - couldn't put the tag on for the third out. But it was such an impressive thing that once it was done, of course we wanted to have it for ourselves, too. As a testament to skill and ability. If 8 had been willing to give up the ball to a teammate, we might have had a triple play, but alas, chasing the glory prevented the right course if action from happening.

This card, in a reading, represents either spectacular success or spectacular failure, depending on whether you're the fielding team or the hitting one. For the fielders, the triple play means the pinnacle of teamwork and execution. Great thanks should be applied all around for having managed to turn what could have been a bad situation into the very best possible result, by noticing and taking advantage of mistakes or gambles by your competitors. You have done an impressive reversal of your situation, but don't think it's going to happen like this the next time. Tighten up the defense, maybe consider a pitching change or a shift in defensive alignment or pitch selection. And, perhaps, understand a little better the true potential of your team.

If you're the offense and this happens, well, I'm sorry. That's pretty much the definition of failure to have this done against you. The gamble backfired, or someone committed mental errors on the base path - could have been you, could have been someone else - and now everyone has to head back to the dugout with a promising chance cut short in one action. Circumstances were against you Learn what you can, fix the mistakes, and remember that even the very best players still end up succeeding less than half the time over their careers. Another opportunity will come.

Triple plays are rare and valuable things and demonstrate defensive baseball in a dramatic fashion. Savor them, should you get the opportunity to watch.

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Silver Adept
The Double Play is a wonder, whenever it appears. One batted ball results in two outs for the defense. This is in part because the rules provide for many ways to get hitters and runners out on batted balls. This is also because there is an impressive amount of coordination involved in any double play.

Take, for example, the "garden variety" double play - a ground ball hit to either the shortstop (position 6) or second base (position 4). If they field the ground ball cleanly, they must quickly get the ball to the fielder covering second base. That fielder has to arrive, catch the ball with a foot in contact with the base, and then keep moving so that they can set and throw down to first base before the runner that is sliding into the base...or them...prevents the exchange from happening. If there is someone on the receiving end for the throw, then the double play can complete.

This is a thing being taught at the learning levels, but it may take a few years if developing arm strength and mental focus before there is the possibility that this exchange might happen the way it is envisioned. By the time we get to the Major League Baseball level, the entire exchange, from bat contact to second out, takes about fifteen seconds at most. The entire field is moving in concert, and it is beautiful to behold. Even though the television commentators may not be as appreciative of it, because they have seen it done time and time again, a triumph of execution and practice.

There are, of course, rarer forms of the double play that catch the excitement of the crowd and the commentators more. 5-4-3 (third base -> second base -> first base) is exciting because the ball has to travel a good deal farther around the diamond to achieve the same result and usually has a much tighter window of execution associated with it. The "strike 'em out, throw 'em out" double play is more properly recorded as a strikeout of the batter and a caught stealing against a runner, but there's something exciting about the catcher having to catch the pitch that the hitter is swinging at and then still make an accurate throw to catch the baserunner. It is a testament to concentration and the sometimes unappreciated throwing ability of most catchers. Infielders can create great double plays by catching a sharply struck ball that nobody thought they could get to and then throwing over to a base to catch a runner too far away from safety, having thought the hit would be a safe one. Those are plays that will energize the fanatics.

The most dramatic of double plays, however, almost always involve the outfield. Fly balls to the outfield that are not too deep or too shallow set up a showdown between the outfielder and the runner on base. The outfielder has to hit a very precise target on a couple bounces or less to give the fielder the ability to apply a tag to a very small and fast-moving window of opportunity. They are delightful to witness, especially when you know the fielder making the throw has an extremely large caliber launcher to fire with. Some of those double plays are also the kind where knowledge is the only reason why they happen - at the learning leagues, an outfielder making a catch is often sufficiently excited about making the catch (as fly balls to the outfield are quite rare) that they have to be reminded what to do after the catch is done. If the fielder remembers, and the infielders have remembered their roles, too, sometimes you get an extra out because the person on base has forgotten theirs. I've done that at least once in my career.

Double plays are responsible for at least one rules patch - the Infield Fly Rule. Because it is so much easier to be able to read whatever it is the baserunner expects you to do with the ball (catch or not), and then do the opposite so that your have a leisurely time to put them out and prevent the offense from being able to advance their agenda in a fair and equal manner. Baseball is supposed to be something approaching a fair game, so situations that consistently upset that fairness get patched out very quickly.

If this card appears in your reading, it's a sign of applied teamwork producing results. More than 99 percent of double plays executed need two or more players to act in concert, and the most "common" ones need three. Congratulate and acknowledge the team members that helped produce your result, no matter how routine it seemed to all of you, so as to make sure that the team dynamics continue to run smoothly.

Of course, if you're the hitter in this situation, well, making two outs is not the best result for your at bat, but you can take comfort in that most of the time in a double play, you tried to avoid it and just hit it to the wrong place. Lots of other players have done the same thing, and many other ones will continue to do so. Mistakes happen and you have to keep going. If you feel like the baserunner, it's probably a sign that you've been caught by surprise and misread a situation. (Or that you need to get into your takeout slide.)

Two outs, one play. Not bad work, if you can get it.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot.] 

Hi there! It's time for a little December Days in July, just in time for the All-Star break. There are only a few cards left on the Baseball Tarot Path for us to explore together, so let's get to it!

The MVP of Bats celebrates accomplishments of action. Bats are the instruments of action in baseball, the method by which the game expands from pitcher and catcher to involve the entire field of play. Statistically speaking, for position players, a snapshot of how their year is going is usually presented in terms of how well they are swinging the bat, and for pitchers, how well they are avoiding having contact made with their pitches. The game is significantly more complex than this, of course, but television broadcasts and the ease in which baseball calculates and tallies statistics really does put a strong emphasis on how everyone relates to bats.

The three main statistical categories one will see displayed about any given batter is their batting average, or how many times they successfully get on base as a percentage of their total of at-bats, their Home Run count, and their Runs Batted In count. Most batters excel at one of the three categories and are placed in the lineup accordingly - hitters for average precede specialists in RBI, with a few key spots, like #4, generally given over to the home run specialists. A good team will have players that can manage two of the three categories - hitters with good sight to avoid lowering their average chasing bad pitches and with excellent bat speed to turn junky pitches into bloop singles or extra base hits, or hitters with good understanding that can scatter lesser pitches to the outfield for hits and RBI and then get solid contact on choice pitches or mistakes to knock them out of the field of play for home runs.

It is a truly good player, and often one that a team is being built around, that can do all three. Having been blessed with sight, smarts, power, and teammates that get on base a lot, each year, there are certain players who strive to be the statistical leaders in all three of the major offensive categories. Some years, there are no real contenders, and three different players will take each category separately. Other years, the stars align and there is a race for the rare prize of the Triple Crown.

The most recent Triple Crown winner, as if this writing, is Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers in 2012, breaking a 45 year drought and proving it possible, although highly unlikely, to be the leader in all three categories and thus able to claim an impressive accomplishment of action.

As with all things involving Bats, however, there's more to it than just swinging the stick. Part of it is that even the best of players still fail more than six times every ten, but another part of it is that good hitters excel at the other parts of good at-bats: knowing the likelihood of getting a viable pitch to hit based on the count, being able to determine which pitches need to be swung at as they leave the pitcher's hand, having the discipline to not act on things that look like they should be acted on, being okay with getting on base by a walk if the pitches aren't there, and being willing to be a sacrifice when the situation demands it.

This card in a reading represents reward for having acted with wisdom, planning, thinking, and execution. To the casual observer, it may just look like you have the raw power to be able to get what you want done, or a large amount of luck, but on a deep dive, or to the eyes of the person with expertise, all of the planning, experience, and work that went into it will be apparent. They will notice the opening of the stance so as to get the bat around on the consistently inside pitches and congratulate you when you cruise into second with a stand-up double.

If you should get this card and its downsides make more sense, the card then represents rash actions taken without thought - the kind of hitter that swings at everything, and consequently is taking the long walk back to the dugout a lot more than is healthy for a good batter. The mental attitude will have to change before results will improve.

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Silver Adept
Just in time before the conference, right?

Here's the thing: I spent most of today listening to RWBY soundtrack stuff. Considering how much I'm hoping that Season 4 gets here soon, so that I can hopefully get beyond the ending of Season 3 (and, perhaps, hold out hope that someone will be able to wipe a smug smile off a certain ship-killer), this would seem to be normal, except if you actually listen to the lyrics of most of the songs, they're not happy speed metal sorts of things.

So, I'm guessing that my mental state is somewhere in brainweasel territory and just not signaling that yet, or making a decision as to whether to be a question of performance anxiety about presenting, existential anxiety because of the rapid-fire announcements of deaths and tragedies, or some sort of depressive episode since my memory hasn't been great lately and I've been fighting a fic to get it to settle into the pocket where I feel good about it and the narrative and characters make sense. That, at least, finally happened, but it could probably use a few extra eyes.

Censorship comes in many forms, but a common one is a teacher believing that a child's brain cannot handle what it has already experienced. There's another - representing one's personal beliefs as company policy. As is arresting a student that chooses to wear a representation of his heritage to his high school graduation and forbidding creative expressions as sinful.

A used bookstore closes its doors, because retail booksales are still difficult if you're not a giant chain. The store intends to deploy its stock as a bookmobile, which has a long and proud history with public libraries.

Having fun with Amazon reviews.

Iron Man 3 could have had a woman as villain, but apparently someone there thinks women don't sell toys. Jessica Jones fans and actors think toys would work just fine.

Working on television is a frantic place, with lots of money being thrown around for everyone.

Badass women who went behind the lines of World War II and attempted to funnel as much information back to England as possible.

Attempting to follow high school dress codes as an adult is a nearly impossible task, so one can only guess how it must be for students. Plus, as we saw before, dress codes are a lot more about policing women's bodies than anything.

Brains sometimes make it more difficult to achieve tough things that require effort.

People who look like they are doing the very best may be suffering horribly from anxiety and depression. Women have ADHD, too, and are not just strangely manic creatures.

And yet, anyone not able-bodied and white is likely to be called lazy at some point, even if they're working harder than the people accusing them. Or worse, having their very expensive medical equipment broken by persons who have can't be arsed to ask how to handle it properly.

Faith is not always a universal good when dealing with anxiety and depression.

Buttered bread with sprinkles, meet Canadians.

The current nostalgia filter claims previous generations were tougher as children is just that - a filter. There was a lot of crap going on then, too.

Cliques tend to be defined more by those outside than inside, which may involve attributing malice when ignorance is correct.

As with many other things involving women, everyone has advice on what's wrong with a woman that doesn't have a man.

The societal meanings of woman and girl and the ways in which girls may be preferable to women.

Patriarchal interpretations of Abrahamic religions make sense when you want to privilege men and try to make sure that their sexual property is never tarnished, but don't work well in a world where women have agency and don't have to depend on men for everything.

The Episcopal Church of Scotland sanctions gay marriages.

The reinterpretation of art now that there are new words and contexts to consider.

Justin Trudeau had an incident in the House of Commons, with verbal and physical altercations with other MPs. Frankly, it seems like the Congress could do with the occasional push here and there.

Making Captain America a HYDRA agent destroys the context and reason for his creation.

What might the childhood of the Peter Parker (or, perhaps, the Khamala Khan) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been like?

Fanworks have benefits of being safe for experimentation and in allowing people who might feel like they have no community to find peers.

Tending the spirit of a movement is an essential duty, and many of the spiritual elements of movements like Black Lives Matter focus on advancing the cause and on self-care, because they want people to avoid burnout and to tap the benefits of their work.

Testing the backlog of collected rape kids reveals that many of those kits may have collected evidence from serial attackers.

Guidance on diet is always changing, and what was good isn't any more, and what is bad is good again. Corporations messing with our heads about what is healthy isn't helping.

Patients are the most overworked and underpaid part of the health care system - make their lives easier by not forcing them to be the intermediary between everyone. Doctors need to be thorough in their examination of causes, and not just assume that weight loss will equal health. This includes listening to and treating seriously concerns patients have about other conditions or things that will interact.

The attitude parents take toward failure helps shape whether the children believe ability is a fixed quantity or not.

Terminology is important - use the word you actually intend, rather than a stigmatizing substitute.

Tactics are important when delivering a correction - or in choosing not to fight sinkhole battles. Because there is always a lot of work in becoming an ally, and much of it centers on recognizing where you have not noticed what you are doing. Things like band names that say "girls" without having any women in the band. Or the reasons why bathrooms became gender-segregated.

Here's where I add on the fact that Wayne's World treats its woman rocker a lot better than many movies about all-woman bands.

Gender identity as a continuum of paint swatches, so that the intensity of the identity felt comes through, too.

An early theater of London users a rectangular stage instead of an oval one.

Using elements of famous paintings to do facial makeup.

Where a third season of Agent Carter could pick up, were it to be made.

A yearly parade celebrating the works of Hieronymous Bosch.

Lessons learned from Canadian movies of the last century.

Quebecois swearing often involves the elements of a Catholic Mass.

A book recommendation for a graphic novel where the United States invades and occupies Canada for their water resources.

The young adult horror of the pseudonym Christopher Pike engaged in some very fantastical stories.

A book recommendation for a story where people can stop time with orgasm.

The barriers that prevent women who write from being recognized as writers, along with the need to have more women characters in traditionally male roles, like espionage.

A book recommendation for those who love their technology mixed with folklore and fairy tales.

Creative people of a certain level of fame and following may be able to obtain a monthly income through crowdfunding, but it really does take having the followers first. Getting those followers is often a conscious exercise in telling the expectations of others to get fucked. And perhaps a little magic in choosing the right title.

The one-handed flail thought to be a staple of feudal weaponry may have only truly existed as an illustration in the time it was supposed to be in use.

Examining evidence and source material often complicates our understanding of a concept, like bacon, or slavery.

Digital archives of fugitive slave advertisements, which will hopefully assist researchers in finding macro-level clues.

Reimagining Emma Watson's Hermione Granger as a libertarian tax evader.

The next time there's an all-white cast for parts that could or should be filled by Asians, here are several leading men who could fill roles. More specifically, John Cho would be perfect in any role.

An examination of the trope that disappears disabilities when they stop being narrative necessities.

A quite serious discussion about what the effects of a sex toy-shaped rock would be were it to be used as a sex toy. The results are not pretty. Perhaps we should stick to questions about anatomy.

Various reasons why particular relationship conflicts keep reoccurring.

More on Saint Harridan, a clothier specializing in masculine-reading silhouette for non-cismen bodies.

Laying groundwork for sex positivity doesn't mean having to always talk about sex. There are plenty of compatible concepts to use as well. Somewhat more blunt tips about having good sex.

If you wish to do a lot of good in the world, fixing respiratory illnesses and treating clinical depression are your two best bets. Also, manufacture these useful shirts for wearing to doctor appointments.

Punctuation whose informal usage may be giving off the wrong impression. And common things of English that are uncommon in other languages.

Well-designed musical guides to help non-musical people follow classical pieces.

Politicians that annoy writers find themselves on the sharp end of the quill, whether in print or on Twitter. Certain politicians also have detractors that engage in violence with their supporters over remarks the politician said that generally promised violence would be done if the candidate was elected.

Racists and White Supremacists take advantage of a computer's programming to strip punctuation in searches so that they can tag whom they believe are persons deserving hate. As technology advances, the ways that technology is used in service of particular goals advances as well. One known, however, and suddenly disseminated, it's often possible to introduce sufficient noise into the situation to render the technique useless.

Inappropriately gendered products. Reviews of meal delivery services, all of which are expensive per serving and have a lot of packaging waste. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the pervasive narrative that poor people should never be allowed to indulge themselves in good food, or at least tasty food, and the ways that society drives fat people to radical surgery to finally shut up the critical voices.

Sailor Moon socks styled like the school uniforms of the man characters. Pictures from the live action version of Fullmetal Alchemist. Soy sauce cosplay.

All of the The Librarian movies, as well as the first season of the television show The Librarians will have disc releases, for those of you that enjoy snappy banter and/or ogling the plentiful eye candy present.

The vowel sounds of Canada have a few members that United States English can't really recognize.

Immersion schools helped bring back native Hawaiian from near-extinction by colonial powers.

Regardless of your opinion of their health value, the money made by selling Hot Pockets made their creators able to engage in a giant amount of philanthropy in their communities.

Seeing how easy it is to purchase and then use for harassment purposes, John Oliver night nearly fifteen million dollars of medical debts and then turned it over to a company to have it forgiven and destroyed. Total cost was about sixty thousand dollars.

The design museum of Fleuvog shoes. Which is great for those looking to see what has come before. Goth fashion works for persons of all ages. Actually, wear what you want to.

In technology, What WIRED magazine knows about how the FBI installs malware and evidence-gathering tools on suspect computers, the history of the blue raspberry flavor, a plan to avoid creating more drug-resistant microbes by being sensible about the use of antibiotics, the ways that flowers can help humans understand aerodynamics better, using the intersection of multiple biometric elements as a way of verifying identity, a low rent house in the middle of a metropolitan area for older citizens - it's in France, of course, what kind of costs it takes to live in San Francisco, using an aggregation of book reads and recommendations to sell books someone might like, not unlike, say, a library, a rock-sorting piece of art, the possibility that a fifth fundamental force of the universe exists, preservation techniques for stones carved with Ogham language, uses for personal lubricant, an apartment complex that appeared to be threatening people to like their Facebook page or face reprisal, a pair of rings that can be used to require both of them to be present before television shows can be watched, an application demonstrating the warp in play with the Mercator map projection, adapting a sewing machine for use by a chair user so that they can develop fashion for chair users to wear that is easy to get in and out of, attempting to find a treasure buried more than thirty years ago, an incredibly violent lightning storm in Colombia, the color selected to make cigarettes as unappealing as possible, and the ways in which technology gets us to accomplish their goals instead of assisting us in ours.

A startup in the United Kingdom is offering to mine the social media data of potential tenants and offer landlords profiles on whether those tenants would be good for the landlords. One might wonder how such a thing isn't going to be roasted alive by housing discrimination laws, but there's probably some way of making it so the prospective tenant "agrees" to the mining as a condition of being able to potentially be offered anything at all.

Pictures from SPAAAAAAACE! Which have had more than long enough to accumulate - the International Space Station has now gone more than 100,000 times around Terra.

Doctor Heilmlich used the technique of his invention to assist a choking victim, demonstrating the effectiveness of the technique.

Making a caramel without liquefying the sugar used as the beginning point, essentially producing a toasted sugar with the right properties of a caramel.

Pickle brine as a drink or mixer for other drinks. Yum!

Using cats to teach multiple languages, foxes that adopted a human, dogs dressed as Star Wars characters, exotic animals kept as pets, a previously closed section of Central Park in New York is opening to the public, a new species of boa constructor, silver in color, tiger cubs meet an adult tiger, an adventurous baby porcupine, a baby panda interested in play while a human tries to clean up, a bottle-nursing of a baby pangolin, the dramatic difference a bath makes for pets, an institute that raises baby sloths separated from their parents, the ways that daughter elephants step in to fill voids in social networks left by poachers killing their mothers, variations in wolf howls, the degree to which cats roam at night, an isolated environment resulting in a very different path of evolution, sea creatures that seem Lovecraftian, a Toronto cryptid, measuring bioluminescence, bird nests in atypical places, beautiful animal sculptures, trees as stress relief, the ocean as stress relief, birds that might spread fire, slow-motion video of electric eels discharging amperage against a target, a secretary bird demonstrating why it is lethal to snakes, and large birds still staying airborne.

Last for tonight, the sign of a warp zone?

Also, the pitch meeting for the show that will become Animaniacs.

And a grownup-size Catbus to ride at the Ghibli museum to go along with the town from Spirited Away in paper.

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Silver Adept
Let's start with a consequence of an increasingly swift technological pace - one must eventually deal with displaced persons.

When reading anything that claims SCIENCE! is on their side, subject it to rigorous analysis, keeping your and their biases in mind. And that includes whether the government is actively trying to censor the work of your scientists.

When considering philosophy, consider it fully, and in all its possible forms, before committing.

The Zika virus is being used as a convenient scapegoat to abandon women and children with disabilities. Because it's a fairly common social assumption that disability is the worst thing, even beyond death.

The function of public mourning, and those who can gather many to do so by having the stage.

With age comes wisdom, and the ability to be a better fan than you were when you were younger, from being able to afford the merch (Say hi, Hot Topic Star Wars line in many body sizes and Firefly-inspired dresses) and avoid the drama. Plus, you get to write definitions for new words in the dictionary based on your fannish expressions. And possibly have several very anxiety-inducing moments when the heroes you've been RPFing the whole time find out about you. (As it turns out, Wonder Woman's pretty cool with it.)

On the impossibility of becoming a polymath, which is one of those things that can trigger or exacerbate existential anxiety, if you're the kind of person whose worth was measured in how smart you were during your formative years.

The utility of mundanity in promoting spiritual and magical awareness and practice. Which is certainly not a new idea, by any standards, but is occasionally useful when existential anxiety intrudes. Coupled with how a working-class upbringing sometimes makes things easier on slicing through office politics, because I'm a big meanie like that, and somewhat of a comfort that I'm not the only person dealing with anxious thoughts and feelings.

The District of Columbia would probably function better if it were decoupled from the federal government that enjoys messing with it.

Texas Republicans need to proof their platform more, so as not to contradict themselves immediately. Or, for that matter, saying that most Texans are gay.

Another musician says Donald Trump can't use their music.

A story of using all the available options to fight off the brainweasels. A story of the body of intersectional issues surrounding bodies. Phrases that seem innocuous but are problematic regarding body size. Good behaviors of allies.

The many ways people without disabilities write and talk about people with disabilities that erases, advocates for eugenics, and otherwise ignores the disabled. And even more so for disabled people of color.

A story of disassociation and lost time, accompanied by the reality that trauma is not suffered solely on a battlefield.

It is entirely possible that persons thought to be without brain function based on behavior are still conscious and attempting to respond to the stimuli if their environment. Such people could potentially benefit from therapy and other interventions.

Writing characters as they are, instead of as mystical or completely strange, because people are fantastically diverse and different, and materials written for and by diverse people reveal new perspectives of looking at the world. Which means yes, Hermione can be black just as easily as anything else.

The experience of transitioning to being a man, and all of the changes in perception that accompany this, many having to do with having privilege work for you.

If sex education sucks, that puts people whose sexuality isn't covered in crap sex education at even greater risk. Then there's extra crap on top when pseudoscience claims to prove gender stereotypes.

A story of learning about another culture while still trying to make it okay for the child that's introducing you to it. A story of finding someone to kiss.

A story of learning language, and learning at least some of the worldview that backstops language.

Music geniuses snubbed by society because they're women. Or perhaps because they are part of the Cassandra tradition of telling truths that the society around them has no interest in hearing.

Oxycontin is dangerous, especially when the company that produces it insists it ships be taken one every twelve hours, when it seems to be effective only up to eight, which is a good way of getting someone addicted to the substance by telling them to have to wait through four hours of narcotic withdrawal.

The Rolling Stones have requested that Donald Trump not associate their music with his campaign. It seems like a basic thing - play musicians that might agree with you.

The need for yet more diversity, even as we acknowledge the strides made in opening up the narrative playbook. The uselessness of the phrase "damned if you do, damned if you don't" when taking about privilege and allyship. Then there's also major party candidates who don't mention intersectional issues, or who aren't clued-in enough to know how bad they have messed up.

If major party candidates sound like choosing between evil and stronger evil, you can thank neoliberalism's wholehearted adoption of a conservative capitalist platform for it, abandoning the actual liberal focus on protecting and expanding access to unions and government programs intended to buffer working people against the cruelties of The Market (all hail).

Kate Beaton moved away from the city to work on comics, and has the extra bonus of finding more people and stories to tell that don't normally have comics made about them. I'm putting this next to the way that history tends to marginalize and disappear pioneering women in the arts and sciences, in case someone from a much later time is reading this and doesn't know who she is. Or, for that matter, about Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Russian sniper with more than 300 kills to her name.

Encouragement from the independent booksellers is sometimes more meaningful than big sales, although the sales pay the bills.

Fandom is equally able to erase minorities as anyone else - but fandom should be a place that doesn't do this, because fandom is often supposed to be about minority viewpoints and characters that aren't getting enough in their source. Commenting on fannish history without having done cursory research, though, brings down the wrath of those who went through it - as insular as I am from fandom in general, I still saw Racefail happen, so I would expect it to be part of the timeline. Things like that, and other threats from corporate entities, founded places like the Archive (and, to some degree, Dreamwidth). Erasure of history does violence to the narrative, and to those who have invested in changing history and the narrative.

It also means not knowing how media and its archetypes react to collective cultural traumas.

School dress codes are used as methods of policing women's bodies.

Women should have more space to express their anger, rage, frustration, and other emotions that men believe women shouldn't have. Because men believe they shouldn't have them, unapologetically angry women in media are criticized more harshly than men, women who express anger lose their ability to influence others, and entire generations of women are one again socialized that anger is an unacceptable emotion for them, leading to many other problems down the road.

At least one bright spot, though - after giving a convicted rapist a six month sentence, a judge is finding it harder to get a jury pool for trials.

An overloaded child and a child demanding what they want may react similarly, but the way to defuse them is different.

For example,
tantrums at the lack of handwriting skill and practice are best handled by pointing out how much handwriting was already difficult to decipher, possibly.

Suggestions on how to achieve physical activity when brainweasels are running interference. Suggestions on finding a good therapist when you are part of a marginalized group.

Thirty years on, a new big size book about David Bowie in leather pants. Would that be were still here to see it.

Agent Carter in the Civil War movie was wasted, and not even a particularly good substitute for Agent Carter. Agent Carter is more than willing to come back to her show, if someone will greenlight another season.

Chris Evans is ready to be done with the Captain America role - it's been very big, but also hugely anxiety-making.

If you can get past the condescension and the punnery, the need for people who work in the industry related to death to find compatible dating partners actually highlights how taboo death still is as a subject in most of United States and United Kingdom society.

People likely to experience oppression have to make risk calculations all the time, calculations that are invisible to those less likely to have to make them. And to those steeped in the culture that prizes toxic masculinity and lack of respect for no, the privileged need to be explicitly called to task before they notice it. Because so many of the people in power and privilege don't have to deal with gestation or abortion. Or, for that matter, the systematic devaluation of any profession or institution that starts to become majority women. There may be space for an argument that suggests feminism is being co-opted by capitalism and marketing here, although I would conclude that it's not a failure of feminism, but a success of oppressive forces if feminism's edge is so thoroughly blunted. The other problem might be that our stories lack a full range of women in them, shorting our ability to conceive and empathize with women who don't fit a particular mold. Like Barbie and Skipper as overstressed hackers and programmers/a>.

By making John Joan and casting Lucy Liu, Elementary made a most excellent Watson.

Having captured the very thing the government wanted to suppress, a photographer's pictures of those forcibly relocated by the United States government in 1942 were censored and embargoed for nearly thirty years. This reflects a broader tend of insistence that those wronged by the past should forget about those wrongs.

Solitary confinement in prisons should be approached with the same mindset that one thinks about torture.

The are people building installations they hope will be seen as art - very far away and in the desert where few people go. There's probably a poem about looking upon someone's works that applies here. There will probably be more conversation about the artist that works in vulvas. Or about why repetitive music is enjoyable to brains. Or, for that matter, body painting people so that they look like animals.

The condemnation of hedging in language is mostly a device for older people to criticize younger people, which makes it one more thing used to decry the people than need encouragement.

Creative and learning endeavors eventually hit a point where there is no external validation to determine progress. That point is when creative endeavors become really hard, because at that point, you have to answer the question of what success looks like and nobody else.

Motherhood is not always positive, and some mothers regret what motherhood did to their lives. Even as they are bombarded with messages saying that women have only a limited time before children of their own bodies will be forever denied to them. Women don't get socialized to ask for what they want, and get punished for when they do, after all. And yet, there isn't a media furor over men whose sperm is collected or used after their death.

Naked ancient Greek men statues have small penises when the artist wants to depict the men as wise and rational. In Japan, Queen Himiko represents a time when women ruled and had equal authority as spiritual and temporal leaders. Misty Copeland enjoys success in ballet despite a recent prejudice for white and thin bodies in the art form. Badass punks taking school uniforms and making them into rebellious symbols. (Many punks eventually have to get straight gigs.)

All hail Morojo, cosplayer number one and founder of that particular fannish expression. See what your descendants have done.

The Puff Pant Prom, a women-only event where one was either attired in formal ladies evening wear or formal men's evening wear. That's excellent, and I'll bet everyone there looked great.

When engaging with sexuality and relationships, especially in visual media, there's always more to it than just putting bodies together. So much so that one can successfully argue against restrictive regulation that has been banning fetish expressions of sexuality.

Fixfic is not just for fandom. Canon authors get into the act, sometimes aided by fandom.

Writing science fiction as a woman is always frought with people telling you what you can and can't do. Perhaps for inspiration, or because you want a lot of good work in one book, two collections of Ursula K. LeGuin will be available this fall. While you wait, the Baen Free Library.

Also, a coffee table version of all the works of Hieronymus Bosch. For inspiration.

Being an editor is often a thankless and very misunderstood job.

A checklist of things to examine if you feel like you have writer block.

Tumeric juice in drinks is a new health thing. As with all new health things, claims routinely outpace what can be proven.

A revenge and intrigue thriller makes Cannes sit up and take notice.

The ways in which legal language changes with the times.

Not all donated clothing returns for resale - much of it is recycled into other things or sent to other countries.

Having asked the public to name a new polar exploration vessel, the government went with a name they felt wouldn't be embarrassing, despite its popularity.

Places to purchase digital manga for your readers and computers.

The New York Public Library has placed another large cache of images into the public domain, including a set of woodblock prints.

In technology, plant-based meats that look and cook like their animal counterparts, the likelihood that a program that caters to women's tastes is going to be more sharply downrated by men, combined with the problem that most narratives are one of three variations on the Straight White Man story, the evolution and expansion of a meme about equality and equity, using astronomy as a lead-in to a lesson on poetry, pictures of and from space, a reminder that armor with separate cups for each breast is armor that is working against its own purpose, the failure of a technology to indicate which options would be destructive, which may be the manifestation of an undetected bug, various free sites and services to help accomplish your tasks, passwords to the wireless services of various airport lounges, doing things that leak data without warning and interfere with user experience will generally alienate users, the history of the drink known as Coca-Cola, influential gadgets of the past one hundred years, alternative camera applications, things related to the creation of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the woman who was a prime investigator for Houdini to expose charlatans posing as mediums and Spiritualists, dinosaur toys that reflect the current science, selection of appropriate typefaces, sizes, and use of ALLCAPS can be the difference between legible and lethal, deep-frying water, visualizing the way that airports are connected to each other, the possibility that phone conversations are distracting, regardless of the means of communication, attempts to create perfumes that smell of ink and paper, renderings of bicycles drawn from memory, cakes with high gloss finishes, and the reality that maintainers and infrastructure people are more important than innovators and entrepreneurs. Which, perhaps, is a hat tip to Hufflepuffs everywhere, doing the hard work of creating and maintaining without flashy recognition.

A discovery of a boneyard suggests that lions might drag corpses away to eat them, the process of training kittens to work on a movie set, a cat that plays and scratches a postal worker when they put the mail into a letter slot, an ongoing battle between squirrels and their proponents, tiger cubs meeting adult tigers, a hognosed snake faking its own demise, a tunnel to help leopards safely migrate by covering a highway through their habitat, the rapidly approaching reality that soon dinosaurs will be taught as feathered creatures and not scaly ones, pictures of cats with excellent timing, glowing squid, attempts at using snails as instantaneous transmission devices, a fish swallowed by a jellyfish, cabybaras on the loose, blue-glowing fireflies, crystalline creatures, snow leopards with their tails in their mouths, a giant squid kite, excellent egg sandwiches, and cephalopods are doing really well.

Last for tonight, unabashed joy in being able to enjoy something, contrasted with an enduring character whose trauma is built to seem relatable to our own.

Reacting to the cancelation of your show with grace and thievery.

And then, An interactive guide for helping with self-care.

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Silver Adept
02 June 2016 @ 07:15 am
Yeah, I upgraded my phone and it ate a previous draft, so this is going to be extra large, most likely. Here we go. Let's start with thirty haikai, courtesy of a community.

The Dead Pool collects Price at 57 years. And another iconic musician goes earlier than they should have. Beyond that, Prince reminded us of ongoing racial issues in society as part of a career of social commentary on lyric and in name as he messed with our hearts about what an artist should look, sound, dress, or sing like. He was a reason for people to embrace themselves and a man who clearly respected women and the power they had, in and out of the bedroom.

None of that fiction for you if you want to be successful, or so we are told, forgetting that storytelling has been a way of imparting useful information for much longer than the printed word. Plus, when being told only to keep that which sparks joy, one implicitly has a system in place to repurchase mistakes, like with books. And finally, if your book club has to reinforce toxic masculinity just to be able to read books, you're probably not going to read books that would be good for men to read and discuss.

In the same vein of simplistic advice, if you can just think yourself positive, then you will also be financially frugal! If only it were that simple.

For as long as there are people to levy taxes, there are means by which people attempt to avoid paying them, it seems.

Also, the case for the use of trigger warnings and content notes, both as a way of being compassionate and as a way of having to avoid other people's feelings invading your space. A draft form, according to the most recent commentary on it, so it may change. I'm putting this near the question of why teenage girls are the most feared group in society for no apparent reason.

The ways that people trying to raise awareness often end up ignoring or doing things counterproductive to the people they're trying to help. Similarly, public speculation about the sexuality of others, even with good intentions, can also be counterproductive. Best, most often, too let people come out on their own time and terms. And to remember all the people that have gone before and the reasons why they died. Then, remember the fight continues, and there are frontiers in this fight that are valid and need fighting, but that don't always have a collective experience and vocabulary right from the beginning and it always starts younger than you think it does.

Knowing the way history is constructed gives you insight into the history of when someone is writing history. Or when they're writing hagiography. Indigenous people are often more important to history than invaders, but history rarely reflects that, for example.

Given an opportunity to avoid a strike by piloting a new contract for junior doctors, Health Secretary of the United Kingdom Jeremy Hunt decided he wanted the strike, instead.

CBS didn't pick up a pilot for a Nancy Drew series, with rumor suggesting they didn't want too many women. CBS denies they passed on the Nancy Drew reboot because it was too female-focused. Gendered reporting on mountain climbing incidents.

All around the world, the fight to make products accessible and affordable for women on periods rages on, mostly ignored by those who don't have the biological reminders. Which can make it difficult when those same ignorant people hold the reins of power. Women online fight this same fight about being women in a space that assumes men are both default and privileged.

Harriet Tubman will grace a new $20 design. This is the first time anyone other than a white man will be on the currency. That's neat, and Tubman's record for smuggling slaves is excellent. Less cool are the fact that Andrew Jackson will still remain on the bill, instead of being booted off money he wouldn't support for atrocities he committed and a persistent part of the hagiography of the United States involves the slavery period (and all the race relations afterward), which makes a strong case for why putting a person who fought against the buying and selling of other persons on the currency is not an appropriate thing to do. There will be plenty of opportunity to debate and refine this idea, because new bills won't appear for at least four years.

As marijuana becomes more and more legal, white people are easily able to step into the void, and minorities are very easily shut out based on having been disproportionately prosecuted during the War on (Some) Drugs.

Phrases of fairly common parlance that have very racist roots, next to words misheard so often their incorrect forms became the correct ones.

Australia's unique geography and inhabitants means they were writing dystopia long before it was fashionable to do so.

Heroic men characters need to have to a bigger range of acceptable emotional responses to this that cause fear or panic. Like, say, Captain America's conception of masculinity, at least before Marvel decided they were more interested in shock value than in the investment made in the character of Captain America and his ideals. (Messing with your fandom in fundamental ways backfires almost universally, by the way.)

Comics need more heroes like Faith. Or this entire suite of black heroes not named Storm. We could all use more actors like Natalie Morales. Diversity in comics requires many of the standard things comics need in general to succeed. When it does, though, it works out extremely well.

Suggestions on making a well-written book into one that sings to the reader, the ways that fan and creator are cyclical and simultaneous, instead of separated by the wall of publishing, actors going for making subtext much more textual (Myka and H.G. forever), fans making Shakespeare for his 400th anniversary, along with the prologues and warnings delivered that actual women might be on stage as actresses, Emilia as the woman most relevant to our current times, and a handy flowchart for deciding which play to go see.

A chance laying of electric cable results in the discovery of a well-preserved Roman villa. Elsewhere, copper mines likely dug out by children, a map overlay showing then and now of Kyoto, and maps of old London taxi routes that may be the forerunners to the current Underground system.

There are postal workers whose job it is to decipher handwriting that can't be understood by the processing machines.

A shorter work week might help improve general cognitive performance, as anyone who has worked a long time knows.

The first night in a new place may not have the best sleep, because the brain is still alert for predators and dangers. Once a place is in the safe list, the sleep gets better.

When considering a living space, think about all your potential needs, including whether there is sufficient space for sex.

When considering the creation of a safe space, think about what behaviors you want to exclude, and target those, rather than the perceived identity of what you think of as an abuser. Because lots of people who might look like they don't fit very much do.

In defense of the need for comment sections and the moderators that try to keep them cleaned, because the job of moderation is often fraught and exposes those who most make decisions to traumas and watching the worst of people.

Children are autonomous creatures and deserve the respect of being able to say no to physical attention.

Damaging cultural assumptions around weight, and especially women and weight. Damaging cultural assumptions about weight and health. Damaging snake oil sales about things supposed to get rid of subcutaneous fat. Damaging cultural assumptions around mental illness and psychosis. Damaging cultural assumptions about physical abilities and accessibility. Damaging cultural assumptions about the presence of a white cane.

Stories of the relation of body to image, of the concern trolling almost constantly accompanying a a fat woman, the likelihood that nobody will step up to defend a fat person against aggressors, that these attacks often extend to official policies in addition to being used as extreme examples, that people need good ways of talking and dealing with psychosis, but also finding a highly visible role model or five, coming to the realization that the is a space between love and hate, the feeling of what it's like to deal with the stress from trauma, advocacy for all abilities to be able to use cycles, and recovering a name to the person.

The conflict between an organization that believes autism is a disease that needs curing and an organization that believes autism is a thing that requires adaptation, but not necessarily any sort of thing that requires a cure. I think it would be clear that we are to side with the group that treats autism with respect and doesn't use methodologically suspect research and testing to determine autism.

The experience of a person that cannot visualize anything in their mind. The experience of being legally blind, the experience of the world well above the ground, using the body as reminder of one's experience, and making the world around you acknowledge your experience.

Carrie Fisher some at Harvard about mental illness, spirituality, and yes, some of Star Wars as well.

Courtship and dating, an evolving process. As, for that matter, is grammar. If you're just looking at phrases, the presence of certain glyphs will help identify the likely language that has been written.

Fifty stories of cities worldwide.

Long-term disability often means permanent poverty because of the maximum limits imposed on those who receive social assistance in the United States. Speaking of poverty, if your narrative insists that people are poor because of their choices, your narrative needs fixing in the worst way. (Including the expanded proof of how much your world needs changing.)

What people cook and what food magazines tell us we should cook are very different.

In tech, Apple loses to a patent troll, Google wins against Oracle over Java use in Android, yet again, data stolen about you without you having to be involved in it, the nature of Buzzfeed, robotic snakes to do repairs and monitoring on offshore drilling platforms, gloves with a wireless connection that translates sign to spoken words, DRM interfering with the ability of people to keep books they have purchased, a graphic designer tries their hand at cookie-making, and useful data gathered from unlikely sources.

Artificial creations are increasingly coded feminine because the people driving technology are generally looking for the "perfect" woman to command. This is so so because we haven't yet decided that women are sentient and independent and shouldn't be exploited.

Great board games for developing useful skills for the world beyond the game.

Art about identification, a children's book version of how Ruby and Sapphire became Garnet, labels for your projects that have taken a very long time to complete, a beautiful book of Japanese art of stylized women, beautiful and badass feminist Indian pinups, the rainbow cheese sandwich, pictures of soba merchants on delivery runs, trans* and genderqueer children photographed the way they want to be, breastfeeding women in their professional clothing, Hong Kong, by drone-camera view, pictures of the actors of Game of Thrones [fanfare] in and out of their makeup, a display of every card created for the Yu-Gi-Oh collectible card game, and the competitors of the women's professional wrestling company of Japan.

and the ways in which visual communication is better at getting things across than linguistic communication.

Dogs jumping into lakes, animated cats, barn owls learning to fly, dolphin behaviors that aren't cute or cuddly, feeding thousands of birds at a time, a snow leopard rejoicing at food, a very photogenic cat, a review of red pandas, smiling animals, baby sloths, various cross breeds of dogs, playground towers for goats, cats interfering with human tasks, cats at play, and the cute of baby cheetahs.

Last for tonight, human self-care, even for those who don't feel like they deserve it. And swears of previous times and a a historical thesaurus.

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