• Member Since 11th Apr, 2012
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Bad Horse


Just an honest businesspony with a Patreon.

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Aug
13th
2018

Bronycon 2018 blow-by-blow · 4:10am August 13th

Another year, another Bronycon!  I've been going since at least 2013, which makes 6 Bronycons for me.

6 Bronycons.  Man. Has it been that long?  What have I accomplished in 6 years?

Other than writing pony stories and blog posts, not much.  There's a point during every convention where I begin to wonder: What am I doing here?  Shouldn't I be strangling my soul slowly with a 9-5 job to support a couple of kids?

Am I too old for this?  Am I just a man-child stagnating in the sweet miasma of someone else's childhood?

I dunno, maybe next year I'll--

What do you mean, next year is the last Bronycon?  YOU CAN'T DO THIS, YOU BASTARDS! BRONYCON FOREVER!

(Or, if you prefer, the Counting Crows version)

Friday

I spent most of Friday trying to get to the con.  Missed the show authors talking about how they write scripts.  I got there just in time to get my badge and rush down to Stabletop Games for "And That's How Equestria was Made!" at 5PM.

Super Trampoline ran it this year.  They put us in a corner of a noisy games room this time, with no microphones.  We had fun, despite difficulty hearing each other. But the same description that drew a crowd of a hundred last year drew about 7 people this year, due to being in the back of the game-room and listed on the schedule as "And That's How".

Still worth running, though.  I love that game, and give my permission, blessing, and game rules to anybody who wants to run it anytime, anywhere.  Next Bronycon, we should run it in Quills & Sofas.

Then there was just time to run to Tir Na Nog for dinner with authors, except there wasn't, because it started pouring rain, and my raincoat was in my car, underneath the Hilton, past the other end of the Convention Center.  So I was late to the dinner. Instead of joining the same-old same-old, Super Trampoline and I sat with some people I don't see as often: Vivid Syntax, Shalrath, alarajrogers, and her non-pony husband, Thomas Carpe.

And that turned out great!  We talked and talked and talked.  Or maybe I talked and talked and talked.  Whatever. I especially enjoyed sharing a mutual outrage at contemporary art with Thomas, who thereby proved to my satisfaction that he is not, as I'd initially thought, Andy Warhol.

Google Image Search likes him, too:


Best guess for this image: gentleman

Pro tip: If you don't have hundreds of followers, you can use the group Convention Planning to notify people of cons you're attending.  That was how some people got invited to the dinner.

The dinner ended early.  Video evidence has me walking back to the con with Super Trampoline and Zyrian at 8:36 PM:


Complete the sentence--This is:
A. Finalists in Baltimore's annual Tackiest Streetwear competition.
B. A group of homeless men about to ask you for a dollar.
C. Bad Horse, Super Trampoline, and Zyrian about to ask you for a dollar.
D. All of the above.
or
E. Still a higher frame rate than 1970s Marvel TV shows.

The homeless were possibly even more abundant and bold than in previous years.  Some of them approached us inside hotel or restaurant lobbies. I broke down twice.  Next year I will be stronger.

(Yeah, right.)

I didn't see the Ice Cold Water Man at B-con 2018, but Corejo says he was there on Sunday.

I got back in time for "Writing Adult Humor", which went something like this:

GaPJaxie: [ presents a professional-quality multimedia presentation with animation and sound effects on how to write about a sexual relationship with unequal power dynamics in a way that isn't creepy ]

Aquaman: [ gives another professional-quality multimedia presentation on the theme that comedy is subverted expectations ]

Drunk Majin Syeekoh: I'm not drunk.  Beanis.

Slides are here.  (Jaxie calls them NSFW, but there's nothing more violent than the cover art for Hard Reset, and nothing more sexual than Cadence's flank occupying a prominent position in one picture and a whip and bridle on Twilight in another.  But that would be enough to reveal your latent equiphilia to your co-workers.)

(Horse-fucker.)

Later, all I remembered was "beanis".  And this picture:

GaPJaxie was everywhere.  He was on every panel I went to during the convention but one, including the one I was on.  I'd gripe about that, except he's so damn good at giving panel. It was good for me, Jaxie.

GaPJaxie at his day job. From Basic Instructions.

I also caught most of the "Villains" panel.  Also featuring GaPJaxie. Mostly I remember feeling deeply conflicted about my own desire for a plushie of worst pony that was on the speakers' table.

(At the "Villains" panel.  I take that to imply that Bronycon's official position is that Starlight Glimmer is still a villain.)

Saturday

Intended to get up early and play MLP TOON!  Failed. Went to Stabletop anyway and found Lord LunaEquie is me, aka Delusional Requiem, cosplaying as Papyrus from Undertale.  We gushed to each other about Undertale, which I really should write a blog post about.  (Working title: "Undertale is what post-modernism should have been".)

Delusional Requiem as Papyrus from Undertale

DR had a bunch of games on the table next to him, including one called "The Terrifying Girl Disorder."  I talked some people (including Cerulean Starlight) into playing it, because how can you not play a Japanese game with kimiwarui art about persecuted magical girls that looks like a cross between X-Men and Kakurenbo?

The story and art didn't connect with the gameplay at all, but the art was creepy enough and the gameplay unique enough to make it worthwhile.  Pony writers began drifting out of the aether and washing up against our gaming table. There was a cluster of them standing there when we finished, so we went out for lunch.

We ended up at Bubba Gump with a party of 8?, including Corejo, Pascoite, Super Trampoline, GapJaxie, equestrian.sen, and a big guy who joined us at the restaurant.  I was arguing with equestrian.sen and Jaxie that <philosophy nerdspeak>scientific epistemology should restrict itself to talking about conditional probability, and avoid speaking of "causation", because "causation" is a metaphysical concept, not a thing you can observe or even define, and if you say it, philosophers will get stuck on Hume and say science can't lead to knowledge.  That's an endless argument, and pointless, because you don't need anything more than conditional probability to gain all the information you can use, as epistemically-justified as you need it.</philosophy nerdspeak>

(They did not agree.  At all. Jaxie, EQS, I hope you have no hard feelings over me explaining how completely wrong you both are and that this is probably explained by whatever mental deficit allows you to forgive Starlight Glimmer for her many sins.)

This frame of Starlight Glimmer from Season 9 was leaked at the con

I ordered the jambalaya, which the waitress said was "a little spicy", so I switched to the gumbo, which was "not spicy at all."  It was too spicy for me. Fortunately neither MrNumbers nor Majin was there to call me a little bitch. But the bread pudding was amazing (and, at 1300 calories, provided more than half a day's nutritional caloric requirements!)

(no I don't take pictures of my food, does this look like pinterest to you?)

Quills & Sofas was shut for meditation (why???), so I watched "Tabitha St. Germain's Super Sophisticated Script Reading" instead.  I'm floored that she wrote a script for our pony con.  And it was good, too!

When I finally got into Q&S, there was a small [2] Spaniard there who I think named himself after a character from Lord of the Rings.  He didn't even try to kiss me, so I guess he must have actually been Mexican. I think he hated me. I left when he started talking about his fetishes.

I introduced myself to a lot of new people in Quills & Sofas, but I didn't write down their names or take their pictures, so… try again next year?  One memorable character was Swan Song, who worked on the show during its early seasons.  He gave us a semi-insider's educated guesses at what happened when Lauren Faust left the show, and how it left him a jaded, cynical, wiser pony.

I went to hear Darren from Sweet Apple Amperes talk about using Arduino in cosplay, then it was 7 and time for dinner with writers again!  At PF Chiangs. I know Georg was there (he pronounces it "George", who knew?), because he paid for my dinner to thank me for sneaking him onto Equestria Daily years ago by linking to his story "In Celestia we Trust, All Others Pay Cash" from my cover page for "Sisters".

(That's the best way to get me to remember you: Pay for my dinner.  Just a friendly tip.)

Which made us all late for Trick Question's big non-orgy party.  (It was explicitly--ow, bad word choice--a non-orgy party because her roommate had, I'm told, advertised it as an orgy on fimfiction, and gotten immediate beatdowns from the fimfiction mods and from Trixie, who missed part of Saturday de-orgifying her invite list.)  The room was full of people, mostly people I wanted to talk to [4], as well as bags of MLP temporary tattoos and enough vodka to floor a roomful of Russians.

Axis of Rotation was still trying to find the 8th person for an escape-room event he'd organized for Sunday.  Horse Voice was leaning against the wall, and I pointed at him and said, "I bet he'll go!" HV is always ready to roll.  He said yes immediately.


[2] He wasn't noticeably small.  He body-size-identifies as small.

[4] Though not many that I wanted to have an orgy with.


Advanced Writing Toolkit Panel

After 15 minutes I had to run back for my panel: "Advanced Writing Toolkit: Try these 5 crazy tricks!"  Bronycon has in the past rejected my proposals such as "Aristotelian Catharsis in Fan-Fiction." This year, I chose a clickable title and developed a concept to match it.

Success!

This was a panel of "cheap tricks"--technical advice that could be reduced to an algorithm and implemented by anybody, without any artsy-fartsy stuff like inspiration or talent.  That part of writing gets ignored by teachers & books on writing because "How to tap your inner artist" is an even grabbier title than "Try these 5 crazy tricks!"

(If you ever see me giving a talk called "How to tap your inner artist", you'll know I've sold out completely.  Which I will someday, but I'm holding out for more than a comped badge.)

We gave mini-talks:

  • GaPJaxie: 5 Whys Deep.  How to create a world and a plot by asking yourself questions and giving yourself alternately serious and silly answers.  Now known as, "Starlight Glimmer turns herself into a dragon to avoid taxes".
  • Bad Horse: Ending a Chapter:  Data from 30,000 stories on how chapter length affects reader retention.
  • Wanderer D: Romance is Not a Plot / The Taco Conundrum: Sorry, you had to be there.  The D did an interactive Spanish radio drama with a show-accurate Sonata voice actress (recorded) about love and tacos.  It woke the audience up after my bar graphs.
  • Bad Horse: Geography Symbolizes Story: How to make physical movement in your story reinforce rather than defuse your characters' psychological progress.  Now known as, "Bad Horse doesn't know the difference between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings."

(I set my gdocs so you can comment on them.  Don't know about the others.)

After the panel was over, I had a realization:  I need to stop inviting other panelists who upstage me.

On the other hand, that could lead to the Neil Young effect: Rock singers never hire backup singers who sing better than they do, so Neil Young always had backup singers who sounded like cats gargling.

Sunday

Intended to get up early and play MLP TOON!  Failed again. Suddenly realized I needed a Fluttershy tattoo on my bicep, and texted Trixie, who agreeed to meet me in Quills for lunch and bring the tattoos.

Caught the very end of "3D Animation", which was real pro-level stuff, and I plan to watch the video when it comes out in late 2019.  My first job after grad school was working in an interactive animated fiction studio, where I was a character-wrangler, meaning I wrote robotic control-language programs to render animation interactively that obeyed not only rules of physics, but also Disney's rules of character animation as given in The Illusion of Life (online here).  My job was to write algorithms that adjusted the many small degrees of freedom--pupil dilation, eyebrow raising, a slight leaning forward or back, and so on--to be emotionally appropriate in response to whatever the user did.

I'm still terrible at that in real life.

Outside Quills & Sofas, I finally got me some FlutterMac!

By the time Trixie was available I'd already invited the entire room out to lunch, and they chose Chipotle, which it turns out has nothing Trixie can eat.  So I took the tattoos and ditched her like the cad that I am, for what was presumably a pleasant hour but which is a blank to me now. All I remember is the delicious taste of kidney beans with rice and a thick, creamy layer of guacamole.

Guacamole does that to me sometimes.

One burrito later, rushed off with just enough time to apply my waifu tattoo, meet Axis' escape room group [6], and walk 20 minutes searching for the place.  The escape room was great. I was useless. My favorite moment was when a bunch of us were puzzling and puzzling over how to interpret a text, and Super Trampoline said, basically, What if it just means what it says?, and it worked.

We blew one puzzle, but the nice people spying on us through a keyhole eventually gave us the answer.  After that, we ground out the rest of the puzzles steadily over the next half hour, coming to what looked to be the last puzzle with 5 minutes left on the clock.  It seemed obvious what to do, so we tried… and failed. And failed. And failed.

We had to do 5 things in 2 rooms in a short time and in a specific sequence.  At just over 1 minute left, it looked hopeless.... until the people in room 1 realized the people in room 2 weren't doing what the people in room 1 had thought they were, and shouted some instructions, and tried again.  After the 5th action, with 34 seconds left on the clock, we heard a click, and someone opened the door to the outside.

In alphabetical, not photo, order (by request): AxisOfRotation, Bad Horse, bookplayer, Exuno, hazeyhooves, Horse Voice, Sharp Spark, Super Trampoline

That was exhilarating, to go from despair to victory in 30 seconds.  I wish I could do that in a story.

(I can go in the other direction, though.)

Then I rushed back toward my room to try to get in some cosplay before the con ended.  On the walkway at the T just outside the convention center, Horse Voice and I were about to split up when we ran into AShadowOfCygnus, horsefic reader extraordinaire and part of the Horsereader Invasion of 2018.  He was rushing off in the only still-unclaimed direction, where we had come from, for dinner with Scribbler and other horse-stars whom I'd failed to glimpse all weekend, owing partly to the con program not naming names except for important people like artists and musicians.

We stopped-while-pretending-not-to-stop there on the walkway, where you keep your body twisted slightly away from each other to show you're about to leave, or shift nervously from foot to foot, because you're really supposed to be going somewhere right now only you just want to say or listen to one more thing… for at least 5 minutes.  To the people on the street below, it must have looked like a pegasus mating dance.

Cygnus didn't even slap me when I thanked him for doing a reading that Neighrator Pony had done, while forgetting the ones he had done for me.  Comparing mental notes across Bronycons and the fandom, I was starting to notice a pattern:

  • Ferret: Canadian. Super-nice.
  • Yamgoth: Canadian. Super-nice.
  • Archonix: British. Super-nice when not playing Secret Hitler.
  • Scribbler: British. Super-nice.
  • AShadowOfCygnus: British. Super-nice.
  • odd little Spaniard: Spanish. Or Mexican. Super-nice.  Weird RariTwi fetish, though.

Is everybody outside America nice?  Or are Americans just mean?

Wait, no--there's still MrNumbers. [7]

I resisted the temptation to invite myself to Cygnus' dinner, and got back to my room to cozz up with half an hour of con left.

I'd spent months working on a costume, but when it was time to leave for Baltimare, it still needed another day of work.  So I'd grabbed a lime-green zentai suit that I'd bought in case of this eventuality, spray-painted a question-mark on its face, and stuffed it in the trunk of my car. Now, I had just enough time before the convention shut down to put it on, elevatorate [8] & walk down to the convention center, walk from one end to the other hugging and fist-bumping people, and then turn around and walk back.


[6] Axis not only organized the escape room trip, he fronted the entire $192 for it.  And paid for one person. And didn't remember to ask me to pay him back. The element of generosity was strong with the con--Georg bought me dinner, equestrian sen bought my Bubba Lunch and tried to pay my hotel bill.  It's wonderful to spend an entire weekend with such easy marks.

[7] Though counting Australians may be cheating.

[8] I'm unreasonably pleased with myself that my spell-checker thinks "elevatorate" is a word.  I'm like Shakespeare now.


I didn't get any photos at the con, but if you, like Applejinx and con vice-chair Morning Sun, got a slightly creepy hug from this guy:

… that was me.

You know how in comics and movies, the villains have stretchy shirts that show their individual muscles?  That doesn't work in real life. My childhood was a lie.

(If anybody knows how to wear a lycra bodysuit without showing people what religion you are, please tell me.)

Then I walked back to the Hilton, and realized that all those thousands of people who'd walked past me going the other way had been on their way to get in line for the elevators at the Hilton.  Just like me.

Line-con.

After a half-hour in line, I whined once about standing in line while burning up in a lycra suit.  I immediately got shut down by a fursuiter.

Finally, I got to my room, took off the now-sweaty suit, and began texting madly to organize a dinner.  Axis, Hazey, Sharp Spark, & Exuno had just left the Baltimore Aquarium; Trixie (Trick Question), Georg, Eq.sen, & I joined them at the Kona Grill.

The Grill took 2 hours to bring us our food, just like last year.  I began to get impatient, then realized that their slowness meant we could keep sitting at their table, soaking up their ambience while discussing category theory and mathematical Platonism--which was what I wanted to do anyway.  So, thanks, Kona Grill!

(This time, I got the jambalaya.  It was too spicy for me. It's always too spicy for me.  Dammit. St. Thomas Aquinas said that no one can have a natural desire that is in vain--so why do I like jambalaya so much?)

Then follows another blank spot in my memory--I'm not an alcoholic, honest, not yet--until I found myself in the Hilton's second lobby, on its 1970s-orange sofa with Georg, equestrian.sen, Axis, and eventually Nyronis, teaching them how to play Jungle Speed:

Photo by equestrian.sen

It's hilarious because when you screw up, it's a high-speed, full-body screw-up that rattles the table, making all the other players feel your stupidity in their bones.  And you think now you've learned your lesson and won't screw up like that again--for the next minute, until you do.

… aaand I just realized why Jungle Speed resonates with me.  It's a metaphor for my life.

Sometime around 1AM we followed Gary Oak over to the Hilton's main lobby, where I met his editor, Reia Hope.  I'd been only dimly aware of his existence.  We had a conversation which I don't remember, except that it was very interesting, and that he seemed open and trustworthy enough that I talked to him and Gary about something that had been on my mind for much of the con: whether a particular pony will ever talk to me again.

Quite a few fimficcers have cut me off over the past 2 years.  I'm not saying I'm an innocent victim. But I think fimfiction got politicized by Brexit, the US presidential election, and puppies in 2016.  Ever since, some people on it have been… trigger-happy. Inclined to forget the good about each other, remember the bad, and write people off quickly.  To have an excuse prepared in advance for why they get a special exemption from tolerating other views in "the current situation". People whose fics and blogs and poems I've complimented and recommended, who I've corresponded with, Skyped with, critiqued stories for, gone to cons with, planned vacations with, suddenly forget all that because of one or two things I did, or that I didn't do except in their minds.  Not just in politics--toxic, un-brony intolerance has spilled over into everything.

Has that been happening to anyone else?

Waifu Tattoo

I'd spread Fluttershy out across the middle of my bicep, because that's what sailors and bikers do.  I was forgetting that sailors and bikers don't wear large baggy Hawaiian shirts that reach down to their elbows.  Only at the end of the day did I realize that no one at Bronycon ever saw my tattoo.

A few minutes later, I also realized those suckers don't wash off in the shower like I thought.  It's still there now.

Waifu tattoo

Monday

After Bronycon is the after-con.  It starts late, because most of the people who are still there stayed up until 3AM the night before.

A lot of people went to Tierra del Fuego or whatever that tapas place is called, but at $40 a plate, I opted for Jimmy John's instead.  I was in the company mostly of people I've already named, plus the guy whom I later learned ran the MLP TOON! games. He said he studiously avoided reading fan-fiction to keep his canon pure and his games true to the show.

I got to spend a little extra time with Nyronus by giving him a lift to a train station.  Plus bonus extra time due to a GPS malfunction and one-way streets! Baltimore: The city that won't let you make a U-turn.

Then I began what turned into a 3-day trip to get back home, but which did not involve ponies.  Unless the puncture in my brand-new rear tire was made by a unicorn. My crappy factory lug wrench cracked, so I couldn't change it.  I was rescued by Hector of H & K Trucking, a recently-Mexican truck driver who reinflated my tire (it had a slow leak) and led me to a used-tire store.  The whole episode cost me a lot of money and a couple of hours, but left me feeling even better than before, because a stranger took 10 minutes out of his day to help another stranger.

The Future

I wonder whether I'd still be on fimfiction if not for Bronycon.  Regular online friendships seem stronger to me than once-a-year IRL ones--I've never met GhostOfHeraclitus in person, for example, although I do know he sounds Swedish on Skype--but a picture's worth a million bytes, and a meeting in the flesh quickly stamps that picture with those wonderful horrible emotions and impressions that remind us to think about other people from time to time.

It is risky!  You might be disappointed.  We're a little more similar to each other than I'm entirely comfortable with.  Stereotypable. Demographically low-entropy. And perhaps a little more screwed up than average; I don't know.  One reader came to an earlier Bronycon to meet me, talked to me for 5 minutes, then rushed off and never answered my emails again.  I don't know what happened, but it could happen to you.

(Especially if you come to Bronycon just to meet me.)

I don't know what will eventually happen to the fandom.  MLP fandom, like every fandom, is different from all the others.  I think one key difference is that it's not just about the show. Star Trek cons have panels about Star Trek and people cosplaying Star Trek characters.  Harry Potter cons have panels about Harry Potter and people cosplaying Harry Potter characters. MLP cons have panels about how to write, how to draw, how to animate, how to compose, how to record, how to do voice acting, how to cosplay, how to beat Nyronus up--and people cosplaying characters from Undertale or Gundam or TF2, or steering a little BB8 around the cosplayers.  I only went to one event during the entire convention that was specifically about MLP.

In what fandom have you heard "I'm in it for the fans" as often as in MLP?

I love Star Trek, but I don't want to go to a Star Trek convention and pay $100 to stand in line with 400 people all waiting for Brent Spiner's autograph.

Me, at corporate-run Officially Licensed Media Property™ cons

It's just… not thinking big enough.

I don't just want to watch and adore someone else who's fired with inspiration.  I want to touch the fire.

To over-generalize grotesquely, other fandoms are--by design--for consumers.  Pony is also for creators and participators.  Maybe because something about pony attracts those kinds of people.  Maybe because Hasbro didn't want the brony fandom, so it had to roll its own cons.  I don't know why, but the art-to-fanbase ratio in pony is crazy high.

There isn't much else that covers that space.  Burning Man, steampunk conventions, Wicked Faire, Faeriecon, and InterCon, maybe, but they're each pretty tailored to a particular set of concerns and interests.

Could Pony merge with some other fandom?  Or morph into a fandom of creativity itself?

While you're thinking about that, here's something you can do today to help us prepare in case the lights go out here:

1. Make a list of the people you know best on fimfiction, EQD, wherever you pony on.
2. Exchange email addresses with them.
3. Write that shit down somewhere.  Don't lose it.

And optionally:

4. Pick 3 people from fimfiction who you don't know well.  Just people you know are there pretty often.
5. Ask if they'll exchange emails.  Explain that this crazy horse asked you to.
6. Write that shit down, too.  Because it's easy for all the cliques to hang together after a site breaks up, but not easy for the different cliques to find each other again.

Report Bad Horse · 627 views · #Bronycon #2018 #report #Beanis
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Comments ( 50 )

Holy crap those arm muscles though....

I still find it ironic that my wife *still* has not met you despite coming to Baltimore with me for Bronycon twice, although somehow you (totally by accident) met my *cousin* Christopher and his family in the Hilton while we were leaving Trick Question's party, and I got to introduce the whole group back and forth.

"Hello, my ordinary normal cousin with his wife and two normal kids. These are the strange people I hang around with talking about MLP."

Escape Room tips for newbies:
1. if you're sure you have the right key or password, keep trying it several times. we lost at least 10 minutes in that room because a puzzle we solved wouldn't open the number lock, and we started to look for obscure alternate codes. then I tried the original again and got it open with some fidgeting. (1 week later I did another escape room, where we got a key that fit into a door, but wouldn't turn because it was sticky)

2. always listen to Super Trampoline

3. if Axis of Rotation gets distracted by a magnet, take the puzzle away from him :scootangel: this is why we were out of synch in Room 2 at the very end...

Am I too old for this? Am I just a man-child stagnating in the sweet miasma of someone else's childhood?

I mean...yes?

In the "Writing Adult Humor" slideshow, which story of Vavacung's had Twilight and Chrysalis hooking up Mantodea style? I can't just browse through their deviantart gallery, there's so damn much.

Be honest. How much do you want to fuck Mr. Numbers?

I ordered the jambalaya, which the waitress said was "a little spicy", so I switched to the gumbo, which was "not spicy at all." It was too spicy for me. Fortunately neither MrNumbers nor Majin was there to call me a little bitch.

You do strike me as the kind of man who doesn't even pretend to look at the menu in an Indian restaraunt before ordering the butter chicken.

EDIT: Not calling you a little bitch though~ Humans strictly weren't meant to eat spicey foods. It's for the birds.

Actually, the Ice Cold Water Man was there. I saw him once on Saturday, and I was glad for it because I got to point him out to my brother.

I like your idea about distributed social network storage, but what will we do if there is an unknown number of malicious actors in this network? And we all happen to be generals in the army of the Eastern Roman Empire. Say.

(Sorry. I had to.)

It's a lovely post and I'm glad to have virtually caught up with you regarding BC.

Wait, Sunny is staff for both BC and EFNW?
... I don't think I can go then. Sunny is afraid of me.
Eh. Fuck it, what's the worst that can happen, besides the cops being called.

Also fuck you, I'm best pony and you know it.
4919226
I know right?

Yeah, ATHEWM was kind of a wash. Still fun, though.

Also, I really do need to speak up more about getting food. I can't believe how many meal outings I missed out on.

Is everybody outside America nice? Or are Americans just mean?

I feel mildly insulted.

I'll definitely put the email exchange into practice. If nothing else, there's always Discord channels.

This year, I chose a clickable title and developed a concept to match it.

This was your best panel EVER, Horse. Well done! Nopony can touch you when you get into rigorous analysis of statistical properties or giant datasets: I'd like to think I'm decent at thinking about such things, but much like Obabscribbler's panel on YouTube, I ended up with my jaw dangling, just watching you tell me things I hadn't begun to imagine. Really great stuff, and of interest to anypony who writes pony fiction for FIMfiction.

I hope you're joking about the upstaging thing: on the contrary, it's the best possible thing for you. The ideal situation (for the audience) is when everypony feels they have been upstaged by everypony else. And the audience thinks, 'woohoo! That was amazing! They were all good!' :ajsmug:

It was good to see you again :ajsmug:

The orgy was a completely separate party my roommate was planning. Then he advertised it in public on Reddit and Fimfiction and I convinced him this was a very bad idea.

..and enough vodka to floor a roomfull of Russians

You're welcome! :pinkiehappy:

RBDash47
Site Blogger

4919306
Get this man a blockchain.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

RIP, footnote 3, snuffed a-borning.

Finally, a full-body shot of Horse Voice!

Next time, pants. Also, you are the weediest, college-professorest looking motherfucker I have ever met, how are you so ripped? @_@

SHITFUCK

I agree.

Also, is that "applefucker" diatribe from a fic, or what?

4919341

Also, is that "applefucker" diatribe from a fic, or what?

You'll have to ask Aquaman, but I think he made it up.

4919325

Is everybody outside America nice? Or are Americans just mean?

I feel mildly insulted.

And I'm an American. See? It's true!

4919248 Ask GaPJaxie.

4919306

I like your idea about distributed social network storage, but what will we do if there is an unknown number of malicious actors in this network? And we all happen to be generals in the army of the Eastern Roman Empire. Say.

... I assume this is a hilarious joke which hinges on being familiar with the history of political intrigue in Rome and the Byzantine Empire.

4919226 Well, I cheated in 3 ways.

First, I'm flexing, as you can see in the photo.

2nd, just before taking the photo, I did one rapid, low-weight, high-rep set each of curls, bench press, and pushups. That pumps the muscles used full of blood and swells them up.

3rd, an hour before taking the photo, I took 4 capsules of Nutra FX Nitric Oxide, a vasodilator that makes muscle pumps bigger. I used to buy that brand because it was the best deal, but now I see they've jacked up the price.

"If you ain't cheatin', you ain't trying." -- U.S. Army Drill Sgt. Russell, C-1-46

I am irrationally angered by the mossing footnotes. From what PresentPerfect said above I guess they were removed and the others not renumbered?

4919373 If I tried that, the next picture you'd see would be a number of people gathered around me saying things like "He looks so natural..."
4919230 Aren't we all?
4919306 Like Time Bandits?

4919398
I'd stagnate in the miasma of your childhood.

Or morph into a fandom of creativity itself?

There's already at least one fandom that does this: The Furry fandom. And that fandom, being creative rater than consumptive, never seems to stop growing. So, what if we were more like that?

4919341

Finally, a full-body shot of Horse Voice!

N-noo! That's some college kid I got to wear my jacket for the picture!

i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/365/987/278.gif

Has that been happening to anyone else?

No, but I'm the one who's always walking on eggshells these days, trying to avoid faux pas. Even so, I stumbled into at least three this year, though one was due to cultural differences, and another I recovered from by turning it into a joke. In any case, I hope you're able to mend fences someday. If I can help in any way, just ask.

Is everybody outside America nice? Or are Americans just mean?

I suspect this phenomenon is due to the notion that we represent our respective nations when we travel, and want to make a good impression. (By the way, I take no offense at my name being absent from your list there, since the author of Biblical Monsters can never again be considered "nice.")

Was enjoyable to bask in your all-encompassing knowledge! And you know, talk pony.

I dare say it's a bit presumptuous to say MLP is a unique fandom-- I mean, it IS, just as anything else is -- but at the same time a lot of other fandoms have big creative streaks to them. I mean, hell, just look at Harry Potter. Admittedly, it's a much larger fandom with a different demographic, but any fictional work that can inspire multiple Wizard-Rock bands or whatever has got something to it.

This said, I think one of the cornerstones of brony-dom is that it's a very internet based fandom, and thus is subject to a lot of cross pollination with memes and video games and who knows what else.

Still! Sounds like you had a good time. And now I'm vaaaaaguely considering hitting up BronyCon 2019 since it's gonna be the last of 'em. Decisions, decisions.

4919334
:rainbowlaugh:


4919368
No, it's an annoying joke that hinges on knowing what the Byzantine Generals Problem is and simultaneously realizing that this sort of distributed system is what blockchain tech is commonly used for and linking the two since Bitcoin was first presented in a white paper as a solution to the Byzantine Generals Problem.


4919398
How do you mean?


4919489
I've been in the HP fandom (in a periphery sort of way) and I remember the fics in particular. This fandom blows them out of the water. Admittedly I might be biased, but I distinctly remember joining: MLP was mentioned a lot on TvTropes and I clicked through FimFic thinking I distinctly remember: "Oh, come on, how good can this possibly... be...

...

...

...Jesus."

HP fandom never had that effect on me. I certainly never felt that the fanfic outstripped the original by orders of magnitude. And as anyone who's had the misfortune of being pre-read by me, I am one ornery, kvetch-y, picky reader.

4919497

Point. I don't want to write off all of HP fanfic as terrible stuff on the level of "My Immortal," but I can see FiMfiction looking better by comparison. (Provided, of course, one filters out the reams of terrible clopfics & trollfics & self inserts).

It also likely doesn't help that HP's based on, well, books, so the bar's a little higher on the 'quality fanfic' side of things, I guess?

And that's before one gets into the relatively loose but still defined state of MLP 'canon,' especially in the first two or three seasons, in which there was plenty of room to work stuff inbetween the episodes, and the fandom could latch onto every background pony, giving them their own names and personalities and ships and what have you.

RBDash47
Site Blogger

4919497
It's funny -- in some ways the HP fandom is responsible for the Vault in this one. I read voraciously in the HP fandom, and there were quite a few fics that I really loved... and AFAIK none of them are online any more, because the sites that were hosting them sputtered out and shut down. Didn't want that to happen again here.

4919512
4919513
I don't want to disparage the HP fandom. And goodness knows I've spent my fair share of time reading HP fanfic. But I will say that the average quality of HP fanfic is probably greater (since fanfic archiving sites tended to be more selective for one), but when you compare the best to the best, I think MLP wins. Handily. Um. Hoovily.

But I may be wrong, I'm not as conversant in the HP fandom.

(And I'm glad you were inspired to make the Vault, RB :) )

I didn't make it out to the con this year, but I remember reading about the Qulls & Sofas meditation in Wanderer D's (or maybe Aragon's?) con blogs...

...you didn't run it? I just assumed that was you.

4919521 4919513 I explored HP fan-fiction before I settled on pony fiction. I found excellent stories, but the finding was hard, because the HP fandom (as I knew it only briefly) was split across LOTS of different websites. I think they had gone all Lord-of-the-Flies over shipping preferences and splintered into groups who didn't talk with each other. It was something like having separate websites for Ron-Hermione fics, fics which banned Ron-Hermione, sites that allowed Harry-Ginny and sites that didn't, Dark Lord Potter sites where Harry is evil, and of course the Draco-Harry fan club.

The most-famous Harry Potter fanfic is perhaps HP and the Methods of Rationality, which was never on any of those sites.

The main reason I left them was that none of them had workable rating systems. None of them let people downvote.

GaPJaxie was everywhere. He was on every panel I went to during the convention but one, including the one I was on. I'd gripe about that, except he's so damn good at giving panel. It was good for me, Jaxie.

GaPJaxie at his day job. From Basic Instructions.

Oh my god. I love Basic Instructions.

You've somehow retroactively made Bronycon even better. :raritydespair:

I also caught most of the "Villains" panel. Also featuring GaPJaxie.

Omnipresent man was there too.

Did you get a wuh? I tried to give them to people I recognized, but I also left ~250 around the convention center. If you didn’t, I’ll make sure to get you one next year.

4919521
So you're saying that ponyfics are by-default both higher-peaked and on-average lower-quality because of link rot?

I can see that.

I was arguing with equestrian.sen and Jaxie that <philosophy nerdspeak>scientific epistemology should restrict itself to talking about conditional probability, and avoid speaking of "causation", because "causation" is a metaphysical concept, not a thing you can observe or even define, and if you say it, philosophers will get stuck on Hume and say science can't lead to knowledge. That's an endless argument, and pointless, because you don't need anything more than conditional probability to gain all the information you can use, as epistemically-justified as you need it.</philosophy nerdspeak>

You are so utterly wrong, and everything about that paragraph violates my sense of scientific progress. You may have stared into the postmodern abyss a little too long.

At all. Jaxie, EQS, I hope you have no hard feelings over me explaining how completely wrong you both are and that this is probably explained by whatever mental deficit allows you to forgive Starlight Glimmer for her many sins.

I could never forgive her for you know what goes here.

Is next year really the last bronycon?
I've wanted to go since 2010, but I was always too young and my parents wouldn't let me... I'll be 19 next year. Maybe I can finally fulfill a wish I've had for years and just go to the damn thing.

I am glad you are getting together and having fun there!
It's sad that the BronyCon is coming to an end. I always thought there's plenty of time to go to BronyCon over from my Whateverstan, if I really wanted to, but it turns out... it's really the last?

4919804

I was arguing with equestrian.sen and Jaxie that <philosophy nerdspeak>scientific epistemology should restrict itself to talking about conditional probability, and avoid speaking of "causation", because "causation" is a metaphysical concept, not a thing you can observe or even define, and if you say it, philosophers will get stuck on Hume and say science can't lead to knowledge. That's an endless argument, and pointless, because you don't need anything more than conditional probability to gain all the information you can use, as epistemically-justified as you need it.</philosophy nerdspeak>

You are so utterly wrong, and everything about that paragraph violates my sense of scientific progress. You may have stared into the postmodern abyss a little too long.

"Everything" means nothing. Pick one specific thing that you take issue with and explain it.

Consider the Western concept of the "soul". In Attic Greek, ψυχή. This wasn't originally as "spiritual" as it is now--well, it was, but "spiritual" was not yet associated with a distinct transcendental realm. It meant the source of life and consciousness, the thing that makes living things able to (apparently, though not ultimately, Aristotle decided) initiate their own movement.

The purpose of this word was to let you distinguish living from non-living things. The existence of the word led people to believe there was some soul-stuff or essence present in living things that wasn't present in non-living things.

That was a metaphysical assumption, and it led to thousands of years of stupidity. And it's wrong; we now know there is no single "cause" of life, and no firm division between living and non-living; where we choose to draw the line is up to us.

There was no need for metaphysics--no need to suppose there is some Form or essence or stuff or property common to all living things. One could instead use the word "living" to mean "exhibiting the behaviors we all agree are common to living things", rather than "possessing the one property common to all living things."

Making metaphysical assumptions does nothing except introduce confusion by making people think they understand things that they don't. That's what metaphysics means: bogus physics, an assumption about the world that's not supported by observation.

You seem to have some emotional attachment to the word "cause". But there's no need for it. Why do you want it? What do you think you're going to lose if you have to say "P(this glass will break | I drop this glass on concrete) > .9" instead of "Dropping this glass on concrete will probably cause it to break." The conditional probability form is more precise--superior in every way--and doesn't make weird metaphysical assumptions that are probably wrong, and certainly useless.

You said that the meaning of "cause" is obvious, yet when I used the word "cause" in an email to talk about the process in Aristotle's physics by which one moving object imparts movement to a second, you thought I was talking about Aristotle's 4 causes. But "cause" in imparting motion would be classified only as an "efficient cause". The other 3 causes are quite different things. If the meaning of "cause" were clear, then you couldn't have supposed, given what I said, that I meant all 4 causes.

A different approach to seeing my point of view:

Pretend you are a "brain in a vat", a piece of software running in a simulation. You might be--I personally think any reasonable Bayesian would have to conclude that he probably was, since the prior on being in the "one true Universe", instead of the multitude of simulations that would eventually arise in it, would be close to zero.

How can you define "cause" so that your definition is still correct in that Matrix world? If you can't, then it's an unjustifiable assumption, because you can't rule out the possibility of being in a simulation. You can't assume anything that implies you aren't in a simulation, because it is in principle impossible to know that you aren't.

I swear, I read these articles just to feel jealous =/

4920055
I meant that jokingly, but sure.

The other 3 causes are quite different things. If the meaning of "cause" were clear, then you couldn't have supposed, given what I said, that I meant all 4 causes.

Well yes, but that's because there are multiple components to a justification. That's like saying "light" in "turn on the light" is unclear because it could refer to either the filament, or to the electricity exciting the filament, or to the switch that completes a circuit. You could make the exact same statement in the light switch case. "If the meaning of 'light' were clear, then you couldn't have supposed, given what I said, that I meant all 3." The implication isn't that "light" is a useless word. The implication is that I don't care which of the three you assume, and if I did care then I should use a more specific phrasing.

I disagree when you say that "the other 3 causes are quite different things," though that's a tangent.

How can you define "cause" so that your definition is still correct in that Matrix world? If you can't, then it's an unjustifiable assumption, because you can't rule out the possibility of being in a simulation.

I can define cause as the thing through which control is transitive.

If you assume that agency is an illusion, then there is no difference between cause and correlation. Also, I'm not a Bayesian. I prefer to use categorical logic as a starting point rather than Bayesian logic.

You seem to have some emotional attachment to the word "cause".

No contest, you are correct here. Ultimately, the notion of cause is useful because it's the mechanism through which control (another metaphysical concept) is transitive, and control, specifically, self-control, is the basis of agency. The usefulness of the notion of control implies the usefulness of the notion of cause, and contrapositively the dismissal of the notion of cause implies the baselessness of the notion of agency.

People use the "assumption of no agency" to justify some rather infuriating things. I suspect people do this because they link the notion of moral culpability to the notion of agency. That doesn't mean that people will justify arbitrarily greedy things with this assumption. They usually don't. It does mean though that people become unable to reason complexly about morality with this assumption.


I was going to delete the part below because I didn't think the phrasing was sufficiently clear, and it was taking much longer than I wanted to make it clear. If this makes sense to you, great. Otherwise, don't lose sleep over it.

equestrian.sen Re. Metaphysical concepts. I agree that causation is a metaphysical concept. The notion of a definition is also a metaphysical concept, but that doesn't make it a useless one. I know you didn't literally state that cause was an invalid concept because it's a metaphysical concept, but that's the obvious implication of dismissing a concept on the grounds that it's metaphysical.

In other words, I think it's sensible to assume based on your comment that you're dismissing the notion of cause specifically because it's a metaphysical concept. I'm making an assumption about your belief system and the hierarchies of justification, which reflect the causal relationships between your beliefs. My conclusion is unjustified if my assumption is incorrect. That's the kind of reasoning that causal relationships enable.

Which leads to my technical dispute: Causal relationships are the arrows that connect a precursor to a consequence. That arrow is the thing your notion of correlation is missing. Without that arrow, you have no basis for composing relationships, e.g., composing P(A|B) with P(C|A). The implication is that a correlational model can't generalize from "A -> B" and "B -> C" to "A -> C". Your model of the world is going to be pretty limited without that.

(That's not quite accurate. You can technically compose correlational relationships, but only if you can explicitly model some "global" perspective. You need to be able to jump from P(A|B) to P(A and B), which is an unconditional probability. The notion of cause enables a justified application of compositionality without assuming any knowledge of a global perspective. That doesn't mean the applications will be correct, just that there can be a justification for such applications.)

4919952 They said it's the last. I suppose that if enough people attend in 2019, they might run it once more and see what happens. OR perhaps they could be convinced to run it every 2 years instead of every year--I don't know if they considered that.

4920227

Well yes, but that's because there are multiple components to a justification. That's like saying "light" in "turn on the light" is unclear because it could refer to either the filament, or to the electricity exciting the filament, or to the switch that completes a circuit. You could make the exact same statement in the light switch case. "If the meaning of 'light' were clear, then you couldn't have supposed, given what I said, that I meant all 3." The implication isn't that "light" is a useless word. The implication is that I don't care which of the three you assume, and if I did care then I should use a more specific phrasing.

In my original context, I wasn't saying not to use the word "cause" in everyday speech, just not to use it in epistemology. The goal of epistemology is to know exactly what you're saying and how true it is. If you build one using words with multiple meanings, you've already failed.

I can define cause as the thing through which control is transitive.

I think you just pushed the metaphysics out of "cause" and into "control".

If you assume that agency is an illusion, then there is no difference between cause and correlation.

"Agency" is another metaphysical term, and a misleading and useless one for epistemology, since all agents must be decomposed into physics.

I prefer to use categorical logic as a starting point rather than Bayesian logic.

If category theory rejects Bayesian logic, I think that means it's wrong.

The usefulness of the notion of control implies the usefulness of the notion of cause, and contrapositively the dismissal of the notion of cause implies the baselessness of the notion of agency.

Ah. Cause and agency are both very useful in everyday life and in ethics. But not in epistemology.

The implication is that a correlational model can't generalize from "A -> B" and "B -> C" to "A -> C"

You know better than that. The correlational model handles it correctly; the causal model can't deal with the correlations. E.g., P(C|A) = P(A)P(B|A)P(C|A,B) if P(C|not(A)) = 0, P(B|not(a)) = 0, P(C|not(A),not(B)) = 0, and C is independent of A. "Cause" fails at keeping track of the math; it is nothing but the arrows in a diagram which needs to have all the conditional probabilities added to it anyway.

Er, we should take this to email.

4920150 Ah. Nope, I don't have a wuh. Great tweet!

Comment posted by equestrian.sen deleted August 16th

See, I'm the opposite. I only remember the good. Meeting up with the Noble Jury. Meeting you and several other authors I've semi-known for a long time.

Fanboying (or girling, depending on your perspective) over finally getting to meet Scribbler.

Glad you guys had fun. See y'all next year.

What have I accomplished in 6 years?

More than me!

Like, seriously. I may not have publushed anything yet, but I've always planned to. So how do you think I feel now that next year both pony and bronycon are ending? Not good. I've wasted my time trying to be good before I publish. You've participated, and you'll have those memories when it's all over, however it ends. Trust me, from my vantage point that's worth a lot.

I was just as useless during the escape room haha. But that hardly matters. What's fun is being there with everyone. I wouldn't have traded a single person out.

Did the Kona Grill really take that long last year?? I have zero recollection of that. Had I remembered I would've picked somewhere else. We ditched the cheesecake factory because the wait to get inside was an hour and a half :P

Has that been happening to anyone else?

No, but I'm well aware of the increasing political animosity. It's seeping into everything. It's not good. It uncomfortably reminds me of religious fanaticism. People condemn the unrighteous with old testament vigor.

Anyway, it was great seeing you again Bad Horse, as always. Everyone seems in a reflective mood, myself included, and that's not a bad thing I suppose. Melancholy is no fun, but at least we can all be depressed together :p



4919228
This is true! I nearly tanked the puzzle at the end :trollestia:

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