Tag: Earth

The magic of maps

The magic of maps

A good, old-fashioned map can add a whole lot of character to a place.

Sure, the colorful country-accurate map of the Earth on a globe is an impressive sight especially fully animated online:

But that view of the planet is a bit too modernist and clinical for my tastes.

I’m more of a fan of classic, stylized pieces such as the 1643 depiction of Europe by Dutch mapmaker Cornelis Danckaerts that I used for my Featured Image. It’s just the sort of rugged, swarthy style you’d expect to see in some kind of fantasy novel.

Replace that boat off the port of Spain with some kind of serpentine sea creature and it may as well be the map of a fantasy world. Like something you’d expect to see from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Speaking of, did you know that there’s an interactive Middle-Earth map available online? It is full of complex names and points of time for different important events.

That’s the kind of stuff I love.

As I’ve made more progress in my Senior Honors Project novel, I’ve found it necessary to start keeping track of all the locations I’m name dropping to give the world a little more history and life.

To remember places I might want to bring up later and also lay everything out on a more cohesive latitude and longitude for when I explain travel across the content — as my book will include plenty of travel.

During class yesterday, I started to draw out a rudimentary sketch of my world map on a sheet of paper:

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Results not final.

I used to draw things like this all the time, inspired by the maps I’ve seen in the front of books like Lord of the Rings and Eragon.

But never before have I put one together that might actually be useful.

So it was serendipity that, while sitting in my Honors 400B class last night, my friend Mimi noticed my drawing and offered to point out some free campaign map making software she knew about for Dungeons and Dragons.

How was I supposed to say no to that?

Of the software I got pointed to, my favorite was a website called HexTML, which as the name implies lets you create a world of your own using hexagonal signifiers like the board game Settlers of Catan.

Many hours were spent last night screwing around to translate that hand-drawn map into something that could reasonably be shown off to the world.

It’s still open to adjustments down the line and I’d like to put names on all of the areas and towns through the site, but for now I’m really proud of where I’d gotten:

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The left side.

While the continent proper does not yet have a name, but a lot of the structures within it do.

The town on the lower left is Fehrn, where my main characters live.

The singular structures around Fehrn are ruins of the old western empire that have been used as treasure hunting locales. To the north, that black cavern, is an underground chamber where my story begins — just below the Redbark Woods.

To the lower right is the Gnarled Forest, a large mesh of roots, branches and bark that was nigh impenetrable for eons. The old elven tribe was able to thrive there before being attacked.

Just above that in the mountain range hides a small structure signifying the capital of the Sparrine Empire. The Sparrine being the bird people who are basically France, taking over the region under bird Napoleon. Talked about that recently.

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The right side.

Moving onto the other side of the map, a few new main areas stand out.

Hidden in another mountain to the right of the Sparrine empire is the Prophet’s Sanctuary, where my main characters must travel.

Below it is a yet unnamed lake with an equally unnamed port town to its right side where the player character of my story’s game world will have to take on bird Napoleon in a thinly veiled allegory to the Battle of Waterloo.

Spoilers, I guess. If you know historical stuff.

The walled city to the right of that lake is the capital of the Bresegon Empire, where the lordly prince character hails from. Just above it is the ruins of an older nation’s capital.

Essentially the ruins of Rome beside the now prospering Byzantine Empire.

All of those ruins to the leftmost side of the region being the desolate remains of the Holy Roman Empire’s holdings.

Those are some of my world’s major locations, as far as I’ve planned things out up to this point. With all of the plot beats generally worked out for my story, I’m especially excited to start using a bunch of them now that I have a spatial awareness of how everything fits together.

Hope you’re interested in seeing some more cool little behind-the-scenes details on my writing like this from here on out.

Now that I’m getting into the book, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to share.


Featured Image courtesy of Cornelis Danckerts via Wikimedia Commons

A data journalist’s wet dream

A data journalist’s wet dream

I’ll be honest, I absolutely wrote this blog post almost exclusively to use that pun in the title.

That’s where I peak for the day. Good night, folks.

Unfortunately I can’t just leave things there. Anyone reading this in the distant future without the context of my social media stinger would be lost.

If you are reading this way after I’m writing it, hello! My name is Jason. This is my blog. I’m here to talk about porn today.

I swear that’s not an everyday occurrence.

I wouldn’t typically bring up the subject at all unless I had a good reason to. It just so happens that this tweet sent me down a rabbit hole this morning.

Apparently Pornhub does a yearly visualization of site analytics, and the fact that I wasn’t aware of it before is a travesty. I’ve gotten very into that sort of thing recently, so alongside psychological implications of “what the world gets off on,” you’ve got something right up my alley.

I suppose 2018 is a good a time as any to find out about it, because hoo boy is there a ton of interesting stuff.

Obviously this whole subject is a bit NSFW, but I’m more interested in it from a data analysis side. However, if you’re squeamish about the topic I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on.

That said, here are some of my favorite Pornhub Insights from 2018.

… Definitely not a sentence I ever thought I would be writing.

The data that starts off the review is fascinating just from the sheer scale.

Apparently there were 92 million daily visits to the site on average, and about 115 years worth of video were uploaded this year. I know porn is a popular thing, and typically an early adopter of every form of mass media thanks to my Comm classes…

But 115 years of video just this year alone?

I’m not sure how to comprehend that much porn. Especially considering Pornhub is just one of countless porn websites.

When presented with that myriad of information, my first inclination is to ask how it filtered down. Luckily, Pornhub has a number of well-done infographics breaking things into manageable chunks. For instance:

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There’s a lot to say about these defining searches.

Stormy Daniels stands out in how hilarious it is that a serious presidential scandal skyrocketed this woman from being the 671 most popular pornstar in 2017 to being the most popular search result in 2018.

Fortnite, as much as I don’t particularly enjoy it, makes sense as a high result considering how popular the game is. Though in that same vein, Bowsette skyrocketing into the top ten based on that week or two she was a popular concept is astounding.

Later on they break down the highest video game-related searches, and it’s not too surprising.

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The best thing about this list is Mario being the highest male result. Shout out to that portly plumber for representing male characters.

With that said, I find the worldwide search analyses more interesting than the media-specific stuff. The fact that categories like “4K,” “Trans” and “Tinder” were among top search results says a lot about the era we live in.

It also says a lot about porn watchers that “Lesbian,” “Hentai,” “Milf,” “Step mom” and “Japanese” were the top five most searched terms this year. Especially given that the United States produced the most Pornhub traffic by more than three times its runner-up, the United Kingdom.

Easily the most interesting graphic produced in this set shows which parts of the world searched for what kinds of porn most.

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Just look at that sharp divide between “Lesbian” porn in the Americas, “Hentai” in Asia/Russia and “Ebony” porn in Africa. The strong leanings in these parts of the world is simply fascinating to me.

Shout out to Pakistan for being about the sole representative of “Big Dick” porn too. Much respect.

The other segment that really intrigued me was the technology insights. For instance, the clear leaning toward Windows/Android devices:

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Or the fact that about 0.7 percent of Pornhub users are searching from their 3DS systems:

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Like who is doing that?! Who is using that janky 3DS web browser to search for porn?

I’d like to meet and interview those people.

There’s so many more things to draw out of these data sets, from the gendered search results to the periods when traffic to the site fell (including the day Big Bang Theory season 11 premiered) and which days/times are the most popular for porn watching.

But the more I talk about here, the more I’ll feel like I’m just stealing things. So instead I’ll point out the link once again and encourage you all to check out the information for yourself.

It’s a hell of a rabbit hole to dive down, and after getting lost in it this morning I’d highly recommend it.

International Entertainment

It’s never a bad day when you get home at 3:00 p.m. Especially when there’s enough of an endorphin rush from getting a solid grade on that Sensation and Perception research paper rough draft to counteract the dejection of finding out thefinal exam won’t be curved like the midterms were.

I’m not at all bitter about being told about it just two weeks before the exam.

You can tell by the way I definitely did not start this post off with a paragraph-long rant.

But hey that being said, at least I got home early right? Which means I had plenty of extra time to get started on my homework for the weekend.

Ahaha, haha, ha.

Haha.

Hah…

Yeah no, I just watched YouTube all afternoon.

Don’t give me that look, viewing public. It was a long week, okay? I just wanted to go home and veg out a little.

Oh boy, here I am arguing with the empty void that I’m pretending is a robust audience.

Let’s just stop filling in empty space on this post and get to the point.

When I talked about the somewhat bizarre international reach of my blog the other day, I didn’t realize it would make me get all deeply philosophical and thoughtful about other stuff I’ve been observing.

For instance, the YouTube videos I’ve been watching.

Yeah that’s right this is another recommending YouTube channels post. Don’t pretend like you didn’t see that coming.

Even if this is a makeshift post thanks to events I had planned getting cancelled, it is based on something I was thinking about in the shower this morning.

See I recently discovered a new video game reviewing YouTuber who has sent me down the rabbit hole of binging every old video out of sheer love for the great new entertainment.

His name is RadicalSoda, and for the most part he does a lot of Sonic-related stuff from what I’ve seen. But also his Kingdom Hearts 2 and bad Pixar PS2 games videos have stood out to me.

The reason why he’s relevant in the conversation I set up for myself is because a few videos in I found out that my new favorite long-haired dudebro is from New Zealand.

Land of the Hobbit and… Usurping old Zealanders. I guess.

I don’t know anything about New Zealand.

But that’s kind of the point! I know literally nothing about New Zealand, yet thanks to the magic of an open content creation platform like YouTube I’m able to see his creative energy and sense of humor come to life.

It’s kind of awesome to imagine, and I’m not sure I would have thought about it too much if I wasn’t already primed by seeing my own blog’s analytics.

Naturally I couldn’t help but think about other YouTube personalities I watch who aren’t based in the United States, because this would have been a very boring post if it was just lots of rambling only to have one recommendation at the end.

So I have other recommendations. For instance, Caddicarus is a channel I’ve been following for some time that’s based in England and also does video game-related content more often than not.

In a similar vein I’ve gotten very into watching another British YouTuber, I Hate Everything. He has a massive backlog of interesting videos just talking about dumb things in general or talking about dumb movies specifically.

His channel also got me introduced to Ralphthemoviemaker, who also does some fantastic movie reviews… But he’s in the U.S. so I’m not counting that right now.

The only other big international name I can think off the top of my head is RANK10YGO, but he’s arguably the most niche suggestion I can offer to a general audience.

All he does is Yu-Gi-Oh! videos. Specifically informational videos about different card archetypes in the game.

Which are fantastic if you want to find out more about the game like I did after getting real into Duel Links. But I imagine it isn’t for everything.

Unless you happen to like somewhat deadpan, meme-ridden humor. In which case he’s your man!

Also he’s apparently from Montenegro. Just in case you were wondering why he fit into this whole international shindig.

So yeah, there’s a bunch of (mostly) international YouTube suggestions that you can check out if you’re interested. For me it’s a pretty great reminder that the Internet isn’t just a cesspool of dumb crap.

It’s a place where people from literally all over the world can share their creativity for even random Joe’s like me to see.

Even if their creativity is just dumb crap, it’s still pretty awesome to think about.

If you have any international content creators you want to recommend, I’d be happy to hear all about them!

A quick glance at Yoruba Creation Mythology

In what seems to be the growing pattern lately, I’m rather late getting a jump on this post from a combination of going to school, doing homework and helping to straighten the house for my Grandmother coming tomorrow.

Which, looking ahead slightly, will probably give me an easy post for tomorrow. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For now, I was struggling to decide what I wanted to write about out of a rather mundane day. But then I realized (thanks to a helpful little push from Mom) that there isn’t anything wrong with just regurgitating some information I learned through my studies today as an interesting tidbit to fill a quick-and-dirty blog post.

So that’s precisely what I’m going to do.

As I’m sure some of you remember, I wrote a nice piece the other week about Charles Darwin as I was in the midst of reading his “Origin of Species” for my Honors Evolution and Creation class. Since then we have begun to move out of talking exclusively about the origins of evolution and into some early examples of creation myths.

Soon enough that will evolve into a more Christianity-centric religious creation as the latter half of the class will focus a large chunk of time on the oft cited debates in America, but until then we’ve been reading creation myths from a number of different groups around the world.

My reading tonight featured at least one that had a detail so specific and bizarre, I felt it was worth talking about.

Though for general reference, we’re primarily reading excerpts from “A Dictionary of Creation Myths,” by David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming for the assignment I just worked on tonight. If anyone is curious as to where I’m pulling this stuff from.

While the excerpts our professor pulled together were all generally interesting and spoke to varying degrees of shared human thought and experience when crafting their creation stories, the Yoruban creation story out of Africa (specifically the Nigerian region today) in particular, caught my eye.

According to the text (which summarizes the stories more than it does recreate the entirety of the myth), everything began when the supreme deity Olurun (or Olodumare) sent the lesser god Obatala down to the earth.

At that point, the earth was only water and chaos. Obatala brought with him a shell, some iron and a rooster as he descended down a chain which hung over the water from the heavens. He placed the ground-filled shell on top of the iron before letting the rooster spread the land further.

Once there was enough dry land, other gods descended to help create everything else.

As the rest of existence took form, apparently Obatala took control of creating humanity — shaping beings out of earth so Olurun could bestow life upon them. All children born are thereafter shaped by Obatala in their mothers’ wombs.

While the story of creation set up here is fascinating to me in how it differs from so many other myths depicting a complete void from which things emerge, it isn’t entirely novel. Most of the Native American myths we read out of this same collection also depicted beings rising earth out of the waters in a similar fashion.

What makes the Yoruba creation story stand out most to me is a detail that seems pretty insanely specific and unique. I’ll write out what I have here exactly, because I’m not sure I could summarize it any better:

“… one day [Obatala] got drunk and by mistake started making cripples, who are now sacred to Obatala.”

We had to read 15 creation stories for this assignment. On top of that, three stories were read for our assignment due today on Judeo-Christian stories.

Yet between all of those stories and everything else I’ve personally heard before now, not once have I heard of any one society going so far as to explain the existence of cripples.

It’s actually fascinating to think that was a detail they wanted to include. Kind of goes to show that we have a desire to explain everything about the world around us, even if you need to collage a variety of different cultures to get the full picture.