Twilight: Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Twilight Recap: Bella has woken up to find the ground completely iced over. She drives carefully to school, mulling over her situation with Edward.

Twilight, Chapter 3: Phenomenon

   My truck seemed to have no problem with the black ice that covered the roads. I drove very slowly, though, not wanting to carve a path of destruction through Main Street.
   When I got out of my truck at school, I saw why I'd had so little trouble. Something silver caught my eye, and I walked to the back of the truck -- carefully holding the side for support -- to examine my tires. There were thin chains crisscrossed in diamond shapes around them. Charlie had gotten up who knows how early to put snow chains on my truck. My throat suddenly felt tight. I wasn't used to being taken care of, and Charlie's unspoken concern caught me by surprise.

I've been very negative about Twilight so far, so I'd like to take today to praise a few things in the writing. Some of our Washington readers informed us last time just how wrong this passage is: apparently most schools will close after an ice storm, and tire chains do not magically allow an inexperienced driver to comfortably zone out in icy conditions, but I think we can chalk this up to a justifiable research fail of the type that someone spending most of their life in the southern United States might make. So with that out of the way, I have to say that there is a certain sweetness to Charlie waking up early and slapping tire chains on Bella's car for her, and there's an additional niceness in Bella recognizing this gesture as one of love and experiencing gratitude for it -- it's nice to see Bella have something unadulteratedly nice to say about someone.

Of course, the nitpicky part of my brain wants to point out that the form this gesture takes meshes with the problems in the series: the lack of communication, the assumptions that Bella cannot take care of herself, the insistence that the male authority figures in her life know best what she needs, and the taking care of her without her approval or even over her objections. But, no, I'm going to be positive today, come hell or high water and say that this is a sweet scene that demonstrates how Charlie and Bella can love each other despite seemingly having very little interaction: they're joined in a silent relationship of mutual nurturing. Bella cooks the food, Charlie chains the tires. Of course, food has to be cooked nightly and tires have to be chained once a year, so we could discuss how "women's work" has traditionally fewer rest breaks than "men's work", but that particular problem isn't S.Meyer's fault, nor can I necessarily blame Charlie and Bella for falling into that established pattern.

   I was standing by the back corner of the truck, struggling to fight back the sudden wave of emotion the snow chains had brought on, when I heard an odd sound.
   It was a high-pitched screech, and it was fast becoming painfully loud. I looked up, startled.
   I saw several things simultaneously.

I also like that Bella has to take a moment here to stop herself choking up over the tire chains. It's overwrought, but it's overwrought in a realistic way -- here she's been lonely and sad for the whole novel and trying to take care of herself all alone for much of her whole life, so it seems reasonable to me that a little thing like this should catch her emotionally off-guard. Then also, something like this confirms in a very tangible way that Charlie loves her and is glad she came to live with him, which is something that I think a girl in Bella's position would reasonably worry about.

Back to the action, Bella hears a sound and looks up to see that she's in immediate danger. A car is sliding across the icy parking lot and is careening rapidly toward her. The impact is going to smash her to a pulp, but everything is happening so quickly that all Bella can do is watch her impending doom. This isn't a bad setup. I've been in several car collisions and I know that feeling of seeing what is about to happen and unable to react. In one case, I was a passenger and if I could have warned the driver the accident would have been avoided, but all I could do was suck in air -- my lungs seemed stuck in an intake-only position.

So it's a good setup overall that Bella will be helplessly crushed to death in the school parking lot, once we accept that the Forks school was unwilling to cancel school to prevent this kind of thing and once we accept that the parking lot is big enough or uncrowded enough to allow the necessary momentum and uninterrupted path to Bella that this situation requires. Sure, it might seem a little contrived, but it's the kind of contrivance that literature often hinges on, so I'll give it a pass.

   Edward Cullen was standing four cars down from me, staring at me in horror. His face stood out from a sea of faces, all frozen in the same mask of shock. But of more immediate importance was the dark blue van that was skidding, tires locked and squealing against the brakes, spinning wildly across the ice of the parking lot. It was going to hit the back corner of my truck, and I was standing between them. I didn't even have time to close my eyes.
   Just before I heard the shattering crunch of the van folding around the truck bed, something hit me, hard, but not from the direction I was expecting. My head cracked against the icy blacktop, and I felt something solid and cold pinning me to the ground.

The text can't make it clear yet (because Bella doesn't know yet that Edward is a vampire), and it won't make it as clear as I'd like later, but Edward is starting in horror not because he's a decent person who doesn't want to see someone die and not because he loves Bella with all his sparkly might, but rather because he knows that if Bella starts bleeding out on the ground, he'll lose control right then and there and then the Cullens' cover will be blown. This kind of realistic-but-selfish evaluation of the situation has the side-effect of making Edward seem like a bit of a sociopath for not caring if a fellow student dies, but I like the characterization because it fits nicely with the messed-up morality that you might expect immortal beings to have. Bella is going to die soon anyway, on an immortal timeline, so what's 60 or 70 years difference going to make?

But then again, Edward isn't a thousand year old fae or a Tolkien elf who has watched humanity wither and fade over the centuries -- he's barely over 100 and that's a fairly short time in which to start utterly devaluing human life. Maybe it would fit better if the Cullens were shown devaluing human life as just so much prey, but that doesn't seem to fit the characterization we're given.

And yet, on the other other hand, it does make sense in a realistic kind of way that Edward might focus on the immediate threat of discovery over the less tangible and more conceptual threat of an innocent human life about to end. And additionally, it's rather admirable that his immediate inclination is to save Bella (which carries its own risk of discovery since he's going to have to zip across a crowded parking lot at light speed) rather than high-tail it in the opposite direction to clear the blast radius, as it were. So that's nice.

A part of me can't help but feel, though, that there's a missed opportunity here. I know that Twilight tells the story of Bella and Edward and not the story of the Amazing Cullens, and I realize it's not fair of me to keep expecting otherwise, but it seems like such a shame to introduce all these powers and never use them in crucial moments. Why doesn't Alice foresee this problem and have the Cullens park in a more opportune spot? Why no mention of Jasper manipulating the crowd to keep them from seeing Edward as he races to save Bella? Why not have Edward be more prepared for the accident because he heard the driver mentally panicking before the squealing started? One wonders if the Cullens' powers aren't well-equipped for emergencies and spontaneous actions.

   A low oath made me aware that someone was with me, and the voice was impossible not to recognize. Two long, white hands shot out protectively in front of me, and the van shuddered to a stop a foot from my face, the large hands fitting providentially into a deep dent in the side of the van's body. [...]
   It was absolutely silent for one long second before the screaming began. In the abrupt bedlam, I could hear more than one person shouting my name. But more clearly than all the yelling, I could hear Edward Cullen's low, frantic voice in my ear.
   "Bella? Are you all right?" [...]
   "I'm fine." My voice sounded strange. I tried to sit up, and realized he was holding me against the side of his body in an iron grasp. [...]
   "Be careful,” he warned as I struggled. "I think you hit your head pretty hard." [...]
   "How in the . . ." I trailed off, trying to clear my head, get my bearings. "How did you get over here so fast?"
   "I was standing right next to you, Bella," he said, his tone serious again. [...]
   "You were over there," I suddenly remembered, and his chuckle stopped short. "You were by your car."
   His expression turned hard. "No, I wasn't."
   "I saw you." All around us was chaos. I could hear the gruffer voices of adults arriving on the scene. But I obstinately held on to our argument; I was right, and he was going to admit it.
   "Bella, I was standing with you, and I pulled you out of the way." He unleashed the full, devastating power of his eyes on me, as if trying to communicate something crucial.
   "No." I set my jaw.

I'm quite sorry to see that we don't get to know what Edward's oath was. I'm not up on American profanity from the early 1900s, but I imagine it would be something touchingly old fashioned and out of place, like Kit's suggested hypothetical nickname of "Ned" for Edward.

But I actually like this scene in itself: Bella is realistically confused and disoriented, and Edward is by various turns tender and obstinate. The contrast between the tender moments and the icy ones is clear and serves to underline Bella's insistence that, no, Edward was not right next to her. It signals to us, the reader, that Something Is Not Right Here.

And yet, something about this scene doesn't read right to me. I think it's because I can't think of any other time when Edward is tender with Bella - usually when she escapes danger, he comes across as angry and frustrated. Edward as a character strikes me as easily frustrated, easily angered, and frequently condescending. Thus his actions here -- tenderness alternating with cold denial -- strike me as somehow off. I like this scene, but it seems like it belongs in a different book somehow; I would expect our Edward to be angry at our Bella for, I dunno, endangering herself and him because she was selfish enough to spend time inspecting her tires. Or something. Maybe I'm not reading Edward right because I haven't read the entire series yet?

Another thing I like about this scene is how Bella doesn't let the incident go -- she knows what she saw, and she isn't going to be talked out of it. And yet, there is that hint of childishness again, as Bella pursues the issue not because she wants an explanation for the impossible, but because she's "right". Part of me gets this, and I even imagine I might feel similarly, but the language here seems showcased to put Bella in a childish light: she's obstinate, she's right, she sets her jaw. I can't decide sometimes how S.Meyer sees Bella and how she wants her to be seen by others: is she supposed to be a normal, quirky teenager or are we supposed to see her as a very stubborn overgrown child? If it's the former, I feel she's doing a very poor job; if it's the latter, the job is quite a good one, but with uncomfortable consequences for me.

There's nothing wrong with a main character being child-like or childish, of course, but in my mind there is something wrong with a childish main character making multiple life changing decisions -- marriage, procreation, undeath -- while in a childish mindset and this being presented as a happy ending. If Bella is mature beyond her years, then the ending of the series is all well and good, if possibly not the best template for everyone to follow, but if Bella is an overgrown child, then that implies there will be a point in the future at which she won't be a child anymore. And then what? Will she regret the life-altering decisions that she made when she was immature? It's hard to just assume that she won't when so many of us do; it's almost worrying that there's not a series epilogue to assure us canonically that, yes, everything works out fine forever. I would have been more comfortable with a more mature Bella and I frankly don't understand why we weren't given one, and...

...Crap. I really promised I'd be nicer today. Well, I'll try again next week?


Bayley G said...

Of course she won't regret it - she won't ever get the chance to mature, being frozen forever in an immature state.

Why this isn't portrayed as a Bad End is beyond me.

Kit Whitfield said...

I'm quite sorry to see that we don't get to know what Edward's oath was. I'm not up on American profanity from the early 1900s, but I imagine it would be something touchingly old fashioned and out of place, like Kit's suggested hypothetical nickname of "Ned" for Edward.

Actually I'm not sure it would be. I haven't lived a hundred years, but I know I use different slang now from the slang I used twenty years ago. I swear differently too; when I was a child, 'mother****er' was absolutely cataclysmic; by last year I'd developed a habit of saying it every time I got seriously frustrated - to the point where my husband pointed out that if I didn't knock it off, our son's first word might run thus:

Son: Mother!
Us: Oh my goodness, how wonderful!
Son: ****er!
Us: ...Oh boy.

According to Daniel Radosh's Rapture Ready Christian fiction (or at least the more conservative end of the spectrum) isn't allowed to record swear words and can only say 'he cursed', and goodies aren't allowed to curse at all, so the 'oath' may be hidden for similar reasons. But given that most people shed at least the most egregiously out-of-date slang as times move on - much more than they change their names - I'd expect Edward said something fairly unremarkable.

As regards the interaction between the two of them - if I remember right, it more or less starts as it means to go on. Their love-talk is so often in the form of an argument, and it's rather bewildering. Any semi-former Twilight fans around care to explain it? Amarie?

Personalfailure said...

It's important to remember that Twilight is Mormon porn. Woman as child forever while simultaneously making serious, irreversible decisions is an accurate rendering of mormon Position on women and their proper place. 

chris the cynic said...

Ana, I hope real life improves for you.

I don't have anything useful to add, sorry.

Am I the only one getting some severe formatting problems on the new post? In the bold sections apostrophes are replaced by capital Es, opening quotation marks are replaced by a box with a question mark in it, closing quotation marks are replaced by a lowercase d with a line through it. Something else, I think it might be a hyphen, is replaced by the same box with a question mark as the opening quotation marks.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, Chris. It's actually nothing bad, just hectic. Husband and I decided to put our house on the market this week, but we didn't quite anticipate HOW MUCH the realtor would ask us to clean before Picture Day. (Did you know that floor fans imply the a/c doesn't work? In our house, they imply that Husband is hot blooded but Ana is not.)

So this weekend was unexpected We Have To Go Rent A Storage Unit And Fill It Up fun-ness. Fortunately, I can type on the Nook Color while riding in the car. :D

What browser are you using for the post? Looks good in Firefox and Opera to me, but if you're using something else, I can troubleshoot. :)

chris the cynic said...

It does look good on Firefox. I'm using chrome at the moment. I have trouble using disqus on Firefox.


As it turns out, I actually do have a thought on this installment. If I understand correctly, Edward closes the distance between himself and Bella in the twinkling of an eye, slows down to a speed so that the impact will not damage her, smacks into her with enough force to knock her to the ground, stops the dark blue van with his bare hands.

That's a lot of work to do on what, as near as I can tell, is an ice rink.

(What the hell fictional Oregon? Your capital city was named after Portland, Maine, how dare you not know to salt when it's icy? And why didn't you cancel school? But I digress.)

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to tackle her out of the way and not have to do the whole barehanded van stop thing? If you're trying to avoid blowing your cover and all it just seems to make sense to not stop a runaway van with your bare hands. Of course the potential downside of that is that it might involve sliding part of the distance, which if the ice rink of a parking lot isn't quite smooth could lead to scrapes and blood if Bella was in contact with it, but given Edward's level of inhuman control it seems like he should be able to twist some when he grabs her and have her land on top of him. It would both protect her from scrapes and soften the impact.

In addition to the concerns about blowing his cover with van stopping, it seems like it would just be easier. To move that fast and then still have Bella remain in largely the same place after he hits her requires him to slow down a lot, if he slowed down somewhat less it would take less energy and they'd both wind up clear.

To those who didn't know where Edward was when he started it would seem very impressive, but well within human limits. Knocking people out of the way of something bad is a pretty standard response to seeing something bad coming towards that person, stopping a van by sticking out your arms not so much.

Normally I would give it a pass because it's very quick and he didn't have time to think it through, but apparently he managed to come to a near stop on slippery ice after moving at inhuman speeds. That doesn't sound reflexive, it sounds like it requires thought, and if there is that thought, if he did come up with a very hasty plan in the seconds he had before and during his actions, why that plan?

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, I couldn't get Chrome to recreate the flaw, but it looks like the post carried over smart quotes and smart hyphens (boo! hiss!) so I cleaned those up and hopefully that will help.

The whole scene confused me, because I would have just yanked her underneath her truck. But then again, I suppose the shaking of the truck would potentially cause after-shock harm and damage. And I still don't quite understand why the parking lot is empty enough for the van to be traveling at the speed it does without any obstruction between the van and her truck. Is she the first one at school? But then why is the parking lot so crowded? (And aren't the Cullens the type to be fashionably late, anyway?)

chris the cynic said...

I've somehow found myself in "Don't record any information mode" of chrome, apparently that makes the difference. If I look in a normal window, all better. If I look in an incognito window it's mostly better because switching the hyphens and quotes did work. Apostrophes are still the letter capital E.

So I have no idea what's up with that. And I'm at a loss for how I ended up in an incognito window.


My first thought was to yank her under the truck as well.

Nathaniel said...

This feels like a scene that works perfectly in your head, and then when you actually write it down all sorts of issues crop up, like a parking lot that is simultaneously crowded and yet has enough room for a car to careen at 20+ mph.

Ana Mardoll said...

Whoops, didn't catch the smart apostrophes. Got them now, thank you!

Ana Mardoll said...

I love that. Really, I love the concept of a cat named Puffington, period. It's so perfectly snooty and cuddly at the same time.

bbrugger said...

1) Yes, actually school would be cancelled or open later and this would be announced by TV and radio and one would expect the Chief of Police would know it.

2) Putting on chains is a non-trivial exercise given that it often takes place during rawther crap weather conditions. So points to Charlie.

3) If Bella is so oblivious as a driver that she didn't notice any handling changes or road noise DURING the drive to school then Charlie is being criminally negligent to let her on the road at all. Points previously awarded are now void. She didn't notice the chains until she got out of the truck at school? Really?

I am so annoyed by this that I can't be bothered to examine the stupidity of the runaway van incident.

Ana Mardoll said...

Do they sound different? Oh dear. I've never used chains before, and I imagine S.Meyer hasn't either. I asked after some last year during a nasty frost down here and was practically laughed at because they just aren't available here and I apparently wouldn't be able to put the suckers on by myself anyway.

I love the "points are now void". :D

Inquisitive Raven said...

Chains don't fit perfectly snugly, and I would expect them to rattle a bit. I don't know how they affect handling because my entire experience with the things is as ambulance crew, and I wasn't driving.

Cupcakedoll said...

Chains sound very different and if they're on it's not good to drive over, say, 30mph. Also putting them on generally requires two people, one to do the chaining and one in the car to drive fractionally backward and forward so the chain can be attached all around the wheel. It's enough of a pain that on our vacation when the pass was unexpectedly snowed over, Dad opted to pay thirty bucks to the guys with the sign rather than do our chains himself.

If this happened after Edward started his late night stalking, I'd suspect him of doing Bella's chains-- he could just lift the whole car to position them correctly!

I have to drive on ice a few times a year and it's a white-knuckle adreneline-fueled activity not at all conducive to zoning out. Being inside a car that could at any moment leave your control is no fun at all!

Fluffy said...

I've skidded on ice before, both in vehicles and outside of them. There's a moment of cheer terror, overlain with fatalistic calm (at least if you just realized you're now facing the wrong way on a street that's normally quite busy and rushed, and there's a transport coming down the next lane). The nice thing about these conditions is that in most of the world, they're much easier to handle if you're not on pavement -- so for Edward to have done this, I immediately picture him leaping onto the frost-sharpened grass/gravel beside the parking lot, zooming around it, and then getting in position.

Of course, then he'd leave footsteps in the frost, and we'd be sitting around waiting for Bella to put on a deerskin cap and follow them to prove he wasn't really right beside her.

Kit Whitfield said...

It's important to remember that Twilight is Mormon porn. Woman as child forever while simultaneously making serious, irreversible decisions is an accurate rendering of mormon Position on women and their proper place.

Oh, come on. Stereotyping an entire group of people? Especially when there are no representatives of that group present to explain it? Not cool.

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh, come on. Stereotyping an entire group of people? Especially when there are no representatives of that group present to explain it? Not cool.

Thank you, Kit. Seconded, and I should have said so when the comment first appeared. I don't know as much about Mormon doctrine as I would like, but I'm fairly certain that the religion is more complicated than a simple "keep women as children forever" statement of faith. (Now, I won't disagree that some practitioners take it that direction, but that's another thing entirely from the religion being officially based around that.)

I do wish we had more Mormon readers. We wished for Twilight fans and people came out to introduce themselves, so now I'm going to wish for Mormon readers and hope that they feel safe speaking up here. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

@Will, it's such an odd thing, because I like the fact that Bella argues with him. As you say, it seems extremely realistic under the circumstances, and it's also a nice bit of characterization. But the words used to describe the conversation see so pejorative against Bella as to make her seem like a bratty child.

It's an odd narrative technique because it's hard for me to imagine Bella describing herself in such a way unless she has unbelievably low self-esteem. It almost reads like Grown Up Bella is writing this and is embarrassed and ashamed that she argued with her husband... but why should she be? She was right, and if she hadn't argued, they probably wouldn't have ended up together. It just reads very conflicted to me for some reason. Maybe if I squint and turn my head just so...

Will Wildman said...

In fact, given that this is following the incidents in biology where Edward was giving her the murdery eyes, I'm kind of cheering at Bella for being completely uninterested in Edward's Serious Face. Maybe it's not the safest decision, if she still thinks he may be dangerous and unpredictable, but I approve of her putting her foot down on his attitude when she has other things on her mind, like head injuries and superpowers. (I agree that terms like 'obstinate' are rarely compliments, but when addled by a possible concussion, I feel okay with giving it a pass. Of course, it's also part of the running thread of Bella's Funny Injures, which is not so much okay.)

chris the cynic said...

This feels like a scene that works perfectly in your head, and then when you actually write it down all sorts of issues crop up, like a parking lot that is simultaneously crowded and yet has enough room for a car to careen at 20+ mph.

Last night I was thinking about this, after I turned of my computer and while I was on my way to bed, and I think it feels very much like a dream. Things seem to sort of pop in and out of existence depending on whether or not Bella is paying attention to them.

This post was originally a lot longer but I felt like I was using a lot of words without saying much. The key point is that the sequence of events seems to be

-Driving along and everything is normal, which is surprising because black ice is one of the worst things you could be driving on.
-Gets to school, gets out, Shiny!
-On closer inspection the shiny thing is something that would make it so that everything wasn't normal. This explains why everything was normal!
-Then there's a weird sound
-Hey, the parking lot is really crowded and everyone's looking at me in shock.
-Hey, the parking lot is really, really empty and there's enough space for a van to come careening right at me.
-Shatter-crunch, ooff, crack, ow, arms, van, shudder-stop, huh?
-And so on.

The two points that really stand out as very dreamlike to me are the reaction to the chains and the crowded-empty parking lot.

The revelation of the tire chains does not fit, it should probably be met with a reaction of, "What the hell? Was I in a coma behind the wheel? How is it even physically possible that I didn't notice this?" but, for me at least, in dreams that never seems to happen. Instead whatever new information is revealed, no matter how much it fails to fit with what has come before, is integrated into my understanding of the event. So Bella's reaction of, "This explains why driving was so normal," when really it doesn't explain that at all, reminds me of how my own mind absorbs something like that in a dream. Instead of being seen as a contradiction, it is seen as an explanation.

The fact that she goes immediately from there being a sea of faces crowding the parking lot to the big open space that needs to be there for the van to do what it does also seems very dreamlike to me. That sort of unnoticed scene change in the middle of a thought is something that has a familiarity for me.


Apparently chains on the tires are indeed the best thing you can do when faced with black ice, the handling would still be several times worse than what Bella experienced on a dry road with her ordinary tires, but putting the chains on significantly improved her chances of not getting in an accident.

Given what little I know about Twilight, my first assumption was the Edward added the chains.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, the dream idea makes a surprising amount of sense. Meyer has said some of the novel is based in a dream, so this scene could well be one of those parts.

The sad thing to me is that if Edward is the Bringer of Chains, then Charlie has seriously failed as father here. He should have driven Bella to school - he must realize she's not driven on ice before!

chris the cynic said...

Thanks on that.

You're welcome. Afterward, when I went to the slacktiverse I saw that there was thread about cats on the internet, which seemed a more appropriate to place to post that, so now he's there too.

I'm not sure why he was so memorable. I do remember that once before I wanted to locate it and I couldn't. The fact that I thought his name was "Mr. Puffington" might have had something to do with it, but I think that it was mostly that Google is very bad at locating typepad comments when they're no longer recent. So I gave up. And forgot about it. For quite a while.

So all of a sudden it occurred to me that patheos comments are stored in a different way, and maybe a search would work, and then I found Puffington and was far too proud of myself considering all I did was search on google. It's actually a really good thread in general. It has Shifercat's brilliant thing where Nicolae explains why he hired Ray, and a series of posts about how the various Doctors would deal with Turbo Jesus.

Someone needs to go through the old threads and collect all the fiction. The same thing needs to be done here with Twilight based fiction.

Given that they're apparently on a very icy surface, it seems like the most sensible thing would be to catch Bella at a run, diving and twisting such that they end up sliding across the ground with Bella on top and Edward playing sled.

Will agrees with me, I have won the internet.

Sailorsaturumon132000 said...

>If Bella is an overgrown child, then that implies there will be a point in the future at which she won't be a child >anymore. And then what? Will she regret the life-altering decisions that she made when she was immature?

As noted before, Bella will NEVER outgrow her immaturaness now, as she doesn't age. and I know many people who never become more mature than bella despita gaing normally...

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, I love the end tag where Ben slips again and Edith steadies him. Very nicely done. :D Interesting how the "falls over a lot" feels very different with the gender flip. I don't think "falls over a lot" is something frequently considered "cutesy" in males in our culture -- seems like it would be taken much more seriously.

chris the cynic said...

Can someone who has read the relevant passages go into greater detail about the whole not changing thing.

I've heard it said that once one is vampired* their personality doesn't change. But what does that mean. Obviously sparklepants is not constantly trapped in a single frame of mind. We see the way that he treats Bella change from day to day, even from sentence to sentence. The way he thinks and acts does change.

The mere fact that he will love Bella later while not doing so now implies that he is fully capable of changing when presented with a new input (Bella wasn't there 40 years ago when he was, I'm going to say, going to Beatles concerts thus he did not lover her then, she is now so when he gets a chance to know her he will eventually love her.)

Edward is clearly capable of change, but I'm hearing that his personality was locked in back when his was dehumanified. What does that mean? What does it mean that your personality is set if you are clearly capable of learning and changing and developing in the face of new experience?



vampire, verb (vampiring, vampired)

To make into a vampire.

From the Latin vampirare to sparkle.

Ana Mardoll said...

Esme -- "maternalism"

I first read that as "materialism" and was then struck by how much more I would like Esme if that were true.

Yes, that's the excuse he gave to his fellow Cullens.

Am I remembering wrong? I remembered him giving that as his reason to Bella, too, and I thought he was supposed to read as sincere. I actually like the scene better if there's a practical reason to save her beyond all the squishy love reasons.

How the Cullens react to spilled blood seems to be almost random -- they're absent from Blood Taking Day in class (although that may be just as much because they don't want their blood analyzed) and Jasper freaks out over serious bleeding injuries. It seems realistic that Bella of The Delicious Scent being sprayed all over the parking lot Tarantino-style would be a problem for Edward, but perhaps I read that part wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

(Indeed, Jasper seems to sensitive to me that I frequently wonder how he handles it when girls at school have periods.)

Kit Whitfield said...

(Indeed, Jasper seems to sensitive to me that I frequently wonder how he handles it when girls at school have periods.)

Well, if I were writing a situation like that, there's a fairly simple solution: say that vampires are interested in veinous blood only. Menstrual blood has a different composition. A starving man might have difficulty resisting a bowl of apples, but it doesn't mean he'll jump on a bowl of pine cones.

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't know enough about blood composition to say, but that seems like a plausible hand wave. Let's go with that. :)

depizan said...

But I don't see indications most of the time that they can really react at that speed

Except that, later on, he will drive - on a small winding highway - at insanely fast speeds, which is supposedly okay because of his vampire reflexes. (Not that people don't do really stupid things in cars, of course.)

What I've never understood about this scene, though, is why Edward thinks Bella is the only witness to his teleportation. Even supposing he moves faster than the eye can see, surely someone else saw him standing over there.

depizan said...

Those are awesome.

chris the cynic said...

The good people of Forks know not to ask questions about the oddness of the Cullens.

Or at least that's one theory. There was a list of theories at one point. Their general obliviousness to what's happening right in front of them seems to be an ongoing theme at this point.

Camelliagirl101 said...

delurking to say I totally understood the parking lot thing...picture a lot that looked something like this:

chris the cynic said...

I disagree with your diagram for a couple of reasons, but before I get to that I want to say that I fully support any picture that includes the label "Vector of death truck". Ok, maybe not any picture that includes that, but it's definitely a serious point in your favor.

The major reason I don't feel like it works is that in the plain text (unlike my first version) she sees Edward and the blue van at the same time.

Edward is standing four cars down, which would put him just off the right side of your diagram. Setting aside that there's no way that it would make sense for her to turn rightward when she hears the sound of the van, the problem is that if she's looking towards Edward the van would be behind her. There's no way she'd see it coming. Edward is off the edge of the diagram due right, the van is incoming from down and slightly to the left.

The problem here is not one of the choices you made in the diagram, the problem is that for her to see Edward and the van at the same time they have to be in something resembling the same direction. The sea of faces Edward is in and the van both have to be in the same general direction, which means that instead of skirting along the side of the parking lot the vector of the doom van has to be coming through the parking lot.

(This, by the way, matches what it says in text about it "spinning wildly across the ice of the parking lot." and not, say, the adjacent road.)

If we assume that Edward and the sea of faces are standing at the very edge of the parking lot right next to the road, then the van only needs to penetrate the parking lot five cars deep to make it to Bella, but it still needs to make it through a lot that has somehow managed to support a sea of faces between Bella and the side from which it entered.

If, alternatively, we don't assume that Edward and the sea of faces are standing at the edge of the parking lot, then it has even more parking lot to cover, and thus even more of it needs to be empty.

But perhaps more importantly than how far it has to go is the territory it has to cover. Edward isn't four spaces down, he's four cars down. Maybe four cars down is four spaces, or maybe four cars down is eight spaces, but either way we're talking about four cars. For cars in this row in the general direction the van. The sea of faces, are likewise in the same general direction, meaning that unless they decided to congregate there for no reason, we can probably assume that they are either centrally located (in which case the vector of the van crosses over the middle of the lot) or they are near where they parked (in which case there are even more cars in the general direction of the van than we would at first imagine) or both (in which case see both of the previous parentheticals.) Now we know they're not in the exact same direction as the van, because then they'd be running for cover rather than staring in shock, but they have to been in the same general direction because otherwise Bella wouldn't see them simultaneously.

As much as I like your diagram, it has the people gossiping (which I assume is meant to represent the sea of faces) on the exact opposite side of Bella as the van itself. Unless her super secret super skill is to be able to see what is directly behind her while still seeing what's in front of her, I don't think that works given that she sees the faces and the van simultaneously in the text.

Randy Owens said...

Another bit of unreality is that when you skid & spin on ice like that, you don't get "a high-pitched screech" of any kind; that's only when your tires get some traction that you hear that, which is exactly what isn't happening here. It's hard to describe the sound it makes, but the best I can come up with on short notice is a slow, drawn-out crunching, which barely makes any sense itself.

Cupcakedoll said...

Brilliant, Chris. Both of them. I especially love "Edith Cullen." it made me laugh but it's the perfect outdated clunky name for a vampire. And a challenge to an author, to make an Edith into a glamorous desirable character.

bbrugger said...

And I came back to try to get through the scene again so I'd appreciate the witty stuff y'all are saying and I came slap up against the line about the sea of faces.

"Huh," I said to myself, "That's trite but let it go. Sea of faces, whatever, moving on... nope, no good. Gonna have to look that up."

Forks has a population of under 4K. As of today there are 14 teachers listed on the school's website.
A sea of faces.
In the parking lot of the high school that boasts a teaching staff of 14.
A sea of faces.
Bella used to live in a city with a population of 1,445,632.
A sea of faces.
One of the 30 school districts has the largest number of high schools (11) and all of those schools have student bodies of 1400 to 2800 each.

A SEA OF FACES?!!?? Just- no.

I would never make it through this book on my own, it makes me all capslocky.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Silver Adept, I love you comment. I'm now wondering if there are YouTube videos of these different slides Edward failed to apply. (Perhaps their baseball has few slides and tackles? They're seriously under-staffed on the field.)

chris the cynic said...

I was willing to allow for the possibility that the high pitched noise was because something unrelated to the ice was wrong with the van and the situation was just allowing that wrongness to have a moment to shine*. Then I looked back at the text.

tires locked and squealing against the brakes

The tires are locked and squealing against the breaks? If they're locked shouldn't they and the breaks be on the same page? The breaks don't want the tires to move, the tires are not moving, it seems to me that break tire relations should be at an all time high. I'm not sure where the squealing animosity it coming from.

The only way I can think of that locked tires would be doing anything against the breaks would be if the driver were using both pedals. This is hardly impossible, some people drive using one foot for the break and one for the accelerator and if your reaction to fear of imminent death is to tense up completely that could lead to you pressing down on both pedals. But even then, though the wheels would be fighting against the brakes because they wanted to go while the brakes were saying, "No," wouldn't there still be a lack of squeal?

The break squeal, as I understand it, comes from the wheels moving against the brakes. If the wheels are not moving then wouldn't the squeal be nonexistent regardless of all other factors?

And isn't it the wheels that squeal against the breaks?


*Though based on the high pitched screeches I've heard from various vehicles this would only really make sense if the wheels were in motion. Say that in a moment of panic the driver had slammed his foot down on the accelerator instead of the break and that transformed the painfully annoying sound that his van normally made when moving into something an order of magnitude worse.

I think we could probably rule out breaks for such a sustained screech because they only do that until the wheels stop. Given the lack of friction with the lot I'm pretty sure there wheels should stop moving more quickly than normal, so I don't think we'd get the sustained screeching we're told is there.

Anyway, based on the screeching I hear from a car that occasionally goes down my street under ordinary conditions, I'm prepared to believe that epic screeching could occur in extraordinary conditions even if those conditions don't appear to warrant screeching in the first place. Though in that case Bella would probably be already familiar with the damned screechy blue van, and just be surprised by the volume. And, as I sort of said before, it would probably only make sense if the wheels were spinning like crazy.

A non "I'm on the wrong pedal" possibility for such a thing would be if the van, in it's spinning, had started to point in a direction other than doom, say at an empty area of the parking lot, and the thought process of the driver was basically that he couldn't stop but maybe he could go and if he could make the van go that way he wouldn't hit anyone.

You could even have it be such that he started off sliding towards Sea of Faces, and managed to change his trajectory enough that it only posed a danger to Island of Bella. He'd have a moment of triumph when he realized he wouldn't hit the crowd, then he'd see Bella and it would be something like. Crap. Press down even harder on the accelerator which accomplishes nothing because it's already as far as it goes. Pray/wish/hope/thingy. Come on, come on, come on. Almost clear. CRUNCH. All in a matter of moments, but depending on how he's reacting to the hormones released by the experience it might seem significantly longer.

Although, in that case, he'd probably be making use of his horn.

My footnote is longer than the rest of my post. There's probably something wrong with that.

Ana Mardoll said...

I really must stop reading these comments during breakfast -- I've had too many close calls of the coffee-shooting-from-nose variety. Luckily it's chilled coffee.

I can't decide if my favorite part is "brake/tire relations" or "Sea of Faces/Island of Bella" or "damned screechy blue van". :D

Will Wildman said...

I'm really just here to say that 'brake/tire relations' is a thing of poetry and brilliance.

MaryKaye said...

If I am lying on black ice and I put my hands out and a speeding van runs into them, it doesn't matter if I have the strength of the Incredible Hulk, I don't have the mass or coefficient of friction needed to stop the van. I will slide instead. Or am I visualizing this wrong?

Then again, this is standard Hollywood, and maybe par for the course for this kind of story.

redcrow said...

>>>outdated clunky name


One of my favorite foreign names.

(So is "Edward", unfortunately. Even Meyer was unable to change it. Maybe I should wait for all those kids named after him to grow up - then there'll be Edwards everywhere, and I finaly will get sick of this name.)

chris the cynic said...

If I am lying on black ice and I put my hands out and a speeding van runs into them, it doesn't matter if I have the strength of the Incredible Hulk, I don't have the mass or coefficient of friction needed to stop the van. I will slide instead. Or am I visualizing this wrong?

Given that Edward still has to stop the death van I'm left with the impression that they are still between the van and the truck and I therefore think it reasonable to conclude that Edward is using the truck for support of some kind.

The exact details are somewhat less than clear because Bella doesn't know what's going on at the time (she doesn't even realize Edward is the something that hit her until he starts swearing.) But given that she started out between her truck and the van with the van coming right at her, and the van needed to be stopped to save her, I think the truck is right behind them. (Why Edward doesn't just try to slide under the truck instead of using it as a support for his van stopping is left as an exercise to the reader.)

When I try to imagine what it would read like if Bella knew exactly what was going on while it was happening it doesn't really work and instead this happens:

Just before I heard the shattering crunch of the van folding around the truck bed, Edward hit me, hard.

Bella: (She's in real pain, but this is as much an expression of disapproval as pain, she draws the word out as she speaks it): Ow.
Edward: Quiet, I'm trying to save you.
Bella: I get that, but did you have bounce my head off the pavement like a basketball?
Edward: I'm saving you, shut up.
Bella: If you're saving me how come we're still in the path of the van?
Edward: Because this way I get to show off my inhuman powers.
Bella: You already did that just by getting to me so quickly.
Edward: I was right next to you.
Bella: Were not.
Edward: Was too.
Bella: (fed up, pointing) Van.

Two long, white hands shot out protectively in front of me, and the van shuddered to a stop a foot from my face, the large hands fitting providentially into a deep dent in the side of the van's body.

Bella: We're on slippery ice, why didn't we go flying backwards?
Edward: My foot is on your truck.

I turned to see a giant dent in my truck, Edward's left foot planted directly in the middle of it.

Bella: (Sarcastic) Great.

Which completely screws with the timing, among a variety of other problems.

Kit Whitfield said...

Edith's coming back in the UK, at least; there was an Edith in my son's Sing and Sign class. And Edward always been popular; along with Dave, Chris, Rick and Andy, Ed was one of the commonest names when I was at university. They're not so much outdated names as they are out of fashion in the States.

I have to say, I'm surprised at all the analysis of the physics of the situation. It's described impressionistically from the viewpoint of someone who doesn't really have time to observe or go into details; it hardly seems unfair to ask people to read it in the same spirit.

Ana Mardoll said...

Silver Adept, that was awesome, thank you!! Extremely insructional and now I'm all disappointed that nothing like that came into play here -- would have been a nice linkage through the novel to provide Ed a little more personality and character.

Kit, I think it's traditional at this point to either focus on the physics of the van or the physics of how no one else in the parking lot noticed Edward (does he move at the speed of light?) when they were all supposedly staring right at Bella and should have noticed him streaking across the field of vision. One or both of these things could be excused as impossible-but-for-the-sake-of-the-plot but TWO impossible things in one scene seems a lot to ask from a reader. ;)

Ana Mardoll said...

Does anyone else ever write out a long detailed post and then realize they misread the thing they were responding to and thus nothing they said really applies? Anyway, I just did that.

Yes, so many times. *sigh*

To make sure that that doesn't happen you'd want Edward to be elevated, which caused me to imagine Edward kneeling on Bella's back arms outstretched towards the oncoming van.

So we're back to the sled analogy again? :P

True story: Husband came into the study this morning, brushing his teeth, and saw me watching all the YouTube videos above.

Husband: Whatcha watching?
Ana: We're analyzing the different slides in baseball and wondering whether or not Edward Cullen's baseball knowledge could have been used to improve the Bella-Edward-Van scene in Twilight. Someone suggested that an ankle slide would have pushed Bella out of the way without the head-on-pavement crack and subsequent bleeding head wound.
[Beat Panel]
Husband: You're such a nerd.

It was said with utmost affection, though. :D

hapax said...

“Of all the things that are wrong with this story, that's the one that you fixate on?”

[bows the bow of the novice to the Master Artist]

Silver Adept said...

@Ana Mardoll, glad to be of assistance. Played baseball a lot in my young times, still like watching it, so the vaunted Cullen baseball skills are going to be occasionally foremost in my mind.

We are glad that the nerdity was taken with affection, too.

@chris the cynic, The center of mass for any vehicle (as best I can tell) is on the undercarriage, at the midpoint between the line segment formed between the two jack points. Or, in English, reach under your car on each side to find the spot where they recommend you put the jack to lift your car to change tires on, and draw a line between those two spots. The middle of that line should be the center of mass for your car.

If that's true (and auto aficionados can tell me I'm way off), that means if Edward is striking the van anywhere above the undercarriage (since he's leaving dents in the siding, he's hitting above the undercarriage), he's hitting it on the high side of the center of mass, and thus any van tilt should be away from him and Bella. This still potentially means that Bella's legs are in danger from being crushed, but only if her legs are underneath where the tires would be, her legs are stacked on top of each other (lying on her side, rather than on her back or chest), or the van is such a lowrider that there's not enough clearance underneath it for a pair of legs.

That said, only a vampire with super-strength could tilt a van by hitting above the center of mass using only his hands and arms, keep it lifted with one hand, and use the other to move Bella's legs. Sufficiently adrenalined (or strong) humans can demonstrate the power to lift a vehicle in a panic situation, but I suspect they have all done so by lifting the undercarriage and generating the power with their legs, rather than their upper bodies. And they tend to do so after the vehicle has come to a stop - trying to do so while the vehicle is still in motion just adds force to be overcome in the lift. Remember, tween girls, F = ma is not an arcane formula for getting the hunky boyfriend on your first try.

(But Silver, you ask, windstorms can toss cars around like they're toys, and every time a big truck zips by my SUV, it pulls my car toward it. If the center of mass is so low, how is this possible?

1 - If you had the strength of a windstorm, you could flip a car no matter where you hit it. Try tipping a car by pushing near the top of it. Pretty tough, yeah? Now, ask your local American football team to tip the car in the same way. Odds are, they probably can do it. (But why would they?) Same goes for windstrikes and other things that generate great force. After a certain point, it doesn't matter where you hit it - the car's getting flipped.

2 - The reason that 18-wheeler unceremoniously yanks your car toward its lane as it passes by is because nature thinks vacuums (and vampires) suck. Both of your vehicles are displacing a volume of air at high speeds. In between your vehicles, however, there is only a small amount of air moving at high speeds - and once one side of that stream disappears, there's suddenly an 18-wheeler-sized void that needs filling. The stream that was between your vehicles is immediately drafted into filling that void, and it does so at high velocities, and it calls all that air on the other side of your vehicle to help out. Hey, that's a lot of force that's suddenly pulling at your vehicle. Thankfully, the void is filled in a short while, so you only get jerked around for a bit.

Physics geeks can tell me I'm oversimplifying all of this, or that I'm totally wrong. I'm okay with that.)

Loquat said...

Giggling madly now @ chris the cynic's physics narrative, which is made of win and awesome.

Somewhat distracted by the idea of a Schroedinger's political assassination and its repercussions - sounds like it could result in a situation like the two superimposed cities in China Mieville's The City & The City. Which I can't yet elaborate on, having not yet read it. Can return with details after reading on Kindle tomorrow.

Will Wildman said...

I don't know why exactly, but I think it might be that he realized I was the narrator and without me he would cease to exist.

Brilliant as always, chris. *ovate*

Ana Mardoll said...

This thread is so made of win. I had tears streaming down my eyes while I was reading Chris' post. That was so many types of wonderful. I think my favorite part was "one car, two car, red car, Cullen car", but there were about 15 different strong contenders for "favorite part". Win forever. :D

Amarie said...

That was absolutely HILARIOUS, Chris! I swear, you just made my day!!! ^ ^

Gelliebean said...

Chris wins Teh Internetz, forever. And a one-year's supply of oatmeal cranberry cookies.


chris the cynic said...

Oh my god. I just read the Random Ramble. That's being saved for posterity.

And to everyone who said nice things, thank you. You all made my day.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

Chris, you have surpassed yourself.


Amaryllis said...

No, Chris, you made my day. And it was a day in serious need of improvement, too. Thanks for the laugh (although that cat with the blowtorch is going to be hard to forget).

Brin Bellway said...

(although that cat with the blowtorch is going to be hard to forget)

I always did wonder why the cat wouldn't be capable of observing itself.

chris the cynic said...

To be totally honest, I've never really understood what is meant by observation here.

The entire point of the thing was the absurdity of having something being in two states at once by bringing it into a larger scale. (Whether it's a live cat working to escape or a dead cat doing nothing of the sort is determined by something on a quantum level.)

I did not know this when I came up with the idea about a bomb in a box instead of a cat, but apparently the idea of a barrel of gunpowder came first, with it being pointed out that it it were possible for something to be both thingy A and thingy B at the same time then that could result in every particle of gunpowder being combusted and uncombusted.

But what does observation mean? If the box explodes, I'll notice that, if the box doesn't explode, I'll notice that. Does that count as observation and thus quantum weirdness only apply to what goes on inside explosion proof boxes? If the cat is alive it is going to move at least somewhat, moving the mass within the box in the process, unless this is a gravity proof box the cat will have an effect upon the outside world. Does interacting with that gravitational force count as observation?

I'm pretty sure that's more or less impossible to have a completely closed system in the universe as we know it, so wouldn't just opening your eyes, be observing everything? The cat, who is tapdancing, is generating a gravitational field which is interacting with whatever you may be looking at.

I honestly have no idea about most of this quantum stuff. The only person I can think of off the top of my head who might be able to make this stuff make sense has read "Mark Reads Twilight" and feels that one Twilight deconstruction is enough.

Ana Mardoll said...

If you haven't read Douglas Adams' "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", I recommend it. There's a very good bit in there where a character claims to have been contracted to "find the cat" for a group of scientists who were doing the experiment and another character argues why it's a Thought Experiment Only and it Doesn't Work Like That. Very nicely done, I thought, although I allow I'm far from an expert on the subject.

chris the cynic said...

Right, they hired a psychic to tell them what was going on in the box, to which the character being told the story replies that that's still an observation, but in the end it didn't matter because the cat escaped. Or something like that. It's been a while. Good book, if confusing at times.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, there are several parts in the book where I'm very "Wait, what?". The sequel ("Long Dark TeaTime of the Soul") is clearer to me. But there are fewer phsyics discussions in it. :)

Brin Bellway said...

I haven't gotten around to reading Dirk Gently since my parents stopped telling me I was too young. (They did, I think, hold to their promise that they'd stop saying "You can't read that until you're older" when I turned fifteen, though that seems eons away when you're nine.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Huh. I wonder why they forbade it. It's not a kids' book - lots of physics, and a death and ghost - but it's not really violent or sexy.

Brin Bellway said...

Especially considering I was allowed to read Hitchhiker's Guide when I was eight.

chris the cynic said...

I wonder as well. I haven't read it for a long time, but nothing comes to mind at all.

I will say that I agree with Ana completely on the second one being much easier to wrap your head around.


It does not in any way strike me as being more adult than Hitchhiker's, if anything it seems less so.


Hey I'm so slow that there's more to respond to.

I only just found out that "zebra crossing" is British for "crosswalk" a few months ago. Before that I had vague notions of stampedes.

If you're anywhere near as much younger than me as I think you are then you figured out more quickly than I did.

Brin Bellway said...

I'm seventeen and three-quarters. I was seventeen and less-than-three-quarters when I stumbled across a "That's 'crosswalk' to you Americans" on a Brit's Livejournal. I am eternally grateful to her for offhandedly mentioning this. The puff-of-logic bit makes much more sense now.

Ana Mardoll said...

I only found that out this year too. The "zebra crossing" joke never made sense to me before that. :)

chris the cynic said...

You're round about eight and a half years younger than me. (What happened to the days when I was always the youngest person in all discussions on the internet?) And thus you definitely spent a lot less time being completely oblivious to what was being said than I did.

Brin Bellway said...

(What happened to the days when I was always the youngest person in all discussions on the internet?)

When was that? Personally, I consider the near-total adultness (adultivity?) of the Slacktivites to be a bit novel. My experience of the Internet has been shaped by my former days on Nickelodeon and Neopets. There are plenty of kids out there, if you look in the right places. It isn't all that recent, either: I remember the days when I had to lie by five years just to escape COPPA. I always felt a bit nervous when I told someone I was really eight, in case a mod saw. Nearly a decade ago now.

On the other hand, I've always enjoyed adults' conversations. There were many a group playdate where I attempted to escape past the ancient seventeen-year-old* guard and listen to the moms talk. Children were nice enough for a while, but after about an hour they were over-stimulating. Parents didn't fill the room with lights and noise until you couldn't think or build Lincoln Logs or do anything but curl in a fetal ball and wait for it to be over.

(I'm quite amazed I was the only one who did that, really. That group specialised in the neuro-atypical and other abnormal people (the host family--save the father--all had immune disorders; we couldn't go if we had even the slightest sniffle). The autistic kids probably outnumbered the non-, and this is supposedly a pretty common reaction.)

I rarely go play with the kids now. The parents are almost always more interesting, and when they're not they usually don't stay boring very long.

*Forever to an eight-year-old. (Parents were held to a higher standard of "ancient", if you were wondering. Or maybe they were beyond ancient, I'm not sure.)

11:22? When did it get to be half an hour later? Oh, right, comment. That's the Internet for you.

Inquisitive Raven said...

Actually, zebra crossings are a type of crosswalk, in contrast to pelican crossings. At least that was the case when I was in England in 1980-81. Apparently since then, it's gotten even more complicated.

chris the cynic said...

When was that?

Probably when I was younger than you are now, but I swear that the 1990s were just yesterday. Though a hard to remember yesterday because I have no idea what I would have been talking about back then. It lasted for years though, but it's probably been a while since it was actually the norm.

It still occasionally comes up that someone is surprised by my age (the most recent time being when I mentioned that a song came out when I was 3 and the response was, "But ... but that was 1988!" because the biochemist couldn't believe I was that much younger than him) but much more often these when someone is surprised by someone's age in a conversation I'm part of it's when I find myself thinking, "Wait, what? I thought you were older than me."

Brin Bellway said...

@Inquisitive Raven
Thanks for the article!
I never paid much attention to what pattern the markings on the ground were in. If you'd asked me before, I'd have said the defining feature of a crosswalk is the stoplight with the humanoid shape on it, though if pressed I'd probably concede that it would be useful to call those non-stoplighted ones "crosswalks" too.

chris the cynic: I swear that the 1990s were just yesterday. Though a hard to remember yesterday because I have no idea what I would have been talking about back then.

(That's the first thing that comes to mind for what I used the Internet for in the 90s, though I merely read and didn't type.)

chris the cynic said...


One of the few who never played. I've heard great things, but never played.

Silver Adept said...

Nethack is an investment. Of time, of sanity, and of a lot of other things, too. Only the dedicated will ever ascend. And that's assuming the RNG is friendly to them, which to me, it is not.

No, I was using the 1990s for IM and for playing the Sierra/beZerk on-line games...

(Chris, I understand what you mean about wanting to talk with the adults and not the kids. And I'm one of the youngest people at my workplace, so there's a lot of "...but you wouldn't get that, because that's a big thing for young people now..." and " go deal with the young people, you're so good at it..." which is code for "...because you're young, too.", I suspect.)

Brin Bellway said...

Nethack is an investment. Of time, of sanity, and of a lot of other things, too. Only the dedicated will ever ascend. And that's assuming the RNG is friendly to them, which to me, it is not.

I've been playing since forever, but I only dared venture out of infinite-lives mode when I was thirteen or so. (Odd as it might seem, it's still hard even when you cheat.) I actually enjoy the so-called "bachelor's degree" aspect of it: I tend to read up on almost any game I play.
I could win with the game I have now* if it wasn't for the part of me insisting that my first win should be extinctionist (not sense-making, I know). I'll probably finish it eventually, but I haven't played much this year: for times when I'm in a roguelike mood, Crawl is better.

*If I can get the transferred save file to work. (It's not cheating if you don't get an in-game advantage: the only "advantage" I'm getting is not having my game stranded in a dying computer.)

Grogs said...

@chris the cynic: "But what does observation mean?"

It's a good question, and I don't think anyone really knows. Possibly, it's unknowable. Look across the room, and what do you see? In my case, I see a bookshelf. It contains a few books and a lot of miscellaneous clutter because I'm not that great of a housekeeper. How do I "observe" that bookshelf? It's because photons of visible light from the overhead light strike the bookshelf and are scattered into my eyes. If I turn out the light, I probably can't see the bookshelf anymore, but does that mean that it isn't there? Probably not. There are undoubtedly still a few photons coming in from the windows and hitting the bookshelf, but my eyes just aren't sensitive enough to register them. If I had a decent pair of night vision goggles, I could still see the bookshelf.

What I'm trying to get at is that I don't think that there's some magical event that happens when a sentient being makes an observation. In order to "observe" something, some type of particle has to come along, interact with that something, and then reach a detector (our eyes for example.) So I don't think it's the detection that's special, it's the initial interaction. A photon comes along and collides with an electron - that's sufficient to collapse the wave function. Whether we detect it or not is irrelevant. The alternative is essentially solipsism - the entire universe is an empty void, and only when a human or other intelligent lifeform comes along does it coalesce into something recognizable.

As for Schrodinger's cat, I think you have to recognize it for what it is: a thought experiment. I don't think anyone, including Schrodinger himself, considered it to be a valid experiment that could be tested. The underlying BASIS of the thought experiment is sound, e.g., you have a single radioactive atom and wait exactly 1 half life - did it decay or not? Physics has no way to answer that question except in probabilities - there is a 50% chance that it decayed. In order to prove that it has or hasn't decayed, we would have to have some other particle interact with the atom, which would collapse the waveform. As a practical matter, the cat would either be dead or alive - the radioactive decay would trigger the release of a poisonous gas that killed the cat or it wouldn't - but we're treating the box as if it were a subatomic particle in this case. Assuming that there is absolutely no interaction between the inside of the box and the outside until we open it (which the explosion would clearly violate) we simply can't know what happened, and the best that we can say is that there is a 50:50 chance that the cat is alive.
Was the cat actually alive or dead inside the box before we observed it? Almost certainly (in my opinion) but the best that we could say without opening the box is that it had a 50:50 probability of being alive.

chris the cynic said...

It gets even more confusing when I try to look into things because I am now told that we have observed superposition. If observation collapses superposition, how can it be possible to observe superposition? I do not understand but I am told that we have done so in photons, an ion, a stream of electrons, and a piezoelectric "tuning fork".

hf said...


"This is the world where my good friend Ernest formulates his Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment, and in this world, the thought experiment goes: 'Hey, suppose we have a radioactive particle that enters a superposition of decaying and not decaying. Then the particle interacts with a sensor, and the sensor goes into a superposition of going off and not going off. The sensor interacts with an explosive, that goes into a superposition of exploding and not exploding; which interacts with the cat, so the cat goes into a superposition of being alive and dead. Then a human looks at the cat,' and at this point Schrödinger stops, and goes, 'gee, I just can't imagine what could happen next.' So Schrödinger shows this to everyone else, and they're also like 'Wow, I got no idea what could happen at this point, what an amazing paradox'. Until finally you hear about it, and you're like, 'hey, maybe at that point half of the superposition just vanishes, at random, faster than light', and everyone else is like, 'Wow, what a great idea!'"

"That's right," Huve says again. "It's got to have happened somewhere."

The word "observation" means anything that prevents two parts of a "superposition" from influencing each other in a meaningful way. Which you can picture (sort of) as simply moving them farther apart in multidimensional space.

In human terms these dimensions represent the status and locations of various particles (which is entirely wrong, but we evolved to believe it because it comes close enough to let us catch the reality behind food). Now the "sensor" in the thought experiment takes a small difference in locations and magnifies it to the point where we (or a cat) could observe it. This creates two widely separated branches of the wave function. A person living in one would have no way of knowing the other existed without looking at the math.

Will Wildman said...

I was not expecting to run into Puffington here, and yet I am deeply gratified that it was so memorable for you, chris. Thanks on that. (For the record, one of my parents' cats is commonly called Puffington, at my urging; he is an enormously fluffy ragamuffin [that is an actual breed] who combines bouncy liveliness with stunningly powerful lungs and a deep concern over the state of world affairs.)


Regarding Edward's decision to save Bella, it's been described here as 'He doesn't care about Bella, he just wants to prevent split blood', but - well, is there reason to assume it can't be both? It doesn't seem mutually exclusive.

Despite his lightning speed, of course, he doesn't prevent Bella from smacking her head against the ground. Given that they're apparently on a very icy surface, it seems like the most sensible thing would be to catch Bella at a run, diving and twisting such that they end up sliding across the ground with Bella on top and Edward playing sled. (First person to turn that into innuendo gets a wizard's curse on them.)

Vampire super-speed bothers me in that they are apparently unbelievably fast... sometimes. But I don't see indications most of the time that they can really react at that speed - Edward may be able to go from a standstill to having just sprinted fifteen metres in a tiny fraction of a second, but in another tiny fraction he can't deliver a momentum-cancelling kick to the vehicle's tire and then catch Bella in such a way that she doesn't get injured.

I almost like this, because in a way Edward's super-speed seems to function less like Superman and more like a horror movie villain. Edward is a vampire: he has Off-Screen Teleportation! (I'm pretty sure this doesn't mesh with later demonstrations of super-speed, but the highly selective application of speedster nature is one of my superpower pet peeves, so anything that offers to help justify it is nice.)


I actually like the exchange between Bella and Edward at the end. I read the descriptors of Bella as relating to her dazed state from having knocked her head on the ice - she's a bit out of it, she doesn't know what's happening or quite where she is and she's still adjusting to not being dead like she thought, by by gods she knows where Edward Cullen was standing three seconds ago and she will hold onto that like her last piton.

Edward in turn thinks he's being Serious Face and authoritative, but Bella in her dazed state is completely uninterested in his revisionism. Bella at the moment has no reason to think that it's in everyone's best interest to agree with Edward, so the only thing he has to try to make her go along with his story is directly personal coercion, which in this case probably means physical force, and he's just saved her, so: mixed messages? Bella does not care. Bella has the one true fact with which she will impose order on a chaotic world: Edward Cullen was standing over there.

hapax said...

Can someone who has read the relevant passages go into greater detail about the whole not changing thing.

It's not that you don't change, precisely (well, physically you're not supposed to, once the initial vamping makes you "perfect", but that simply doesn't work. If you physically don't change you can't have the kind of sex Neddie and Bells have)

But the way Meyer describes it, your personality becomes both channelled and amplified. Whatever your dominant personality traits were (Carlisle -- "compassion", Esme -- "maternalism", Rosalie -- vanity and strength of will, Alice -- Manic Pixie Dream Girlism, Edward -- controlling mopitude, etc.) become pretty much your default profile, but eversomuchmoreso.


Yeah, even as I TWILIGHT fan, I could never picture any of this scene. I've walked driven on plenty of icy roads, both with chains and without, and no -- it could not happen as described. I pretty much re-write it in my head to something more like chris-the-cynic's version 2 (although version 1 would make even more sense).

I noted that the movie went for the "dreamlike" option of this scene, plenty of quick cuts that would only have registered as contradictory if you slowed them down and studied them.

But I'm not sure where you're getting the whole "Edward only saved Bella so he didn't go all starvin' Marvin on her spilled bodily fluids" thing. Yes, that's the excuse he gave to his fellow Cullens. But didn't he confess to Bella that he didn't actually think of that at the time; that the only coherent thought in his head was "No. Not her"*?

*That always stuck in my head, because it seemed rather sweet to me, the sort of plausible way one would realize, "Holy heffalumps, I'm in love with her!"

chris the cynic said...

Good work on fixing it. Thank you.


In completely unrelated news that I should probably be saying at slacktivist or slacktiverse but I'm here now and I want to share with the people nearest to me:

The porting of slacktivst's left behind posts to new-slacktivist makes it easier to search for comments.

Which means that I have, at long last, rediscovered Puffington:
ferrying him from place to place around the globe, carrying his water and holding his coat

I misread this at first as “holding his cat”, which made for a glorious mental image of the Antichrist roaming the world, nuking cities and massacring rebels, with Rayford always three feet behind him with a pile of fluffy indifference in his arms. “Have the refugees made their way into the subway? Good. Detonate the nerve gas tanks and release a statement to Le Monde about the latest attack by Christian terrorists. Someone get me four tonnes of sidewalk chalk; I’m going to write the Tetragrammaton on the Western Wall and then call in an air strike. Is Puffington hungry? Puffington wants skritches? Skritchyskritchyskritchy pppprrrrrrr. Step along, Rayford, I have to make a phone call to the former King of Jordan. I know you like to watch.”

Yes Will, you've been quoted again. This time completely out of context.

Spread the news far and wide, Puffington has been found!


Now if I could only remember what I had intended to do when I opened that tab before I was distracted by the thought, "I could run a search for 'holding his cat' slacktivist."

Inquisitive Raven said...

Something silver caught my eye, and I walked to the back of the truck -- carefully holding the side for support -- to examine my tires. There were thin chains crisscrossed in diamond shapes around them.

I detect more research fail on S. Meyer's part. I'm not sure I'd describe snow chains as "thin."

Randy Owens said...

Is Bella not intelligent and mature enough to decide what she wants?
Based on the evidence at hand, no, she isn't. But that doesn't mean she doesn't or shouldn't have the right to. That's why I would consider it a right, not a privilege.

Post a Comment