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Director / CrewAustin Wintory (composer) and Anthony Lund (filmmaker) here -- let's talk about science and music!

Apr 5th 2018 by TonyLund • 18 Questions • 18 Points

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the proposed ban on open military service by transgender people in August 2017, following President Trump’s tweets in July announcing imposition of the ban, and, in late August, issuance of a proposed implementation plan.

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN represent nine individual plaintiffs who are all transgender – six currently serving members of the U.S. Armed Services and three individuals who wish to enlist – and three organizational plaintiffs, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and American Military Partner Association (AMPA). The State of Washington joined the lawsuit last November.

proof: https://imgur.com/a/4hm0S

EDIT: Thanks everyone for your thoughtful questions and support! It's now 2:15PM and we're signing off. Keep up on the case updates at Lambda Legal's Twitter: @lambdalegal

Q:

Hey Mike! We'll miss you at San Jose this coming week :)

And yes, I've often done these kind of below-the-hood number games in my work. And there is a HUGE history of Phi / the Golden Ratio showing up in classical music.

However, as I've gotten older sometimes I find those sorts of things to be a form of intellectual masturbation. At least, in the cases where the music is actually slave to that structure. So, I still like to have little hidden easter eggs in the foundation of a work, but I never make the emotional experience contingent on that.

As Leonard Bernstein once said (I'm paraphrasing) great music, especially orchestral music, at its best feels like it was sort of spontaneously breathed into existence. Which anyone who's tried to write it knows is impossible. It's a long, slow and often tedious process. But that process can't bog down the result. It must burst forth with life or you've failed. And for me at least, those sorts of highly complex mathematical structures, while fun to play with, kill that spontaneity most of the time.

My first big work I ever wrote is an example of this btw. Listen to the first movement of "Spirit of the Cosmos." I think it endlessly drones on and never goes anywhere, and part of why is because I "had" to adhere to this phrase structure where the phrases expand by prime number intervals :P

That said .... I'm always happy to be proven wrong.

A:

I remember hearing a segment of something similar to this on an NPR radio station on my commute to work. I bet the feeling of having to be a part of a big case, who's ultimate decision could impact millions of other transgendered individuals who either serve or want to serve, is probably really daunting.

1.) My first question is; what do you really feel about going against something as enormous as this? Is it more of a "how did i even get here?" Type of feeling or has this shocked you in anyway?

2.) What type of publicity has this accumulated towards you (for lack of a better way to phrase this question). Given how national, or even global, this story has become ;; Has there been anything that someone has said to you or done to you that really impacted how you feel and such?

3.) This question is more for your legal team (since the majority of case AmA's have to be censored and questions cherry picked by the law firm so it doesn't back fire later);; how are you guys dealing with this? As a firm dealing with something this large, i bet the front desk gets loaded with phone calls for one. Do you feel prepared or stressed from the enormity of all this?

Hope this AmA can be verified soon

Thank you for your service and i wish you the best of luck.


Q:

I second Austin's response on this... I think this kind of stuff makes for a great Easter egg, but it can't ever be the soul of the work! One of my favorite songs of all time is "Lateralus" by Tool -- a quick googling and you'll see that that song is just loaded to the brim with Fibonacci sequence-isms. But, if that song wasn't incredibly emotionally impactful and honest to the emotional experience of transformation, than all the math geek stuff would just be soulless pandering.

A:
  1. Sometimes I have that "how did I get here" feeling. Looking back, though, I don't think I can identify any one point in this whole process where I made the wrong choice. I definitely didn't expect the sum of those choices to lead me here, though.
  2. There are others in the trans military community who have received far more publicity than I, and I don't envy them that at all. So far, I haven't had anybody recognize me on the street or anything, and I'm perfectly happy with that.
  3. From a lawyer: "Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest nonprofit legal group advocating for the full rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV in the United States. We feel confident in our abilities to handle cases of this magnitude. We're honored to have Staff Sergeant Schmid as a client."

Q:

I... I... I am heartbroken.

A:

How does the transition between genders affect your deployment status? Are you still able to deploy while undergoing gender reassignment?


Q:

I mean... to each his own... but would you trust anybody who puts tropical Bromeliaceae berries onto their meat and cheese pie with your children?? ...exactly.

A:

This is a really big misconception. Anybody who starts a new medication (including hormones) is non-deployable for 90 days. After that, you go back to deployable status.

If you have any type of surgery, then your non-deployable time depends on how long it takes you to recover from your surgery, and what your doctor recommends.

In short, it isn't as big a deal as people make it out to be.


Q:

You better believe it. With Pancetta, no less.

A:
  1. How often do people misgender you?
  2. Have you experienced any hazing? Sexual harassment?
  3. Have you developed any valuable friendships?
  4. How old were you when you decided you wanted to join the military? Why did you?

*Thank you for posting this, I can already see you enduring a lot of terrible comments here. You are very thick-skinned to endure that with the positivity you have.


Q:

Open question for all of you: what is the most memorable experience you've had with anything scientific or related to science??

A:
  1. Not often, honestly.
  2. At first, before we had equal opportunity protections, I received a lot of undue scrutiny. Since the 2016 policy change, it's been a lot better.
  3. Absolutely. Both with my fellow transgender service members and with the other women in my unit.
  4. My dad was in the Air Force, so it was always kind of a thing. And why did I? Because college didn't work out and I needed a career.

Q:

how did you settle on the name A Light in the Void? Did you try any other names? Any ridiculous ones?

A:

I have read the policy letter from the end of March. I'm a little confused because there had been no guidance. Has the ban changed anything yet?


Q:

Ah! Great question -- so, we settled on this title as an expansion of Carl Sagan's incredible phrase "Science as a candle in the dark." We feel that darkness of science apathy and unhealthy credulity that Sagan talks about has become, in our current cultural moment, a void that swallows people whole. In a post-truth world, facts are whatever you want them to be, and science is science so long as it makes you feel good and confirms your worldview.

The world needs science now more than ever, and we want to craft an experience that will, hopefully, show you the rich emotional landscape inherit to the scientific way of thinking.

I think one of the earliest conversations Austin and I had was "how the hell do we avoid ever having to call this 'A Symphony of Science!'??"

A:

No. The ban hasn't changed anything. Papers have been shuffled several times, but nothing has changed since the initial tweets.


Q:

Tony's answer nails it, but the only other title we considered with some seriousness was "Beyond the Horizon" ... until we discovered that there was something else out there already called that!

A:

What would you most like to tell us that no one has asked about?


Q:

Yeah, the instant I hear "Symphony of Science" I immediately feel like my mother is about to force me to watch some PBS program because I've been playing too much on the "Nuntendo box"

A:

David Gerrold promised us a fourth book in the Chtorr series and hasn't delivered.


Q:

Funny enough I did get the CS Tina library but I've never once used it. I don't think it's even installed. I always use Embertone's solo cello, as a very rough placeholder, and then she comes into the studio and replaces it pretty quickly.

I'm not sure my favorite band ... it's so mood-contingent. I do have a soft spot for the classics like the Beatles, Zeppelin, or even like Kansas / Johnny Cash etc.

My biggest issue is I never remember names of bands or songs. I hear it, I either enjoy it or don't, I learn from it or don't, then move on. So I end up being terrible at answering a question like this .... :P

A:

How do other soldiers (I know you cannot speak for all of them) perceive your service, as opposed to those at the top?


Q:

Nine Inch Nails

A:

My service, I think, speaks for itself. When other soldiers are looking at me, they're not seeing "a trans soldier", they're seeing a Staff Sergeant. And that's really what matters.


Q:

Hi guys! I've actually asked this on Tony's twitter, but it must have been lost in the notifications since by now there are probably more notifications in each of your accounts than stars and galaxies in the sand.. or.. you know.. something like that! Anyway, I would really like to expand my understanding in physics and at some point math and the rest of the scientific fields, but I don't know where to start. Do you have any recommendations? Also, how do you keep up with which theories are still valid and what has changed? I remember Austin casually describing how we have those "new" depictions for the atom while I only recently found out about that! That's when I realised I should study this stuff again, like I did when I was at school. I don't want to grow up and not know where we are in science.

A:

Do you plan to stay in the military long term or (if not)what do your future plans look like outside the military?


Q:

Hey Harry! I gotta run to some meetings for a few hours, but the second I get back I am going to write you a kick ass reply to your kick ass question! Thanks for asking this... I am going to personally to see you giving a comprehensive write-up of whats going on out there and where/how to easily become well-versed in all things science!

A:

I have another 7 years left until retirement. After that, who knows.


Q:

How did the idea for the show come about? And for Anthony, did Morgan Freeman ever yell at you in the process of filming? I don't know how I would handle God yelling at me

A:

Why do you think so many people in the thread are trying to conflate the issue of the military paying for transition-related medical costs with the competency of transgender people being able to perform military duties?

It seems to me that these are entirely separate issues, and that others are incorrectly dismissing your ability to perform your duties purely because they don't want their tax dollars being spent on transitions. What would your response to these people be?


Q:

I think this is how penguins came into existence actually... and Morgan's voice incepted all of our brains to have false memories that Penguins have been around forever.

A:

It's called "moving the goalposts". They make the accusation that it's prohibitively expensive, then when they're shown it's not, they make the accusation that I'm incapable of my duties. Then, when they're shown I'm not, they move back to the spending argument.


Q:
  1. Thank you for your service.

  2. What would you say is the biggest misconception about transgendered service members?

A:

There are several. Look at this thread. 😜

  1. That we're mentally unstable.
  2. That it's a cosmetic thing and not medically-necessary.
  3. That we're unsure of who we "really" are.
  4. That being trans at all impacts our ability to do our jobs.

Q:

Not trying to be a dick here, but how is getting transgender surgery considered medically necessary?


Q:

Vets and trans are the two most likely groups to commit suicide what are your thoughts on allowing someone to be both?

A:

The reality is these aren't two different groups. There are already transgender service members and transgender veterans. The question is if we're really going to leave them out to dry.


Q:

Thank you for your service. However do you think your presence and lawsuit compromises unit cohesion? For instance do fellow soldiers roll their eyes when teased by others for being part of “that persons” platoon...company...even battalion?

A:

The biggest response I've gotten from other soldiers specifically asking about the lawsuit is "Wait, can you do that?" (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

I know my first Sergeant has rolled his eyes a couple of times. But the fact that this is going on doesn't make me a "problem soldier". And I think that's what most everybody is concerned about. The first question is "can you do that?" and the second question is "well, is she still doing her job?" (Spoiler alert: Yes.)


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Any medical care I receive, whether it's transition-related or not, is part of what I earn by being a service member, just like any other service member.


Q:

If it requires medical treatment, why isn't it perceived as a pre-existing medical condition?

A:

A medical condition is only prohibitive if it's duty-limiting. It's not comparable to diabetes or flat feet, it's more comparable to a cisgender service member who develops low-testosterone, or menopause. You take a couple pills and drive on.


Q:

What would you say has been the biggest challenge of being a trans woman in the military that the majority might not face or understand?

And as someone who does not live in the U.S., how can I help from afar?

A:

The words "tremendous burden" from the initial tweet still ring in my ears. The weight of knowing that attitude is so persistent is, well, tremendous.


Q:

What's been one of the biggest challenges you've faced while being a beacon of hope for so many of us transgender service members? Have you faced any difficulties that you did not expect to face?

A:

The biggest challenge and the one I least expected is that there would be so much of the military trying to distract me from my job of soldiering, by focusing on my status as trans, instead of just letting it be.

Everybody seems to think that it's a distraction, when in reality the conversation about whether I'm distracted from my duties is what is distracting.


Q:

Do you have a favorite self-care activity that you find affirming? Thank you for your service. I grew up in a military town and worked on a military base for years and I appreciate it! 💜 queer femme

A:

I like to cook. And honestly, putting on the uniform is affirming.


Q:

Who is your favorite Kpop idol? Mine's Momo. This week anyway.

A:

EXO! They're adorable, I can't help it.