jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

... is especially meaningful for us.

You can view it here, if you don't care about spoilers or have already read the rest of the comic from the beginning. It contains a Wham Line as part of a Wham Episode, that'll change the way you see one of the major story arcs.

If you don't want to trawl through six years' worth of comics to get the meaning behind this, though, we've written an explanation that's as non-spoiler-y as possible behind the cut.

Explanation )

Why is this meaningful?

(Content note: Homophobia and religious abuse)

The Mormon church promised us everything. Godhood, creating our own worlds, and having an "eternal family," that being how they refer to spiritual hostage taking. If you don't have a straight Mormon temple marriage with kids, and stay a temple-worthy Mormon the rest of your life, you get nothing. Just the same crap clouds-and-harps heaven the non-Mormon peons get, which they basically see as hell, because God splits you up from your loved ones forever when he sends you there.

When I realized I couldn't support the Mormon church, it wasn't because I thought it wasn't true. It was because I couldn't be part of the bullying anymore. None of the rewards meant anything if I had to hurt other people to get them. And I was, by supporting these terrible people who hurt LGBTAQ innocents. Who I knew weren't doing the work of any god that I wanted to worship.

I may be too cynical to be Good-aligned, but I am not Evil-aligned. And that doesn't mean I "have a good heart" like the innocent killer, Ender, or like how my parents of origin see themselves. It means I stop doing something when I find out that it's hurting people, and try to make up for it. Instead of denying my victims' hurt, and trying to bully them into shutting up about it.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Will Wildman, talking about Ender's space empathy:

[...] basically everyone loves Ender because he's so caring and smart, and he doesn't need to actually interact with people in order to maintain empathy, and he's capable of jetting into a situation that he's never heard of before, becoming an expert, and speaking with absolute truth and conviction on the matter in a couple of weeks.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT MORMON MISSIONARIES THINK.

Here, let me give you a quote. This is what I repeated each week at Missionary Prep class, and what they're apparently still teaching the kids today:

I am called of God. My authority is above that of kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him - to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my doctrine is His doctrine.

My Commission is to do what He wants done; To say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous Latter-day work. How great is my calling!

And to make matters worse, Card went on a Mormon mission to Brazil, before writing this book (Speaker for the Dead) where Ender goes to a Brazilian space colony and apparently solves all their problems for them.

Ender is Orson Scott Card's self-insert, and he relates to the whole Enderverse the way a 19-year-old Mormon missionary relates to the non-members around him. He thinks he knows them better than they do, has perfect love for the image in his mind he's constructed of them, and wants only the best for them ... even when that means annihilating them.

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Content note: Spoilers for the Ender's Game film, and a certain PC strategy game.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

5 minutes later ...

Cut for Homeworld spoilers. )

And now for our thoughts about how the story itself should have gone, inspired by Will Wildman's spectacular Ender's Game deconstruction.

Read more... )

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A week or three ago, Bungie, the makers of Halo, opened their upcoming MMO first-person shooter, Destiny, to PS3 / PS4 players, for an open beta and stress test. I played it for a few hours, the night before the beta ended.

A day or three ago, Trion Worlds made their MMO third-person shooter, Defiance (sponsored by Dodge!), free-to-play for people on PS3 consoles. It's based on a SyFy TV series that I've never watched. I downloaded it a few days ago, and have played it every day since, partly because a PSN friend invited me to her clan.

Here's what I make of the two.

Defiance

A few minutes into Defiance, I thought "This game is awfully silly." That impression has yet to leave me.

It tries very hard to be "hardcore" with its characters and world design, from the square-jawed colonel in charge of the Not A Spaceship at the beginning to the wise-cracking, alien Bad Girl, who largely pushes the main plot forward. She loves chargin' in and killin' her some post-apocalyptic mutants, and the whole game is based on the premise that you do, too.

Which leaves my "survivalist" character up shtako creek without a paddle, because so far she's run into:

  • Men who can take a direct shot to the face from a bolt-action rifle,

  • Hills that can't be climbed even with a backpack full of survival gear,

  • Wildlife that runs after her as soon as it sees her,

  • Trucks that just sit in one place and disgorge wave after wave of enemy soldiers without resupply,

  • Quests that can't be completed until I run up close to a target with no cover,

  • "Friendly" soldiers that shout at her to "Get over here and HELP!" while she's finding a position to snipe from,

And more cheesy one-liners than you can shake a hellbug at.

In a way, it's kind of a letdown. Because they let me create, as my character, a woman of colour who's a "survivalist" and a "professional" and who actually dresses the part, right down to the beat-up propane tank attached to her pack. And instead of Don't Starve in 3D, I ended up having to bro it up in the bro-iest bro shooter ever.

So why the jekk am I playing it?

Because I haven't played pretty much any shooters since DUST 514, minus brief excursions into Uncharted and Bioshock, and it's ... actually kind of fun. In a cheesy, ridiculous way, but fun nonetheless. The premise (an alien colonization of Earth gone wrong) is interesting, despite how the game handles it, and I feel invested in my character. This is one of the few games that feels like it lets me inhabit a world as myself, so I figure I might as well make the best of it, especially as long as I have a few friends here.

I just get the impression that it was made by a bunch of TV execs, based on a stereotype of "what gamers like."

Destiny

Other than that it was made by the people behind Halo, and that it involved a big sphere floating over a city for some reason, I had no idea what to expect when I logged in to the Destiny beta. But enough people were talking about it online, with what seemed to be wonder and awe, that I started it up with my headset on and the overhead light switched off.

It pulled me in right away, with graphics that seemed almost PS4-quality and ... a reverence I rarely see, for the power of myth and the people who want to be part of it. Just the way they use words, like Titan and Ghost, that makes it seem like these are the names for something sacred. I didn't feel like I was "playing a game" so much as that I was physically there, helping act out a story, like when I went on the Star Trek: The Experience "ride" years ago.

I didn't know what was shooting at me, or why I was able to shoot back. I just knew these things were somehow responsible for the destruction that I'd woken up in, and that my revival was supposed to somehow bring back ... what?

Transhuman civilization, apparently, including both living machines and mysterious "Awoken." "These worlds were once ours," says the poster in the limited edition set, depicting the solar system. But what was that civilization like, besides grand and ancient? It felt kind of like playing Journey, and having to use your imagination to fill in the intentional gaps in the myth. This was no dystopia I was fighting for; it was whatever I thought was ideal. The best impressions I'd gotten from living on Earth.

I'm sure there's story material that fills in the gaps, somewhere. But they don't give it to you up front, and there aren't all the silly, ridiculous things in the gameplay that jarred me out of Defiance. Granted, I haven't played Destiny as long. But it left a strong impression, and I am tempted to preorder it.

Oh, and the gameplay was fun, too.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Conservative pundits and religious leaders seem to have a thing against Facebook and Twitter. Not because of how Twitter can be used to harass women and minorities, or how Facebook's "no pseudonyms" policy excludes anyone concerned for their safety, but because they let people share themselves with the rest of the world.

"Nobody wants to know what you ate for breakfast!" they cry, and accuse people of narcissism for thinking otherwise. I could hear their voices, figuratively speaking, while writing that last entry, about things I find fun (and why I apparently can't stand them).

When I think of narcissists, though, I think of people like them. Shallow, egotistical hypocrites, who at best are extremely un-self-aware, and at worst hate and envy almost everyone else. Who whine about "whiners," complain about "complainers," take offence at people who "choose to be offended," and use force to prevent clergy members from performing marriages (and women from accessing health care) on the basis of "religious liberty."

What they all have in common, is that they seem to think things were much better when no one had the words to describe who they were, how they felt, and how others were hurting them.

That's why my profile, in the sidebar, currently lists the words that I use to describe myself. And why I write so much about what I go through. Because people, including myself, need to be reminded that this is all real. These feelings are real, these experiences really happened, I really am the kind of person for whom it makes sense to do these things and see myself this way. For whom it hurts not to be able to.

That's what it was like, before I knew the words. Before "cis" and "trans," before "allistic" / "autistic," before "fictive" and "therian" / "otherkin." It hurt, and I had no concept of why.

I had feelings for both male- and female-presenting persons, before I knew what "pansexual" was.

I saw humans as other, and identified with animals, before I knew what a "therian" was.

I thought I was demon-possessed, before I knew about multiplicity and trauma splits.

And when I read my stories back to myself, I heard them read in a female voice, in my head.

If someone had taught me the words when I was much younger, I would've been one of those 12-year-olds who wants to take androgen blockers. I would've worn cat ears or a fox tail, past the point where adults stopped seeing it as cute. I would've latched onto everything I saw that reminded me of myself, that struck me as sacred, that seemed real and not made-up like the rest of society.

And I would've written about it sooner, too. Because I need to put things into written words, to explain them to myself ... and because I'm not the only one who needs all these things explained to.

I'm not sure that's so different from writing about what you had for breakfast, either. How else are people going to find the best place to get coffee and French toast?

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Like seemingly most people who use the service, I have a library of Steam games that I bought when they were on sale, most of which I haven't played beyond a few hours if at all. In my case, though, it's not because I'm busy. Even when I can do anything I want, I rarely feel like I want to play them right now.

I guess most people have their own comfort zones. But mine seems to be so narrowly focused that my idea of fun is to play grindy MMOs, like RuneScape circa 2007. Or do grindy things in MMOs, like hundreds of random battles over and over again to obtain the extremely rare atmas in FFXIV.

Maybe it's how I deal with a high-stress environment. When you're being triggered every other day, and under tremendous emotional load, the idea of digital "comfort food" that's always there and always nearly the same experience can be soothing. Plus, being good at maintaining attention on repetitive tasks has advantages.

But then I put off reading messages from my loved ones, because I can't handle the thought that someone genuinely cares about my well-being. I fail to reply to supportive comments, that people leave on my most depressed entries, and I sometimes skip past them entirely. Not because they mean nothing to me, but because they mean so much.

I have procrastinated reading a loving, supportive message from my mother of choice [personal profile] burning_ground before, so that I could read things on Mormon websites that make me hate myself. Just because I'm used to the latter, and not used at all to the former.

Am I trying to conserve what I see as a scarce, precious resource? Am I so susceptible to autistic sensory overload that I avoid beneficial things? Or am I just a mean old lady, who hates fun and nice things and wants everyone to be miserable?

Maybe I just still feel like I have to do things I hate, and shouldn't do things that I like enough to notice the fact that I do.

No offence

Aug. 13th, 2014 02:48 am
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Earlier, I realized that if someone tells me not to be selfish, it's usually because they want to keep the selfishness all to themselves. I'm now convinced that if someone tells me not to take offence, it's because they're going to start dishing it out.

Discussion of transphobic incident. )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Apologies for being away from Dreamwidth so much! We got put on a new medication that lowers your blood pressure, and it's made our limbs feel like lead and made us feel a lot weaker and tired-er. Worse, it was supposed to keep our PTSD nightmares from coming back but it hasn't ... so we're going to ask if we can be taken off of it.

(We also experimented with switching from coffee to tea for a little while, and that basically put us out like a tranquilizer.)

Besides that ... when we announced our intentions to set programming aside earlier, we felt really depressed afterwards. Same with when we talked about switching from D&D 4e to Pathfinder. These are things that we really like and care about, and the fact that we're having problems with them doesn't mean that we have to quit working on them.

We're going to experiment with ways to make 4e work better online. Also, we've been taking more programming classes. We don't have much to show for them yet, but everything we learn is exciting, when we're able to set aside the time and the energy to continue learning.

Sometimes we miss writing stories. Right now gaming is scratching that itch for us, especially tabletop gaming and the amount of creativity that goes into that. But every now and then, we feel like something precious has been lost, when we think about the stories we used to tell and the way we used to do so.

I don't think we can ever recapture the way that things were, but maybe telling stories can continue to be a part of our life going forward.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Thinking about my attempts at roleplaying online, and the work that I've had to do for them, and whether or not I enjoyed that work.

With D&D 4e

  • Basic rule explanation: NONE

The basic rules are online, in a free PDF. Its explanation is very concise. In about 10 pages it goes over which dice you roll for what, and all the rules you need to know for combat and movement. Another few pages explain skills in detail. The rest of it is DM advice or premade characters.

  • Character creation: A LOT

4e characters are basically "plug and play." There's an enormous array of options, but very few of them are actually bad, and the newer Essentials classes especially make things easier by giving more comprehensive packages of abilities.

The problem? Almost none of the character creation material, except for the "Class Compendium" remakes, is available online for free. The rest of it is scattered through sourcebooks and Dragon Magazine articles, none of which it is easy to link to. Most people seem to use the Character Builder online, and/or the D&D Compendium ... both of which require a paid subscription. Without those online tools, you're screwed, unless you want to a) email PDFs to your friends and b) write up your own power cards.

This last part took us an enormous amount of effort to do in [community profile] nentir_vale, even compared to what it would have cost to write up the power cards in person. Theoretically, though, once this part is done I don't have to redo it; I can just copy the templates I've already made to introduce new powers.

  • Game preparation: A FAIR BIT

D&D 4e rules make it easy to put together an ostensibly "balanced" encounter, meaning one that won't murder the player characters. I'm personally not used to having to balance tactical wargame considerations on the one hand, though, and roleplaying concerns on the other. Like, the D&D Encounters games I went to were basically half listening to the DM exposit, and half killing mindless foes that won't back down.

I feel like I have pulled it off fairly well before. The encounter I'm most proud of featured a pair of wolves as antagonists, and I tried to roleplay them as actual people instead of as mindless combatants. They were surprised at the carrion (a revenant PC) that fought back, and extremely wary when another player character showed up. The PCs, in turn, didn't see their goal as "inflict enough damage to reduce them to 0 HP," but were trying to drive the wolves off.

After another encounter went poorly, though, to the point where one of my players left soon afterwards, I lost most of my confidence in my ability to create interesting 4e encounters.

  • Running the game: A FAIR BIT

My workflow for running a 4e game consists of setting up the map and its tokens, then taking pictures which my phone automatically uploads to OneDrive, where I can rotate and share them with minimal effort. The circular cardboard tokens included in the post-Essentials D&D 4e boxed sets work very well for this, because you can see them most clearly from directly above, whereas if I were using miniatures I'd have to balance making them look good with making the map itself legible.

When there are questions and time-consuming discussions, they tend to be around players not knowing which of their powers to use in a given situation. I've tried to mitigate this by writing little "strategy guides" for each of my players, and I also try to allow players to do things not explicitly spelled out in their powers; those aren't the only options they have, just the ones which are always available.

In Pathfinder

  • Basic rule explanation: A FAIR BIT

The online Pathfinder Reference Document does an extremely poor job of explaining to new players how to play the game. Which makes sense, I guess, from the perspective of people trying to sell a product, but the Core Rulebook is basically a printout of its section of the PRD.

The only Pathfinder RPG product explicitly aimed at beginners is the Beginner Box set, and it's a) not available for free online, and b) verbose and poorly laid out. So it's not really an option here.

On the plus side, the basic Pathfinder rules are simple. On the down side, they have a lot of edge cases and confusing inconsistencies. I will never forget the look on the face of the girl across the table, when she was told that she doesn't roll to attack with her Sorcerer's spell; her target rolls to dodge it. Which is the opposite of how it works for people who attack using physical weapons, and for everyone in 4e.

  • Character creation: A FAIR BIT

All the Pathfinder rules and options are available online for me to link to. I don't have to write up power cards or anything. The downside is that a lot of the options suck, and are basically "traps" for those who don't know any better.

Just this Friday, the guy next to me playing a Druid in Pathfinder Society got all excited when he realized he could convert any of his prepared spells into a Summon Nature's Ally spell. Then he found out it'd take his entire turn to cast, and the snake that he summoned would last only one round.

  • Game preparation: A LOT

The biggest challenge, in preparing to GM Pathfinder, is making encounters that will challenge but not kill the player characters. Its "Challenge Rating" system doesn't do a whole lot to help, because there are special rules and edge cases that can make it basically impossible for the PCs to defeat a particular foe, and unlucky die rolls can screw PCs over a lot worse than in D&D 4e.

Pathfinder GMs have to do a lot of non-obvious things to get around this. For instance, the designers of the adventure we played this last Friday had to give us a way to beat the boss demon's Damage Reduction. Also, since Pathfinder lacks a Skill Challenge mechanic, several parts of the adventure just consisted of "you spend X hours doing " and then seeing a result, instead of the players collaborating around the table and finding ways to use their skills to solve noncombat problems.

  • Running a game: A FAIR BIT

Not using a map, for online play, in some ways reduces the amount of work needed. Since Pathfinder also relies a lot on positioning, though, I've often ended up having to redescribe the setting each time a player's turn comes up, or having to correct someone about who was where.

Beyond that, the simple fact that the PCs are fragile means I have to be much more careful about how I approach them. In some ways I find this fun; there's a temptation, in DMing 4e, to throw lots of tough mobs at the players just because they can handle it. Whereas in Pathfinder everyone's much more inclined to resolve encounters through roleplay, instead of trusting their fate to the dice.

The winner?

I honestly don't know. I think I like 4e much better, and enjoy the work it requires more. I'm just not feeling confident about my ability to DM it right now.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

After spending hours and hours and hours photographing the board, editing PDF character sheets, and writing up power lists on [community profile] nentir_vale, I can conclusively state the following:

D&D 4e was not meant to be played online, unless you have a D&D Insider subscription and use the online tools. Especially the virtual tabletop, which doesn't exist.

Pathfinder's much easier to GM online, partly because combat does not last all day or require a game board, and partly because all the stuff that you need you can link to directly online.

D&D 5e looks like it'll be closer to Pathfinder, but its "Basic D&D" rules are a gods-damned PDF, and are far from comprehensive.

If we ever get up the energy to do another online RPG campaign, it will probably be Pathfinder.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Commenter DaveHelps, on one of Paul Thurrott's posts:

I think Windows Phone as a whole is markedly superior to iOS and Android, and the improvements in 8.1, notably Cortana, are excellent. However: my experience of using a Lumia 520 running the dev preview of 8.1 as my main phone has been terrible, so I would think very carefully before choosing a 512MB phone for daily use.

Many apps take 3 attempts to load without crashing. Nokia Camera takes around 10 seconds to launch, if it launches at all. I have found myself manually closing apps several times a day but this does not appear to improve performance.

Can confirm. It takes me two minutes and several tries now, just to reply to someone on Skype. My phone didn't used to be nearly this slow.

The commenter goes on to suggest that this is because we're both using a developer preview OS, and the firmware hasn't been updated yet to support it. I am going to be much more careful about using and recommending "beta" quality software from now on, and am hoping that the Lumia Cyan firmware update will make my phone the awesome handheld computer it used to be.

In the meantime, please don't be surprised if it takes me awhile to respond or do stuff.

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Content note: Enforcing of gender roles, lack of respect for others' identities.

After going to the psychiatrist the other day, we and [personal profile] rev_yurodivy went to the local games store to play Warmahordes. I still haven't finished painting my models, but I cut out a bunch of counters and cards so that we can play games using proxies for the models in the other starter box sets. Also things like blast and spray templates. (This was a lot of work, and I'm very proud of the results.)

Read more... )

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So apparently, if you log out while you're in your Free Company's estate in FFXIV -- even if you're in your private room at the estate -- when you wake up you're on the front doorstep.

I am imagining a housekeeper who goes around tipping everyone's beds out the window so they can clean under them.

Did I mention I found a new Free Company to hang out with in FFXIV? >_>b The Moogle Conspiracy on Balmung. They're LGBTQ-friendly and seem to be pretty helpful to newbies and stuff as well.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

From Stuff Fundies Like. Content note for the link and this post: Religious and employer abuse.

So the formula goes like this:

Isolated employees + A Heavenly Mission + Declining Revenue + Renewable Workforce + Lies = Starvation Wages.

Darrell left out the fact that the laws in the US allow independent fundamentalist Baptist churches to treat their workers differently from if they were considered the businesses that they are. But all the things that he mentions compound the problem.

The situation with Mormon volunteer workers is different, and in some ways more efficient. I'm not sure I want to get into explaining how right now, though.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

I don't remember a whole lot about Jon Huntsman except that he's Mormon, he was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, and he didn't make it because he's not a climate change denier or young earth creationist.

He also apparently supports same-sex marriage now, and oh, his dad's kind of awesome:

Jon Huntsman Sr. has given away about $1.5 billion to worthy causes – about 80% of his total wealth. He is also spending $200 million building Huntsman Springs, a golf resort and nature reserve in Idaho that will donate all proceeds of real estate sold to his family’s charitable foundation. But neither of these totals include his strict tithing to the Mormon church of 10% of everything he has ever earned.

“My philanthropy is not borne out of my faith,” he says. “They require 10% tithing. I don’t consider that to be philanthropy and I don’t consider it to be part of my philanthropic giving. I consider it as club dues.

“People who put money in the church basket and people who go to church and pay the pastor: that isn’t real philanthropy, that’s just like you belong to a country club. You pay your dues to belong to that church so you pay your tithing or whatever it is. I’ve never added that into my philanthropy in any way because I just think it’s a part of a person’s life.”

This is especially true when you're donating to a "church" corporation that builds shopping malls. >_> But seriously, whatever happened to rich people being philanthropists? Why aren't they all signing on with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, pledging to give away half of their wealth? It's not like they can use it all or anything.

I mean, I know it's because of Ayn Rand and bad preachers and crap, plus racism here in the States. But still.

Maybe it should surprise me less that a handful of people break out of this mold, and more that nobody holds the others accountable. When effort and reward are as badly decoupled as they are in this society, a high net worth is a bug, not a feature.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

... who communicate over Skype chat!

[...] a huge barrel swings and pivots into alignment. A simple but clever little mind carefully pulls back the string of an imaginary bow as far as it can, beeping in satisfaction as it doublechecks the cannon’s firing trajectory, and then —

No! Something destabilizes the barrel at the last second and it swings just a fraction of a degree wide, the shot barely grazes the target. There’s time for a second shot, the anomaly is going to land. An extremely angry message is beamed on a narrow band toward the orbital surveillance station.

[Comlog begins]

MTC: ELO! YOU MADE ME MISS

LOS: i have no idea what you’re talking about, teesi v.v

Go here to read the rest of the first part of [personal profile] aliaspseudonym's quirky story. I really like how each AI's personality comes across so well in the chat logs.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

In early October, we'll be seeing the doctor to hopefully get exogenous estrogen.

We've heard a lot of conflicting things about it: it doesn't change a whole lot, it works miracles, it makes all your emotions extreme, it completely destroys your libido. All I can think is, after all the stories I've read and written about physical transformation I never expected that I'd undergo it myself. And it fills me with fear and wonder.

It's going to be expensive, because I don't have insurance. I think we've got it taken care of, but we may need to ask for help at some point. Hopefully we will have something to offer by then.

Thank you all for being there with us.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

In the United States, there is no one state religion which people are taxed to support, the way there is in some European countries. Instead, pretty much any religious organization is treated like a nonprofit. They are not required to pay taxes, and they are exempt from a ton of laws, such as nondiscrimination ordinances and laws about fair treatment of employees.

(I am not a lawyer, but this is my understanding of how things work.)

To me, this is very obviously not okay. It has created a lot of small, personal kingdoms, where preachers and "prophets" can make their own rules and abuse people however they like. Stuff Fundies Like has a lot of examples, of the consequences of the way the States privilege petty tyrants.

If any religion is to be privileged here in the States, with things like free money (tax exemptions) and stuff, it should be ones like Unitarian Universalism, with their financial transparency and commitment to plurality. Money-making scams like Scientology and Mormonism should not be recognized as legitimate religious organizations, when that just lets them make even more cash and exploit free (or nearly free) volunteer labour. And churches where people preach hate speech, and exclude disadvantaged groups from their ordinances or their priesthood, should likewise not be considered legitimate by law or society.

Hate speech is not free speech. Bigotry does not deserve subsidy. Children should not be in positions where unaccountable adults, like Mormon bishops, can take advantage of them. And if no one in their churches has the back of exploited "volunteer" missionaries or "Sea Org" members, especially underage ones, then society at large should stand up for them, by mandating fair wages and humane working conditions.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

That's the most commonly rendered version of Google's motto, which most people invoke ironically these days as they point out the latest evil thing Google did. But you can do a lot of evil stuff without ever seeing yourself as evil. And if you're measuring how good you are by how evil someone else is, you get to be one of those people who wants a cookie for not being as terrible as someone else.

I personally feel that if you are alive, then you deserve to be alive, by default and until proven otherwise. I believe that "kindness is goodness;" that you are a good person just for being the kind of person you are, and that if anyone says otherwise or tries to prevent you from being yourself then they are being unkind to you.

I believe that some people are damaged, disabled, marginalized, or ill. I believe they deserve to exist, and to participate fully in society. I think it is the responsibility of abled people to accommodate them. I believe in solidarity with these people, and in giving up privilege or inconveniencing myself in order to keep them from having to do without things that they need or that I take for granted. I believe this is best done not through individual acts, but as a society, so that the responsibility is spread out and so that they do not need to beg.

I believe that some people are dangerous, including (but not limited to) carnivores, narcissists, and white European Americans. I don't believe that being dangerous means that a person is evil or must be destroyed. I believe there are ways to coexist, that do not have to involve harming innocents. But I believe that the burden is on the most dangerous people to find those ways, not on their victims. And I sympathize with those who resist them.

I believe that Chaotic Neutral is the best D&D alignment, because I feel it encompasses (or can encompass) all of the above. I believe you don't have to be "good" to be kind to others and empathize with them. I believe that the concept of "good" is overrated, and is often used to cover for dangerous people's actions, or to condemn those who resist them as "evil."

If "good" exists objectively, it is willing self-sacrifice on behalf of another. I don't feel that it's needed in order to be kind to others, because I feel that most people are naturally kind (or at least not dangerous) so long as their needs are met. But I do feel that kindness -- both in the sense of being yourself, and respecting the rights of others to do the same -- is a prerequisite for the kind of self-sacrifice that is helpful.

Otherwise, you end up seeing self-sacrifice as good in and of itself. You don't trust people who don't give up enough of themselves for "the greater good." And you give your all for other people, who you then expect to do the same for others, until there's no kindness left in the universe because everyone's trying so hard to be "good."

Or at least, to appear good. Which is much easier.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Without a permission slip, I mean boon. Source.

The good news? Now I don't have to worry about scrounging another boon if my character dies. Kitsune all the way!

The bad news? I traded away my get-out-of-death-free boon for nothing. :(

About us

Furry, fantasy, and fanfiction writer. Miniatures hobbyist, Mi'qote White Mage, 4E DM. Windows gamer, fangirl, and developer. Pronouns she/her, they/their.

Transfemale plurality, otherkin, fictive. Polyamorous pansexual. Proud introvert. Inari worshiper; xenotheist.

We wrote Jewelfox's Otherkin FAQ.

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