Miscellany

Jul. 29th, 2016 05:37 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)

I haven't been updating this enough. But the stuff I've been reading online lately is extremely depressing, so I figured I ought to spend more time on things like Dreamwidth and AO3 maybe. >_>

So.

Read more... )

That's about all, I guess. Except that if anyone has any SU fanfic recs, or just things that they'd like to share with us, we'd be more than happy to hear them.

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)

(Content note for these links and this essay: Racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, and xenophobia.)

I'd just like to take a moment to remind everyone, including my friends who are also transgender, that if you live in the first world everything that you have and enjoy is made possible through unthinkable violence and slavery. Of humans, to say nothing of nonhuman animals.

It's not a matter of how moral you are, or how much you consciously choose not to inflict violence on others. This is an inherent feature, of a world where some people are valued so much more than others. Because the purpose of inequality, inhospitality, and inhumane treatment is to make people broken and desperate.

The purpose of immigration restrictions, for instance, is to enable human trafficking, which means (among other things) being able to keep people in sheds they pay rent on and beat them if they don't wash your car just right. Meanwhile, the reason that the United States lacks the social safety net that other so-called "liberal democracies" have is because one of its political parties (we all know which one) used its "Southern Strategy," of convincing white voters that welfare payments would go to the wrong kind of people.

You know, the ones who are supposed to avert their eyes when they see you walk by, and who call you "sir" and shine your shoes for you.

Trans World Problems?

No. No, the new laws here in the States, that make it even more dangerous for trans people to use public restrooms, aren't a "First World Problems" thing. A "be grateful that you aren't a literal slave" thing. As though becoming a sex worker with no legal protections weren't something a lot of trans people have to turn to, and as though there are no trans people who are black, immigrant, or enslaved.

What this is, is a reminder that we (as trans people) aren't the first to suffer this indignity, and we won't be the last. Unless we can join our grasping appendages with others who are resisting things like it*, and turn the tables on our capitalist oppressors.

(It's redundant to call them that, but sometimes it just helps to hammer it home.)




* Or even others who are affected by it, despite not being trans. Don't forget; besides barring people who don't pass as cis from using the restroom, North Carolina's HB2 also banned local living wage laws, and made it harder for any worker to bring a discrimination suit against their employer. These aren't unrelated coincidences; these things are all part of systemic inequality and oppression.

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)

And our system has, in fact, been updated! We're now using a refurb of last year's fanless, 12-inch MacBook, and it's the most beautiful thing we have ever owned. Everything works so elegantly and consistently, we've had fewer frustrations than ever, and OS X is amazing -- you can assign new keyboard shortcuts to any item in the menu.

(App recommendations: iA Writer, and Notes. Yes, the Notes app that comes with a Mac.)

We want to learn Swift, and AppleScript, and page layout / ePub formatting in Pages and iBooks Author, and you don't actually want to hear about any of this. ^^;

What's more important, at any rate, and had an even huger impact on our life, was being able to spend about two weeks with Alias. We love it so much <3 and we took lots of pictures, although we've only posted most of them in a private Facebook group, composed entirely of Alias' family and their significant others. (We're really camera-shy, and we assume that others are as well.)

We played a lot of minis games, though. ^^; And Final Fantasy XIII. Turns out the reason we haven't done much console gaming lately is because there's been no one to share it with >_>; So now we're starting to experiment with streaming games on Twitch, and considering getting a capture card for our old consoles which don't let us do that natively.

... is that something that anyone here would be interested in watching?

Anyway, we're trying to get back into a regular schedule and form some good habits, which is hard without external reinforcement. >_>; And we keep thinking of how to reformat this blog ... with like, index pages of our stories, essays, and games. And maybe a consistent theme, of self-acceptance and learning how to express yourself. It's what we've needed the most talking-through, and it's what we've been wanting to help people with since our old Become Your Fursona stories.

Which we still have, and are considering formatting some of them for ebook stores. Maybe.

We're also hoping to be able to visit Alias in person up in Canada, towards the end of the year. It's scary talking about building a life and a future together, but it's also exciting to feel like this is a thing that can actually happen.

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)

Despite our disenchantment with Microsoft, we still use and rely on OneNote. It's a free cross-platform app, with free online syncing and no ads, and it takes pictures and formatted text and automatically cites stuff that we copy and paste from online.

Anyway, we've collected a lot of quotes about how it's not surprising to find ourself as a hikikomori / part of the underclass, all things considered. And how we still contribute to society despite being devalued economically. And how society's requirements are unreasonable to begin with, especially when it plays favourites so blatantly.

It's actually kind of a source of hope and encouragement to read them. Sort of like 15 years ago, when we were first starting to come to terms with the idea that we're fundamentally "a writer" and couldn't be happy doing the jobs that the people around us were pressuring us to do. Which led to our taking it seriously and getting a lot of practice, and eventually led to us supporting ourself and another person through writing things that were important to us.

They also note that Apple stuff's been getting cheaper, while housing, education, and health care are all priced for the upper class. Which kind of puts things in perspective, and makes us feel better about owning an iPod and wanting a Mac.

I mean. There are billboards here in the States that advertise schools and hospitals. Srsly. Like, a lot of them.

In the past few weeks, a lot of the hurdles to obtaining health care and such here have been worked out. More than that, [personal profile] burning_ground has proven to be a very good friend and supportive Internet Family Member, and [personal profile] aliaspseudonym / [tumblr.com profile] spinecrawlerrush is now talking about planning a future with us and visiting late next month.

We've gotten out of the habit of checking on Dreamwidth, and have set our fanfiction aside temporarily. But in other spheres of our life -- Final Fantasy XI, miniatures, and earning spending money on Mechanical Turk -- we've actually been Getting Stuff Done. Like, a lot more than usual, and a lot more regularly than usual. A day where we could do anything but read depressing stuff used to be rare, but now we can count on at least a couple hours of work every day. And save up for things, and have dreams and ambitions, even if they don't resemble most people's.

I feel like accepting our place in the underclass, as someone who's not valued enough by society to even be exploited as a labourer, is actually part of that. Because we've gone from seeing ourself as a failed member of the working class, whose struggles are all her fault, to seeing ourself as someone who's lost a lot of life's lotteries but has people who love and support her.

Knowing that, and having that support, has given us a lot of strength lately. It's not something that we're used to.

We can share some of the quotes that we've found if anyone's interested. Today we just wanted to talk about how we're feeling, lately.

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)

We've been having a bad time in the place that we've moved to, in terms of obtaining health care (especially trans-specific health care). Things are starting to look up -- we got seen at a sliding scale clinic and treated for our persistent cough, last week, plus we got an antidepressant prescription that we don't need to be groped for.

Finding a trans-friendly endocrinologist is more difficult; it feels like an underground scene of some kind, not a straightforward medical service. Things are still up in the air, here, but we managed to get blood tests done without breaking the bank ... or at least, [personal profile] burning_ground's bank account.

(She's really the one who's been handling it all. We've mostly been fretting panicking curled up in a ball playing games on the iPod [personal profile] aliaspseudonym got us. Which was much less expensive than the blood tests we needed.)

We're sorry for scaring people / being absent / not replying or noticing stuff / dropping [community profile] capsulerp. We hope everyone's doing okay out there, and we'll try to keep breathing.

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)

"Honest seekers of truth can know for certain that God lives and has a plan for their lives."

Why it's harmful: Because being preoccupied with getting ultimate answers to unanswerable questions means you find them, one way or another. Whether by having someone else tell you, or making them up for yourself. And because these questions are unanswerable, that means all the answers are wrong.

Read more... )

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'm going to try to keep this concise and nontechnical, and explain why I think everyone -- especially people who don't have a lot of time, money, or spoons, and who aren't as interested in fiddling with their smartphones as I am -- should consider a Windows Phone in general, and the one that I got in particular.

Cut for length and for lots of pictures. )

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 way Free Software idealists say software development should work. You get everything for free in Linux, including the code. If you don't like how something works, you change it and "submit your patch upstream," thus incorporating it into the whole. That way everyone benefits from everyone's creativity.

The problem is, this disenfranchises everyone who doesn't have both the technical ability to do that, and the social standing to be allowed to do that. Which means the Linux world is, and always has been, just a playground for technically proficient people who meet a particular demographic profile, and who keep making changes that affect everyone without consulting the people affected.

The only way to have your interests represented is to be part of the in-group, which means being a white cismale with unusual technical skills and enough money and free time to work on this stuff without pay. That, or a job that lets you get paid for it.

Read more... )

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)

Microsoft is doing a promotion where you get paid $100 for every Windows Store (or Windows Phone) app you write, for the next couple of months. I don't have nearly as much resistance to the idea as I thought I would. In fact, I'm loving this 30-day app challenge I'm on, and seeing official blogs and developer resources by women. Is this what it's like outside the Free Software world, where more than like 1 percent of people are female-identified?

Anyway, I know a lot of people hate it but I also love Windows 8 so far. It's more elegant than anything else that we've worked with so far, including OS X. Plus, we can write Javascript apps for it, which is good since that's what we know. I don't like said apps being tied to the Windows Store as the only channel of distribution, but I'm almost cheering for Microsoft as the underdog here since there are a lot of reasons I dislike Apple and Google's corporate practices. And MS has come a long way since the antitrust trial.

Plus, being able to play my games inside an inoffensive (to my senses), aesthetically pleasing OS, with elegant developer tools and a significant Free Software component (Firefox) has been ... very nice.

Speaking of Firefox, they're giving out Firefox OS phones to people who say they'll write apps for them. I told Mozilla I basically wrote GNOME's Javascript docs, and want to write a Dreamwidth client. Here's hoping that I get accepted?

Also, issues

Content note for abuse, discussion of incest and rape, trans issues, and internalized transphobia. Please please please do not read this if you are trans and are struggling for self- or outside acceptance.

Read more... )

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)

Turns out yesterday was "Intellectual Property Day," and the wonderful country I live in had its ambassadors spend the day promoting it worldwide.

Ars Technica also examined ways to improve the copyright system. Personally, I disagree with their last one; requiring you to manually register to receive any legal protection is just an invisible barrier to entry.

Finally, to put things in perspective

Creative works are relevant and valuable. Unlike this bullshit artist's website, which popped up when I researched MLM stuff after hearing someone mention it.

"Marketers" like that are living proof that libertarian capitalism -- private ownership of the means of production, and allowing the market to determine a person's value -- sucks hard. They're a reminder that money is a way of life for some people. They're exploits that need to be patched.

People like them have way too much power. Especially considering that they produce nothing of value.

Part of the reason Apple was such a lovable underdog is because they embodied the opposite of those people's values. The "suits" weren't in charge at Apple. Steve Jobs was, and as much of a tyrant and jerk as he was, he cared about making things that were beautiful and useful and improved people's lives. An entire culture grew out of those ideas, and I think that culture has value and is worth celebrating.

That culture still exists, as near as I can tell. Apple has largely expanded it moreso than undermining it. They play by the rules, and they play extremely well. It's just that the rules, right now, are a) designed to favour rich capitalists over actual workers and b) not intended to govern a high-tech society.

They need to be changed.

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)

Right now, Apple can censor your app for political reasons, and lock you out of iOS forever. Hasbro can shut down any My Little Pony fan, anytime that it wants, because you only have Fair Use rights if you can pay to defend them in court (and they won't let you make money from your own work regardless). Popping the case on your tablet voids your warranty, even if you do it to fix the dang thing, and switching your phone to work on a different carrier is now illegal.

The people who own these companies aren't democratically elected. They don't have to work. They don't even have to sign contracts and hire people to work for them. They can get laws written that make others work for them, like the massive army of bronies and pegasisters creating goodwill for the My Little Pony brand without pay. Or the app developers who are out of luck if they go through anyone but Apple, because for some reason Apple's "right" to decide what goes on your iPad is more important than anyone else's.

Apple can do whatever it wants with the App Store, and with the iPad you purchased. Hasbro owns every fan work that every MLP fan ever made, and everything they will make for another hundred years or so. And not even Lauren Faust, the creator of the new MLP series, could stop them from shutting down fanworks based on it like Fighting is Magic.

That's not how things ought to work.

Here's how things ought to work:

  1. The worker should own the means of production.

  2. The audience should own their response to artwork.

  3. Everyone should have the right to take apart things that they own.

Stuff like Apple and Hasbro are doing ought to be illegal. People should go to jail and pay fines for them. It doesn't matter if you think Apple or MLP fans have bad taste, or that "computer games" and "cartoons" are irrelevant. They're just examples of things that affect everyone, in this world that we have where we choose to allow a handful of people to own everything, even though they didn't work for it.

There are a few things that work the right way.

Creative Commons and Free Software licenses let creators throw fans a bone, and make them equal partners instead of "participants." A writer can now own the website that her words are published on, thanks to Dreamwidth and WordPress' Free Software code, while MediaGoblin does the same for artists, musicians, and video producers. And while you can't write an "iPad game" without going through Apple, even my PlayStation can access what Mozilla calls the Open Web.

Finally, the stuff you create -- that you put into websites -- does not have to go away if you leave or get banned. Some sites work like Dreamwidth, where you can "friend" people on other sites and they can subscribe and leave comments. And if something goes wrong, you or someone else can take the code and set up shop someplace else, the way Dreamwidth did for upset LiveJournal fans. Mozilla is even making an app marketplace that works this way.

I'm trying to find more things that work this way, and evaluate everything else in my life and decide whether or not it's worth it.

Edit: I do not endorse brony culture, and I feel that there are a lot of problematic things about it. (The name, for starters.) Free speech should not include hate speech, because it silences others. I chose the Fighting is Magic fangame to use as an example of fans being silenced because it's a) recent, b) egregious, and c) overriding the wishes of the actual creator of the work in question.

Edit 2: Some much-needed corrections and clarifications are here.

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)
Matthew Garrett's recent post on depression touched a nerve, because I've been dealing with it for most of my life and it was especially bad all of last year. I'm trying to arrange to get help, but even that is extremely difficult right now.

I'm going to try to add some things to his post without going on for too long. Specifically, I'm going to address ideas we have and stuff we take for granted that makes the experience of being depressed much, much worse.

The "Just World" fallacy

This is a fancy name for the idea that people tend to get what they deserve. Here in the States, we call it "liberty" and "objectivism" and "reducing dependence on government." In the Linux and Free Software communities, we call it "meritocracy."

It's an extremely convenient belief to have if you're at the top of your pecking order. It tells you that you deserve to be there, because of how awesome you are. And it tells you not to worry about anybody beneath you, because if they're deserving they'll make it eventually. And if they're not, well, don't worry about it. It's their fault, and helping them will just keep them dependent on you. Better to throw them out of the nest and watch their carcasses smear on the rocks, until you find one that can fly like you could.

This mindset stigmatizes being weak or in need of help. It turns being a newb, at life or at Linux, into something to be ashamed of. And when you have this mindset yourself, and are weak or injured, you're ashamed of everything. You have a desperate need to please others and show that your life is worthwhile. You're afraid to admit failure, to yourself or to anyone else, because you know that you'll be destroyed and it'll be your fault.

Preordained winners and losers

If you aren't so conscientious, of course, none of that matters. Of course you'll get the help you need. Of course you deserve it. Ayn Rand herself went on Social Security. My parents have no qualms about getting cheques from the government, via dad's military retirement. But I sold off almost all my possessions to keep from needing to apply for "food stamps," which are one of the only reliable social welfare programs here for people who aren't senior citizens. I didn't want to be a burden.

And that's what these beliefs are all about. They take people who care about others, who want to help others, who want to be part of a team and community and work together to do something awesome, and very often make them into nervous, self-loathing wrecks. At their best and most productive, they may have impostor syndrome and depression, may fail to promote themselves and their projects, and may put up with crap no one should. At their worse, they may want to kill themselves, like I almost did a few years ago after being thrown out of the house.

The fact that my parents let me back in an hour or so later didn't change anything. There was no apology. The status quo, in which this event wasn't even surprising and I just needed to live with it, did not change. And my family laughed and joked with each other later that day, without saying a word about what'd happened, as I went catatonic right there on the couch. I knew now that I was worthless, and no matter how much reassurance or encouragement I get from others that "fact" is still the core of my being.

I guess what I'm trying to say is,

The idea of "meritocracy" causes depression and kills people

And so whenever I see people glorify it, I know right away that to the degree that they take this belief seriously I'm looking at a good ol' boys' network with preordained winners and losers. Where people they like and consider worthwhile get rewarded and get away with anything, and people they dislike get blamed for their "failures" and punished.

This is why there's historically been so much hostility towards Apple, and towards everything in GNOME and Free Software and politics that tries to make stuff easier for newbs or bring new people into the fold. The people complaining have decided who's a "real" hacker or gamer or contributor or American, and who's undeserving of the label. They want the undeserving to run off somewhere that they don't have to see them, and they close their eyes so they don't see the smeared carcasses on the rocks.

When you grow up with this mindset and then realize that you're undeserving, you want to die.

I guess that's all.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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