Open Thread: Random Light


My camera no longer functions properly, so have a picture from June taken in a Burger King.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Covered Sidewalk


Portland, Maine, a year and two months and three days ago.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Time Quintet: Equal and Same

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: Alex Murry leads his children (and Calvin) to see IT.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 9: IT

When we last left off, Alex Murry was helping "Charles Wallace" (whose brain is currently occupied and being controlled by IT) lead Meg and Calvin to IT whilst negging on about how Meg isn't prepared to meet with IT. Murry doesn't give her any pointers to resist because he's saving those for later when it will be mostly too late.

On the one hand, as an author I understand this. It's more scary for the reader when they don't know what is going on and are just thrust into a situation without introduction. On the other hand, this tactic can come across as forced and heavy-handed when it's not carefully justified--and moreso here, when it's been the entire book so far. The angels didn't stop to explain anything to Meg et. al. because after years and years of leaving Murry in captivity, apparently it was so urgent to get him right now that there was no time to explain anything or give directions which weren't uselessly cryptic.

Now we're continuing in that vein and it makes me want to pull my hair out: Alex Murry could tell his daughter what they're about to face and how he's been able to resist it for so long, but instead he's chatting with IT-in-Charles about how Meg totally isn't prepared, she won't be able to resist, et cetera ominous scary wooo. This is contrived to keep Meg and the reader in the dark for the Big Reveal, but it looks contrived, like a stage magician shouting "LOOK OVER THERE A PUPPY" because he can't think of a more natural way to distract the audience for his trick.

Open Thread: Thing on my hat


When I first noticed it was on my hat, my hat was on my head and it was hanging upside down so we could look at each other face to face.  Also, my camera was a ways away in my purse in my sister's car.

So I took off my hat, went for my camera, and took some pictures when I got back.

This was taken yesterday.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

August Newsletter (2018)

Welcome to August! I wasn't sure I'd make it but here I am!

July was an amazing rush for me and flew by. Some of that was bad (my hand still isn't at full mobility since the surgery, and my fallopian tube surgical scars still haven't healed up and keep weeping) and some of it was good (I wrote a whole book from scratch!).

Which, uh, did I mention I wrote a whole book from scratch? It's nonfiction and available for download now, but it'll be going up here in pieces so folks can comment and ask questions. Interactive!

♡ ♡ ♡

So let's talk about rewards this month!

LET'S TALK PATREON REWARDS.

$2+ The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin. This is a three-part story which will be going up over August, September, and (I hope!) October. I really like this one and I hope you will too. It started with an idea from a D&D campaign about a disabled wizard (Mythica fans will recognize the inspiration) and plays with myths, legends, and being propelled into the limelight by others.

$5+ Transcending Flesh, another essay for discussion and questions!

♡ ♡ ♡

And now let's talk projects.

TRANS PROPHECY PROJECT: Don't forget this is out as No Man of Woman Born and available to buy or download! I also have an Etsy store for people who want to buy extra signed copies!

EARTHSIDE #3 PARANORMAL ROMANCE: This is coming along! Slower than I'd like, but definite progress is being made.

FIRE MAGE FANTASY: Still in work, though I didn't get as much done on this as I wanted this month. I have high hopes for August!

HARKEN THE ACCIDENTAL HERO: I haven't forgotten Harken! My hope is to get more of his story out before the year is up.

TRANSCENDING FLESH: Remember that new book I mentioned? You can get it here! For free, or on a pay-what-you-want model at GumRoad! Some of you have already seen the first three essays up here, but I rushed to turn out the other 12 (for a total of 15) because I had someone else's deadline to meet in order to help them with a thing. Let me tell you that writing an entire book in a week was intense and I will never do that again! But it was rewarding and I'm very happy that this book exists now. I hope you enjoy!

Before I sign off, I just want to say THANK YOU. Every single one of you contributing to this blog and/or Patreon is helping me so much, and I can't thank you all enough. Thank you for comments, thank you for support, thank you for the reviews out there on book sites, thank you for everything. My brain weasels were pretty jerky this month, but knowing I had y'all at my back was amazingly good. Thank you. ♥

Writings: Prince Hyacinth (Blue Fairy Book)

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.


I knew when I decided to rewrite fairy tales from Andrew Lang's "color fairy books" what I was getting into. How did I put in in my first post? Oh, right: He 'collected' fairy tales the way Doctor Frankenstein collected body parts: stealing them in the dead of night and sewing them together in grotesque defiance of natural order. The 'fairy tales' in the color fairy tale books contain pieces of tales you've heard before in more sensible stories, now recombined in absolutely batshit ways. There's no way I'm going to be able to do a read-along-with-me deconstruction of these stories, so we'll have to settle for summaries in each case.

Today's story is "Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess", and it's really two incomplete stories smushed together in the hopes that you'll be fooled into thinking you read a full one. In the first half-story, a king is deeply in love with a princess but she can't marry anyone Because Reasons. The actual reason is "because she was under an enchantment". What kind of an enchantment? No details are given! We're just supposed to go along, come now, mustn't dwell on little details! The king seeks out a fairy for advice (he just happens to be friends with a fairy, and no, you don't get to know more about that either) and she tells him that the only way to break the enchantment is to step on the tail of the princess' cat. The king is all 'consider it done' and goes home to dig out his best stomping boots.

Open Thread: Red and Yellow


I remember none of the details surrounding this picture.

Sorry for being so late.  (Even later than I was last week.)

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
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Friday Sunday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us almost over, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Ant-Man and The Wasp



This is a place to discuss the movie Ant-Man and The Wasp, including spoilers (without need for ROT 13 Cthulhu summoning.)

Unfortunately the "Current Comments" feature removes whitespace so, to avoid spoilers appearing there, please use some space for non-spoiler comments or just start your comment with some nonsense.

Example nonsense:
[nonsense] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, id soleat doctus sit, cum te erant omnium. Invidunt periculis at cum, eos diam vivendum no, ea qui vivendum legendos. Verterem similique ut pri, iisque prodesset voluptaria no nam. Eos esse mollis et, mei no putent utamur praesent, nec ex solum saperet. No has soluta molestie.[/nonsense]
And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Sea Crow


First of all, sorry that this is so late.

Second, have a crow.  My nephew and I were watching bathing seagulls from the parking lot of a supermarket, then in flew a crow.  It had something in its beak and seemed to find the estuary . . . bed?  I'm going to go with "bed", "floor" makes me think of the underwater parts.

Anyway, it seemed to find the estuary bed an inviting place to have it's meal.  Or attempted meal.  I was too far away to see what it was trying to eat, so I have no idea if whatever it was was actually edible.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

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Friday Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us here, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Self-Promotion: No Man of Woman Born and Other Updates

The Writings page has been updated with my latest book and 800 links to places where it (and my other books!) can be acquired. 💕

Open Thread: Purple Lines and Curves


I think my camera is losing the ability to good close ups (i.e. macro mode isn't working properly) but that's for the resolution it takes pictures at.  I think, scaled down to the resolution we use here, this looks good.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Today, with its cloudy sky.


Like all great art, this was taken through a car window.

In spite of it being taken only 23 minutes ago, I don't remember which window in particular, but it was, most definitely, not the near window.  The one on the opposite side of the car would have been the closest possible window, with some possibility that the window was opposite not just left to right but also front to back.

Anyway, it is well recorded (by the ancients and then "rediscovered" in the Renaissance, in spite of certain Medieval art clearly having made use of the allegedly lost knowledge ) that it is important --nay,  vital-- that there be a stretch of open air between the observer and the car window though which the subject matter is observed, if the resultant art is to be great.

In other words:

I got nothing.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: The Magician's Neighbor

[Narnia Content Note: Child Abuse, Animal Abuse, Ableism, Mental Illness]

Narnia Recap: Welcome to the start of a fresh new day!

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 1: The Wrong Door

The ending to The Horse and His Boy was so abrupt that I actually had to go back through the archives to check to see if I'd actually finished the book. Apparently I have! And as there is not yet a THAHB movie of any sort (at least that I know of), we have no intermission. On to the next book!

The Magician's Nephew is one reason why I tackled the books in publishing order rather than canonical order: I remember not being a fan. We'll see if time and distance have mellowed me, but as a kid this was one of the books in the series that I didn't much care for. When I grew up and saw that Harper-Collins was actually packaging and marketing the series with TMN as "book one", I had a hearty bitter laugh and predicted that the kids they were marketing to would never read past the "first" book. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe may have problems, but you can see what Lewis was going for and can fill in the gaps, often without even noticing that you're doing so. The Magician's Nephew is often just... surreal and not nearly so easy to aid with imagination-spackle.

And, if I recall correctly, the women get the short end of all the sticks. But now I'm jumping ahead.

   THIS IS A STORY ABOUT SOMETHING that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.

I mean! This is the first paragraph of the book, and what is Harper-Collins even thinking? The narrative clearly supposes the reader knows and cares about Narnia, enough so that they'd be interested in a backstory about the place. When you package this as "book one" in a series, you're completely misunderstanding how a reader--

No. Okay. I'm calm.

July Newsletter (2018)

Apparently it's July?????? When? How?

I'm afraid I don't have a lot to report today and I'm honestly really sorry. June saw me go out on my second surgical leave of the year, this time to cut out a cyst which kept expanding on my ovary. The surgery was supposed to be routine and no big deal, but they ended up having to take one of my fallopian tubes. I'm still recovering from all that (my incisions are very ouch) and my emotions have been all haywire.

What's most frustrating is that this was meant to help with a pain I've been having--and which sent me to the Emergency Room last month--and the pain... hasn't stopped. So apparently the cyst was an unrelated thing that needed to come out but we still haven't gotten the culprit. Bodies!

All this has meant my writing has been in a downward spiral of nope because I've spent most of the month sleeping off the anesthetic. But I'm hopeful that July will be better. It can't be worse, which means it will be better, right? ♥ ♥ ♥

LET'S TALK PATREON REWARDS.

♡ $2+ Fantasy Realtor. This was a fun drabble I wrote after thinking about realtors in D&D settings where they need to explain things like the failed summoning circle burned into the living room floor. I love this one, even if it's a short one.

♡ $5+ Fire Mage Chapter 6, the next chapter in my Fire Mage wip!

♡ $25+ Early Access: No Man of Woman Born Signed Paperbacks! I actually made deadline on this, which feels like a miracle! I got these to the post office earlier in the week and some of them have already reached their new homes! This is a huge big happy feeling!

---

TRANS PROPHECY PROJECT: In case you missed it: The book is finished! I'm so excited I could pop! eBooks exist and are going out to you today, and have been put up for pre-order at Amazon and elsewhere. There is a GoodReads page! There is a cover reveal at LGBTQ Reads which is a life-long goal of mine!! This month has been amazing.

DON'T FORGET: Stay safe and take care. I'll be back next month with more. ♥

Open Thread: More Geese


So far as I know there's no suffix one can attach to "gos" that means "Smaller than adult but not so little as the 'little gos' that one thinks about when hearing 'gosling'" but if there were, the middle geese here would be exemplars of the resulting word.

They're clearly still young enough that the two adults feel the need to flank them, and they don't yet have black feathers, but they're definitely nearly full-grown geese.

Taken at Clark's Pond in South Portland.  Not pictured here is the little dam that keeps the pond at its current level.  Where the water runs over the dam is actually right in front of the foreground adult goose.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Solo (A Star Wars Story)


This is a place to discuss the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, including spoilers (without need for ROT 13 Cthulhu summoning.)

Unfortunately the "Current Comments" feature removes whitespace so, to avoid spoilers appearing there, please use some space for non-spoiler comments or just start your comment with some nonsense.

Example nonsense:
[nonsense] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, id soleat doctus sit, cum te erant omnium. Invidunt periculis at cum, eos diam vivendum no, ea qui vivendum legendos. Verterem similique ut pri, iisque prodesset voluptaria no nam. Eos esse mollis et, mei no putent utamur praesent, nec ex solum saperet. No has soluta molestie.[/nonsense]
And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Time Quintet: She Wouldn't Be Able To Hold Out

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: Charles Wallace has "allowed" himself to be hypnotized and is now being piloted by IT. Meg and Calvin have been led to see her father.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 9: IT

A lot has happened since the last post, and I'm sorry it's been so long. First there were all the Storify threads to get through and then, well, I've been having a lot of surgeries and I'm in pain. But let's do this.

When we last left off, Father was wearing Meg's borrowed magical glasses.

   “Please try them, Father. Please!” She waited while she felt him fumbling in the dark. “Can you see now?” she asked. “Can you see now, Father?”
   “Yes,” he said. “Yes. The wall is transparent, now. How extraordinary! I could almost see the atoms rearranging!” His voice had its old, familiar sound of excitement and discovery. It was the way he sounded sometimes when he came home from his laboratory after a good day and began to tell his wife about his work. Then he cried out, “Charles! Charles Wallace!” And then, “Meg, what’s happened to him? What’s wrong? That is Charles, isn’t it?”

Storify: 2013-07-12 Texas Senate Amendments

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



Texas Senate is starting, folks. Gonna go get soda and pain pills.

Couple of quick points. If I get Twitter Jail'd while reporting today, my Twitter Jail account is in my profile.

Dewhurst says they can't take up another 45 minutes. Stand by until 2:30.

@VictorianPrude: Uncomfortable, unsanitary sure but would be poetic justice to be leaving menstrual blood all over if DPS is throwing out tampons.

Why the hell is DPS looking for tampons? We don't have a constitutional right to bleed? @VictorianPrude

Open Thread: Orange


Only when I was prepping this image for the open thread did I notice that there's one of those things that tells what kind of flower it is in the background.  Anyway, I believe this was at a motel on the walk between my house and the eye doctor.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Storify: 2013-07-09 Texas House Amendments

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



.@scATX Do you have the YouTube link for today?

@Shakestweetz: If you're getting coverage from someone independently reporting, remember they only get paid if we pay them. *cough* @scATX @AnaMardoll

@dreaflynn: Davis asks good question about how drs will would terminate a preg but prioritize saving life of baby?

IIUC, that means using methods that are MORE likely to cause complications for the woman. @dreaflynn

I.e., induced delivery instead of D&C. @dreaflynn

Storify: 2013-07-08 Texas Senate Citizen Testimony

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



@becca_aa: Senate Health and Human Services cmte meeting at 10am to discuss #SB1, testimony limited to 2 min

Please represent our side with intersectionality. These bills affect ALL people with uterus, not just women.

.@suddenlyspeakin says "Line to testify wraps down to lower floor of ext bldg- est. 200+"

.@suddenlyspeakin Lots of blue shirts in line.

.@suddenlyspeakin But lots of orange, too!

@AustinGurl: Watch your back! Pro-lifers are walking around putting 'Life' stickers on your back if you're wearing orange!

Holy shit, we're in grade school now. @AustinGurl @aemccarthy

Storify: 2013-06-26 Favorite Filibuster Tweets

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



@Froborr: @brandyseago @HelloPoodle @anamardoll There is no polite way to strip someone of their rights or threaten their life.

@andreagrimes: Sen Nichols: "I don't think alternatives to abortion are related to #SB5." And there you have a perf. example of what's wrong with the GOP.

@JillBidenVeep: There's no "Texas" in vagina. #StandWithWendy

@TUSK81: Remember the last time a man had to filibuster for ten hrs in order to keep the gov't out of his genitals? Neither do I. #StandWithWendy

Storify: 2013-06-25 Texas Senate Filibuster

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



2013-06-25 Texas Senate Filibuster

@scATX: And I've heard the line is down and wrapped around the rotunda.

The livestream of the Senate is VERY QUIET. I'm understanding the filibuster has not started yet?

@scATX: No. NOTHING has started yet.

Storify: NYT Opinion "My Daughter Isn't Transgender"

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



NYT Opinion: "My Daughter Isn't Transgender"

[This is a long thread, so lets get one thing clear up-front: The author-and-mother says her "daughter" has directly told her that he is a boy. That isn't mentioned in her first (and latest) NYT article, but instead comes out lower down in the thread from an older Parenting.com article. So we will start with that fact in mind: this child is a boy because he says so. It is genuinely that simple.]

@LisaSelinDavis: I wrote this piece for all the kick-ass non-girly girls out there: My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.

@sapphixy: You wrote in an article on Parenting Magazine that your child has LITERALLY SAID THAT HE IS A BOY. YOUR CHILD IS A TRANS BOY.

Storify: Margaret Atwood and SFF

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



[Content Note: Sexual Assault]

[redacted username] Is Atwood avoiding the term SF in her career because she's a snob?

No, and I hate when guys do this without recognizing that SFF is rife with sexual assault.

Also: Atwood isn't currently avoiding the SFF term. That's an old take that won't die. She did at one time disclaim the label but has since said she didn't understand the genre well enough to see how it applied to her work.

Storify: Ian McEwan's Nutshell

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



This is the book in question.

@sazza_jay: who asked for this

Ana: ....narrated by an unborn fetus.

Open Thread: Metal Bird


I think it's some kind of weather vane.

I generally associate "Giant metal bird on the corner of a building" with:
a) not an eagle, and
b) the other side of the street.

A check of google street view shows that the reason for that (which is to say: the other giant metal bird) is across the street and one building down from this one.  Also, I'm pretty sure the other one is a static emplacement.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Storify: Vulture, KatR, and The Black Witch

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



Vulture, KatR, and The Black Witch: How a personal grudge ended with an NY Magazine outline ginning up harassment against indie and small press authors.

Part 1: Summary for people who don't want to read the long version.

TL;DR: The Vulture piece by @katrosenfield appears to be a grudge piece designed to harass people who objected to her calling WOC a "groupthink mob".

FIVE of the people she hate-links to were people who've criticized her in the past for loaded language against WOC and queer people.

SIX of the people hate-linked in that article are friends-of or friendly-to those five authors who criticized her in public.

In total, ELEVEN of the people Kat hate-linked to were folks she has an axe to grind with, or friends of those folks.

The Vulture article feels like a harassment hit-piece which casts harmed WOC and queer people as the "real bullies" for objecting to harm. An ethical reporter does not write a piece like this and "accidentally" only link to people who've criticized her behavior in the past.

Storify: The Black Witch

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



Thread 1: The Review

Y'all. THE BLACK WITCH is BAD. This is important reading. Review: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

You want some extra nitpicks? Because the GIANT TRASH HEAP wasn't trash heapy enough? I got them.

"Gardnerian", as in the white-coded mages descended from "Kelts" and fae in this book? Gardnerian Wicca is a real religion.

"Wandfasting", as in the magical mage marriage in this book? Handfasting is a religious wiccan ceremony very much like marriage.

The Tragically Chaste Gay Guy in this book is named Trystan, which of course sent me thinking about Tristan and Isolde. Bodes well for him!

There's an Athenaeum without Athens, an Amazon race (Amaz) without Greece, and the warrior woman is named Diana.

Storify: Redeemed Racist Protagonists

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



[Content Note: Racism, Rape]

Redeemed Racist Protagonists:
Tweet thread on The Black Witch, on American Heart, and on similar books.

@jules_chronicle: Can we all agree that if your MC's big character arc is deciding that marginalised people are people, that your story needs to go in the [trash emoji]? I am so so appalled by this American Heart announcement. I can't believe anyone, anywhere, thought this was an acceptable book.

A Redeemed Racist protagonist is as harmful and valueless as a Redeemed Rapist protagonist, in my opinion. We are repeatedly asked to identify with oppressors as misunderstood woobies, while very much ignoring their victims. Any redemption arc for them is going to necessarily run up against either forgiveness and acceptance from their victims (gross), or writing victims who DON'T forgive the protagonist, earning the wrath of many readers whether the author intends that or not (even grosser).

Storify: Stim Toys and Fidget Cubes

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

This thread occurred the day after the AHCA vote in the US House of Representatives, hence the references to "yesterday".



"90% of the people playing with them are neurotypical." NOPE.

Oh my god. It's official, I've seen someone explaining that fidget toys are bad because neurotypical people use them to be trendy.

REMINDER: You don't know ANYTHING about another person's health or mental state by looking.

Storify: Food Policing and Food Morality

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I want to talk about Trump ordering his steaks well-done or burnt or whatever. I want to say up-front that I am TOUCHY about this, so... I... maybe please don't @ me if we're friends but you disagree?

I have multiple food allergies. My grandfather, who I gastrointestinally took after, DIED from our allergies. I never met him. I also have lived with disordered eating. I also-also live with a spouse who just... has very different taste buds. We've both worked in food service. I've taken LOTS of professional cooking classes. We know how food is "supposed" to be/do.

So with that in mind I will say this: STOP MORALIZING FOOD CHOICES PLEASE.

Storify: Modern Witches and Social Justice

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After seeing a man compare "Politically Correct culture" to witch trials of the past, I wrote the below series of tweets.

I'm still angry about that asshole's "PC culture is like witch trials" because THIS IS MY PET PEEVE.

The thing about witch trials, TO START WITH, is Salem is not a good example but it's the one Americans all know of. They know of it because it was romanticized during the McCarthy era as a sort of modern parallel that arguably fit poorly.

For the vast majority of witch trials, the victims were people who didn't fit into the community's white patriarchal ideal. And for the vast majority of those trials, the accusers and people running the show were privileged rich white men. So to try to jam "PC culture" into that framework doesn't work. At all. Period. Ever.

You can see hints of this in what ACTUALLY went down in Salem (not the romanticized version). Several of the "young girls" doing the accusing were white women in their late 20s and 30s. One of the reasons the Salem trials snowballed were because the property of the accused was seized by the authorities.

So the vision of Salem as a hapless community terrorized by young girls and helpless (due to their religion) to stop, is... no. Greedy, selfish, PRIVILEGED adult men and women used the system to kill and steal from the weaker members of their community. Which places modern people married to the use of their racial slurs on the side of the abusers, as usual. Not the victims.

When I say witch trials historically weeded out members of the community who weren't a white patriarchal ideal, btw, I mean it. Women who couldn't reproduce were regularly targeted. Infertile, elderly, very probably trans women, disabled women. People of color and people of different religions were targeted very often. Wealthy women who weren't attached to a man and family (widows, especially) were common targets to seize their property. Very likely queer people of all stripes were targeted as well. People who didn't fit a cis, hetero, allo, Christian, white mold.

This is important, both because those "PC POLICE!!" parallels piss me off, but also as why modern pagans BETTER NOT be bigots. We don't get to claim spiritual kinship with our forewitches only to turn around and perpetuate the same hatred. And this goes ditto for feminists who like to call back to our witchy mothers: you can't pick only the white cis allo ones.

If you won't support women of color, ace and aro women, trans women, disabled women, DON'T INVOKE WITCHES. So if you're carrying a "we are the daughters of the witches you failed to burn" signs, you BETTER be intersectional. Because we CURRENT witches who've failed to burn are subtle and quick to anger. (Props to JRR Tolkien.)

(as a side note!)

Every time I do Wiccan / Witch threads, I get sweet children in my mentions asking if Love spells exist. My dear hearts: There is no spell that can make someone love you, and even if there were it would not be ethical to use it.

There ARE spells to make you noticeable to others, the same way you might change your hair or clothes or scent or style. Those might be worth a look. Or you could experiment with your hair or clothes or scent or style. Or you could use your words. Telling someone "hey, I LIKE-like you" seems hard, but it is easier and more direct than most spells, I promise.

Above all else, be aware that "thanks, but no thanks" is a valid option for your love interest and respect that. Always.

Open Thread: Eight Pointed Star


Purple flowers.  Not much else to say.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us here, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Storify: Disney, Queer Rep, and Beauty and the Beast

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



[Content Note: Ableism, Sexual Assault]

Disney, Queer Rep, and Beauty and the Beast:

Why LeFou isn't new, unusual, helpful, or anything more than a punch to the gut for me.

I am REALLY UPSET about the "surprise-gay" Beauty and the Beast character being Le Fou. LeFou isn't just a grasping, foolish, aggrandizing, simpering minion to a bigger villain. He's one of the most evil people in the play. LeFou actively plots to imprison a man to abet the rape of his daughter. The "Maisson de Lunes" song from the Broadway version is chilling.

Storify: Disney Kisses

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To people saying "I'm not okay with same sex kisses in a children's movie because I don't want sexual content shoved at kids" okay hang on a second.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Storify: Anatar

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



After managing NOT to watch Avatar The Last Airbender for YEARS (I don't have tiiiiime!) @elibyronbaldrsn talked me into watching. I am a RESPONSIBLE ADULT so naturally I stayed up until 4 am getting to halfway through season 1. This is WHY I'm not allowed to watch tv shows, btw. I'm chugging coffee and clearing my schedule for today, lol.

Anyway, @elibyronbaldrsn told me about Toph and I accidentally saw a clip mix of her and I was lost to all reason. NO SPOILERS PLEASE, but yeah somehow I missed there is a disabled main character. I woke spouse up this morning with the words "you have to watch Avatar TLA but not in a way that slows me down at all". LOL.

Okay, I'm not live-tweeting the thing, but I'll send highlights from my texts to @elibyronbaldrsn last night, who puts up with me.

Storify: The Last of Us (Again)

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

This has been previously posted, but as a Storify widget which will soon be defunct.




SPOILER: The Fireflies were the villains.

tfw you're reading an interesting article on zombies in gaming and then they utterly misunderstand The Last Of Us. I try very hard to have as few as possible petty pet peeves, but People Who Misunderstand THE LAST OF US is one of them. I have straight up blocked people for creepily insisting that a pre-teen girl should be ritualistically murdered as a meaningless sacrifice.

Everything People Are Wrong About re: THE LAST OF US (spoilers below)

Storify: Xanth, a Romance Series

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*sits bolt upright* my god, Xanth is a romance series to me. My whole childhood just snapped into place with an audible crack. I have a lot of strong feelings about Xanth, as made evident on my blog, but it was hugely formative for me as a child.

I'm now going to list the things that I liked about Xanth and which I care about as influences on my own work. *stares into navel* I really liked the choice to (with a few exceptions) have a new protagonist for every book and therefore a new romance.

I really loved the huge sprawling world and epic cast, where even people you didn't see for much of the novel clearly had LIVES going on. Which was arguably part of the reason WHY there was a plethora of new protagonists waiting in the wings: because of the huge cast.

I do call Xanth a Romance series because most - maybe ALL - of the books are about a romantic relationship arc that ends in a HEA. But, gods, I can't imagine it would ever have been labeled as such or marketed as such when I was younger. Or really even now. Imagine the boy nerds clutching their dice in horror and retiring to the fainting couch.

I always tell people my first and most formative books were fantasy, but this calls EVERYTHING INTO QUESTION.

~~~later~~~

I'm at pain level 8 tonight and the meds aren't helping, so I'm going to talk about something that brings me happiness: fantasy romance.

I realized this morning that Xanth is, by my personal definition, a romance series. Many of them follow a very a very pleasing (to me) pattern of "person has problem, goes on journey to solve problem, finds love". (I'm not going to get into here the many many problems with Piers Anthony's writing; you can find more on that here.)

Let's break it down.

Book #1, A Spell for Chameleon. Romance arc between Bink and Chameleon.

Book #2, The Source of Magic. Romance arc between Bink and Jewel Nymph. A fast one is pulled to match Jewel with Crombie at the end (so as not to undo the previous Bink/Chameleon HEA).

Book #3, Castle Roogna. Romance between Dor and Millie, with Jonathan swapping out at the end and Irene set up as Dor's future wife.

Book #4, Centaur Aisle. Romance between Dor and Irene. Dor is given a rival, but Irene can't bear to leave Xanth.

Book #5, Ogre, Orge. Tandy + Smash. Here, their romance is LITERALLY the answer to Tandy's question taken to the Good Magician.

Book #6, Night Mare. Mare Imbrium + the Day Stallion. (Later replaced with another, non-evil Day Stallion.)

Book #7, Dragon on a Pedestal. Arguable. Hugo is setup as a future romance for young Ivy (though that arc is later abandoned) and Irene has a "romance" arc that... isn't. Really, the less said about Dragon on a Pedestal, the better.

Book #8, Crewel Lye. The romantic epic saga of Jordan and Threnody.

Book #9, Golem in the Gears. A romance between Grundy the Golem and Rapunzel--the only woman in Xanth his size.

Book #10, Vale of the Vole. Eskil and Bria Brassie. Not a romance that particularly thrilled my soul, but it's there and it's a major arc.

Book #11, Heaven Cent. A love triangle between Dolph, Nada Naga, and Electra. In 1988. No, Twilight didn't invent love triangles.

Book #12, Man from Mundania. Gray + Ivy.

Book #13, Isle of View. This book resolves the Dolph / Nada / Electra triangle that seemed to go on way longer than it actually did.

Book #14, Question Quest. This is a polyam romance--or a series of monogamous romances that end in a polyam marriage--for Humphrey.

Book #15, The Color of Her Panties. One of the weakest in the series, tying up loose ends no one cared about. Mela Merwoman finds a mate.

Book #16, Demons Don't Dream. This book was awful so I barely remember it. I think Dug the Mundane falls for the other mundane girl player?

Book #17, Harpy Thyme. Much better and has the prettiest of the Xanth covers. Gloha Goblin-Harpy asks Humphrey where she can find love.

A girl with angel wings in a pretty pink dress converses with a flying mer-horse. I think.

Look at that cover! A girl protagonist whose motivation is to find a lover. Tell me that's not Romance. But an Important Man authored it, so we were all told it was Fantasy and not Romance.

Book #18, Geis of the Gargoyle. Gary Gargoyle searches for his freedom and in the process finds Gayle.

Book #19, Roc and a Hard Place. This one might not be a romance depending on your POV, but much is made of Demon Metria and her new husband falling deeper in love after their hasty arranged marriage.

Book #20, Yon Ill Wind. This is a romance between Chlorine and the Demon Xanth, although she doesn't realize who he is or what's happening to her.

Book #21, Faun and Games has a lot of love triangle flirting between Forrest Faun and Dawn and Eve. Then it disappears up its own butt. Like, seriously, the franchise was stagnating hard then and you could tell.

I think I read some of Books #23 to #41, but they were not memorable to me. I'm pretty sure a lot of them are romances, though!

I actually felt tangible peace this morning when I realized Xanth is a romance series. Because it was so formative for me as a writer, I've felt "weird" for gravitating to romance as a genre when you'd have thought I would write fantasy or scifi, my earliest readings! So realizing that capital-R Romance was with me all along, from the very beginning? That was so hugely affirming to me.

I'm a proud writer of romance. I'm a Romance writer. I've read Romance since I was a little kid. They just didn't tell me it was Romance. I'm frustrated, I won't lie, that Piers wasn't hit with the R-label in the same way that I suspect a woman writer would have been.

"Tell me the plot."

"Well, a special one-of-a-kind girl with angel wings goes on a quest to find her perfect mate--"

So never let yourself feel that you're an imposter in the romance world just because guys told you those romance books weren't romance. You are a romance VETERAN. You cared so much about fantasy romances that you slogged through 10+ books in that series. ;)

You got this. Put 'er there. *fistbump*

Storify: Appropriation of Religious Tools

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Appropriation of Religious Tools: Harry Potter, Wands, and Stop Mis-Using the Concept of Karma

Headline: Witchcraft shop refuses to serve Harry Potter fans because it sells 'spiritual tools' not toys for young Muggles

As a witch, I totally support this store owner and omg the IN-ARTICLE comments are shit. LIKE? Zak, a 20 year old man, is baffled to have something denied to him. Is that legal? Mariella, who is 21, says wands aren't toys GOSH they're actually more like Happy Meals WITH toys. ARGH.

Religious witches have been hurt the LEAST of all the groups Rowling has appropriated from, and she had the most justification for it, like, this is in NO WAY on par to the racism in the series. At all. Full stop. But still, I support him refusing service to Potterkids.

@alexandraerin: No different than a Catholic religious store not selling crucifixes to people who want to vampire LARP.

YES. Religion institutions are allowed to not facilitate the desecration of their tools. No one owes you communion wafers either! These are HANDMADE wands that he has a limited supply of and wants in the hands of actual witches. C'mon.

"He'd sell thousands of wands if he served us"--THEY'RE NOT MASS PRODUCED.

@kingdomofwench: And also, this shop owner is awesome and those entitled whiny Potter fans need to stfu forever and find a diff wand ffs. It isn't hard. They just want these because they can't have them.

YES. That's the thing--there are a zillion wands they can buy, but they're angry to be denied THESE wands. And they want the religious experience of the books: homemade wands that pick you and then you have a bonding ritual. So, YEAH, they pretty much DO want to use this man's religion as a toy or game or roleplay and I pity them not at all. And this is the thing that gets me. We're supposed to ENJOY being a "ren faire booth", as you so aptly put it. (said to @Postnuc_mama)

@punningpundit: I have seen lots of high quality wands sold at Ren Faire to potter fans. I think actual pagans are selling them.

I'm totally okay with selling "real" wands to non-practitioners IF THE MAKER WANTS TO. Consent. ("Real" in scare quotes because to me, all wands can be REAL. It depends on the user, not the maker.)

I am VERY disappointed in @BookRiot's take on this. These are hand-crafted, limited-supply religious tools. By demanding he sell them as toys, you're denying access to real witches.

He also engages in a religious ritual AS PART OF THE SELLING EXPERIENCE, and they want to roleplay that. It's disrespectful. That's like demanding that a pastor baptize and serve the host to someone wanting to roleplay a vampire hunter.

Can we talk about the appropriation in your post, @BookRiot? "If you give joy to a Potterhead, you’re going to get a major karmic kickback." Karma is a key concept in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Taoism. Are you a practitioner of those? Karma is NOT in Wicca. (We have similar concepts but do not appropriate that word.) Why do you exhort a Wiccan to earn karma?

REALLY tired of white people appropriating every religion they can get their hands on but it's okay because they're excitable fans. KARMA IS NOT YOUR WORD TO FLING AROUND WHEN YOU WANT TO THROW A HISSY-FIT.

"Maybe you’ll learn they have some questions you can help them with." I cannot deal with the level of entitlement in this post. REALLY?

"a good way to combat [stigma] is by educating people." GET OUT.

"How do you expect to do that when you are turning away people who might be somewhat ignorant about the details of your faith?" GOOD LORD.

"You’re effectively preaching to the choir by only serving people who already think the same way as you do." JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL.

Privileged people just refuse to accept that the world does not exist to cater to their every desire. Sit the bloody hell down. Wiccans and Pagans often aren't interested in proselytizing and converting others.

@butterflyzan: Why are they assuming we are out to convert anyone??

Because if you're a Weirdo Crayzee Religion you MUST want to spend every day explaining it to people!

@butterflyzan: Yeah, no. I just want to practice in peace, not be fired and/or burned alive for it. Oy.

@NathanOfOz: Christian supremacy is so ingrained that some ppl have a hard time imagining non-evangelical religions.

Things that Harry Potter fans could do instead of buying religions implements from a creator who doesn't want to sell to them: Make their own!

@kingdomofwench: YUUUUUP. If they want to rp it, they could *do it for themselves*. But noooooooo. seriously though they could buy other wands, or make some with hot glue and paint like that Pinterest tutorial I keep seeing, and set up their own little choosing ritual rp for themselves. Instead of stealing and stomping on our religion.

But then who will roleplay the expert who gives them their wand JUST LIKE HARRY.

Storify: Trigger Warnings

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



These panels are from Captain America: Sam Wilson #17.


Several people have asked me about this, so we need a thread on Trigger Warnings. Trigger Warnings serve many people for many reasons, but this heavily includes people with PTSD, who are trauma survivors. Trauma is built into the name there: post-TRAUMAtic stress disorder. When I say trigger warnings are for trauma survivors, that's a fact.

Trigger Warnings are also "for" many other people, but trauma survivors figure prominently in the demographic being served. For a person with PTSD, a "trigger" is something that can take them (often unwillingly) back to a place of trauma and distress. Trigger Warnings serve to WARN readers about upcoming TRIGGERS (hence the name) so they can prepare themselves if they wish to read. Sometimes the "preparation" is simply knowing the material is coming. Sometimes it's waiting to read in a safe space where they can cry.

Trigger Warnings do not mean that the material is bad, or problematic, or that trauma survivors shouldn't read it. You have seen Content Notes--an umbrella term which includes Trigger Warnings--all your life on movies and movie previews.

"Rated R for graphic sex, violence, nudity, and language" is a content note.

"The material we are about to air on the news may not be suitable for young viewers" is a content note.

"This is a Ginny/Harry fic, not Hermione/Harry" is a content note.

"This is a capital-R Romance novel with a proper Happily Ever After" is a content note.

In short: You have very likely been exposed to content notes and trigger warnings your entire life.

A "safe space" may avoid certain topics entirely, but most simply enforce warnings for content. They don't set content off-limits. Indeed, your average Safe Space probably deals with heavier topics than most spaces. But they deal with them CAREFULLY.

Final note: I want to be clear that "trigger" is a multi-use term, not JUST used by people with PTSD. There are other trauma survivors who don't have PTSD and people with mental illness who use the word "trigger" in slightly different ways. That usage is valid, so I do ask people not to police them. But, yes, anyone saying "LOL TRIGGURED" is using it wrong.

I leave this note because some folks have been like "if you don't have PTSD you can't use the word!" and I don't agree with that. Mental illness and health are complicated and there's some overlap re: "exposure to thing that hurts me in mental health-related ways". ANYWAY, that is what trigger warning is and why mocking trigger warnings = mocking trauma survivors (among others).

UPDATE: I really want to stress that this thread is about MOCKING trigger warnings, not about POLICING the use of the word "trigger". A lot of people who have triggers don't have a full mental health work-up saying so. A trigger can sometimes send me into a full panic attack or can other times just make me really emotional or other times nothing. It varies.

Most of the people using the word "trigger" are using it in good faith, in my experience. I'm uncomfortable with policing the word use. I policed my own self for years, fretting over whether I was triggered "enough" to use the word. That was unhealthy and unhelpful for me. This thread is about why it's cruel to mock trigger warnings (with a freaking comic-weapon that looks like a grenade, ffs), it is not a thread policing usage and adoption of a useful and valuable term for discussing mental health. Thank you.

Storify: DDOS Attacks and Social Media Callouts

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.



Good morning, loves. Today I'm going to talk about harassment on social media using the metaphor of network hacking. Pull up a chair.

There was a lot in the media this week about the DDOS attack that indirectly hit Twitter. I saw a lot of "what's a DDOS again?" "DOS" (we'll start without the extra D first) is a denial of service attack. The goal is to disrupt a service from its intended users.

In ye olden days, you could DOS attack a network by flooding it with messages. Ping-ping-ping-ping-ping until the network can't deal. Network designers got smarter from that and created networks that would selectively ignore a spamming signal. That was a good thing! If one computer was malicious or broken, it couldn't take down the network. The network just muted it.

So then the DDOS was born: a distributed denial of service attack. Hackers gather a LOT of computers (usually through trojan viruses) and they count down to spam a network together as a unified whole. This is massively effective because the attack is distributed across multiple attackers. The network can't just mute one and be done.

Networks can't function when hundreds or thousands of signals are screaming at it over the valid traffic. But... we expect humans to.

I keep seeing this cycle play out, where a target is inundated with traffic they're not expecting. Maybe in good faith, maybe not so much. Eventually--maybe a few days, maybe a few hours--they're snippish or make a mistake or lash out. This becomes the impetus for new interactions. People who didn't witness the first mistake get tagged in, often without context. They add to the signal.

A network CAN'T function normally or healthily under these conditions. It's NOT a matter of trying really really hard. The only way to restore normalcy is to take the network offline entirely (delete account, make new one, go private) or block the signals. And, hey, maybe some folks are okay with that for some people. I don't want Actual Satan on Twitter either, I guess.

But I think it's important to understand that this is a pattern of ATTACK. There's no "Distributed Denial of Service Constructive Criticism". It's not an 'attack' because hackers are mean. DDOS attacks can happen by accident! It's an 'attack' because the system CAN'T HANDLE IT.

I'm against harassment because it's violence. But I'm also against most (most! not all!) large-scale callouts because they don't work. Unless, again, the goal IS to drive the victim away. In which case they work very well, but I wish people would be honest about their goal.

I've seen a lot this year about how [target] blocked [multiple people] during a well-intentioned DDOS attack. Well... yeah?? I don't care who it is nor who they blocked; that's the only way to restore normalcy when pings are coming in. Even if the pings are good, correct, helpful traffic (DDOS messages can be!), the network can't function in a flood.

Open Thread: Goslings


A pair of geese with three goslings went into the water so of course we were at the water's edge to look at them.  Not long after, I happened to look away from the water and saw an entire gaggle of goslings, with some adults mixed in, headed for where we were standing at the water's edge.  We politely stepped back to allow them passage, everything seemed fine, then --a moment later-- all was chaos.

I don't think I realized what was happening until the medium sized dog the geese were suddenly fleeing went into the water after them.

By the time they'd calmed down (after the dog had given up) they were all quite spread out and so any picture that captured any of them in detail (like the picture above) necessarily left out a bunch more.  A quick (and thus possibly inaccurate) count of a wider shot says this group contained twenty eight goslings and eight adults in total.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Avengers: Infinity War
   ● A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
   ● Black Panther

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Transcending Flesh: What is Body Modification?

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.

---

Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings


Essay #3: What is Body Modification?

I've made references in the previous two essays to "BodyMod" magitech, and joked about "Gender Potions" and "the BodyTron5000". Let's now talk explicitly what I mean by these concepts and we'll move from there into things to watch out for when crafting your science fiction and fantasy settings.

"BodyMod" is a term is intended to encompass fictional body modification capabilities far surpassing what we have available to us in the present day, either through magic or scientific advances which might as well be magic. Settings with these capabilities range from magical to futuristic, from utopian to dystopian, but may share some similar characteristics. Within these settings, changes to a person's physical body are often:

- Easy to use, with many characters giving little thought to how miraculous these powers are.
- Rapid, often taking less than a few days and sometimes only mere seconds to complete.
- Safe, with minimal concern for bodily rejection of new organs or other medical risks.
- Painless, with short recovery time needed after surgery or magical alteration of the body.
- Perfect, with undetectable difference between homegrown organs and artificial ones.
- Repeatable and reversible, with body changes being repeatedly made without long-term risk.
- Available, being cheap to access and with minimal medical gatekeeping (at least to some).
- Socially Acceptable, with virtually no stigma attached to those who change their bodies.

Magitech body modifications can be accomplished in numerous ways, from surgical to outright magical. Common methods of body modification within such settings include:

- Modification of an existing body through advanced surgical techniques and organ implantation.
- Modification of an existing body through magical powers which alter or grow new organs.
- Transference of brain or consciousness between bodies.
- Transference of brain or consciousness to a body grown to custom specifications.
- Transference of brain or consciousness to an artificial or robot body.

Not all of these characteristics need to be present in a setting with body modification magitech, of course! For example, availability may be limited to those rich and privileged enough to access healthcare. In that case, the author must consider how these conditions affect their larger world. If only the rich can change their bodies, there will exist an underclass of dysphoric trans people dying for lack of access to medical care. How do your characters feel about that? What, if anything, are they doing to help?


~Original Use~

Part of the world-building for a setting with BodyMod magitech requires knowing where these capabilities came from and how long they've been available prior to the story. Have people been able to modify their bodies since the dawn of time through magic or shape-shifting or divine gifts? In that case, trans people won't be new to the world; there will be lots of people (both cis and trans!) experimenting with different body types during the time these gifts have been available. If you want anti-trans bigotry in this world, with stringent rules about who is allowed to have what body configuration, then something will have to be invented to justify that: an oppressive authority figure willing to hurt people and cause them pain.

If BodyMod magitech is new, then trans people may not be using it yet--but they will be making plans to! Trans people existed in our world long before modern medical transition was available; they will have existed in your world's past, too. BodyMod magitech won't call them into being; they'll already be living their lives and keeping an eye on developments which may help with their dysphoria. Here again, if you want trans people to be closeted and unknown to your cis characters, an oppressive authority will need to be invented. In a utopia, transgender people would be out and presenting as they please, even without magitech to help them along. If they're not out in your world, the reader will wonder why. What forced trans people into closets? They aren't in hiding just so cis characters don't have to think about them.

Something I see on occasion from cis authors is the idea that if BodyMod magitech has been around for a while, then transness would be hidden from society because it would be like getting your tonsils out as a kid: a normal procedure that happens at a youngish age and which isn't spoken of in later years. That isn't a bad idea--normalization is a good direction to explore!--but remember not everyone is genderstatic (i.e., having a gender which does not shift over time). There will be people in your world who are genderfluid (i.e., having a gender which shifts over time) whose preferred bodily presentation may change over time. There will also be trans people who take longer than others to realize they are trans and may not come out until they are well into adulthood. Cis characters would be aware that this happens and that some adults receive gender-affirming body modification later in life. Authors cannot avoid trans people by handwaving that everything is taken care of at an early age and is as invisible to the adult characters as their tonsils.

Whatever the driving cause behind the development of body modification in the setting--be it magic or gods or scientific advances--you as the creator should be aware of the original intended use. This understanding can be simplistic and quick (i.e., "they developed technology to replace organs as part of a cure for cancer"), but it will help you map out the organic growth of the magitech as it was developed and what, if any, systems were put in place to deal with some of the ripple effects like identity-theft or neon skin colors.

For example, if body modification in your world revolves around building a robot body to user specifications and then transferring consciousness to the new body as part of a life-extension program, you can invent a governing system which tracks the registration of all robot models and ensures there are no duplicates created by identity thieves. If, on the other hand, body modification means growing fresh organs in a petri dish and dropping them into place as part of a cancer cure (and while they're in there, the doctors craft fancy new genitals of your choice), then it's unlikely people are going to be able to grow fur and turn green.

Either way, once you have the original use in mind for your body modification magitech, you'll need to ponder the extended use cases that inventive humans will want to explore.


~Extended Use~

Cis and trans people alike will have extensive uses for body modification beyond genital sculpting. BodyMod magitech would have far-reaching implications, including:

- What does birth control look like in a world where a person can just remove their uterus for a few years until they want it back? How does pregnancy work in a world where external uteri almost certainly exist?

- If faces can be altered, by what method do people recognize each other in this world? Is it standard for people to wear name-tags? (If so, why not pronoun-tags as well?) How is identity theft prevented?

- What do lifespans look like in a world that can replace or regrow bodily organs? Can bodies be mended such that they don't wear out? Can old hearts and lungs and kidneys be infinitely replaced with new ones?

- How does society react to inevitable "mix-and-matching" of primary and secondary sexual characteristics? Every possible combination of genitals and chests will be explored by members of the populace! If society places controls on this, you have very likely written a dystopian government infringing upon human rights.

- How do people decorate themselves? When tattoos and piercings are reversible, do people experiment more than they already do now? To what extent can body modification expand the limits of a human body? Can people grow fur? wings? prehensile tails? horns? multiple penises? extra breasts?

- Sexual characteristics are big topics when we talk about body modification, but why stop there if the sky is the limit? People will branch out and alter their chins, noses, cheeks, lips, eyes, ears, arms, legs, fingers, toes, body hair, and every other possible bodily aspect. Where are the boundaries of this technology?

- How do social expectations of beauty change when anyone can be fat or thin, tall or short, frail or buff? Consider that if our current social beauty ideals are maintained, the author will need to justify why the far-flung future or misty realms of fantasy has the exact same prejudices as ours, or risk looking unimaginative!

- How are social biases enforced when people can change appearance at will? Is workplace discrimination viable if Violet can go to work presenting in a socially-privileged body, collect a higher paycheck in stealth mode, then shape-shift back to a more preferred body configuration when she goes home for the evening? Do social biases subtly shift to center ornamentation rather than bodily appearance?

- How do disabled people navigate this world? Are there "disability tourists" who use the BodyTron5000 to temporarily acquire disabilities in order to explore those lived experiences? Are mental illnesses treated differently than they are now? Is menstrual pain taken more seriously when everyone can experience it?

- How is society's understanding of race impacted if body modification options include skin color and/or physical features which are viewed as markers of race? (Be careful with race! I am white and cannot be an expert on this topic; if you incorporate racial modifications, hire sensitivity readers and listen to them.)

If all this seems very obvious and perhaps even a little strange for me to harp on, good! You're ahead of the game. I have read fiction by cis authors who wanted to make a statement on gender and ended up giving the characters inexplicable and world-breaking magitech without meaningful examination of how such capabilities would affect the larger setting. The result was extremely immersion-breaking.

All technology has a ripple effect on society. Once you go down the road of a petri-dish uterus, you're going to be faced with the question of hearts and lungs and even tonsils for people who need or want them.