May. 9th, 2008

CRYPTIC RAWR IS CRYPTIC

The book is done.

I am done with the book.

If Useless McFail wants anything else done to it, she's gonna have to do it herself.

As far as I'm concerned, the book is ready for publication and I left it that way when I left.

Oct. 6th, 2007

Bush is an asshole.

So earlier this week Bush vetoed a bill that would expand the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) funding in many states. That's right, kids, Bush hates poor people so much that he'll deny even the pain-in-the-ass, government-cheese sort of desperation healthcare that these programs give to the kids who would otherwise have no coverage at all.

The reasoning? It would apparently cut too much into private insurance's bottom line. WTF, mate? These guys would never be able to afford private insurance to begin with, full stop!

There are enough votes in favor of the measure to override the veto in the Senate, but the House of Representatives is apparently full of Republicans who like to play political games with children's lives to make a point, and they're about 20-odd people short of being able to override Bush's latest piece of assholery.

However, there's a bit of hope because there are enough House people who voted no who would probably change their minds if their constituents raised holy hell about it.

Everyone's weekend homework is to follow the link over to Bitch Ph. D. and contact whatever asshole representatives that belong to your area and let them know that you don't want them voting in favor of letting kids die from stupid shit like strep just because they don't have health insurance. My rep voted in favor of the bill. Makes me happier.

AND PASS IT ON, PLZKTHX.

Aug. 26th, 2007

awkwaaaard

Rant on, dreaded letter format check! )

Anybody else ever end up with someone randomly friending them that you look at their information and you just know that there would probably be messy death if you friended back? o.O

Aug. 5th, 2007

BOLDthrough 2007-- BOLD text for BOLD stupid!

[info]liz_marcs is made of awesome.

She much more articulately sums up why most of the non-insane people are worked up.

Though I am still kind of boggling at why HP fandom seems to be the target du jour of Six Apart. My only guess is that Harry Potter fandom is the big one that's been in the news a time or two? And that there are too many Trekkies/Trekkers for them to go after without getting their tails seriously burnt? (I mean, c'mon.. there are 2-3 generations worth of Star Trek fans out there. Nothing could stop the Trek porn.)

I mean.. yeah, I stand by my earlier statement that there will probably be a kerfluffle about First Amendment v. Corporate Overlords in Internet spaces-- it's probably inevitable just as the country's political climate swings between liberal and conservative. (It's actually pretty healthy for a culture to do this-- during the liberal era, there's a lot of social change and during the conservative era, stuff that works tends to stick around while stuff that don't gets tossed.) But I also think that it's a kerfluffle that's best settled using normal grassroots action channels rather than drama-whoring, and it's a kerfluffle I think that First Amendment will win. We love porn free speech too much in this country not to-- hell, we are a country that was founded by a mix of criminals, fringe groups, and future corporate overlords and we still let groups have first amendment protection that most other countries would declare illegal.

I also think Six Apart has pretty much turned LiveJournal into a pit of voles, and there's probably no going back on that account and people should just STFU and move elsewhere. I genuinely feel for the people who have perm accounts, especially those who were actually reassured by the hazy reassurances and bought one in the last round of perm account sales. You have been suckered by the old bait-and-switch and it sucks to lose all that money. I would love to see Six Apart taken to task for its shitty customer service and shady business practices (bait-and-switch is illegal in a few states, dunno about Cali), but realistically I doubt it will ever happen. Especially since it's fandom that's been hit in the last couple rounds the hardest, and fandom is in general an insane bunch of wankers even in the best of times. (Except Trek fandom. But Trek is an institution.)

Aug. 4th, 2007

Thoughts on porn

A lot of people are (once more yet again) questioning why half of fandom is up in arms about the latest suspensions off LJ. I think it basically boils down to two issues-- one a big one that really does need to be addressed by legislation and soon, and one that's much smaller and can be handled by simple "power of the purse-strings" action. No need to symbolically burning curiously flame-retardant LJ shirts. (Which were likely purchased for the express purpose of burning. WTG, n00b.)

The Big One: Free Speech on the Internet

This one actually dates back to the Google vs. China kerfluffle in Janurary of 2007. Google agreed to create a different search engine for Chinese users that would censor out search results that didn't jive with China's censorship laws. They went ahead with the plan, despite pressure from the US government not to cave that (if I'm remembering right) even included proposed legislation against the move. Indeed, according to the ACLU the US government is actually fairly in tune with making sure that the 'net remains a free zone when it comes to personal expression-- they've struck down several proposed bills that would limit an adult's ability to have adult communications over the 'net, despite the fact that in each case there was a strong "THINK OF TEH CHILLUNS!!one!!1!" undercurrent in the legislation. So far, the only efforts the government has made towards regulating internet speech is to require filtering software on libraries and schools that receive federal funding-- and even so, a lot of libraries have opted out of federal funding rather than subscribe to the law. It's not illegal anywhere in the US to look at adult material in the privacy of one's home. Congress has wisely decided that families need to make those kind of calls on their own without Big Brother staring down at them.

No, the problem, ladies, gents, et al, is that the censorship online these days is coming from businesses. Google and Six Apart being the most prominently involved in major free-speech smackdowns. In both cases, they're using a fairly flimsy "it's against the law" defense-- what's really gotten LJers up in arms is that the artists were suspended over material that is, in fact, considered legal by the United States. (Because let's be honest, guys, gals, et al-- the "artistic merit" clause in the law is just an emergency escape plan for seriously messed-up shit and not intended for everyday use. Most judges and politicians are not that stupid. Not even GW Bush is that stupid!)

We're at another impasse where, though it's legal to talk/write/whatever certain things in real life, it suddenly becomes verboten in the privately owned internet space. Most people are used to the laws in RL applying the same way online, so this sudden corporate crackdown has left a lot of people really pissed off. At this time, we still have a lot of options-- we aren't being censored everywhere. But should the corporate crackdowns continue across the various big companies, there will undoubtedly be a large backlash and some kind of free-speech protection legislation will be passed to keep hosting service providers from kicking people just because they don't like what their userbase is saying. Will it be over Harry Potter porn? Probably not, especially considering JKR is on record saying that it should be kept locked and filtered and what-have-you. But things like this tend to either die in the pan (ie, Six Apart will bomb, the corporation will go bankrupt, and we'll all laugh from the sidelines) or snowball (ie, other hosting services and social network sites start up this kind of behavior). If it snowballs, enough people will get pissed off and do something about it, because eventually they'll step on the toes of mainstream people. That's just the way things work in the US!

It's my personal sense that online free speech in privately-owned services will become this decade's Napster hullabaloo. I'm just hoping that the government sides with Joe Average Citizen on the issue this time. (I still have nothing but contempt for the RIAA. May recording artists wise up and go independent, so that your days of ripping off both artists and consumers end.)

The Small One: 6A's Customer Service is Made of Fail and Lose

Okay, so fandom is going apeshit again over the deletions. Some of their saber-rattling even makes GW Bush look like a brilliant stategist. And now they're trying to co-opt a song from Wicked after ruining that cool song from Pirates 3 for everybody. Not cool, kids. Not cool.

Still doesn't change the fact that Six Apart can't even seem to handle simple customer service issues. (Hell, Barak might even fail to ask if I wanted fries with that.) Still doesn't change the fact that a pretty good majority of people are willing to work with 6A, have been making reasonable points and requests to find out what, exactly, is or is not all right. And 6A has done nothing but dither and contradict itself over the matter, then tried to play art critic in a lame attempt to justify this latest round of suspensions. And let's not get into the whole getting rid of the strikethrough tag thing. That's just lame.

As several people have pointed out, they'd be less upset if 6A just came out and said "No more porn involving individuals (fictional or not) that are/were? minors." (I stuck the were in there since, in at least two of the four recent cases, nobody in the art was drawn to be a minor but the art did involve characters who are in their teens in canon.) Nice and clear, and if there was bitching at least reasonable people would be able to get rid of the stuff that was objectionable and everyone would eventually be happy.

Instead, 6A said "Oh no no, fandom is fine. We know it's fictional (and therefore legal)!" and then turned around and suspended a bunch of fairly well-known artists, citing that the material was illegal, and when people pointed out that no, it was legal according to child porn laws (which I'm sure everyone is sick to death of looking at these days) they said "No, it fails on the artistic merit clause!"

Luckily, it's a big internets and there is a solution to this-- get the hell out, spend your money elsewhere, and watch Six Apart die a slow and horrible death from the sidelines. If one bothers to even keep one's eye on the place when it turns into a bigger pit of voles than it already is. Nobody signed a contract in blood to stay on LiveJournal, and generally if a company has customer service that fails that hard, one takes one's business elsewhere in the real world. Should work just fine here in the magic tubes.

Starting online petitions, filling up news comment threads, and burning strangely flame-retardant clothing isn't going to change the bottom line. It might make people feel better, but it won't change the bottom line. Taking your money away does that. Destroying their adviews does that. Members who signed up before April 2006 with way too much free time and money on their hands might even be able to hammer them with lawsuits over changing the TOS if they want to. Negative word of mouth would probably be pretty crippling too, considering that Six Apart isn't a major corporate entity like MySpace. (Which, hillariously enough, a lot of teenagers are abandoning in favor of Facebook these days.)

The More You Know!

So yeah, that's why people are upset. Honestly, even if you have no thoughts on the merit (or lack thereof) of porn, you should probably at least be skeeved over the shitty customer service that Six Apart offers to its clients. Sure, they could delete anybody they wanted to tomorrow. I could run my car off a cliff tomorrow if I wanted to. Doesn't mean I'm that kind of moron, and Six Apart shouldn't be either.

Aug. 3rd, 2007

/headdesk

I need to rant here so that I don't take off someone's head in gchat.. here goes.

cut for highly technical WoW ranting )

Jun. 26th, 2007

Real Baby Back Ribs

Over at Alas, a Blog, Mandolin made a poem out of the typical pro-life patter. It's got a sad sort of beauty to it, in that way very true things are often tragic.

Why is it that the people who supposedly value children the most constantly talk and act like children are a punishment for having sex and not a blessing in and of themselves? Admittedly, having children is not on my list of things to do and I'm wary of the whole 'commitment for the rest of your life' thing that goes along with having kids. But that's because if you're going to go around having kids, you have to be prepared and do it right and for the right reasons. Otherwise you're just another one of those bad parents who lets their kids run wild, never sets boundaries, and expects the school system and the rest of the world to turn the offspring into functional adults ready to contribute to society. (When, honestly, most unparented children end up wards of the state the rest of their lives-- by landing in prison.)

It's kinda like the Minnesota sextuplets who have been in the news recently. They were so premature and most of them are dead because the other refused to abort any of them. Assuming the two who are still alive survive their ordeal, they're guaranteed to be badly disabled and will probably have no quality of life due to having such selfish parents (I mean, seriously, the parents didn't care about the health of the children when they were in the womb. What makes you think the kids will get care now that they're outside of it? Maybe if they're taken into the foster system because the parents are such asstards, but the foster system ain't that great either. Too many unwanted and abused children in it already.).

I dunno.. nobody should be allowed to scream "What about the children?!" and then turn around and beat their kids or brainwash them into happy little drones or treat them like living trophies of the parents' prowess at.. whatever the hell the parents are feeling insecure about. Kids are people. Unfinished people who need a lot of guidance and a lot of discipline (I'm a firm believer in denial of stupid things as a character builder. We need fewer impatient entitlement-whores in this world, and a lot of kids these days are like that because they get their way too much.) but should be allowed to develop in their own way and not be molded into idealistic clones of their parents.

I still hate people, yes I do. :/

Jun. 20th, 2007

fuck the what?

Warriors for Innocence is continuing their campaign, this time sending e-mails to companies with Google Ads that show up on LJ. One of the guys who posts on dark_christian happens to work for a travel company and got one of the WFI e-mails.

I know it's popped up on [info]07refugees as well, but goddamn when are these guys going to get lives?

Also, did you cool kids see the latest post in lj_biz RE: Strikethrough? Talk about an object lesson in bait-and-switch. Holy hell, what kind of moron buys an expensive service without knowing the terms of use? And like many others, that whole unwilling to host line makes me go ugh. Quite possibly 6A could lose Safe Harbor status if they take their objectionable content witch-hunt too far-- any provider that edits the content on the site becomes legally responsible for the content when if they just leave it alone barring a legal order, they aren't held responsible legally. (Obviously a few of the MySpace scandals have shown that someone can still sue the provider for damages, but a prosecutor couldn't drag them in on charges. But holy hell, man, you can sue a hairdryer maker because your dumbass grandma decided to use the thing while sleeping in her filled bathtub. What.. you didn't know that's why those idiot warnings were on your hairdryer?)

Jul. 29th, 2006

On Choice

Had another rare bout of serious thought thanks to this post at Alas about the "choice for men" lawsuit.

Thankfully, the judge decided that the plaintiff, who was suing his girlfriend for having a baby after she'd promised to go on the pill (she was still on the pill at the time) for wrongful use of his sperm to try and get out of paying child support, was full of shit. No demands for child support were entered into the counter-suit, the mom just wants the man to acknowledge his paternity of the child Just In Case.

I was kind of surprised by a lot of the responses in the comments, about how it's not fair that women get to have abortions or put the baby up for adoption or whatever and the guy has no say in this, so guys should have a period of time before the baby is born (within the legal threshold of having an abortion) to opt-out of the responsibility of having a baby.

Um, WTF?!

First off, let's take a look at this idea that the woman has all the control. Sure, she has a measure of control over what happens to her body. But when it comes to babies, there are basically only a few option open to her if she doesn't want to have a kid.

1. Acquire and conscientiously use a birth control preparation. The most commonly used one in the long term is ze pill, which a large number of health insurance companies do not cover. Others will cover it, but the woman assumes all costs for the doctor visits and pays for the pills out of her own pocket. While the pill is one of the safest long-term drugs out there, it is a powerful kick to the endocrine system and has been known to cause some interesting complications for people who have certain genetic profiles. The pill is not perfect, either-- it has a real-life failure rate of about 6%, which is damn good but not a 100% foolproof thing. Other forms of birth control are even more annoying to get/use, and have higher failure rates.

2. Get a tubal litigation. This is major open abdominal surgery that will leave a woman in the hospital for quite a while. Hearing the woe from the childfree also indicates that doctors tend to be very reluctant to perform these surgeries on women who don't already have kids-- some women tell rather hair-curling stories about the shit doctors have given them when they want their tubes tied. And again, this is not a 100% thing-- eggs can manage to get into the uterus anyway, since they normally have to jump through open space to get from the ovaries into the tubes. Oh, and of course the woman is paying for this.

3. Get pregnant and get abortions. Again, most of the time the woman has to take the financial pressure, though some panicky guys will man up enough to foot the bill. However, he's not walking her past the crowd of crazies with the dead fetus signs at the door who are screaming about how she's a whore and a murderer, kthx. And, you know, tough shit for you if the whackos decide to target your clinic or your doctor for bombings or shootings the day you wanna go in. Thems the breaks.

4. Get pregnant and give the baby up for adoption. This means that the woman has to go through the nine months of pregnancy with all its attendant health complications, often alone, and then go through the legal wrangling to get her baby put up for adoption. If the kid is lucky, he or she will find a nice, loving home. However, one of the reasons why adopting babies from other countries is so popular is because there is no worry for the adoptive parents if the bio-parents change their mind and want the kid back. (Don't laugh. They've sent kids back to their bio-parents as old as four/five years old, ripping them away from everything they know.) Also, in a lot of states adoption requires the consent of both bio-parents. Which means women tracking down the assholes who left them and getting them to acknowledge paternity long enough to sign the papers. Given the popularity of Maury shows showing a wide range of men loudly denying paternity even after genetic testing, one can see how this is a difficult thing to do.

5. Become a lesbian and just say forget the peen0r. True, no risk of pregnancy, but then you open the can of worms that hits the openly homosexual. And they're not nice worms by any means.

We have child support laws for a reason, gentlemen. We have child support laws because there is a long, long history of men who promise women they will get married and support children in order to get sex without complications who then leave like bats out of hell when, omg!, the women get pregnant. We have a long, long history of men who insist on having their visitation and play-time rights, but who refuse to contribute any money to the household that, you know, actually takes care of the kids. Given the huge numbers of men who are delinquent on their child support payments, and the huge numbers of women who have to struggle to make ends meet and provide for their families, we as a society become faced with the choice of either letting a whole lot of families starve and letting whole huge chunks of the next generation turn to crime and begging, or we track down the deadbeats and make them pay.

You knock the boots, you pay the piper. This should go for men as much as it goes for women.

So, gentlemen, if you really want a choice about having kids and you want to make sure your female can't misuse your sperm, take control of your own goddamn sperm. You do have the right in this country to wear a little rubber thing on your cock to prevent issue-- they're right there in the pharmacy. Some of them can even enhance your pleasure! So if you're paranoid about there being kids, take the time for a few extra measures. If you're really worried, hell, vasectomies are outpatient surgery and they've been making leaps and bounds on getting them reversible. Knowing you'll never have to pay child support in your life seems like a worthy recompense for having to keep ice in your lap for a few days. (And if it's not reversible on the mechanical end of it, that's why God gave us IVF! The sperm's still good even if it's not getting where it should go.) They're even making strides on drug birth control therapy for guys (and I applaud all the guys who have been lining up for trials-- nice to see people who have enough of a pair to control the destiny of their pair rather than leave it to chance!) and there will probably be a male pill within the next couple years. And if you want total insurance, well, just keep your pants on and get to know your hands better until you find a lady you would really want to procreate with!

So, gentlemen, you do have a choice after all. Yeah, it'll take some thought and some responsibility and you might not get laid as easily as someone who doesn't take similar precautions. But don't give me this bullshit about not having a choice. You have as much say on whether or not you impregnate a lady as she does about whether or not she gets pregnant. Saying otherwise just makes you sound like a whiny little boy, and whiny little boys should have to pay child support if only so their kids don't end up as stupid as their fathers.

Dec. 18th, 2004

Mr. Strife goes to Nibelhiem...

I figured it was about time I revealed my own thoughts on the character I have come to closely associate myself with. Though, I have to disagree with about 99% of the (observed) fandom. My theories on Cloud aren't for the conventional of heart, apparently.

See, I'm perhaps very strange on this point, but I've been watching on the edges of fandom for a while and I still can't see the overwhelming weakness and awkwardness that most of my female (and probably a few male) counterparts are seeing in Cloud's character. I even have a little theory on that, and I guess it's a good enough place to start. See, like many people who are even remotely attracted to males, I was originally blinded by Sephiroth's glory and didn't really pay much attention to Cloud. It was only on about my third play-through of the game that I really got to looking at Cloud in particular and the nuances of his character, after I'd gone through all the lovely little permutations on Sephiroth. So I almost think that by default of initially being the most interesting, a lot of fans tend to take on Sephiroth's professed view of Cloud as being an insignificant puppet, which totally goes against everything that can be observed.... But here's my take broken down into the characteristics that most fans finger...

On Moseying )

On Tifa )

On Aerith )

On Zack )

On Sephiroth and Jenova )

On SOLDIER )

I don't know if it's just me or not. Either way, it does tend to irk me that the whole post-Lifestream-flashback part of the game gets ignored by the majority of fandom because it doesn't suit their preconceived notions of Cloud's character. Is he flawed? Yes-- no matter how strong or strange one is naturally, his screw-ups remain. But I don't think he's as weak as he's commonly portrayed. Not by a long shot. He would never have lasted the game as leader of AVALANCHE otherwise.