Life imitates Game?

Back when I was in college/early days of working, there was a little game called Pandemic. It had a quirky premise: you are a disease, and your goal was to kill everyone on the planet, before they shut down flights and ships, and before someone created a vaccine and started inoculating people against you. It was a fun little game that you could do while doing homework especially if you were doing several typos and needed a short break. Surprisingly, it was actually conducive to productivity since you had to wait a while before your mutations and evolutions took effect and while you were waiting, you could keep working. I introduced this game to several of my online friends, and since we’re of the geeky and usually rather busy sort, this was a game with plenty of appeal. We could let it run in the background while we were typing up homework or researching, and then take little breathers. If I had to come up with an equivalent, it’s like running for 15 minutes then jogging for 5.

Screenshot from Steam; this is the current version of the game.

Now, if you were playing on Normal and up, you would get a random country to start in. Pretty quickly we found out that if you started ANYWHERE but Madagascar, you couldn’t win the game, because Madagascar would shut down its ports and airport at the slightest hint of epidemics. My AIM messages over a while were variations on “Dammnit, Shadow, I hate you for introducing me into this game, it’s awesome, but FUCKING MADAGASCAR.” Yeah, it was that fun, and I laughed a lot, because I knew the other person was also getting work done.

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Art Posts

Updated my deviantart for the first time in a very long time. Paid commission work done while giving eyes a rest from other work. I expect to work through the holidays, personally, but this is a good thing, in my opinion.

 

Manager Sophie An updated commission of the previous Sophie image. Photoshop.

Elf Warrior Kate  Done almost completley using Clip Studio Pro.

Jennifer is Shopping  Done in Photoshop.

 

Working with Clip Studio is FUN. Like, woah, once you get it set up the way you want, and figure out some things, it’s really neat to play around with. The brushes are admittedly kinda scary to create and are not as easy to make new brushes with but at the same time, there’s stuff on Clip Studio that is unique to it. It’s really good with lineart work too. I got the more expensive version as a Christmas/Birthday present to myself some years back but it’s only now that I’ve been able to run it.

Thank goodness that Clip Studio is being managed by the Japanese again and doesn’t have that near constant ‘no, I’m a legit copy’ callback that needed to happen with MangaStudio that was STUPID, ate up resources AND  bandwidth and pretty much assumed nobody else lived where you were or shared the Net.

I am looking forward to see what I can create with this.

 

Figures worth collecting

One of the figure that I preordered over the past year arrived today at last. Orders for it began sometime last year and I saved up the funds to pay for it when it was finally released.

The figure in question is Card Captor Sakura Stars Bless You figure.

Card Captor Sakura - Stars Bless You complete figure

image from Hobby Search Japan

I’ve long been a fan of the Card Captor Sakura series of manga and anime; and this was something my daughter grew up on. I haven’t yet unboxed the figure in question – only looked at it to make sure that it wasn’t in any way damaged. Happily, this figure arrived in perfect condition, and was well worth saving for.

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Going with the flu and a bit about SESTA

First off, I’m very sorry for missing out on a bunch of things I really needed to write about. SESTA and why it’s a horrible bill that’s pretty much a reincarnation of SOPA/PIPA being pulled into the guise of being anti-sex trafficking but really a censorship bill being one of these things, and the small stories / trips down memory lane I was planning to write up.

Y’see, here in the land Down Under, we’ve got this lovely (coughmotherfuckinglybadcough) flu season. I caught it last week. I thought I was having a bad case of allergies from a local grass fire (they do controlled burns and sometimes, I’ll react, some times I won’t… and I was reacting…) but instead of just being allergies, it hid the fact that I had caught flu. A very bad case of flu. This savage thing’s been killing people over here. Everyone, except for our 10-year-old boy caught it – fortunately, not all at the same time. Even the eldest caught it, and she’s usually the one with the most robust immune system in the family. I’m starting to get over it, but I don’t want to push too fast and too hard because I don’t want to end up making things worse for myself in the long run. So after I post this, it’ll be back in bed for me, and I don’t think I’ll be 100% for a while.

Funny about the boyo not being sick; he’s usually the one who brings home the plagues from school, too.

Luckily, (or unluckily) it’s the school holidays, so the kids aren’t missing school, but at the same time this killed about a week of work for me and things I had planned to do through the holidays.


(This part is a repost of the comment I wrote before regarding SESTA, with links to things and notes added in.)

Summary given to me, to boil it down –

Right now, all the services that we use for discussing, blogging, conversation have, for the most part, no responsibility for the content that is hosted on it. We are able to write about anything we want, discussing anything we want. The blog host (say, WordPress, or Blogger, or Tumblr) is not responsible or culpable for any of the content their users put out. Similarly, the bloggers, or original post writers are not responsible for the comments that result – legally or otherwise.

SESTA changes that. Platforms would be responsible for the content displayed, and blog owners would be responsible for what people say on their blogs, as if they had been the ones to write it themselves.

The relevant line is this (source):

This carefully crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims. The proposed legislation would:

Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly or recklessly facilitated their victimization;

Remember the various discussions we’ve had over the years – such as during Sad Puppies, or say, like the one where Larry blogged about that Ms America candidate who was pro self-defense? There was someone who came into the comments and made it seem like everyone who was arguing in favor for self defense was enabling rapists (Shadow’s note: that mindset exists, by the way), and not only that, she argued that we should change the definition of rape to allow for women who felt they were raped but claimed that ‘this doesn’t necessarily need to have legal consequences.’ (Note: Her fuzzy definition was met with outrage; my original response to this idiocy is here) Or, for example, the discussions recently where we talk about self-responsibility, and I cited that Tumblr post where from the story of the writer most of the people she described engaged in purely reckless behavior and then were raped… and somehow it’s up to other people to ‘start the change.

People who responded, either negatively, or arguing against those stances would be – let’s be honest here, conflating isn’t new – easily positioned to be ‘in support of sex trafficking – because some of the victims of sex trafficking might have been a bit reckless but were also unlucky enough to end up being trafficked. Or that rape victims were also trafficked.

Not only could our detractors complain about those comments, they could have the blogs shut down for ‘recklessly facilitating sex trafficking victimization.’

Nothing we say, even if we police ourselves, would be safe.

Say one of the trolls who frequently shows up goes to our blogs while we’re on our low-activity time, or while the blog owner is asleep, and makes a comment, completely unrelated to the topic at hand, saying “I know where we can get young boys.” The comment doesn’t get deleted for some time. The owner of the blog would already be a ‘sex trafficking facilitating criminal’ – because under SESTA, the blog owner and the hosting service is responsible for all content and is legally culpable. Then the allies of that troll submit a report citing that comment and claim that the blog is in violation. And escalate it.

Boom. Gone. You don’t even get to argue because you can’t.

Even blogging about writing – police procedurals, chatting about how to realistically portray fictional criminals or crime, or how to write thrillers – would potentially fall under the ‘reckless’ because “Sure, you’re writing fiction, but then someone took your ideas and used them in real life!” – kind of like how there’s a train of thought out there that Tom Clancy gave Osama Bin Laden the idea to crash a plane into American monuments because it happened in one of his books.

Am I fear mongering? No. I am not. I simply understand the social climate we are in now – dissent must be erased by all means. This could easily be used to chilling effect – beyond chilling effect, in fact. Brexit wouldn’t have been able to happen, Trump would not be elected, there wouldn’t be any voice for anyone wanting to say “No” or “But wait…” or “I think…”

All that would matter are the ‘victims’ or ‘potential victims’ or ‘hypothetical victims’ that could be ‘harmed’ by those ‘haterbigotracistnazipatriarchycishomobhobescum’ daring to say anything out of line.

Look at Antifa. Look at the media. Alternative media wouldn’t. couldn’t exist. We wouldn’t have anywhere safe to talk. Remember that we are not considered remotely human or worth protecting, that we are, in the view of the rabid, controlling Left, the Social Marxists, outside the protection of the law – and that the laws are supposed to be a weapon to keep us quiet and cowed and silent.

I can’t do anything but warn my friends in the US from here in Australia. DON’T LET THEM WIN.

==end of comment repost==

 

I’m not sure I’ll be able to write more about about SESTA (link goes to the US congress page on it), I can point to a few VERY helpful pages where they wrote about it.I really wanted to write about it and I know I said I would, but I’m sorry. I’ll have to put this down because I will not be able to write about this in any timely manner, and I hope you’ll forgive me. However, please do read about it.

This lovely Techdirt article, Why SESTA Is Such A Bad Bill covers most of the reasons why it’s bad, and manages to do so without swearing. It even comes up with examples that I wouldn’t have thought of. I encourage you to read it, especially my friends and readers in the US.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has more on how badly SESTA will damage freedoms and have catastrophic chilling effects on speech online, but does absolutely nothing in preventing sex trafficking at all.

The Housemate reckons that it will die at this point and I hope he’s right but, folks over in the US, don’t let up! Make sure it dies. I’m in Australia; I can’t do much except give that heads up. OvergrownHobbit wrote a very good and quick How You Can Help, and I hope ‘Hobbit doesn’t mind that I put it here too.

 

How to reach your elected representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
=================================================
Please don’t use the victims of sexual trafficking as an excuse to destroy American liberties.
Right now, all the services that we use for discussing, blogging, conversation have, for the most part, no responsibility for the content that is hosted on it. We are able to write about anything we want, discussing anything we want. The blog host (say, WordPress, or Blogger, or Tumblr) is not responsible or culpable for any of the content their users put out. Similarly, the bloggers, or original post writers are not responsible for the comments that result – legally or otherwise.
SESTA changes that. Platforms would be responsible for the content displayed, and blog owners would be responsible for what people say on their blogs, as if they had been the ones to write it themselves.
As a librarian, and a union employee, my freedom to speak up about controversial issues could be abrogated if a Trump “pizza-gate” activist decided to use law-fare to shut down the social media site. For those on the right, if the next president and congress are Democrats, they could face a similar shut down.
Please stop this bill.
And now, it’s time for me to lie down again, as the headaches and aches everywhere are back.

Aff’s Opinion Part 2

Shadow’s Note: I occasionally tell Aff he should write something on the blog, because he’s an entertaining and hilarious opinion writer. He keeps saying that he’s likely to piss off everyone, including my friends. I know my friends. They’ll probably be laughing right along with me. If it helps, imagine this in the voice of a very sarcastic Lawrence Fishburne crossed with Dr. House.

 

So, the last time I wrote anything for Shadow to post was about gun control, which probably  irritated some people. Not to worry, for I have learned my lesson and I will now write about far less controversial things.

Item One: Racism & Why I hate the Internet

This might sound odd from somebody who uses a computer on a near 24/7 basis to browse said Internet, but it’s done a world of harm. It would have been far better if it was just that weird place which Hatsune Miku came from, but we’ve got no such luck.
For a very long time, Australia absorbed the better part of foreign cultures and concepts via an elegant process which took time.

Turns out, most of this happened in the late ninety/early 2000s period. A lot of different cultures were moving into various areas of Australia – Adelaide, South Australia being no exception.

As I was growing up, I was thrown into a Preschool class with a bunch of other kids. Some of them were Asian. Some were African. Some were Aboriginal. I realise this now, of course. But at the time I didn’t know. Nor did I care. Nor did anyone else. We were all just kids.

No attempts were made to classify any of them as different, or disadvantaged, or people we should work harder to include or people we should exclude. When I got into a punch up with one of the kids, it was because I hated the little bastard for the day because he stole my Banana or something. If we were kicking a ball around, it was because it was some other kid to kick a ball around with. This happened indiscriminately, without any concern for what race that kid was. Because it didn’t matter.

Adelaide remained like this for the entire duration of my school life. I went through Primary and High School without ever noticing or caring what race any of the kids were. It didn’t matter. Nobody else cared, either. If there was racism present at my school, it must have been buried so deeply that nobody would have said anything – and the groups of kids that turned up for events, LAN parties, or social trips to Salisbury were always mixed completely at random.

Not because we were told to. It just happened naturally. And my friends weren’t the only ones – this was a common occurrence. Nobody cared.

Then came the Internet, and problems from other countries started being communicated to Australians in real time. People felt strongly about these issues, and wanted to do something about them. Issues in other places.

So they began to campaign against issues that didn’t exist here. Loudly. Angrily. And their righteous campaigns to prevent racism only served to make some people feel different when they hadn’t before!

The very attempt to right a wrong (which hadn’t existed in that location – at least not on any major scale) caused the problem!

Fantastic work. Brilliant. Top notch.

Fortunately, it didn’t work that well. As someone who has lived extensively in three states of Australia, I can tell you it’s still pretty kick back. I don’t believe racism has a huge hold here, and I’m hoping it stays that way.

I’m sure the Internet is also guilty of damaging other countries in the same way. My guess is that cities globally vary enough that problems in one area can spread to another via the Internet even if the problem wasn’t even remotely possible in the other location previously.
Want to treat everyone equally? Just do nothing different. Don’t force ‘awareness’ or ‘educational programs’ on people to highlight the differences. That’s how you amplify something into a problem, instead of avoiding it becoming a problem.

 

Item Two: Religion

As most of you have likely figured out, Shadow has a religion. She believes in spirits and what not. I don’t. You might be asking how we co-exist given the fact that most Atheists can’t enter a public place without telling everyone within earshot while wearing a smugly superior look that resembles the kind of leer you would see on the face of a convicted paedophile.

I don’t believe in a God. I also don’t believe in spirits. I do however, believe in History. There’s these things we have called records, which document stuff that happened previously. It’s really quite neat – and some of it you can even find on the previously-mentioned awful Internet.

What we now loosely and somewhat inaccurately refer to as Free Western Culture stems from the family values and concepts that arose from Christian Faiths. In fact, the very fact that Atheists can exist without prosecution is because of Christianity. Don’t believe it? Go look up how well Atheists did in the presence of many other belief systems, you may find it some fiery reading.

Here’s a great thing from Christianity you can enjoy as an Atheist today; the concept of education for the common-folk was one born out of the necessity of being able to teach people what was inside the Bible. Granted, you may not see this as being particularly cool as it is promoting a belief system – however, giving people literacy led towards other great gifts and a more general education. Do you know how to read this post? Do you know how to write something slandering Christians? Congratulations, you can probably thank them for it.

While it is true that Atheists may suffer some discrimination in the modern era, it is completely out of proportion compared to the discrimination that Atheists appear to exclusively focus on Christianity. You can generally live in a Christian country without worrying about being persecuted because you don’t turn up to Church – in fact, most Christians seem pretty lazy on that score too, so who would know anyway? There are also laws – derived from the concept under the Bible that all Humans are created equal in the image of God (or some such) in most Christian countries that protect your rights to pretty much believe what you want.

So what’s up with Atheists attacking Christian/Catholic beliefs at every opportunity?
Now, some of you may be thinking – hey, okay so it was useful. But now it’s not. We should stop with this fairytale nonsense, right? Where’s the harm?

This is the part where the Atheist part of me – the one who isn’t worried about curse words – would like to call you a fucking idiot.

Let’s say you succeed, and Christianity is gone. Great success, celebrate with some alcohol.

Oh wait, you probably can’t. The removal of Christianity isn’t going to instantly turn everything over to a religion-free society. It’s more likely to remove the protections that Christianity and its influence on culture provides that allow you to reject religion – next thing you know you’re in an Islamic country… and uh, you don’t want to live there as an Atheist.

You think it’s obnoxious that someone wants to give blessing before they eat? In Islamic scripture, you cannot change religion or become atheist – denying Islam and becoming an apostate is punishable by death for males and imprisonment for women (and what happens to the women mean they are probably getting the worst part of the deal). If you’re an Atheist and think you can be as brutal with Islam as you are with Christianity, try taking a visit to Afghanistan, Malaysia, or Saudi Arabia. There, you can be executed for publicly advocating Atheism – something that will never happen to you in a Christian country.

But hey, it might be a nice trip for you. And at the very least, it will spare me from seeing another one of those blasted banner adverts advocating how we should kill of Christianity and shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot.

Don’t wanna believe in God? Fine, you don’t have to. I don’t either. And that’s my right – one protected by the laws of Australia and most (not all) other Christian-founded countries.

Don’t like others believing in God? Okay, explain why? Why does it matter to you in the slightest. Does it affect you? No. Will it affect your children? No. You can opt out of every religious study class available in Australian public schools. Christianity might be loud during Easter and Christmas, but if you’re offended by a few chocolate eggs and the idea that people will give each other gifts, perhaps you’re actually just a horrible bastard.

And hey, that’s cool too – but before you embark on your heroic campaign to spend thousands on billboards and drive Christianity out of the country, maybe you should think about what will replace it when that happens because it most likely won’t be the peaceful universal Atheism you seem to believe.

Because hey, it’s cool we’re not afraid of God. In fact, there’s nobody to judge our actions in this world but ourselves. And that’s also a solid point – we are responsible for our actions. Which means we are also responsible if we act like total dicks to one another, and ruin everyone else’s day. We’d also have nobody to blame but ourselves if the great plan backfired and we all ended up on some Islamic chopping block in the UAE. So cut this self-destructive shit out, you’ll destroy all of us right along with your intended target.

Don’t bite the hand that protects you.

Item Three: Abortion

I was going to stop above, but I figured I had one more group of people to quickly piss off.
I’m not really pro-life. I’m also not really pro-choice. I’m pro-personal responsibility.

Abortion is a medical procedure with some risk. You can avoid needing this if you either:
a) stop fucking everyone;
or b) use birth control;

As for the “it’s my body” stuff from some women; can you become pregnant via photosynthesis or mitosis? No? There was another person involved?

Sounds like it’s joint decision time!

But hey, abort away. I don’t intend to change anyone’s opinions because I don’t really care too much about this subject – but if you are going to do so, do it at a proper medical centre and not some half-baked clinic.

Otherwise it might not just be the foetus that dies, you might too.


Right, well that’s probably filled my quota for another six months… actually, no – wait. I have one more group I have a gripe with.

Item Four: WordPress

Alright, so I don’t post to Shadows Blog – at all, ever. She has the option of posting things from me on her Blog if she chooses to do so. Under no circumstances do I dictate things that must or must not appear on her web site.

I am the administrator that manages the behind-the-scenes stuff which keeps this site running. I installed the WordPress, and I apply updates or patches as needed to keep it running smoothly. In that effect, I am part of the platform that enables her speech.
WordPress are part of a platform that enable peoples speech as well. That’s what they claim to be, anyway. By forcing the rainbow banner on users via the reader bar, they are going beyond participating in the discussion but forcing their speech on top of the sites that they claim to support free speech on and thus telling them that any other view is wrong.

This is not the place of a speech provider to do. We’re looking at replacing WordPress soon, but until then this post can stand as some glorious irony when I officially state that WordPress gets added to my official list of companies that can get fucked.
If you are a platform or a host to debate, you cannot pick a side in the debate. Then you are no longer providing neutral discussion ground.


Alright, now that’s my quota filled for real. If you aren’t offended yet, let Shadow know and I’ll get right on fixing that.

Aff/Seda, signing off.

Small Amusements and Memories

 

I like cups with funny sayings on them – funny to me, mind. A source of very minor contention in my household is my tendency to accumulate mugs – lots of mugs, a lot of them with amusing little phrases (one has an old-fashioned poison logo on it). I also have some plain mugs, and a while back I saw on Pinterest that there was someone who took a sharpie to their plain mugs and wrote on them, then baked the mugs to make the writing permanent.

Well, to satisfy my wanting more funny mugs, I decided to write on my plain mugs and not bake them, so that when the writing washes away, I can put a new funny saying. David was saying he needed a mug that had little lines on the side, measuring “Don’t talk to me… don’t talk to me…” and at the bottom, “You may now speak.” I retorted that he would probably never put the last bit on his mug, and he laughed and said I was probably right.

~~~

Mom told me today that she was unable to sleep because of memories triggered by a documentary about the Philippine Martial Law era. She remembered how my father came very close to being arrested along with one of his friends, who was also a student activist – like most of the students of the time. They were to meet at the University of Diliman campus, but Dad was a little late. By the time he got there, he saw his friend being hauled off by police. The friend, Vic Mendoza, was able to discreetly signal to my father to pretend that they didn’t know each other. So my father, heeding that, walked past him, looked past him, even though it likely hurt him deeply to pretend that he didn’t know his friend.

Vic Mendoza was detained for a long time. Just before my father and mother were married, he was finally released. One of the first people he visited after his release was my Dad. Previously a man with a mischievous sense of humour and intelligent wit, he and Dad were known as a pair of clowns. Afterward he was a rather changed man – quieter, my Mom remembers. When my father asked him how he was, and what happened, Vic said, “Let’s not talk about it.”

Mom says that he and my father were very popular with the girls back in their college years because of their love of bouncing repartee back and forth. They were popular because you spent a lot of time laughing at what they said and how they said it.

She says that Vic later became a doctor, and indications that he hadn’t completely lost his mischievous nature from what torments he suffered while imprisoned surfaced around then. He had an American classmate, and for one reason or another they needed photo IDs. Vic offered to obtain one for the fellow. When the friend agreed, Vic got him an ID… with Vic’s face on it!