magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)

Here's a brief list of things wot happened or wot I did during 2013:

The council meeting was a great success. We made a lot of lists. We here in Vault City love making lists. )

All in all, it's been a scary, disorienting, demoralizing, and challenging year, which has seemed intent on putting me into walls but has still served up a few measures of grace. Looking back, I can see that a lot of cool things happened – it's just that the stuff that was bad was really bad, and often for months at a time. It could have been a lot worse. But I still count having survived it mostly sane and optimistic to be the major accomplishment of 2013, and I eagerly, eagerly await 2014. Which will be better. I will make it be.

Partially because of how low I've felt through much of the year, I feel like I'm getting a better handle on how to build (and rebuild) strong foundations and get myself moving, even if I'm still not an expert at applying all of that. But I'm learning, slowly but surely, to find my footing in bad places, and if I can just keep building on that, it'll lead me to better places in the end. It's a goal to live into.

magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
I'm staying home sick today. It's been one thing after another: waking up at 4 and being unable to get back to sleep, getting severe cramps, being unable to breathe due to congestion, getting a bloody nose... on like this. And because I can't go into the office, I'm missing a meeting, and because I'm missing a meeting, I spent a good two hours – before the workday would even start, mind you, as I sent in my sick note at around 6 – stressing about it.

And I think, you know, this is really sort of a screwed up system this society's built, isn't it, that I have all this guilt and stress over missing a day of work due to circumstances beyond my control? I'm eating healthy. I'm getting about an hour of exercise, if not more, just about every day. I'm sleeping enough. It's not as though I'm getting sick over some sort of negligence on my part, and the two previous days this week where I was too sick to go in, I worked from home and met all my goals and deadlines. Illness is a natural part of being alive, and should not be something to feel guilt over.

And yet.

And really, a lot of these fundamental assumptions of How Things Go are kind of screwed-up. I've been reading through The 4-Hour Workweek recently, and kinda going "Hm, I wish, I wish" at it, but the central message is something of a paradigm shift: the entire professional life is built around putting off the things that are valuable to you until you've lost the best (most healthy, most free, most able, for the most part) years of your life. And as an added twist, the thing that's to take up most of our waking hours, the thing by which society expects us to define ourselves ("What do you do?" "I'm a web application developer." I am is a powerful term) is the mechanism by which we make money. Making money doing something we find meaningful is considered an advanced skill – and something you're lucky to have.

...I've been reading a lot about earthships, too (in that same I wish, I wish) vein), and one of the things Earthship Man Michael Renolds says is that economies should exist to take care of people; people shouldn't live to take care of economies. (One of the tenets of the earthship philosophy is that people shouldn't be reliant on an economy for the basics of their survival.) It's a compelling idea.

I find that, more and more, I want to be engaged in something meaningful. I'm lucky to have my job, and I'm learning from it – not just about the technical skills, but also about things like project management, documentation and reference structure, interacting with people and communicating clearly, setting measurable goals and motivating myself through them – but there's only a very small service component (I'm helping to support the University, and education is one of my big starry-eyed idealistic values), and there's no spiritual component to it, at all. I feel like if I didn't have the dry, pragmatic concerns – cost of living, cost of paying debt, especially my mountain of student loan debt – I wouldn't be at this job at all.

I don't know what I would be doing. I have dreams, certainly – teaching (teaching something), writing, building Earthships, building communities – but they're all dreams at this stage. For some, I don't know what my criteria for success are. For others, I don't know the criteria to begin.

I want to do something more with my life than what I'm doing. I want to know how to start.


Nov. 16th, 2010 07:44 am
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Well, now Wells Fargo has changed its tune and said that the money they were just holding for a stupidly long time isn't going to hit my account at all, and furthermore that they're charging me $12 for being yanked around.


Fucking Wells Fargo. There has to be a way to just do everything through ING Direct.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Anyone who thinks that farming humans for meat would be a viable food source in a post-apocalyptic world fails agriculture and economics forever.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Below is an answer to your support question regarding "Inline CSS in journal comments using the style="" attribute"


Thank you for your report. The HTML permitted in comments was recently changed to prevent automated spam accounts from exploiting these HTML tags. If you would like to start a discussion about the tags permitted in comments, you are welcome to do so by submitting a suggestion to the official Suggestions community. The procedure for submitting a suggestion is described here: [].

So, apparently I'll be arguing the literary merits of RP and hyperfiction when I have enough brain to form a post about it.

ETA: I've written out a post and submitted it to the Suggestions box. I'll let people know if/when it gets through the moderation queue.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
LiveJournal, for reasons known only to them, has begun stripping out any inline styles written into a tag using the style="" attribute.

This one really has me frothing at the mouth, partly because the RP I'm in (and have been for the better part of three years has always been a place to explore a lot of different modes of storytelling, and those modes extend to things like hiding easter eggs (links and whitetext) in the tags, playing with formatting to represent the mental state of characters, coding certain types of psychic activity to certain colors... even things as simple as letting a character scribble out what they've written. Basically, we've enjoyed playing with hypertext as a medium. The internet makes something that's only beginning to show its head in traditional literature (see, for example: House of Leaves) accessible, and it's been a great deal of fun channelling our assembled creativity into this.

Now, that's rendered impossible. Worse, the work we've already done has also been stripped of its styling. In some cases, the tags have degraded gracefully. In others, they've been rendered almost unreadable.

I've set up a side-by-side comparison of the styled and unstyled tags here:, and I've started a support ticket here: as well as brought it up on a news post here: .

I hope that this is a bug; or, if it was a deliberate choice on the part of the developers, that they can be persuaded to reverse it. For a service which advertises itself as a place to express yourself, this is a very disheartening occurrence.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
When you genericize slurs like gay, retarded, or lame into insults, even if you're not referring to people when you use them ("That movie is so gay," etc.), you're training people to react to those words with derision. And you can point out all you'd like that intellectually, you know the difference between a gay person and a thing you call "gay", but slurs and insults don't engage people intellectually. They engage people emotionally. And emotions do flavor the way we interact with things.

If you can undercut someone's sympathy for a person, you can legitimize actions and attitudes taken against them. This is why, on a grand scale, war propaganda has historically tried so hard to dehumanize "the enemy." This is also why things like the gay panic defense works – everyone knows that gay sex is gross, everyone knows that having to endure homosexual attention is terrifying, so isn't it understandable if you flip out under that threat and someone gets hurt, even killed? If a man was approached by a woman romantically and flipped out and killed her, that would be totally unacceptable, but that's not icky in the same way a man approaching another man is. Everyone knows this.

Note that "gross" and "terrifying" and "icky" aren't intellectual arguments, either.

Emotions get people killed.

Attitudes get people killed.

And when they're not getting people killed, they're making their lives hard to navigate in. They're creating worlds in which what someone is can be constantly under attack, because if you identify with one of those terms, or if a family member does, if a loved one does, you're hearing that word spoken with derision as part of casual interchange with the culture around you.

And yeah, on the surface, calling something "gay" or "retarded" or "lame" doesn't seem like much, but it normalizes those negative attitudes. It legitimizes that derision. It's not murder, but it supports the attitudes thereof. It's a part of a culture of judgement and violence.

No one dot on a polka-dot dress is a polka-dot pattern, but every single one of them makes up the pattern it's in.

This is one of many reasons why I'm working hard to eliminate words like lame or crazy or gypped from my colloquial vocabulary, and why I'm grateful to the people who have called me on those words in the past. Because I'm a writer; I rely on the power of words to create pictures of the world, to influence thoughts and emotions, and I refuse to lend those words to the cause of hurting people who have done nothing wrong.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Hey, college- and grad-school-age friends of mine, which, to be honest, could cover everyone I know who's reading this blog. (Except, perhaps, for those of you who have already obtained your graduate degrees, but one never knows. You might be looking for more.) I want to pose a simple exercise to you:

Let's say that you were scoping out colleges to apply to. Could be for an undergraduate degree, could be for a writing workshop, a Masters program, a PhD program, a few one-off classes in a summer session, whatever. You're shopping around, you're thinking of campus visits, you're calling up admissions offices and asking for pamphlets. It's a good time. Here's the exercise.

I want you to take out a piece of paper, or boot up a copy of TextEdit or NotePad, of just toss some thoughts around in the back of your mind, and answer this: what are the things you look at in deciding where to go?

How about things like cost? Availability of scholarships and student aid is a big thing, availability of student jobs. In-state vs. out-of-state tuition is a deciding factor for a lot of people, I know.

Location? Will it be close enough to visit family? Will it be close enough that they'll expect you home every weekend?

The programs, obviously, should be a major factor. What's the learning environment like? Do they have an engaged faculty in the stuff you want to learn? A complete department, or a few professors teaching classes on it here and there? How does one school's program stack up against the others'?

Hmm. The campus itself should be a concern. Is it walkable? Bikeable? Does it feel like you're going to be living in a bustling downtown, or a manicured garden?

And the city. Are the local politics conservative or liberal? Is it a metropolis or a hamlet? Is there an arts scene? Shopping? Public transportation?

All of the above sounds fairly reasonable, right?

What else do you think about?

Take some time.




How's this: when you're looking through schools and programs, do you stop to think, If I go down here, am I going to be in danger because of the color of my skin? Do you wonder if you'll have to worry about getting profiled or pulled over if you drive somewhere? Do you think, if I get into something and the cops are called, are they going to be biased against me?

Do you wonder if you're going to have to fight a constant battle against people's preconceptions of you – your intelligence, your citizenship, your economic status, your language skills?

Do you wonder if you'll be othered or tokenized, if your race will become a big issue because diversity on campus is low, or if you'll face an expectation to associate with people of your own race or be considered a race traitor? Do you worry that you'll become someone's "black friend" or "Latino friend" or "Asian friend" or any other "attribute friend"?

Do you wonder what percentage of your time is going to be spent educating others about your race, your racial history, or the nation of your perceived origin? Do you wonder which of your actions will be taken as reflecting your race as a whole? Do you wonder if people will expect certain things from you, culturally, interest-wise, background-wise, because of your race?

Do you worry that you'll be forced to mis-represent your race – say, as "black" when you are in fact biracial – when filling out official forms, because no accurate category exists for you?

Do you wonder if exchange programs have provisions for your safety, if you were to go out of the country? If, say, you wanted to study in Moscow, where race crimes sextupled in early 2008, would the program have people who would know how best to protect you? Or would you be allowed to go?

Are these concerns for you?

If these thoughts haven't crossed your mind when looking at those programs, if you've never had (at the bare minimum) a list of options in your life cut apart by these concerns, then you experience a kind of privilege I have never had. And if you think I'm blowing this out of proportion, that I'm being overcautious in worrying about these things, let me tell you a few stories.

My father got into a minor car accident once, and when the police arrived on the scene, they determined that he was at fault. This was either a rear-ending or a sideswiping of his car, mind you. He decided to contest the matter and took it to court; on walking in, his first day, he discovered that the court had assigned him a Spanish translator, despite the fact that he didn't speak Spanish (our surname is recognizable as a Yoruba – that is, Nigerian – name, and resembles a Spanish/Latino surname not at all), and despite the fact that he was a professor of English at the University of Nebraska.

Once, when I was riding in a friend's car, she was pulled over for something like a broken taillight. At one point she got out of the car to talk to the officer who had pulled her over, and when she got back in, she told me that the officer had asked her if I spoke English. This happened in Iowa City, which is for the most part a very friendly, liberal town. Bear in mind that when this happened, I was studying at the University – an institution of about 30,000 students in a town of about 67,000 altogether. Bear also in mind that I was born and raised in Nebraska, and English is in fact the only language I fluently speak.

I had a good friend in high school, a fellow member of the Speech & Debate team, who mentioned one day after 9/11 that he'd been accosted in a store by a man who had told him, "We don't want your kind here." He was an Indian Hindu, which didn't seem to matter; he'd been othered because he was nonwhite, lumped into a group he had no relation to, and harassed. In his case it was only verbal, but that's not always true.

Racism is not over, folks. It's become a bit quieter, but it's still virulent. The three stories above all happened to me and people I personally knew, in Lincoln and Iowa City, which are known for being friendly places. That's not even scratching the surface of places where does get loud, where it does get violent, where it's systematized, where it's routine.

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as white privilege. And male privilege, and cisgender privilege, and able-bodied privilege, and heterosexual privilege, and educational privilege, and economic privilege, and national privilege, and thin privilege, and a hell of a lot of other kinds. And if you never have to think about them, that probably means you have them. And you can say that you never have to think about them. But don't you dare try to tell me they don't exist.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Grah, I'm angry today.

I'm angry because insurance companies consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition (and thus ground for exclusion from coverage), I'm angry because privilege is invisible and people have to lie with bigotry from people they like and love.

I'm angry because a popular show I didn't particularly care about sucks balls when it comes to racial issues and a popular show I actually enjoy is unconsciously knee-deep in racial and gender issues.

I'm angry because calling a good female athlete "secretly a man" or a transsexual or a hermaphrodite is perfectly acceptable and grounds for humiliating them or ruining their careers.

I'm angry because we live in a broken society, and the people with the most power and perhaps the most responsibilty to change that society don't see any need to change it.

But most of all, I'm angry because I don't feel able to transmute that anger into something productive, something reformative. I need to teach myself how to write again, without worrying overmuch about the end product before I get to the end. I need to learn how to harness rage in a way which retains its power and gives it direction.

I need to learn how to sing for our lives.


magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)

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