Thursday, March 12, 2015

Goodbye, Sir Terry Pratchett

One of the most important people in my life has passed away. I may have never met him, but Sir Terry Pratchett has been a teacher, friend, adviser and mentor ever since I first picked up Guards! Guards! at the age of 13. No celebrity or famous person has ever meant this much to me. I have always been a Discworld fan first, and a fan of anything else after.

I have very few words to say. It's hard to express the loss I feel. So instead I want to share the words of someone else.
Artist: Paul Kidby

I found this comment on Facebook, a friend of a friend had reposted it saying "did you see this comment?" I've tried to Google it and it's showed up on reddit, 4chan, Facebook, and in the comment sections of multiple articles, all by a different person. If anyone can tell me who originally wrote it, I would appreciate it.


"I would like my pudding now nurse. And then I think I'd like to... write... something... I don't remember what."

Standing in the corner, he waits. The sand slowly flows, but it nears it's end. The old man still glows, as thousands of threads spread away from him.





The old man looks up, through them at first... and then he sees them. For once, the smile on the hooded figure's skull is genuine.

"I... I remember you. The anth... ant..."


"Yes, that. We knew each other?"


He so rarely said it, and these feelings... remembering his young aprentice, and beloved daughter. The beautiful child they have.

"There... is a girl, yes?"


"Well then. You know what they say, two things you cannot avoid. Taxes and..." He looks into the firey blue eyes, and becomes aware.


"Quite right. Is it time already? I have so much left to do."


"No, not cancer. Alzheimers."


"So, where is the boy? I remember a boy."


"Ahh. Never much trusted cars. Or horses."


"Must I?"




"No. Shame really."


"Is it truely turtles?"


"Ahh. I would love to see it. Perhaps a small trip before?"


"The light is slower there... and there's a monkey...."


"Yes... will they remember me?"


"What was that? I could not hear you."


"I never much liked the trouble people had with you. You seem like a nice fellow."


"Don't we all?"


"Is it quick?"


"Ahh. How about a cup of tea?"


"No. how about checkers?"

And so they sat, two old friends regaling each other, though the old man could not remember all of the details, the cloaked man and his rat filled him in, when it was needed."

Goodbye, Sir Terry. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Let's talk

Do you ever feel like all we do online is scream at each other?


I love social networking. I always have.

I’m a communicator, a reader, and a writer, and social networking has helped me reach, talk to, and learn how to understand people who I never would have met before the days of being a click away from almost anyone in the world.

Through Twitter, I’ve made friends with people I never would have even spoken to before. When I started blogging, it was to write silly nonsense about things like Miley Cyrus music videos, and to my surprise, there were other people out there who liked reading my silly nonsense, and then talking silly nonsense with me.

Things have changed since then. I am now a writer for more than one publication.

I still write what I think of as “my silly nonsense”. Despite the ridiculous (but hilarious) accusation that I’m forced to promote some left-wing agenda by my boss (I love this vision of Lili Radloff standing over me with a newspaper whacking me over the head every time I’m not appropriately “left-wing” enough) everything I write, I write because it was something that’s been on my mind, something I’ve been reading and talking about, and I just wanted to get it out.

Of course, there’s only so much about Miley Cyrus music videos you can say (though I’ve said it). And while I write about things like Disney Princesses that no-one seems to notice, writing about topics like feminism, religion, and racism has made me a bit of a, god help me, recognised name.

Twitter is a hellishly busy place for me. I’ve gotten to the point where I avoid my Facebook inbox until I have the time to sit down for at least a few hours. I’ve met even more people, have made even more friends, am constantly having even more fascinating conversations, and learning even more, all through social networking.

And I get trolls. My god, do I get the trolls.

I don’t just get trolls. I get people who don’t know me, but know they don’t like me. I have people who have caught me on a bad day, who were surprised to find me less-than-ready to have a lengthy debate about things that I don’t think should even be a question. (You know, like "is it OK to victim blame" and "is blackface racist") I have people who have alienated and attacked me unfairly, and I have people who I have alienated and attacked unfairly.

There are people out there who are only out to attack, abuse, harass and silence me. But there are also people out there who, maybe, I can learn from, or who can learn from me, who won’t ever approach me, or who can’t, because as time has gone on too many bridges have been burned and rifts have been made.

This has been bugging me for a while. So I’ve decided to do something about it.

I’ve decided to send out an open invitation to approach me. If you have “questions, complaints, concerns, compliments, or criticisms”, and you want to talk, honestly, with an assumption of good faith, with no yelling or insults, no “twars”, no scraping blood off the ceiling or eyeballs out of the fruit punch afterwards, now is the time to speak up.

And I’ve made it a little easier for you to do so:

I’ve unblocked and unmuted everyone on Twitter. Twitter isn’t a great place for a lengthy debate, because the 140 characters is limiting, but it’s a starting point.

(I’ve even unblocked GamerGate. However, I may use the ggautoblocker again if unblocking GG does, as I suspect it will, only open me up to a shit ton of trolling all over again.)

*Edit* Hey guess what. It did. Who's surprised?

I remain easy to contact through the Facebook messaging system.

I am not interested in and will not engage with anonymous / brand new (usually “egg”) accounts on Twitter, or fake Facebook accounts, as in my experience those have always been used for trolling and nothing more, but for those who want to approach me anonymously, I’ve enabled the ability to send me anonymous questions on my Tumblr. We’ll see how that works out.

Keep in mind, by doing this, I have opened myself to a lot of trolling that I had muted again. I will still ignore, mute, swear at, troll back, publicly call out, and/or block trolls. I will still avoid comment sections for the most part, as I have given you plenty of ways to contact me without requiring me to sift through a cesspool of racism, sexism and bigotry. If I’m dogpiled by a lot of people at once who are knowingly doing this together, I will likely block or mute as well. This is an invitation for one-on-one discussions, not for mobs of people to attack me from every angle.

There are a few topics I won’t engage in. I’m not interested in arguing about GamerGate. Even Stephen Colbert mocked you. GamerGate is a joke to everyone not directly involved. Let it go. The same goes for white supremacists, MRAs, (men’s lib is OK but people who support sites like A Voice for Men and Return of Kings are going to be shown the door), TERFs, and any other hate groups.

For everyone else, I ask you for patience, (remember, I am busy) to assume good faith from me, and to agree that we avoid big showy flame wars at all costs, and in return, I will do the same for you. 

*Small edit* I wrote this a little after I had unblocked everyone on Twitter, but a little before this tweet went viral. As a result, my mentions have been filled with furious anti-feminists, Gators and MRA. I went for awhile trying to not block them. What's happened was I've been kept the entire morning arguing the same points over and over and over again with people who don't want to listen but do want to yell at me. It's exhausting and pointless and honestly banging my head against a wall would have been a better and more productive use of my time. So I repeat. This invitation is not for Gators and MRA's. And I've started blocking again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to REALLY have a Game of Thrones inspired wedding

So today I came across an article called "How to have a Game of Thrones inspired wedding", and honestly, I'm disappointed. Sure you can follow those tips and have a very pleasant wedding, but I'm not sure it'll be really really 'Game of Thrones'. It just feels like they've left out some of the most important bits.

So here's a list of suggestions on how to make absolutely certain your wedding is 'Game of Thrones' inspired. I hope it's helpful for at least one person.  

(Warning, hints at some spoilers, so please only read if you've at least watched the show to the end of Season 4.)

1) Have the groom propose to someone else who isn't the bride, then have him marry the bride anyway.

Sure, it'll upset some people, but in 'Game of Thrones', a wedding is not a wedding unless it's also a political nightmare.

2) For a Dothraki wedding, you're going to need naked dancing girls

So skip on the bachelor's party and just book the strippers for the day itself.

3) Public sex is also important for a Dothraki theme

It's really the perfect wedding for exhibitionists.

4) Or you can go for a more traditional Westeros wedding

When guests have decided it's time for the bride and groom to have sex, it's traditional for them to carry the bride and groom to their bedchamber while stripping them naked along the way. This is very important for a good, traditional Game of Thrones wedding. It's traditional.

Basically you better be OK with nudity if you want a proper 'Game of Thrones' wedding.

5) Oh yes, gifts. 

Gifts are a chance to restate the fact that a wedding is just the glorified ceremony in which a man gets his property: his wife.

At a Dothraki wedding, the groom's best friends are expected to give the bride things like whips and bows which she'll then present to her husband with the statement that she's too much of a delicate flower to be able to use them, or something. Good, updated versions of these gifts can be computers and cellphones.

At a Westeros wedding, the husband is supposed to place his cloak on his wife. We don't wear cloaks anymore, but if you can find something that symbolizes the fact that she now belongs to him, and is under his protection as part of the deal, then go with that.

6) Death

Remember, at least three people need to die for  a Dothraki wedding to be anything but a dull affair, and, so far in 'Game of Thrones', deaths are just as traditional at Westeros weddings as they are at Dothraki ones.

For a Dothraki wedding, try encourage guests to fight. The more people who die, the more blessed the relationship.

If you want to go a more King's Landing route, poisoning the groom then having the bride marry his younger brother is perfect.

Otherwise just go all red wedding and murder everyone - but make sure you have at least one pregnant woman present or else you're just going to have a mediocre 'Red Wedding' and everyone will make fun of you.

Good luck with the wedding planning!

Much love


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Damn bloody fake geek guys

A lot of #GamerGate supporters will repeatedly tell you they're not sexist, that they're feminist even, that they as gamers are suffering from discrimination, and that they're the real gamers who are being attacked by imposters. This storify examines the credibility of one of them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Anger is Magic

“Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly, he’s angry.”

In an article for The Guardian, Neil Gaiman has spoken about his friend and co-author of their best-selling book Good Omens, Sir Terry Pratchett.

Gods. Not small ones. Source: Twitter

Sir Terry, who received his well-deserved knighthood for "services to literature" in 2009, is a comedy fantasy author best known for his Discworld series, and has probably been the biggest influence in my life. His books are works of art - brilliantly written, deathly funny, and ridiculously deep. You cannot read his works and avoid thinking, but he packages incredible life-lessons and commentaries on the world in pure, completely hysterical, entertainment.

He's also angry.

Gaiman's article addresses the widely spread myth that Pratchett is some sort of twinkling little elf. A jolly little Father Christmas. This, Gaiman explains, isn't true.

He recounts a time when Sir Terry got horribly angry. A small mistake, the decision to walk to a studio where they were meant to be interviewed, (it was further than they thought) turned into missing most of the interview, angering the radio station, and infuriating Pratchett. 

He didn't shout and scream.  His anger was silent, but it was there. Boiling, raging, he was livid.

Eventually, Gaiman tentatively suggested it was time to not be angry any more. Sir Terry's response:
Terry looked at me. He said: “Do not underestimate this anger. This anger was the engine that powered Good Omens.” I thought of the driven way that Terry wrote, and of the way that he drove the rest of us with him, and I knew that he was right.
Anyone who's read Pratchett should know immediately that he's right.

All authors tend to have a part of themselves in at least one of their characters. "Write what you know." When you think about Pratchett's most driven characters, his best ones in my opinion, they're driven by anger. Commander Vimes is constantly threatening to bubble over with rage, and Granny Weatherwax is probably the best angry feminist ever written.

It's well known she's held together by rage. Source: PJSM Prints

I'm reminded of Hogfather, where death's granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, is a governess. One of her charges, a six year old girl, mentions advice Susan gave to her on how to deal with fear.
"Susan says don't get afraid, get angry."

It's advice I've given my own children, with mixed results, but I never fully realized it's advice from Sir Terry given to us. I never realized it's how he views anger as something worth having, worth cultivating, and something that can be harnessed and used.

I knew his characters were often angry, but I never realized he didn't consider anger a flaw.

I think again of Granny Weatherwax, a character I love and strongly identify with in a 'I can never be that amazing but I do have the same flaws' kinda way, and something she said in Lords and Ladies that has always stuck with me, one of the first scenes that made me realize how much I can empathize with her,
“When you're lonely, and people around you seem too stupid for words, and the world is full of secrets that no one'll tell you . . . ” 
“Are you reading my mind?” 
“Yours?” Granny's attention snapped back, and her voice lost its distant quality. “Hah!"
I always knew Granny had a willpower of iron, and Commander Vimes, and Terry Pratchett. I've always known it's their best quality. I've just never fully understood what drives that willpower.

It's the anger.

And something clicks. I'm angry as well.

This is often mentioned as something I should be ashamed of, but the only shame I feel is when I use my anger badly, when I don’t harness it.

I don't feel ashamed of being angry, not when my anger is justified. 

Oh, I'm scolded for my anger many times, reminded that anything is better than being angry. 

I'm often told, (by people I usually neither respect nor care to be anything like) that I should learn how to ignore things that bother me, and let injustices and cruelty carry on. I must learn to shut my eyes and ears like others, who merrily spend their lives having free-spirited fun and carefully ignoring anything and everything that might cause them to feel a bit upset about the world and those in it. 

Don't look at it. Don't challenge it. Don't fight it. Quietly ignore it. Always avoid conflict at any costs. Just have fun. Just focus on good vibes. "Fit in or fuck off." Do not, whatever you do, be angry.

You know what? Fuck that.

As Neil Gaiman says,
"That anger, it seems to me, is about Terry’s underlying sense of what is fair and what is not. It is that sense of fairness that underlies Terry’s work and his writing, and it’s what drove him from school to journalism to the press office of the South Western Electricity Board to the position of being one of the best-loved and bestselling writers in the world."
It's ok to be angry. It's natural to be angry. It's good to be angry. The important thing is how you harness and use that anger.

My anger has helped me every step of my life.

Yes, often I haven't used it well, but without my anger, I probably wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't have done any of the things that I'm proud of. I would be this sad and meek little girl, quietly keeping my head down and my nose clean, and seeking approval from people I have no reason to respect or even like.

"Look at how much trouble I'm not causing. Look at how good I am at accepting bullshit. Look at how many waves I'm not making. Please like me."

That doesn't mean I don't think there's anything in the negative stigma surrounding anger. Anger unharnessed can be horribly destructive.

Terry Pratchett taught me how to use fantasy to understand reality. He taught me how stories are used to explain how things really work. And here, I realize, is an analogy:

Anger is magic.

In most fantasy, intelligence and willpower are the two attributes that are the most important for magic. Magic is the ability to create, and to change.

Almost always, the possessor of magic is a danger to herself and others until she learns how to control that magic.

Bring in anger, and it all makes sense.

Harnessed anger can be used to generate willpower. Combine willpower with intelligence and you have the ability to create and change.

You can create art, art that matters. You can change the world. That's sure as hell what Sir Terry Pratchett does with his anger.

But if you never learn to harness and control that anger...

"Boom" Source: Pixabay

Magic-users are often stigmatized, because of the destruction they can cause. There are those who always feel the best way to control magic-users is to take away or suppress their magic.

For example, in the Dragon Age games, sometimes it's decided that a mage's magic needs to be removed completely by making them "Tranquil".

"Don't be angry. Anger is bad."

Maybe that's why it's always so important, in every universe from Discworld to Harry Potter, for magic-users to learn or be taught how to control and use their magic.

It's a pretty cool thought, and one I like quite a bit.

If you want to, follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vivian James: 4chan's ironic daughter

So somewhere between trying to convince themselves that an actual feminism in gaming conspiracy actually exists, and gleefully taking part in a crime that violates women's right to privacy and consent, 4chan* has given birth to a daughter.

It all started when they decided to fund a project by feminist group The Fine Young Capitalists that sponsors female-created video games. As part this initiative's greatest sponsor, 4chan got to design a whole character for The Fine Young Capitalists. A female character.

Thus, Vivian James was born.

Vivian James is not like 4chan's usual creations when they design something female.

She is not reduced to her value as a sex object, not shoved into uncomfortably tight and revealing clothing and compromising positions, and not given boobs and expected to perform gymnastics that would put serious and horrible strain on her back.

She shuffles around in socks, jeans and a baggy tracksuit top, and she's just, as described by one of 4chan's posters, "an average female gamer".

Also, her name is a play on the words "Video Games"

Since her design, 4chan have been as pleased and proud as any parent. I mean, apart from the occasional leering and wanting to see her drawn in pornographic ways, it's almost bizarrely sweet.

4chan has finally mustered up some apparent genuine affection and even respect for a gamer girl. I mean, a fake gamer girl (literally), a gamer girl of their own creation, a gamer girl who they can absolutely control, but a gamer girl nonetheless.

It's almost cruel to point out to them the fact that all parents find out sooner or later: Your children will not necessarily parrot your views and agree with your ways. They're probably going to rebel. Most children question and turn on their parents sooner or later.

And you've gone and made yourselves a teenager.

Fact is, the words "I hate you!" and the slamming of doors are probably in your future.

Yes yes, I know Vivian James is a fictional character created by 4chan and therefore theoretically only 4chan get to say what she does and does not hate, but the thing is, 4chan's own description of Vivian's personality kinda condemns themselves:

"Loathes dishonesty and hypocrisy". That's great. What they're trying to say is, Vivian James loathes anyone who 4chan has (on shaky evidence at best and outright lies at worst) decided is "dishonest and hypocritical".

What they've gone and said is, Vivian James hates 4chan.

See, 4chan isn't exactly known for honesty, but the extra irony here is how much dishonesty and hypocrisy has gone into Vivian's own creation.

Yes, they funded a feminist project, but it's 4chan, so their reasons are entirely self-serving and ultimately another attempt to discredit feminism.

Awhile ago, claims were made that Zoe Quinn, a woman 4chan utterly despises apparently for daring to exist while being female, a feminist, and a gamer at the same time,  tried to sabotage feminist group The Fine Young Capitalists. (These claims have since been debunked by The Fine Young Capitalists themselves, but no one attacking Quinn seems overly concerned about facts right now so I guess that's besides the point.)

4chan, motivated by making Quinn and SJW's (Social Justice Warriors. Mostly they mean feminists. It might sound like it's a good thing to anyone who thinks social justice is, you know, a good thing, but they fully intend it as an insult) look like hypocrites, while making themselves look good, decided to support 'The Fine Young Capitalists' project. Oh, and to cause "asshurt".

Some quotes:

"We will look good if we sponsor this."

"We'll be PR untouchable."

Supporting a project to give an inaccurate impression. Huh, that's almost dishonest. And supporting feminists only to ultimately discredit feminists?

And then calling other people dishonest and hypocritical?

Isn't that just a tad hypocritical?

Vivian's own design is not born of any noble belief than female gamers and females in games deserve to be treated with more respect and depicted better. They just wanted to troll people.

And so Vivian is, as Vice pointed out, born from the "muck of cynicism and spite".

But that's OK.

It's OK to have horrible parents. It's OK to be born under horrible circumstances. None of that matters. What matters, is what you become.

There are, of course, images like this one of Vivian sounding and acting exactly like her father. No major surprises there. Kids do, at first, tend to imitate their parents and parrot what they've learned from the environment they've grown up in.

Then there's really awesome images like this one by catbib on deviantart, in which she literally looks like a Social Justice Warrior, suggesting there's something to Vivian that makes her inherently so much more than a puppet for her misogynistic father:

I think that something is the fact that, even when trying to stick it to feminists, even after pushing and promoting the idea that girls only play games for attention, that fake geek girls is really a thing, and that women mainly exist to be perved over and sexualized...

Even 4chan realizes in its collective conscious that an "average female gamer" is just someone who plays video games while happening to be female at the same time.

There's also that whole fact that she's allowed to be arrogant, confident, and a bit of an asshole, without anyone screaming about how unacceptable her tone is. Usually only guys get to do that.

All in all, I like Vivian James. She can stay.

And I don't believe that, if she were real, she'd stay an anti-feminist for long. Her ability to recognize bullshit seems to supposed to be really good and her tolerance for bullshit seems to be really low. She also values honesty and integrity.

It's only a matter of time before someone like that would see through 4chan's crap and tell them where they can stick their misogynistic aggression.

From this cartoon. TW: rape reference

The complete 'Birth of Vivian' story can be viewed here.

* Not all of 4chan. Not everyone on 4chan.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Trolling of Laura Shortridge

So I have been neglecting this poor blog, mostly because I now work at Women24 and have been since the beginning of the year. It is quite simply my dream job: I love the job, I love the people I work with, and most of all, I love getting to sit down, really over-think a topic, and then write about it.

I've decided to start showing my blog some love again though, so we'll see how that goes.

For today, I want to talk about trolls. 

As you know, I like to keep to nice, safe, uncontroversial topics and always have. 

So naturally I have collected my fair share of trolls, as one does, and that's all very expected and understandable and I honestly can't say I object to it too much.

However, when a person who was banned (not by me) for his repeated and unrelenting racist comments on this article appeared in my comments section, raging about "dictatorial censorship" on Women24, I rolled my eyes and hit delete, not really considering it my duty to explain the concept of what it means to agree to a website's Terms and Conditions:

Or the fact that, when your comments are removed and you are banned because you broke the agreement, you really don't get to complain. 

What's more, you really don't get to come over here and complain.

This is my space. This is where I post my little ramblings and my friends interact with me about them if they feel like it. This is not a place where you are owed a platform, and I will not apologise for deleting any angry, trollish, shrill comments I damn well feel like deleting. 

Of course, since this person had initially arrived to complain about having comments deleted, deleting this one enraged him and he posted another, which I deleted with barely a glance. After 3 more comments, (which I deleted, again with barely a glance,) he stopped. 

A bit in the last comment about an article he planned to link me to caught my eye though, and, curious, I read the emails I get each time a comment is posted. 

What I found was quite hilarious, and I actually do regret deleting the comments now. To make up for it, I have decided to post them here. 

That's right, "John Doe", a whole blog post dedicated to you, where your comments can be read by all. I've even replied to them. 

John, if you had actually read the article you commented on, you would have noticed that Tim Minchin talks, specifically, about rethinking the idea of rebellion. Spoiler alert: It doesn't include posting racist comments on a website that has a policy against racism.

"I want you to rebel. I want you to be anti-conservative. I want you to be the CEO who changes how the mining sector sees its environmental responsibility. I want you to be the politician who stands up in parliament and says, why is it only women who are talking about gender equality? I want you to be the kid who stands up on the oval at lunchtime and says, 'You guys are using the word 'gay' as a negative adjective - it's lazy and boring and stupid and damaging. Grow up'." 

And later,

"You can most effectively rebel by using your brain very carefully, by using your education wisely. Rebellion is not actually skipping classes or disrespecting teachers."

And it's not about blatantly refusing to listen to a website's terms and conditions, terms and conditions you agreed to, then hunting down the blog of the author of the article where you posted, and had deleted, racist comments, so that you can see the word "rebellion", ignore anything that's said in the post, and whine about how angry you are because your racism is not being tolerated or given a platform.

That's not rebellion. That is, as Tim Minchin says, "just intellectually lazy".

Wait, *I* get to decide what comments get to stay up on MY blog?

Deleting a torrent of comments that, 1) don't actually respond to the post that they're on, 2) are trollish and insulting and 3) have absolutely no value at all besides entertainment is not "tyranny". It's simply, well, this comic from xkcd explained it best:

As I said, I wasn't actually reading when I was deleting these comments (after the first one), on the basis that anything that followed that couldn't possibly have any value, but I admit, I was wrong.

These comments are gold.

You wouldn't be the first to write an angry article about me, so no, I don't mind.


I put the "Nazi" in "feminazi"? I NEED TO HAVE THIS PRINTED ON A T-SHIRT. Preferably with this image above it:

I have to say though, anti-feminists seem to be the only people who still, without shame, have no problem invoking Godwin's Law. So props to you for tenacity.

Is it ready yet? Is it ready NOW? I honestly can't wait to read this article. Please please please let me know the MOMENT you go live with it.

Much love :)