Thursday, September 20, 2018

Allegiance

I'm kinda sad that the pride some people feel in being American leads to enforcing compulsory nationalistic displays amidst threats and shaming for anyone who doesn't think it's appropriate or doesn't want to do so in certain circumstances. I'm kinda sad that people who have never left the US and don't have any international friends don't realize how creepy some of our customs are.

I saw a thread recently online where people were horrified that children in American public schools are compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. You can assure them that it's actually illegal for kids to be REQUIRED to say it all you want, but in practice, most kids feel like they ABSOLUTELY MUST SAY IT or they will at best be singled out, at worst be interrogated and punished regarding why they aren't patriotic enough.

Think about that. If you're forced to ritualistically chant an oath of allegiance before you even know what your country stands for, how in the world can it be sincere or meaningful?

And the Pledge isn't just a simple celebration of appreciation for America, any more than reciting a religious blessing has nothing to do with God. We open by pledging ALLEGIANCE. It's not legally binding, and it's not even understood by many who recite it, but being asked to display your LOYALTY to your country in a public place where abstaining quietly would be considered a political statement that could mark you for ridicule or other negative attention, well, that certainly encourages you to be a good little soldier making daily promises before you know who you promise yourself to, doesn't it?

Doesn't that sound like the kind of thing a dangerous government would want?

Imagine if it was a different country that started its days by standing, looking at the flag, and chanting a statement of loyalty--led by an educator, consisting of language that makes statements about the nature of the country and declares alignment with its values--regardless of whether they, their families, or their people have been properly served by said country.

If you saw another country do it, with a different flag, in a different language, you'd probably think it sounded like brainwashing. I'm pretty sure that if you excuse our country's use of it just because, well, it's us and it's totally not creepy, then I think you might want to do some thinking about what brainwashing is.

Here's the thing. Let's say you refuse to pledge allegiance--you don't speak against it, or make any statements criticizing it, but you just fail to display the expected chanting of loyalty. Or say you refuse to participate in affirmation of your country's greatness because you know its laws don't actually protect you, or your family is currently being harassed and treated like strangers in your own land, or you're punished for exercising the rights you're supposed to have as an American, or your body is being controlled in a way that limits your freedom to pursue your goals equally to other citizens. Say you've learned the promises your country made to you are not being kept, and you've discovered you do NOT, after all, have inalienable rights that have been granted to others whose traits appear to make them more "real," more American, more worthy of considering family. Say you no longer want to sing your country's praises because those promises sound like insults now that they've been broken so many times.

Say you want to express that you do not, in fact, choose to stand to that country's honor because its systems have dealt out only DISHONOR. Say you want to express that you do not, in fact, consider yourself allegiant to this country's values because you see daily examples of how they are honored unequally. Say you want to kneel during a football game because you and yours are NOT represented by these creeds no matter how many ignorant people insist your complaints based on lived experience are groundless.

Well, say all of that is how you feel. What are you expressing with that?

You're saying the authorities have lied to you all along, and you're aware of it, and want more people to be aware of it so it can change.

The reaction: you encounter people whose eyes go wild and whose throats fill with shrieks about the DISRESPECT and INSULT inherent in not patriotically waving a flag and shutting up. How DARE you. How DARE you express that anything at all is wrong with the system, and how DARE you use your guaranteed freedoms of speech and protest to express that! Surely the answer is to badger and shame until that person shuts up and toes the line. Surely it's better to make a country where nobody feels safe criticizing the government.

Peculiar how consistently those who champion free speech still want folks who speak against the government silenced and punished. These same people clamor to support fines, bans, and harassment campaigns for people who speak out against unfair treatment, and they consistently attach their motivation to the country itself. Why, if you think the country isn't perfect the way it is because its systems are designed to keep you from prospering (or designed to literally kill you), you must HATE THE COUNTRY. You must hate those who govern it, hate people who live here, and hate whatever else you conveniently associate with the "right" culture of living in this country. Your values of other sorts will be questioned, from morals and religion to personal relationships and preferences. You will be interrogated. You will be treated like wanting this country to be BETTER is a sin; as if the only words you could be saying about America is that you HATE IT and ALL IT STANDS FOR if there are some things you don't like about it.

They want America to be BETTER when they kneel. We want America to be BETTER when we point out the ways the government abuses its power or doesn't do its job.

And the people who squeal about treason and stampede to do violence to people who protest are often the same people who have used racial slurs, called for deaths, contemplated secession or revolution, and refused to state loyalty in other situations when they didn't like the country's leader or didn't feel their neighbor deserved to be called American. They're all about unity and obedience and allegiance when the laws and practices aren't hurting them. But when someone else wants to call attention to how they're being mistreated? Well they must just hate. our. country. Pigs, they need to be deported, jailed, or executed.

(You know what you sound like when you say that, right? If you literally think people need to be thrown out of the country or physically punished for not chanting a loyalty oath when it is demanded of them by their peers, then you support a fascist dictatorship. If loyalty is compulsory and may need to be driven into you through fear and threat of catastrophic consequences, it is not love for country. You are not demonstrating how love for country should be if you ever have to threaten someone over it.)

People will love their country if it treats them like an equal and sustains their life.

In the past, unfair laws supported humans owning other humans, segregated facilities in an "equal" country, second-class citizenship for women who could not vote or own property, and condemnation over how to practice religion. Most of the people screaming about respect for the flag today actually would support the Civil Rights leaders of the past who gave us emancipation, gave us voting rights, ended segregation, stopped religious discrimination. Of course, many of them still think marriage equality was a mistake, think women's bodies need to be regulated, and think there is no racial disparity regarding how people are treated under the law from police on the street to legal sentences for criminals. Some think women are not equal. Some think white people are superior. Some have no awareness or compassion regarding disabled citizens or impoverished people. Some don't want vulnerable populations to be protected because they believe some weird mixture of "they're not even being hurt the way they keep whining about, because I as a person who can't experience it have never seen it" and "if they are being hurt, maybe they deserve it." But there are many in the creepily nationalistic populations of our country who actually thought the Civil Rights actions of the past were worth pursuing, while hypocritically believing the Civil Rights activists of today are going too far. At some point they decided we were equal enough and the last "real" issue had been solved with laws (because that's totally how systematic oppression ends; in a day, with a passed law), and anything more progressive than that is liberal whining that's mostly about feelings being hurt, special snowflakes, and playing the race card.

I guess it's easier to see it as a game someone's "playing" using equipment and strategy if you can't imagine real-life consequences; therefore, it all seems like a theoretical exercise to you.

If you only support and love the country when you and yours are in charge and you and yours are getting what you believe you deserve, you're doing the same thing these guys are. They love America as much as you do--and they understand the country can improve, it can become better through social change and involvement, it can properly support and serve more of its citizens if issues are identified and addressed. They can't be if someone doesn't sit in the "wrong" place on the bus or go to a polling place when they're disallowed or, basically, disobey the country they want to be an equal citizen of. Civil disobedience is how we confront unjust laws, and you're either uninformed or willfully ignorant if you think our laws fairly serve everyone and things are fair for everyone right now.

You can listen to the people who have been failed by the system and agree that the system should serve them as it serves you. And you can do that without trying to drown them out and shout them down with demands for obligatory gratefulness. No one is disrespecting military lives lost in service of the country through the act of expressing that the laws still don't protect or serve some citizens. It is not about disrespect for the country itself, or its culture, or its banners, or its warriors. It is about KNOWING we can be better, and doing something about it to reach that improvement.

If your reaction is to misrepresent their mission and then call for blood over the words you put in their mouth, you are the problem with this country, and you are the one helping to keep those laws in place.

You can choose to stop being a tool of stagnation. You can do that by closing your mouth and listening when someone else tells you what it's like to be them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday Factoid: Most Relaxing Place

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's the most relaxing place you've ever been?

I remember feeling so relaxed and contented one morning and afternoon when I was on vacation with my friends at a beach house on Anna Maria Island in 2010.



At that time in my life, I got very little time to just relax and read, and I decided to just spend some time by myself enjoying literature. It was very, very hot outside, being summer in Florida, and we were at the beach so it was about as humid as it could be, but the same things that keep most other people inside make me want to come out and lounge in it like a lizard.

It felt so nice to spend all that time baking in the heat, but on a covered porch on a comfortable couch--all the good parts of being at the beach, without the wind blowing sand and the wierd itchiness that comes with salt on your skin. I just really, really loved taking a breather on that porch and basking in some alone time, only a few steps away from grabbing refreshments when I needed them as well.

It was great.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday: September 8 – September 14

Life news this week:
  • Saturday I had a sleepy day. Didn't feel like taking my cartoon display down either. I drew some of a funny fan comic and was sweaty and gross all day.
  • Sunday I took down my displays finally. Mom came over toward the end of it and helped me! I didn't get to sit out at my table that day. At least I managed to take a shower and do laundry. I also made waffles and eggs after she left (modeled after a cartoon episode) and I finished the sketches for my silly fan comic.
  • Monday I worked on utility stuff. That was basically all week. I also had to work on a letter of response, and after work, I did the inking and coloring on my fan comic. A jerk stole my picture of my collections to make fun of it on Instagram and I reported them. Whee.
  • Tuesday I did utilities and document updates. One of my coworkers quit suddenly, hmm. After work I ate Thai food with Arthur and we watched Steven Universe at my place, from episode 106 ("Buddy's Book") to episode 113 ("Three Gems and a Baby"). He had a crappy day at work and we talked about stuff.
  • Wednesday was more utility stuff and organizing meetings. After work I had Taco Bus with Jeaux, we went shopping, and watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine andWrecked.
  • Thursday was more utilities and dealing with schedules, and I decided to start working on my Halloween costume early. Whee! I got caught in the pouring rain on the way home and even got splashed by cars walking home. Jumped in the shower after getting home, talked to Victor on the phone and drew comics.
  • Friday I worked, signed the company up for an event we're doing, and bought some cute gear from the Cartoon Network website. My co-worker Patricia took me home from work because her child had an event right across the street and she parked in my driveway, haha. Meggie came over pretty much right after I got home and we hung out, ate some food, and chilled while I posted my comic. That was about it!
New reviews of my book:


  • Zcat gave it a two-star review on Goodreads, disappointed that it had such a strong social justice vibe. :D 

Reading progress:
  • Finished this week: I didn't quite finish my current read, but I'm almost there!
  • Currently readingThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "All the Man That I Need" by Whitney Houston.



    Stuff Drawn:


    Click this to read a sixteen-panel fan comic about Ruby's butt





    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0696: "Invaded."






    New videos:

    None.

    New photos:


    Arthur took a picture of me in this cubbyhole that I just fit into.


    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,251 for swankivy (lost 3), 676 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 966 for swankivy (2 new), 1,333 for JulieSondra (4 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (no change) for swankivy, 652 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 58 likes for Negative One (no change), 140 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,516 (no change). Instagram followers: 154 (1 new).

    Wednesday, September 12, 2018

    Wednesday Factoid: Worst Saying

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What saying, parable, or catch phrase do you absolutely hate hearing?

    There's kind of a group of them that I detest. They sound like these:

    "God works in mysterious ways"

    "Life won't burden you with more than you can handle"

    "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent"  

    And basically anything that suggests a person should be content with having no control over their lives, that their suffering is building toward a purpose they didn't choose, or that they are at fault for pain they experience.

    They sound like kind or empowering phrases but they are not. They lack empathy and they make people think it's their job to either accept responsibility for causing problems other people caused through the act of reacting incorrectly to them, or accept their fate if they can't change it (without being inconveniently angry or sad about it, of course). 

    You know what other one I really hate?

    "Money can't buy happiness."

    I mean obviously, there are sad rich people, and there are people whose problems are unrelated to money. But this is so often said by richer people to or about poorer people, suggesting that "happiness" is accessible by anyone who just learns to derive pleasure from life experiences that don't require money.

    Let me tell you. It is an incredible stress to worry about money the way ALMOST HALF OF OUR COUNTRY currently does--being a paycheck away from being homeless, not being able to afford shoes, having to give up buying food and living only on handouts or going hungry if you need to buy expensive medicine like insulin. You might still be glad of your family or your health if you have it or find pleasure in your hobbies or your dreams or your work. But worrying about your very life, the necessities of your physical existence--it's exhausting in a way many rich people literally can't imagine. 

    They don't understand that it's not easy to just shrug your shoulders and go to the shelter or food bank--that there are rules limiting what you can have, that there are limitations on who can access it, that subsistence and day-to-day hand-to-mouth living provides no hope for the future. Having money, to a certain extent, buys security that opens the door to happiness.

    There are richer people who worry about other things, and nobody's saying a rich person is just a brat or can't have clinical depression or can't be under incredible amounts of stress. But "money can't buy happiness" is so often used as an excuse for not helping people who need help, and it's a saying fortunate people often use to justify not supporting lifelines for these people. It's easier to blame the poor for bad life decisions and assume anyone in that situation must have made an unforgivable mistake at some point to deserve such a life, ignoring of course that rich people get to make plenty of mistakes that don't ruin them. (Suddenly, it seems, rich people are all about forgiveness when it's about them--have you no heart regarding the rich person who messed up in the past but is now repentant? Don't you understand he's changed? Will you blame him for his errors when he was a different person the rest of his life? Oh, but those same mistakes that can destroy a poor person's life, well, they have no sympathy for that guy. Let him go to jail.)

    I am so much happier with money, and I don't even have that much extra. But I feel rich all the time because I am in a position to support myself on my terms with some left over for fun and I'm able to help friends and family when they need it too.

    Money doesn't "buy happiness" but it does make it so people don't have to die to make ends meet and gee imagine that, it makes for better mental health, let me tell you.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2018

    The Hoarding, revisited

    Last week's fun adventure with setting up all my collections in one room to take a picture has come to a close. I finally took everything down and put it all away on Sunday, but my tweet featuring a photo of the collection has become one of my most popular tweets ever and is still being retweeted by strangers more than a week later.

    That's both good and bad, of course.

    And one "bad" aspect which I touched on last week is that people are kind of judgy when they aren't as interested in your hobby as you are, and they've decided you've crossed some arbitrary line into "too much."

    I'm a superfan and my engagement with this cartoon absolutely does skirt around obsessiveness--I mean, I can own that. It's not destructive, because it's not like I'm sacrificing necessary time, energy, or money to enjoy what I enjoy at the expense of something more necessary, but yeah, I choose to spend a LOT of my leisure time having fun with this right now, and I have dumped a lot of money into my collections. I'm really past the point in my life where I feel like I have to justify it. 

    That said? People being assholes about it really make me sick.

    Someone screencapped my tweet and posted it on their very popular Instagram, with the caption "W-why though?"

    Followed by over 200 comments, most of which were people explicitly mocking me for having a large collection.

    The photo, more importantly, was shared uncredited. The person cropped out my username so I could not receive any connection with the post, which means even the people who actually commented that they liked or admired the collection could not come see whose it was.

    I can kinda see both sides of this. If the person wanted to mock me and went ahead and included my information, I could have received some drive-by hate from their followers, and maybe could have even accused them of encouraging followers to harass me even though all they actually did was imply that my collection was ridiculous.

    That said? No, the answer to "but they might get harassed if I mock them AND give them credit for their intellectual property" is not "erase the owner's information." The right answer is "maybe if my followers would harass this person if they could find them, I shouldn't mock them in the first place."

    But that would make too much sense.

    Anyway, the top comment here, weirdly, was that "rich people are stupid" and "imagine if your financial decisions were THIS bad" and "wowwww NEVER be this guy." (Every single person who accidentally gendered the owner of the collecction assumed I was a man.)

    A few people defended my choices, like "if they want to buy stuff and it's their hobby, who cares?" but mostly it was treated like an outrage that someone would spend this much money on something they like. (Hate to say it, but this does cost considerably less than a destination vacation for two, and most people don't say those aren't worth taking once in a while. I don't do that, I do this. Mind your business.)

    Another really weird comment that kept recurring was the idea that the owner of this collection and/or the owner's house must be smelly.

    That's a weird one, isn't it? One person remarked "I can smell this room."

    Not that it really matters overall if you assume my house is filthy, and not that it would reflect on whether I'm a good person, but . . . like, my house is very, very clean, dudes. And organized af.

    Then of course there was the obligatory "You know what else is fun? Having sex with others." Oh, wow, ell-oh-ell, if a person has a big collection, they probably don't have a sex life, which means they're a loser, which means we should laugh at them. I've certainly dealt with that perspective on way too many axes to even bother with it here. Next.

    One person sneered at how half my stuff was unofficial merchandise. Literally every item in the photo was official merchandise.

    And, almost opposite to this, several people sneered at how I did not have any merchandise of a character named Jasper. There is only one official toy of her and I have it. Not sure what else I was supposed to do.

    (Jasper is a villain on the show who has a pretty big fanbase despite that she's one of the few remaining "bad guys" who hasn't gotten a redemption arc. The "good guys" basically have her imprisoned, in stasis, in their holding cell. A lot of people who have a ton of criticism for the show mysteriously also love this antagonist a lot. The person who posted this for others to criticize has a username that relates to Jasper.)

    Anyway, this is nothing unusual and nothing I haven't seen before as a reaction to how I choose to enjoy something I like. I didn't engage with the person or any of their followers. I just quietly reported the post for intellectual property violations and it was gone within a couple hours. C'mon man, if you want to make fun of me, I at least deserve credit for the photo. You should know better than that.

    I sure wish people could, like, leave other people's harmless actions alone.

    Saturday, September 8, 2018

    Personal Digest Saturday: September 1 – September 7

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday was mostly just bad. I was very tired and spent most of the day just talking on the phone and got a little drawing and cleaning in. I hate stress.
    • Sunday was better, and my sister sent me ice cream and goodies because she's cute as heck. I talked to Meggie on the phone and did my laundry, karaoke, and other Sunday stuff, and I tried to get caught up on the cartoon Adventure Time because its finale was airing the next day. Wow, ending after 8 years. I got a little sad.
    • Monday I had the day off and I spent it with more Adventure Time and setting up a hilarious temporary display of all my Steven Universe merch so I could take an epic photo of it all in one place. I had to rearrange my furniture to do it and I think it was worth it. So fun.
    • Tuesday pretended it was Monday at work, so I had to send out three letters of response and the main guy who checks them didn't have time so I had to handle it by myself. Then after work I ate Thai food and watched cartoons with Arthur. Afterwards I started sharing my photos of my collection on Amino and elsewhere.
    • Wednesday was a madhouse. The office folk were practicing for an interview and the bathroom was gross so four different guys came to me to complain about it (even though I'd already told the building owner that it was leaking water everywhere). I had to order lunch on a tight schedule and then they left out two of our sandwiches. And everyone and their mom needed business cards or brochures while another guy working from home kept calling me to troubleshoot computer stuff. After they left for the interview I was by myself for four hours and got to eat my sandwich, haha. Rough day. Then I went out with Jeaux and we got comics, groceries, and listened to Night Vale plus we watched Wrecked and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
    • Thursday I just worked on upcoming letters and organized some stuff. Got a ride home, talked to Victor on the phone, and drew my comic.
    • Friday I did more work on letters and more work on utilities. Victor got to leave early from work so he came out to see me and we had lunch. Then I got a ride home and finished my comic. I was very tired.
    New reviews of my book:


    • zigg gave it a four-star review on Goodreads, appreciating its thoroughness but suggesting it was slightly overwhelming.

    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: No books finished, but I did read #2 of the Steven Universe miniseries Harmony. Four-star review.
    • Currently readingThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "That I Would Be Good" by Alanis Morissette.



      Stuff Drawn:


      Marceline with Princess Bubblegum; Sapphire with Ruby.
      Adventure Time ended this week and I feel like my favorite show
      really owes a lot of its life to its predecessor.




      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0695: "Too Fast."






      New videos:

      None.

      New photos:
      Epic merchandise collection!
      My avocado sandwich.


      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,254 for swankivy (3 new), 677 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 964 for swankivy (1 new), 1,329 for JulieSondra (4 new). Facebook: 294 friends (1 new) and 203 followers (lost 1) for swankivy (I friended Meg's son, who now has Facebook), 652 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 58 likes for Negative One (no change), 140 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 2,516 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 153 (no change).

      Thursday, September 6, 2018

      The Hoarding

      Guess what? I spent my holiday off from work rearranging my living room (temporarily) so I could make an epic display of my Steven Universe merchandise and take a ridiculous photo of everything together. 


      I know, it looks like a store.

      I took some closeups so people could see the items in more detail as well, and I posted the photos in several places: Tumblr, Amino, and Reddit. The day after I shared it with Amino, it was chosen for a front-page feature.



      In a community specifically dedicated to Steven Universe with over 250,000 members, you can imagine making the front page gets some attention. I also got an unusual number of comments for a featured post--over 150 comments. And many of them were exactly what I'd expected: enthusiastic expressions of approval, along these lines:

      • This is the coolest thing I've ever seen
      • I'm jealous
      • You're so lucky
      • They don't have this merch in my country
      • Wow I thought my collection was big, nope
      • I can't afford to buy merch
      • How much did you spend on this
      • Where can I get X
      • I also have X
      It was fun bantering with people who were enjoying what I put together, but I also got a couple negative comments. Obviously I was expecting those too, and they sounded exactly what I expected they would sound like.

      One: "LOL it's going to be hilarious when you stop liking the show and you realize you've wasted all this money."

      OK, yeah that sounds like a really wholesome thing to wish on somebody, you don't sound bitter or anything. (I have a great track record in continuing to like things I liked once. I still have all my Animaniacs merch from 20 years ago and most of it is happily in use/on display in my house. Bite me.)

      And then there's number two, which I will quote in full:

      "Ok, please dont take this negatively because your collection is amazing. But aren't you a Steven universe hoarder? I'm sure 80% of your collection is just to have it, not to use it"

      No. Really. Why would you say this to someone?

      Even if you preface it with "yo this isn't negative," you know very well that calling someone "a hoarder" is a negative label. You're saying it's impractical for me to collect things I like because you're straight-up assuming I'm somehow "not using" the items, and there is no way you're not implying my choices are maladaptive.

      This person went on to say I was the DEFINITION of "hoarder" because that's someone who obsessively collects things. Well, no, but here's the thing:

      Why would someone look at another person's collection--presumably something that represents a shared interest you have with them, even!--and say something designed to make them feel ashamed?

      What, I wonder, is that person's best-case scenario if I reply? Am I supposed to say "wow. You're right. I'm a hoarder. I'm going to stop"? 

      Am I just supposed to feel like a jerk for having this stuff? Am I supposed to try to justify it? (I really don't feel like I need to, though lots of people have trouble understanding why someone would want to amass a collection instead of spending similar money on, say, expensive hobbies or vacations.) Really, I would like to know. Why does someone want me to feel bad about something I care about?

      Why does someone want me to feel like what I've done here is inappropriate?

      Why do people take it upon themselves to nose into other people's space and vocally disapprove of how they choose to engage in their interest?

      Someone might counter to say, okay, why do you even want to post photos of your collection in the first place? Do you want attention? Do you just want a bunch of people to tell you they're jealous and want your stuff? Do you just like to show off? I mean, there are some reasons why a person might want to take pics of their collection, among them being able to show people that lesser-known items exist, or share enthusiasm with other fans, or even just because it looks freaking cool together and you can't invite the Internet to hang out at your house so you just want them to see it. After all, without showing people, I am just "having" these items as my detractor above says; I'm sharing it with no one, and it's cute, so why not?

      But there are also some collectible items I would really like to get my hands on and I haven't found people selling them--they're rare or hard to find, and I did think making a post like this might help me find some people who could assist me. (I wrote as much in the post.) After all, in the past, posting images of partial collections has involved someone giving me a rare item for no reason ("because it should be in a REAL collection"), and another time I was able to find people to trade with to complete sets or even received a discount code from someone from a site that sells the merch.

      But like . . . really, do some people not understand collections?

      Some of the items I own, primarily the toys, don't really "do" anything. I don't play pretend with them or anything (though I have done some fun things acting out scenes from the show with mini figures and taking photos to make people laugh). The other stuff, yeah, I use it; I've read the books and comics (and reviewed them); I've stuck the stickers on things to decorate; I've drank out of the cups and mugs and I wear the apparel, carry my stuff in the bags, use the phone case and calendars and jewelry in the expected ways. But mostly, I started collecting it because I love the source material and enjoy having expressions of that love outside of the show itself. It supports and shows enthusiasm for the show; it serves as a conversation piece to get more people interested; it serves as a message to merchandising companies that the show is successful and ideally communicates that audiences are engaged and hungry for more of the source material. It's the least I can do for something I've enjoyed so much, right?

      And on top of that, I don't just enjoy it. I find the show to be bringing vital, important messages to the world that cartoons haven't been able to before. It's a really special piece of media that needs and deserves the enthusiasm it gets from some of us.

      Personally, I'm not all that bothered over another judgmental wanker judging me for what I spend money on and what I think is important. But in general? I think it's really a problem when someone reacts to another person's lifestyle with "Oh. You've gone too far. I'm going to use an intensely negative term to describe you, presumably because I would like you to feel that something is wrong with you."

      Enthusiastic consumers of content do frequently get told they're crossing a line if they're "too" engaged, whatever someone else determines is too much. Even when it's not hurting anyone (including themselves), sometimes people like this feel entitled and determined to stop other people from having fun in ways they find meaningful. And I just think it's really gross. It's really gross that with behaviors and situations out there that really do need intervention, someone would choose to spend their time and energy trying to make me feel bad about myself.

      Just mind your business, people. I'm having a good time and engaging with something I love on my terms, without hurting anyone, so seriously--this may sound a little funny coming from me, all things considered, but get a life.

      Wednesday, September 5, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: Unwanted Conversation

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's one conversation you wish you never had to have again?

      You know, I could cite stuff about asexuality, or queer rights, or feminist talking points, or even my lovely little rant about how "maturity" is a frequently abused concept. But those are conversations I'm okay with having even though they're annoying.

      One conversation I really, really wish I never had to have with anyone again is the one where I have to tell them they should care about other people.

      I want people to think about the way their actions affect others. I want them to stop shrugging their shoulders and saying it isn't their problem or their responsibility because they aren't personally affected or won't personally have to look at the effects of their actions or inactions. I want people to stop saying it wouldn't be "fair" to ask them to put in a little more effort, or time, or money if they can spare it. Of course it's not fair! Do you think life is? 

      I grew up knowing life isn't fair. Sometimes it really pissed me off if there was a small injustice in my life, like something I did on a school paper was okay one week and then the next week it was suddenly unacceptable, or if I wasn't allowed to do something when I perceived my sister had been allowed to do it before. My sense of justice was really strong and I saw some of these slights as BEING WRONGED, and it wasn't FAIR. But even though I can do some things to try to right these wrongs, sometimes the scope is bigger than I am, or bigger than I am able to know, and I sometimes have to shrug and say maybe this time it is my turn to get the short end of the stick.

      Because I tell you what. Some people get the short end of the stick waaaaay more than others.

      Those people are the marginalized populations, most notably people who cannot advocate for themselves. People who struggle on a daily basis to do things that most people don't even think about--people who can't afford their medicine, people who live with a debilitating illness or disability, people who everyone loves to look at and say . . . 

      "Well that sure sucks but I don't want to give up MY piece of the pie." 

      "I don't want to pay higher taxes just so we can have health insurance policies that will help people who don't have access to the resources I do, because hey, they should have thought of that before getting sick or whatever."

      "My fellow man isn't my responsibility, even if I have been fortunate enough to enjoy better than average opportunities in my life."

      "I just don't want to think of myself as a dirtbag who won't make concessions in their own life so others might be able to live, so I have to poke holes in their circumstances and convince myself it's their own fault they're poor or disabled or undocumented or marginalized."

      Why do I have to TELL people sometimes that they should care about this? If you are able to help other people without unacceptable sacrifices to your own life, you should! That's not to say anything and everything you want and choose for yourself is therefore selfish; yes, you deserve happiness too. I don't feel like it's wasteful for me to spend money on my silly toys and indulgent food just because there are people who can't afford those things. But if I have a chance to help someone somehow and I CAN, I'm not going to search for logic that justifies the selfish option just so I don't have to say "I have the means to help you, but I find my hobbies and comforts more important than your life."  

      But you can't help everyone! cry the detractors. Well, of course you can't. Notice no one said you have to help everyone. But in a country we like to pretend is civilized, we should recognize our responsibility to fellow humans. The ones in our community, the ones associated with our family, the ones who need to borrow a fortunate person's good luck when they've had so much of the bad. It's too bad that so many people in our country seem to think the answer to our various resource crises is "don't get sick" and "don't be poor." Preventative care and financial security are both luxuries too many people don't have. When emergency after emergency happens and climbing out of holes instead of building piles becomes a way of life, there is often no way to plan for the future, especially if you were BORN in a hole.

      Someone who lives in a hole may just be saying "Please don't actively remove my handholds. Please don't dig my hole deeper. Please don't use your own shovel to bury me." And sometimes they might even be saying "Oh hey, I see you have four ladders and only two people in your party, and plus you're not in a hole. Can I use one of your ladders?" This is reacted to as if the person said "They think people who have earned ladders don't deserve to keep them! They want us to use our resources to elevate them out of the hole they dug themselves into and build them a house besides!" Uhhh nobody said that. 

      Help where you can. And don't actively hurt. Just frigging . . . do it. 

      You ARE responsible for your fellow humans. I shouldn't have to tell you that.

      Saturday, September 1, 2018

      Personal Digest Saturday: August 25 – August 31

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday I cleaned up some Internet nonsense and hung out with my friend Kari! We watched cartoons and had pizza and talked. I also finished my drawing from Drink and Draw, posted it on Amino like usual, and got a feature for the first time in a while. Also got some of the captions sorted out on my doodles website, which I've been putting off for a while, but I'm not done.
      • Sunday it was a little wet from an overnight rain outside, so I didn't go do my outdoor table ritual until the sun had dried the place out a bit. In the morning I drank coffee and argued with a loser on the Internet. Then I visited the table, answered messages, and got some stuff figured out with one of my websites that got hacked a while ago. (I thought I fixed it back in May, but it wasn't totally fixed.) And I tackled laundry, karaoke, and making a new video, plus started working on a funny comic.
      • Monday I worked on another letter of response at work, did part of a transcript, and wrangled utility stuff again. When I got home, I spent most of the day finishing my silly cartoon comic.
      • Tuesday I had to go to work early to get some important paperwork out of the way before my boss left town. We did that and I also had to finish my transcript. Then I went to my place with Arthur and we watched cartoons while eating Thai food, but he had to leave early to go vote. (I had a vote by mail thing.) After he left I processed my writing comic and posted it.
      • Wednesday I had to send supporting documents to people and do more transcript stuff. Lots of this transcribing business lately. Jeaux picked me up for food and we had CiCi's Pizza. My dear Meggie had had a bad night because of her husband having to go to the hospital and it was uh messy, so I flipped out a little bit when I came back from the buffet to Jeaux saying "MEGHAN CALLED YOU TWICE" but I checked my voicemail and it was actually just her son calling me to thank me for birthday money! Hooray. Cutiepie Ben is 11. Jeaux and I grocery shopped, then watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Wrecked. Talked to my sister on the phone and slept.
      • Thursday I worked a half day because the electrician was coming in and so I scheduled the pest control person too. The electrician diagnosed my flickering lights problem very quickly and my pest control person did the job soon after. My mom came over in the morning asking me to look at a website for her because she couldn't figure out how, and then she took me to work. Then work was low key and after work I chatted to Victor while drawing my comic. I fell asleep super early.
      • Friday was a little stressful. Had a lot of stuff at the office and didn't finish much of my comic the night before, so I had to really hustle. I also got a cartoon drawing done in time to post it on Amino before the end of the month, which was important since the event it was for ends when August ends. I got it all in while also dealing with phone calls!
      New reviews of my book:


      • Bryan Shields gave it a five-star review on Goodreads, seeming grateful for the book bringing out useful language and a sense of identity.
      • Chris gave it an unrated review on Goodreads. (It's too boring and dull to finish reading.)
      • Agnes gave it a one-star review because political correctness sickens her and we should be spending our time finding a cure for cancer instead of being SJWs. 
      Articles, Interviews, Mentions:




      Reading progress:
        New singing performances:

        This week's song was "If It Makes You Happy" by Sheryl Crow.



        Stuff Drawn:

        I actually messed up last week and didn't include my updated webcomic OR the cute cartoon drawings I did, so if you are interested in looking at them, please revisit last week's blog, where I've updated the drawings section. 

        Read a fun fan comic called "Handy"--it's about Garnet reading a self-help book.




        Peridot and Amethyst play video games


        Sardonyx using a broom for a makeup brush. Steven thinks she's weird.






        Webcomic So You Write Issue 87: "Keep Me Waiting."










        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0694: "The Center."






        New videos:

        Letters to an Asexual #61 is abousomeone who came to annoying conclusions after I did not share his opinions about what word we should use for non-asexual people.



        New photos:

        None.

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,251 for swankivy (lost 9), 677 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 963 for swankivy (lost 2), 1,325 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 293 friends (lost 1) and 204 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 651 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 58 likes for Negative One (lost 1), 139 likes for So You Write (lost 1). (I think one of my friends must have deleted their Facebook.) Tumblr followers: 2,517 (lost 5). Instagram followers: 153 (2 new).