Catching Up: "Bullshit," Wayward Children, queer.town, and Bi Commander Badass

Most of last week was devoted to moving my self-hosting project off of Amazon and to another hosting provider. It’s almost complete, although I still need to shift domain registration and a few other things.

“On Bullshit”

More and more I’ve been thinking about “discourse™” through the lens of Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit”, which has a lot to say about both online flamewars and fake news.

For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose

Wayward Children

Down Among the Sticks and Bones header

I’ve been diving deep into Seannan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the followup to the brilliant and award-winning Every Heart a Doorway. The first novel was a mystery set at a school where the girls and boys who return from wonderlands struggle to live with our reality. Down Among the Sticks and Bones goes back 20 years to describe the story of Jack and Jill. Maintaining tension in a prequel about the tragic secondary characters of Every Heart a Doorway is difficult, but McGuire does it. It’s also a book that pulls few punches in using portal fantasy in talking about gender role stereotyping and expectations:

They were starting to feel, in a vague, unformed way, as if their parents were doing something wrong. Both of them knew kids who were the way they were supposed to be, girls who loved pretty dresses and sitting still, or who loved mud and shouting and kicking a ball. But they also knew girls who were dresses while they terrorized tetherball courts, and girls who were sneakers and jeans and came to school with backpacks full of dolls in gowns of glittering gauze. They knew boys who liked to stay clean, or who liked to sit and color, or who joined the girls with the backpacks for of dolls in their corners. Other children were allowed to be mixed up, dirty and clean, noisy and polite, while they [Jacqueline and Jillian] each had to be had to be just one thing, no matter how hard it was, not matter how much they wanted to be something else.

Deprived of real choice by their parents, Jacqueline and Jillian fully embrace the illusion of choice they get in the Moors, a fantasy realm of vampires and mad scientists.

queer.town

queer.town is a mastodon instance for queer-identified and genderqueer people.

Commander Badass Loves Gay Dads

Manly Guys Doing Manly Things covers gay dating sim Dream Daddy with a reminder that The Commander is bi.

Webcomic featuring commander badass

Emacs: Hugo Helper Mode

I’ve been fooling around with writing up some convenience functions for writing hugo posts. A lot of my earlier work from last year is described in this post.

Problem 1: Finding the root folder

There’s an emacs function for that locate-dominating-file.

(defun locate-hugo-root ()
  "Search up from current file to find the root of the hugo directory."
   (let ((fPath
         (if (equal major-mode 'dired-mode)
             default-directory
           (buffer-file-name))))
     (locate-dominating-file fPath "config.toml")))

Problem 2: Creating a new post

Prompt with ido find file. Check if the buffer is empty, if the buffer is empty run a header skeleton.

(defun hugo-new-post ()
  "Prompt for a filename and then create a new post using hugo-yaml-skeleton."
  (interactive)
  (ido-find-file-in-dir default-directory) 

  (when (= 0 (buffer-size))
    (hugo-yaml-skeleton)))
	

Problem 3: Better searching

Built-in emacs searching doesn’t really have good defaults for this to accommodate older versions of grep, and I can’t be certain of having ag, the silver searcher everywhere. So I run grep with a custom command string, using the (almost) common lisp format to build my command string. For grep, I include --include='*.md' to ensure I’m only searching markdown files.

(require 'cl)
(defun hugo-search-markdown (search-string directory)
  "Search markdown files for search-string in directory."
  (interactive "sSearch string: \nDDirectory: ")
  (grep
   (format "grep -r -nH --include='*.md' --include='*.markdown' '%s' %s" search-string directory)))

Problem 4: Starting a server

Start a hugo server to preview the blog before publication.

(defun hugo-start-server ()
  "Start a server in the root of the current working directory."
  (interactive)
  (if (locate-hugo-root)

      (async-shell-command
       (concat "hugo server -s "
	       (locate-hugo-root)
	       ""))
    (message "Can't find hugo config file at %s" default-directory)))

Racket: Conway Numbers

Based on the “climb to a prime” problem @ Programming Praxis

Select a number, then compute its prime factors, with multiplicity; for instance, 90 = 2 × 32 × 5. Then “bring down” the exponent and write the resulting digits, forming a new number; for instance, the exponent of 2 in the above factorization is brought down, forming the number 2325. Repeat the process with the new number, and again, and so on; for instance, starting from 90, the chain is 90, 2325, 35231, 72719, where the chain terminates. I conjecture that the process will eventually terminate with a prime number.


#lang racket
(require math/number-theory)

(define (factors-to-list n)
  (define factor-list (factorize n))
  (define (iter fl results)
    (if (null? fl)
        (reverse results)
        (letrec ([p (car fl)]
                 [x (first p)]
                 [y (second p)])
          (if (> y 1)
              (iter (cdr fl) (cons y (cons x results)))
              (iter (cdr fl) (cons x results))))))
  (iter factor-list (list)))


(define (list-to-integer li (result 0))
  (if (null? li)
      result
      (list-to-integer (cdr li) (+ (car li) (* (expt 10 (digits (car li))) result)))))

(define (digits n)
  (inexact->exact (floor (+ 1 (/ (log n) (log 10))))))

(define (next-conway n)
  (list-to-integer (factors-to-list n)))

(define (conway-chain n (results (list)))
  (let ([next (next-conway n)])
    ;;; (displayln n)
    (cond
      [(= next n) (reverse (cons n results))]
      [(prime? n) (reverse (cons n results))]
      [(> n (expt 10 20)) (printf "limit exceeded at ~a" (reverse (cons n results)))]
      [else (conway-chain next (cons n results))])))
	  

I threw in a limiter of 10^20 because factoring numbers that big can get pretty obnoxious, even with the math/number-theory library.

Link Post: Bi Community, Mit Romney, Lauren Jauregui, Orlando, 'The Feels'

Bi Community

The problem is that no matter how wonderful online community is – there’s no substitute for a real-life, in-person community. We need to be cultivating our own local bi communities that support us and build us up.

Rio Veradonir @ bi.org

Romney’s administration blocked publication over the words ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgender.’

“Because this is using the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgendered,’ DPH’s name may not be used in this publication,’’ wrote the official, Alda Rego-Weathers, then the deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Romney’s administration blocked publication of anti-bullying guides @ boston.com

Lauren Jauregui

“A bunch of my fans have come up to me and said, ‘because of you and because you came out, I have finally begun to accept myself’. That is infinitely incredible for me. I didn’t expect to get to the point where I would own up to it within myself,” she smiled.

Lauren Jauregui @ tv3.ie

Orlando Memorial Service

Overnight, those directly touched by the June 12, 2016, tragedy — survivors and family of victims — gathered in the parking lot outside the club for a private memorial service. They weren’t allowed inside the building, which has been boarded up for months, but just being near the place was emotional enough.

“It’s totally different now. It’s like all the terrifying and awful memories I had have been replaced with tonight, with this unity and all this love,” Ramses Tinoco, who survived the massacre, told the Orlando Sentinel. “We’re all still grieving but this gave me some closure. I could smile and remember the 49.”

Katie Mettler @ Washinton Post

The Feels

Tim Manley discusses creating the youtube show The Feels.

In most shows with a queer character, that is their defining feature. In my real life though, only some of my concerns are related to my gender or sexuality. Sometimes I’m just trying to figure out how to get my cat to stop peeing on my clean laundry. A lot of times I’m just trying to feel less sad.

So queerness both does and doesn’t define all my experience. Part of that, for me, is being cis and bi: I can pass for straight, and often have to choose to out myself. It’s a privilege that can also feel disorienting.

It was affirming to portray a character whose experience of love and attraction mirrors mine, since I’ve never seen that outside myself before. But it also felt necessary to show the other moments, since we are all so much more than one thing.

Tim Manley interviewed @ Teen Vogue

Equality Rally Savannah

equality sign

A modest crowd but the event wasn’t very well publicized. Had two speakers from area youth organizations, which still blows my mind coming out in high school.

Signs

Plenty of signs. At the end of the rally, the organizer collected the signs for display in the LGBTQ center that’s due to open next month.

Here’s a link to my pics minus the teen speakers.

How I use content warnings.

warn: discussion of sexual assault in fiction

The past few days I’ve been a bit more stressed than usual. Part of it is due to coming off of a big project, and part of it, I suspect, is due to my lunchtime book: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin.

In common with many other feminist science fiction authors, Jemisin deals with rape culture in the context of dystopian forces, including imperialism, racism, and sexism. And let’s be clear, unlike many other authors in the speculative fiction world, Jemisin is pretty damn careful about not using rape and abuse either for titillation or as a “kick the puppy” moment to prove the villainy of a character. I have to take Alan Moore at arms length because of how he frequently deals with sexuality. Jemisin wrote on this issue with a previous series:

There’s only one way to get rid of rape culture: acknowledge it. Discuss it. Subvert it. Don’t stop talking about or even depicting sexual violence — just try to do these things in a way that does not at the same time perpetuate it.

I appreciate what Jemisin, and Butler, Atwood, Tepper, and Slonczewski write regarding rape culture and abuse. But when I encounter it as a survivor, I have to do conscious work to process that particular scene. If I’m reading that text out of professional or academic obligation, I will make space to do that. But if it’s just for entertainment, well, I need to make a choice about whether I really want to tackle what is going to be a difficult text. I’ll probably tackle Fifth Season at some point in the future, but not this week.

That’s why I take advantage of content warnings. It’s not about keeping myself in a bubble, but about giving me a fair estimate about how much work I’ll need to understand a particular text.

Equality March Reminder

Just a reminder the equality march is on Sunday with satellite locations around the world.

Links: Parents, Marriage, Bisexual Characters, Trans Gaming

“I’m Proud to Be Bi — So Why Haven’t I Come Out to My Parents?”

They say coming out is a constant thing, that it’s never over. People spend all their lives coming out again and again and again in small and big ways. You come out to your friends, your siblings, your co-workers, your parents… . There’s so much focus on the big moment of “coming out” now, the dreaded “Mom, Dad, I’m gay,” but that’s only a sliver of the reality. Each time it’s a little thrill of fear in the back of your throat, even in my case. After telling my brother, my friends, my co-workers, strangers in bars and at parties, a cousin or two, even the internet, somehow I’ve still yet to tell my parents that I’m queer.

Rachel Crowley @ POPSUGAR

“I’m Proudly Bisexual—and Being Married to a Man Doesn’t Change That”

It took me an entire year of working at a national LGBTQ organization to stop subscribing to the one of the biggest myths society perpetuates about bisexuality. I thought that since I’m happily married to my husband, Scott, there was no reason to “come out” as bisexual because people would never understand. I was convinced I’d lost my opportunity to come out and should have done it when I was single and had the chance.

Eventually, stifling a major part of my identity became too much to bear. I realized that I needed to be who I am, regardless of my marriage to a man, because that was the only way to give my authentic self room to breathe.

Candace Bond-Theriaut @ Self

“Why I’ll Be Holding onto These Five Nuanced and Inspiring Bisexual Characters for Dear Life This Pride”

And so now, whenever I see a character who is without-question, canonically bisexual in a TV show or film, I latch onto them for dear life.

Teresa Jusino @ The Mary Sue

“FPSs and dysphoria”

My discomfort in playing as men in first-person games comes from years and years and years of playing that character so deeply and convincingly in my daily life that it has caused deep and lasting harm to myself, both my body and my soul. I am tired of playing as that character. I want to play as me, or at least as someone who is not that. Games are a place of escape for me. They always have been.

Niamh @ I Need Diverse Games

“Pick Your Poison: Character Creation & The Gender Binary”

And not only for me. There are a bunch of trans gamers out there—and a bunch of specifically nonbinary trans gamers. There’s also a bunch of cis gamers who either would like more flexible character creation or, to be honest, could do with realizing not everyone is ‘like them’—even if most of the world likes to pretend that’s the case. Most importantly, though, there are a bunch of gamers who are figuring themselves out, and the opportunity to try out different gender identities and pronouns with no real-world implications could be invaluable to that process. I know I still don’t have answers to a lot of gender questions, and being able to feel out my gender through my virtual self would be incredibly useful.

Teddy @ Femhype

Wonder Woman and LGBTQ

Mild spoilers follow.

Wonder Woman

Overall, Wonder Woman didn’t suck. Audio design made some of the dialogue in my theater incomprehensible, but the dialogue didn’t really matter that much, did it? (Although its a bit of a shame, because I normally love David Thewlis.)

More I’m mulling over the issue of blink and you’ll miss it LGBTQ representation. That the Amazons are lesbian is implied by a score of secondary performers in the first act. An early battle between Amazons and Germans results in the death of some, with grief-stricken lovers. Then Diana gets an awkward line on the boat about how the Amazons prefer women. The inclusion of this line is very much a “tell, don’t show” moment. After the first act, Wonder Woman quickly becomes the only woman on a team of men, a pattern likely to repeat with Justice League.

Diana’s own sexuality is left thankfully ambiguous. While there’s an implied love scene involving a closed door and a light in a window, it passes without much in the way of comment. Wonder Woman neatly avoids the usual “conversion” narrative that pervades science fiction where a single-gendered culture discovers the joys of superior heterosexual love. If anything, the relationship strengthens Diana’s moral compass that even flawed humans are worth protecting.

On the one hand, it’s nice that LGBTQ people are moving from completely invisible to marginally visible. On the other hand, DC and Marvel have a long pattern of keeping their LGBTQ characters primarily on the margins of their stories. Wonder Woman is probably the most high-profile character to come out of the closet in the comics. Maybe that will be explored in a future movie, but I’m skeptical.

It’s also worth noting that Wonder Woman was created by a man in a queer, polyamorous relationship so that subtext was there all along.

Selfhosting: Shaarli, Dokuwiki, and Bumps in the Road

I’ve been hitting a few bump on the road to selfhosting most of my stuff. The first came from trying out Shaarli as a bookmarking service to replace pinboard.

shaarli screenshot

Shaarli does almost everything you expect for it to. Pinboard usually makes new links searchable after a few days, Shaarli does so instantly. Shaarli doesn’t have a read/unread field. So what’s the problem? I can’t seem to stay logged in for more than an hour or so. This isn’t such a big deal on desktop, but on Android where the process of getting passwords into a browser can be annoying, it’s a deal-breaker.

The other speedbump was in trying out dokuwiki as a note-taking platform. The problem there? The pre-packaged spam filter:

https?:\/\/(\S*?)(bi\s*sex|gay\s*sex|fetish|incest|penis|\brape\b)

Not a hard fix to figure out, but still a bit of an annoyance.