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Jan. 23rd, 2014

Deleting this journal in a few days. Whatever's important to me, I'll import back to DW.

I'll miss the small handful of people that are Livejournal-only, but the core friendship I have here is one I can't keep; at best, it would only be frustrating on a mutual level. I don't want to say more. For anyone else, you're welcome to keep in touch with me on Dreamwidth, if you want to.

Why vegan instead of vegetarian: a primer

(Edited for clarity, and to add an important point)

I count vegetarians and omnivores among my friends, and that's pretty much unavoidable in present-day society; however, it's not immutable or inevitable. We can and should all be vegan, and society should move away from animal agriculture and animal-derived products. I've written a lot about this in my journals before; I'll write in more detail about it in the future. For now, here's the 101 version.

Something I want people to realize is that as much harm, sometimes more, is involved in animal byproducts as there is in meat. Dairy and eggs are particularly awful; a milk cow is forcibly impregnated every year until her slaughter, and her male calves are killed in their infancy for veal. Mother cows grieve over the loss of their calves. Male chicks are either ground up alive, or simply tossed into the garbage to suffocate; this is standard hatchery practice, and applies equally to eggs from free-range organic farms and 'factory' farms. Chickens are also routinely debeaked in both kinds of operations, and "free-range" is rarely as good as it sounds.

I don't support anyone's right to eat these products, as I wouldn't support their right to wear a fur coat. We can feed ourselves without meat, milk or eggs, just as we can keep ourselves warm without fur (or other animal products).

The issue of cruelty aside, it's clear that eating animal products cannot be a personal choice. You need consent before you can have choice, and no animal -- chick, calf, or cow -- consented to be killed. Only a structure that takes away their choice can create the appearance of a free choice on your part. Freedom of speech or religion is sometimes invoked in defense of anti-LGBT actions; in a similar way, freedom of diet is invoked in defense of anti-animal actions.

That doesn't make being able to discriminate against other people a right, however used to it we might be and however uncomfortable we might feel to lose it. And it doesn't make eating non-vegan a right, however used to our eating habits we might be. Both actions are inherently supremacist: both involve using the greater power of one group to exploit or harm a group with less power.

I appreciate any effort to cut back significantly on animal products -- as long as it's all animal products, not just meat -- and I don't look down my nose at people who're trying. While, yeah, people shouldn't be eating animal products at all, the aggregate good of ten people eating a lot more vegan is greater than one person eating 100% vegan.

Also, it needs to be stressed that eating vegan isn't a diet. To extend the sartorial metaphor, cutting out fur from your wardrobe doesn't tell you what to wear. Generally, new vegans eat too strictly; the sky won't fall if we get more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s, if we get 40 instead of 50 grams of protein, or if we eat white rice instead of brown. Veganism ain't that hard, we just make it hard.

On a personal note, my mom is sensitive to soy protein and dislikes concentrated protein foods/processed foods in general; I eat low-fat (about 1/2 fruitarian and 1/2 starchitarian), eschew nuts, and don't put oil on my food; and my dad will eat anything, as long as it's salty, sweet, or fatty. :P The three of us keep a vegan household without any nutritional worries or great inconvenience.

For healthy plant-based eating, http://www.drmcdougall.com/ is a good all-around informational resource that debunks a lot of food myths.

Other resources:

T. Colin Campbell, 'The China Study', 'Whole'
Forks Over Knives
All American Vegan

For veganism and social justice perspectives:

Vegan Feminist Agitator
The Vegan Ideal
The Scavenger

For ethical issues/arguments:

Peaceful Prairie
Free From Harm
My dad fell and got a nasty cut requiring stitches and a visit to the ER yesterday, so I've been more wired than usual. He's all right; I'm just naturally restless.

I should go to sleep now, though; it's a quarter to eight in the morning and I'm starting to have waking dreams about Vince Gilligan pounding on my door. I would tell him that I'm just a viewer, and that I don't know how to solve all his writing problems, but that you don't have your worst enemy park his car directly outside your central headquarters and then never bother checking the trunk.

animated shows i would watch

My Little Trotsky: Comradeship Is Magic
My Little Sister Can't Be This Communist
Revolutionary Proletariat Utena
A Certain Marxist Dialectic

Goodbye to the year of the snake

I wonder if I'll get my FAFSA results by the end of the week? Or sometime in January, at least. That would be cool. :p

Whatever happens with my financial aid, I'm going to go ahead and sign up for Oxford Seminars' TEFL course. The next one will be given in March: it's about a month long, with three weeks of weekend classes and a 40-hour online component to be completed immediately after that. The classes will probably be taught at CSULA again.

I want to spend the next several years (after UCLA) in a semi-itinerant way... teach for a year, come back home for six months to work on music, then leave for another year of teaching. Repeat as necessary. If I go through gender confirmation in the future, this plan will change; right now, I want laser, and I plan on putting some money into a zappy fund. Strategic outness is my goal for the immediate future; whether that includes being out to family is something I'm still wrestling with.

(I want blue hair and bangs, too. ^..^ But that will probably have to wait)

I've warmed to the idea of teaching in South Korea, and I plan on making it my first destination. Yes, part of that is due to money, but there's an incredible diversity of people working there, and if I can get a job in Seoul or Busan -- large cosmopolitan cities with a big queer and vegan scene -- I think I'd find it a thrilling adventure, warts and all. I think SK's what I'm willing to make of it.

Listening to a big stack of rock/pop CDs from last year that I never got around to hearing. I'm also working on three different mixes for my site, and planning to re-record another mix. After all those are in the bag, I'll start the rare CD contest/call for submissions, and keep that going for a few months while I work on the next project. I want to write my 2013-14 annual letter sometime, too! Until then, more adventures figuring out what the hell to do with myself...
Meanwhile, an example of how not to make a safe space: http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?t=230644&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30

If someone thinks the Genderbread Person isn't all that profound, I don't have a problem with that. I tend to agree, though for different reasons. And some of Fox's points are reasonable and worth debating. But they all could have been made without tacking on transphobia and cissexism.

I don't think Fox is exactly a bigot... from the broader slant of her comments, I think she has a problem with any concept of a group having a collective identity or expressing a collective voice. It'd be worth a bit of head-scratching over exactly why... extreme individualism, maybe? Buying too much into the idea of merit?

But whatever motivates her to dismiss the term "cisgender" with sneering contempt, it's troubling that 1. no moderator has stepped in, and 2. most of the thread supports her. That's crossing a really big line, and it wouldn't be tolerated anywhere where the existence of non-cis people was more than a theoretical matter of terminology. I'm not wading into this particular discussion... IMHO, Fox is a silly person who is best ignored... but I don't like what she represents, and I'm tempted to make an account on ESL Cafe in the future, just for the purpose of counterbalancing the "you people don't really exist" meme by one genderqueer person who really exists.

first sermon of the new year

Its really easy to (disagree) when all of your disagreements are theoretical - http://ashleighthelion.tumblr.com/post/58498008281/blacksentai-white-dudes-have-this-thing-where

This describes the problem with the idea of a friendly disagreement, where the issues involved are anything but friendly, very well.

To my mind, this also connects to a similar problematic concept: "agreeing to disagree", where both people are supposed to accept that they'll never be able to change the other's mind. Supposedly a model of temperance and fair-mindedness, I'd argue that this, too, is a luxury that many can't afford. I'd argue that agreeing to disagree, far from a virtue, is a reactionary and politically stifling concept that is counterproductive to social progress.

It's one thing if friends come from different places of origin, and bring their own perspective on topics. That's to be expected, even encouraged. Friends -- people in general -- should be able to have animated discussions and even arguments, and not always come to a perfect agreement. But the reason for that is because truth is a work in progress. It's not because people should be defending their mutually exclusive territory. Agreeing to disagree would have us start at different places... and never leave those points of origin. Yes, our personal issues need to be acknowledged. But from there, they need to be surpassed. Debate is a process of improvement, not a way to affirm atomism.

"Judge, and be prepared to be judged" - Ayn Rand, in a rare lucid moment

"I'll call you on your shit, please call me on mine" - Propaghandi

Progress happens when we are respectful of our frequent need to have our presumptions disrespected.

It's easy to stereotype radical groups as closed-minded, unwelcoming, and only concerned with a single set of issues. Some groups that call themselves radical are indeed only radical in the most narrow sense of the word; it's all the patriarchy's fault, they say, or it's all capitalism's fault. But radicalism and multidimensional analysis are not exclusive. Radicalism, if it's worthy of the name, is willing to keep digging. It's receptive to new ideas, flexible in its thinking, and willing to debate, provided those debates are constructive.

In my experience, liberal circles have been the most silencing, and the least willing to work towards uncomfortable truths. On one hand, they've put things up for debate that really shouldn't be, in the name of fairness and inclusion; on the other, they've kept some subjects verboten, in the name of not pushing people out of their comfort zone. But growth and development has everything to do with being pushy. With limited time and limited resources, advocates can't afford to water themselves down, nor to bog themselves down in second-guessing based on how other people might react. Advocates should push in a smart, contextually aware way, yes. But they should push. As far as you push others, that's as far as they might come along with you. While, as far as you don't push, that's as far as they'll never move. You do them no harm by pushing, and though they might disappoint you, you do yourself no harm by being disappointed. For advocates -- and anyone who thinks along political lines should be an advocate of something -- a corollary to being prepared to be judged might be this: allow yourself to risk disappointment in others, as long as they might pleasantly surprise you.
Livejournal is a bag of bollocks today. WHY SO SLOW

This is a pretty good article: http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2013/12/katawa-shoujo-sex-stuff-in-games-and.html The comments are worth a look, too.

Personally, I don't play games for their stories. I don't think video games can be shoehorned into a narrative model; they have charms of their own. Video games create atmosphere through the interplay of tactile and heuristic elements (play mechanics) and audiovisual design, something a movie or graphic novel can't do.

So Katawa Shoujo is not the sort of thing that's normally up my alley. But I've been curious about visual novels (and yes, eroge) for some time, I remembered liking the dating-sim parts of Thousand Arms, and it got talked up in the anime blogosphere. So, last year I gave it a try, and played through a few of the paths. And the writers did create a worthwhile interactive narrative. Some genuine laughs, some heart-tugging moments.

Some of the subplots/paths worked better than others, with the best ones at the level of a decent young-adult novel; especially Rin's path, which is like someone watched Azumanga Daioh and decided to cross it with The Catcher In The Rye. I really liked Rin a lot. I wasn't expecting to; the surrealist painter who's weird themselves isn't exactly a new idea. But even though she's written as the token oddball, her sarcastic sense of humor gave her more bite than other, similar characters. Rin is witty, laconic, and self-conscious, fully aware of her own oddness at times while oblivious to it at others. What's more -- and this is to the credit of the writers -- her conflict isn't directly related to her disability, but rather to her personality; her habits of thought, consuming drives, and hidden fears. She would've been an interesting character without her disability, which I suppose is kind of the point.

Although -- this is kind of, but not really a spoiler -- I wish the Hisao/Kenji path had just ended with the two of them drinking on the roof and bitching about their lives. That would've been delicious. Instead, it went for a more over-the-top comical ending, which wasn't really needed.

Anyway, I can't call it a masterpiece, but Katawa Shoujo was surprisingly interesting, and increases the likelihood that I'll play a visual novel in the future.

Maybe Hatoful Boyfriend? Heh, now that's a VN with a unique premise.

Katawa Shoujo endings

Kenji ending (for the lulz)

...but look, I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]. That’s not how the world works.

I find this quote telling. If our moral and technological advancements haven't reached parity, maybe one reason is that we're still too attached to the way things have been done. Underthinking the consequences of technology can be dangerous, but overthinking them can be equally so, if our thinking is too rigid.

Contrary to our president, I'd argue that diplomacy, along with all other aspects of government, should be made as open-sourced as possible. The Internet and electronic voting allows for a far greater degree of direct democracy, if our model of democracy is flexible enough. Our communities, too, can be open-sourced, and use social networking technology as a way to prevent harm.

I'm not quite saying "Justice? There's an app for that", because there's an obvious hole in that logic. Not everyone can own a computer, let alone a fast internet connection and a smartphone. But we can make justice a much greater part of our technological infrastructure. For one thing, I'd like to see a return of public phone booths, adapted for current technology, free to use, and deployed on a large scale.
"My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit". I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. But what does it mean to be intersectional? Of course I can't give the definitive answer; intersectionality isn't a static thing, but one name for a process, an ongoing work to address multiple axes of oppression. But I can say something about what being intersectional means to me, and why I insist that any feminism that supports prison can't be my feminism.

Mainly, punitive justice is a bad thing because it hurts more people than its intended target. We don't all go to prison, but the existence of prisons -- in the public resources they consume, the aftereffects of their violence, and the material and psychological threat they pose -- does collective harm to all of us. Likewise, we don't all suffer violence at the hands of police, but we all live with the knowledge that it could happen. Some people have to live with it more than others.

True, some extremely dangerous people exist that don't announce themselves by a uniform. But consider that we are all indoctrinated in the belief that vital needs are not rights, but should be earned; that resources should be competed over, not shared; and that certain individuals and groups are fair game for violence and exploitation. We live with sociopathy as social policy.

There's no quick and easy solution, but we can each do a small part to end prisons, policing, firearm production, and other institutions of violence by refusing to support these institutions materially, by speaking out against them, and by advocating restorative justice.

You can call these ideas anarchist. I don't care for political labels that come with an identity attached to them; it's too easy for you to say "I'm not an anarchist, so I believe differently", and I don't intend to make it that easy. Nor should you make it easy for me; if you have an issue with what I'm saying, it can only help my position to work through it. What I'm advocating should stand the intellectual acid test, and it needs reworking and rethinking if it doesn't.

I'm fairly confident, though, that imprisonment will never address the root causes of rape, and in fact reinforces a culture of rape. I'm confident that "Pink Pistols" support a racist, classist, and inherently oppressive gun culture, and that there are more effective and more ethical ways to keep queer and trans people safe. And I'm confident that military and police institutions can't be redeemed, however many reforms they might go through.

I don't support pacifism in all cases. Non-violent resistance is sometimes necessary; sabotage is sometimes necessary; violence against property is sometimes necessary; and in the worst situations, violence in self-defense is necessary. CeCe Macdonald was right to stab her attacker, and should be exonerated.

And no one should've attacked her in the first place. I don't think that's an unreachable goal. But positive depictions of trans people in niche media and spheres of academic privilege won't cut it, and neither will increased punishments for hate crimes. Target everyone with huge public information campaigns, instead. And if we really care about fighting hate, the class gap must shrink, and the race gap must shrink. Most of the attackers of gender/sexual minorities don't come from privileged backgrounds. You can be privileged and be a bigot, but there's a huge difference between having bigoted ideas and violently acting on that bigotry. And I think a lot of that difference can be put down to living with a greater level of fear.

I want a world where it's safe to be visibly different, and where it's safe to be female. I don't want it at the expense of someone else. And that includes the rapist and the basher. Fear is too contagious to be effectively quarantined in that way.