Friday, May 18, 2012

GimpyGamer: Favorite Nerd Resources

I have some ideas for little articles when I am sick or busy, and this one is sharing resources I use and why I like them. Hopefully these will either be useful or at least only minimally annoying! This post is not all inclusive, feel free to bring your own perfect nerd resources and leave them in the links for all of us to share in the awesome!

Right now I have a couple of posts brewing, one all ready to go except that I do not have a good name for the thing the post is helping us make!

This post's theme is nerddom. I am a gigantic nerd about a handful of things: movies, Halo, Mass Effect, Portal, Halo, Minecraft, Bioshock, the Whedon 'Verse, and of course, Halo - to name just a few. As I write this, I am losing hours, because I needed to get caught up on several of these sites!

Movie Bob 
Movie Bob is a big nerd of both geek culture and movies, so his reviews tend to parallel our thoughts after seeing a film, so he is the perfect movie reviewer for us! (Movie Bob is my guilty secret, because I have to go to Escapist to see his stuff - see Extra Creditz for more...)

We Nerd Hard
WNH is part of the This Week in Blackness BCCo Studios media empire, and is scheduled to make a come back next week (5/23/12). They cover tech trends, new gadgets, anime, current nerd media (Game of Thrones, anyone?), and gaming. If you have not, you should check them out!

Geek Feminism
GF kicks it old school, but with the understanding that social justice can influence our whole lives, especially our nerd endeavors. You will find topics like programming and sexism, gamer geek culture and LGBTQIA equality, and general geek commentary from a humanist, social justice perspective. Geek Feminism is useful, funny and poignant.

The Digitized Ramblings of an 8bit Animal
If you like to blow on your games before you play them, then this Southern gentleman is for you! Seriously, though, he covers a lot of modern releases with a sensibility I appreciate quite a bit. The only difficulty with 8bit's site is that most of the entries are videos without transcripts.

Border House
I love this blog. This is one of the few places where a geek can go to get informed on gaming culture while knowing that each piece will have a understanding of inter-sectional life in the real world. This was the one stop place for news on FemShep, and I love them even more for it!

Go Make Me a Sandwich
GMMaS recently moved to Word Press, so the above link is the new one. Posts are not regular anymore, but the writing is a resource too good not to mention. Now the action is at Gaming As Woman. If you want to know how some marketing and writing can come across to women that game, you need go no further than this site. I highly recommend it. Look for the series about female avatars/characters and armor/dress.

Nerdgasm Noir Network
Here is special treat for you, because NNN has multiple shows: Nerdgasm Noir, Character Select, and Operation Cubicle. You can watch the NNN live if your schedule allows, and it is a great time! There are eight or nine folks bringing the awesome here, and they are well worth the time.

Extra Creditz
Extra Creditz is a video series by a trio of game culture, study and production devotees. Their motto is "Because Games Matter." Come here to explore and learn. They cover everything from game pacing and how, at it's best it mirrors other art forms that garner far more wide spread critical acclaim.

Nerdist used to be just Chris Hardwick, but now he has a crew of awesome! I really wish that crew was more diverse, but I think that giving Felicia Day and Harwick a chance to make that happen will pay off for us. Hardwick is a comedian, geek, and pop culture maven.

Wil Wheaton
Wheaton is a great example of someone that has been around since e-mail addresses had things like in them and took as long as snail mail. He is doing great things out here, and I think you should take a look. He is a great resource for nerd culture in general and specifically things like pop culture, gaming, and brewing.

Halo Waypoint
This is where I go to get my official Halo news. There are tons of well done fan sites, but if I start down that rabbit hole this will become a "Great Halo Sites" article, and while that would be awesome, it is not what I am trying to do right now.

This is where we go for almost all of our geek shopping needs. From some laptop peripherals to an Aperture Laboratories shower curtain, the house is full of stuff from ThinkGeek. Also, they have a bonus point program and they make it easy to spend those points. On the few occasions (over years, mind you, and purchases any time we were flush) we had a problem with a product, they were very responsive and nice while fixing it!

If ThinkGeek does not have what I am looking for, then Jinx is my very next stop. Special mention should go to their huge amount of Minecraft gear and toys. They also have a "leveling up" system, but I have no experience with it.

Minecraft Home Design
This series, along with the Medieval Minecraft building series, are so helpful in learning how to build what you want to build rather than just what you think you can throw together before you get 'asploaded! So if this is your thing, be sure to check out Durandal of Aegis.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In SmartAss News: Homophobia Is Bigotry

So it is time to address some of the fallout and questions I have seen about the President's recent evolution. Let us start with a working definition of homophobia:

"In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."

The President's announcement is pretty historic (although certainly not a complete pass to equality) because when a sitting President comes out for the civil rights of a group, the country always, always follows. This is what has a lot of bigots tied up in knots. The arc of the universe bends towards justice, not their own preference, and they know it.

The trouble with homophobia is that it is still so accepted and standard in many circles that it can get hard to pin down. I am very comfortable with the above definition. 

If someone is devaluing the citizenship or humanity of someone because of orientation, or race, or ethnicity - I have no trouble calling that bigotry. I refuse to succumb to the idea that it is worse to be called on bigotry than it is to be a bigot. Now, bigotry can be motivated by ignorance or intolerance, and people's willingness to deal with or help that person may change based on that source. 

I do not remember where I learned this, but I have found it to be of infinite value. If you wonder whether or not a statement is bigoted, replace the discriminated group with any other minority group. This only works for a semantic comparison, not an experiential one, mind you.

"Lesbians should not be allowed to marry."

"Black people should not be allowed to marry."

"Jews should not be allowed to marry."

"Mentally disabled people should not be allowed to marry."

Which one made you ask if it was really bigotry? None? Good, because they all are bigotry. Some are just still somewhat socially acceptable. Now, each group's historical experience with this struggle is different, and unique maybe even inside of that group, let alone in comparison to other groups.

Is it bigotry to say "Well, civilly I am for Marriage Equality, but on a personal/religious/cultural level I am against it?" Yes, yes, yes - that is a bigoted thing to say. Fortunately that statement at least acknowledges that their bigotry should not be law.

By avoiding those gut-reaction words like bigotry, we let people get away with things they should not. I would rather call a bigot a bigot then let one be legitimized by my lack of response or an inadequate response. (Not to offer a false choice there, but to state my perspective in total.) It should not be used lightly or in jest, and only when called for: gays should not be able to marry, women should be in the kitchen, disabled people should stay at home, affirmative action is reverse racism - that kind of stuff. You know: bigotry.

And seriously? If someone is a bigot, then my last worry is worry about offending them. My life has rough spots, but one of the benefits of being out of most loops is I rarely actually have to take crap from another human being. I can chose to do so, but rarely is it mandatory. So in most cases, I can flat out call bigotry, bigotry.

As a last note, let me say this: I am really tired of people acting like this struggle for civil rights should not be compared to their struggle for civil rights, as if one would sully the other. I have two words for you, but I am going to hold onto them. "Oh, but those people and what they want are different!" Some will not stand a comparison between suffrage/feminism and the Freedom Marches, Rides, and summers. Others will have no comparison between the black civil rights movement and marriage equality. No civil rights movement is the same as another in character, influences, changes made. No civil rights movement can stand isolated from what went before and what came after or what else was happening then. 

So why the protestation at all? I want you to think long and hard about why letting mine touch yours would be bad. Maybe you are not as enlightened or progressive as you think... But you could be.

Hey, if you are ready to really get down into it and work on it, I am right there with you. We should all be trying to be better every day. I know I am trying. Sometimes a bigoted thing with come to tongue, but I try to grab it and figure it out it's where and why before it hits someone else. If it does spill out, I own it and apologize for it (and be mortified by it) and make it a lesson to keep trying to do better. See how that works? I could never count, nor thank enough, the people that have helped me along the way. I will lend a hand when I can to attempt to meet that beautiful responsibility.

The lesson of the day: let us call a bigot a bigot, and have no shame in the naming of it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gun Culture and Privilege

(This is kind of rambling. I apologize. I am swimming through a mess of fog and phlegm with suspected strep throat. Read or disregard at your leisure.)

Wow, gun culture is some taking some swats lately. Some deserved, some not. I do want to say that I do not know a single gun owner that is an NRA member or has two nice words to say about that organization. I know they are out there, let me tell you about my last gun show. I do not really feel bugged by these swats, because I know I am not their target. I only worry that others will think that it is me.

I carry because I am a crippled lady that simply is not able to physically defend against even the average foe. I carried when able bodied because I was a woman driving on highways and country roads at night alone. I have carried because my personal defense is my personal responsibility. My self defense is my own civic responsibility.

And you know what? At the range, practicing to end a life if necessary, I can honestly tell you that 100% of the time I am imagining a white person at the other end of my barrel. Usually a man, but there have been a couple of women in my life that have altered that for brief periods of time.

I mentioned because it keeps sticking in my head. One of the reasons that people fight the idea of privilege is that if you are a woman, or poor, or disabled, or LGBTQIA - it is hard to feel it like the people telling you about privilege want you to feel it. They will point up the hierarchy and say that's who you want to talk to if you want privilege.

This is because there is a funny thing about whiteness: it seems that it must have something to destroy. The days of open colonialism are rapidly closing in favor of "nation building" and "fighting them over there." But our dirty little secret is that in the absence of non-white folk to destroy, in any single or combination of physically, economically, spiritually, mentally; we destroy ourselves. There is no greater cannibal in history than whiteness.

Without a state of non-whiteness to unite against, whiteness turns in and eats itself: the disabled, the non-straight, the poor, the non-Christian, the non-Western, even the non-male get consumed and suppressed. And so, it becomes difficult to explain to a poor, USian, disabled, Wiccan, trans* lesbian that she has white privilege. Because Whiteness, as an entity, only includes her among it's ranks against some Other.

She does have privilege, and it does matter; all of her other states matter too.

I think we need a new vocabulary, one that that can talk about privilege without stigma. One that can acknowledge oppression without pity. A new language, or a new attitude about language needs to be born. Soon. I thought #Occupy would birth it, but it seems not. But maybe something will come after #Occupy, or inspired by - I do not know. But I think it will play it's part. I think we are still building those bridges, and it feels like we are approaching some sort of apex.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank You, Mr. President

I guess you know what word is spreading like wild fire that you affirmed the personal belief that you hold regarding marriage equality. You sat down and told the world that you believe gays and lesbians should be able to marry. That is terrific! Great news! The first time in history that a sitting US President has done such a thing.

I think this is what fact based patriotism feels like. I have twinges of it during your administration: the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; ending defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, hell - your election!

There are some mixed feeling out there, and I feel some of them myself: from supporting oppressive structures in your statement to OFA not lending itself to the North Carolina fight that was lost this week. These are valid, and with the Jedi 3D chess that is your campaign mechanism you had to be aware that such was the case.

I get that but here is the thing: when you, the President, comes out in favor of something like this, the country inevitably follows. And with that follows complete civil rights. I think that you, Mr. President are keenly aware of that, and just applied for the drum major position in this parade. Now, the drum major does not write the music, the drum major does not even play the music. But the marching band cannot do a damn thing without that drum major. Now we need you to do the thing you just signed up to do.

I am in a difficult position right now. I happily acknowledge all the good you have done. And yet I lament the opportunities that passed by ignored. I see you as a shining leader, and yet I have to acknowledge that you are, in fact, a politician. You are a damn good politician. And with that comes the ability to sometimes ignore moral callings that may hurt your career - all done in the name of being able to do more good down the road, of course. I see you as a pragmatic politician, not a craven one.

Given everything, I still have to say: Thank you, Mr. President.

Most sincerely,


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear Ann Romney

Dear Ann Romney,

Hello! Recently you have been out in the public telling folks that you understand the struggles of women. Women in America that are not you.That you love the mother that has no choice but to work. Your quote does not seem any better in context. And yet, in your national tour, you still do not understand me.

You and me, we have some things in common. We are both women in America. We both suffer the indignities of living in a culture that is still short of valuing either of us as equals. We are both mothers in a culture that does not value the work of raising our young.

We have less in common than you think.

As a disabled mother, the culture questions whether or not I can be a good mother, or should even try. Disabled women are still, to this day, sterilized against their will, or forced to give up their children for adoption. We are often forced to prove that we will be adequate mothers.

As a poor mother, I am blamed for my poverty and told I was irresponsible to even have children. And no, you cannot understand how it feels to have the water shut off as you are drawing a bath for your baby, and wondering if you should skip the bath and save the water for making formula in case you cannot get your water access back. It was not as if I decided I would be a poor mom raising poor babies. That is not how it happens. You have not ever dealt with the indignatities of seeking out help, nor then tied to hide the fact that you are getting help from everyone else. Nor have you dis-invited someone from your home because in his fevered mind it was okay to sit in your living room and rant about welfare queens!

As a white mother, you, I and our children are granted privileges by society. But are you agonizing over making sure your children truly understood the consequences of race in America? Do you deliberately live in a non-white neighborhood so your children will be better adjusted regarding race than you were? Are you constantly working with them so that they are not more white blights on this society and culture?

As the mother of daughters, it is imperative that I teach my girls how to interact with a world that is hostile to them by default. They have to know how to recognize and deal with sexism when they see it. They need to know how our culture treats rape and rape victims. Do your kids need this armor?

As a bisexual mother, I am acutely aware of the bigotry that LGBTQAI kids face in their day to day lives. Mrs. Romney, do you ever wonder if your kids are going to get beaten over who they may love? Maybe you may share a few of my concerns as a poly mother, given your church's history on marriage. Hell, often people mistake polyamory for polygamy although one is simply uncommon, the other illegal.

You do not know what it is like for the state to screw with you month to month on how much medical care, food, or straight up cash you need to live. But you will tell people that it is too much. Living off of investment dividends is not the same thing. Just stop that ignorant nonsense.

We are what we are. There is no inherent shame in being born well to do and continuing with your well to do life. When you say that your experiences parallel the experiences of others you have never even truly seen, let alone spoken to - you are lying. And there is shame in that.

I do not know you or your life, and I do not claim to know. You, however, gleefully act like you are intimately familiar with my life, and I want you to back the hell off of it. 

Most sincerely,