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On Cooking and Learning

I've been cooking pretty much since I could see over the stove. My mother started teaching me how to bake when my age was still in single digits - making Queen Cakes and Cornflour Cakes from the recipes in her "Golden Wattle" cookbook, and learning how to measure in ounces and pounds on the fly (an ounce was roughly a tablespoon; an ounce of sugar occupied less space than an ounce of flour). By the time I was about ten, I was cooking meals for my family, at first on the weekends (and sometimes there were some rather spectacular mishaps there) and then during the week. By the time I was in high school, cooking dinner for the family was one of my expected chores.

One thing I've learned about cooking is you never really stop learning how to cook.

I enjoy cooking. It's fun, taking all these raw ingredients, combining them, mixing things together, adding heat and motion and bits of this and that, and creating something delicious at the other end. Even the occasional flops are fun, because the interesting bit then is sitting down and figuring out what went wrong. Cooking, as the saying goes, is science for hungry people. It's an art, and it's a craft at the same time.

So, in the interests of sharing with the class, a few tips I've discovered along the way.

1) The first time you prepare a recipe, it's a fifty-fifty chance you'll get a horrendous mess, even if you do your best and read all the instructions.

2) The photos in cookbooks are carefully staged. Real food is messy, and more or less brown.

3) To cream butter and sugar for cakes successfully, it helps to have the butter at room temperature. Chop it small, and if all else fails, run some hot water into the sink and sit the bowl in that until the butter softens enough to be malleable.

4) Getting a recipe to the point where everything is effortless is something which requires practice. It isn't going to happen the first time you cook something, or even the second. Instead, you're going to need to cook it at least four or five times, and learn from the mistakes you make along the way each time.

5) TV cooks start with everything carefully measured, everything carefully laid out, and with at least two off-siders preparing things around the edges as well as doing the washing up afterwards. Then they do everything multiple times, with multiple takes, in order to produce one photogenic version of the dish in question.

Restaurant chefs have a huge supply of off-siders doing preparation, and being delegated the more basic steps in the preparation and also monitoring the clean-up. Plus, of course, they produce a very limited menu, which is often focussed on being entirely too photogenic for its own good.

Home cooks, by contrast, get one try to produce something edible, and the vast majority of household kitchens aren't designed to have more than one person at a time in there. Plus it's very much "rinse as you go" as far as the washing up side of things goes. Learn to live with the fact you're not going to get TV or Restaurant results on a regular basis, and figure out a couple of dishes which don't require much effort to look fancy. Pasta bakes and lasagnes do pretty well in this department, as far as I'm concerned, because a decent layer of melted grated cheese and/or white sauce covers a multitude of sins. My mother's go-to "fancy" dish was salmon mornay baked up with cornflake crumbs on top, decorated with tomato slices and cheese, and served with pasta.

6) There are some dishes which quite literally cannot be prepared without getting the stove messy. Fried rice is one of these for me.

7) Meat stews default to brown. Tomato dishes default to red. Curries tend to go either brown or yellow, depending on the degree of turmeric in the mix.

8) The more you read recipe books, and the longer you spend cooking, the more adept you get at being able to tell what can be dropped from the recipe, what can be substituted for something cheaper or more readily available, and which bits of the recipe are the essential bits.

9) Every experienced cook will have at least one or two recipes in their repertoire which are basically about using up bits and pieces of left over this and that, and where consequently the "recipe" consists mainly of two or three things which are essential, and a long list of things which can be added and subtracted as available.

10) Soups and casseroles are very forgiving and basically consist of variations around a single core formula. (Soups start with a stock, then you add vegetables and/or meat, and cook until done. Puree if it's supposed to be a smooth soup, otherwise pass the ladle. Casseroles start by browning the meat, adding the slow-to-cook vegetables and appropriate seasoning, adding a liquid component, and then cooking slowly until everything has cooked through). Once you know the core formula, and a few basic flavour combinations, you can start coming up with a lot of variations on a theme.

11) The best accessory for any kitchen is someone who will eat what you produce, preferably with every evidence of enjoyment.

12) You don't need all the fancy gizmos and gadgets most of the time. You can get away with a couple of saucepans, a decent frying pan, a couple of good knives and some serving spoons. If you're going to be using a gizmo or gadget more than once or twice a year, it's possibly an investment, but if not, take time out to go through your gadget drawer every so often, and weed out the ones which aren't paying their way. (To be honest, the only one I've found even vaguely irreplaceable is a citrus zester - and even there, the small side of the grater will do as a substitute, even if it is more fiddly to clean).

13) This one isn't necessarily confined to the kitchen, but the kitchen is where I learned it, so I'll put it here: if you wind up throwing it out without using it, you threw your money into the bin. (This is testament to years of learning the sad truth of "economising" by buying bulk quantities of things I use very rarely, if at all).

Anyone got anything else to add to the list?

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/119554.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: chipper chipper
Little Luxuries

This is a list of things which are currently a bit of a luxury for me; things I'd like to be able to afford, but currently can't.

  • When I'm grocery shopping, and I have the choice between buying the store brand, or the named brand, I'd like to be able to buy the named brand.

  • I'd like to be able to buy pre-grated cheese without having to argue with my conscience about it.

  • I'd like to be able to go grocery shopping without needing to take a calculator along.

  • When the weather turns cold this winter (as it's already starting to do) I'd like to be able to turn on the heater the first time, rather than reaching for another jumper, jacket, scarf, gloves, blanket, thicker socks.

  • I'd like to be able to wear two layers rather than three.

  • I'd like to be able to afford clothes which weren't skimpy as all blazes (at present, my main shopping site is Best & Less, and while they're good for cheap clothes, their winter-weight stuff is only really winter-weight in Darwin)

  • I'd like to be able to afford shoes that didn't leak, and kept my feet warm.

  • I'd like to be able to afford to own/run a clothes dryer, rather than using a drying rack inside the house, and hoping I can dodge around it for long enough for things to dry out.

  • I'd like to be able to pay for some of the online news services I use.

  • I'd like to be able to take time off from the housework.

  • Attn: The minister for Social Security and the minister for Human Services: I'd like to be in a financial position where an extra $10 per fortnight wouldn't make a discernible difference to my state of mind and standard of living.


PS: This is more a meditation on the nature of luxury, and the ways it can be defined when money is tight. It isn't actually a request for help, although I would like to thank those people who did offer assistance of a financial kind. I am more grateful for it than I can say, even though I'm also not likely to take you up on it.

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/119368.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: broke broke
Final Fantasy VII Fiction Recommendations: Sephiroth Habilitation Fics

Okay, in celebration of finally having enough spare time to be able to do some serious reading again (and having opened another box of books and re-stocked my "farewell re-read" shelves... should get to work on those, really) I present some recommendations for fiction favourites of mine in the Final Fantasy VII fandom. These fics are ones about what I call "Sephiroth Habilitated" - the ones where Sephiroth is "fixed" so he's not completely insane, obsessive, and psychotic, much less the nihilistic demi-god-wannabe we've all come to know and love. I call them "habilitation" fics, rather than "rehabilitation", because quite frankly given the upbringing we're led to suspect for canon Sephiroth (being raised in the laboratories of the Shinra Science Department by Professor Hojo, before being thrown out into the battlefields of Wutai before his voice had finished breaking), it's very much "this is the first chance he's had for any actual normality in his life".

Some of the defining characteristics of this sub-genre, for me, are the rather calm and gentle tone of them - they're about recovery, after all; and the various defining characteristics of the "real" Sephiroth everyone picks up from underneath the role of General, and the influence of Jenova. Most of them tend to be Sephiroth/Cloud slash, so if you see either Sephiroth or Cloud with another partner, you may want to avoid them

So, without any further ado:

the fight goes on series by jukeboxhound

Sephiroth winds up floating in the pool in the church, and Cloud is, once again, the one who's called on to deal with him. If you've read jukeboxhound's stuff before, and know her tone and tendency toward mixing both light and dark material, that carries through in this story, although it's certainly a lot lighter in tone than, for example, "Eir's Tomorrow". The series itself is a work in progress, but the various parts can be read as stand-alone pieces. There are three parts so far. Some explicit content, but of the "tasteful erotica" variety rather than the "plumbing manual" variety (insert tab A into slot B),

Tomowowowo & Boomchick's September 2015 30-Day-NSFW-Challenge

Now, this one is straight-up, largely plumbing-manual explicit content all the way through, complete with pictures which are explicit as well. You have been warned. It is, however, a well-crafted thirty-one piece story about the gradual building of a relationship between Cloud and Sephiroth after the discovery of Sephiroth's body floating (once again) in the pool in the church.

The mighty have fallen by Xenobia

Surprise, surprise, Seph isn't found in a pond in the church this time around. Mostly because I suspect this one was written around the same time Advent Children came out, with only the trailers to go on. In this case, he's been found in a forgotten/previously unknown lab of Hojo's, and again, Cloud is the one who is called on to deal with him. In this case, Sephiroth's release from an induced coma requires Cloud to take on the role of his "keeper" by means of an implanted chip in his (Cloud's) brain which can induce certain phenomena in Sephiroth. And, of course, the predictable relationship occurs, complete with explicit content. I like this one for the slightly different take on Cloud that results from the author not using Advent Children canon to inform his personality.

On Broken Wings by raisedbymoogles

Another which was started back before Advent Children came out, and hence in this one, Sephiroth returns to life after the events of the original game in the Northern Crater. It's been edited since the original writing, so there's bits and pieces of Advent Children canon in there. It's still a work in progress, but I love this one because it shows us a very broken, and very damaged Sephiroth, who really does need a lot of help and a lot of support to be able to make his way back from the person Hojo made him to be. It also gives us a Cloud who isn't exactly 100% himself, and who is still affected by the events mentioned in the original game. There's also two adorable kids, a highly protective and highly personable chocobo (feathered kind, not nickname for Cloud) and of course various mentions of the weird and wonderful wildlife of Gaia in all its diversity.

Infinite Possibilities series, by Kalloway

Another which ignores Advent Children and this time Sephiroth wakes up alone and naked on a beach in Mideel. Now, there's a lot of ways things could have gone after that line, but this fic takes a slightly different one. This is probably the most sedate of the fics I'm recommending, but it's worth it for the journey. While the author does warn for a Sephiroth/Cloud relationship, it's the least detailed of the lot - by the time the story ends, they've maybe got to the point of exchanging a single kiss - it's up the other end of the spectrum from the Boomowowowo challenge, that's for sure. No explicit content, unless you think a bloke waking up naked on a beach counts as explicit content.

Under the Wing of a Nibel Dragon series, by Gotham's_Only_Wolf

This series is very unusual when it comes to Sephiroth Habilitation stories, because it actually starts before the original game canon gets going. It starts as a spin-off of another writer's fic (there's a link to it in the first story, do have a read), and carries on from there, but basically things take an abrupt turn for the better in an eleven-year-old Sephiroth's life after he acquires in rapid succession, a younger brother (adoptive), an adoptive parent who is far better at actual parenting than Hojo, and a home which isn't in the Shinra Science Department. So far it's covering the years from when Sephiroth is eleven through about thirteen or fourteen, so there aren't any sexual relationships happening with Sephiroth involved in them (there may be some coming up later, but there isn't any explicit content in the story so far). Again, it's an ongoing series - there are actually two sub-stories currently in progress, so be warned, things may appear to drop out inconsistently, but it appears to be under active creation at present. But it's notable because the central force in Sephiroth's rehabilitation is not an overloaded, post-Jenova Cloud Strife.

So there you go - six of the best of the genre I've found so far. If you're a fan of this particular little sub-genre, and have any other fics I might have missed, leave a link in the comments.

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/119253.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Well, I'm back again...

*Sits up, cracks back*

I have finished all my assessment pieces for university, I don't have any exams (advice to potential students: it's very hard to examine Cultural Studies in a way which can prove you've taken the concepts on board; enjoy the lack of exams, but be prepared for lots of essay work) and I currently have a corner of my brain turning back somersaults in at the door and screaming "I'm FreEEEEEEEE!!!" at me. Semester officially ends on 22 June, which is the earliest possible date I'm going to be stripping all the work off my university laptop, Elfadunk.

Elfadunk desperately needs the latest Windows updates from about April last year (that being when I started getting the messages about "can you find 8GB of spare space on this machine so we can download things pleasethankyou"). Elfadunk has a 32GB hard drive, which is currently just about full to capacity with the combination of Windows 10 (most of the hard drive), the MS Office Suite (free download on the university account), EndNote (ditto), Avast antivirus and its various component pieces, Chrome browser, and all the other various accoutrements of university study, the least part of which is my actual data that I've put there and the various PDFs of readings and articles I've downloaded to work from. So all of those have to get stripped off; then I get to start carefully playing computational Jenga with Windows 10 in order to clear 6 - 8 GB of space in which to download and install the latest updates. Once that's done I get to find whether any of the other stuff will fit back on there again, or whether I'm going to be putting all my data and software onto a prosthetic thumb drive over the next few semesters. (In which case it's another visit to Officeworks in the offing to buy another 32GB thumb drive for all of that - I have one already, but it's acting as the storage vault for all my music so I can listen to music while taking notes on various things at uni).

So there's that needs doing, as well as all the housework I've been neglecting for the last three months (we have an inspection due in either June or July, I'm not quite sure which). Plus I've been documenting the various gaps in my knowledge I'm discovering as I read through various articles, textbooks and so on, so I can use my Copious Free Time to fill those. I now have Copious Free Time, so I'm going to try and keep up the whole business of at least two hours a day of actual study time by using that time to fill in various gaps. This includes reading up on the words of various cultural theorists, because I'm a masochist, and I feel the need to know these things myself rather than reading someone else's interpretation of what they said.

Fun little anecdote from writing the last essay for Cultural Studies: I was analysing two texts - "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, and "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. In the course of three essays about "The God of Small Things", I saw the novel described as a Gothic horror story, a treatise on the existing problems in post-colonial theorising, and a Marxist-influenced caution against the horrors of commodity fetishism in a capitalist system. The idea of "the death of the author" is alive and well, and working in a variety of literary and cultural studies journals, where it's being used as an excuse for making any book ride your particular theoretical hobby-horse. (The whole thing made me laugh, because what I wound up thinking was "I wonder how Arundhati Roy feels about this?").

Also, does anyone know whether there's been any analysis of "The Handmaid's Tale" from the perspective of kink theory? I'd be interested in reading it if there were.

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Current Mood: relieved relieved
State of the Meg Update

Well, this is going to be this week's post, because I'm up to my ears in assignments for uni (two 1500 word essays due in about two weeks, and while one of them I've pretty much finished the research and reading for, the other I've not even started) as well as all the standard stuff like turning up for classes and so on.

So, nothing essay-ish from me this week, and probably nothing next week either. Depends on whether I have the spare brain to write with. I did have a plotbunny bite on Friday, but I had to put it to one side, so we'll see whether it turns out to have more than a vague idea for something later.

At present my plans mainly consist of "get through this semester; spend time over the break reading up on cultural studies theories and theorists; catch up on the housework at some stage; pray for rain".

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/118554.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: busy busy
On Mass Shootings

Australia recently had its worst mass shooting since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. Seven people (all the one family) were killed in a murder-suicide.

There's a chart in this article on the ABC (scroll down, it's about halfway down the page) which details "Australia's Worst Mass Shootings". It's an interesting piece of reading, in amongst the tragic details of the implosion of a family.

For one thing, with the very obvious exception of the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, most of them have a death count in the single digits. A "mass shooting" is a shooting event where there are five or more victims. Most of the events recorded in the chart have a death count of six people. There's a couple of fives, a couple of sevens, one nine, but most of them are around six people. Also, since the Port Arthur Massacre, there have been two mass shootings in Australia. Two in twenty-two years. Given in some countries, you'd see more than two mass shootings in twenty-two days, I figure that's a pretty good record. Also, of the two mass shooting events since Port Arthur, one had five victims, the other had seven. Both were family tragedies - murder-suicides in which the murdered were members of the same family as the shooter; both occurred in rural areas rather than urban (it's easier to get a license for a gun here in Australia if you're living on a rural property).

I'm not going to go into what this all means. I'm just going to leave it there. If you want to figure out potential meanings in the comments, feel free.

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/118492.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
The Problem with Incels

Content warnings: discussions of violent thoughts, violent tendencies, and sexual slavery (incels, in other words).

Post under fold )

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/118099.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: cranky cranky
New Work on AO3

Remember how I said I was writing a fanfic for a university assignment? Well, it's up on AO3 now.

Remediation

Comes complete with fandom disclaimer and copious author's notes. Let me know what you think!

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/117769.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
There's Supposed to be a Post Here

Here's what's happened. I've promised myself I'd post something to this journal at least once a week, and try and make it something interesting and worthwhile. Problem is, at the moment, I'm going through something of a depressive patch, which means whenever I pull out one of the not-quite-done pieces I have stored on my hard drive, and try to get it into a shape where I'd be satisfied with posting it, I wind up with the brain-weasels attacking from all sides.

I won't bore you with the details of what the brain-weasels are saying. Suffice it to say they're invasive, vicious, and nasty, and they're not helping me have any confidence in any of my writing at this point. Or indeed, in anything I can do. It happens, depression sucks, I'll live through it.

But it does mean I'm not able to come up with a post at this present.

So, in the interests of fulfilling my promise to myself, let's just say this is this week's post, and have done with it. As per Douglas Adams, normal service will resume just as soon as I've figured out what counts as "normal" in the first place.

PS: If there's anyone in the Perth, WA area who happens to know the name of a psychologist who bulk bills and who has a space for new patients, I'd be overjoyed to receive the information.

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Current Mood: crappy crappy
A Government Motto I'd Like To See

I have a dream. I have a dream that someday, some political party will be elected to government on the platform of "It is not our job to ensure your business model remains forever profitable".

Essay under fold )

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/117407.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: quixotic quixotic
Beta-Reading Follow-up and Apology

Hi. About a week or so back, I made a request for beta readers, and a number of people responded. I'd like to thank those people, but due to various factors (brain-weasels, oncoming deadline, brain-weasels, etc) I've decided not to go ahead with the process of beta-reading. Thank you all for your generosity in offering your time and services, and I do apologise for not letting you know prior to this.

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/117107.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: pensive pensive
Why I Think Mind Uploading Is Not Likely To Happen Any Time Soon

Put simply? I don't think mind uploading, or the immanentizing of the eschaton or the storage of brains in computers or anything similar is likely to happen any time soon (or indeed within either my lifetime, or the lifetime of anyone alive at this period) because I'm mentally ill.

Stay with me, there is actually a connection between the two of these, and it isn't just "me being crazy not to believe in the chosen Rapture of the Nerds".

Essay below the fold )

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/116816.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: tired tired
State of the Meg, 08 APR 2018

Warnings: frank discussion of depression, psychological land-mines, and coping strategy fail.

It's been an... interesting few months.

Essay behind cut )

So, that's where I am at present. How's everyone else?

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/116722.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: depressed depressed
Chasing a couple of Beta-Readers

Hi all,

This one is a bit of a weird request, I suspect. I'm looking for at least two beta-readers for a fic I've written for a piece of university assessment (I'm studying a Literary & Cultural Studies/Creative Writing double major... this is the second assignment so far where I've been allowed to submit fanfic as assessable content. I love my degree). I need one beta-reader who is part of the relevant fandom (Final Fantasy VII - original game and Crisis Core, with references to the remake trailer), and at least one other beta-reader who isn't part of the Final Fantasy VII fandom.

This is what I'd be needing from each reader:

Non-fandom - Does the story make even the slightest bit of sense to you? Would you be interested in finding out more? Does it stand alone as a piece of fiction, or do you think you'd need to know the canon in order to make sense of it?

Fandom - Can you clearly recognise the incident(s) I'm referring to, and what happened in them? Can you clearly place the fic in the various canon timelines, and does it make sense in context?

Both - general grammar and spelling niggles (context: I write Commonwealth English, being based in Australia), overall plotting and polishing, what worked for you and why, what didn't work for you and why, overall impressions, etc.

The fic itself is 1500 words long, and I can supply it to potential readers in .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt and probably any other format Libre Office or Microsoft Word can understand.

There's a definite deadline on this request - the assessment itself is due by 11 MAY, so I'd like to have any comments and critique back by 01 MAY in order to be able to incorporate any necessary changes. If you're interested, please drop a comment with a means of getting into direct contact with you (so we can sort out appropriate format issues and so on), or drop me a private message via my DW account.

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/116344.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
Currently Reading: "Simulation" by Jean Beaudrillard.

I am strongly in agreement with Bucky Barnes regarding the readability and sense-making ability of post-modern French philosophes. That is all.

(Longer version: Baudrillard occasionally surfaces to breathe the cool air of making sense, then dives back into the morass of incomprehensibility again. This is very exhausting for the casual reader who is just looking for some decent fscking quotes to add to a 1200 word essay about reproduction and replication (in the semiotic/post-modern sense) in "Planet of the Ood" so she can seem as though she's got at least some philosophical and theoretical backing for her thesis statement. On the bright side, he appears to have predicted Donald Trump's presidency some thirty-three years ahead of time.)

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/116132.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: my brain hurts my brain hurts
The Deconstruction of the Welfare State

Essay under the fold )

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/115769.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: tired tired
An Analogy for Allies

My ongoing analogy for people who are wanting to "ally" in activism with at least a bit of consideration:

The role of the ally in activism is like the role of the parent in children's sports. Allies can do all of the following things:

  • We can get people to events, both physically and metaphorically. (Physically in the sense of "actually taking people to protest sites, rallies, etc"; metaphorically in the sense of providing things like the money to cover transport costs, or by participating in consciousness raising or similar activities to help people get to the point where they want to participate in activism).
  • We can get them safely back home again (both physically and metaphorically - and this includes finding the funding for things like fines, bail, court payments, lawyers fees, and so on).
  • We can provide the emotional support which keeps people carrying out activist activities
  • We can provide the material support which makes activism possible in the first place (and this can be as simple as ensuring there's food, water and shelter available to people involved in activism).
  • We can look after other people's families while they're taking part in events. (This includes providing funding to cover the costs of families where family members have been imprisoned, fined, bailed or whatever).
  • We can help coach people in ways and means which will assist in getting a better result (bearing in mind the limitations which come built into the situation. A child can't do an adult training routine; people in marginalised groups aren't able to access certain forms of privilege)
  • We can referee - which in the context of protest actions means leveraging our privilege to ensure fair play on the part of the people with power.
  • We can keep score - sending pictures of what's going on to the media. Keeping track of who is being harmed by an action, and why.
  • We can cheer from the sidelines, and provide support in every form we can think of.
  • We can provide comfort, warmth and succour for people who are suffering a loss; and we can also assist in the "post-match" phase of planning how to do better next time.
  • We can provide material and physical support during the "game" phase of activism (food, water, first aid, warmth and so on).


What we can't and shouldn't be doing for marginalised groups as allies is attempting to play the game (that is, performing the activism) for them. We also can't expect a trophy for participating. Our contribution may be registered by other allies, but we shouldn't require the gratitude of the people playing the game in order to want to continue helping out. We can be there at the game, helping out and providing support and cheering from the sidelines, but out of simple respect to the players, we have to stay off the field unless we're needed on there.

You stop being an ally when you try and make the game all about you. You stop being an ally when you demand trophies for your participation. You stop being an ally when you demand payment in the form of gratitude and recognition for your actions. You stop being an ally when you invade the pitch, and demand everyone pay attention to you, you, you, and ignore what was going on in the game as it stood.

We also need to recognise, as allies, that we aren't strictly needed in order for the game (activism) to proceed. If we aren't there, if there aren't allies available, people will still organise and be activists (the same way kids will figure out ways to play team games even if there isn't a formal "league" organised by adults for them to play in) and their activism will still be just as valid, and just as real. Sometimes, we won't be welcome - and we need to accept this as well (in the same way kids resent having a fun game of street or back yard cricket with rules about "tip and run" and everyone having their turn at batting and bowling being taken over by adults who want to have a more "formal" game, with proper sides and designated bowlers and batters and so on).

The core truth is: it's their game, and they're the ones who are going to play it, whether we're there or not. We don't get to set the rules, we don't get to choose the players, and we don't get to have participation trophies for showing up to spectate.

(Agree? Disagree? Comments, critique and constructive criticism welcomed, especially from people who are engaged in activism or in activist spaces).

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/115461.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: weird weird
Pauline Hanson, One Nation and Why Far-Right Populism is not The Answer.

Essay below fold )

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/115323.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: cold cold
New on AO3

Reaction - Tifa's point of view for some of the early events of the game.

Warnings for canon-typical violence and major character death.

This was written for a university assignment last year, for Introduction to Writing. Have I mentioned I love my degree?

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/115127.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: creative creative
Study is being... problematic

I managed to get my study all done yesterday (well, except for the textbook reading for Cultural Studies, and I'm going to see about getting that done this morning). But two of the "readings" for Cultural Studies were episodes of Dr Who ("The Beast Below" and "Planet of the Ood") and I found those ... problematic for reasons which had everything to do with the medium, and very little to do with the actual content.

I'm finding I have more and more trouble with audio-visual content these days, mostly because of those audio processing problems of mine. I have particular problems with things like spliced-together versions of things (which one of the "readings" for Engaging Media was this week - spliced together bits of various Disney movies, assembled to tell a story), because with those I don't have the rhythms of speech to help guide me along and give me cues about what the next word is. I also have problems with streaming media where the audio stream gets out of synch with the video (which is practically anything which is over 10 minutes long) because I'm tending to use mouth movements as visual cues to make sense of the audio stream, to help me pick out which bits of the noise I'm hearing are the significant bits. When those fall out of synch with the audio, I start losing the ability to understand the audio stream, and it means I wind up having to work harder to make sense of things. Subtitles help. Subtitles (preferably proper closed captioning, rather than the YouTube automatic ones) give me something to focus on in the visual domain that can make sense of the information coming out of the audio stream. When there aren't subtitles, I can either a) watch the images, and strain to make sense of the dialogue; or b) close my eyes and concentrate on the audio, in the hope of being able to make sense of that without visual data to go along with it. Plus, of course, being in the situation I'm in, any other noise around me comes in at the same damn volume (or louder) than the audio stream I'm supposed to be concentrating on, and putting in earbuds or putting on headphones just means I'm not able to actually move for the duration.

End result: dealing with streaming video input is rather stressful for me these days. There's a reason I tend to stick with games where there are subtitles, where there aren't voice tracks and so on, and it's not just because I don't have the twitch reflexes for the less accessible stuff. Doing these readings at the end of a long day... well, I wind up very tired, very stressed, and I'm still tired and stressed the following morning, because my brain just hasn't had enough time to cool down.

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