Alis

/Alis

About Alis

Alis Franklin is a thirtysomething Australian author of queer urban fantasy. She likes cooking, video games, Norse mythology, and feathered dinosaurs. She’s never seen a live drop bear, but stays away from tall trees, just in case.

The rich and racist right.

Imagine inheriting a whole bunch of money and having to show for it but “funded the rise of the alt-right“.

Also, this. Which is… next level:

[William Regnery II’s] most memorable effort, he claimed, was a convoluted scheme called Operation Dewdrop, intended to suppress Democratic voters in Philadelphia. At the time, he explained, the theory was that Democrats voted less in the rain. So on election day, he said, he tried to seed rain clouds by using dry ice and a twin-engine airplane. It didn’t rain, he recalled, but he burned his fingers from the dry ice canisters, a detail that helps add a ring of authenticity. Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide.

The “master race”, indeed…

2017-08-01T10:55:25+00:00 21st November, 2017|Tags: culture|0 Comments

Civility.

Politics is little more than a baseball game when you don’t need anything. Civility seems like a pressing matter when you already have everything else you require. Bipartisanship sounds like a good idea when ideas affect you in purely abstract ways—when your rights and your power and your wealth and your standard of living will all be fine no matter what Congress does. This describes the situation of the vast majority of the pundit and political class bent on promoting bipartisanship. When all of the important things in your life are peachy, it is easy for surface matters like manners to take on an outsized importance. Why be so partisan, when it’s all a game? Why be so mad at each other about politics that we can no longer have nice parties? Aren’t we all here, primarily, to party?

Everything in politics cannot be solved by compromise. Abortion is legal, or it’s not. That awful Supreme Court justice is confirmed, or he’s not. Pollution is properly regulated, or it’s not. Our tax system is sufficiently progressive, or it’s not. We go to war, or we don’t. Every one of these choices is ultimately a statement of morality—a conviction about what is right and wrong. Valuing “bipartisanship” on the really important issues is an admission that you have no real beliefs.

Hamilton Nolan on pundit baseball.

2017-11-16T11:32:27+00:00 21st November, 2017|Tags: culture, politics|0 Comments

The pipeline.

[W]e’ve been dismissing out of hand the things that young women get excited about for eons. Creating this weird double standard, where it’s okay to be obsessed and hysterical about some things, but not others. And in the midst of all of that – it was about me rediscovering the simple truth that fans make gorgeous digital art… And teach each other technical skills to manipulate images… And make memes…

That right under our noses, there’s a generation of young women who are video editors, graphic designers, community managers. They’re absolutely immersed in technology, every day, and we aren’t paying attention, because they’re doing it in service of something we don’t care about.

Sacha Judd on the fandom pipeline.

For the record, My First Website was a Loki/Sigyn shrine on Geocities back in, erm, circa 1998-ish? I drew all my own crappy art and made all my own crappy graphics, and the background was an intensely awful shade of chartreuse green.1 I learnt HTML from a tutorial given to me by a friend on a floppy disk, after I’d been excited to learn he ran his own Sailor Moon fanpage. By the end of high school, I was doing documentation and community management stuff for the then-largest Sailor Moon fansite, which happened to be run by a white-hat hacker. Because of him, I learnt skills like UNIX administration, the use of version control software, PHP coding, and basic penetration testing.2

Prior to all of that, I’d been pretty convinced I wanted to go to study animation at university and get a job at the then-extant Disney studios in Sydney. Afterwards, as Disney was shutting up shop and moving off shore, I decided to enroll in computer science3 and, well. That’s my STEM Origin Story. And it’s all because of Sailor Moon.

Incidentally, from “Focus Group“, i.e. The Story Wherein I Fail To Predict The Apple Watch, Lain has the following quote about pipelines:

But we still say, here’s the daycare and here’s the cafeteria. Use ’em. And, hey. Your girl’s in school. Here’s a free fucking computer for her to do her fucking homework. Facebook with her friends and fucking write her fucking porny fucking fanfic on. And meanwhile she’s makin’ friends with the kids of our fuckin’ exec team in the holiday program, and they’re writin’ their fics together and ten years later, bam! They’ve got degrees and want jobs and I’ve got a whole new fucking comms team. That’s the pipeline, man.

So, yanno. Predicting tech? Not so great. Predicting fandom as an access point into the tech sector? All over it.

  1. In his original version, Loki was decidedly less fashionable than his current incarnation as Lain. But, well. What can I say? It was the 90s. ↩︎
  2. Which I mostly used to evade the school’s web filter to continue to access the otherwise-blocked fansite. By IP address. IKR? Such a 1337 haxx0r. ↩︎
  3. My dad was overjoyed. ↩︎
2017-08-21T08:55:29+00:00 20th November, 2017|Tags: culture, tech, xp|0 Comments

On horror and the c-word.

No, not that c-word. The other one. The one that ends in “razy”.

For the record,  “Josh Deserved Better!” is pretty much the catch-cry of Until Dawn fandom. Interestingly, a lot of the post-game everyone-lives fanworks don’t attempt to “magically cure” Josh either mentally or physically,1 but rather focus on slow rehabilitation and his learning to live with–and be accepted for–his “new normal”. Which isn’t to say everything in fandom is 100% Pure and Unproblematic–of course it’s not–but it’s always… interesting the way fandom can usually be relied on to reject certain tropes about “monstrousness” and mental illness.

Also, while we’re on the subject, Em in the Wyrdverse is schizophrenic, which is why there are occasional mentions of her “meds”. One of the antagonists in BAD MEME was going to be an entity that gives people waking nightmares (more-or-less). Em is the only one who’s “immune” to it, not because she doesn’t experience its influence, but because she’s so used to experiencing similar symptoms she has better techniques to deal with them.2

  1. Spoiler alert, for people who haven’t played the game. Also content warning for gore and body horror. ↩︎
  2. For the record, it’s also mentioned by Lain that mental illness and other neurodiversesities don’t impact a mortal’s connection, or lack thereof, to the Wyrd. Basically because I hate both ends of that trope, so shut them down in my own ‘verse. Because hah! ↩︎
2017-11-16T11:32:27+00:00 18th November, 2017|Tags: culture, pop culture, xp|0 Comments

The Motherboard guide to not getting hacked.

Yo, you. Yes, you. Have you read Motherboard’s new guide to cybersecurity? Well. You should. And you should implement its recommendations. Because it’s pretty good primer and, critically, it starts in the right place (i.e. by describing threat modelling 101). Which is, yanno. Rare. For these things.

One minor quibble, which I’ve talked about before: Tor is kinda useless, at least if the nation-state actor you’re trying to evade has any kind of cyber capability (e.g. all Western nations, plus countries like China). And if you’re not trying to evade nation-state actors, VPNs are probably easier although, disclaimer, I only turn mine on as-needed (e.g. if I’m connecting to untrusted wifi, or intentionally want to obscure my IP).

2017-11-17T08:43:07+00:00 17th November, 2017|Tags: infosec, privacy, tech|0 Comments

Speedwriter.

I know I’ve told this story before, but at a conference once, an author on a panel was asked how long it took her to write a book, from idea to publication. She said idea to publication, ten days. Ten. It takes her seven days to write it, a day to self-edit, and then a couple days to format it and set up sales channels, etc. She skips having someone else edit her work because it slows down the process, which makes her readers unhappy. They want as much new material as she can write, as fast as possible, and since they loved her books, there can’t be much wrong with them, right? It’s this story that made me absolutely skeptical of the quality of work authors with monthly or bi-monthly releases because the timeline doesn’t allow for another human being to put their eyeballs on their work. So, yes, technically this can be done. Whether or not it should be done is entirely subjective.

Jenny Trout on turnover.

Coming from fandom I find this kind of interesting, because very fast turnarounds in fanfic are both not-uncommon1 and always welcome; no one ever complained that their fav WIP got chapters added too quickly.

I think the fastest I’ve written a novel-length (60k-ish) fic was slightly under two weeks. The caveats are I didn’t have to work out characterization, setting, or lore–since they’d all been provided to me by the existing canon–and, even though I still think the fic is quite good, I find new typos and badly written sentences every time I re-read it. I also not-quite-unobviously changed the direction the fic’s finale was headed in halfway through, meaning some of the early foreshadowing is off. It’s something I’d fix up in a “profic” but didn’t worry too much about when I was posting something chapter-by-chapter to the AO3.

On the other hand, fandom is as fandom does, which means no-one’s ever complained about the fic’s deficiencies; only praised the parts about it they like. It doesn’t mean the rough edges aren’t there, though, and it doesn’t mean that learning to both, a) identify them, and b) polish them off isn’t a valuable skill. It’s just not something I feel all that bothered about doing when I’m posting fanfic, which is basically why I write fanfic; because it’s such a low-pressure2 exercise compared to producing pro works, and yet is something that helps me develop certain craft skills in ways the pro workflow doesn’t.

  1. That is, not necessarily common, but also not necessarily uncommon. ↩︎
  2. And high feedback! ↩︎
2017-08-21T08:46:15+00:00 16th November, 2017|Tags: fanfic, profic, writing, xp|0 Comments