The NA Tour #1: WestJet’s Bogus Journey

So I went to North America recently.

There’s a lot to unpack from my trip, and I don’t just mean my bags. There’s a lot of thoughts and feelings I have about my trip that I’m still working through now, more than two weeks after I got back home. I spent about three weeks travelling in Ontario and the eastern United States, and I have a lot of things to talk about.

Let’s start with how I ended up stranded in Gatwick for two days.

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The Narrative of the “SJW”

As a werewolf who used Twitter at least once, I’ve seen the term “SJW” come up.

It stands for “social justice warrior.” It is almost always used negatively, as an insult or a criticism. To be a social justice warrior is not a good thing in the eyes of most of the people who use it, although certain people – almost invariably those who are regularly accused of being one – have reclaimed the term and wear it as a proud, albeit perhaps ironic badge of honour.

In almost any conversation on social media about gender, race, sexuality or disability, you will likely encounter the term at least once. Seeing this, you may ask: “but what does it mean?”

The answer, as we are about to discover, is simple: absolutely nothing at all. Continue reading “The Narrative of the “SJW””

The Deathless Franchise

As a werewolf who consumes media, I’m really tired.

Noted American musician and activist Frank Zappa once said that it isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice, because there are two other possibilities: paperwork, and nostalgia. While a world ended by paperwork was very easy to imagine, until recently I found it difficult to envision exactly what a world ending in nostalgia might look like.

Fortunately, we have contemporary media to provide us an excellent example.

We now live in a world where some franchises can never really end. Shareholder cabals and corporate executives refuse to innovate and so we’re stuck in a world where, for example, there will be a Star Wars movie every year for the forseeable future. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue to churn out film after film through phase after phase, and it’s exhausting.

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Misunderstanding Government

As a werewolf who occasionally has political discussions, I notice the government tends to come up a lot.

Some discussions – almost exclusively the ones I have with right-wingers – have led me to an odd realisation: I think a lot of people don’t actually understand why governments exist, what they’re supposed to do and what responsibilities certain positions entail. There is a general understanding that the president of the United States or the primeminister of the United Kingdom is “in charge of the country,” and that the legislature “makes laws,” but not very much beyond that.

This strikes me as a problem, because governments are all at once the entity that makes decisions that affect the entire country, the entity whose decisions the country evaluates when deciding who to give power to and the entity that decides how that power is distributed.

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Yes, The Attack Helicopter “Joke” Is Harmful

transphobia

As a werewolf who believes in treating human beings with basic decency, I don’t feel like I should have to explain this.

However, there seems to be an unfilled niche for people willing to explain this particular issue patiently and politely, so I’ll attempt to do so. For the benefit of people reading this, I would like to provide a CONTENT WARNING for the following topics: racism, racial slurs, racial caricature, homophobia, transphobia, discussion of genitals and, of course, these dumb attack helicopter jokes.

Continue reading “Yes, The Attack Helicopter “Joke” Is Harmful”

The Joy of Fursuiting

Werepaper

As a werewolf who’s part of the furry fandom, I enjoy fursuiting.

To a lot of people outside of the fandom, fursuits are probably the most visible part of it. Private meet-ups, discussions and artistic endeavours in a niche subculture usually stay fairly well-contained within it, but the elaborate and expensive animal costumes we sometimes wear during public gatherings tend to end up on the camera rolls of passers-by, and from there tend to splash across social media. To most outsiders, in fact, we are those guys who dress up like animals. If we end up featured on TV, whether in fiction or in a documentary, most likely the show’s portrayal of furries will revolve mostly or entirely around fursuiters.

In fact, not every furry has a fursuit; for instance, of the roughly 7,500 attendees at Anthrocon 2017, currently the second largest annual furry convention on the planet, there were almost exactly 1,500 fursuits counted at the Fursuit Parade. While a significant number of fursuiters who attend Anthrocon don’t participate in the parade, it suggests that close to 20% of attendees owned a fursuit, and this is consistent with Parade participation as compared to total attendance for several previous years.

Why do it, though? I’ve often been asked by people outside the fandom what the appeal is.

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What if the 52% are Wrong?

As a werewolf who lives in the United Kingdom, I’ve found it impossible to avoid Brexit.

No, really. There’s no way of escaping this bloody nonsense. Absolutely everything even remotely political now has to be connected to Brexit in some way, from the NHS to scientific grant funding to bees. It’s frankly very tiring to talk about Brexit, so I forgive you if you’re already tuning out of this article, but worry not: I’m not going to talk about Brexit too much in this article. I’ve got a much broader question in mind, and Brexit so happens to be usefully illustrative of it.

The question is: is it ever acceptable for a government to overrule the expressed will of the majority?

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What is Cultural Appropriation?

As a werewolf who writes about culture, sometimes I run into heated discussions about cultural appropriation.

Often, when I see these discussions, the argument is less about whether it’s a societal ill and more about what the actual definition of the term is and what acts constitute it. It’s very difficult to have a meaningful conversation about a subject when terms can’t be agreed upon, so let’s discuss what cultural appropriation is.

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Synthwave: Yesterday’s Tomorrow

As a werewolf who was born in the 1980s, I find the obsession with its culture fascinating.

Stranger Things isn’t an isolated phenomenon. Nostalgia for the 80s has been present in culture for about as long as I’ve been alive – heck, I was born in 1988, so only two years of my life at most were free of popular culture nostalgic for that decade. We’ve brought Stephen King’s It to cinema and created sequels to genre-defining classics like Blade Runner, Mad Max and Rambo. The grainy, neon-drenched aesthetic of the decade crops up in video games like Hotline Miami and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Turns out people in their twenties and thirties – who probably don’t actually remember much about the decade, if they were even alive back then – absolutely love the 80s.

I’m typing this on a mechanical RGB keyboard whose keys follow a smooth gradient fade from a deep blue at the bottom to a neon pink at the top. Trust me, I’m into this whole nostalgia thing just as much as anyone else.

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Daikatana: The Little Game With A Big Sword

As a werewolf who plays video games, I feel it’s important to learn from history.

You rarely find more history crammed into a consumer product than Daikatana, and rarely do you find as much to learn from. This is a story that spans years and involves a bewildering array of subjects from 3D modeling and coding to advertising and architecture. It revolves around an eccentric visionary with an endless imagination and a fierce ambition, and also highlights the problems such people face.

This is a story about a man, a game studio and a Big Sword.

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