Thinking about videos?

Ok so I've been making so much more stuff in Premiere since I got my new laptop -- Like, I've just been doing screen capture and making instagram videos whenever I'm doodling. (Only two of them have wound up going up so far, because they're the ones I liked after the fact.)

And I've got a bunch of arguments I want to formally, structurally make before I go to Readercon, and I've been watching a ton of video essays.

So I'm thinking, on top of my vlog, I want to try and make a few video essays this summer. Y'know, put more than 6 hours into a video now and again, see what I can do with a serious script, some animating, less talking-at-the-camera.

I've been hesitating in doing more serious videos, anyway, because I don't want to throw them into the continuity with the slush videos I make for my vlog. I like making my vlog and I'm proud of it, but it's not polished the way I'd want these videos to be, and I'd like to make that distinction visible on my channel. I also don't want to break up the continuity of my vlog, so I think possibly when I'm working on an episode like this my vlog will be some behind-the-scenes stuff occasionally.

Upwork's irritating lack of nuance with respect to trans people's names

I can't connect a bank account to my Upwork account, because on Upwork I go by my name, but my bank account is connected to the string of letters that the IRS uses to interface with me as a legal object. Since they aren't similar, I would need to meet Upwork's requirements to get that requirement waived: 

"[If y]ou are a transgender individual – Upwork will make exceptions for transgender individuals who are in the process of transitioning but have not been able to obtain a name change due to legal or other barriers. Documentation may be required."

First of all, the "process of transitioning" is fuzzy as fuck when it comes to nonbinary people, who've been nonbinary the whole time, and who are going to continue to be nonbinary. Or nonbinary people who don't have access to any structure of legally recognized mechanism of transition because they aren't looking to jump in status or form out of the designation of their assigned-at-birth gender to the other universally recognized state-approved gender. Or nonbinary people who have complicated, uneven, inconsistent access to healthcare, and don't happen to have any medical records to call on that name anything to be specifically gender-related.

This was annoying before. But now, they've introduced a new feature -- potential employers can specify that they want applicants to be from a specific place. That's fine, I'm comfortable being asked to work on jobs native to the US specifically because I'm also here, there are cultural and linguistic reasons that that can matter. And I'm also happy to be excluded in advance from applying to jobs that are only interested in applicants from someplace I don't live. Saves me energy and connects (Upwork's tokens you spend on applying to jobs).

But to apply for any job that's employing that particular filter, you need a verified bank account that comes from the place you claim to be from. And I don't have a bank account connected to my Upwork account, because like I said, I am not unambiguously "in the process of transitioning," so much as I am "in the process of having been nonbinary the whole time so far and planning on continuing to be." Legally setting the string of characters the IRS uses for me to match my name is a complicated thing I can't realistically pursue right now. And I have no documentation.

And if I ask for that exemption, which I feel it's strongly hinted I won't get, then it's also strongly hinted that they'll require me to either update my Upwork profile to feature that IRS string rather than my name, or deactivate my account.

So, this is a vector of potential income that's tangibly withheld from me, and in order to gain access I either need to publicly misrepresent myself and be closeted for the purposes of freelance work (fragmenting my portfolio even more than it already is, making it even harder to pursue the kind of work I'm looking for) or I need to risk torching this entire space of potential employment in the process of asking Upwork to recognize my gender identity and name.

(I wonder if writing this blog post will get my account banned?)

Upwork's irritating lack of nuance with respect to trans people's names:

Architecture & city planning homework!

I'm working on my Diiiv stuff and today it involved a whole lot of setting design. I feel like I made some reasonable progress today!

Magic in "The Last Kingdom"

I've heard the show "The Last Kingdom" repeatedly described as "'Game of Thrones' without the magic." My dad pitched it to me that way, I read articles that said that's what it is. But -- (spoilers to follow) -- it's really not.

Not because it isn't Game-of-Thrones-like -- it absolutely is -- but this show, set in Saxon England during the reign of Alfred the Great, has almost as much magic in it as Game of Thrones.

Which is to say, very little, and generally ambiguous. But when a pagan medicine woman brings a baby back from the brink of death using a moonlight ritual and trading its life for the life of a healthy baby elsewhere in the world, a death later confirmed to have occurred at about the right time, it's hard to defend the idea that this is a magic-less world. That's not to mention the fact that this woman has repeatedly accurately seen the future, or into distant places, in visions.

This story hints at the possibility that the Christian god is real, and sells unambiguously the position that pagan magic works. The structure of the narrative teaches us to expect that pagan magic is effective, and rewards that expectation. (Even when the pagan prophesies aren't real, it's because -- as the show makes extremely clear -- they were falsified. Not "real" magic, which if it had been we could have trusted.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally pro magic. I love high fantasy stories about medieval kingdoms, and it's cool to see one play out in the actual medieval world instead of a pastiche. But this is definitely a fantasy series. I don't know about the books, but in the TV show, the magic is real.

The implications of gunpowder re: steampunk

I was watching an episode of the Nerdwriter just now in which (the narrator dude whose name I can't quickly find on his page) argues that the existence of dragons is the reason that the world of Game of Thrones never industrialized.

The main point is that cannons are the thing that break the castle system of self-defense, and since you can buy cannons, once they're available they stimulate rapid economic growth.

This is something I've thought about a lot, because I play D&D sometimes and am a huge nerd and tend to write characters who are at least a little bit irritated that everything is done so inefficiently considering there's literally magic to work with. One of the questions that occurred to me while I was developing one of those lines of thought is whether there were any pre-gunpowder chemical explosives, which, it turns out, no. There weren't.

So I started to try to work out how you could break down castle walls, and I thought, "Compressed air." So I googled air compressors, which it turns out require motors that run on either combustion or electricity.

So that's out, unless I can come up with a different kind of engine, which was when I remembered steam engines, then realized that a steam engine is a compressed air generator, then realized that goddammit I just accidentally re-invented steampunk.


Before I go to sleep tonight, I really want to actually script tomorrow's vlog, so that I can film in the morning, when there's nobody in the house and maybe some natural light. 

But I'm really just coming up completely blank right now on ideas. 

I tried for like two hours yesterday to get some kind of screen capture working, so that I could do some preparatory sketching for my Div III comic and use that. But, once again, I failed to get the software to behave while I worked.


Yarrr! Content

The new episode of Idea Channel on the meaning of the word "content" on the internet is really interesting, and I have thoughts on it. I posted them in a comment but I also want to duplicate them here because I think I'm likely to want to reference them.


Not disagreeing with your argument for the meaning that has emerged from the notion of content, but possibly proposing an intended meaning that's incompatible with your proposed re-orientation to the division:

The term content seems to me to emerge from a desire that "content creators" have to distinguish themselves from people generating media with no commercial intention -- or a desire on the part of others to draw that distinction. Under capitalism there's a lot of value in finding a categorical difference between a "content creator" and, for example, a vlogger who is merely a hobbyist -- but so many people have built professional lives out of their internet content creation hobbies, and so many people continue to take up these "jobs" *as* hobbies, that it's impossible to name a categorical distinction between a "professional" and a hobbyist.

For some folks this is probably important. If you get asked by your relatives "what are you doing with your life?" "I create content for new media platforms" sounds better than "I'm a vlogger" or "I draw comics on Tumblr." And I'm sure there was a transitional period when savvy corporate employees had to convince their bosses that platforms like YouTube were worth advertising on just like regular TV.

What I'm saying is, I don't think the seed of this idea has anything to do with the consumers, I think it's about how the creators contextualize their work as capital. But I think you're totally right about the conceptual consequences of that idea when it starts getting applied to the relationship viewers have to their media.

being in one place all the time is beginning to wear on me

I've been doing graphic design for a card game, and re-binge-watching episodes of the Big Fat Quiz of the Year on YouTube, very nearly all day.

I just remembered that I have to vlog today, and I haven't filmed yet.

I had a lot of very weird nightmares.

I'm tired. 

being in one place all the time is beginning to wear on me:

Word games

I'm ... not very good at word games? Like, I'm not very bad, but I'm not very good. 

This has been on my mind because one of the games I kept after my last phone purge was Word Streak, which is a Words-with-Friends style Boggle simulator. I've been playing with Hannah Rae, a friend from school, and my mother. Hannah Rae is very good at Word Streak. My mother is absurdly good at Boggle. I have been getting my ass kicked.

I've also been watching a ton of "Eight out of Ten Cats does Countdown," which is a British panel show parodying(?) a British game show that involves getting words from a random set of letters.

At least I'm alright at Pictionary.

Summer, sleep

Just got home from visiting friends, getting into bed, and I wanted to write a quick post about my sleep schedule while I'm home.

I'm going to be trying harder with sleep this summer than I normally do. Part of this is because of my parents' work schedule, and the kids' school schedule: They all get up to get ready for work/school around 5:15 to 5:30, and leave by 6. That means I wake up at 5:15 to 5:30, and can't start trying to go back to sleep until 6. 

So, if I first fall asleep at 3 or 4, there's a fair chance I won't really be asleep by the time they get up, so I get less sleep than I planned, and end up sleeping through morning and until 2 or 3, by which point the kids are getting back and making noise again and I've slept through the only chunk of the day where I can occupy the space of my home unconstrained. (Since I don't want to wake them.)

I don't want to get up at 6 a.m., so I need enough sleep both before and after that to really substantially rest. So, I'm aiming for 1 to 5, and 6 to 9. 

This is more planning than I've ever put into sleeping at home before and I really hope it pays off.

Last vlog of series 3 tomorrow. Looking forward to filming during the day, when I have that peace and quiet I was talking about.