i’m just sitting here thinking about how good taylor swift is to her fans and getting overwhelmed like she is so… good to us……. every single one of us….

and a lot of celebrities are amazing to their fans and i don’t want to make it a case of ‘my fave is better’ but i just am genuinely so grateful that i happen to adore someone who continuously goes above and beyond for their fans and i think sometimes i take it for granted

like she literally spends hours going through instagram and tumblr looking at things fans have written to her or made for her and likes a bunch of them because she knows how happy it will make people, and she also comments on SO MANY OF THEM, and personalises the comments and gives people advice so they know that she actually cares about them on an individual level, and she does this multiple times a week

and the fact that you can’t pay for meet and greets, you have to win them, and the competitions are usually based on how big of a fan you are, and then she has additional meet and greets AFTER most of her shows based on who acted the enthusiastic DURING her shows so she gets to meet as many hardcore fans as possible, like that is so incredible and she doesn’t have to do any of that, it seems like she does these things because she genuinely cares about us and wants to meet us

and just the fact that in my 7+ years of being a fan i have never once heard a story of her being rude to a fan, EVER in 7 YEARS!!!!! NOT ONCE!!!! everyone who meets her says the same thing, that she treats you like she’s your long lost best friend, and having met her myself i can confirm this

she’s one of the biggest celebrities in the world right now and she still manages to treat her fans as if we’re her friends like she did back in 2007 when she used to go and comment on people’s myspaces and i’M JUST SO GRATEFUL I’M HAVING A MOMENT ok i’m fine it’s fien

For instance, the World Bank is essentially an American instrument, and the United States is a food-surplus nation threatened with loss of foreign markets for farm products as modernization of European agriculture proceeds. For the World Bank to finance such institutional reforms in developing nations as would lead them toward self-sufficiency on food account would run counter to American interests. U.S. farm surpluses would become unmanageable as the overseas market for U.S. farm products dwindled. Hence, the World Bank prefers perpetuation of world poverty to the development of adequate overseas capacity to feed the peoples of developing countries.

There is a yet more subtle point to be considered. Mineral resources represent diminishing assets. It is in the interest of developing peoples to conserve such assets for their own ultimate use in manufacturing industries, as these develop within the borders of nations rich in raw materials but backward in general development. In the short run such domestic use of mineral resources is not possible because of inadequate industrial capital and consumer markets place. The specter is thus raised that in the long run these countries will find themselves depleted of resources as World Bank programs accelerate the exploitation of their mineral deposits for use by other nations.

The long-term prospect is thus for these countries to be unable to earn foreign exchange on export account sufficient to finance their required food imports. The World Bank has foreseen this. Its proposals for population limitation in these countries is a cold-blooded attempt to extort from them their mineral resources, without assuming responsibility for the sustenance of these peoples once the industrialized West has stripped them of their fuel and mineral deposits.

Consider the alternative, that World Bank loans and technical assistance foster agricultural self-sufficiency among these peoples. Assume substantial success in this endeavor in, say, a decade. Thereafter, exportation of fuels and minerals would become a matter of choice by these peoples, not a necessity. Such export might continue at current levels; it might increase, or it might diminish. The decision to conserve or to dissipate exhaustible resources would be autonomous, a matter of choice by these peoples and their governments, not something imposed upon them from outside. The decision about desirable levels of population also would be a local matter, not something demanded among the terms on which capital resources are obtained from foreign suppliers. The peoples now dependent would escape that trap. This is not intended or desired either by the World Bank or by the government of the United States and its client regimes….

Excessive industrialization in the United States, coupled with increasingly wasteful uses of resources on armaments and on personal luxuries that are essentially trivial in terms of human well-being, makes essential the U.S. exploitation of the developing countries, their resources and peoples. The United States is in deficit on raw-materials account, but is unwilling to limit its industrial expansion correspondingly. It is in surplus on farm products account, but is unwilling to limit its agriculture accordingly. The peoples of developing countries therefore are to be turned into the instrument through which the otherwise untenable U.S. economic process is perpetuated.

— 

Michael Hudson, Super-Imperialism

jp morgan fired him for writing this stuff in the early 70s

Writing a query letter can be one of the most daunting tasks of the writing process. You have to pitch your entire book to an agent in ~300 words and hope they’ll be interested enough to ask for more. But when you search Google for help, all you find are sites that say, "Write a good hook!" or "Be brief in the body of the letter!"

Well, in this post, you’re going to get an (extremely) detailed breakdown of my query letter, which garnered a good number of requests. You’ll find what hooks agents, what not to include, and a step-by-step guide to tackling the formidable “back cover description”in the body of your letter.

Read More 

I made this drawing in my freshman year of high school (2008), inspired by the TV in my French class. As with much of the technology found in California’s public schools, this TV was a sad-looking mass of plastic and metal that never quite functioned the way it was supposed to. Various cables, bungee cords, and strips of duct tape precariously adhered this monstrosity to an equally broken utility cart. My assigned seat was right next to it. 

I lived in perpetual fear that someday the cables would snap and the whole thing would topple over and squish me.

I don’t miss high school…

(Skyler Brown)

As the cove runs red today, perhaps we would be more efficient in directing our anger and frustration towards the Taiji fishermen and marine parks who buy from Taiji. 

Complaining about Seaworld’s lack of action in this non related issue is so off point it’s concerning. 

A Personal Statement from an Indie Dev on why #GamerGate Is Important

Well, the past few weeks have been pretty crazy, haven’t they? I’ve been trying to put together this statement for months - even before Gamergate started up. The need for this statement has only increased as the weeks have gone on so I’m glad for finally getting the opportunity to talk about it publically and get it off my chest.

My name is Christopher Arnold. I am an aspiring indie developer. My company, Crowned Daemon Studios, is currently working on its first game, ”Freak”. I don’t have a vast body of experience in the industry, so I can’t attest to any major corruptions in the indie scene. What I can definitely attest to is an extremely toxic, overly critical environment prohibiting fledgling developers from making games about personal issues and that this environment is being actively encouraged by gaming journalists and critics.

One of the difficult things in writing this statement is me being able to articulate my feelings on why the current atmosphere of viciously enforced political correctness is stifling developers without turning it into a giant advertisement for ”Freak”. At this moment we do not have any screenshots or gameplay footage and we are still working on a demo, so any inadvertent advertising of the game in this statement feels cheap (for reasons I will touch on later). Rest assured, I am not making this statement in order to sell our game. I talk about the game here because it gives context. Now let’s get to the actual point.

This is Tinker.

He is the main playable character in our game. In the opening scene he is attacked by a group of zombies, bitten and then seemingly dies only to come back to life with his humanity intact. Not quite zombie, not quite human, he has to wander back to his home through an unforgiving wilderness in hopes that the medical personnel there can figure out how he ‘survived’.

Tinker and I are alike in a lot of ways. Like me, he has an innate love of tinkering around with things (hence his nickname). He’s withdrawn, moody and has difficulty dealing with people. Also like me, he is autistic.

The process of writing for Tinker has required me to call upon my own experiences with autism, as well as the experiences of other members of the development team who are either autistic themselves or who knew people that are. While I would not say that the game itself is inherently about autism, it does inform Tinker’s story arc, so it is a crucial aspect of the story.

Throughout the entire process of working on the game to its current state, I have not once been afraid of trolls who will make fun of the game for touching on the issue of autism, or harass myself and the other team members of Crowned Daemon Studios for being autistic. What I have been afraid of has been the reactions from the social justice-minded members of the gaming community and mass media, be they positive OR negative. But to explain why I have to explain my own experiences with autism.

I’ve always felt like I’m a burden - on my family, on my friends, on the people around me. My inability to just act normally has caused the people around me no shortage of grief. Even though they hide it, ignore it, or say it doesn’t matter I know it eats away at them. I know they still love me and care for me but that doesn’t change the fact that for the longest time I’ve taken more than I’ve given back.

People have judged me and treated me differently because of my condition but not in the way you might think. I’ve been given preferential treatment my entire life. People have walked on eggshells around me, afraid of calling me out for when I’ve done something wrong for fear of being insensitive (I won’t name names or point to specific examples because I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m blaming them). I understand that these people who have given me this treatment do so for the best of intentions but it isn’t helping me to become more of a well-adjusted person. It’s enabling me to continue justifying my inexcusable behavior. It’s important to me that my game succeeds based on its own merits. I am more than my diagnosis. My failures are mine alone and I will face them as they come. I will not have my condition be used as a shield from criticism, be it against myself or my work.

I never intended to use the subject matter to elevate my game over others. When I started writing up the plot for the game I was very depressed. While I won’t say that I’m ‘over’ any of it, I will say that writing this character has helped me come to understand it better. While I would like for my game to ultimately help other people with autism (or people who know someone who does) to come to a better understanding of the condition, this isn’t going to be ‘Autism Quest’. It’s a game with a character who reflects my life experiences. It likewise is not a game about autism but rather a game that involves a character with autism - an important difference which I would like to emphasize. Nor am I going to be writing a representation of all autistic people everywhere. That would be as inherently impossible and problematic as writing a character who’s meant to represent every member of any demographic.

In the past few weeks I’ve seen lots of people come forward and talk about how important gaming is to them. For me gaming has always been my link to other people. My first gaming memory was playing “Chex Quest” with my dad (I was about 5, so he controlled the movement and lined me up to take the shots). Most of the console gaming I ever did growing up was at friend’s houses. All of the people currently on the design team for “Freak” were friends I met through gaming. Gaming, and the culture around it, has been more than an escape for me. It has been the most effective way for me to find other like-minded people and bond with them. I want everyone to be able to engage with this culture like I have, and believe that this can be done without demonizing anyone.

Those in the gaming mass media think they’re doing people like me a favor, but they’re not. They’re smothering me and others like me. I know now there is no way they will hold my game truly accountable for any flaws it might ultimately have because they’ll think that any dismissal or criticism of the game as a whole will be a direct attack on autistic people, and it quite clearly is not. When people do dog pile on games that cover issues like this (I won’t name names but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks), it’s because of how the subject matter is approached, not that it was approached at all. The flaws of these games have been in their inability to truly connect with the people who play them, not that they had the audacity to attempt something new. If I had come forward before this, I would have been made a pet of the ‘social justice gaming crowd’, a person they could throw around to show how diverse and righteous they are, all while shielding themselves from criticism. I would be given preferential treatment just like I always have. It never ends.

I shouldn’t have to worry if my game is getting positive press because the journalists wanted to use my condition as a way to elevate themselves and their pet causes. I shouldn’t have to worry if my game got the praise it did for simply being a game with a good topic rather than by being a good game, period. But here I am, worried anyway, and whether or not my fears are ultimately justified it says volumes about the game industry at this point that I should have these fears at all.

But what about developers who aren’t writing about their own experiences? What about people writing about characters who have a different race, gender, or sexuality than them? For people like them it’s probably even worse, and I’ve experienced that as well.

For instance: this is Hannah.


Hannah is a member of an emerging power in the post-zombie world called ‘The Fellowship’. Their mission is to rid the world of the infected and provide safe transit for civilians through the wilderness. Like the other members of the Fellowship, Hannah is a skilled fighter, tracker, and scavenger. She is also a lapsed Muslim consumed with guilt over some of the things she had to do to survive during the fall of civilization who hopes that she can redeem herself and become closer to God again through her actions in The Fellowship.

Hannah is just one of eleven other characters besides Tinker that will be playable for a portion of the game. We’ve talked about some of these characters to various people in order to get feedback, and while so far it’s been positive, there have been some recurring remarks that are indicative of how discouraging and toxic gaming culture is to those who want to attempt something different. Remarks like “make sure you do your research” and “make sure it’s not offensive”, while seemingly innocent reminders to people that if they’re going to talk about important issues that they should be well-informed on them first, come across to developers as presumptuous attacks (whether they’re intended or not). It’s always an uphill battle to prove that we’ve done our research, which is inevitably a lost cause since there have been multiple instances of games being historically or culturally accurate (“Six Days in Fallujah”, to name just one) that still draw ire from critics anyway. Developers already feel pressure even approaching these topics. Getting responses that basically amount to “don’t screw up” won’t make them feel encouraged. Considering that what offends people is purely subjective, a far better response would be to volunteer to help the developer. Offer to talk with them about your experiences, give them suggestions on biographies, documentaries, or books that could give them help on the topic. Be encouraging and helpful. Help lighten the load, don’t make it heavier.

I don’t want to go into specific examples regarding websites I’ve seen approaching topics wrong or even individual people. Suffice it to say that seeing a new game get ravaged for supposed sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc. seemingly every week makes me feel less inclined to want to write characters like Tinker, Hannah, or the many others who will be playable in our game. To these people and publications, all I have to ask is: is this what you want? Do you want people to be too afraid to make inclusive art? Because whether that was your intent or not, it’s what’s actually happening. It’s hard enough investing all your money and time into making a studio, working for years on a game that will eventually be judged by both critics and consumers without then also having to be worried that those same critics will sensationalize your game in order to make a few more big articles.

To those who have allowed Gamergate to get to where it is now, you have my undying thanks. For the past year while writing “Freak”, I’ve known deep down that journalists would never really care about me or my game. They just wanted to use me, and others like me. None of that will stop me. I’ll keep making “Freak”, not for the sake of the cynical, exploitative gaming press. I’m doing it for you, the gamers, whether you can relate to the experiences of Tinker and myself or not. Art is about sharing our experiences with all those who will lend their ears. It’s about being true to ourselves and lending our voices. You take away that voice, and we have nothing.

I know it’s been a long struggle. Gamergate’s been going for almost a month. All I can say is, for the sake of this industry, for the sake of quality journalism and criticism and for the sake of developers like myself and the others who have either spoken out or stayed silent: do not give up. Ever. Even if Gamergate is winding down (and I don’t think it is), carry what you’ve learned here with you. Help those who are willing to stand up for you, be it whole websites or singular content creators on YouTube. You deserve to be represented by good, honest people who will give their all for you.

Everyone in gaming deserves to be heard. I do believe that games can have a wider variety of characters, stories, and settings. But above everything else, I believe that these games should be made by people who want to do it. The passion and the burning need to tell a story must be there or else none of it will matter. So let me say it now, to everyone who is championing for a more diverse industry: it starts with you. If you feel your voice needs to be heard, than speak up in a way that will carry: by making the games you want to see made. Their success will say more than a thousand angry emails, blog posts, or YouTube video essays. I mean, if some autistic kid who’s never made a game can get his friends together to make one that talks about his experiences, than why can’t you?

I thank you all for taking the time to read this novella (manifesto? Is that what they’re called these days?). To other developers who may be reading this now, know that you don’t have to suffer alone. We’re all in this together now. Making this industry better is in our hands. Let’s make it into one we’re proud to call our own.

Cowspiracy: the environmental documentary with a new message the world needs to hear

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Picture from the premier, from Splice Photography’s FB

Last month, I went to the Cowspiracy NYC premier. I was not prepared to be so moved! I went into the theater like, “OMG I’m tired and work is annoying and now I have to see a documentary and learn shiz” and I left like, “OMG I’M SO GLAD I’M VEGAN HOW CAN WE MAKE THE WORLD VEGAN?!”

The movie starts as a first-person journey to sustainability for Kip Andersen. He’s a self-proclaimed environmentalist, but it’s not until some serious digging that Kip discovers the devastating impact of the meat and dairy industries on the environment. As someone who turns to organizations like Greenpeace and Surfrider for info and guidance, Kip wonders why they have almost no information on the number one cause of environmental destruction (i.e. meat and dairy). He goes to speak to these organizations and films interviews (sometimes secretly). The interviews are nothing short of hilarisad (my own word, you can use it). By the middle of the movie, we have what shapes up to be a very real conspiracy. I know, sounds melodramatic, but watch the movie. There is no more appropriate word than conspiracy. The groups that are supposed to be helping the environment are spitting out more crap than a factory farm. Really, it’s bonkers. 

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This guy was my fave. 

At the beginning of the movie, I was a little put off by the numbers the filmmakers cite, as I know they are all hotly contended. But then it occurred to me, no matter who’s numbers you pick, meat and dairy is still the number one threat to the environment! We can debate the specific numbers all day but no matter where you net out, it’s bad. Here’s a great example from a Beef Magazine article: Why Ranchers Should Care About The Documentary “Cowspiracy”

Of course, Cowspiracy just appears to be regurgitating the common myths the beef industry has worked hard to correct over the years. For example, the Cowspiracy website claims it takes 660 gals. of water to make one hamburger, or the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers.

However, according to Facts About Beef, “In reality, it takes 441 gals. of water to produce 1 lb. of boneless beef…” 

Well! A mere 441 gallons. So there’s my point: no matter who’s numbers you use, it’s bad. 

Oh one thing I should warn you about, while the movie is not very gruesome, there is one slaughter scene. But you know it’s about to happen so you can close your eyes, as I did. Because the main focus is environment and not animal welfare, the disturbing images are of effed up forests and whatnot, not abused animals. So if you close your eyes for the one part, you should mostly be ok. EXCEPT you may be SO ANGRY that this shiz is going down!

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One of the filmmakers, Kip Andersen, at the after party with Noah Gittell and Dania DePas of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Photo by Splice Photography

I also attended the after party, organized by vegan media maven Nell Alk. Suite ThreeOhSix was kind enough to host and eats were supplied by Dr. Cow, juicers PitangaThe Vegan VineDun-Well Doughnuts, and Pipsnacks.

And here is my goodie bag in all its splendor! 

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Featuring: candles from Produce Candles, body lotion from Bulldog Skincare, honey sticks from Bee Free Honee, chocolate bars from Brooklyn Dark, white chocolate medallions from Obsessive Confection Disorder, soap bars and bath bombs from LUSH, protein bars from 22 Days Nutrition, lip balm from Hurraw, and coupons for free products from Beyond Meat and Gardein

Plus everything came in eco totes from Minnesota-based brand Relan. They make their bags with recycled billboards! How cool will I look at the farmers market this weekend?! Spoiler: SO COOL!

Basically, the party was the perfect chaser to the movie. Back to the film: I encourage everyone to see it and organize a viewing in your area if you can! 

Here’s how you can see the film yourself:

-For DVD and digital download pre-sale options, visit the Cowspiracy site.
-For information on how to organize—or attend—a screening in your own community, visit the Tugg site.
-Watch for Cowspiracy on Netflix and iTunes this fall.

And follow them on FB for updates and great graphics like this one (my new favorite image):

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The Abner Toolbox takes a necessary household necessity and makes it into a work of art. Designed by Aaron Poritz, the toolbox is crafted entirely in teak, including the comb joints that hold the box together. Named after his grandfather who taught Aaron woodworking as a child the Abner toolbox includes a bottom tool compartment, inset tray, and a self-contained lid. The handle of the tool is fixed from the bottom of the interior of the toolbox, so the tray and cover slide easily over the carved handle. The toolbox can be used to store household tools, card games, jewelry, or any accents that need organizing. Each Abner Toolbox is ethically handmade in Nicaragua by skilled craftsmen.

See them online HERE.

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