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from humanissome

Or Why I Settle For Less

This post dabbles briefly in a couple of topics. I continue to feel uninterested in full writing immersion at this time (midway through National Novel Writing Month). One idea for a post is/was a list:

Late fall update
Now ’til December 21Highlights looking back
* Cards – business & note * Resurrecting email * This blog * Write an annual message? * Post more paintings online * Social contact * Cards – business & note * Resurrecting email * This blog * My niece’s wedding in New Orleans * Quitting so many online spaces
I don't like lists because I find their creation to be executive acts that eat into the energy available for total executive function. List making in low energy moments may prevent achievement of the items placed on the list.
The title of this blog post is also instruction on how to enjoy it. By settling for less we may be able to enjoy life more. Ah, but there you see, I had to add in more, as in the adage “Less Is More.” More activates us. I have been spreading my Settle For Less message lately & I can proudly report that it is not liked! I was told that what I mean to say is “adjust expectations.” I can tell you that I have fully adjusted to expect others to tell me what I mean! Any self-talk that includes the word “expectations” is never going to be felt as deeply in me as saying to myself:
Settle For Less
I trust myself to discern what it is that I mean. I do not expect this new mantra to lead me into deprivation, or that I won't “go as far” as I would if I spoke other words to myself. I choose these words with care, specifically because they get my attention and speak to me. Perhaps my settling for less could lead to publishing a book I quite like instead of one that's “world-changing.”

Mantra is a word I have no business using since I have an incomplete understanding of its meaning and derivation. Similarly, I begin this post with a quote that I felt connection with. I felt that its explanation of Renunciation is in keeping with my Settle For Less ideas. Yet. For me to include this quote is to somewhat endorse the speaker, Lama Thubten Yeshe; as well as bodhidave and starry deer crocodile (Ogmin); and even Buddha, buddhism, and the mstdn social Mastodon server. Everything has an association. Much more than I understand.

Here's another:

Is attribution even a good thing? Can creations—including words of wisdom—hold up apart from their creators? Does the association with creator attach to their creations forever?

I tend to make my own things. Knowing that others are using the term humanism for their own meanings, and not being willing to — never being willing to — learn to follow another, I create my own Human Is Some. Not fully vibing with “Adjusting expectations” or “Renunciation” — and, again, not being willing to follow or learn — I prefer to Settle For Less.

I am influenced by others tremendously, of course. I think we all draw from a variety of sources and make our own values. I have grown comfortable in my unique path as my unique path, while not having to impose it on others or be affirmed by others in my ways.

Abstract expressionist painting The Solution To Everything by RMiddleton.art

 
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from humanissome

I am taking a short break. To write just to write, to meet a schedule, is antithetical to the principle of doing everything with meaning. Quite frankly, the weather where I live has been too gorgeous for me to sit at a keyboard!

Florida box turtle seen today in Jacksonville, Florida

 
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from Curator

I had a chat with some of our community in our Discord server recently, mostly in response to us defederating furry.engineer, why we chose that action, and the general way masto.art approaches instance blocks. I've paraphrased some of the questions I was asked, and copied (and edited for clarity in a few places) my responses to them. One of the people I was talking with expressed a greater understanding, and acceptance of, our practices around moderating things like hate speech and bigotry after we'd talked through these things, so I figured I'd share it in a more accessible place if it might help with a paradigm shift around how individual people on fedi respond to instance actions around things like racism.

Q: Can we unsuspend furry.engineer?

If the admin's actions renew our faith that they will properly moderate racism and harassment yeah, but that will take time. Our trust in them has been eroded to the point that we feel it's safer not to expose the BIPoC people on our instance to that potential abuse knowing their admin is so reluctant to actually handle racism. It's not on US to excuse that behaviour for the sake of preserving connections – doing that does not help make fedi any safer for BIPoC folk. It's on other instances to do better and take reports of racism seriously – any blame for way these events unfolded is theirs.

Q: Can't we block connections with specific users rather than blocking a whole instance, which feels like punishing both communities?

We can, but if we can't trust the moderation team of another instance to properly handle reports of their users, we defederate, for the safety of our marginalised community. Take this up with furry.engineer and ask why they didn't find it necessary to deal with the racist abuse and harassment coming from their instance for weeks. We're not punishing the BIPoC folk on our instance by shielding them from racism, and no-one's convenience of accessing people on a social media network is more important than protecting marginalised groups from targeted harassment. Being able to exist on social media without being a target for harassment is a privileged position that not everyone enjoys and that most people don't have to think about.

Q: Re. restoring faith in the admin/mod team, are you waiting for them to acknowledge their mistakes and say they'll do better?

This could be one thing yes- acknowledging the harm caused, taking steps so that it doesn't happen again and communicating what those steps are, and rebuilding a reputation for good moderation which will take time. But we have unsuspended instances that have done this and demonstrably improved their moderation. Diversifying their mod team is another thing they could do, taking anti-racism training, etc..

General rambling on .art's moderation/defederation practices:

https://dotart.blog/dotart-blog/dotarts-moderation-policies-and-racism I made this post a little while back that kinda talks about that aspect of it – that we're an instance of working artists who need access to an audience, and balancing that against protecting the most marginalised people in our community that we exist for in the first place to provide a safe community where they're protected from harassment.

We know it's difficult to balance that and we think hard about decisions involving defederating sizeable instances because we know it's cutting people off from income sources, whereas if we don't, that establishes a precedent where racism/transphobia/etc. is tolerated above the rights of people to exist without abuse.

masto.art is not the best instance for someone who wants unfettered access to the whole of fedi without risk of some of that being taken away. We are very strict. We serve a particular community. We're big, which implies we might be the 'best' art instance to join for a big audience, but that's not necessarily the case and why we try to make it very clear on our /about page that we do defederate more harshly than other instances.

We're also pretty clear on our /about page that we proactively moderate; when an instance gets to a point where we expect harassment to come from there, we will defederate to spare people having to go through any abuse and harassment, rather than wait for that to happen and have to clean up afterwards.

Instance admins/mods represent the kind of content they'll allow unchallenged on their instance. So even though some of the SilverEagle posts were deleted, and the account actually migrated to its own instance, it took weeks for anything to happen at all, and the admin posted about not caring to moderate those reports. So we know that that's the kind of environment the admin is happy to have on their instance, that racism and harassment and abuse will go unchallenged for weeks, and that makes it an unsafe instance for us to federated with.

Yes, technically, we can do other instance's moderation work for them – ban the admin, individually moderate their users – but that shouldn't be our job – managing masto.art is enough work in itself and I'm not going to ask unpaid volunteers to start manually moderating all the other instances where the mod team has fucked up and we don't trust them to moderate themselves.

Q: But the problem with furry.engineer has been corrected?

Just checked our reports. There were four accounts reported from furry.engineer, SilverEagle is one of them who has moved, three others are still there. Those do not include the admin, who was giving all of it a free pass. So no, it hasn't been corrected.

The posts on furry.engineer included targeting several Black fedi users over the course of a few weeks, directing racist abuse and harassment at them, creating and pushing racist conspiracy theories about them with no foundation in truth that weren't being challenged by the instance admin at all and were allowed to exist and propagate in the face of the harm they were causing and being reported by several instances, which led to more people joining in with the abuse and lies – it was horrid. It made Black folks on fedi feel unsafe – not just those who were directly targeted, but those who were watching it all unfold without being moderated by the instance admin – and a lot of folk stepped away from fedi for a while because of it.

It was horrible, and that kind of thing has long-term ramifications on fedi as a whole and why Black folk have to continuously fight for themselves here, and continuously stress that fedi has a racism problem. The several BIPoC on our mod team, who are all struggling artists barely managing to scrape through each month, emphatically did not want to federate our community with that instance because of the behaviour from some of that instance's users that the admin didn't moderate. Our BIPoC community on masto.art no doubt feel the same – in fact we've had people move to our instance away from their own because we're safer for them than the instances they were on, because we take a hard stance against stuff like this.

We know it's stressful and anxiety-inducing being cut off from a paying audience and your source of income. We have to balance that with the severity of things other instances allow to happen and the impacts they have on the people in our community, and their safety – even before their ability to earn a living, just their ability to exist online without getting harassed off.

It is really tough. The ideal solution is that racism would not be tolerated on the source instances that it's coming from and those users would immediately be suspended.

Failing that, when racism is given a pass on those instances, the ideal solution is that people who oppose that would move off those instance to ones that takes racism (or whatever bigotry is going un-moderated) seriously.

If people did that, the bigoted instances would either cease to exist or would be left only with a tiny group of bigots that would get defederated into their own little voids, and the communities of masto.art, and other instances, could just carry on without losing anything of value.

What I would like to see, in an ideal world, is that instead of people on here going 'masto.art suspended this instance for racism so now I have to move to another instance' is, rather, 'masto.art suspended this instance for racism, so if you want to keep following me, and if you oppose racism, and want to support a fedi that's safe for BIPoC, I expect you'll be moving to an instance that doesn't give a free pass to racism'.

The people on fedi have the power to shape what kind of social media experience this is. If your instance, or the instance your friend is on, is letting its community harass Black folk, move from that instance, tell your friends to move. Tell them to stand by their principles. Don't support it. Don't make your online home in a place that allows racism.

Most people don't bother, and when we do, like when masto.art takes a hard stance against federating with instances that allow hate speech, we're the ones that get the flack for it. Which seems the wrong way around.

 
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from Pixie's Pad

Part 1:

https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/3553040/us-flowing-military-supplies-to-israel-as-country-battles-hamas-terrorists/

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-67095846

Both the UK and US governments are supplying military aid to the State of Israel, and both talk of defending civilians against Hamas' violent attack (and Hamas is a militia, and has killed civilians): “We will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack” from Biden, and “humanitarian concerns and protection of civilians are very important” from Sunak.

Meanwhile, the State of Israel continues targeting civilians in Gaza, attacking refugee camps:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/11/1/a-wake-up-call-world-reacts-to-jabalia-camp-attack

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/11/3/israel-kills-at-least-seven-palestinians-in-occupied-west-bank

Reported casualties and damage of critical infrastructure in Gaza is huge in a humanitarian crisis that is ongoing:

https://ochaopt.org/content/hostilities-gaza-strip-and-israel-reported-impact-day-26

Helping Israel to take care of its citizens is, of course, a good thing. However, the UK and US are a bit one-sided in their support of 'protecting civilians' as they aren't helping Palestinian civilians in the same way. While they are supplying military aid to the State of Israel, and the State of Israel is using that aid to continue attacking civilians in Gaza, the UK and US are complicit in aiding the State of Israel to that end.

Part 2:

Two things that are simultaneously true:

1- Hamas is a militia and their attack on Israel, where civilians were killed, and their continued threats and actions that endanger people's lives, is horrific.

2- The State of Israel inciting genocide of Palestinians, imposing an apartheid state, ethnic cleansing, and their continued attacks on civilian people and infrastructure in Gaza, is horrific.

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2023/11/2/a-genocide-is-under-way-in-palestine

https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2023/11/3/unsafe-in-own-home-israeli-settlers-spread-terror-in-south-hebron-hills

https://www.972mag.com/intelligence-ministry-gaza-population-transfer/

https://www.972mag.com/susiya-settler-soldier-militia-displacement/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/10/un-expert-warns-new-instance-mass-ethnic-cleansing-palestinians-calls

Take the side of people. Call out colonialism, apartheid, and genocide. Acknowledge that oppressed people have a right to respond with violence against their oppressors, while also acknowledging that that violence should be targeted at their oppressors, not innocent civilians. Recognise that oppressors are states and governments and militaries acting independently of the citizens that live in their states and governments and countries. Call out antisemitism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, terrorism. Criticise the State of Israel, the Israeli Government, and Hamas, for crimes against humanity. Defend Palestinian civilians, defend Israeli civilians. Acknowledge the right of Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, Arabs, and Muslims, to live free from oppression.

 
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from ReaShouldBeWriting

Well, this is the first post on a blog. I've never had a blog before so I'm unsure what to do. I suppose I will just write some short stories here every now and again. Some passing dreams that aren't quite worth adding to the novel or making their own book can exist here.

 
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from Ovro

White dog, blackened south, Millions dead to reason. Burning but not sign from God, Thinking the new treason.

(poem / prophecy I wrote in 2003)

 
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from Curator

I took over as Curator in Feb 2021. I'm the third Curator. I've been on Fedi since 2016, and on .art since 2017. Because we've been around so long, we're pretty big by fedi standards, and until the first Twitter wave in April 2022, we had open registrations but were still fairly quiet (our active users count is MUCH smaller than our total users count).

Because I've been on fedi so long, and because of the company I kept from my personal account, I've been around for the conflict. Some of that conflict – probably the biggest thing – was when a few PoC span up their own instance as a means of setting their own boundaries and moderating against harassment themselves, without having to rely on the server admins of individual instances to take their word on what was or wasn't racism, etc.

They were around until 2020. December 31st, actually. Are0h's last post is still cached on our instance – https://playvicious.social/@Are0h/105476726720269350 (you'll have to load that internally through masto's search bar).

They closed because they were harassed off fedi by a huge, disgusting wave of racism, abuse, and harassment against their admin Ro, some of their mods (one of whom who is now a mod on .art), and their users. The harassment was vicious. All the instances that participated in it are blocked from mastodon.art because of the part they played.

Some of them left fedi for good, some of them (like Ro) came back on single-user instances, some of them moved to smaller safe instances. So again, PoC are back to relying on other instance admins to create spaces for them that are safe, where racism (and any form of bigotry) isn't tolerated, where Black folk can exist – just exist! – online without facing constant micro-aggressions in their mentions.

.art had already been working to that goal when I took over, and already had a team of mods committed to taking a very hard stance against bigotry and racism. Since then we've expanded our mod team to include a great deal of diversity and breadth of marginalized voices. We provide a safe space for all of them; for BIPoC, disabled people, neurodiverse people, queer people, nonbinary people, Jewish people – anyone who faces marginalization.

But we're also big. We're by no means the biggest, but because of our domain name, because we're what comes up when you search for 'mastodon art instance', because of the Twitter exoduses that have happened, because we already exist and joining an existing instance is a much lower barrier to entry than creating your own, people join us, and we grow (not indefinitely – we have a cap of 12k active users, as that's when our local timeline becomes too busy to be useful).

This gives people certain expectations of what we are, and what we can provide for them. Recently we've edited our /about page to be clearer about this – to be clearer that we defederate from instances that break our rules, that are inherently unsafe, and that we aren't an open-federation instance and we DO have strict rules.

We also have to acknowledge that we are big, and until there are more options on fedi for places artists can be among their own and still get widely seen, we have to (to some extent) strike a compromise between safety and still being able to provide working artists access to an audience.

This is why we still federate with mastodon.social, but defederate other instances that one would think, at a glance, are safer than mastodon.social. Some of the instances we've defederated from have a history of intentional decisions that resulted in marginalised people being harmed and their safety not considered. Their mods and their admins are complicit, perhaps not deliberately, but complicit by enacting their intent in a way they felt fit, but the consequences of which were harmful.

Mastodon.social, on the other hand, are passively bad. They're not, actually, terrible – their moderation has improved. They do remove racism, they do remove antisemitism, they do block blatantly bigoted accounts (but sometimes they need to be reported a few times before getting actioned). They're still problematic, but they're also hundreds of thousands of potential art buyers. So we weigh that, and for now, the risk for us is manageable and they haven't acted in a way that, with intent, harms marginalized communities.

We know that this won't be acceptable for everyone, particularly for people who signed up expecting an experience closer to Twitter and weren't expecting that their reach would be cut down based on the needs of the community around them and the moral principles of the people who manage that community.

But we won't stop doing it, because that goes against the primary reason our instance exists – dotART, first and foremost, above all else, is a safe space for marginalised people. That is very clear on our /about page, and it's the main reason a LOT of our users join us – because this, the defederating from instances that we don't feel we can trust the moderation of, is exactly what they want.

We, the mod team, don't care if that leaves us with a couple of hundred active users who exist in a little isolated bubble in some small cut-off corner of fedi, if that corner is providing those couple of hundred people a space where they can exist without bigotry and harassment.

 
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from Pixie's Pad

The Bad Space exists because its creator, https://ubiqueros.com/@Are0h / Ro, once set up an instance by and for Black folk after seeing the racism that got a pass on other instances, and then that instance – PlayVicious – got harassed off fedi by racists. Everyone involved in that instance got extreme levels of racist abuse and harassment, and a couple of the other people involved – a mod of PV, Marcia (https://scholar.social/@CaribenxMarciaX), with the help of Ginger (https://kitty.town/@gingerrroot) – started a hashtag, Fediblock, for calling out racism and other shit behaviour so that other instance admins were aware of it, and could block the sources of it, and thus save themselves from being targeted by the same abuse.

A few years later, we now have instance-level blocklists, and the ability to export and import those lists. A bunch of people have started their own blocklist repositories that function in different ways, like combining the blockists of several 'trusted' instances and then finding the common denominators that appear on a majority of blocklists and creating a new blocklist that only has those majority-blocked instances on it.

Where receipts or reasons are not provided with the collaborative hosted blocklists themselves, the sites providing them tend to link to receipts sources that are hosted elsewhere. This is a deliberate choice that comes from hours and hours (literally, I've been privy to these conversations happening behind the scenes with multiple of the public blocklist hosts) of deciding how to approach this with a focus on minimising harassment of the instances providing reasons and receipts, and of the people hosting the blocklists and receipts, and minimising the risk of people threatening litigation for block reasons they don't like (this happens a lot, and while some instances/people are fine with being threatened and know that not much – if anything – will come of such threats, they can still be scary and understandably some instances want to prevent that from happening).

Popping back momentarily to PlayVicious, when the people who were being harassed provided receipts, they were accused of 'screenshot dunking'. The people who were harassing them sought any reason, however tenuous, to dismiss their receipts or to call into question their credibility or attack and bully them into eventually just not posting receipts. This was deliberate, and it happened extensively, and the result is that many folk on fedi are now understandably reluctant to share receipts because of the abuse and backlash they received for doing it the first time.

Speaking as the admin of a sizeable fedi instance with a pretty big blocklist, I can tell you exactly what happens when both our block list and the reasons are public – we still do it, because I don't give a fuck, but here's what happens:

  • If an instance doesn't publish their blocklist, they are chastised for lack of transparency and insinuated in misdeeds against their users who deserve to see who their instance blocks.

  • If an instance DOES publish their blocklist but without listing the reasons (which is a very valid thing not to do because of the harassment and legal threats it generates), they are chastised for being untrustworthy.

  • If an instance publishes their blocklist AND their reasons, the reasons are debated and discredited, constantly, without fail. The only people who debate and discredit reasons like racism, transphobia, alt-right, free speech, etc. are people who are defending those things, whether they've realised that's what they're doing or not.

If you've spent any time scrolling through the Fediblock hashtag you'll see the same instances pop up time and again, usually mentioned by new instance admins who've had a run in with one of the 'worst of the worst' instances who discovered they weren't blocked by that particular instance and went on a harassment field day. This has, many times, resulted in people being doxxed and harassed to such an extent that they shut down their instances, deleted their online profiles, moved house, even moved country – and that is the main service that public shared blocklists provide; an effort to minimise the harm that those known terrible instances cause when they are not blocked.

And now back to The Bad Space. The currently public version of The Bad Space is meant to function as a receipts repository, but when Ro launched it, the decision to list every entry there even before receipts were available was informed by Ro's personal experience of harassment spanning years on the fediverse, knowing the harm it causes, and knowing that mitigating that harm by identifying its sources was the most important thing, and the missing receipts would come later (and for the people arguing against the existence of The Bad Space, the receipts wouldn't matter anyway – they argue against it because they know it's coming for them and the spaces they inhabit).

The alternative would have been not to release The Bad Space – not to release any of the blocklists or the receipts sources or things that help fedi admins improve moderation and safety on their instances – until they're 100% perfect, and in the time that would take, how many more marginalised people would be harassed off fedi?

Yesterday, an instance ended up on another instance's block list for what came down to unchecked anti-trans sentiment, which led to it getting a listing on The Bad Space (accidentally, explainer to follow). While parts of fedi exploded with outrage over this, talking around the issue but not bringing it up directly with Ro, theorising and and angry-yelling and ultimately decrying the entire existence of The Bad Space and blocklists as a whole and warning entire communities off using them, a few folk quietly approached Ro directly, Ro discovered a bug in The Bad Space that he fixed immediately, the source instance removed the instance from their block list, the problem has been fixed, and The Bad Space functions better because of it.

The damage caused here is not that an instance accidentally ended up on a blocklist – that IS problematic, especially given the provided reason, and it IS unfortunate – but the bigger damage is that now communities doubt the integrity of a tool that functions to make fedi a safer space for marginalised identities and in doing so makes fedi a safer space for everyone who's not a bigot, that can prevent thousands of people from experiencing the kind of harassment that the tool exists to protect against.

If there are sincere concerns brought up to Ro and other blocklist or receipts repo. maintainers in good faith, they will listen and address them. I have seen them do it. They WANT these tools to be the best that they can be to protect marginalised fedi – that's the entire point, minimising harassment and protecting the people who are most often the targets of that harassment. Nobody is more invested in doing this than the people who experienced that harassment first hand and know the damage it causes.

So if you have an idea for how The Bad Space can be improved (but first check the Version 2 edition (https://ubiqueros.com/notes/9jd9d0e46p) that, while not fully public yet, already addresses the concerns I've seen raised these past couple of days), bring it up with Ro. Bring it up directly with Ro, who is the creator and maintainer, and will engage with you in good faith if you approach him similarly.

But please, please, consider the implications of loudly decrying a tool that exists by and for marginalised people. Consider whether you're punching up or punching down, consider who you are serving by telling people they shouldn't trust it, consider which voices you are elevating and which voices you are ostracising, and consider how you can effect positive change and help make these tools more effective to combat harassment.

It also needs to be repeated that these public shared blocklists are not shared without extensive warnings for admins to DO THEIR DUE DILIGENCE and not thoughtlessly import blocks without checking that the blocks align with their own instance's practices. The more absurd thing to me is that someone would thoughtlessly import a blocklist – or look at The Bad Space and see that there are entries there without receipts and thus no clear way of knowing why they're there, and then decide to download the CSV of all entries and import that as a mass blocklist – without doing their due diligence as an admin to check that they agree with all of the blocks.

 
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from Ovro

Some day they will all find out and know they were always right.

Some day they will all find out and won't settle for shunning.

Some day they will all find out but the day is not today.

I pray it is not today.

#SmallPoems #Poetry #MicroFiction #SmallStories

 
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from Ovro

“I feel like people use me as a special tool. Forgotten in a box until my brain or skills are needed, used and put away again.” I said, checking my files for the requested piece of info.

Ty looked up at the screen, somewhat startled. “You said something? Sorry didn't hear, I was chatting with Mia.”

“I was just muttering to myself…” “Yeah ok. Did you find it?” “Yes, I'm sending it now.” “Thanks! We got to go out for a coffee or something, I'll call you!”

Ty didn't wait for my answer before ending the call.

“No, you won't”, I sighed, “You won't “

#MicroFiction #AutoFiction

 
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from Ovro

The dust hadn't yet settled, but hearing “Im one man failure rate!” said with a tone of being accompanied with a sheepish grin told me there were no casualties.

I assumed my usual role in situations like this and said: “I don't think the term works like that. You are thinking of 'disaster zone'...”

Kay groaned, theatrically: “SEE! Didn't get THAT right, either!”

“And you're not a man.”

She collapsed on the floor, laughing.“Ann, you're KILLING me!”

#MicroFiction

 
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from Ovro

“Well, you're just a lovely little ball of paranoid psychosis.” she said while peering down at me with a studying eye. Her voice oozed false lightness, the tone reserved for the lesser-than. Babies, puppies, the elderly, the mentally… less.

My mind was burning. “You sick sadistic FUCK! With what right…”, but my body managed only a whimper and an involuntary twitch.

With the arrogance of power she read this to her liking. “Ball! Yes.”, she cooed. “No 'play ball' – YOU are the ball, yes you are!”

Then she turned another knob.

#MicroFiction #ShortHorror

 
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from aaribaud

This is the sixth installment of my SOS story. Unless you've read the previous parts, I suggest you start at part 1.

While Val organizes a rescue operation from aboard the Tin Locust, Sam has returned inside the wreck of the Scintillating to help Flora — with mixed results so far.

I ran back into the airlock and pulled the manual lever on the corridor-facing door — now it went smoothly, that jerk — to keep the door open. Then I punched the emergency vent mushroom button. I had just enough time to jump back into the room, grab Flora, and hold on to the closest handrail I could find before the cyclone came down on us.

I clung on as we got tossed around for about twenty seconds and then the inside door closed to cut the air loss. As the room pressure rose back to normal, I ran to check the gauge on the door. Zero atmo on the other side. Door control flashing red. The airlock was closed for good, that is, until someone on the outside turned the pressure back on for the whole exterior hallway.

And that wasn’t going to happen any time soon as there was no one on the other side — in fact, there probably wasn’t any other side any more. Chances were our friendly Proteus was very happy with dropping the whole exterior simulation in order to save on its precious computing power.

I sent a prayer to all the gods that I knew — probably about time, all things considered — and turned to check on Flora.

It had worked! She wasn’t bleeding anymore!

Val had said something about the shock that had caused the bleeding, but since it was the damn door that had caused the shock, I’d figured that by sealing it shut for good, I’d remove the conflict. No more conflict, no more trauma, no more hemorrhage…

Okay, I’d basically hoped it would work because we were in a simulation, and Proteus would not distinguish different sorts of causes and effects. Guess there are some advantages to being digital — even if I didn’t want to remain in this state for longer than necessary.

Flora's eyes opened.

How do you go about smiling, again? Right.

“Hey Flora. It’s Sam. Remember me?”

“Yes… How come you're here?”

“Didn’t I say I’d find you eventually?”

“What happened? I think I got hit by something…”

“Yeah, well, this f...lying comp—control, airlock control, wasn’t responding so I had to force my way in and I didn’t know you were right behind the door, so… Well, I hope you don’t mind a little company because I did damage the control, and I think you and I are going to be stuck in here for some time.”

Some time during which I would have to hold my tongue with both hands to make sure I didn’t let on our actual situation. We were both digital projections of our minds. Flora had to remain ignorant for a while. I had to remain aware for the both of us.

All I was hoping for, now, was that in some of the virtual rations Proteus had conjured up for us, I’d find some aspirin.

And that it would have any sort of effect on my growing headache.

“Right. Mind if I use your coms console to call my shipmate?”

*

“This is Valerie, acting pilot of the Tin Locust, hailing the wreck of the Scintillating, over.”

“This is Samuel Foster, acting commander of the wreck of the Scintillating. How’s it flying, Val? I don’t like it much that I’m leaving you alone at the helm.”

“Somebody needs to go get help. Plus, despite the damage, at least on the Scintillating you’ve got access to better supplies than you'd have on the Locust. How’s Flora?”

“I guess ‘terrific’ would be a bit of a stretch, but she’s alright. She’s got a bump, but that’s all.”

“Glad to hear it. I’m going to cut communications now. Stay safe. Over and out.”

I felt horribly uneasy. It was one of the weirdest feelings I’d ever had. Like all I’d hear for the rest of my life would be my own voice spouting nonsense I’d never even actually said.

It took me a moment to realize Val was speaking to me.

“I’m sorry, Val, I was zoning out. Say that again?”

“I was just saying everything seems okay now. The Scintillating's safe on its new orbit, and your copy is now fully integrated into Flora’s environment. From her perspective, you’re in the same room she's in.”

I mulled over that thought as I was attempting to dislodge an identification tag from an angular statue that had once been one of the Scintillating’s engineers — you can’t have an FTL engine blow up in your face without getting a few scars.

“I still can’t believe that’s actually me in there. I mean, I’m here, in the engine room, and there’s no one here with me. Can’t wrap my head around it.”

“If it's any solace, that Sam doesn’t enjoy it any more than you do. He knows he’s a digital projection, and he knows his objective is to make sure another digital projection doesn’t lose her mind.”

“Well I sure hope he doesn’t go nuts himself, seeing as we’re supposed to reintegrate our minds after all this, like you said. I wouldn’t want to merge back a looney.”

Under my fingers, I felt something crack. “All right, here comes the ID tag. Log it? Lescryn, mechanic, second-class. Crystallization. That’s the last one.”

“Copy that, Sam. On your way back, unhook the fuel ducts, we’re at full charge for electrical and propulsion. And if you can, bring back some rations. We can stock up another dozen or so. Then we'll cast off right after the periastron.”

“Got you.”

*

I returned exhausted. I’d spent over fifteen hours cataloguing two hundred and seventeen bodies, and that didn't include those still floating about around the Scintillating.

The first thing I saw in the empty cabin inside the Locust was the dashboard, and on its screen, Val’s face. I stowed my pressurized suit in heavy silence. Val had nothing to say; I had a lot, but no idea where to even begin.

“So, er, Val…”

“Yes, Sam?”

“I wanted to… I just want to say I’m sorry. I think I said some hurtful stuff.”

“I won’t tell you I’ve let it go : I can’t forget anything. Let’s just say it’s behind us.”

I climbed back into the pilot’s chair.

“Um, Val, tell me...”

“Yes?”

“If you can put a mind inside a computer…”

“A Shabasch computer.”

“Right, a Shabasch computer, and if you can also take that mind out to put it in a body… Could that be done for you?”

“Of course.”

“And, I mean, have you ever thought about it?”

Val looked at me a long time, half-serious, half-smiling.

“I sometimes do. We’re starting the run-up for the hypervelocity jump in one minute. You'd better buckle in, unless you intend to end up spread over the cabin walls.”

THE END

 
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from Kae Luna

//WIP Intro Post: Ultra Drive//

//Title: Ultra Drive

//Progress: Writing early chapters, planning for whole (hopefully) series out of order

//Genres: Sci-fi, cyberpunk, dystopian, biopunk, post-apocalyptic, action, LGBTQIA2S+, drama, psychological

//Rating: 16+ for violence, blood, possible gore, swearing, and suggestive content

//Content warnings: death, pandemic, sickness, bigotry in general???, war, fascism

//POV: Third person (For now. Might switch to first person later.) //Setting: In the city of Venicula on the island of Arasai and surrounding areas. Takes place in the future.

//Premise: AlexiKa's world was changed forever the day her family was forced to immigrate to the imperial city of Venicula after the Ebony Plague – caused by mysterious spores – infected her home town.

~(Continued under the cut)~ Now a young adult, she works as a courier (and secretly an anti-corporation activist). When going on a delivery for the all powerful Gaia Corporation, she accidentally uncovers dark secrets and ends up infected with the same Ebony Plague that haunted her hometown as a child. But when she survives the illness and instead develops superhuman abilities, she joins a mutant resistance group – who call themselves Ultras – to fight against the Veniculan Empire, the Gaia Corporation, and other mutants with immoral goals.

//Aesthetic: neon and pastel architecture, holograms, dyed hair, tech gear, infrastructure in derelict conditions, overgrown plants, eco-friendly technology

//Tropes + themes: anti-capitalism, equality, probably found family, female empowerment, cool Japan, globalization, super powers, POC characters, LGBTQIA2S+ characters

//Inspiration: Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind, Ultraviolet (2006), Aeon Flux (show + movie), Alita: Battle Angel (movie, OVA, + manga), Ghost in The Shell (anime), Fallout (games), 86 (anime), The Last Of Us (games), Blade Runner, The Matrix, 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s in general, vaporwave art, the United States of 'Merica, Sims 4 eco lifestyle

//Characters: AlexiKa Raiden: A young woman with fiery passion and an even more fiery temper, AlexiKa – AKA Lexi – fights for her family's survival in the rough city of Venicula. She hates authority and will gladly fight for you, despite the odds.

Yuki Raiden: Lexi's mom. Japanese. Super sweet and tries to keep the mood positive, even in dark times.

Alessandro Raiden: Lexi's dad. An Italian himbo who loves to tinker.

Ellie: Lexi's childhood friend. Super sweet, but a bit cheeky as well. Pacifist. They might have some gay tension.

Empress Vox: Rules the city of Venicula. Politician who does weird parasocial crap over VR/AR. Definitely a good person.

Donovan Vox: Brother of the Veniculan president. CEO of Gaia Corporation.

LaKellan: Leader of the Ultra Resistance. Calm and may seem cold, but is actually just a bit awkward and emotionally constipated.

(More coming soon probably-)

//Tags: Ultra Drive, aesthetic, xxx, xxx, xxx... //Mood boards/Pinterest boards (coming soon) //Playlist (coming soon)

 
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from aaribaud

This is the fifth installment of my SOS story. Unless you've read the previous parts, I suggest you start at part 1.

As Val and Sam are unable to bring Flora, the only survivor of the Scintillating, to safety in the Locust, Sam is tasked with keeping her company aboard the wreck.

The problem with Val is, you can never win an argument. She never forgets even the smallest point, she never ignores a blunder, she always has the last word, and to make it worse, she’s always right.

And that’s why I was standing again in the corridor of the Scintillating, in front of that same damn airlock.

It was better than my first visit, mind. Now there was pressure in the hallway, and with full lighting I could see where I was stepping.

And at least this time, I didn’t have to worry about where to go.

I opened the first airlock. Got in. Closed the outer door. Turned to face the inner door. Pressed on the controls.

Nothing happened.

Right, that would have been too easy.

I flung open the casing over the emergency lock and pulled on the lever. Well, tried to, because the lever didn’t move even a fraction of an inch, and neither did the door.

“Val!”

No reply. The cherry on my Sunday… I lifted my arm to inspect my coms bracelet. But it wasn’t there.

Sorry, what?

You put on your suit, you check the seals, you test the gauges, you test the coms, it’s all reflexes! So how come when I left the Locust

And then it came back to me.

I hadn’t actually left the Locust. Not the usual way, anyway. I had gone to lie down in my own survival pod, closed my eyes… and found myself back on the Scintillating, in the corridor.

Well, my digital self, anyway. The other one, once the copy was done, was supposed to get back up and actually come on board to collect samples on Flora's corpse and resume counting the dead. Except that other one was also me.

This was what Val had in mind: send a digital copy of my personality to keep Flora company inside Proteus, aboard the Scintillating, and wait together for Val, well, us, to go and bring back help.

Except of course, I couldn't pop up inside Flora's room out of nowhere, not from Flora's viewpoint anyway. Val had managed to get me on the other side of the room's airlock, but I had to take it from there.

So there I was. Of course, Proteus simulated only what it knew, and it didn't know about the Locust's coms, relays or tools; and only what was needed, and who needs a helmet when there's air, right? There I stood, empty-handed. More useless than a tourist.

What was I supposed to do now with that blasted door?

Out of frustration, I nearly smashed the door controls with my fist. I held myself back, though, because on the control display something had caught my eye.

Usually, these things show a message such as OPEN or CLOSED or O2 19.3. But right then, it was displaying SAM.

SAM

“Uh… That you Val?”

YES

“Why d'you talk through this thing?”

PROTEUS ONLY SIMULATES

A few seconds went by.

THE ESSENTIAL SO NO

Another few seconds.

VOICE FOR ME SINCE I

It was bloody frustrating that the display could only show twenty-four characters at a time.

CAN MANAGE SPEAKING

TO YOU LIKE THIS.

“Well, your Proteus is starting to get on my last nerve. It’s blocking the door and I don’t even have a pocket knife to negotiate entry.”

WAIT

I waited. Stay zen. Stay very zen.

CONFLICT WITH DOOR YOU WANT IT OPEN BUT FOR FLORA IT IS CLOSED PROTEUS DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM

I chuckled.

“Hold on, I’m going to solve its f...lying problem.”

SAM WAIT

Too late. I turned 18 during the war. As one of the few who did not get sick aboard the shuttle to the orbital assignment center, I was unceremoniously shoved into pilot training. Since it was wartime, I was taught not only how to take off without exploding and how to land without crashing, but also how to open a door that needs a key. Kind of an automatism, in the end.

So, automatically, I backed up a step and soundly kicked with all my strength at lock height. The door flew open with a loud bang, and then stopped still with another bang. Then a softer noise. The kind a body does when it falls down.

Oh uh.

Maybe not the smartest plan.

I walked inside, and saw a human form lying on the ground on her side. I turned her onto her back. She had long black hair, and was bleeding from her ears, nose, and mouth. Her eyes were closed, and around her neck was a chain with a gold tag that read: Flora Kesler.

Ah, shit.

“Val, I fucked up. I kicked the door open but I guess the girl was just on the other side and she got hit in the head! Can you ask Proteus to rollback and start over?”

No response. Then I remembered that I had to go read the display screen. I doubled back.

YOUR VISION IMPOSED ON FLORA TRANSLATES TO INJURY ERASING THIS IMPOSSIBLE INCOMPATIBLE WITH YOUR MEMORY HEAL FLORA QUICK.

“What am I supposed to heal her with?

HEAL FLORA QUICK.

Easier said than done. How? Flora was bleeding, and I had nothing on me to stop the flow, let alone treat the trauma. And all this because of a divergence of opinion on whether a door is closed or open!

Wait. There was a possibility. I could treat the cause.

No. It was stupid. I would probably just make things worse.

Oh, whatever, wasn’t like I had any better option.

Continue to part six

 
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from Pixie's Pad

A few weeks ago, Oliphant brought on five mods and one co-admin to oliphant.social. I was one of the mods, and we were all of us a diversely intersectional marginalized bunch of people, most of us who have our own established safe space instances, all of us who hang out in Fedimins (the fedi admins Discord group). His intent was to help build oliphant.social into a safe space instance, to have a diverse mod team who could catch the kind of things he'd miss as a white guy, and (this may have been the main factor of Oli bringing on a bunch of mods) to help him moderate the harassment and abuse AnarchoNinaWrites would get from randos in her mentions.

Nina had moved over from mastodon.social because of the harassment she was getting being on the biggest instance. Oli offered her a safer space on an instance that utilised both individual account-level blocks and instance blocks to maintain safety and assured her that he would do his best to protect her from that kind of harassment/abuse.

He told all of us individually, and expressed to us as a group, that we should moderate the instance as if it were our own, with our full discretion. I asked him myself what kind of moderation style he expects from me and explained that I'm pretty strict on .art, and he said that's exactly what he was looking for. Others asked if we should be moderating the internal users as well as external and he said again that we should moderate it as we moderate our own instances, so yes.

While some of us used our 'known' names (I was on there as WelshPixie) and some of us linked from our profiles there to our 'known' handles, others set up anon identities because they've been targeted in the past and didn't feel comfortable with being fully exposed on an open instance. This becomes relevant later.

Now that that's set the scene, here's what happened, as neutrally as I can:

Nina made a post in which she said 'with dicks' to imply men. We noted the transmisic phrasing (Oli had previously mentioned she's trans, and Nina has posted publicly since then that she is trans). One of the mods (who has given me permission to say she's trans) sent her a very VERY polite, friendly message – not an official warning, just a message – pointing out how this could be interpreted, asked if she'd mind changing the phrasing.

Nina deleted the post (for other reasons) and brought up to Oliphant that she thought she would be protected from this kind of thing on his instance.

You can see the mod DM she was sent here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20230830062801/https://jorts.horse/@AnarchoNinaWrites/110975605323099983

By Nina's own admission in that thread:

“I did however, once again, pull my admin friend, the person who had started the sever aside and say “look I can't go forward like this right? If I'm publishing stuff that might just get deleted, I should go back to my website.” I was assured that nobody had it in for me (see above) and that the old admin themselves would prevent anyone from banning my account without talking to them; because again, at this point I think it's weaponized reporting from randos. I dunno that the co-admin hates me.”

The next day, Nina made a bunch of posts using the phrase 'Pig Empire' – and this next part is important – in the context of globalism and bankers, which is further important in the context of Nina already having a bad reputation with the Jewish community on the fedi after several prior events (her account is banned from multiple Jewish instances), with her website co-opting the word 'pogrom' for non-Jewish use, with loads of posts on her site being tagged 'holocaust' while not being holocaust related – individually small things, perhaps, but there was a larger picture to consider.

Here's why 'globalist' and related concepts are a rallying cry for fascists and traumatising for Jews: https://forward.com/community/412627/globalism-anti-semitism/

Here's a deep dive on 'pig' and antisemitism: https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/opinion/346381/jews-romans-and-pigs-an-impossible-history/

Here's an overview of economic antisemitism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_antisemitism

Individually, those things might not have been concerning. Together, they paint a more problematic picture that could be easily avoided by some re-wording to clarify meaning without playing into antisemitic tropes. We thought, hey, Nina's antifash. She's one of us. Being made aware that you're using words that harm marginalized groups is good, right?

So far, we had just been discussing this internally, but agreed that we should bring it up to Nina. Oli wanted to message Nina himself to talk about this with her in the context of his promise to provide her a harassment-free space on his instance, and the mod team was fine with that (if not disgruntled at someone seemingly getting special treatment that was in direct contradiction to the team being brought on in the first place to help make the instance a safe space), until someone sent in a report with the same concerns about antisemitic dog-whistles. Taking Oli's earlier assurance with us that he did want us to moderate the instance as we'd moderate our own, one of the mods sent a message – again, not a warning, but a DM – just opening a conversation about dog-whistles, and again, polite and friendly in tone. The DM opened with bringing up 'Pig Empire' with the intention of broadening the conversation to include the greater problematic context of globalism and bankers, but Nina stopped responding to the conversation before that could happen, and again, went to Oli.

You can see screenshots of that DM and Nina's response in the same archived link above (https://web.archive.org/web/20230830062801/https://jorts.horse/@AnarchoNinaWrites/110975605323099983).

At this point, Nina made an account on jorts.horse where she had started subtooting about the two moderator DMs and the situation in general, and was doing the same from her account on oliphant.social. I spoke with Oli about what the situation was and whether Nina was migrating fully to another instance or was waiting on hearing from Oli about anything, anxious about wanting to minimise harm and blowback on the mods who were just doing what they'd been brought to the instance to do. Oli conveyed that we could limit her account if we felt it would help, and impressed on me how important Nina's posts are to her and that she wouldn't want to lose any of her content. I passed this to the mod team, who in an effort to minimise damage (and again, to moderate the instance as we'd moderate our own), Nina's account was frozen by the co-admin and the posts with antisemitic dog-whistles were archived, deleted, and the archived posts linked to Nina in the moderation report so that Nina had copies of everything and wouldn't lose them.

Nina used her account on jorts.horse to start ramping up a dogpile of the mod team and the co-admin. Oli had told her himself that 'turns out, the co-admin doesn't like you', which Nina posted a screenshot of ( https://web.archive.org/web/20230830073509/https://jorts.horse/@AnarchoNinaWrites/110975428887021296 ), as well as linking to the oliphant.social /about page which had all of the mods and co-admin accounts listed, and THAT is why it was relevant that some of the mods stayed anonymous. People in Nina's thread have already started up the violent rhetoric, and the co-admin took the oliphant.social instance offline as an emergency response to protect people from getting targeted by Nina (it's back up now, with the mod info on the /about page removed).

TLDR? Two mods tried having polite conversations with Nina about problematic language that we thought she would be happy to be called out on, and Nina has escalated it into a huge tirade about how unfairly she was treated by a bunch of incompetent mods:

“The six weeks, it was just me posting on his server, without a small army of mods who I sincerely believe couldn't run a Church's Chicken, I am not saying that to be mean, these folks are not suitable at all to positions of authority”

(https://web.archive.org/web/20230830075713/https://jorts.horse/@AnarchoNinaWrites/110976520461927600)

Yeah, hi, I'm the mastodon.art admin. The other mods and co-admin you interacted with all run respected safe space instances on fedi. I understand you're upset, but you do not get to turn this around as an attack on the bunch of underprivileged marginalized people who incredibly politely called you out on some bad wording in an effort to protect the marginalized identities of both themselves and the other people on the fediverse who are exposed to your posts. They should not have to suffer a tirade of abuse from you or your rallied followers as a response to them putting in the voluntary work to make fedi safer and more inclusive.

 
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