One Voice at a Time (… or How To Cancel Your Panel About Harassment In Games Because Of Harassment)

Nice one, SXSW. Way to promote irony.

Next year’s SXSW Interactive looked to be shaping up quite nicely. With some featured speakers like Jim Bankoff (Vox Media) and Pete Cashmore (Mashable Inc), the focus was on social developments and progress into the future. Which is what SXSW is supposed to be about. That’s what keeps an Evil Genius like me interested.

However, there was another topic of interest. In fact, two panels.

  • “SavePoint – A Discussion on the Gaming Community”
  • “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games”

These two panels share a common theme that still needs to be addressed. While both panels were to address the broader issues of online harassment, it would be pretty naive to assume neither were influenced by the whole Gamergate thing. Either way, online bullying and harassment and downright dick behaviour is still an issue.

Thus, the irony – both panels have been cancelled in response to harassing emails, including death threats and violence. Hugh Forrest (SXSW Interactive Director) stated quite clearly the reason for cancellation being “numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming.”

This is a tough one. Earlier this year, Supanova (Australia) faced a similar scenario regarding one of their guests, Adam Baldwin. Thousands of petitioners asked Supanova to reconsider Baldwin’s invite – not just because of his downright offensive comments during Gamergate, but his regular inflammatory comments on social media regarding women, transgender people, and gay people. Supanova chose to continue with his attendance, which was not without consequence. The Ledger Awards stopped accepting sponsorship from Supanova; Comedian Kirsty Mac pulled out (and received a bunch of harassment for it); Even popular cosplayer Eve Beauregard declined to attend (love her cosplay work – such a shame to miss her). I can tell you right now – it was a long and detailed discussion in the EG Lair as to whether we attended.

SXSW has taken a different approach – they have responded to threats / harassment by removing the panels. Wrong response, silly minions. SXSW has just allowed the harassers to be louder than the community trying to resolve the issue. In the same manner Supanova allowed Baldwin to maintain his voice, SXSW has now removed the panelists who were openly discussing the perils of online harassment. Silence against the harassers is the same as complying. Or in the words of Matilda, if you don’t speak up then you’re saying it’s okay – “and that’s not right.”

SXSW is facing its own backlash now – Vox Media and BuzzFeed are both considering pulling out. Understandable, considering the negative power of association on the web. However, others are urging panelists not to quit. Randi Harper, founder of Online Abuse Prevention Initiative (and one of the “Level Up” panelists) took to Twitter on Monday, and encouraged others to speak: “Silence is not solidarity”

There are still five months until SXSW – a lot can happen between now and then. Will we see further cancellations? Maybe a change in approach to the panels? Clearly online harassment is a real and ever-growing monster that needs to be addressed, in a safe environment. Now we just have to find someone who is still willing to do so.

EG Parent Award #59 – My Lil’ Pumpkin

Halloween is just around the corner. Seriously. It’s like Saturday. This Saturday.

If you haven’t organised yourself yet, you’re kind of in trouble. Or super-relaxed. In which case, I like your style.

Pumpkin carving, however, is one of those Halloweeny things you really should have thought of earlier. Because now you’re tight on time. And out of ideas. And stressing over whether the crappy idea you have scavenged from the interwebs is going to be a ‘nailed it’ nightmare for your spawnlings, ruining yet another holiday memory you so desperately were trying to create.

*sigh* Chill. I got this. There are a whole stack of stencils available online for you to start with.

For example, the official Pokemon website has provided free stencils of some of their scariest monsters, including Meowth, Duskull, Gengar, Pikachu, Sableye, and Zubaat. Sweet little score.

If you’re spawnlings are a little more Minecraft crazy, then remove the pumpkin from their heads and show them how to carve this awesome creeper instead. Details can be found with Hudson Visual.

Photo from Hudson Visual

Photo from Hudson Visual

Of course, jack-o-lanterns aren’t supposed to be too cute or popular. I also like this Cthulhu carving – simplistic in its glory. Full credit to Tony Gambone for his photo of this beauty.   Cthulhu Pumpkin

But the winner of this week’s EG Parent Award blows all the other pumpkins away. In light of the latest Star Wars trailer and because this minion included instructions (so very helpful), I give you “That’s no Pumpkin… Death Star!”

Photo courtesy of Fantasy Pumpkins

Photo courtesy of Fantasy Pumpkins

Full instructions for the Death Star are found here, however you could very easily be distracted by all of their other marvels – TARDIS; Anger (from Inside Out); Dragons; you name it. It’s awesome.

Congrats to Noel Dickover at Fantasy Pumpkins. Absolutely love your work.

Forensic Friday #8 – Density Matters

A couple of days ago, Nefarious had lined up Zaltu’s Batman toys.

“Originally, I had them lined up in size. But then this one was smaller but heavier. So I thought to go with something different and do them by weight instead.”

Great opportunity for a lesson in density. Not only will the spawnlings understand a basic scientific concept, but it will help them understanding other minions in the world – like politicians.

Today’s Forensic Friday is a man down; Sinister abandoned us for a day of Minecraft looting with a friend. So let’s make it 6yo (first grade) friendly.

What is Density?

Density is a measurement of how solid something is. If you have two objects of the same size, the more dense object will weigh more than the less dense object. This is because of two things:

  1. The mass of the atoms that make up the object;
  2. The amount of space the object takes up. If the atoms are packed in tightly, it will be denser. I used the example of a ‘dense forest’ and whether you could move easily between the trees. Another example you could use is whether that particular minion has enough space in their brain for ‘free thought’ to flow through – or if they are ‘dense’. We’ve had a few examples of this recently, but I didn’t want to distract Nefarious too much.

The next step to take is to look at the relationship between density and buoyancy. We’re going to come back to this when Sinister comes home because he is really into Marine Biology and this is a core concept to remember when diving. Basically, a less dense substance will float on a more dense substance. A good experiment is the Layer Effect:

Ingredients / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

Ingredients / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

What You Will Need:

  • Oil
  • Water
  • Honey or Golden Syrup (Honey is better to see through, but we were out of honey today)
  • Cork or Styrofoam
  • Grape or Blueberry or Strawberry or something similar
  • Small coin
  • Clear bottle

What You Do:

  1. Fill your bottle one third with honey;
  2. Pour the next third full with oil
  3. Fill the remaining third with water. Allow the liquids to settle before the next step.

    Pouring the Liquids / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

    Pouring the Liquids / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

  4. Take a minute to explain to your spawnlings about the separation of liquids here. Honey/Golden Syrup is really dense, so it will sink to the bottom. Water is not as dense as the syrup but it is definitely more so than the oil. Fortunately, oil and water don’t mix, so they will separate with the oil resting lightly on top.
  5. Let’s just stop for a moment and do a bit of hypothesising. Science ain’t science without a hypothesis, a method, and a written report afterwards. Otherwise, it’s just messing around with stuff. Ask your spawnlings what they think will happen to the next three items: the coin; the fruit; the styrofoam or cork.
  6. Now, drop the coin in the bottle. The coin will drop all the way to the bottom, even through the honey. Thank you, my dense little 10c and 5c pieces.
  7. Next drop the grape or blueberry in (blueberry for us – Zaltu was pigging out on the grapes while Nefarious and I set up the experiment). This one should rest somewhere around the middle.
  8. Finally, the cork or styrofoam. Being REALLY LIGHT, it should rest easily on the top.
Liquid Density / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

Liquid Density / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

And there you go folks! A lovely little lesson in density. When Sinister and EG Dad come home, we might take it the next step and look at buoyancy from a scuba diving point of view. Since I’m asthmatic, I have never been diving so wouldn’t know WTH I’d be talking about. 😛

My Budding Scientists / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

My Budding Scientists / Photo by Evil Genius Mum

One Bird at a Time

Here’s a statement I never imagined typing on my blog:

Apparently, a bird shitting on you or your house is good luck. 

Now, I don’t know if this is an Australian thing or an acceptable belief system around the world. But let’s go with it for a minute.

Bruce
It starts with Bruce over at Big Family Little Income. You may remember Bruce – he is a big supporter of my dastardly plans to take over the world; partly because he wants to sit back with a beer and watch the entertainment. Smart arse. Though he does contribute his fair share of chaos and torment. He has been a recipient of the Evil Genius Parent Award a couple of times too. Or something. It’s hard to keep track of his daily crazy.

Unfortunately, Bruce and his family are in a tough place right now. He’s gorgeous wife is in ICU, in a very sudden and totally unexpected way. The last couple of weeks has been traumatic, with lots of waiting, lots of surgeries, and lots of processing as the news goes from bad to worse to a glimmer of hope. I am not going into all the details here, but I do want all minions to head over to Bruce’s blog to see the details.

Bruce has never been one to wallow in grief and despair. He always looks for something to hold onto and keep going in the best way possible. Most recent example: Tracey’s Grandma.

“Does Tracey like magpies?” she asked me.

“I don’t think that’s ever come up,” I said.

“It’s only there’s been a magpie hanging around these last two weeks and it left ‘a gift’ on my windowsill yesterday and so I haven’t washed it off.”

So for luck, as well as all the candles, there’s a also a bit of magpie shit on a windowsill on Southside.

Well, Bruce – I promise you EG Inc is doing its share towards your good luck.

On the way home from school, Sinister was the ‘lucky’ recipient of some rainbow lorikeet droppings; all down the school uniform. Of course, I mentioned the ‘good luck’ spiel to him. After the initial rolling-of-the-eyes response (totally expected), he then asked

“Why isn’t it rainbow? I mean seriously, it was a RAINBOW lorikeet. If it is going to give me any luck, at least make it like a colourful rainbow. Like Unicorns or something. Then I could send it to Bruce and not freak him out with – y’know, sending bird poo in the mail. There’s no way he’ll take this ‘luck’ looking just white and brown.”

I don’t know, Sinister. I reckon Bruce will take whatever care package you want to send.

But maybe we should throw in some beer-flavoured chocolate as well.

As much as I love the idea of sending “good luck” to Bruce, it is really important to recognise the need for practical assistance as well. 

Please head over to Bruce’s blog Big Family Little Income, and have a read of his posts (the heartbreaking story so far, and a lot of his hilarious adventures prior to this). If you like what you see, the Bank of Queensland established an account for any donations which goes directly to the family. Bruce had just quit his job to be the SAHP while Tracey continued to grow her photography business and become the sole bread winner. With current circumstances, that is no longer possible – any help you can offer would be great.

Details are as follows:

Account Name – Bruce Devereaux
BSB. – 124047
Account no. – 22389003

** EG Inc does not recommend sending any animal or bird faeces through the standard post. In this case, glitter bombs or CDs with “Barbie Girl” may be acceptable alternatives. But I didn’t say that. You did not read that here.

**EDIT: For those looking for verification of authenticity (I AM an Evil Genius, after all), this is the Bank of Queensland’s official statement for the fund.

EG Parent Award #58 – It’s Just a Patch

A little while ago, I came across an awesome woman, Rebecca Millar from Geek Grrls. A humble mum in Australia, who is studying and working while being … well, an awesome mum.

dolls

Photo courtesy Geek Grrls (Facebook Page)

At first, I shared her Facebook Page, aimed purely at her ability to transform the most horrid of Bratz or Monster High dolls in to beautiful offerings to many SF/F goddesses.

BTW: This project started out from the frustration in the lack of female dolls in geeky merchandise. An ongoing issue that is gradually changing as seen in the new DC Superhero Girls series. Gradual change.

But did Rebecca stop there? Hell no.

Recently her daughter has been diagnosed with a ‘lazy eye’; treatment being a patch over one eye during day (to encourage the lazy one to get its act together).

As with most young spawnlings, Rebecca’s daughter wasn’t exactly thrilled on this idea. Not in the slightest.

So Rebecca appealed to her daughter’s geeky-interests. “You get to be Nick Fury!!”

YEAH BABY!

And then her daughter said, Mum gets to be an Avenger too!!

nick fury patch

Photos courtesy Geek Grrls (Facebook Page)

How awesome is this?!? Cosplay to help medical treatment AND the love between parent and spawnling to share the cosplay!!

You, my dear lady, are an awesome parent. Evil Genius Parent – for finding a way to encourage the medical treatment, and encouraging your daughter to include you in her fun. Double points.

Forensic Friday #7 – Archaeology

Life skills. It’s all about the life skills.

And with spawnlings, it’s all about how you SELL those life skills.

Today, let’s focus on cleaning.

*that choking, warbling sound you may hear in the background is EG Dad as he cracks up laughing, then stumbles across the EG Lair, stepping on the many carefully placed Lego mines before collapsing in a fit of disbelief, mumbling “reality has finally imploded”*

Obviously, cleaning is not an easy life skill to sell to spawnlings … until now. 😀

Introducing Archaeology 101 – Toddler edition

IMG_8192[1]

Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery – Zaltu’s 2nd favourite cosplay

Even if you are new here, surely the moustached lady would indicate to you how much we like to cosplay.

Either that, or I’m Maltese. Which I am – about 1/4. But I digress.

So it should come as no surprise that the spawnlings love to dress up, almost every chance they can. Zaltu (the 2yo) is currently enamoured with Curious George. Loves the monkey – loves the mischief. Good fit really. Her current favourite is Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery.

For today’s Forensic Friday (because I really want to get back into this particular theme), I decided to give Zaltu her own mini Dino Dig Site. Problem being, I don’t have any real sand or dirt to use. And she has her 2yo-molars playing around, so we still have a “mouth-obsession” thing going on.

While I was thinking around the supplies in the Lair, Zaltu decided she wanted to bake a cake… and pulled out one of the bags of flour. All over the kitchen floor. Followed by a toppled bottle of Canola Oil.

Now, clearly I am a bad blogger. I cleaned up the mess before realising the photo opportunity. BUT as I was cleaning up the mess (*yes, EG Dad is still giggling about me cleaning*) I noticed the change to the flour.

IMG_8184[1]

When the oil and flour mixed to together, it didn’t clump disastrously. It sort of smoothed the flour a bit. Like a silky coating. So I mixed some in a container. And added a little powdered colouring (the colouring you would use for chocolates or other oily based things).

And look at that! I made some lovely soft “sandy” flour!

Next step, adding a few dinosaurs in. Then, give it another shake around to cover the dinosaurs and we have our own mini dinosaur dig.

Before you go “that’s not very forensic”, you need to realise it doesn’t stop there. In fact, all of this is preparation work. Any true EG Parent or Mad Scientist (or both, if you’re really special) will tell you the hardest work is in the preparation.IMG_8193[1]

And any archaeologist will tell you their job is 90% cleaning up, 8% saying “I think I found something!!” and about 2% being something worth finding.

“Oh , well,” the scientist said. “It’s not a bone. Just a rock.”

The lesson that comes out of this little Dino Dig Set is to teach the spawnlings about the attention to detail required in this area of science (being both archaeology and paleontology). It involves: digging; sifting; brushing; cleaning; analysing; cataloging. It is a painstaking process and can be quite boring for a long period of time. But when you DO find something, it is amazing, exhilarating, and down-right awesome.

IMG_8189[1]With a few extra pieces of equipment (like a brush, mini-scoop and a notebook filled with dinosaur stickers to tick off her finds), Zaltu has already started learning about this process. At the same time, she has been learning the life skills of cleaning every nook and cranny of her dinosaurs. She has been loving the cosplay of this particular book. We even catalogued the dinosaurs she found.

Now I’m just waiting for Nefarious and Sinister to come home and tell me off for putting Jurassic dinosaurs (like Stegosaurus) with Cretaceous dinosaurs (like Triceratops). That’s fine – this is where the Paleontology is going to kick in. Way to give yourself more work, spawnlings.

All in all, I was able to clean up a mess, start my “Forensic Friday” posts again, give Zaltu a lesson in how to work a dig-site/crime scene AND teach her how to clean up.

I think I’ll go and eat some chocolate now.

Ingredient List

  • About 4 cups of flour (I used Self-Raising Flour because it was spilt over the floor at the time, but any flour will do. I don’t think the SR Flour will create zombie dinosaurs, but one can hope)
  • About 1/2 cup of oil
  • About teaspoon of powdered colouring
  • Small dinosaur toys to bury

Mix it together. Really well. That’s it.