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So I've decided that, beginning with chapter 6, Eon's World 2.0 will be taking a Netflix approach to its release schedule. Instead of releasing one or two pages a week until the end of a chapter and then taking a break, I will be releasing an entire chapter once it is complete. While this may mean longer breaks between new content, it will also mean no more waiting around for the next page, which can be annoying, as it disrupts the flow of a story. It will also mean I'm under less pressure to get a page done by a particular day, meaning I can devote more time to improving the quality of the artwork and the storytelling.

I'm happy to report that I'm a third of the way through chapter 6 now, and I hope to have the whole chapter completed by midsummer at the latest. I'm hoping I'll be able to put out at least two chapters a year.

So, on occasion, it has been suggested to me that I ought to offer commissions. Since I could use the money, this idea has finally started to appeal to me. So, if anyone reading this is interested in having me draw something for you, please get in touch and we can discuss details. 

I think a fair pricing structure would be:

£5 for a character with no background (or a plain colour background)
£10 for a character with a simple background
£15 for a character with a complex background
And an extra £3 for each additional character

Anyways, if you're interested, do get in touch.
This is just a very quick note. My previous journal entry was a response that was requested by a user who is now blocked. Evidently, this individual was not remotely interested in what I had to say and was just out to provoke a drama. But it has been my policy since late last year not to be drawn into any drama concerning the Scottish independence referendum. So, that individual is now blocked, along with another, whom I haven't heard from in a long time anyway, and who appears to have been linked to the previous journal entry, specifically to get her riled up. I'm guessing it was by the person who first requested comments on the result. The second person had a go at me in the comments and then declared herself done with me. Frankly, she's been done with me so many times now (ostensibly because I don't agree her extremist political views, and that's just unacceptable to her) that I hope she meant it this time. Moreover, if disagreeing about Scottish independence means you want nothing to do with me, then good. I don't need that kind of acquaintance anyway. 

The referendum is over. The decision was No. Scotland will remain a part of the UK. If you don't like that, I'm not even going to pretend I'm sorry at this point. Stop causing drama with people who just want to get on with life now and get the hell over it. You lost. Deal with it. 

I am done with this topic. 
I hadn't planned on further comments about the referendum here, but since somebody asked, I'll post what I wrote on Facebook yesterday. I have no comment about the riots in Glasgow, other than to say that I'm not terribly surprised. People are upset and angry and I get the impression that they were certain they'd win and finding they didn't, they don't really know what to do -- a lot like the Tea Party in the wake of Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012. Some will lash out, some will accuse the other side of fraud, and some will claim that it was all a colossal media conspiracy and it's the press's fault that they lost. Frankly, I'm glad the campaign is over, I'm glad my side won, and I'd like to just get on with things now and not dwell on the referendum. I have that luxury, because I got the result I wanted. But I respect that other people didn't and it would incredibly insensitive of me to wave my Union Jack in their faces and gloat about their loss.

ADDENDUM: It has been brought to my attention that the rioters in Glasgow were most likely from the No side. Even if, as I have also been informed, that this was a small, isolated incident, whoever's behind any violent clashes ought to be ashamed of themselves, no matter which way they voted. If it was indeed extremists from the No camp, it's even worse than if it had been disgruntled Yes voters, because to attack people who are already experiencing tremendous loss is to kick someone while they're down. That is inexcusable. However, I'd also like to take a moment to point out that the following commentary was requested by someone for what appears to have been the sole purpose of inciting drama. I'm not interested in arguing about the referendum now that it's done. If you and I differ on the referendum, I understand that you're most likely very upset and angry, but I respectfully ask that you not take it out on me. I've had enough of referendum drama, thank you very much. 

Anyways, here is what I had to say yesterday morning on Facebook. This is the last thing I have to say about the issue here, so I hope those who are curious will be satisfied:

* * *

So now that the initial feelings of immense joy and relief have subsided enough for me to write something more coherent than, “Yay! Beth happy!”, I’d like to say a few words vis-à-vis yesterday’s historic vote on Scottish independence.

I have not enjoyed this independence referendum or the campaign trail leading up to it. I have found it to be a gruelling experience, physically and emotionally draining, frustrating, infuriating, and worthy of more than a few facepalms along the way. It has tested, strained, and even outright ended friendships -- a tragedy I have not been immune to. But from the beginning, I have felt so passionately about Scotland’s place in the UK -- for reasons I’ve expressed enough elsewhere to not revisit them here -- that I could not, as so many others chose to do (and I don’t really blame them), keep my head down, my opinion to myself, and try to stay friends with people on both sides at all costs. No, from the beginning I was openly a unionist and proud of that; if that was a deal breaker for any friendship, then so be it. I did not relish the thought of losing friends over this and I am thankful that I only lost a tiny handful (and, even then, they were people I barely knew). I hope that, now that the decision has been made, reconciliation can begin, and maybe even friendships mended.

Of course, it’s easy to be magnanimous in victory. But I have to wonder what I would be writing now if the boot had been on the other foot and I had woken up this morning to find that I had been robbed of my national identity as a Briton, that I had become a stranger and a foreigner in my own country, and that friends and family in England were now going to be separated from me by an international border. I am thankful that I will never know what I would have felt waking up to such news, but I imagine it would have been an anger and a despair greater than I have ever felt, and I don’t imagine that what I would have been writing would be pretty. In that sense, I can empathise with those who’ve woken up to disappointment and heartbreak today. I am truly sorry that you have to feel that way.

But I am not sorry that you lost.

As I said, it would be easy to be magnanimous in victory, but I think honesty is far more important than shallow, cynical platitudes. I’m not a politician, after all. I know a number of people -- good, decent, sensitive, intelligent people -- who, as far as I know, voted Yes to independence yesterday, and it would be insulting their intelligence to pretend that I’m not happy they lost. I am happy -- possibly happier than I’ve ever been about anything in my entire life. If we’re friends, then our friendship demands nothing less than bold honesty at this point. I cannot spend over two years championing the union of Great Britain and Scotland’s place in the UK and then pretend I’m not happy when Scotland votes No to ending it. That would be two-faced and dishonest of me. Of course I’m happy.

But I acknowledge and respect that a lot of people aren’t.

There will be a grieving period for them, obviously, and each person disappointed by Scotland’s decision will deal with that grief in their own ways. But I hope that, after the recriminations have been made, after the tears have been shed, and after the sorrows have been drunk away, those who voted Yes to independence will be able to accept defeat with good grace and step up to the challenge Scotland -- and the entire United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- now faces, to deliver a better, fairer system for all of us. I look forward to mending fences and working together in my own small way with everyone willing to take part in what happens next.

Thank you for reading and, whichever way you voted, thank you for participating in this historic decision. May it prove to have been the right decision, but whatever it proves to be, let us work together to make the absolute best of it. I believe we can do that and I look forward to seeing that confidence in Britain realised in the coming months and years.

Cross posted from Facebook:

I'm voting No because I love Scotland. 

Scotland has always been a part of my life, as my mother's side of the family is from here, so visits were pretty routine growing up. But I first came here long term in 2005 to study at the University of Stirling and, by the end of my first semester, I had fallen in love with this place and decided I wanted to live here. It took some effort and some good fortune, but I finally got to move back here after I graduated and I've been here ever since. Entirely by choice, I have spent most of my adult life in Scotland and I don't want to live anywhere else. In the three and a half years since I moved to Edinburgh, I have made some of the best and closest friends I have ever had. I love Scotland and I want to see Scotland prosper. 

And that's why I'm voting No to independence. 

Part of the reason Scotland is such a great place to live is because it's part of the UK and benefits enormously from it. Our universities get research grants from the UK government. We get back more in public spending than we pay in taxes. We benefit from the common defence of the UK armed forces -- some of the best in the world -- and from the financial security of the larger UK economy. And the UK itself is a great place because Scotland is part of it. We've accomplished so much together. We've come through the enlightenment together. We've fought tyrants together. We've made great invention together. We've brought about changes for greater social justice together. No, the UK isn't perfect; but neither is Scotland, and that's not the point. Every country has its problems, but there is no magic bullet solution to any of them, no one thing you can do that will magically make everything better -- there is no Utopia. As with everything else, it takes time, patience, and effort from dedicated people to make things better. And those dedicated people can be found across the UK and they want to work together with people from across the UK. That is why I firmly believe that Scotland is better in the UK and the UK is better with Scotland. Independence will diminish both the UK and Scotland, but continuing unity will continue to elevate both.

I'm not much of a patriot, but I do love and appreciate my country -- and my country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Scotland is a part of that now and I hope it will be a part of that for centuries to come. I'm already on Scotland's side -- already on "Team Scotland" -- because Scotland is my home and that's why I'm voting No to Scottish independence. I hope you'll be doing the same. 
Good news, everyone!

I have re-uploaded the first fifty pages of Eon's World 1.0, the sprite comic I wrote from October 2002 to February 2011. I think it's better to have those pages on my own website than on deviantART, so if you're interested in seeing my embarrassing work from eleven years ago, you need only click the following link.…

The rest of the series will be uploaded gradually too. In chunks of fifty.
Cross posted from Facebook.

You know what I'm sick to death of? This fucking independence referendum. I'm voting no. I was always voting no. I'm not interested in hearing why I should vote yes. I'm not going to listen. My mind is made up. My mind was made up eight years ago when I was first first learnt that there were Scots who wanted independence from the United Kingdom, when I was accosted by a thoroughly unpleasant Scottish nationalist in my first week at university in Stirling, who, upon hearing my accent, decided to lambaste me for all the problems Scotland faced -- which were, of course, all the fault of England and therefore my fault... even though I had never once identified as English, nor ever voted for anyone who had actually won an election. I am British, thank you very much, and my family comes from both sides of the border.

Ever since then, I've felt like I'm walking on eggshells whenever the topic of Scottish independence comes up, and that has only worsened since Alex Salmond got re-elected in 2011 and immediately began campaigning for Scottish independence. This whole referendum has been deeply divisive, turning people against each other and bringing out some of the nastiest qualities in people, and it just goes on and on. You can't escape it. It's here on Facebook, even if you don't follow either of the campaigns, and it's out there in reality too. You could be talking about anything and someone will steer the topic towards the indy ref and get up on their soap box about how important it is that Scotland be independent... or not. And woe betide anyone who dares to disagree. I had it at university, and I still have it now. Last November, I went to the Edinburgh Humanist pub night and got into a very nasty argument with an elderly gentleman, who shall remain nameless, over this subject. And it wasn't just a heated debate; the man was deliberately insulting. Only a few weeks ago, I was out with some friends after a protest outside the Russian consulate, and one of them somehow steered the topic towards the indy ref, again championing the cause of Scottish independence and suggesting that a no vote is a vote for the Tories -- because Labour and the Tories are exactly the same, apparently. Funny how things seem to have taken rather a turn for the worse since David Cameron became Prime Minister, but of course, the parties are exactly the same. Don't you just love false equivalence? That time, I decided to bite my tongue rather than rise to it, as I know how easily this whole thing can destroy friendships.

But I am deeply offended by the notion that anyone from south of the border is a Tory, or that anyone who opposes independence is a Tory, anti-Scottish, or a traitor. My maternal grandparents were Scottish; they were also Tories. My paternal grandparents were/are English; they were/are Labourites. I personally despise the Conservative Party and I have never voted for them, and probably never will, unless it were a choice between them or the BNP or some other far-right racist group -- in which case, I'd probably abstain and make plans to emigrate. But I digress. The point is that this campaign is bringing out some truly nasty sentiments from people -- from both sides, yes, but you'll forgive me for noticing it more from the opposite side to the one I'm on (and, personally, I think the Yes side IS more extreme than the No side, just based on their shenanigans on and offline, but I make no pretence of being unbiased), and I am sick of it. But there's another year to go before the indy ref. Another year of hatred, enmity, and discord among the people of Scotland. Another year of listening to people insult the English, as if they're all mindless Tories who just want the worst for themselves, but especially for Scotland. Another year of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce wannabes acting like it's still 1314. Another year of hearing our great British democracy conflated with the Third fucking Reich. And I am so very, very tired of it all.

"But, Beth! You're always posting Better Together crap on your wall!"

I used to, but it's not nearly as frequent as it used to be, and that's mostly out of fear of inviting responses from the handful of Facebook contacts I have who who are pro-independence, thereby creating unwanted drama. I'm not interested in arguing about it, because I know it's like talking to a brick wall -- for both parties. I have my reasons for voting no and I'm not interested in hearing why I should vote yes -- I've heard it all already, and I'm not convinced. Besides, the difference between me sharing pro-Union material on Facebook and my above complaint is that I'm not being a douchebag about it and insulting pro-independence people. I have friends -- good friends -- who are voting yes. I know that decent, intelligent people, who love Scotland as much as I do believe that independence is for the best. I don't agree with them (and, thankfully, neither do most voters), but that doesn't mean we can't be friends -- indeed, if you're that shallow, I don't want to be friends.

No, my complaint is that people are being nasty to each other, rather than respectfully disagreeing. And, sadly, that's only going to get worse and worse over the next year. I probably won't even celebrate when the results come in next year with a majority of Scots having (most likely) voted no. I'll just be glad it's all over. Sadly, I suspect the divisions this campaign has created will never truly go away. That is the real tragedy of this whole thing, and that is why it upsets me so much.
So, I tried to submit a couple of pages of Eon's World 2.0 to the page #Amateur Webcomics, which got rejected. No doubt because I submitted them to Promo Posters in the Submitting To part, rather than the usual Comic Pages. Only problem; no matter how much I click on that button, nothing happens. I literally cannot submit them anywhere else, because deviantART won't let me. It's not Firefox, because I've tried IE too. Anyone else having this problem?
Seems my website is currently unavailable. I'm looking into buying some webspace of my own to host the site on, since I've been relying on the charity of a friend since 2005 to host the site. I think it's about time I took matters into my own hands and it seems as if there are some reasonable options out there, based on my initial search, but I would like to speak to my current host before I make any decisions. I'll continue updates to the comic here, assuming I've not sorted this out and got it up on a new site before next Wednesday.

If anyone has any suggestions for web hosting options, I'm all ears.

EDIT - Panic over! The website is back. Still, I'm interested in the prospect of buying webspace in the future, so I'm still open to suggestions.
So it's Ask An Atheist Day. Given that I happen to be an atheist, I figured I'd open myself up to questions on that subject. If you've got a question in you pertaining to atheism and related issues, go ahead and ask.
So, after much procrastinating, Eon's World lives again and you can go on over to my website and read the first page for yourselves. Updates will be most Wednesdays and Saturdays, like before. :)
So, after over two years without continuing the story, Eon's World (formerly known as Eon's Comic) is finally returning!

I have not been idle in my comic's long hiatus. I have used the time to improve my drawing skills somewhat, as well as work on a great number of 3D models for use in the comic (mostly ships, but there are some other things), and a handful of scripts. I kept telling myself that I needed more time for prep, but, frankly, there's always going to be prep work I could be doing, so it was time to knuckle down and get to work on the comic itself. After all, one way to improve my art is to actually work on the comic, right?

Anyway, I have done a draft of the first chapter, which you can begin reading here, if you fancy a preview: If not, then the final (much nicer looking) version will start becoming available for view within the month. I've not yet decided whether the comic will be hosted on the original website or exclusively here on deviantART, but it will most certainly be available for view in its entirety here, if nowhere else (it may also go up on FurAffinity).

If you can't read my handwriting, I apologise. The final version will use a legible font. :p

UPDATE: The first chapter is taking longer than I expected, but I'm nearly through now. I'll announce it when the first page goes up. :)
I am against Scottish independence.

I am not convinced that a good case exists for Scotland's secession from the United Kingdom, nor do I even accept that Scotland could necessarily make it on its own. Maybe it could, but it would be difficult and I expect that many things Scotland takes for granted now (free higher education, free prescriptions, free eye tests, etc.) would have to be sacrificed to make it viable. Moreover, if there is a good reason for Scottish independence, I have yet to hear it; because none of the arguments that nationalists have ventured to me so far hold up under scrutiny. Not one.

The biggest argument that I keep hearing repeated is that Scotland is routinely subjected to a Conservative government that Scotland did not itself vote for, having voted instead largely for Labour, the Liberal Democrats, or increasingly the Scottish National Party. Nationalists seem to be under the impression that an independent Scotland will be free of the Tories for good, instantly transforming this country into a socialist utopia from now until the end of time. Of course, they care little for the fact that a United Kingdom without the balancing effect of Scotland will probably be doomed to successive Tory governments, at least in the short term. Quite the contrary, some nationalists seem to relish the idea of England (because it seems as if that's all they really see the rest of the UK as) being permanently dominated by the Tories; as long as Scotland gets away from them, they don't care what happens to the rest of this Union.

This is why I consider Scottish nationalism to be an inherently selfish political philosophy. Moreover, it is anti-democratic. One of the characteristics of democracy is that you can't always get what you want (some of us can never get what we want), but nationalists don't seem to understand this. They're upset that general elections don't always go their way and they blame England for this, so they want to secede from the union to make sure that elections in Scotland always do go their way. Well, it's true, elections in an independent Scotland will, of course, go Scotland's way; but doesn't that sound awfully similar to conservatives in red states that always vote Republican clamouring for secession from the United States because they're upset that President Obama, a Democrat got re-elected? I wonder if nationalists think modern day American secessionists in places like Texas have as valid a case for independence as Scottish nationalists do? If they don't, they're hypocrites and it seriously casts doubt on the real reasons behind their separatism. Besides, what happens when the Highlands start being subjected to governments they don't support because most Scottish constituencies are in the Lowlands (particularly around Edinburgh and Glasgow)? Will the nationalists then agree that the Highlands should be able to seek independence from Scotland? Of course not. That would be silly. So why isn't the idea of Scotland as a whole seceding from the United Kingdom seen as equally silly?

I also think it is incredibly nave to assume that an independent Scotland could never elect a conservative government. Do nationalists really think that conservatives will just disappear once we're independent? Even if the Scottish Conservative Party were to fold (which I think is a doubtful prospect), conservatism itself would almost certainly find its way back into Scottish politics. The Tories were only in third place in the last Scottish election, after all. The SNP could not hold onto power forever, especially after accomplishing the only thing they really care about; without Westminster to constantly compare with Holyrood (and to blame for all of Scotland's problems), the kind of populism that the SNP has been playing to since first gaining power in the Scottish Parliament will be a lot less effective (especially if Scotland can no longer afford a lot of the good things the SNP has provided over the last few years). The fact is, politics can change. We've grown accustomed to the idea that certain places are strongholds for certain parties (the idea of red states and blue states in the US, for instance, and "safe seats" here), but the political map can and does change dramatically over time. If you look at an election map of Britain in 1974, you'll notice that the Conservatives once had a much stronger presence in Scotland than they do now, and the Tories were far worse in the 1970's than they are today this was shortly before Thatcher's rise to power, remember, and I dare say she wouldn't be electable even just in England today. Progress is not a constant, linear, forward motion; it can be countermanded and I think that an independent Scotland with years of leftist policies would eventually elect a more conservative government just to redress the balance, just like the UK in its entirety did with Thatcher after years of hard-line leftist policies under Labour in the 1970's. It might not even take as much as that, to be honest. People, sadly, do not always vote rationally and, in times of crisis, a lot of people can become quite reactionary. Look at the result of the 2010 general election; most people voted Tory, despite the Tories having agreed with every single one of Labour's policies that put us in this recession, while the Liberal Democrats performed very poorly, despite having opposed many of those policies and having warned the government of the impending financial crisis. Moreover, there is a strong anti-immigration feeling in Scotland as much as there is in England, I think, particularly with regards to the Polish and I can easily see immigration being the Conservative Party's ticket back to power in an independent Scotland, particularly when Alex Salmond is cynically counting on migrant voters to turn the referendum in his favour, while disenfranchising Scottish members of the Armed Forces if they're not actually based in Scotland.

Besides, if Scotland were truly as weary of the status quo as the nationalists claimed, then why didn't Scotland vote in favour of the Alternative Vote last May? Sure, it wouldn't have made a difference if we did, since most of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland would have still overwhelmingly voted no, but it would've done a better job of making the nationalists' case that Scotland truly wants a change that only independence can now grant. Apparently Scotland is either too stupid to vote for a system that would have broken the status quo (in which case, I'd say we cannot be trusted with independence) or we're simply not as unhappy with the status quo as the nationalists are asserting (in which case, we don't need independence).

Scottish nationalists are a noisy minority. They know that most Scots (including many who vote for the SNP) don't really want independence, so they're doing their best to deliberately game the system to give themselves as big a chance of winning this referendum as possible. They know that members of the Armed Forces appreciate the value of the Union, so they will only allow servicemen and women currently based in Scotland to vote, and that's just a fraction of the total number of Scots currently in the Forces. They know that young people are impressionable and naturally rebellious, which is why they're going to allow sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote, despite not allowing them to drink, smoke, have sex, or vote in actual elections. They know that a lot of migrants from Eastern European nations that have gained independence from the former Soviet Union within the last few decades may sympathise with Scottish nationalists, which is why they will allow anyone living in Scotland (no matter where they originally came from) to vote in the referendum, but they won't allow Scots living elsewhere in the UK (and who are therefore more likely to appreciate the Union) to vote in it. And it is no accident that this referendum will be held while a Conservative-led government is in power; Alex Salmond is playing on the hatred of the Tories, and it's just a bonus that Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats aren't perceived as being any better right now either, because that allows nationalists to decry the entire Westminster establishment as universally corrupt and untrustworthy, something Scotland needs to get away from as quickly as possible, and to hell with the rest of the UK who'll be stuck with it.

And, of course, Salmond wants the referendum held in the seven hundredth year since the Battle of Bannockburn a decisive Scottish victory over the English from the ancient Wars of Scottish Independence. The symbolism is grotesque and it truly speaks to the real mentality that I think is at the heart of much Scottish nationalism. It is not a question of Scotland protecting itself from bad governments or protecting its culture; it is a question of simple hatred of the English, hatred that is not reciprocated to anywhere near the same degree by England (though I'd be remiss if I denied its existence altogether and I find it equally banal). Salmond may not hate the English himself, and many other Scottish nationalists may not hate the English. But, having been on the receiving end of such hatred from Scottish nationalists (despite the fact that I love Scotland, I live here by choice, and I have never identified as "English", preferring the label "British" since I have both English and Scottish family), you cannot tell me that none of the motivation behind independence is based on simple Anglophobia. Of course it is, and the nationalists know this, which is why they're all too willing to play upon that hatred to get out the vote in two years. It is a revolting display of political cynicism at its very worst, and it reflects very poorly on a movement that would like to set Scotland apart from England as a bastion of true progressivism, rational thought, and tolerance.

Currently, polls indicate that a majority of Scots are still against independence. That's encouraging, but a lot can happen in two years. Whatever the case may be, if I am still eligible to do so, I intend to vote in favour of the United Kingdom, in favour of a political union that has served us all well for over three hundred years, and in favour of a secure future for Scotland. I will vote no to Scottish independence, because the United Kingdom is better together, united as one and working together to support one another, than stumbling blindly ahead as separate, competing entities. I hope you, if you also live in Scotland, will be doing the same.
So, I was on The Pod Delusion again! Twice, in fact!……

Hear me and obey!
So, last week I was on episode 150 of The Pod Delusion, a podcast about interesting things. It was pretty fun coming up with something to talk about -- I decided to talk about the definition of atheism -- and I've wanted to do something like that for ages. So, I finally did. You can find the show here and I highly recommend listening, because there are lots of interesting topics.

I hope to be on the show again in the future too!
Just finished Mass Effect 3 this morning. To put it simply, it was the most dissatisfying, ham-fisted, phoned-in ending to a videogame I've ever seen. Given how much I enjoyed the franchise (including ME3, right up until the last few minutes), it really is hard to overstate the extent of my disappointment.

If you want avoid spoilers, stop reading now, because I'm not interested in wording this carefully to avoid it.

After playing through the series, carefully considering the choices I made, on the promise that my choices will affect the final outcome of the whole series, the end is nothing short of atrocious. There's no indication of any of your big choices in the previous games really mattering by this point and, after spending the whole of this game playing politics to forge an alliance against the Reapers, writing wrongs, mending fences, curing pandemics, and reclaiming lost homeworlds, there's really nothing in the final mission or even after it to reflect your efforts. Oh sure, the geth are mentioned during the final battle and the krogan are there too, but you never see either of them in action. I would guess that the Star Wars-esque space battle over Earth looks identical, no matter what you do. (Talking of which, so much for all the realistic space combat touted in the game's codex.) You get to talk to Wrex before charging into battle, but do you get see him leading his krogan against the Reapers? No. It's just you and whatever squadmates you picked, alone, against endless waves of Reaper forces.

The final mission involves getting aboard the Citadel, which has been parked in orbit above London (they never explain how the Reapers moved it from the Widow system to the Sol system, however), so the Crucible, the super weapon that your allies have spent the game building can be connected to it in order to wipe out the Reapers for good. After a Gears of War style charge through ruined city streets, fighting endless waves of Reaper brutes and banshees (even on the easiest setting, you'll go through several clips before you can kill those things--even a rocket launcher doesn't do them much damage), followed by taking down a Reaper with a missile strike, you have to make a suicidal glory charge (and it IS suicidal for whichever two squadmates you picked, so, in my case, goodbye, Garrus and Tali!) towards the Reaper's magical space elevator to get onto the Citadel. But you end up taking a near-direct hit from another Reaper's death ray and, when you come to, your armour's practically been melted off you, you have one lame pistol, and, in true Metal Gear Solid 4 style, you have to go through the tedium of stumbling forward and shooting the occasional husks as they lumber towards you. Once you're on the Citadel, the Illusive Man is there doing a half-arsed impersonation of Saren from the end of the first game; but when the Illusive Man is convinced to shoot himself in the head, he actually stays dead.

Then comes the crowning moment of fail for the whole series. Throughout the game, Shepard is occasionally haunted by a recurring nightmare of a child she/he failed to save on Earth when the Reapers first attacked. Well, turns out this child is actually some kind of artificial intelligence housed inside the Citadel who controls the Reapers. The whole explanation for why the Reapers wipe out all advanced organic life every few thousand years is, apparently, to stop organics from... doing it to themselves... Yeah... saving organic life by destroying it... I think ideas like that are what the phrase "yeah, sure..." was invented for. Oh, but this AI reckons organics will inevitably create synthetics eventually and the synthetics will wipe them out, so it's better for the Reapers to do it every so often, because at least that way, they... preserve organic life... somehow... by melting them down into a liquid to pump into new Reapers... That... makes sense, right...? Right...?

Oh, but wait! Now you have a chance to break the cycle. You're presented with three choices, each one more lame than the last. 1: Take control of the Reapers, like the Illusive Man wanted to do, and... I guess, become like this annoying child AI, but without wiping out all advanced organic life...? 2: Destroy the Reapers, like you always intended to, but doing so will result in destroying the geth and destroying every single mass relay, thereby flinging the galaxy into a dark age without galaxy-wide interstellar travel (conventional FTL still takes years to cover very large distances). 3: Fundamentally alter the nature of life itself by merging organics and synthetics to create a new, utopian future, free from the threat of mass extinction at the hands of rogue synthetics. I chose that option... It sucked so hard, but then, all three choices seemed pretty lame and I'm fairly sure they all meant effective death for Shepard and wouldn't be any more satisfying.

The game ended with a cutscene of the Normandy trying to outrun the blast from the Crucible and failing. Then the crew emerges from the wreck on some idyllic world where all life is partially organic, partially synthetic... and now so are Normandy's crew... Doesn't seem to have fixed Joker's brittle bones, however. Oh yes, and this option ALSO destroyed all the mass relays. So, goodbye galactic civilization as we know it!

I feel completely cheated. After spending three games trying to save galactic civilization, this ending (and any of the endings) was a slap in the face to fans of the series. A lot of folks have already compared with the original ending to Fallout 3 (you die), and some have expressed hope that, like what Bethesda did with Fallout 3, Bioware will release an expansion that gives us a more satisfying ending. Frankly though, the only way to make the ending more satisfying is to remove it and write something better. This was deus ex machina at its absolute lamest and it's actually ruined the entire Mass Effect series for me. I honestly can't see myself re-playing the series ever again at this point, knowing what I'm playing towards. If you want a game that really rewards you for the time spent playing it with a satisfying ending that answers all your questions and ties up all the loose ends, don't play Mass Effect 3. Hell, don't play Mass Effect, period. I probably won't be.
So, the first official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has made its debut.…

It looks great. Once again, I feel immense confidence that Peter Jackson and company will do an excellent job in bringing Middle-Earth to life. My only complaint is that we're going to have to wait another whole year (well, minus a few days) to see it.
So, I submitted my latest drawing to the group, deviantFUR. As far as I could tell, it falls perfectly within the kind of art they accept. It's a furry. What more is required?

Well, apparently it didn't pass muster, because it was rejected (huh, story of my life, these days). I don't know what's wrong with my picture; okay, sure, the background isn't as good as it should be, and I am tempted to try and fix that, but no reason was given by whichever prick over at deviantFUR decided it wasn't good enough. So you know what? Fuck you guys. See if I bother contributing any more of my art, which is almost all furry and therefore falls within the bounds of your group's raison d'etre. I'm sorry if none of it involves yiffing and only some of it involves scantily clad females, but if that's what you want, then maybe you should specify it.

At least it was accepted by ALL-ANTHRO-LOVERS. But, given their icon :iconall-anthro-lovers: you'd think they'd be the ones who only want yiffing and scantily clad females.
This is cross-posted from the Mobius Forum and SSMB. It got very little interest on the Mobius Forum and I don't think the replies on SSMB really yielded any answers, so I'm re-posting it here.  

In the more than ten years since I first became interested in global politics, I have been involved in quite a few discussions (or perhaps, more accurately, arguments) over the internet about all kinds of issues. I have learnt a lot in that time about different political philosophies, not only through my formal education at university, but also through my own research out of personal interest. I don't consider myself to be an expert on any particular issue, but I do think of myself as an informed layman, certainly more informed than the average person, who generally shows little to no interest in politics at all. That said, there are still things in politics that I don't understand; there's always more to learn and I welcome the opportunity. One thing that has been puzzling me a lot recently is the concept of "a Christian nation".

This concept has arisen in quite a lot of the discussions I've participated in since 2001 and not only in purely theological discussions; I've seen people assert that their country is a Christian nation as part of their argument in topics that one would not necessarily expect to have any religious angle. That said, I've been involved in these discussions long enough to know that just about any political topic can have a religious angle to some people. Online, I tend to see people (usually American conservatives) asserting that the United States is a Christian nation and my response has typically been a refutation of that. After all, unless you're talking about demographics, the United States is most certainly not a Christian nation. It was not founded upon biblical principles; it was founded upon enlightenment principles, many of which fly in the face of Christian values. The founding fathers were not uniformly conservative Christians; they were enlightenment thinkers and, while some of them were Christians, many of them were deists (i.e. they believed in a creator god or "prime mover", but not in a personal or interventionist god who requires worship), some of them professed no theological opinions at all, and some were publicly very critical of the Christian faith (Thomas Paine, for instance). Jesus Christ is not mentioned in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution; in fact, the only references to anything religious are to an unspecified creator in the Declaration and Article VI, paragraph 3 and the First Amendment of the Constitution, which respectively establish that there will be no religious test for public office and that the government may not create any laws favouring any one particular religion over another or religion over irreligion and vice versa—in other words, it establishes religious neutrality where the government is concerned. Indeed, constitutionally, the United States has a separation of church and state, which is enumerated by the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment, as explained by former president and founding father, Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 (in fact, that's where the phrase comes from). Furthermore, the Treaty of Tripoli, which was unanimously ratified by both houses of Congress in 1797, explicitly states that the United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion, and court decisions have generally given rise to a legal precedent supporting separation of church and state. Christianity may enjoy a majority status in the United States, but that does not make the county a Christian nation; indeed, the Constitution itself and the Bill of Rights in particular were written in part to protect minority groups from the tyranny of the majority.

That's the kind of information I've drawn upon to argue against the myth that America is a Christian nation when I've been confronted by people making that assertion. Much of the information that conservative Christians in the United States will present is flawed or outright false; many quotes, ostensibly from founding fathers, have been incorrectly attributed to them or can be traced back to compulsive liars like David Barton of the conservative Christian group, Wallbuilders and no further. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to persuade people who are determined to propagate this myth (or perhaps, more accurately, this lie) that the United States is a Christian Nation (Judeo-Christian if they're being charitable or if they want to avoid angering the Anti-Defamation League), that it was founded upon biblical principles, and that it is right, necessary, or both for religion and government to be intertwined. Like arguing against a religionist's theological beliefs, you often won't get very far arguing against this lie; indeed, it is something they seem to cling to in much the same way that they cling to their faith, continuing to believe it in spite of all evidence to the contrary and the lack of any real evidence in support of it.

But, while I anticipate the possibility of some discussion about this claim, it's not what I'm really interested in. I'll come to that shortly, but first I'd like to briefly describe the situation on the other side of the Atlantic, here in Europe. Quite a few European nations have established churches (mostly the ones that still have monarchies), but in practice, we are much more secular than the United States; religious belief is much lower as is the level of religion in politics. For instance, while an atheist has very little chance of getting elected to high public office in the United States without lying about their beliefs, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg is openly agnostic and said as much during the televised debates last year; while it would be an issue in America, considering the frankly disgraceful displays of religious interrogation by the major networks during the 2008 election cycle, it simply isn't an issue for most voters here. Nevertheless, I have occasionally heard people assert that the United Kingdom is a Christian nation in order to provide an argument for their positions (which are almost exclusively positions of prejudice and bigotry). When civil partnerships were being legalised in 2005, I heard a woman on the radio arguing against giving gay couples similar legal rights to married straight couples on the basis that "this is a Christian nation" and that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. Some Conservative MP's have occasionally argued that Christianity needs to be given "primacy" in Britain, former Prime Minister, Tony Blair has become a conservative Catholic and an attendee of the National Prayer Breakfast in the United States since resigning from office, and far-right extremist parties like UKIP and the BNP favour more Christianity in the public square, in education, and in politics (usually in order to contest Islam). Nevertheless, it is an oversimplification to assert that the United Kingdom is a Christian Nation. It is not, either constitutionally or demographically. While most people will put themselves down as Christians on the census, less than ten percent of the population ever attends church outside of weddings, funerals, and other such occasions (if they do it even then); most people are what has been described as "cultural Christians", where religion is not a significant part of their lives and really only plays a ceremonial role, but they themselves are not sincere believers and they simply identify with the religion of their parents or grandparents. As far as the establishment of religion is concerned, however, it's complicated, which is why it's an oversimplification to say that "Britain is a Christian nation". Britain itself does not, as a whole, have an established church; however, England and Scotland do have established churches, whereas Ireland disestablished its church in 1871 and Wales did the same in 1920. The established church in England is the Church of England (known as the Anglican Church outside the United Kingdom), whereas in Scotland it is the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. A lot of people mistakenly assume that the Church of England is the established church of the entire United Kingdom, but it isn't; it's just England. Constitutionally, there is no overt protection of religious freedom in the United Kingdom, but the Human Rights Act of 1998 and the Equality Act of 2010, not to mention the United Kingdom's membership in the European Union all provide similar protections of religious freedom to those enjoyed in places like Germany and the United States that would otherwise be lacking.

But, as I indicated, the question of whether or not a particular country is a Christian nation is not what I'm interested in discussing in this topic. What I'm interested in is why people feel the need to propagate this idea, whether it's true or not. What do the religionists who believe that theirs is a Christian nation hope to accomplish by either making it so or by convincing enough people that it is? I've spent enough time arguing against the claim that the United States is a Christian nation, but I've never really took the time to ask the predominantly conservative Christians who think otherwise why it is that they think this. What do they want and why do they want it? What is so potentially good about America's recognition as a Christian nation? If there are Christians on this forum who identify with this position—that America is a Christian nation—then I invite you to answer these questions. The same applies to Christians elsewhere in the world who are similarly interested in the same kind of establishment of the Christian faith in their own countries. Of course, anybody's input is welcome.

This is not intended as flame bait. I am genuinely interested in why people want to the propagate the idea of a Christian nation, because in all the arguments I've had about whether or not a particular country is a Christian nation, the question as to why people want that idea to be accepted is the one thing that's never really been answered, at least not for me. So, please, if you've taken the time to read this, share your thoughts.
Seriously. What is up with all the polls? Do people get premium status and then just go poll crazy or something...? Half the time, the polls are about trivial or completely irrelevant things. Sometimes they ask incoherant questions with equally incoherant answers and, frankly, I'm getting sick of them clogging my inbox. Not that I expect this journal entry to have any effect on it...