writer, poet, researcher, poly kinky LGBTQ* atheist Jewish activist workin' to repair the world.

Fan of: Doctor Who, Octavia Butler, Lord of the Rings, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Captain Awkward, Tamora Pierce, and many, many more.

Currently Obsessing Over

I'm currently on hiatus from all RPing, but the Terre d'Ange Roleplay Boards are super rad! Send me asks for more information, or just come and join them!

See below for my tumblr RP blogs.
I'm a GENDER scout!



I think one of the reasons the Harry Potter Epilogue was so poorly received was because the audience was primarily made up of the Millennial generation.

We’ve walked with Harry, Ron and Hermione, through a world that we thought was great but slowly revealed itself to be the opposite. We unpeeled the layers of corruption within the government, we saw cruelty against minorities grow in the past decades, and had media attack us and had teachers tell us that we ‘must not tell lies’. We got angry and frustrated and, like Harry, Ron and Hermione, had to think of a way to fight back. And them winning? That would have been enough to give us hope and leave us satisfied.

But instead. There was skip scene. And suddenly they were all over 30 and happy with their 2.5 children.

And the Millennials were left flailing in the dust.

Because while we recognised and empathised with everything up to that point. But seeing the Golden Trio financially stable and content and married? That was not something our generation could recognise. Because we have no idea if we’re ever going to be able to reach that stage. Not with the world we’re living in right now.

Having Harry, Ron and Hermione stare off into the distance after the battle and wonder about what the future might be would have stuck with us. Hell, have them move into a shitty flat together and try and sort out their lives would have. Have them with screaming nightmares and failed relationships and trying to get jobs in a society that’s falling apart would have. Have them still trying to fix things in that society would have. Because we known Voldemort was just a symptom of the disease of prejudice the Wizarding World.

But don’t push us off with an ‘all was well’. In a world about magic, JK Rowling finally broke our suspension of disbelief by having them all hit middle-class and middle-age contentment and expecting a fanbase of teenagers to accept it.

Also. Since when was ‘don’t worry kids, you’re going to turn out just like your parents’ ever a happy ending? Does our generation even recognise marriage and money and jobs as the fulfillment of life anymore? Does our generation even recognise the Epilogue’s Golden Trio anymore?


THIS was what made me rage so hard at the end of the 7th book. After sticking through the series even through the meh of books 4 & 5 and the utter nonsense of book 6, I thought book 7 redeemed the whole thing and then the epilogue was just… nope. THANK YOU for writing this.


stop replacing mirrors with ‘you look fine’ signs i know i look fine that’s why i want to look in the mirror

aphrodisijack, for real tho, you’re my hero

Making Sacred Time & Space As a Jewish Atheist

This Rosh Hashanah has been one of the most quietly transformative experiences of my life. Taking this time to rest, renew, and take a real accounting of my life in the days leading up to Yom Kippur has been truly wonderful.

Whether you read the rest of this or not, I’d love to see your answers to the following questions:

What is one new ritual you want to add to your life?

What stories are you telling that are serving you well? What stories might not do you much good any longer?

What time or space do you keep sacred? What time or space do you want to keep sacred? What can you do to make this possible?

Read More

go on tumblr once, populate my queue with enough content for three weeks, forget tumblr exists for another three months. oops.

Goodbye, Ello: Privacy, Safety, and Why Ello Makes Me More Vulnerable to My Abusers and Harassers


Thanks to everyone who has been sharing this post. Besides Tumblr asks, you can also contact me at me[at]creatrixtiara[dot]com or on Twitter.

If you’re wondering how to credit me (since I’m being credited as “a member of the queer community” a lot) please use Creatrix Tiara or Tiara Shafiq.

Originally I had updates on top, followed by the original post. But that got unwieldily. So I’m starting off with my original post, and then updates below (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th) followed by a growing list of news outlets that have linked to this blog.

Since a lot of people have been asking: I wrote this on September 23rd 2014 at around 11:30PM PST (GMT -8), the night before Ello sent out the email about adding privacy features. Also as of September 25th 2014, 11:33PM PST, I have not heard from Ello personally in any way, shape, or form since this post.

I originally wrote this as my goodbye post on Ello, a new social network that has taken my queer/POC/performer/activist circles by storm due to Facebook’s crackdown on names. Feel free to share.

I know many of you joined Ello due to Facebook’s real name policy, which has shown to be a great risk to performers, trans people, and others who do not reveal their legal name for security or personal identity reasons. And everyone’s super fond of Ello now because they promise not to sell your information to advertisers.

However, there are specific elements of Ello’s privacy settings, deliberately designed, that make Ello actually way more unsafe than Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets and CMSes. And in our rush to embrace a Facebook replacement we need to be aware of what we are at risk for when using Ello.

Ello deliberately does not have any sort of personal privacy settings, and it does not have any sort of features to block or report individuals, nor any way to consent to being followed.

According to Ello’s @wtf section on privacy:

Ello is a platform built for posting and sharing public content. You should assume that anything you post on Ello other than private messages will be accessed by others. Search engines will be able to see the content you post. Content you post may be copied, shared, or re-posted on Ello and on other parts of the internet in ways that you and we cannot control.

Their feature list does have an upcoming entry about reporting inappropriate content, but nothing about inappropriate people. And yes, so far it’s invite-only, but invites are flowing so fast that it’s actually breaking Ello servers. And once you are in the system, everyone’s accounts are at your disposal.

Whether they want you to find out or not.

I do not have my legal name on Facebook, or most other sites, mostly because I have had trouble with relatives finding me and spreading rumours. (Also I don’t want to be too easily found by the Malaysian government and be charged with sedition.) However, privacy filters and blocking settings on most other social media help me mitigate the most of this.

Even so, having my legal name on Facebook (or even other sites like Twitter or Tumblr), is less of a problem for me than having no option to filter my content or block/report specific people.

Because the people I most want to avoid know my aliases. They are friends with people I know on Ello. They might already be on Ello (I’d be surprised if they weren’t) and are totally open to following me, reading me, tagging me, commenting on my posts. Hell, they can even find me through our mutual friends - any mutual activity pops up on their Friends feed.

And, by the way Ello is currently set up, there is nothing I can do about it.

I already have had specific posts of mine on social media - even carefully filtered or private material - spun into false accusations that affect my personal and professional reputation. I have no illusions about any of my content being totally private; I’m already a pretty open book. But at least on other places I can do something about it.

On Facebook, Twitter (if made private), and LinkedIn, I can approve or deny friends and followers. 
On Ello anyone can follow me, with or without my consent, and I have no way of knowing whether I am a Friend or Noise.

On Facebook and Flickr I can set differing privacy levels - making posts only viewable to certain groups of people, excluding specific people entirely, or making some posts visible to only me. (On Twitter I can make my entire timeline private.)
On Ello, if you can get on Ello itself, you can read anything. (And according to Ello’s “privacy” statement, so could the world.)

On almost all other social media avenues, and even on blogs and CMSes, I can block specific people, or report their profiles for abuse, or find some way of identifying them (such as an IP address) so I can bring the matter up with a different authority.
On Ello I cannot do any of that, leaving me vulnerable.

There’s probably more, if I gave it more thought. But what I’ve found disturbs me enough already to compel me to leave Ello.

I don’t mind companies selling to me. They never really get my details right anyway. But marketing doesn’t usually try to ruin my career, or spread personal rumours about me, or harass me about my race or gender or sexuality.

People do. 
People in my specific social circles, many of whom have jumped onto Ello as their next Facebook replacement.
People for whom it’s trivial to use social engineering, or even just paying attention, to find me and make trouble for me.

It’s already happened anyway, and that’s with careful security measures. Here? What security?

Many of my abusers, stalkers, harassers, and general trouble makers come from similar social and professional circles to me. Some of them get protection due to their status. Others get protection because no matter how much I speak up about them, no one else is willing or interested in doing anything about it. (Or sometimes they try and they become the new target for abuse.)

Now that many of these specific social circles are signing up for Ello, I have become way more wide open for their harm. And, between the stats about abusers generally being people that you know or know of, and the fact that anybody can read you and add you on Ello without you being able to do much about it, this becomes a huge and more immediate safety risk.

Way more than having my legal name published online. It’s already out there anyway.

I will leave this post up here, but unless something drastically changes with Ello’s privacy policies, I am not likely to return. Especially not as a Facebook replacement, since I get pretty personal on there.

So Ello, I know it’s only been 2 days, but this is Goodbye.

[[I would like to thank Lynn Cyrin, whose comment on consent in social networks on Twitter made me really think about this. I would also like to give a shoutout to Doug, who is/was a Facebook friend of another friend, who had brought up privacy concerns but got immediately shouted down by everyone else because “hey, they don’t sell our data to companies!!”

Feel free to share, tag me or don’t tag me or make me anonymous or say you said it, doesn’t matter.]]


FIRST UPDATE: Ello has included an email address to report abusive profiles, as well as a Rules page, which is problematic on how they define porn. More information here.

SECOND UPDATE: Heather Quinnell received an email from Ello talking about blocking and privacy:


Dear Heather,

Thank you for your note.

Actually, we are adding features like this very soon, so people can control who sees what they post. Ello is built as a public network, but you will be able to block certain people from seeing what you post.

Later this fall we will also be adding a completely private function, where you can authorize people to see what you are posting.

Hope this helps!


Anna Q

Sounds promising! Hopefully they follow up on these plans soon.

THIRD UPDATE: Ello just sent an email out to all its members promising privacy controls. Here’s the screenshot and text of the email.

In the meantime, read this list from Geek Feminism on what makes a feminist-oriented social network, and get involved with a social network project centering queer & trans people & POC.

FOURTH UPDATE: Wow! In just over 24 hours, things have changed immensely. This post has been linked to on the Washington Post, PCMag, the East Bay Express, and Metafilter (which I am super excited about because I’ve been a Mefite for nearly 10 years and it’s been a dream to be an FPP post). There’s also a couple of other pieces in the works.

As reported by BetaBeat and the Ello page of one of the founders, Ello is currently working on responding to the privacy concerns expressed in this post:

1. Blocking is now on their upcoming features list:


2. They’ve changed the NSFW policy:


Don’t post sexually explicit content without flagging your profile Not Suitable for Work (NSFW).
NSFW flagging in is development. This policy will go into effect as soon flagging is completed. We respect the diverse views of the Ello community. Not everyone wants to see sexually explicit content. If you regularly post this sort of content, please respect those in our community who do not wish to see it by flagging your profile NSFW. Doing so will screen your Profile’s content from Ello users who would prefer not to see it.

 3. Invites are down:


We are slammed!

Ello has gone viral and we are temporarily freezing invitations for new users. This allows us to make sure that Ello remains stable as the network continues to grow.

Check back here for updates — we promise to give you more invites as soon as we can!

Interesting, despite promising no ads (let’s see how long that lasts), companies are already building profiles on Ello. And there’s also this eyebrow-raising part of their privacy policy


We may share your personal information with third parties under several circumstances, including (1) if you tell us it is OK to do so (2) if we believe that we need to do so by law (3) if we contract with a third party service provider to offer services for you — for example, with a credit card processing company if you decide to buy something through Ello.

Ello does not have any affiliated companies right now. But if we do in the future, we may share information with them, too.

Claire Milligans found a major misleading goof with their metadata via a Google search, which makes it sound like Ello is owned by advertisers:


and Jeffry van der Goot critiques Ello from a design perspective.

It’s good to hear that Ello seems to be responding to criticism, but I’m not going to start claiming Hurrah until the features are already in place. As said by my friend, web developer/web community maven Sarah Dopp (who has created projects for the LGBTQ community):

I’ve worked on big websites. Feature promises don’t count until they’re built. […] It’s not real till it’s real.

There is still the conflation of “privacy from companies and marketers” with “privacy from people, including abusers and harassers”. They both require different tools. Ello’s “manifesto” (side note: I wish capitalists and non-political or non-social justice-oriented groups would stop describing marketing copy as “manifestos”) is built entirely on privacy, yet people seem to be taking Ello at its word rather than critically analysing and investigating it for themselves. And for a project entirely built on privacy to not have any privacy features until this got pointed out to them is really alarming.

It’s especially alarming to hear of this unexamined acceptance and apologia of Ello, created by presumably-straight white cis men, from queer / trans / women / of color. Just because we are desperate for a replacement to Facebook doesn’t mean we have to jump on the first thing we come across and never let go.

We deserve better than that.

Don’t believe the hype just yet. It’s not real till it’s real.

I’ll keep updating this as more pertinent information is released.

FIFTH UPDATE: Andy Baio (waxpancake) finds information about Ello’s VC funding and shows why it makes their privacy claims problematic. An excerpt:

The About section makes it seem like Ello was built independently, a group of artists making something for themselves, presumably funded by volunteer effort and maybe a seed investment from Ello president and CEO Paul Budnitz, who also founded Kidrobot and Budnitz Bicycles.

But a little digging shows a much more predictable source: they took a $435,000 round of seed funding in January from FreshTracks Capital, a Vermont-based VC firm that announced the deal in March.

Why is this problematic?

The Ello founders are positioning it as an alternative to other social networks — they won’t sell your data or show you ads. “You are not the product.”

If they were independently-funded and run as some sort of co-op, bootstrapped until profitable, maybe that’s plausible. Hard, but possible.

But VCs don’t give money out of goodwill, and taking VC funding — even seed funding — creates outside pressures that shape the inevitable direction of a company.

SIXTH UPDATE: Just having the word “#GamerGate” in your Ello post is enough to get you booted from Ello. Not even actually harassing anybody - their filters count the word “#GamerGate” as hate speech. (though there seems to be some confusion over the veracity of the post.) Alas, this is fake. My apologies.


Ello addresses concerns about funding. Meanwhile, Nathan Jurgenson addresses the lack of diversity in Ello’s staff:

This is yet another example of social media built by designers, coders, and entrepreneurs, but no central role for those expert in thinking about and researching the social world. The people who have decided they should mediate our social interactions and write a political manifesto have no special expertise in the social or political. I’m pretty tired of social technologies being treated as far more technology than social, where the coders and designers run the thing and those who study social relations, study sex and gender and race and sexuality and identity and culture and power and domination and vulnerability and resistance and everything else hope to get our opinions heard later on.

Nathan is building off Joanne Mcneil’s comment about diversity in tech:

If your team isn’t even as diverse as the starship Enterprise from 1966, you aren’t building the future.

Ongoing List of Links to This Post (mostly so I can keep track of it all)

Fast Company | Huffington Post Tech | Metafilter | Washington Post | PCMag (Video) | Tech Times



Today’s the day. The day you help save the internet from being ruined.


Yes, you are, and we’re ready to help you.

(Long story short: The FCC is about to make a critical decision as to whether or not internet service providers have to treat all traffic equally. If they choose wrong, then the internet where anyone can start a website for any reason at all, the internet that’s been so momentous, funny, weird, and surprising—that internet could cease to exist. Here’s your chance to preserve a beautiful thing.)

What do you think of Internet providers being allowed to show favor to certain websites and products and blocking users access to others? Not good, right? This could actually happen! Learn more by watching this video and find out how you can protect your Internet experience

Be soft, kind and loving. But also take nobody’s shit.

(via wallflowerrr)

Someone cross-stitch this on a throw pillow for me. Please.

(Source: travel-as-a-happy-hippie)

The 5 Things A Massage Therapist Will Probably Tell You To Do In Order To Stop Hurting




Caveat: I’ve only been a massage therapist for about 7 months. But I’ve noticed that lots of people come in with the same issues, and I wind up giving the same stretches and exercises as “homework.” So I thought, why not tell everyone? Here they are:

1. “Shoulderblade kisses” aka scapula retraction exercise.


You know that spot between your shoulderblades that gets tense all the time? Well, it’s not actually tense: it’s stretched. Those are your rhomboids and the pain they experience is the price we pay for using a computer, studying, driving a car, texting, and any other activity that involves our arms being out in front of us. That position brings our shoulders and our shoulderblades forward into protraction. That stretches out the rhomboids and causes them to tense up in an effort to counteract our slump.

What do? Take your arms out to the sides, Jesus-style. Now bend your elbows and try to bring them behind your back. Your forearms should still be out to the sides. You’ll kind of look like you’re trying to pick a fight with someone. Do 25 of these and you should be able to feel those rhomboids getting stronger, pulling your shoulders back where they should be.

2. “Write the alphabet with your nose” aka neck exercises.

Stiff neck? Tension headaches? You might be tempted to stretch. Don’t. Necks are super-prone to adhesions and trigger points, both of which can actually get worse if you stretch without warming up the muscles first. Next time you wake up with neck pain, try exercising it instead of stretching.

What do? My favorite is the alphabet exercise, in which you pretend the tip of your nose is a pencil and write the alphabet with it. Start off small with A and get bigger until the Z is huge. That takes your neck through a lot of different motions.

3. “Play superman” aka back extension exercises.


Hand-in-hand with the shoulder slump is the back curve. This usually presents as pain in the mid-back on either or both sides of the spine, in what’s called the erector spinae group (or ESGs in massage lingo). True to their Latin, the ESGs hold us upright—but when we’re slumping forward all the time they, like the rhomboids, get stretched out and weakened. Then when we go to lift something too heavy and bend over instead of using our legs, we get that eeeeeeak feeling in our back that is the ESGs informing us that this shit is not on.

What do? Lie on your front with your arms out to the sides. The picture above is kind of advanced: feel free to not have your arms out so far above your head, I only have my arms at a ninety-degree angle with my shoulders, frankly. Start off with maybe 20 reps of that motion and work your way up to 50 and arms straight out. Don’t overwork the muscles, but get them going.

4. “Cobra pose” aka psoas stretch.


You ever get that pain in your low back from sitting in a chair for a long time? That’s your psoas being a bitch. This stretch is a natural transition from the superman exercises. Really, it stretches a whole lot of things that need it, but especially the psoas muscles. The psoas attaches to the fronts of the vertebrae in the small of your back and run down through the pelvis to end up on the insides of your legs. It’s a waist flexor, which means that all that time you spend sitting down is teaching it to be short. Then when you go to stand up, it wants to STAY short instead of stretching, and the result is a sharp, powerful tug on your lumbar vertebrae and a helluva lot of low back pain.

What do? Lie on your front and rise up onto your elbows. You should feel a stretch in your abdomen. If you don’t, go up further onto your hands. If you still don’t, do this shit. Then get the fuck away from me. Jesus, what’s wrong with you? Do you not have a spine?

5. “Foam rolling your IT band” aka WHY GOD WHY DOES IT HURT??


I don’t know who made that picture but it is 100% accurate. See, there’s this swath of connective tissue (think tendons and ligaments) that runs down the sides of your thighs from your hips to your knees, called the Iliotibial Band, or IT band or ITB for short. The ITB, being sticky-wicky connective tissue, loves to get tangled up in everything around it, which is primarily the hamstrings and the quads. The adhesions that form along the whole length of the ITB prevent both these muscles groups from relaxing, and leads to all sorts of painful things, from torn hamstrings to kneecaps getting out of alignment and wearing down cartilage (thus necessitating knee replacements) to hip issues (gluteus maximus aka “the butt” feeds into the ITB). Basically it wants to fuck up your entire lower body.

What do? Well, if you’ve got a high pain threshold like the lady with the rictus grin in the picture, you can buy a foam roller and plop down on it like she is, then roll back and forth to your heart’s screaming, agonized content. If, however, your IT band is as sensitive as most people’s, I recommend getting a hard plastic water bottle (one that won’t crack and has a tight lid!!), filling it up with warm water, and using that instead. You can either assume the same position as above, or simply sit in a chair and rub it up and down your legs from hip to knee. Do it for about five minutes each day and that will relax the IT band as well as loosen the adhesions to the hamstrings and quadricep muscles. Stretch both those muscles afterwards for maximum benefit!

Again: caveat. I am by no means an expert at this. These are just the things that I’ve found to be most helpful for my clients. I take no responsibility if you injure yourselves actually doing these things, and especially no responsibility if you actually decide to foam roll your IT band. Seriously, that shit hurts.

Cannot stress enough the IT band thing. I’ve had problems stemming from it, a lot of people I know have had problems from it, and like it’s pointed out here, it can fuck your shit up everywhere—knees, hips, glutes, low back. My friend Holly and I have a running joke that anything can be fixed by rolling your IT band, and it isn’t that far from the truth.

I’m a hardcore foam roller, but another more gentle option, kind of an upgrade from the water bottle mentioned above, is The Stick. I’ve got one that I use when I travel, and I recently used it a lot when I couldn’t foam roll due to post-op physical limitations.

IT band work can definitely be painful, especially at first, but it gets better over time. The first time I used my foam roller after my surgery, it hurt way more than usual, because The Stick is good, but doesn’t get in there the same way, and I had regressed a little. But the next night it already hurt less, and within a few days it was back to what I consider the usual level of discomfort that means it’s working, which is tolerable.

And don’t be afraid to keep it short. Maybe you can only make one pass, and have to stop. That’s fine! Do that for a while, and then maybe you’ll be able to do two, then three, etc. You don’t need to jump in the deep end.

Yes to all. Or really MOST. I’ve been a massage therapist for a few years. I will say, do be careful with a foam roller. Or really with any “deep” work you’re trying to do on yourself (or on anyone else.) You have to warm the muscles up first, before you go digging around in there.

If you take a look at those diagrams, you’ll notice one thing in common: they all EXTEND. Flexors are (mostly) on the front of your body. They’re the ones that curl you up like a fetus. Bodybuilders do a lot of flexion, like biceps curls, pec work, and stuff like that. Only working the flexors creates a muscle imbalance, but worse than that, it limits your actual brain. Your body gets into the habit of flexing, curling inwards, and not extending, and that can really eff you up. So make sure you extend, too. Pull your arms back, stretch your abs, stretch your quads. Pull your limbs to the *back* of your core and build those muscles, too.

So, what I also want to add to this is, strengthen your core. If you are unable to do situps (which, the bending and curling can stress your spine,) then do planks. Planks are badass and will seriously help your entire core. Start with juts a few, for a few seconds if you have to, and then build up daily, or weekly. You’ll really notice a difference, as your core muscles start to carry your weight, and they will take the stress off of the more fragile muscles.

reblogging so I remember to do this

When women get behind something, their sheer numbers and passion force it into the mainstream. That’s why you can name the actor who plays that werewolf kid in “Twilight” and probably sing at least the chorus to one Justin Bieber song. What do tween boys like? I have no clue. Sports? Probably sports.


Let us be vividly clear about this.

What the New York Times did to Michael Brown today was not merely slander. It wasn’t a case of a lack of journalistic integrity.

Highlighting that a black teenager was “no angel” on the day he is being laid to rest after being hunted and killed by racist vigilante forces is not an unfortunate coincidence.

The New York Times deliberately played into an archaic American tradition in devaluing both the merit of black life and the tragedy of black death.

They chose the day of his funeral, as his family, friends and activists everywhere have to grapple with a human being lost to pontificate about how he was “no angel”. Michael Brown was many things to many people; a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew and another black causality of murderous police institutions and today, amidst all the racist violence he, his loved ones and community have had to endure, he was going to finally receive the respect and moment of honor he deserved and NYT decided today, of all days, to tune in their audience onto wholly irrelevant facts about his life - that in turn, transform the very injustice surrounding his death and the following police violence that plagued Ferguson into a national panel about whether or not his death is actually worth mourning and their language suggested that to them, it indeed is not.

This was hardly an accident or mistake. This is the perpetual hostility that is met against black life in America. The consensus is that black people deserve no respect and for black life to be legitimized and honored, we must meet a list of prerequisites. Subsequently, if black people aren’t valued, neither are our deaths understood as tragic or murders seen as criminal action.

This has been the atmosphere of America since its inception and much has not improved.