Reading for RAICES

Hey everyone!  You’ve probably seen me post before about the book I recently self-published.  I was very excited to get my work out into the world and wound up taking the proverbial bull by the horns when I got sick of hearing “no” from publishers.

The book, titled “Unsent Letters To My Sleepless Dream,” is available currently in ebook format from Amazon.   It is currently priced at $9.99 which is less than two cups of overpriced hot milk at Starbucks and about one penny cheaper than two delicious Hot-n-Ready pizzas from Little Caesar’s.  

While I really want you guys to buy the book and enjoy it, I also want the money I make from the book to go somewhere other than my own pocket.  That’s why I’m going to donate 50% of any royalties I receive from the book to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).  

RAICES is a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas.  They have done phenomenal work in helping separated families affected by the increasingly strict enforcement of executive edicts regarding immigration policy.

Thanks for reading my piece, a link to purchase my book is available here!


You can find out more about RAICES and what they do here!

How to post about politics on social media: a primer for losing all of your friends

If fighting discrimination against POC, women, immigrants, the LGBT community, and other marginalized people is too incendiary, feel free to mash that ‘Unfriend’ button, fam.

In 2018, we are facing a radically different reality than many of us could have expected a decade ago.  An oft-observed statistic is the jaw-dropping rate of polarization that is taking place in the United States.  

This polarization is precisely why expressing your view can land you in some hot water with friends in your social network.

The story is all-too-familiar.  While scrolling through my Facebook timeline, I see a friend share a classic baby-boomer meme; something about blocking the next person who posts something they find disagreeable on their wall.  

The meme features a confused-looking Minion and a font that would protect aging readers from eye strain.  It’s almost as share-worthy as “send this to all your friends if you remember drinking water straight from the hose!”

Standing up for what is right is bound to make some people uncomfortable, that’s the point.

My recommendation for maintaining a good relationship with the person antagonizing others for expressing their beliefs on a platform where they can reach the largest audience?  Tag them in your next political post!

 That’s the real baller move, and it will prove to the unsuspecting ‘friend’ that you and you alone are the wielder of BDE.

All joking aside, it shouldn’t be a cause for massive concern if people no longer want to be my internet buddy because I post about the things that matter to me.  It shouldn’t worry you either.  Standing up for what is right is bound to make some people uncomfortable, that’s the point.

If fighting discrimination against POC, women, immigrants, the LGBT community, and other marginalized people is too incendiary, feel free to mash that ‘Unfriend’ button, fam.

In my own experience, I had to take a hard look at my own worries about upsetting people I barely know.  Why should I worry if the guy I spent a tiny portion of my life with during Basic Training (over 4 years ago) is upset that I call the president out on his bullshit?  Why should I care if some dude I saw at a barbecue once thinks I’m too outspoken and need to “tone it down?”  Why should any of us give in to that noise?

Don’t be deterred from doing the right thing, just because it’s unpopular with a few people.  In 2018 there are real battles worth being fought, and I can’t afford to waste my energy skirmishing with every Minion on Facebook or every MAGA hat on Twitter.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

I was recently reading a somewhat problematic essay by Sartre titled, “Anti-Semite and Jew.”  It is not Sartre’s best work, by far.  As mentioned in the foreword to the copy I read, it seemed as though this essay was rushed to publication.  Sartre’s intent was to write a piece in solidarity with Jews who were undergoing persecution under authoritarian regimes, as well as those facing discrimination in France at the time.  The essay, however, did contain one gem that is incredibly relevant in the time of an increasingly virulent strain of ignorant passion displayed by the far right wing of US politics.

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies.  They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge.  But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly since he believes in words…”

This applies incredibly well to those acolytes of internet-trolling, Alt-Right pedants and diehard Trump supporters.  It is incredibly easy to relish in an argument that has no basis in fact because they could care less about facts.  When presented with evidence that would call into question their fragile worldview, they demur by attacking their perceived adversary personally.

As someone who believes deeply in words, this has been difficult for me to reconcile.  It is easy to become flustered while arguing with someone who cares not about the topic, who cares not about the truth or decency; rather placing the whole of their energy behind impassioned proselytizing through tribalism. 

The point of me writing this was not to condemn every Trump supporter as an anti-Semite — though many of his allies are Alt-Right trolls, White Supremacists, and literal Nazis.  The point of writing this was to call to attention the fact that it is a waste of time and energy to attempt to reason with those who are rooted in hatred for others; in their xenophobia, egocentrism and, in some cases, patent racism.  No election in the history of the United States has been about changing the minds of those who are on the “other side of the aisle.”  It is about the mobilization of those who share your beliefs when it comes time to cast a ballot.

The time spent trying to convince an anti-Semite that his beliefs are repugnant is a time that would be better spent registering a voter.  Time spent arguing with a troll on Twitter is better spent volunteering for a candidate that supports democratic ideals — or, better yet, running yourself.

Ohio House Bill 658 Presents Clear Danger to Children

On the 15th of May this year, a bill was introduced to the Ohio House of Representatives that could endanger the mental health, safety and potentially the lives of LGBTQ children in the Buckeye State.

House Bill 658, dubiously titled as an act to “prohibit a court from using a parent, guardian, or custodian’s refusal to allow a child to undergo gender-based treatment as a basis for determining custody of a child,” though its execution may prove to be more nefarious than the name would suggest.

The basis for the legislation is not without precedent.

In the state of Arizona, a child, identified only as “L,” was in the middle of a custody dispute between their parents.  L identified as a trans female, and began wearing a skirt to school — a decision supported by L’s mother.  When L’s father learned of this, he sued his ex wife for sole custody of his child.  

The judge also ordered that L was forbidden from having “female-oriented” toys, and her mother was not allowed to refer to L by her preferred pronouns (she/her)

L’s father argued that her mother, “through various acts, was pushing a female gender identification on L.”  The result in family court was a determination by the judge to implement a number of broad injunctions including forbidding the mother from discussing “gender-related issues at home,” and dressing L in feminine clothing.  The judge also ordered that L was forbidden from having “female-oriented” toys, and her mother was not allowed to refer to L by her preferred pronouns (she/her).

While, given the case of L in Arizona, the title of the bill may seem somewhat beneficent, the text of the proposed legislation has contains some worrisome language.

In one section of the bill, “if a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the child’s parents…”

40 percent of transgender adults report having made at least one suicide attempt, 92 percent of which occurred before the age of 25.

The main concern among members of the LGBTQIA community is the proposed law would “out” transgender youth, a choice which should be one that rests solely with the individual.  

According to “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey” performed by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 40 percent of transgender adults report having made at least one suicide attempt, 92 percent of which occurred before the age of 25.  Another study featured in the American Journal of Public Health in2010 shows that each episode of LGBT victimization, including bullying, harassment and abuse increases the likelihood of self-harm by an average of 2.5 times.

Many young members of the LGBTQIA community have a legitimate fear of coming out to their parents due to fear of reprisal or abuse.  The proposed legislation strips the autonomy of choice from trans children and teens, and has the potential to cause those children to either cause themselves serious physical harm, or decide to take their own lives.

I attempted to contact the co-sponsors of the bill, my calls were not returned.

It is the opinion of the author that this legislation presents a legitimate danger to Ohio’s children, and should not be passed into law.

So some stuff happened...

Hi, I’m Dylan Bickers.  I am one half of the podcast duo behind Every Other Wednesday, a show where we probably stole most of the ideas.  This past month, I transitioned from working as a Public Health Technician in the United States Air Force, to a life as a civilian.  During that transition period, there were a number of things that came up.  

First and foremost came finding a place for me to live!  I had spent the last four years of my life cozily tucked away in my dorm room on Dover AFB.  It had everything I needed; power for my gadgets and dinguses, water which I turned Christ-like into coffee on a daily basis, plumbing, and space for me to create and produce this podcast!  My departure from that niche was rather expedited, just as my commander would have appreciated — he has a thing for expedited/expeditionary/excellent care.  This left little time and funds to find a place to stay and provide all of the aforementioned benefits of my cozy little dorm.

Enter my friend, Carlos.  He was kind enough to put a roof over my head where I could get myself back up on my feet.  I’m not going to lie to you, this has been an incredibly humbling experience.  I didn’t realize how entirely dependent I was on the Air Force for the lifestyle I was maintaining.  This was a pretty big “turns out” moment for me, and I’m still kind of reeling.  That brings us into the second of the things that came up.

Money!  It’s a something something Pink Floyd reference.  It is not only the thing that makes the world go ‘round while fat bottom girls are taking a well-deserved break, but it also serves as my main way of keeping myself and my podcast alive!  Not only does it pay for food that makes my stomach stop making those weird grumbly noises, but it pays for the domain on which I host the podcast itself!  When I was “transitioned” out of the Air Force, I had not even a despised penny — don’t get me started on the worthless disks of suck — to my name.  In fact, I had negative money!  Not a great way to start a new life if you ask me.  But that’s okay because I am young and industrious and very stupid.  I began to sell things that I thought genuinely mattered to me, but mattered less when the weird grumbles started echoing in my hollow food sack.  That solved the day-to-day issue temporarily of putting gas in my car.  However, there are still some deeper issues I need to address.  That brings us to number three on the list of up coming things!

Employment!  Holy shit guys, I would love to say that podcasting is my main form of employment.  If I made a penny off of any of the work that Devan and I do on this, I would forget for a moment how truly awful pennies are.  However, it presently is a monetarily fruitless venture, and I’m fast running out of stuff I can sell!  This means I need to find a way to make money the old fashioned way: by selling my body for a quick buck.  Just kidding, that’s still illegal for dumb moralist reasons I don’t have the time to argue with right now.  The real way to make money in America is to get a job and hate yourself, so that’s the goal right now.  Unfortunately, due to spending the last four years of my life working in Public Health in the Air Force, I do not have a degree with which to catapult me into a career I would probably love.  I do, however, know the difference between an _A. Aegypti_ and an _A. Albopictus_ mosquito, so at least I have that base covered!  I’m applying all over the place, but I’ve yet to come across somewhere that actually wants to hire me.  I know, I too am surprised.  

The point of this whole rambling mess of words and mosquito species is to let you know that the **Every Other Wednesday** podcast is going to be taking an indeterminately brief hiatus while I get things squared away!  

I appreciate your support, and look forward to being able to bring you guys some good good audio content sometime soon.  Until then, do you guys know anyone who is hiring?

Best wishes,

Weird Additional Content: West of Loathing (2017) Review

As someone who enjoys a Western as much, if not more than, the next guy, I was looking for a game to tide me over until the release of Red Dead Redemption 2. Who would have thought the game to tide me over would be a hearty helping of wholesome Spaghetti Western 2-D goodness? If you guessed I was writing about West of Loathing, you were right.

West of Loathing is a refreshing indie take from developer Asymmetric Publications, which was responsible for the browser-based RPG Kingdom of Loathing. KoL was released in 2003 and received funding exclusively through donations and the purchase of merchandise, as opposed to having members pay for an active subscription, or resorting to advertising. West of Loathing was initially floated on Steam’s Greenlight service (which was [closed June 2017]) and received almost immediate, amorous support from fans of the the Asymmetric team. As a spiritual one-off successor to their previous title, Asymmetric Publications released West of Loathing in early August of last year.

The game begins with the “Protagonizer” selecting the gender, name and class of character they will be playing as for the next few hours. I don’t say this jokingly, as the game immediately envelopes players with its sardonic humor and rewards for exploration and interaction.

After clicking through the selection, I was informed that I had learned a new skill, “dumb walking.”

For example, within moments of starting the game I ambled my stick-figure cowboy to a nearby bookshelf. Interacting with it cycled through a series of titles belonging to the books on display, as well as a bit of flavor text accompanying each one. After clicking through the selection, I was informed that I had learned a new skill, “dumb walking,” which causes the walking animation of the Protagonizer to take on several different and ridiculous forms. Whether it be slithering along the ground like a rattlesnake, or riding an old-timey lantern around like a hobbyhorse, I was immediately amused. There is, of course, an option to turn this feature off in the options menu, but who would want to do that? Certainly not this Protagonizer!

Every minute that passed in the game became more and more ridiculous. The comedic writing of the dialogue and flavor text caused me to legitimately laugh out loud more than I reckoned was appropriate for such a basic-looking game.

The combat is surprisingly smooth, but felt at times to be lacking in overall difficulty. A Hard Mode does exist, but it takes a little bit of legwork to access. I opted against donning the spooky Stetson that enables this type of gameplay, but I will probably indulge my curiosity on a second playthrough.

Four uninterrupted hours into the game, I decided to write this little review. In part because I needed to take myself out of the game for a second before I found myself muttering the word “tarnation” to myself repeatedly in a corner of my room. However, more than that I wanted to share how enjoyable I have found this simple game to be. I hope you guys might enjoy it too. Asymmetric’s team really outdid themselves with this offering while staying true to their roots of a simple browser-based game.