About Alis

Alis Franklin is a thirtysomething Australian author of queer urban fantasy. She likes cooking, video games, Norse mythology, and feathered dinosaurs. She’s never seen a live drop bear, but stays away from tall trees, just in case.

Don’t say the w-word.

The funny thing is, I never said a disparaging word about white people. I only said that while other groups are accustomed to being discussed and polled and judged, white people aren’t, and they would freak out if they saw a question [asking whether they “have a positive or negative impact on America” in a poll].

Then they saw one, completely missed the context, and freaked out, right on cue, thus proving my point in real time. But they won my Twitter poll, so … burn, I guess?

David Roberts on white people.

2019-01-18T12:10:58+00:0018th January, 2019|Tags: culture|

Whatever happened to UFOs?

So as anyone alive during the X-Files-induced UFO boom of the 90s may occasionally find themselves wondering, why—now that basically everyone is carrying a hi-def camera on them at all times—are UFO sightings on the decline?

I mean, on the one hand, it’s obvious. But on the other… what if the problem is less about the UFOs themselves, and more about the sorts of people who’d normally be attracted to UFO-nuttery being suddenly siphoned off into other conspiracy theories?

Hmm. It really makes you think, y’know? /cue spooky music

2019-01-17T17:31:07+00:0017th January, 2019|Tags: pop culture|

Where nihilism leads us.

This is the danger in making jokes rooted in ironic offensiveness, even when you’re a master of the form […] At a certain point, somebody is always laughing right alongside you and taking from the joke the message that racism is okay if it’s funny, or that provoking a reaction from someone by joking about rape is funnier than the joke itself.

Ironic offensiveness is far too easy to twist into the idea that nothing is worth caring about, and that getting those who do care to lash out is the funniest thing possible. That idea is now the basis of an entire internet culture that kept splintering, with one of those splinters becoming dedicated to trolling above all else. It eventually got to a point where nobody was sure who was serious and who was joking, or if there was even a difference.


The core argument of Gamergate, and of the alt-right more generally, has always been that caring is hypocritical. Deep down, both movements believe that everybody is racist and sexist and homophobic, that the left, especially, is simply trying to lord a moral superiority over everybody else when, in secret cabals, they kidnap babies and run child molestation rings out of the basements of pizza restaurants. This idea is referred to as “virtue signaling,” meaning that there is no such thing as real virtue, only a pretend virtue that people deploy to try to win points with mainstream society, when everybody would be better off dropping the pretense and letting their most offensive freak flags fly.

Todd VanDerWerff on the culture war.

I think the (ironically) ironic thing is that, in a sense, the alt-right is correct; deep down, everyone is at least some value of *ist, if only because the cultures we’ve all been raised in are, and it’s impossible not to internalise at least some of those messages some of the time.

What the “Social Justice Warriors” teach, then, is not to pretend we don’t have those internalised bigotries, but to not let them rule us. If you’re raised in a sexist society then, yeah, your first thought after hearing about a women’s sexual assault probably will be to idly wonder how she was “asking for it”. Ditto for the varied manifestations of the other axes of oppression and marginalisation our cultural messages have instilled in us since birth. We have very little control over our immediate, deepest id-arising thoughts. But the “SJW Way” is to see those thoughts for what they are, and to catch them before they can bubble up from the deep. To interrogate them, to unpick their origins and, ultimately, to reject them and to refuse to allow them entry into the world through our words or our actions.

Eventually, after a lot of time and effort and practice, those toxic belches from the id die down, but I don’t know of anyone who’s managed to eradicate them entirely. Maybe that person exists and they’re, like, I don’t know. Social Justice Buddha or something, waiting with infinite benevolent patience to welcome us all into Safe Space Nirvana. That place sounds pretty awesome, actually, but we aren’t there yet, and until we are, we’re all just the same species of flawed animal, bumbling along the best we can.


2019-01-17T07:46:51+00:0016th January, 2019|Tags: culture|

The New Socialists.

The real answer is much simpler […] the thing that’s proved the most effective recruiting sergeant for socialism is capitalism itself. In fact, nearly 60 per cent [of university-educated Millennials] agreed with the statement “capitalism has failed”. But when a majority of young people say they think “socialism would be a good idea”, what they are actually talking about is the mixed economic system under which many of today’s ageing Thatcher–Reagan fanboys grew up. That is, a planned, concerted approach to the distribution of capital, rather than the debt-laden, short-term contract present in which our Hunger Games-style system has landed us.

Guy Rundle on why kids these days fuckin’ love socialism.

2019-01-16T07:51:26+00:0015th January, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|

This is still the greatest post on Mastodon and honestly if you’re not there you’re really missing out.

2019-01-14T07:53:27+00:0014th January, 2019|Tags: fandom, pop culture|


We exist at a time when technology has made it easier than ever for us to talk to each other, and harder than ever for us to have conversations. We exist at a time when the internet has been colonized by capital, where every article plays a clickbaity game of “Let’s you and her fight.” We exist at a time when we’re encouraged to see conversations as slapfights, where titles read like mockeries of conversation: “No, So & So, You’re Completely Wrong About the X-Men” – “Yes, Such & Such, Wonder Woman is in Fact Feminist.” Why do we do this? Why is conversation forced into confrontation, into a battleground of winners and losers? Why do we talk about “losing” an argument instead of learning a truth?

Amal El-Mohtar on conversation.

This is from El-Mohtar’s GoH speech at WisCon 2017, and it’s absolutely worth reading in full.

2019-01-14T08:06:34+00:0014th January, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|



So I’ve been trying to get the ActivityPub WordPress plugin working at for a while, to no avail. I’d kind of narrowed it down to it tripping over some kind of nginx config error, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out what, exactly.

Then, today, I actually (ahem) bothered to check the site error logs. And, er. The plugin issues listing on Github. Which… helpful, turns out.

So apparently the default WordPress nginx config file I’ve been using prohibits access to period-prefixed files. Unfortunately, ActivityPub’s Webfinger endpoint thingie is a /.well-known, so it was getting 403’d. Knowing that, plus actually bothering to read this issue, and I added the following just above the existing dot-prefix deny directive:

location ~ /\.well-known {
  allow all;
  try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;

And, well. Et violà!

Mastodon interface profile for Screenshot.


So, yeah. Now if you need yet another channel for me to spam you on, you can find it at on the Fediverse!

2019-01-13T15:45:38+00:0013th January, 2019|Tags:, fediverse, mastodon|