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This is the place where I talk about the stuff that really, really, really pisses me off. These opinions are entirely mine and I don't expect you to share them. I don't even expect you to read them if you don't want to, but if you want to know about what things piss me off, this is it.

Bitch #1: No-Right-Click Javascript

I completely understand that people who work hard on their websites don't want the code copied or the images stolen or anything nasty like that. This is understandable and I feel that way myself. I'd be truly pissed off if 5000 "left.of.center" copies appeared like mushrooms in a damp spot next week. I'd be even MORE pissed off if somebody took the art from one of my fansites and passed it off as their own. I'm not so protective of page code, since I don't have that much anyway. Still, it's not nice to copy--didn't people learn that in grammar school?!

That having been said, I must say that I despise "no right-click" Javascript. But why? My reasons are simple. First, I navigate the Web primarily by right-clicking to open new windows. I don't want to be called a "thief" in a stupid lame-ass popup just because I didn't want to lose the page I was clicking from. Second, "no right-click" script doesn't really work to deter thieves. It's not that hard to work around, honest. (No, I'm not going to tell how to do it.) I've never used it to "steal" anything, I just wanted to see if it could be done. It took me ten seconds to figure out, and I don't think I'm really that much smarter than 90 percent of the online population. I'm smart, sure, but Marilyn Vos Savant I'm not.

There's only one sure way to deal with copy thieves--track 'em down and rat 'em out. =) That's a lot more trouble than typing a line or two of code, but it works a lot better.

Bitch #2: While We're On The Subject of Thieves...

I'll be honest. A lot of people have ripped stuff off from me--images, layouts, ideas. Most of the time, I don't freak about it. I mean, hey, it's a big Web, and if somebody sees something they like, it can seem the most natural thing to right-click and save...and at some later time, you might have a use for that little graphic or clice of HTML/Java code, and not be able to remember just where you got it from, and it's on a hundred other pages anyway, so why not use it?

Well...maybe because you didn't make it to begin with? But anyway.

Now, when people nick an entire page from me and don't even bother to give me credit...now that gets my black silk undies in a serious bunch. It's worse when I write the individual in question, advising them of the problem, and ask nicely for them to (a) remove the page or (b) give me credit...and they give me a snotty refusal. That's when I do the unthinkable, the unknowable, the unforgivable.

That's when I go to The People In Charge and complain. That's right, I cross the uncrossable boundary and go straight to the webspace provider and report the theft.

It works, too. Then I rag on them on this little rant-page of mine and I feel ever so much better.

Bitch #3: Bullies, Snobs and Brats

Three things I hate about other people...

Bullies: They're not just in the school playground anymore. They're all over cyberspace. Some of them consider themselves hackers (and would get beaten up for real by real hackers if they dared claim as such out loud), and rip up other people's websites for no discernible reason. Others hide behind fake Hotmail names and flame the crap out of you, post nasty anonymous messages on your message board, or come onto a chat channel and scroll garbage so nobody can talk. You know the types. If they get banned, killfiled or K-lined, they just come back on another ISP or name and do it again. Why? Because they can, and causing grief for other people makes them feel like something bigger and badder than the pathetic nobodies they really are.

So what's the most effective way to deal with a bully? It's the simplest method, but also the hardest: ignore them. Make sure all your website information is backed up and if a hacker strikes, just change your passwords and reload everything. Adjust your email filters to block out the flamers and spammers. Don't even mention the incident on your page. Delete the nasty anonymous messages without comment. Password-protect your IRC channel so only people you know can come in, or lock the channel. Above all, don't respond to their antics. Attention is what these jerks are looking for, because they can't get it any other way. So torture them in the best and simplest way possible, by not giving them what they crave. Trust me. It'll drive them nuts.

Just remember to report their sorry asses to whatever authority you can. Sometimes the People In Charge are useful...

Snobs: I'm not just talking about full-of-themselves preps or people with money who spit on those who don't make six-figure incomes here. It's a basic human need to belong somewhere, and if you belong, there has to be somebody who doesn't, or your belonging serves no purpose.

By the way, I'm violently anti-twinky.
Twinkys are trendy, obnoxious, cliquish little snobs who really need to get a real life.
Don't bother arguing with me; I've had almost four decades of experience with twinkys
and I know what I'm talking about, The above doll was created by Silent Angel and modified by me with her permission.
Don't take it. Go get your own.

Don't get me wrong here; I love diversity and I embrace difference. What pisses me off is the kind of behavior where people in a group start making judgment calls about who "is" and who "isn't". Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast. I even find myself doing it, though I try hard not to.

I grew up on a farm in rural Alabama. When I was a little kid, it used to be a Big Thing for the "city people" to come out to the farm, buy a chick or two, dye them bright colors (blue, pink, green) and give them to their kids on Easter Sunday. Of course, on Monday morning these chicks would usually be taken from the child (who was by then bored with them anyway), brought back to the farm and returned to their mothers in the henhouse. Chickens are supposed to be colorblind, but I remember that the poor little blue or pink or green chick would often be shunned by the other chickens, even its own mother, and often would end up being pecked to death, just because it was different. I felt like that my whole life--I was always the "freak" at school, always getting shoved around and picked on, and if I fought back at the people who hit me I would get in trouble with the teachers just because I wasn't like the other kids. So I know what it's like not to be accepted, what it's like to want desperately to belong...somewhere. Even if it's with the other "freaks".

It's not easy being the Easter chick in the henhouse. Being different from everyone around you can suck hard. I do my best to encourage diversity in others, because if we're all exactly the same, then what's the point?

Brats: Some people never outgrow the "terrible twos". Either their emotional development was arrested sometime before joining nursery school or their parents are clueless idiots who never taught their children how to get along with other people. Common symptoms include using the "F" word in every sentence (sometimes three or four times), insulting things they don't really understand, sending long, rambling, pointless flame emails to people they don't even know, and just generally not realizing how incredibly stupid they look to the rest of the world.

These sound a lot like bullies, don't they? That's because there is some resemblance. The main difference is that brats are wannabe bullies. They might even believe in their tiny little minds that they are bullies, but what they really are is just pathetic. Brats would love to terrorize people, and they can be incredibly annoying and disruptive. But whereas confronting a bully makes them run and hide, confronting a brat makes them throw a two-year-old's temper tantrum. "How dare you say what I'm doing is wrong?! Don't you believe in the First Amendment? It's a free country and I can do whatever I want! I'm going to tell my mom on you!!"

Brats think they can do or say anything they want to anyone at all because (a) they can, (b) nobody's ever really tried to stop them, and/or (c) they're so self-absorbed they have no consideration for any other human being on the planet. I'm pretty selfish myself, and I'm a great believer in freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, not just me. I also have the brains to realize that not everyone is going to feel the same way I do about everything. I still can't resist taunting abject stupidity (see Bitch #4 below), but all kidding aside, I don't really want to "kill" or "seriously maim" those with whom I don't agree. And I'm not going to cuss someone out or flame them just for disagreeing with me on a message board.

Thankfully, most brats are eventually forced to face the cold hard reality that they are not the most important being on the face of the Earth. This is usually around the time they have to go out and find work and support themselves. Nothing teaches humility like being a wage slave. Those who don't learn to adapt to reality probably end up as street people because nobody else can stand living with them. Isn't that a comforting thought?

Bitch #4: They're Dykes, Deal With It!!!

There's only one thing more annoying than stupidity, and that's arrogant stupidity. A prime example of this can be found at the website of someone calling himself "Oberon", who apparently thinks he knows more about Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon than the creator, Takeuchi Naoko, does herself. No, really, I'm not exaggerating. He claims that only he understands the "true relationship" between Michiru and Haruka, and that Naoko-sensei doesn't know what she's talking about.

Uhhhh......yeah. Right.

Assuming you've already read that little piece of brilliance, you're probably wondering the same thing I am. "How did this joker get into college when he's obviously three brain cells shy of a pair?" Sadly, I have no answer for you. I can't believe the standards in Germany are that low. My guess is he's just particularly stupid when it comes to Sailor Moon. I'd write and ask, but the guy doesn't have an email address listed. Hm. Wonder why. You'd think if he was willing to stand by his opinions, he'd post a valid email address, wouldn't you...?

Update! In April 2001 Haruka's seiyuu, gave a very interesting interview about her experiences as a voice talent, and part of the interview focused on her experiences as the voice of Sailor Uranus. The entire interview is available at akadot.com. However, in response to Oberon's assertion that in the anime Haruka and Michiru are not lovers, I provide this brief clip from the full interview, in which Ogata Megumi has this to say:

When I was cast to play Haruka, I asked director Kunihiko Ikuhara, "Are they gay?" He answered, "Act as if they are a married couple." And I asked him again, "Married couple? You, mean, with two ladies?" He replied, "Yes." So they are husband and wife.
Period. End of debate. Thank you very much. Good night. ^.^

Bitch #5: The K.I.S.S. Principle

No, this has nothing to do with kisekae. This has to do with a very old, very well-established concept known as the K.I.S.S. Principle. Before I get into what the acronym stands for, allow me to explain the purpose of this rant.

Ten years ago, few people could envision the kind of global contact people have with one another today. When I first joined America Online (yes, I'm an AOLer, get over it), I was amazed, fascinated and just plain overwhelmed with the wealth of contact and information that was literally at my fingertips. That was back in 1996, and in the past five years the so-called "global community" has grown by the proverbial leaps and bounds. Whereas a few years ago home computers were for AV geeks and science nerds, nowadays they're as commonplace as VCRs and microwave ovens.

The downside to this is that now anybody can get access to the Internet, which means anybody who really wants one can get a website. As anyone who's ever gone surfing for random sites on the World Wide Web will know, for every site that's helpful, informative and just plain fun to visit, there are a dozen or more which are a complete and absolute waste of time, energy, attention and bandwidth.

As of this writing, I'm on a 33.6 dialup modem. (You can stop laughing anytime. I'll wait.) It takes me a long time to download a video or music clip. It takes me several minutes sometimes just to wait for a JPEG to finish loading, and let's not even talk about how long it takes Flash content to load in my browser. So when I go to a website, particularly someone's "front" page, I would kind of like it to load in a reasonable amount of time.

Imagine this: Here I am, surfing merrily away (as I generally do on a daily basis), and suddenly I'm stuck waiting for a page to load 50+ different graphics, a complicated background, a Shockwave clip, a 300K WAV file, a MIDI that starts playing automatically, and half-a-dozen "webtoys" that all use Java and/or Shockwave.

All of which brings to mind an old "Dilbert" cartoon: the skeleton of some poor webhead who's been sitting at his computer for five years saying "Wow, I can almost see a recognizable blotch! This is awesome!"

So what does this have to do with the so-called "K.I.S.S. Principle"? For those who've never heard of it, the letters stand for a code I've come to swear by, particularly when designing my (many) websites:

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

This term is fairly common among programmers and designers. It's a humorous yet effective way of cautioning against what the techs call "creeping featurism"--the almost overwhelming desire to add anything and everything into the mix, just because you can. It's tempting and fun to add lots of bells and whistles onto something you're working on--but it doesn't work. It would be like adding every spice in the rack to the roast you're preparing just because you have them handy. Doesn't sound appetizing, does it? The same principle applies to website design.

There are a lot of prettily-designed pages with frames, marquees, mouse-overs, tables, cascading stylesheets, Java applets, custom cursors, animated GIFs, static wallpaper backgrounds, cute "webtoys" that a visitor can play with, adoption GIFs, etc., etc. I'm not saying by any means that all sites should be as spartan as mine--that wouldn't be any fun. What I'm saying is that you don't need to have all those things, at the same time, on the same page--particularly on your front page.

I'm by no means an HTML guru; I make very limited use of Javascript and tables, and even those I use sparingly. I do most of my coding with Notepad, thankyouverymuch, which is probably why I don't have frames or cascading stylesheets on my pages. It's a skill that's beyond me. I could probably learn how, but frankly I'm not that interested. I'm an artist, not a programmer. I don't even like coding my own KiSS sets (but I do it anyway because I'm a control freak). So while I might change the layout and graphics from time to time, my webpages will probably always be clean, crisp, low-code, browser-friendly and...well, dull. I envy those (like my
sister and Tiarra) who can put together a beautiful website with the proper use of advanced coding techniques.

However, there's a fine line between use and overuse, and too many people not only cross that line, but trample it into oblivion.

I'm not going to start a lecture on what makes or breaks a webpage's design--that's for the experts, not me. There are plenty of tutorials and help sites out there. Just please, remember, if you're going to make a website, don't clutter up your main page with every image and animation and piece of code you can get your hands (or your mouse pointer) on. All those applets and webtoys and adoptions are cute, but they're also a pain in the ass while waiting for them all to load, to say nothing of the eyestrain of sifting through all the "decorative" junk to try and find the link you want. Move them off to their own pages--or skip them altogether.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Bitch #6: Gother Than Thou

Okay, this may seem like an extension of my Bitch #3 about bullies, snobs and brats (snobs in particular), but bear with me.

Lots of so-called goths are pretentious. I'm pretentious sometimes. I'm what's known as old school, an "Elder Goth" or (behind my back) a cranky old bat. (If you're that curious, I was born in 1960. Do the effen math.) If you've ever heard Cruxshadows' "Leave Me Alone", that's what my entire life has been like. For years I tried to conform, and I failed. Finally I gave up and became what I wanted to be. I wore the clothes I wanted to wear. I listened to music nobody else liked or had even heard of. I wore black lipstick and eyeliner when it wasn't cool. Over the years I've lost jobs, friends, and relationships because of my refusal to conform to what others think I should look like. I've come through hell to be where I am in life right now (in a very stable relationship and reasonably content with my lot). I've made a name for myself--okay, so 90 percent of the world doesn't give a rat's hairy ass for kisekae, but I'm still world-famous for my doll sets. I have a time-tested and loyal circle of friends. I'm an acknowledged artist in my field. I'd like to think I've earned the right to be a little pretentious. You tell me.

That having been said...I don't think I have the right to point at another person and say "Oh, you are such a poser!" Yet that's what a lot of people around me spend half their time doing--pointing out who "is" and who "isn't" part of "the scene". (I told you this sounded like my rant about snobs.) It's a common topic at Denny's, Carpe Diem and just about every club within driving distance of where I live (and that includes New Orleans). But of course, Marilyn Manson isn't goth, but Coil is. No, Coil's darkwave; Unto Ashes is really goth. Who? Oh, you mean you haven't heard of them? Oh, well, then, you must not be goth enough, dearling. Run along now, I'm too busy to waste my time talking to a pathetic little skin-goth like you.


So what is "goth"? Hell, don't ask me. I'm still figuring it out for myself. The problem with our culture is that people tend to slap labels on everything. But labels don't always fit nice and snug; sometimes they won't stick, sometimes they peel off and fall away after a while, and sometimes they're just a misprint.

What is goth to me? That's a little easier. "Goth" is short for "gothic", and it has nothing to do with extinct middle European cultures who died out sometime in the first millenium A.D. Gothic, to me, is a form of artistic appreciation and expression that encompasses things and concepts which are dark and mysterious and normally taboo--sex, death, fear, horror, pain, evil, cruelty, disfigurement, sorrow, grief...all the things most people would rather not think about. Gothic culture, for me, is not a celebration of these things (well, maybe sex, but not the rest of it). It is, rather, a way of bringing forbidden and disturbing subjects out into the open and dealing with them, as we all someday must. It's taking that step into the darkness, finding out what's in it, and dealing face-to-face with our own personal fears about mortality and the impermanence of being. When you have that kind of artistic mindset, you have a natural appreciation for things that others with different tastes might find spooky, eerie, or just plain sick. It doesn't mean you actually want to go out and hurt other people. Plenty of "normal" people (casuals, mundanes, whatever) find macabre subjects entertaining, too. For example, horror movies are more popular than ever these days. Millions of mundanes flock to films like The Haunting or The Others, yet those same people freak out over someone dressed all in black who walks past them at the mall. I believe that this is simply because everybody likes to be thrilled, shocked, or titillated when they know they're really "safe" from what scares them, but it takes a certain courage to be able to face what really scares you. The deepest, most basic fear is of the unknown--things we don't understand. We all make our own monsters; but while most people deal with their monsters by locking them in a dark closet and denying their existence, I'm more likely to light a candle or two and invite my monsters to come sit down and have a cup of tea with me so I can get to know them better.

It's also important to accept yourself as you are. Anybody can wear black and put on white make-up and call themselves "freaks", but only that person knows what their outlook on life really is. I've always known I was different from most of the others around me (again, see Bitch #3 above, the "Easter chick in the henhouse" comparison). That's the real reason "gothic" people are scary to most other people. The average person just doesn't "get" it.

Being gothic for me is not a fashion statement. It's not a musical style (I believe the term "goth" as it pertains to musical expression has lost any meaning it might have had, thank you mass media). It's not going to the clubs every night, it's not being strung out on the illegal substance of the week, and it's sure as hell not knowing the "right" people while ragging on the "wrong" people. Cliquishness is not going to go away, because it's part of the human condition. All I'm saying is that seeking permission or approval to be gothic or "a goth" is a pointless, fruitless exercise. I haven't asked permission or sought approval yet, and I'm not looking for validation from you, either. I know who and what I am by now. Yes, those freaky kids on the Jenny Jones show annoy the hell out of me, too, but I'm not going to call someone a poser or a skin-goth outright because that's not my call to make. It's not yours, either, so shut up already.

Oh, and once and for all, people: There is no "gothic movement". There's no horde of disease-ridden sex-crazed drugged-out Satan-worshipping baby-eaters coming to corrupt America's innocent youth. Gothic had nothing more to do with Columbine than Barney the purple dinosaur did. Get over it.

Bitch #7: Stupid Dollcrap

First, I want to make it clear that it does not piss me off when somebody writes and says they don't like one (or several, or any) of my KiSS sets. I have no problem with polite (or at least a non-inflammatory) criticism. Often that's the only way any artist can learn to improve. I'm not going to get medieval on somebody just because they want to let me know I could have done better on a particular set, or because they don't care for the particular style of my art. There are some sets I've done in the past that I've grown to hate--I can't even look at them anymore. *coughMaiShiranuicough*

The ones who annoy me are those who write me nasty, pointless, inflammatory messages about how much I suck, how stupid I am, that I should just quit trying to be an artist because I'm not, etc. Thankfully these messages are very, very rare, and I usually just delete them.

In July 2001 I got a particularly nasty flame from someone who hated my Marron/#18 set. Now, she didn't just hate the set, she took it as a personal insult and proceeded to insult my person in kind. Did I cower? Did I crumble? Did I curl up into a little whimpering ball of abject misery and die?

What the hell do you think?

I used to have the letter and my response up here. I don't anymore. How come? Because the whole situation is so obviously stupid it doesn't deserve the attention. Let What's-Her-Face get her jollies elsewhere; she'll get no more publicity from the likes of me.

I'm not going to say that harsh words don't hurt my feelings a little bit. I'm a bitch, but I'm human. I don't like people telling me my artwork sucks even when I know it isn't true--and I know it isn't true. I'm not the best KiSS artist in the world, but I'm certainly not the worst. Like most gothic people, I'm a highly creative and sensitive person. I don't create things for money, I create things because I love to create, and I love to create beautiful things most of all because I love beauty. I also love to experiment and to try new things, and sometimes I make mistakes. Usually I catch them before anyone else sees the goof I've made. If I don't like how something turns out, I just trash it and start over, so most people won't even see my so-called "failures". I only put something up if I'm really, truly proud of it at the time I'm presenting it to the public. There are some of my sets I don't really like myself anymore, and some of them I think I could do better now, but overall I think I've got a pretty nice body of work for people to enjoy. Those who don't share my opinion have a very simple option: they don't have to download or even look at my work if they don't want to. That goes not only for my KiSS sets, but my static artwork, my stories, my poetry and everything else I've created. The point I'm making is that I don't care if someone thinks my work is "stupid" or "crap" or whatever; I'm going to keep creating beautiful things until I don't feel like doing it anymore, and if I were you I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

So there.

Bitch #8: Stupidity Breeds Contempt

Anyone who's visited this particular page on my site before is probably wondering why I've taken down the various personal communications I've received from the few who've taken it into their mind to email me with flames, insults, vulgarity and other pointless attacks on my talent, person and character.

The simple truth is: They're not worth the attention.

I'm an attention junkie. Hell, I'm an attention mainliner. I need attention the way I need oxygen. I thrive on it. The way I get it is to create things and show them to people--artwork, stories, clothes, websites. I also sing and play music. That gets attention, too. it's how I get my kicks, and that's just how I am.

Sadly, not all attention junkies are as creative as I am. Since they have no ability to draw attention to themselves by their looks or their talents, they have to get their attention in some other way. Sadly, some choose to garner attention by flaming people who are more successful at attracting notice (like me) in hopes that said target will rag on them, hopefully in a public forum, whereby the flamer can bask in reflected glory. And those are the brave ones. The absolute bottom-feeders want attention, too, but at the same time they don't want anybody to know who they are--God forbid they should have to suffer any consequences for their actions! They also don't want their target to have a chance to retaliate because not only are the bottom-feeders talentless and tasteless, they're also cowards and haven't the resources and/or ingenuity to hold their own in a flamewar. So they post anonymous, highly offensive and incredibly puerile messages in guestbooks so that they can insult or embarrass the target of their rancor, without fear of any unpleasant repercussions. Even if their message gets deleted, it's there, even for a brief time, and they can anticipate with glee the reaction of their nemesis. If they're really lucky, the message will be immortalized on a "flames" page, complete with the target's indignant response! Oh joy!

Well, Emby ain't playing that no more, children. As tempting as it is to show off my superior wit in the face of abject stupidity, it's become too easy, and it's giving the flamers what they really want, and to be honest I've gotten bored with it. I have better things to do with my time, thank you.

Incidentally, I've changed the setup of my guestbook so I can approve each individual message before anyone else sees it, so those who seek to vandalize my guestbook will have to find another way to get instant gratification. Who knows--maybe the snerts will find the guts to email insults to me instead of hiding behind silly aliases. Maybe, but frankly I doubt it. And since I delete all flame mail without response (after reporting the flame to their ISP and/or email provider, of course), it won't do them any good anyway.

Bitch #9: Kill 'em All, Let God Sort 'em Out (but which one?)

Okay, here's where I'm going to piss people off for sure. At this point in time I'm beyond caring about that.

As most of you know, I was born and raised in the buckle of the Bible Belt, under the jurisdiction of the Southern Baptist Convention (aka the God Mafia). In Alabama, pretty much everyone who isn't a white Anglo-Saxon Baptist male are second- or third-class citizens. Religious persecution is everywhere, only it's the "religious" who are doing the persecuting. If you've ever read a Jack T. Chick
tract, that's what 90 percent of the so-called "Christians" in this state actually believe: that rock music, homosexuality, Roman Catholicism and anything else that isn't "Godly" (according to them) is of Satan. It sounds funny, and it might be funnier to me if I didn't have to see it everywhere I looked.

So why not move away? Well, dammit, this is my home, too. I have at least as much a right to be here as any of those white-shirted, red-necked, narrow-minded Bible-thumpers (most of whom have probably never actually read the book they keep waving about).

The problem I wish to address here isn't just with rabid Baptist fundies, though. Anyone who allows any religious leader to do all their thinking for them is just plain wrong. More people have died in the name of one God or another than from any other cause in history except (possibly) old age.

All this has bearing on the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. I sat in my living room, open-mouthed and staring at the TV, watching the towers fall down, over and over again. Why did it have to happen? The answer is, naturally, it didn't have to happen at all. It happened because someone convinced the terrorists involved that they would go straight to Paradise if they did this thing and took as many "infidels" with them as possible.

This is the same mentality that drove the people at Jonestown to commit suicide because they were told to. It's the same mentality that caused the Heaven's Gate people to kill themselves en masse. It's the same mentality that drives hard-right fundies to shoot abortion doctors in order to "save" poor little unborn babies. It's the same mentality that's going to get a lot more people killed.

It's a wonderful feeling to be "saved" or "redeemed" or "enlightened" by new beliefs and faith. You feel clean. You feel free. You feel relieved because you've surrendered control of your life to an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wise higher power. It's a wonderful sense of security to no longer be responsible for what happens in your life. What a pity that it's completely false. No matter what God or Gods you believe in, you still have to take responsibility for your own thoughts, your own actions, and your own existence. Doing something inherently wrong "in God's name" is as much of a cop-out as saying "the Devil made me do it".

Even worse is letting a religious or political leader do all your thinking for you. Instead of "surrendering" to God (or Gods), you're "surrendering" to another human being's personal agenda. Think of Hitler. Think of Jim Jones. Think of David Koresh. Think of Marshall Applewhite. All of these men had "devoted" followers who obeyed them without question. Most of those followers ended up dead along with their leader. Are they all in Heaven now, waiting for the rest of us to burn in Hell because we didn't believe what they did?

What about my religious beliefs? They're personal, but I will say that I do not for one minute think that our Creator would allow even one of us to suffer for eternity, or that any Supreme Being would condone the use of spiritual blackmail in order to convert followers ("If you don't accept [name of deity/prophet] as your personal Savior, you're going to BURN IN HELL FOREVER!"). It would be interesting to see how far Christianity would have gotten without the Damocletian sword of everlasting damnation to hold over its adherents' heads.

It's not that I'm anti-Christian. I believe there are many paths to the same goal, and whatever works for you, works. Just don't shove it down other people's throats, and for God's sake (literally) don't go out killing people in the name of God. If God wants somebody dead, I kind of get the idea that He can handle the job without any help from us.

I also believe that there are those in high spiritual places who are in for a really BIG surprise when they wake up on the other side. I for one am looking forward to the opportunity to point and giggle at all the Southern Baptists who were so sure I was going to burn in Hell. But really, I can wait. I'm in no hurry to leave this life, thank you very much. I like it here. Things look kind of rough right now, but they'll get better. Watch and see.

Bitch #10: Drawing the (Bezier) Line

Pretentious mode ON. Okay, people, somebody has to draw the line somewhere, and it doesn't look like anybody else is going to, so I've got my trackball in hand, PSP fired up, and I've got my line tool set to "Bezier" (because straight lines aren't my thing).

Since the inception of the Internet, things have been stolen from the originators and used by unscrupulous people for their own gain. I know someone who published an online thesis on his college website who saw his own work published in a book under someone else's name, with no mention of his own name, for sale at the bookstore where he worked. Okay, so that's an extreme example, but it's 100 percent true. Of course, we're all aware of people who steal stories, artwork, graphics, HTML code, layouts--even bandwidth by direct-linking images from someone else's site without permission.

Personally speaking, I have probably been ripped off more often and in more ways than anybody else on the Internet (and I think that includes Disney, Mattel AND Paramount's Star Trek franchises). Some have tried to pass off my KiSS sets as their work (which is pointlessly dumb, since everybody into KiSS knows my style at first sight). Some have taken my artwork and claimed it as their own. Some have put their name on my fanfiction stories and sent them to Fanfiction.net. People have taken my Japanese glossary for a series of fanfics I co-authored and used it as their own, with their name at the top of the page. A couple of serious idiots have even tried to steal my identity (and failed, because after all there's only one Emby Quinn--the world couldn't handle another). I've gotten more protective of my work of late--I have disclaimers and instructions for use all OVER my site--but if someone uses part of one of my dolls for theirs I'm not going to go after them. If someone uses one of my templates for a KiSS doll without mentioning my name in the CNF or text file and submits it to the Big KiSS Page, I might drop a note to Dov-kun and let him know about it, but I'm not going to mailbomb the artist or anything. If someone uses a base or template of mine for web adoptions and doesn't credit me, I'll write the maintainer of the site and ask, nicely, for credit and a link back somewhere on the page. If someone bases the pose or the expression of a doll on one of mine, I might notice and say "Hey, that's cute", but I'm not going to demand that they remove the doll from circulation or credit me for "inspiring" them. The ones I'm concerned about are (a) those who take a finished work of mine and pass it off as their own and (b) those who respond to my nice, polite request for credit with the email equivalent of flipping me off.

Even if I find that someone has used part of my template or cartoon doll bases for a piece of their doll (the hair, a hand, a facial expression) without credit, so long as it's not the WHOLE doll that's been stolen and falsely taken credit for, I'm not going to launch a hate campaign against them. I might make a comment about it on an email chat list or a message board, but I'm not going to get that bent out of shape about it. Some people just can't draw faces, or hands, or curly hair, and need a little help.

What's even more ridiculous to me are those who scream about something that LOOKS like something they've done. "It's not a copy and paste, but that style looks JUST LIKE mine!" Please. My original KiSS style was inspired by Tasha's art, and in turn both of us have inspired dozens of KiSS artists. shattered innocents originated the "cartoon doll" style of Palace avatar (yes she did, don't tell me different, I know better, get over it), and almost all cartoon dolls on the Web today are inspired by those original avatars. Instead of screaming "THIEF!" and whingeing about getting ripped off when someone duplicates your style, why not try feeling flattered? After all, being copied (rather than copy-and-pasted) makes you someone to be admired, and emulated. It means somebody thinks your stuff is SO GOOD they want to make stuff that looks like it. Why should you get pissed off about that? If that's the worst thing you've got to get upset about, you must have a really easy and/or dull existence.

So when is stealing stealing and when is it not? Good question, and I'll do my best to answer.

Remember that line I was talking about drawing? This is it. I used to work for a patent and copyright attorney, so believe me, I know whereof I speak. Please listen closely and pay attention, mm?

A direct copy of someone's work with your name on it is PLAGIARISM. This combines thievery with fraud and is the worst kind of stealing on the Web. If you've done this, shame on you. Go directly to Hell. Do not pass "Go" and do not collect $200.

An edited copy of someone else's work (the same image with altered colors, a line or two drawn differently, etc.) is still plagiarism if you don't give credit to the original creator. It's polite and often necessary to ask, too, before you post an edited image to the Web.

If something you draw just happens to LOOK LIKE someone else's work, but absolutely nothing was copy/pasted from any other source material, then it's not plagiarism. To give a real-life example, next time you find yourself at a department store or Toys R Us, go to the doll section and check out the Barbie aisle, and look at the non-Mattel brands in the same area. While none of the other blonde, smiling, 11.5-inch dolls are named "Barbie", it's quite obvious where the inspiration for those dolls came from. In fact, Barbie herself is a copy of a German doll named Lilli. As protective as Mattel is of their little plastic cash cow (remember they sued the group Aqua over the song "Barbie Girl"), don't you think they'd love to get their lower-priced competitors off the market? But they can't, because there's no crime in making a doll that LOOKS LIKE Barbie, so long as they don't use Barbie's molds, name or distinctive packaging.

In closing, I guess it's time to announce that I OWN the letter "Q". I created the letter "Q" in the third century (please ignore the fact that I hadn't been born at the time) because everybody else's names began with "O" and I wanted something different. (Besides, "Emby Ouinn" sounded dumb.) I was the only one with a "Q" and everybody made fun of me, but bit by bit it caught on. Soon people started using the "Q" for words as well as names. In fact, almost no one uses it for names anymore, but somehow it made it into the standard 26-letter alphabet. I get such a giggle now because every time I see a word or a name with the letter "Q" I say to myself "Hey, that's mine!"...but since there wasn't a copyright office around in the third century, I can't claim ownership of it. Ah well, "Q" sera sera.

Oh, and all those Irish names that begin with O-apostrophe? Those were all "Q" imitators who couldn't QUITE get the "Q" right on their birth certificates.

(Note: If you took the above two paragraphs seriously, you need to look up "sarcasm" in the dictionary.)

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