Line by Line

Bad Abortion Arguments


Tags: morals and ethics, social justice

There are three arguments for or against abortion that make any sense to me:

I find that last one morally repugnant, but it's at least not blatantly fallacious.

Most of the things pro-lifers and pro-choicers scream at each other, however, not so much.

So here's a non-exhaustive list of bad arguments for or against abortion. I tried to balance pro-life and pro-choice arguments, but the latter ended up outnumbering the former. This isn't because I think pro-life arguments are generally better than pro-choice ones, but because, in my personal experience, pro-choicers use a wider variety of bad arguments.

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Pornography is Inherently Abusive


Tags: gender and sexuality, morals and ethics, sexualization, social justice

First things first: This post is going to talk about sexual abuse. If you’re under 13, I recommend grabbing a favorite parent or other trusted adult before reading anything to do with sex, abusive or otherwise. There's nothing particularly explicit in this post, probably nothing that would faze you if you've seen actual porn (which on average seems to happen around age 13) but I'm still advising parental guidance and reader discretion.

Often, when my fellow Christians try to argue against pornography to a secular audience (who won't be swayed by “whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her…,” they fall back on “natural law” arguments. These aren't inherently religious in principle, but to be frank, a telos-based sexual ethics has some problems, the first of which is that it relies on a philosophical framework that's barely used by anyone except Catholic nerds.

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Updated contact/social media info

Posted November, 2022

So DeviantArt is looking not so great these days with the whole AI “art” kerfuffle. I was going to write a whole blog post about that, and I may still do so eventually, but for now I'm just moving some eggs to another basket. And that basket is Mastodon! I'm (I'm not leaving DeviantArt, for now, but I won't be very active there for the near term.)

I took the opportunity to update the sidebar with links to my major socials, which for now (and the foreseeable future) are just DeviantArt and Mastodon. I also updated the About page with the same links, as well as removing a link to a now-defunct forum and adding links to my current ones.

Some Advice for Fellow Christians


Tags: religion

Minna Sundberg, writer/artist of the esteemed Stand Still, Stay Silent , who converted from atheism to Christianity last year, was baptized a little under two weeks ago. I left her a comment congratulating her, and offered a couple other thoughts. My comments seemed to resonate with some of my fellow commenters, so I thought I'd reproduce them here:

First, be aware that there's a honeymoon phase. There will be times in your life (especially right after a conversion) when you're on fire, and then there will be times that you're…not. Don't let your impassioned feelings now or lack of them later separate you from the gift of reason that God gave you. Your religion isn't true just because it feels good, and it won't be false later just because it doesn't.

Second, during those on-fire times, don't get so swept up in zeal for the faith that you lose sight of what it's all about. You're not primarily called to be an apologist or a soul-winner, and God isn't impressed with how right you are about theology or how many arguments you win. It's about love, and to do that right you need humility. I've probably driven as many people away from Christ as I led toward him because I lost sight of this.

The Animorphs Reread Begins


Tags: Animorphs, morals and ethics, rereads and rewatches

Not long ago, I posted a (spoiler-laden) blog post about what I felt was wrong with the ending of the Animorphs series and with the (also spoiler-laden) open letter the author wrote defending the ending against complaints from disappointed fans.

That post had a little problem: It was based on memories of reading the series many years ago. Truth be told, I honestly don't remember how long ago it's been since I read the books. I know my last attempt, which had to be at least fifteen years ago, only made it as far as #6. So maybe my memories of the series itself are tied up in my memories of how I felt about it at the time. Maybe my current feelings are tied up with things I'm remembering incorrectly. Maybe I'll reach a different conclusion if I reread the series as an adult.

That's what we're here to find out.

Quick content warning: Violence, obviously. It's surprisingly tame in the first two books compared to, say #4 and #10, but it's there. More pressingly, when I cover the second book, there's going to be a mention of sexual violence. I'll point it out beforehand.

Also, here's your spoiler warning: From here on out, spoilers for the first two books. I'll try to keep spoilers for later books to a minimum in case any new readers want to read along with me.

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Animorphs as Anti-war War Story


Tags: Animorphs, morals and ethics

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, I was a big fan of the Animorphs books written by K.A. Applegate and her uncredited co-author and husband Michael Grant (and several ghostwriters). The premise of the series is that five human teenagers, and their alien friend, have the ability to transform (“morph”) for two hours at a time into any animal whose DNA they can acquire by touching it. They use this ability to wage a secret guerrilla war against an invading army of alien brain-control slugs bent on enslaving humanity as they've already enslaved other alien species.

These days, the series is fondly remembered in Internet circles because of its brutally honest (and, honestly, brutal) depiction of violence. It's hailed as a critique of war and a cautionary tale about the horrors thereof.

For me, though, it fails at that purpose.

The issues are most apparent in the series finale and the several books leading up to it, so obviously I can't discuss this without spoilers. If you want to read the series yourself first, stop here. I wish you luck, since the books can be hard to find.

Before I continue, let me say up front that I haven't read the books in over fifteen years. My plan is to get my opinions out, and then see if they change after a re-read.

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WIP Report: Necessity: Page 2 Progress with the Wrong Layout

Posted Posted

Tags: art, comics, Necessity comic, WIP report

I've been making pretty slow progress on the next page of the comic, and I've been fairly quiet about it because I don't want to spam everyone with incremental updates. But I just encountered a not-insignificant setback, so I think now's a good time for a progress report.

Back when I finished the thumbnails, you may recall, I said:

Once I stitched all my "final" thumbnails together and read through them as a single comic, it dawned on me that the reader doesn't get a good look at the sorceress—the ostensible main character—until halfway through the comic.

In a very early draft, I had intentionally not shown her face until even later, but I feel like that signals to readers that she's not the main character, except in the same sense as the title "characters" of movies like Twister, Volcano, and Jaws. I don't want anyone to feel cheated when it shifts to her POV. So I redrew the beginning of page 2 to give her a nice medium shot establishing what she looks like.

So here's the problem: When I started working on the layout for page 2, I used the old thumbnail instead of the re-drawn one, and didn't notice until long after I'd started work on the pencils. In fact, the only reason I caught the error at all is that I was going back through my blog working on layout updates. I saw the part quoted above and realized that the page I was drawing did not begin with a medium shot of Viola. In the first row of panels, all you can see is her hand:

A panel of the squire charging at Viola, sword raised, and a panel of her catching the sword. Only her hand is seen in both panels, surrounded by a fire-like magic effect.

So I now have to replace those two panels with these three from the revised thumbnail:

Thumbnail panels: A medium shot of Viola with the nobleman behind her on the ground, the squire charging without Viola's hand visible, and Viola catching the sword at a different angle.

Losing panel 2 is no big deal, since I never really was quite happy with the magic effect and I'm pretty sure the blade is way out of proportion to her hand.

I'm a little sadder about panel 1, since it was the most complete panel so far. I was pretty proud of that hand, too. I'm hoping I can salvage part of the angry sword man, though obviously he needs some work too. I guess I'll find out, but the change has to be made either way. No point crying over spilled milk.

As a bonus, here's my first attempt at drawing his face in a later panel. It's not too bad, but the expression is completely wrong. Drawing expressions is hard.

A sketch of an anthropomorphic lion face with a cartoonishly exasperated expression

So how's the rest of the page going? Well, I'm spinning my wheels trying to get a grass-dirt transition looking passable and I'm about halfway done with a figure in panel four (soon to be five) but there's not a single background that's done yet. Overall, I'd say I had penciled about 32% of what the page would have looked like based on the earlier thumbnail. With re-drawing the top row, I'm maybe 11 or 12% done with the final page, not counting the extra work of combining the two sheets of paper into a single page somehow.

Impeachment Follow-Up

Posted February 16, 2021

Tags: current events, politics

So the impeachment trial is over. That the result is completely expected doesn't make it any less disappointing. A 57-43 majority voted Guilty, but that wasn't enough to meet the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Before I get into that, I need to issue a correction. In my previous post, written before the trial ended, I wrote:

[Trump] made a phone call to Senator Tommy Tuberville to try to convince him to delay the certification. The call ended when the senators were evacuated. I can't find anything saying whether or not Tuberville expressly mentioned the storming or the evacuation, but Tuberville remembers saying, “they just took the vice president out.” According to Wikipedia's timeline of the assault, it was after this phone call, some eleven minutes after Pence was moved, that Trump tweeted that “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to” refuse to certify the results.

In fact, the then-current revision of Wikipedia's timeline didn't mention the phone call or Senator Tuberville (or senator Mike Lee, whose phone Trump actually called) at all. I got the eleven minutes figure from the time of Pence's evacuation, which I had assumed Tuberville told Trump about as it happened.

When I checked the timeline again, it had been updated to include the call, which in fact took place two minutes after the tweet: Pence was evacuated at 2:13, the tweet was eleven minutes later at 2:24, and the phone call was at 2:26.

This doesn't affect my conclusion about Trump, though:

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Trump's Second Impeachment Matters

Posted February 12, 2021

Tags: current events, politics

Ex-president Donald Trump is the first president in United States history to be impeached twice, and the first to have his impeachment tried in the Senate after he's already left office. So why bother, if he's already out? There are several reasons people object to the second impeachment being tried at all, but I don't think any of them holds water.

Objection: He's already out of office, so it doesn't matter anymore.

Presidents are allowed two terms, and Trump has only served one. The terms aren't required to be consecutive, and running for a second term doesn't count as serving one. That means he still has one term left. There is precedent for this: Grover Cleveland lost re-election to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but served a second term after defeating Harrison's own re-election campaign in 1892. Trump could do the same thing unless the Senate votes to bar him from running again.

More importantly, whether Trump tries to run again or not, it's only a matter of time before someone else picks up where he left off. We need to send a clear, decisive message that attempts to undermine our democracy in order to stay in power will not be tolerated. Not from Trump, not from anyone.

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WIP Report: Necessity: Page 1 complete and game plan

Posted December 31, 2020

Tags: art, comics, Necessity comic, WIP report, writing

Well. Some year this has been, huh?

I'm sorry this post has taken so long. I finished the first page of the comic months ago and I've been wrestling with a longer postmortem, but I guess I don't have it in me so I'll keep this quick and maybe not bore you.

First, the comic has a name now: Necessity. I'm not thrilled with it but I'm glad I don't have to keep saying “Sorceress Comic” anymore.

Coloring started out fun but got tedious. I used just two layers: One for flat colors and one for shadows. I did all the flats first, then for each color, picked one or two shadow colors. I selected each shape with the magic wand tool, then moved to the shadow layer and used the pencil tool to shade it.

This wasn't a terrible setup. Since I can select two colors and swap between them, and use my tablet's stylus's eraser end, the shading work wasn't bad. The problem was all the switching back and forth between the flats and shadow layers, and between the magic wand and pencil tools. It ate up a lot of time and energy, and more than once I forgot to switch layers after selecting a new area so I had to do it over.

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