Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hmm. Maybe I Don't Get Blogging After All.

So I finally re-started the LMOTD blog today. It was kind of strange, though, that a model came up that gave me an excuse to do some political activism. I'm still very excited about that, but I do have to worry a little bit about taking that blog too off-course. If I'm being honest, I have to admit that Klocki and the Brothers Brick have improved drastically since I decided to start LMOTD, and they now do many of the things I hoped to do with LMOTD. They've also been great catalysts for other LEGO fan blogs and for making some of the "big" blogs go legit (it's noticeable that Wired, BoingBoing, Gizmodo, and a few other big obnoxious blog sites have started properly crediting builders since they started reading Klocki and TBB).

I like that I'm going in my own direction, but I'm increasingly finding the content to be torn between my own viewpoint and a more kid-friendly one. I don't mind being the kid-friendly little brother to the big boys at TBB, but I do like being able to use the LMOTD platform to spread the word on events I've been a part of (or will be a part of) too. Of course, the all-too-political times we live in means that accurately praising the LEGO company for building something awesome occasionally means accidentally getting into civil rights issues and endorsing Barack Obama on a blog that's allegedly kid-safe. Autism rights is a part of the LEGO experience for me - just as a result of the way I grew up with LEGO and clung to it over the years. It's great that LEGO UK sees things my way, but I suspect that they're just trying to be good people too - and also only accidentally making a bold political statement. In a time when simply being myself and being out in public counts as discrediting popular political views, it's too hard to try to avoid being political.

...and then there's the I-feel-like-scum element. There's a feeling that I have to properly catch up with my own models here at Dan's Projects, and that I have to properly represent myself and speak up when I feel obligated to. There's a certain sense that I'd just be a (more) irresponsible person if I didn't do some of these things. If I don't do well in school or keep up with the blogging efforts I've started, it's that much harder to be an example of someone who's a "successful" autistic adult. There's just a certain amount of pressure to be a sort of role model in that respect too. Realistically, you can say all you want that people don't think of me as autistic when they see me, but it's hard to spend more than a few hours with me before it becomes obvious. Still, as much as clear as it is after a while, my mom's friends are still surprised when they realize that I can speak (and fairly well at that) - there's still just too much of a stigma and too much misinformation out there, especially here in the states.

With any luck, rushing to speak up about autism issues and applaud LEGO UK for what they're doing will help to raise a little money for the cause. I know I ostensibly blog to make money for myself, but this is important too and if I had a bit more money, I'd certainly donate to most of the groups plugged on that entry, too. Of course, if I were in the UK and had the opportunity to see a LEGO Roadshow AND buy LEGO sets in a way that supports the cause, that would be much cooler, but hey, at least I'm doing something.

I posted a normal post for Wednesday just afterwards to lessen the impact of me being so off-focus for a kid-safe blog, but I still think it will be interesting to see how many e-mails I get along the lines of "My kid asked me, 'Mommy, why did you vote for the bad lady who hates the LMOTD guy'? - what should I say to her??". Of course, it's just my luck that the brilliant and kid-safe model I blogged afterwards is part of a contest where people made models that illustrate the phrase "and monkeys could fly out of my butt".

Anyway - there is some small news over here. The BrickLink store is doing fairly well. I've started doing some DGXPO wrap-up stuff, and while it looks like there might not be a podcast after all (the recording wasn't all that exciting and had a ton of background noise), there'll probably be stuff up here and at the NCLUG site too. I might end up doing some heavier work over at the NCLUG site too - an RSS tutorial and an improved resource list for NC LEGO fans seem like high-priorities. Also, this upcoming Tuesday is the start of my Artificial Intelligence class. That should be exciting.

I hope I'm not causing too much trouble around here and that nobody will sue me soon. No, seriously - Autism Speaks has had a few websites taken down for pointing out that they claim to speak for autistic people but don't allow any autistic people on their staff.

Should advocacy projects count as my projects? I don't know.

If this type of thing does interest you, though, I do know of some more good news, actually: S. 1810, an anti-abortion bill that promises to counteract anti-autism (and other anti-genetic minority) campaigns with true information about how "difficult" it is to raise "special" children versus normal ones. While Oprah Winfrey's happy to say I'm something awful that should never happen, pro-choice politicians are looking to end wrongful abortions and give the next generation of people like me a chance, and pro-life politicians are supporting policies that keep "choice" from sounding like a farce. If that bill passes (I think Hillary is the person crazy enough to vote against it, but then again, some people actually supported her), it'll be a pretty big victory - it'll mean that Nazi-style eugenics will be prevented regardless of what the corrupt powers that be try to do about it. Realistically, it looks like we're a few years out from pre-natal tests for autism, but there have already been substantial problems with doctors recommending unnecessary abortions because they often lack first-hand experience with Down's syndrome or dwarfism. Yes, apparently there's an equally large and unjustified social stigma against bringing up children who are short too (I honestly didn't know that before I started following this legislation).

As far as I know, nobody's built anything LEGO-related that ties into that. That could be funny, though - I can just imagine someone starting a political LEGO webcomic with minifig senators. They all wear their hair like LEGO men anyway.

So, politics, LEGO, autism, being myself and just trying to be responsible ultimately end up way too close to each other. I've thought about maybe starting another blog for political stuff (with autism issues being something of a focus), but I don't think I have the time/stamina for it. I guess it's going to end up here for now, and I'll just have to deal with ruffling some feathers.

...and, uh, sometimes a LEGO model can be just a LEGO model. I think this oil platform is awesome even though I don't care for expanding offshore drilling (or honestly, even consider it a priority as issues to vote on go). I'd probably feature it this week, but I should probably go easy on stuff that could be taken as too political for a while.

Maybe I'm just being too sensitive here - does anyone know if people complained to Sean Kenney about his red-white-and-blue SUV sculpture? I didn't feature that as a model-of-the-day either. Perhaps more frightening, though, is that the most popular blog entry on LMOTD (as judged by incoming hits from search engines) is a vignette of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. Seriously, it's a good model but it's not that great (neither was my write-up), so why do people keep going back to it? OK, fine, it's better than my flag-colored vignette of it that I built in '01 (I also built a little plane for it, and when you stick the plane into one of the buildings, the top of the tower falls off! It was in terribly bad taste - and no, I'm not planning on posting pictures or instructions).

1 comment:

Bricktales said...

Hey Dan,

Interesting and thoughtful post. I just went back and read through your LMOTD post on the clone army - I have to admit that since I had already seen the clone army event posted on Brothers Brick I didn't go through and read the text before. A few random thoughts:

I try to be kid-friendly on VignetteBricks, MicroBricks and MinilandBricks as well - my basic thought process is "will my sister freak out if her kids read my blog?" - so I question sometimes whether or not I should post something. OTOH, I've taken the personal attitude that if people click through my site to other sites, I can't be responsible for those sites. So, for instance, I wouldn't worry that blogging that awesome sheep/bed cave racer may lead someone to a couple of scatalogical or sexual MOCs several clicks down the line. If that is your concern you couldn't link to really anything in the community, since, for instance, linking to a LEGO creation on Flickr might lead someone to other images on Flickr that are not kid-friendly.

On the clone army / autism blog post, I really only think the paragraph starting "Whatever you do ..." goes beyond what I would do on a LEGO blog. Otherwise, I would think that pointing people towards an advocacy group perfectly kid-friendly.

Personally, I kind of like when people use LEGO to make political statements, whether or not I like the statements they make. It's just another way of showing that LEGO goes beyond being a "kiddy-toy" to being an artistic medium. I went back and forth on whether I should blog that microscale rendition of the destruction of the World Trade Center as well. I was bothered that one of the comments left was that it was funny. Other things out there where the use of LEGO may be controversial include the concentration camp LEGO exhibit, the Brick Testament, some of Balakov's renditions of famous photos, Block Death, and I vaguely remember seeing a LEGO rendition of Abu Ghraib. I've been a big fan of all of these on one level or another.

BTW, I totally understand the "I have to catch up on my own models" feeling. I basically haven't built anything since my daughter was born, and I have MOCs that were built before that still need photographing.

Also BTW, thanks for helping raise my own awareness of autism. I really didn't know anything about it beyond having read some things about the whole controversy surrounding vaccine shots when it came time for my daughter's vaccinations.