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Feb. 27th, 2015 11:30 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
If you're seeing slow page load times, pages not fully loading, missing icons, 'naked' pages (the text of the page only, without any styling, etc): please shift-refresh your browser, clear your browser cache, and then just hang tight. We're switching CDN providers, so your browser may have cached the wrong copy of things.

If the problem hasn't cleared up by tomorrow, then let us know and we'll look into it further!

Beauty All Around

Feb. 27th, 2015 09:56 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
If you look closely at the endpapers of Sidewalk Flowers, the new book from JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith, you get a sense of the beauty within. The endpapers are filled with the tiny, intricate drawings of flowers and birds. Keep going, and you fall into the story of a young girl, walking the city streets with her father, who finds beauty in unexpected places.

Leonard Nimoy, RIP

Feb. 27th, 2015 01:33 pm
[personal profile] yendi
It's completely replaced any discussion of llamas and dresses on my twitter feed, so I'm hardly breaking news here. Like millions of others, I grew up on Star Trek, catching the original series in reruns on local stations when I was a kid. I was never aware of fandom, as such, as a kid, but I was definitely a fan, even if a solitary one. (I also watched him on Mission Impossible, another show that ended before I was born but lived on in syndication.)

Spock wasn't technically my favorite character -- that would be McCoy -- but he grew on me, and he was certainly the most interesting character. And Nimoy, perhaps more than any of the cast, seemed to take his role with him (see the titles of his two bios) in a way that no one else did.

I distrust my perception of any celebrity, since by definition, they're conveying an image whenever they're in public, but Nimoy always came across as charming, sincere, and both amused and amazed that playing Spock gave him a level of cred that, in all fairness, he probably shouldn't have earned. But he always seemed to have a wonderful sense of humor about himself and saw that he could use the cred he'd gotten to try to make the world a better place.

Anyway, here's Nimoy leaving this world, his work complete, twenty+ years ago. Glad we had those extra twenty years. Wish we'd had more.

Classical Japanese Things

Feb. 27th, 2015 10:00 am
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
Hope springs eternal, and so I have a new Classical Japanese study book. It is, like most of them, intended for high school students doing their required Classical Japanese studies; I have one like this from before, bought in a state of absolute panic in 2001, but that one assumes just a little bit too much about what you're learning from your real textbook, which is a problem if you don't have a real textbook.

It's very friendly. It assures me in the second chapter (the first chapter is "figure out the subject of the sentence!") that it's fine to learn just 250-300 of the most important vocabulary words, because you'll have footnotes for the rest. This is not very relevant unless you're actually taking a high school Classical Japanese class, but still, it feels quite reassuring compared to the "Everyone else has been studying this SINCE HIGH SCHOOL and you are so far behind" that I felt when I got to Japan.

Sei Shonagon is the best.

Adorable Things

The face of a child drawn on a melon.

A baby of two or so is crawling, rapidly along the ground. With his sharp eyes he catches sight of a tiny object and, picking it up with his pretty little fingers, takes it to show to a grown-up person.

A baby sparrow that comes hopping up when one imitates the squeak of a mouse; or again, when one has tied it with a thread round its leg and its parents bring insects or worms and pop them in its mouth: delightful!

One picks up a pretty baby and holds him for a while in one's arms; while one is fondling him, he clings to one's neck and then falls asleep.

Pretty, white chicks who are still not fully fledged and look as if their clothes are too short for them; cheeping loudly, they follow one on their long legs, or walk close to the mother hen.

(Ivan Morris's translation.)

My study book tells me something interesting I didn't know before about The Pillow Book. The famous first line is literally something like "In spring it is the dawn," but translators (translating it into modern Japanese or English) have usually interpolated "...that is most beautiful" or something like that. Ivan Morris has "In spring it is the dawn that is most beautiful." But apparently, the modern scholarship is that we should maybe treat it as part of a conversation already in progress, talking about the different seasons and what times of day are the most wintry in winter, or spring-like in spring, and you can just start off more literally: "In spring it is the dawn."

Pam Muñoz Ryan

Feb. 27th, 2015 07:13 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
When Echo first called to her, Pam Muñoz Ryan was researching a different story altogether: the nation’s first successful desegregation case in California. Ryan traveled to Lemon Grove, California, to dig into the 1931 case of Roberto Alvarez v. the Lemon Grove School District, where the all-Anglo local school board attempted to segregate children of Mexican or Mexican-American origin.

Getting Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Feb. 26th, 2015 08:45 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
While reading the last 25 or so pages of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I happily cried all over myself, laughed out loud, and occasionally paused to clutch the book to my chest…and I was so blissed out that I didn’t care that I happened to be manning the circulation desk or that I was arming my more smirky patrons with prime Leila-mocking fodder. The last book that inspired a reaction that publically passionate—not counting Susan Juby’s upcoming The Truth Commission, which I plan to go on about at length (and soon!), but which is an entirely different animal—was Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss.

Deleted Scenes

Feb. 26th, 2015 02:25 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
A few deleted sentences from a piece I'm drafting:

One way to understand suspense is that it's the state of having multiple conflicting valid causal models, or not having enough information to even form a single satisfying prediction.

Each protagonist gets impressive moments of awesome competence and agency. But, like levelling up in a game, it's still constrained by the sandbox (which is of course more realistic than the Matrix solution).

The big science fictional twist is that you are far less significant than you had imagined.

But they require less genre expertise than, say, "Four Kinds of Cargo" or the trope review at the start of Anathem.

What’s New On Amara?

Feb. 24th, 2015 09:16 pm
[syndicated profile] nara_feed

Posted by Mary (admin)

Last March we introduced you to our new crowdsource video caption tool, Amara. This neat tool allows anyone with an interest in transcribing our motion picture collection to join our team and start typing what you hear! After the captioning is done in Amara, the captions are transferred back to YouTube, making our holdings accessible to even more people and 508 compliant (a win win!).

One of the projects that has been very successful on Amara is with World War I & II films, an ongoing digitization project.  We’ve already uploaded 15 videos with full audio, and asked our team members to caption the dialog in those videos. While this project has helped us overcome disabilities and language barriers with our users, we also have over 50 silent films that we would like to make more accessible too. How will we do this? With tagging, of course! Take a look at our tagging instructions for the World War I Silent Films, and help us pioneer this new way of approaching digitizing these videos.

Project Goal

The goal of the Tagging Project is to describe the visual information within a specific project of videos on the National Archives Amara team. These tags will make it easy for users to search our video archive for what they’re looking for.


1. Go to this project on the National Archives Amara team:


2. Click on a video thumbnail

amara 1

3. Click “Add a new language”

amara 2

4. Then select English for both drop down selections

amara 3

Since these videos have no spoken audio, your role will be to add text describing the visual information. The more specific you can be with your text, the better. For example, instead of saying { Tank } it would be better to say { Iosif Stalin Tank }. To help distinguish these tags from captioned text, please include these tags within curly brackets { like this! }.

Happy tagging!

What do you expect? (a poll)

Feb. 24th, 2015 01:36 pm
brainwane: My smiling face, in front of a wall and a brown poster. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
A few bits of thought passed across my mind recently, about legacy and friendship and the law, and I found myself curious about whether I'm quite different from my friends in my assumptions about the way my life will go. So: a three-question poll.

Poll #16481 What do you expect?
This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 32

Do you expect that someone will, in the future, systematically research your life, e.g., by reading all of your public blog posts and interviewing your friends and family?

2 (6.2%)

9 (28.1%)

Probably not
12 (37.5%)

9 (28.1%)

Not applicable; I know that this has already happened
0 (0.0%)

If you have never been sued before, do you expect that someone will someday sue you?

0 (0.0%)

5 (15.6%)

Probably not
22 (68.8%)

5 (15.6%)

Not applicable; I have been sued before
0 (0.0%)

Do you expect that you have already met everyone who's going to be very important in your life?

0 (0.0%)

5 (15.6%)

Probably not
11 (34.4%)

16 (50.0%)

The poll is anonymous. Please feel free to elaborate on your answers in the comments! EDITED TO ADD: And comments are screened by default and I'm going to leave them screened unless you say it's ok to unscreen.
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I have been rereading Dave Barry's Dave Barry In Cyberspace (published in 1996), which has held up about as well as Neal Stephenson's In The Beginning Was The Command Line (1999).

On the software you'll need for your personal computer:

First off, you need an operating system, which is the "Godfather" program that operates behind the scenes, telling all the other programs what to do, making sure they cooperate, and if necessary leaving the heads of horses in their beds. The most popular operating system in world history as of 10:30 A.M. today is Windows 95, but there are many other options, including Windows 3.1, Windows 3.11, Windows 3.111, Windows for Workgroups, Windows for Groups That Mainly Just Screw Around, Windows for Repeat Offenders, Lo-Fat Windows, and The Artist Formerly Known as Windows. There is also the old "MS-DOS" operating system, which is actually written on parchment and is rarely used on computers manufactured after the French and Indian War. And there is "OS/2," which was developed at enormous expense by IBM and marketed as a Windows alternative, and which has won a loyal following of thousands of people, an estimated three of whom do not work for IBM. And of course there is the Apple operating system, or "Apple operating system," for your hippie beatnik weirdo loner narcotics-ingesting communistic types of Apple-owning individuals who are frankly too wussy to handle the challenge of hand-to-hand combat with computer systems specifically designed to thwart them.

On the internet:

... I had managed to send this hideously embarrassing message to everybody in the world except the person who was supposed to read it.

Yes, thanks to the awesome communications capabilities of the Internet, I was able to make an intergalactic fool of myself, and there's no reason why you can't do the same.

Prefiguring Clay Shirky's cognitive surplus arguments:

So go ahead! Get on the Web! In my opinion, it's WAY more fun than television, and what harm can it do?

OK, it can kill brain cells by the billions. But you don't need brain cells. You have a computer.

The origin of Bill Gates's wealth: "versions."

How much should your new computer cost? "About $350 less than you will actually pay."

Also, I am gonna avoid G7e rage and not quote the entire section, but check out the Comdex chapter for Barry's thoughts on the limited range of stories and game mechanics available in games written by and for men in 1996, and his speculation on what more diversity would look like.

The fiction short story that appears in two parts at the end of the book causes disproportionate feels in me, because it's about falling in love with a stranger via America OnLine chat, and I read it around the same time I fell in love with a guy I met on Usenet, via a Dave Barry fan group. Oh dear I just looked him up and he has a freaking beard. I don't know why that detail gets to me, but I was not prepared for that. At this moment I am under a blanket on my couch in New York City with midmorning light bouncing off brick and fire escapes outside, but I am also in hand-me-down tee shirt and shorts in front of a 486, easily remembering how to turn the audible modem volume all the way down so Mom and Dad don't hear me dialing in, the mousepad the only clear area on my dad's desk that's cluttered with printouts and Post-Its and boxes of 5-and-a-quarter floppies, navigating to HoTMaiL, California night outside the blinds. And now I'm remembering all those other local maxima and minima of my teenage life, and how intense things felt. He sent me a photo and I printed it out in black and white and took it into my AP US History test. That printout is probably still in a box somewhere. He dumped me, and we never met, and I wonder whether either of us still has a copy of that email.

And now the only Dave Barry book I own is Dave Barry in Cyberspace. It's still funny and it still has a barb in it. I am genuinely curious whether people ten years younger than me would enjoy it, since clearly part of what I'm getting out of it is nostalgia. And now I'm thinking about setting a reminder to myself to read current tech humor by Rose Ames and James Mickens in 2035.

Anger, Magic, Love, Reinvention

Feb. 23rd, 2015 05:19 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Alchemy—turning base metals to gold, the transformation of something ordinary into something extraordinary. One bucketful of water contains more atoms than there are bucketsful of water in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s just like magic. Diamond and graphite are both pure carbon. If that is true, then anything is possible.

My disability has a new name: SEID

Feb. 23rd, 2015 06:29 am
[syndicated profile] diceytillerman_feed
Something stunning happened recently in the world of CFIDS/CFS/ME. The NIH, the CDC, and the Dept of Health and Human Services (and more) had asked the Institute of Medicine to look into the evidence base of this illness. They have now come out with a smashing report. Please read this brief report on their findings and recommendations. Even shorter, a few key facts they want people to know. If you'd like to see more, like the public release video and/or links to other parts of the report, go here.

The IoM comes down for a narrower definition and a new name. As a person who's had this illness for 22 years, I can tell you that what they say is bang on. This is really, really important. This is the biggest and best thing I've seen happen around my illness, ever.

SEID: systemic exertion intolerance disease. Start saying it. If you have connections to anyone in -- or adjacent to -- the medical field, please send them the IoM links. This new report and illness name could actually lead to research funding. We need research funding, badly. Without research funding we will never find cause and treatment. Immediately, it can lead to better understanding and attitude by medical pratitioners, which leads to better patient care. It can help patients explain their illness to anyone in their lives. This new name and this report can help so much. Please help spread it.

I'm so excited. This is hope.

Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

Feb. 23rd, 2015 06:57 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Though Canadian-born author/illustrator Selina Alko had long been aware of Richard and Mildred Loving’s historic court battle to legalize their interracial marriage in the state of Virginia, her impulse to create her picture book The Case for Loving came much later. In her own interracial marriage to illustrator Sean Qualls, Alko credits a “slow, nudging awareness” of America’s underlying racism, how “even today some people may view couples like us with disapproval,” as sparking her desire to explore the story further—a desire that was catalyzed by watching an HBO documentary and visiting a photography exhibit on the Lovings. She found it “shocking…that marriages like ours were illegal just a few decades ago,” she says.

Paper topic

Feb. 22nd, 2015 08:39 pm
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
[personal profile] deborah
This is enough of a paper topic that someone's probably already done the research, but here's a hypothesis:

One of the reasons I so often have to hold myself back from describing YA realism novels as "modernist" or even "existentialist," is that some of the core elements of both -- subjectivity, disorientation, confusion, and chaos in a seemingly absurd world, all as the ultimate, horrifying breakage which must be solved by the central character -- provide a very sensible thematic structure for the way the West defines adolescence.

Man, modernism as an adolescent worldview. Of course I would think that; I'm a post-modernist at heart.

Stuck Here for Another Year

Feb. 22nd, 2015 06:31 am
[personal profile] jazzyjj
Hi folks. I thought I'd update this thing again, since it's been
rather quiet around here. I want to talk about something that happened
yesterday morning here in my apartment building. That is, my Service
Contract meeting which happens once a year. Before going any further
with this though, I think a bit of explanation about Center for
Independent Futures is in order. Back in about mid-2002 my parents and
I found out about Center for Independent Futures from some family
friends who have a son with a disability. (From this point on I will
refer to Center for Independent Futures by its acronym CIF.) We had
also been talking with some former neighbors who had a son with a
visual impairment, who was to become my roommate. So we decided to
pursue things with CIF after hearing good things about it from both these families, and got the ball rolling. I moved into the
apartment building where I am today back in August of 2004, along with
my former neighbor. I'm not going to bother discussing our
relationship as roommates, since all of those tend to have their ups
and downs. But what I will say is that it was an interesting
experience getting to know him a lot better. He actually passed away
fairly recently, but for the most part he was a nice guy.

CIF is structured in such a way as to not rely on state funding. The
organization was founded by a group of frustrated parents who all have
family members with disabilities. For anyone not familiar with the
situation, Illinois is ranked very low on the totem pole with regards
to services for people with disabilities. Very little if anything has been done about our track record, and it sucks. As a matter of fact, I decided not too long ago to refer to our state as Sionilli. That's Illinois spelled backwards, just in case you're wondering. But anyway, to learn more about CIF and the work they are doing, please point your favorite browser to http://www.independentfutures.com . My brother was also involved with this organization up until he took a job out of state.

So yesterday morning I had to appear before the judge, and try and convince him once again why I needed to leave this prison cell. Lol just kidding! I actually had a very good meeting yesterday and signed on for another year at least.

Raising Trans Kids by Default

Feb. 21st, 2015 10:53 am
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
I am planning on becoming a parent within the next year or two, and while I don't exactly how I will do that yet - getting pregnant and giving birth myself, adopting a baby, or adopting an older child through the foster care system - I know one thing about how I'm going to treat an infant who comes into my care in one of the first two ways.

I know that it's impossible to determine what a person's gender is without asking them, and that, therefore, I don't know the gender of any child who is too young to talk. I also know that 'sex' is a synonym for 'gender' that cis people use when they want to misgender us in the name of 'science'. So, I know that if I become the parent of a newborn, I won't know their gender - or sex - immediately at birth, much less before birth. How could I? I wouldn't have access to any better tools than the ones my mother, and any medical personnel who were helping her, when I was a baby boy in 1980. If I don't accept my own misgendering at birth, I can't justify doing the same thing to somebody else.

I have talked about wanting to raise a child in a way that was gender-agnostic up until the time when they were old enough to express their own gender. But sometimes people misunderstand what that means, and think it means forcing a boy or girl to be androgynous instead, past the point where they know their own identity. Of course, that's not so - the point is for me to respect my hypothetical child and not gender them without their consent.

But I'm wondering if it isn't better to talk about raising a child starting from the default assumption that the child is trans. Normally, we make a default assumption that a newborn infant is cis. We assign a gender marker that is difficult to impossible to change later, based solely on an observer's assessment of an infant phalloclitoris as a potential instrument for penetrating vaginas, or as not potentially suitable to this task. We also try our hardest to mold reality to our assumptions by rewarding child behavior that confirms it and punishing behavior that contradicts it. It doesn't work, of course - treating trans kids like we expect them to be cis doesn't produce cis kids, just traumatized trans kids.

I don't have to explain to any trans person that it *is* traumatic to be expected to be cis before you even have the language to protest, and if you're cis, just take my word for it. It is. But even parents who are themselves trans usually re-enact this process on their own kids. I don't blame them, exactly. Social pressure to conform is strong, and not everyone is up for explaining to any stranger who comments on the baby that everything that believe about sex/gender is wrong.

Personally I can't conceive of doing to a child something that was so harmful when it was done to me. At the same time, I know I don't exist in a vacuum apart from peer pressure. Perhaps it's easier to resist the assumption that cis is default if we assume something different instead; humans tend to have an easier time thinking about positive than negative statements.

I think it's understandable to latch onto genitals as a differentiator since babies are otherwise pretty similar. Like finding out your baby's zodiac sign and constructing an imaginary personality around it, picking a binary gender gives you a place to start imagining who this tiny stranger might be. But unlike an arbitrary horoscope, building a story around a gender marker has devastating consequences if you pick the wrong one. Any trans teenager who's been abandoned by their parents - who were more attached to that story than to the real, living child they were raising - can tell you that.

So rather than rejecting gender, I want to suggest an alternative narrative, at least to myself. That is, should an infant come into my care, I will assume they have a gender identity that isn't 'male' or 'female'. By assuming non-binary rather than whatever binary sex they weren't assigned at birth, I can do two things. First, as a person whose gender is one of the two socially sanctioned options, I can remind myself to be extra attentive to the needs of a child whose gendered experience I don't understand firsthand. And second, assuming that male and female are duals is just another way of accepting sex assignment at birth (if I pick the opposite of what the doctor said, I'm still letting a doctor tell me what to do.)

So what if my child turns out to be a boy or a girl? Well, if so, I'll accept that from the moment he or she says so - self-definition wins above all else. For a 3-year-old, that just means using his or her pronouns to refer to her or him and, if he or she chooses, supporting him or her in using a gendered name. Of course it also means letting the child wear or play with whatever they want, but I would already be doing that.

What are the advantages of a non-binary default over a cis, or trans binary, default? Wouldn't no default at all be better? Maybe, but I suspect that my best intentions, my brain will construct something to fill a void, so it's better for me to be explicit. That said, what if the child turns out to be a boy or girl? Will they have been harmed by the assumption that they weren't?

Maybe; I can't know for sure. I don't think the potential harm is nearly as great, though, as the harm done by the alternative, the harm of a cis default to a child who isn't. I know that harm from personal experience, so I don't need to elaborate, except to encourage you to consider the effect on your self-concept of having the world tell you - having the adults you have to trust most tell you - that a basic, fundamental thing about yourself you know too deeply for words is false. That they know better.

The non-binary default doesn't have an entire society mobilized to enforce it, so for that reason - power asymmetry - I don't see how expecting a child to be NB could possibly do as much harm as expecting a trans child to be cis does.

Many parents, trans and cis, say they're assuming their child is cis because statistically, that's the most likely thing. I would hate to have to explain to a child, 'I hurt you because of statistics'. They say they won't uphold gender expectations (except, of course, the expectation that the child is their assigned gender) and will affirm a trans child's gender if their child comes out as trans.

I don't doubt their sincerity, but I know I have plenty of internalized cissexism. Once I decided to work off the assumption my child was cis, would I give up the social capital of having a normative cis that easily? Would I feel pressure to, subconsciously, encourage my child to fake cisness so I don't have to deal with the stigma of being a trans parent of a trans child (baggage even if I was cis, plus suspicion that I somehow made my child be like me)? I'm not confident that the answer is 'no'.

I also reject the argument from statistics. Look at a baby, and that baby has a 100% chance of being cis. Or a 100% chance of being trans. You just don't know which one yet. The limits of my knowledge don't change objective reality.

Rather than centering what might be best for a cis child because cis people are the majority, then, I'll center the needs of the most vulnerable group and trust that the outcome will be best for everyone. That's usually how it works, after all: for example, we have a modern 'LGBTQ rights' movement because trans women of color resisted violence. If we'd done from the beginning what the modern marriage-focused GL(B) movement (silent t) does now and center the needs of privileged cis gay men, we would have made no progress since the fifties.

I think that by centering what would be best for a child whose gender is non-binary - something I'll ask for advice on and educate myself about, since I lack firsthand - I'll be doing what's best for any child. A cis boy or cis girl won't be harmed by getting to declare his own maleness or her own femaleness. Either one has the rest of their lifetime to have the entire world backing them up.

The risk of assuming you know what your child's gender is and that it's binary is this: getting attached to an imaginary, idealized child instead of a real one. This is why some parents of trans children say, 'I feel like my son/daughter died': they are mourning the loss of a relationship they formed with an imaginary child, at the expense of the real child who could really use their support. I don't expect to say 'I feel like my genderqueer child up and died' in the face of my cis daughter or son, because there are no social structures encouraging me to value a genderqueer child more. So that's why I don't think my future child will be harmed by my assumption, even if they're cis.

I don't expect the rest of the world to understand, but that's okay. Like many queer people, I have the privilege of freedom from obligation to a family of origin, so I get to choose who will be around my kid, mostly. There are still strangers, babysitters, doctors, and so on, but not everybody has to understand. I feel okay knowing that within my own ability, I'll do my best by my kid, and not worry too much about other people's expectations that I can't control. And it seems like getting more practice in doing what's best for my kid even if the rest of the world resists, or is openly hostile to it, can only make me a better parent.
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