Write some fat characters, please.

Mar. 4th, 2015 08:57 pm
[syndicated profile] diceytillerman_feed
Even though you can't write a thin character without saying somehting about fatness, and even though, regarding fatness, you can't talk about only yourself, and this is true within in-book worlds as well, it's still of vital importance for more fat characters to be written than are written now. The whole children's lit range, from the youngest picturebooks up through YA, needs fat characters badly. If you are an author who is considering writing a fat character (or hopefully more than one in the same book, so the one doesn't default to a symbol or token), but you're worried that you'll mess it up in some way, I say: do it anyway. Read some fatpol, do some thinking, get some beta, and do it anyway. Please go for it. We need you.


Mar. 4th, 2015 08:19 pm
[syndicated profile] diceytillerman_feed
Intersectionality is not a hard word and it's not a hard concept. It's not from academia in any kind of exclusive way. It's about activism. Most importantly, it's not abstract or obscure -- it's about real people and day-to-day life. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term.
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

From my Congress.gov alert:

There has been activity on bills associated with Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Bills cosponsored:

  • S. 618 – A bill to amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 relative to the powers of the Department of Justice Inspector General.

As of this writing, the full text of S 618 was not available. This might be a bill to watch because when the powers of an agency’s Inspector General are changed, it can have an affect on the accountability of that agency to Congress and the Public. I may write more when more information becomes available.

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: accountability, inspector general, investigations

What's New in YA for March

Mar. 3rd, 2015 08:35 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
March is finally here, which has me rejoicing: the end of winter is finally in sight AND we’ve got a whole new month’s worth of books to read! Let’s take a look:

David Arnold

Mar. 3rd, 2015 05:50 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
When I talk to Arnold, I’m calling from Brooklyn’s frigid winter. On the receiving end, he’s having a gorgeous day in Kentucky and sounds just as pleasant, warm, and inviting as the Southern climes (requisite lilt included). In his book, Mim is intent to escape from the stifling clutches of a new home in Mississippi with her father and stepmother in order to see her beloved mother in Ohio (a mother whose impending demise Mim is certain is being kept from her). Mim’s journey from Southern point A to Midwestern B isn’t a reasonably straight line. To say there are detours would be understating the depth and breadth of her journey—there’s a fatal wreck, a mysterious locked box, a haircut, a heartthrob, and other life-changing occurrences. In fact, it was a major detour that took Arnold from a profession in the music industry to writing Mim’s story.  
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I have read many, many books since I last rounded them up. I may start using LibraryThing or similar to track and recommend things since I demonstrably don't blog about the books often enough to keep up. Future Sumana and others, have some fragmentary, tardy reviews, with more to come.

Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad (short story anthology). Deeply engaging, funny, loving, and heartstring-tugging (I'm reasonably sure that midway through the first story, I burst into tears and called my mom). I appreciate how Cho talks about things I don't understand, uses words I don't know, and helps me keep going even when I'm missing bits that (for instance) Malaysians would grok. She does not do this by explaining or glossing every phrase, in case you (like me) dislike that approach.

Greg Milner, Perfecting Sound Forever: The History of Recorded Music. I picked this up because of Scott Rosenberg's recommendation and give it two thumbs way up. I never took a college-level physics class and I suspect know less than the median US-born person my age about pop music of the 20th century. Milner's exposition gave me the background I needed to understand the ways recording and playback technology affected music, and vice versa, without being condescending. I learned even more about Edison's vengefulness, and I now understand a lot more about the influence of World War II on the music tech industry, about racism in the folk music preservation scene, about how we choose codecs for compression, about the loudness wars and dynamic range, about why we revere or despise particular practices or musicians, about the sexist culture of audiophilia, and about how to (or how not to) get people to switch workflows.

Joanna Russ, The Adventures of Alyx. I don't see as much fiction as I'd like about super-competent women managers. I especially do not see enough fiction about competent women managing incompetent men and causing them to realize, empirically, that she is right and they are wrong. This is the best thing about The Adventures of Alyx.

Molly Gloss, The Dazzle of Day. The very first thing I want to get across is that this is not comfort reading; it includes realistic depictions of sexual assault and its aftermath. I am very glad I read this heartbreaking, nuanced tale of Quakers in space -- Jo Walton gets at the way Gloss depicts people and situations I rarely see in scifi, and as Sue Gardner has mentioned, understanding Quakers helps me understand Wikimedian consensus better -- but it is not gentle.

Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle (reread). I more thoroughly noticed the "make my own stories/films about Us" theme this time. Maybe that's because Leonard and I have been watching so many films, via the Museum of the Moving Image, from decades past. As bad and simplistic and inaccurate as media representation of QUILTBAG people is now, it's better than it was.

Ha Jin, A Good Fall (short story collection). I had previously read his novel Waiting, and in both his short stories and his novels, Ha Jin does a painfully good job of delicately splaying open the interiority of ordinary people navigating modernity. He sets much of A Good Fall in Flushing, in my own county, and many of his characters are Asian or Asian-American, so I got that added touch of familiarity. If I recall correctly, Ha Jin can make me feel empathy for a character who is making bad decisions, which not every author can do!

Lavanya Sankaran, The Hope Factory. I'd previously read Sankaran's short story collection The Red Carpet, which I do recommend. I loved The Hope Factory -- what a Bangalore story, getting the texture of class, gender, and location so right. (I wonder whether the flashback chapter about one protagonist's day laborer past would work as a standalone story; it sure has a Crowning Moment of Awesome that I will remember for a long time.) I honestly do not know whether I should recommend this book to non-Indians or even desis who are not Karnatakan or Kannadiga, whether it will sparkle quite as bright to people who have never been to that particular dosa restaurant, who don't think "wait I think I have relatives in that square mile of Mysore." But if you're looking for an English-language novel set in modern-day Bangalore, spanning rich and poor, family and business and politics, check this out.

Toni Morrison, Beloved -- haven't finished this yet. I picked this up at a moment when I wasn't ready for how deeply sexy it gets, so I paused; I'll be picking it up again sometime.

Kate Griffin, A Madness of Angels. I cannot remember whether I finished this book. I heard about it because people said the protagonist uses an Oyster card as a component in a magical ward. (People on Dreamwidth find this charming and I am no exception!) But A Madness of Angels is about 1% that kind of awesome Terms-Of-Service-based magic, and about 99% moody swirling coats and "I thought I was dead, how did I get resurrected?" and men in fog and GET BACK TO THE END USER LICENSE AGREEMENTS ALREADY! I am much more interested in urban fantasy if someone is committing magical fraud or magically suing someone than if someone is committing magical murder.

Jean M. Converse and Howard Schuman, Conversations at Random: Survey Research as Interviewers See It (reread). I love this super-obscure book, which I picked up used many years ago. It includes many anecdotes about surprises that door-to-door survey-takers have run into. I like these stories for the same reason I end up rereading the case studies and blockquotes from Carol Gilligan's In A Different Voice or Irving Yalom's Love's Executioner.

Ken MacLeod, The Human Front and The Restoration Game. I read these for an upcoming online book club-type event, and am currently reading MacLeod's Newton's Wake for that same project. I enjoyed the two that I've finished: brisk reads, relatable protagonists, Big Reveals, reasonable exposition so you don't have to come into the book already knowing all the Trotsky-related feuds in twentieth-century communism. Either of these would be a reasonable first MacLeod. (I attempted to read his Fall Revolution series by starting with The Star Fraction and bounced off, at least for now, on the "ugh why do I care about these people, giant dream sequence, I do not know enough about communism to grok this" barriers. I have since been advised to try again with a different Fall Revolution book later!)

Atul Gawande, Complications. I liked this and read aloud bits of it to people, especially the bits about teaching and risk, but it does suffer a bit from comparison to Better, which has a throughline. Still good enough to make me daydream about finding myself on some kind of Indian-American Powerhouses panel with Gawande!

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (reread). I last read this about 15 years ago, for a class, and I'm grateful that I've grown as a reader since then. This time through, I could appreciate Neale Hurston's lush descriptive prose more thoroughly, because now I see what other authors are trying to do when they expend verbiage on hot humid Southern garden scenes. There's an exemplary early passage that connects our protagonist's blossoming sexuality with her new awareness of the sensual world around her and mixes observation of her interior life with trees, flowers, etc. Also, I'd love to talk about class, gender, and sexuality in Their Eyes Were Watching God with other people who have read it recently.

Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy. I believe I've never read this book before. Just as other adults have said, this book holds up -- when you read as an adult, you see and understand the drawing-room conflicts that Harriet sees but doesn't understand. And yeah, if you are obsessed with discovering everyone else's secrets, other people might hate that and might decide you are not awesome. Hear that, NSA? Perhaps if more people had read Harriet the Spy as kids, we wouldn't have the massive intelligence overreach problems we have now. Neither you nor I have any way of disproving that!

Janet Mock, Redefining Realness. Like many US people, I picked up Redefining Realness because I heard about it, heard it was good, and realized I had not yet read a memoir by a trans person of color. And now I continue this chain of recommendations. Redefining Realness, interestingly, succeeds both as a public service announcement about transphobia and intersectionality and as a memoir about one woman's coming-of-age. I appreciated how Mock interwove her story with statistics and other context.

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword. I enjoyed this. The previous book, Ancillary Justice, I enjoyed quite a lot as I was reading it. Ancillary Sword I did not enjoy as much as I was reading it, and then enjoyed a great deal more afterwards, thanks to a great conversation with Jed. Intriguing ideas include: Breq as unreliable narrator, especially regarding other people's emotions, genders, and sexualities. The shift in settings, from spaceship to space station to planet to station to ship, which helps us compare societies that are functional, dysfunctional, and broken. Leckie compare othering, oppression, and possibilities for resistance across urban and plantation settings. The Ancillaryverse as scifi that argues with other scifi; Radchaai as Borg (ancillaries), or as Federation (per the "root beer" and Eddington/Maquis critiques from Deep Space Nine). Justice of Toren as literally the ship who sang (see the comments in Leckie's post here, around the novels' feminist lineage). Danny O'Brien's take on Radchaai beauty standards. What bits of the Radch feel Hindu to me.

Peter Falk, Just One More Thing (reread). I originally read Falk's autobiography before I had gotten into Columbo, and enjoyed taking another look. Fun, funny, wise, a nice collection of heartwarming and offbeat stories, exactly what I wanted as a Columbo fan.

Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon. I'd been putting this off until I could handle the anguish of it, and I'm glad I did. Julie Phillips's comprehensively heartbreaking biography made me weep and yearn hopelessly for an alternate universe or two. I remember standing in the Shakespeare & Co. south of the UC Berkeley campus, reading "The Screwfly Solution" in an anthology -- maybe I've never gotten over that disturbance. And, like a memento mori, in the spinner rack in my living room, within arm's reach of the sofa, I've placed a copy of Warm Worlds and Otherwise by James Tiptree, Jr., an edition that includes that Silverberg intro where he calls her prose "ineluctably masculine." "So when the human male describes his world he maps its distances from his unspoken natural center of reference, himself," Tiptree wrote. My own experience of being othered, misread, being thought too emotional or too unfeminine or too weak by some man's standards, are far fewer than hers were. But it does bother me that I frequently get misgendered in open source communities. It would be really lovely if I never again needed to say, "I'm a woman; please don't assume everyone you meet in IRC is a man." If I felt like pretending, I would not have to call myself James or Arjun; an abstract avatar, the amount of ASCII swagger I already exhibit, and others' assumptions would do the job for me -- our assumptions, I should say, as I also wonder how many women I am currently misgendering as men.

Billy Fawcett (?), Captain Billy's Whiz-Bang. Leonard or I picked this up basically because it shows up in The Music Man. My favorite joke: "How do you like the Volstead Act?" "Oh, I never did care for vaudeville." Has a tremendous number of sexist or otherwise wince-inducing jokes, some of which depend on stereotypes I don't even know and are thus inexplicable.

[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Playing catch up after a conference. Here are three combined Congress.gov alerts for Rep. Don Young:

February 28, 2015

There has been activity on bills associated with Representative Don Young.

Bills cosponsored:

  • H.R. 999 – ROV In-Depth Examination Act (recreational off-highway vehicles)
  • H.R. 1086 – To direct the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to issue or revise regulations with respect to the medical certification of certain small aircraft pilots, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 631 – EACH Act (Original Title – To amend section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an additional religious exemption from the individual health coverage mandate, and for other purposes.
    • H.R. 1062 – To amend the Pilot’s Bill of Rights to facilitate appeals and to apply to other certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, to require the revision of the third class medical certification regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes.
    • H.R. 379 – National Nurse Act of 2015
    • H.R. 511 – Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015
    • H.R. 540 – FAIR Act (Original Title – To restore the integrity of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes. I’m usually suspicious of legislation with cute titles, but the introduced text of the legislation SEEMS like a legitimate effort to set a higher bar to law enforcement seizing a person’s assets – a worthwhile reform to me. If you disagree, explain why in comments.

    February 26, 2015

    There has been activity on bills associated with Representative Don Young.

    Bills cosponsored:

    • H.R. 1089 – To help fulfill the Federal mandate to provide higher educational opportunities for Native American Indians.
    • H.R. 1074 – To amend title 49, United States Code, to exempt certain flights from increased aviation security service fees.
    • H.R. 1068 – To amend title 23, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Transportation to carry out a tribal transportation self-governance program, and for other purposes.

    February 25, 2015

    There has been activity on bills associated with Representative Don Young.

    Bills cosponsored:

    • H.R. 1028 -To provide for the implementation of the negotiated property division regarding Former Fort Wingate Depot Activity in McKinley County, New Mexico, and for other purposes.
    • H.R. 452 – Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act
    • H.Con.Res. 17 – Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act
    • H.R. 1029 – EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015
    • H.R. 1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 (Original Title: To prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible. – Another cute title, apparently issued to prevent the casual person from knowing this is about the EPA. How the House is choosing to define transparent and reproducible science is in the introduced text. If this is a good definition, it should be extended to every federal agency including the Defense Department and its contractors. If  not, it should get vetoed. I’d really like to see the requirements in the bill contrasted with what the science community believes to be transparent and reproducible.)

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: aviation security, constitutional law, crime, drug forfeiture, environment, federal property, healthcare, labor law, labor laws, Native Americans, nursing, pilots, radio, recreational off-highway vehicles, religion, science
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Hi All, The Alaska Library Association conference kept me busy from Thursday – Sunday, so some legislation alerts got stacked up. To reduce the number of posting, I’m combining the alerts by member.

Here are the combined alerts for Senator Murkowski:

February 28, 2015

There has been activity on bills associated with Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Bills cosponsored:

  • S.Res. 90 – A resolution designating February 2015 as “American Heart Month” and February 6, 2015, as “National Wear Red Day”.
  • S. 613 – A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve the efficiency of summer meals.
  • S. 607 – A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for a five-year extension of the rural community hospital demonstration program, and for other purposes.
  • S.Res. 88 – A resolution celebrating Black History Month
  • S. 571 – A bill to amend the Pilot’s Bill of Rights to facilitate appeals and to apply to other certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, to require the revision of the third class medical certification regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes.

February 26, 2015

There has been activity on bills associated with Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Bills sponsored:

  • S. 556 – A bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes.

Bills cosponsored:

  • S.Res. 87 – A resolution to express the sense of the Senate regarding the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and to encourage greater cooperation with the European governments, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in preventing and responding to anti-Semitism.
  • S. 559 – A bill to prohibit the Secretary of Education from engaging in regulatory overreach with regard to institutional eligibility under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.

February 25, 2015

Bills cosponsored:

  • S. 536 – A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income payments under the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program and certain amounts received under the Indian Health Professions Scholarship Program.

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: anti-semitism, education, fishing, heart health, hospitals, hunting, Native Americans, rural, social security, summer meals

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.

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!

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