- Autism on the Page: An Introduction – Disability in Kid Lit is hosting an autism event this month and it’s worth bookmarking their site, even if you don’t read MG/YA fiction. They’re really good about finding people who share the particular disability under discussion so you know you’re getting an informed opinion.
Today, we kick off our Autism on the Page event: throughout all of April, we’re hosting autistic contributors who will talk about tropes, misconceptions, representation, and their thoughts on middle grade and young adult books featuring autistic characters.
April is, of course, Autism Awareness Month. During a month like this, in a literary community like the kidlit world, it’s logical to discuss autistic representation in fiction. Autistic narrators have been dubbed a trend, and however cringe-worthy that designation may be–more on that later this month!–it’s true that there has been a minor explosion in “autism books” over the past decade. Autistic narrators. Autistic siblings. Autistic best friends. Sometimes those characters’ autism plays a central role, sometimes not.
In all cases, it’s worth discussing. Representation, as we all know, has a huge effect on readers. Good effects, bad effects. Mirrors and windows.
- Greg Pak Is Making Book Diversity Into A Reality – How cool does this story sound? The illustrations also look pretty awesome.
Jamie: The Princess Who Saved Herself is a comic book based on a song by Jonathan Coulton. I think that’s awesome! What led you to work with Coulton on this project, and can you tell us a little bit about the story?
Greg: The Princess Who Saved Herself is a children’s book based on the beloved Jonathan Coulton song that tells the story of Gloria Cheng Epstein Takahara de la Garza Champion, an awesome princess who lives with her pet snake and plays rock ‘n’ roll all day to the huge annoyance of the classical guitarist witch who lives down the road. What I love about our heroine is that she fearlessly takes on every challenge and will kick a dragon’s butt if necessary, but in the end, she’ll always handle the problem by reaching out with compassion. That fundamental character dynamic comes straight from Jonathan’s song, and it was a gift to work with. Just sets up fun, beautiful, true little twists that I just love.
- GamerGate’s Next Target Is The Tech Industry: Are We Ready? – I’m not sure how the tech industry could be a new target for gendered harassment when Kathy Sierra and Adria Richards were both high-profile victims a few years ago, but this is a good reminder that this is an organized campaign of terror. It’s not just a couple of angry trolls.
Though it is rapidly coming into the crosshairs, the tech community has been staunchly ignoring organized online hate for decades. The GamerGate campaigns we see today are part of a long lineage of attacks, many originally targeting Black feminists, that social platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and Reddit have been ignoring for years even as they significantly degraded platform experience for some of the most active — and marginalized — demographics of internet users.
Consistently refusing to address online hate groups, the tech community is culturally and practically unprepared to address the shifting focus onto the tech community itself
- In Celebration of Old-School LiveJournal – A touching tribute to the LiveJournal days of yore.
I made my first LiveJournal post at age sixteen, writing about my first break-up. I’d been online since middle school and had written about life there for years, coding websites in Notepad by cherry-picking the HTML from other sites I liked, just like many other girls I’d meet online in the next few years. We posted vague bios about ourselves. We changed our names. Our identities were fluid and often hidden, without the permanence of digital photos to anchor them. We wrote poetry. We claimed space on Tripod and Geocities, altern.org and scribble.nu and then, as girls bought their own domains and shared the paid space with their friends, we moved in with them, prefacing our subdomains with forward slashes. And when girls began to sign up on LiveJournal, we were able to talk to one another, finally in the same room.
I wrote in my LiveJournal while sitting cross-legged at my mom’s desk chair as the sun set over husked Illinois cornfields. On our first-ever computer, a Gateway 2000. Years later, I wrote while slouched on my dorm room floor or hiding my screen in a college computer lab. I wrote at night, after everyone I lived with had gone to bed. I listened to Tori Amos and Iron and Wine and Fiona Apple from CDs I fed to the computer tower and opened in WinAmp. I wrote about myself and my life, in the confessional, navel-gazey way that’s led to the 2015 connotation of the word. To LiveJournal: to write messily about your feelings.
- Grace Gundrum Is a 12-Year-Old Grappling Prodigy Who Can Kick Your Ass – Linking to a jiu-jitsu story is totally random, I know, but I was fascinated by the video and how seriously the male commentators and the crowd took two 12 year old female athletes. It felt really good to see athletic girls get the respect they deserve.
Maslany and Holland began the slow and exhausting process of running their dream business two years ago when they quit their day jobs to focus on the 10th Planet gym full time. The duct-taped mats of the office space gym are now constantly crowded with men and women in the Bethlehem area, who show up for Maslany and Holland’s rigorous but lighthearted classes. Rap plays softly over small speakers as the adults pound their work week and past due bills into punchbags. They have tattoos and a habit of cussing, and among them, always, is Grace.
She has to train with the adults, since there is no one else at her level. “There are no girls in the area that we can just be like ‘Hey! wanna come train with her? Or even boys. It’s tough. That’s why she trains with the men a lot,” said Maslany.
Grappling with the men has earned Grace the unusual role of being both their little sister figure and their inspiration. In order to cover the cost of getting Grace and her trainers and family to Los Angeles for last week’s match, the team set up a GoFundMe account, which was funded in large part by local businesses and members of the gym.
- The Weight of the Evidence – I wouldn’t take anything written in Slate as gospel truth or settled science, but it certainly argues persuasively that we’re going about this obesity thing all wrong as a society.
One of the principles driving the $61 billion weight-loss industries is the notion that fat is inherently unhealthy and that it’s better, health-wise, to be thin, no matter what you have to do to get there. But a growing body of research is beginning to question this paradigm. Does obesity cause ill health, result from it, both, or neither? Does weight loss lead to a longer, healthier life for most people?
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeatedly find the lowest mortality rates among people whose body mass index puts them in the “overweight” and “mildly obese” categories. And recent research suggests that losing weight doesn’t actually improve health biomarkers such as blood pressure, fasting glucose, or triglyceride levels for most people.
So why, then, are we so deeply invested in treatments that not only fail to do what they’re supposed to—make people thinner and healthier—but often actively makes people fatter, sicker, and more miserable?