Links: Thursday, December 11th

December 11, 2014 Links 0

Greenish light filters through a steel and glass dome under a lake.

Swindles, Cyanide, and the Underwater Ballroom: The Story of a Doomed Victorian Scoundrel

Today’s Links:

  • Dear Book World: Stop Making Excuses For Your Race Problem – A needed call for editors and other decisionmakers to put up or shut up on diversifying their lineups. The time for talk has passed.

    I understand, from an editor’s position, the need to defend your arena from pointed criticism, especially about something as volatile as race. But I also understand, from an editor’s position, the difference between intentions and actions when it comes to claiming that diversity is important to your publication. Your audience doesn’t see your intentions, which makes them largely irrelevant. Your audience sees what you put out- and The Millions has, so far, put out white people.

    If balance matters, you invite more people of color. If balance matters, you KEEP inviting more people of color until you have a schedule that is equitable. If balance matters, you aren’t satisfied with having tried to do the thing, you are satisfied when you have done the thing.

  • Move over HP Lovecraft, fantasy writers of colour are coming through – Daniel José Older talks about how venerating older authors whose books were steeped in bigotry alienates today’s writers and readers and limits the genre.

    Ultimately, the Lovecraft statue must go. He may be replaced by Butler, or Carrie Cuinn’s sea serpent wrapped around the world idea or any of the many other options, but the fantasy community cannot embrace its growing fanbase of color with one hand while deifying a writer who happily advocated for our extermination with the other. Read Lovecraft, be inspired by his wild imagination, repelled by his heinous worldview, learn from his mistakes – I certainly have. But the lionizing, sugarcoating and kneejerk flurry to defend and silence uncomfortable histories has to stop if we are to move forward.

  • For AOL dial-up subscribers, it’s life in the slow lane – Rural/poor communities’ lack of access to high-speed internet in this country makes me so mad. It should be considered essential infrastructure.

    In fact, Brock, a retired French teacher in rural Tennessee, 55 miles from Knoxville, has few alternatives to dial-up. Like many people who live in remote areas, she has no access to broadband at home.

    Around 19 million Americans lack high-speed connections, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In rural areas, nearly one-fourth of the population—14.5 million people—lack access.

    A potential remedy for Brock would be to switch to satellite Internet service. She says she’s considered it. But it’s unclear whether a satellite connection would work. Getting a signal usually requires pointing a satellite dish at the southern horizon, which may be difficult to do because her home—near the Appalachian Mountains—is surrounded by hilly “knobs,” as she put it.

    “It is frustrating to me,” Brock said. “People find it incredible that I’m putting up with it.”

  • At Nets’ Game, a Plan for a Simple Statement Is Carried Out to a T – This is an amazing story of all the connections that were worked to make a t-shirt protest happen on short notice.

    It started with Derrick Rose and a simple black T-shirt.

    Before the Chicago Bulls’ game on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors, Rose wore a T-shirt adorned with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” — three words that had become a rallying cry for protesters in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict a New York police officer whose chokehold led to the death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, on Staten Island in July.

    Two days later, Rose’s quiet expression of social activism had become something much more, as an elaborate plan took shape to deliver similar T-shirts to even more high-profile N.B.A. players, including LeBron James and Deron Williams, and, on Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant.

  • Playing With My Son – Part history of gaming, part humblebrag, this was a fun story of a father revisiting games he played as a kid and seeing them from a new perspective.

    I was born in 1977 — the same year the Atari 2600 was released and a year before Space Invaders. I was lucky enough to be born into the golden age of arcade gaming, and played through each subsequent generation as I grew up.

    My son Eliot was born in 2004 — the year of Half-Life 2, Doom 3, and the launch of the Nintendo DS. By the time he was born, video games were a $26B industry.

    I love games, and I genuinely wanted Eliot to love and appreciate them too. So, here was my experiment:

    What happens when a 21st-century kid plays through video game history in chronological order?

  • Common-Sense Archaeology: Fact-Checking Breathless Headlines About Archaeological Discoveries – I thought I knew where this writer was taking me, but a hard left turn showed me I had no idea.

    “Among the most intriguing artifacts are ornamental metal pieces fashioned to look like feline paws with claws. The paws may have been part of a ritual costume used in ceremonial combat, El Comercio reported. The loser would be sacrificed, while the winner would get the costume.”

    I mean, it COULD be that. It definitely could be the trappings of an ancient combat ritual. But as long as we’re digging up stuff and loosely free-associating about what it might be, is this truly the most logically satisfying explanation? Does the “death combat war trophy” theory stand-up to a cursory cross-examination? Since this costume could only be acquired by the death of its previous owner, it stands to reason that if it were found in a grave, this would be an indication that this person’s fighting career ended in voluntary retirement. We also know, from other artifacts in the tomb, that this man was wealthy nobleman, and thus someone for whom killing would not be a grim necessary, but a choice, a diversion. This man, then, would have entered death matches, not because it was compulsory, but out of compulsion, out of a desire to water his predatory ego with the blood of his adversaries. What are the odds that such a man would humbly bow out before leaving their prime fighting years, retiring and dying of old age? It cuts against everything we know about the psychology of wealthy men who believe they’ve achieved their station on merit. More than arrogant, such men are blind to their own weaknesses, their own failings. Such a man wouldn’t realize that his death combat fighting career was over until presented with the most tragically inarguable evidence.

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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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