Links: Saturday, February 14th

February 14, 2015 Links 6

An orange cat wears a large read heart with a cutout for its face. The cat looks displeased.

Happy Valentines Day

Today’s Links:

  • Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews, Part 1: "Scarcely Plausible" – Malinda Lo has put together a fabulous series looking at how reviewers talk about diverse themes in their reviews of YA lit.

    Not all reviews discuss diversity in a skillful way. Frankly, it’s hard to do it in one paragraph, and I recognize that. I’ve encountered reviews that reveal broader assumptions about race, LGBTQ, and disability issues, and sometimes those assumptions are based in unfortunate stereotypes. Over the past several months I’ve been keeping track of reviews that I felt did a disservice to a book’s diverse content, and revealed latent racist, heteronormative, or ablist beliefs.

    These reviews reveal a few specific issues or perceptions about diversity: the idea that diversity in a book is contrived; the critique that a book contains too many issues; the question of believability; the demand for glossaries; and finally, unsupported assumptions relating to race. Because these issues are so complicated, I’m going to be writing about them in several posts over several days.

  • Confessions of an Irritable Romance Novelist – I didn’t want to link to the original article in a Canadian newspaper by a woman who tried, and failed, to write a romance for a quick buck, but this reaction from author and former editor KJ Charles is worth a read.

    I saw so many ‘knock it out for the money’ submissions in the slush pile. So many clichéd, spark-free, lifeless, lazy, dull, grating, cranked-out MSS that someone had the unmitigated gall to think ‘would do for Mills & Boon’, without knowing the trade, or the market, or the readership. With the very natural desire to make money by writing, but completely lacking the bit where the author wanted to write the book, or had any gift/inclination for doing so.

    I loved those submissions. Adored them. I could drop in the preprinted rejection slip after reading one single paragraph, and that was another slush knocked off!

    And that’s what I see when I read these ‘I tried to write a romance’ pieces. Authors who wouldn’t get a single full page of a MS read by a work-dodging editor on a Friday afternoon. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to be shallow and money-grubbing, at least do it well.

  • I’m Brianna Wu, And I’m Risking My Life Standing Up To Gamergate – Game developer Brianna Wu talks about how Gamergate is trying to ruin her life.

    My name is Brianna Wu. I develop video games for your phone. I lead one of the largest professional game-development teams of women in the field. Sometimes I speak out on women in tech issues. I’m doing everything I can to save my life except be silent.

    The week before last, I went to court to file a restraining order against a man who calls himself “The Commander.” He made a video holding up a knife, explaining how he’ll murder me “Assassin’s Creed Style.” He wrecked his car en route to my house to “deliver justice.” In logs that leaked, he claimed to have weapons and a compatriot to do a drive-by.

    After the crash, he sent me a deranged video that Jezebel called “bizarre” and “terrifying.” Sam Biddle of Gawker said that if this happened to him, he’d be “locked in a closet rocking back and forth.” For me, it’s just another Tuesday. My capacity to feel fear has worn out, as if it’s a muscle that can do no more.

  • Little League punishes Chicago team – Chicago’s Little League team Jackie Robinson West, the all-black player team that won the Little League World Series, had the title stripped and their record vacated after they were accused of using players from outside their district. This paragraph, though, tells me that there’s a deeper reason than that.

    Jackie Robinson West isn’t the first team to have its Little League title stripped. In 1992, Little League took away the title from Zamboanga, Philippines, and handed it to Long Beach, California, after Zamboanga used several players who lived outside its district or were overage. In 2001, a team from the Bronx that finished third was forced to forfeit its games after pitcher Danny Almonte was revealed to be overage.

    “This is not an issue that is rampant among Little League programs. This is an isolated case,” Keener told ESPN. “We’ve only had to take this type of action three times in our program’s 75-year history.”

  • Native Americans Say Facebook Is Accusing Them of Using Fake Names – Facebook’s name policy is all the proof you need that a monolithic work force produces an inferior product.

    Dana Lone Hill tried logging on to Facebook last Monday only to be locked out because the social media giant believed that she was using a fake name. In an essay over at Last Real Indians, Dana, who’s Lakota and has been using Facebook since 2007, explains that she’s presented a photo ID, library card and one piece of mail to the company in an attempt to restore her account. The day after Lone Hill’s account was suspended she was able to access it briefly but she was then booted a second time.

  • Museo del Prado Leads the Charge Toward Better Accessibility for the Blind – Museum accessibility is something that varies wildly from institution to institution, with some places approaching it adversarially and doing the minimum required by law. Luckily for everyone museums are often staffed by creative types, and sometimes you get interactive exhibits like this one that add to everyone’s experience.

    Museo del Prado has begun tackling this problem by doing away with those conventions entirely. Touching the Prado, an exhibition put on in collaboration with the ONCE and AXA foundations, invites visually impaired people to touch relief replicas of six collection masterpieces.

    Visitors can run their fingers past the stiff, ruffled collar of Velasquez’s prim “Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest” (1580), over the billowing, silky skirt folds of the woman in Goya’s “The Parasol“ (1777), or across the enigmatic smile of the sitter in “La Giaconda” (1503 – 1519), a da Vinci workshop copy of the famous painting. They can also touch three-dimensional versions of “Noli me Tangere” (1525) by Correggio,”Vulcan’s Forge” (1630) by Velasquez, and “Still Life with Artichokes, Flowers, and Glass Vessels (1627) by Juan van der Hamen. Braille wall text and an audio guide fully describing the works offer additional context.

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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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6 Responses to “Links: Saturday, February 14th”

  1. Dennis

    What do you mean about something more involved in the Little League title action? It is very sad for the kids, but the adults really cheated.

    The Little League concept is for a community team from a defined area and not a traveling team of local stars. There is nothing wrong about having teams with better players chosen from a wider area, but that is not “Little League.”

  2. Ridley

    @Dennis: It’s just fishy that the only teams that have been punished for this have been teams from majority-POC communities.

  3. Dennis

    I guess it does seem fishy. I have no idea if other teams cheated and/or were investigated for the possibility. It’s just really sad for those kids who seemed to be such a great story.

  4. P. J. DEAN

    Malinda Lo’s observation on how reviewers not exposed to a wide range of people, or at the very least, cannot separate their limited personal world view in a book critique is spot on. I personally have been involved in such a fray. When a reviewer at a very well-known romance book review magazine took on my historical to review, she found my heroine’s grandmother’s way of speaking as “an attempt at some sort of dialect and distracting.” Really? If professional had bothered to really read the book she would have seen that the grandmother was speaking GULLAH. An actual dialect still spoken in the Low Country region of the U. S. Pissed me right the eff off. You gonna review books, expand your freakin’ world! Also she bitched that the historical had too much HISTORY in it. God bless us everyone. I suppose it threw her for a loop because my heroine, nor her world, was in “default” mode.

  5. cleo

    In Chicago, a lot of the coverage is focusing on the sour grapes angle, as well as the race and class issues – because a white man involved with a predominately white southwest suburban team (who lost to JRW) aggressively complained about the Jackie Robinson West team’s alleged violations.

    A major concern of many Chicagoans and especially those in the Black community has to do with how this ruling came down. Was it about the rules or was it about an opposing baseball team leader whose team lost dramatically to JRW with a score of 42-2? … Over the years, there has been speculation that teams in the league have had kids play outside their living areas. Was this particular team used as an example based on an adult not getting his way?

    The big questions remain: Was the punishment of striping the national title too severe for JRW and why penalize the players who tirelessly worked hard to achieve such an amazing accomplishment? Had the JRW team players been White ball players from middle to upper-class backgrounds, would the outcome of this ruling been different?


    And one more link –