Jul 20, 2014

Sunday Links: mostly political stuff, but also books and bikes

As always, links are a good excuse to tell you what I’ve been thinking about. Here are today’s:
  • Sarah McCarry writes about Dirty Wings for Scalzi’s Big Idea series. She’s the best and I cannot wait to read this book. Quote:
    But really what [Dirty Wings] is about—what it’s about for me, anyway—is being that girl with her eye on the edge of the world, that girl who says yes to all the wild things, that girl teaching herself how to run for the sake of running, choosing the uncertain, writing her own rules. Telling her own story, drawing her own maps. That girl who decided not to wait around for dragons. I wanted a story about girls who made their own trouble, and so I wrote it. Here’s hoping you like trouble, too.
    Also, did you read Courtney Summers’ interview with her?

  • This has been on my mind: “How librarians enable neoliberalism and inequality, and what we can do to resist it”.

  • As has this: “Perceptions of Migrants: The Individual and the Group” — especially the bit where they say “...it seems that positive personal experiences alone are not enough to change an individual’s hostile views towards a group”. I don’t have any solutions, but I suppose that less media scaremongering and better representation would be a start.
  • The F Word on why Immigration is a feminist issue.

  • The other day I joined the first strike of my adult working life (though I’d joined student ones before). This post articulates many of the reasons why I felt it was important to take part.

  • “Let Us Consider the Mountain Goats” by Emma Stanford:
    At this point I’d like to lay down a grand theory about what makes Mountain Goats songs such good survival tools, but the truth is I don’t know. It’s easy to see why a balls-out anthem like “Heretic Pride” or “This Year” would be effective, but that doesn’t explain why so many people—myself among them—develop emotional dependencies on all the ugly little songs about dogs and owls and alcoholic Floridians. Their brevity helps, I suppose; JD doesn’t dick around building harmonies while you’re waiting to get healed.
    Why don’t I read this kind of smart and personal writing about music more often? Where is it hiding?

  • I want to read Friendship because NPR called it a book “about the real, unglamorous daily battle that is not being a jerk”, and the last time I read a book about that (The Crane Wife) it kind of floored me.

  • Jessica’s recent post about blogger burnout was timely and very helpful for me. There’s good advice there for anyone who devotes a lot of time and energy to demanding long-term projects whose benefits are not always immediately visible or easy to quantify.

  • I’ve had two posts go up at Lady Business recently: a discussion of the second season of The Legend of Korra and a joint Half Year in Media post.

  • Aarti has written a “save the date” post about A More Diverse Universe, which is expanding beyond speculative fiction this year. I love what she says here:
    You may have to change your book-finding habits to include POC authors in your reading rotation. You absolutely do not need to change your book-reading habits.

    Let me explain. Have a thirst for epic fantasy? There's a growing number of books available to you. Science fiction? A small but strong contingent. Non-Fiction? For sure. Memoirs? Definitely. Graphic novels? Absolutely. Travel writing? Got you covered. Romance? Yup. Women's fiction? Mystery? Thrillers? Historical fiction? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Whatever genre you enjoy, you can read diversely within that genre.
  • Finally, not a link but a life update: I’ve finally gathered the courage to start cycling to work, and there have been no casualties so far. It’s hard to explain how accomplished this makes me feel: to give you an idea, until a year and a half ago my ready-made answer to “tell us a weird fact about yourself” was “I never learned how to ride a bike”. Here are some pictures from the long weekend ride that gave me the confidence I needed:

    I didn’t crash into these poor unsuspecting cows!


  1. I've known how to ride a bike for 40+ years and still wouldn't have the courage to ride it "in town"...so Ana, I'm exceedingly impressed! Of course, that probably doesn't mean much to you since you know what a tremendous wimp I am about pretty much everything. :P But I'm impressed nonetheless. And I love the photos!!!

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  3. It sounds more impressive than it is, actually, because I don't have to go on any scary main roads to get to work. It's back streets + pedestrian bridge + big park + crossing + another park and then I'm there. Also you are not a wimp :P

  4. I've never even SEEN a strike. Not a strong ulture of ti here, I guess. I don't remember the last time I even heard about one here in the states - and they usually make the news (demonizing the strikers often as not).

    I've been excited, moving, that I can take public transit.Not quite brave enough for a bike yet. Glad you found your footing. Or wheeling. :)

  5. Jason: There's a good deal of media demonization here too, but also a strong trade union culture (though weaker than in the past, I keep hearing). People are also very conscious of workers' rights at my place of employment, which I'm grateful for. Portugal is more or less the same (I remember my mother joining quite a few teachers' strikes as I was growing up), so it might be an Europe thing.

    Buses here are rubbish (expensive and very unreliable), so it's either walking or cycling for me. I still want to walk some of the time, as it allows me to take my headphones, but it's been fun to get into cycling while the weather is nice (plus it cuts my travel time in more than half, even though I'm still a pretty slow rider).

  6. TOTES should have waited to read the article on neoliberalism and libraries before responding!

    This reminds me very much of a big debate here a few years ago about neutrality in the news media - about the natural media tendency to 'show both sides of the story'. At the time, I remember it was a bit of a bolt of lightning - growing up, wheat I'd always taken from this idea was that, 'showing both sides of the story' gave marginalized voices a chance to speak when they otherwise wouldn't have been able to. This is less and less true, now - people have a tendency to take 'both sides' to mean 'the two sides are equal' - I believe I first heard this in the context of climate change denial, for example. Stories about climate change here in the states always include someone saying, "Yes, yes, but its not real' for just as long as someone else describes how it is.. Because thats giving both sides their say. This is destructive.

    At the same time, its troubling - cultural cohesion is, in some form, a type of indoctrination, and it depends highly on how it is used. In America, for example, I'd say that the indoctrination of the US educational system over the last 40-50 years has done a great deal to decrease racism, to lionize ideas like civil rights, environmentalism, and cultural diversity. My children have Martin Luther King day lessons almost every year. Its a small pittance, but its something, and they know he was on the right side, something I don't know that they would have in say 1975. It makes me think there must be a balance between universal education and iconoclasm.

    Its a tough question.

  7. Jason, the climate change example is a great one. Last year I read a book called The Geek Manifesto that elaborated on that. Like you say, it's not praise-worthy nor "fair" to give factually incorrect and fringe views like climate change denialism an equal platform to the scientific consensus. It misinforms and distorts the popular perception of these issues, and it's ultimately a harmful thing to do. Mostly I'm increasingly suspicious of the concept of "neutrality", be it in education, the media, or in public services. Not taking a stance is not a neutral thing to do, but something that actively supports the status quo in ways that harm the people who are put at a disadvantage by the way power is currently distributed. Failing to, I don't know, do a prominent lgbtq library display because some members of the public could take offence is not staying neutral in the equality debate, but to actively contribute to invisibility and erasure. The same goes for not challenging gender stereotypes, or the commodification of people, or what have you. These are the beliefs and knowledge I want to bring into my work.

    (And now I also want to reread The Influencing Machine, because I remember finding its treatment of these ideas useful and refreshing.)

  8. Thank for you for the link-up, Ana!

    And yay for the bike :-) I feel like you are on of those liberated Victorian women, powerful now that she can control at least some of her own schedule as she controls her own mode of transport!

  9. Cycling to work is definitely an accomplishment! It would take more courage than I have to do it, so go you. :)

    Really interesting series of links, none of which I'd read before. I really need the burned out on blogging one, which seems to be a common issue for me. Thanks!

  10. Aarti: lol. It's funny; just the other day I was thinking about Wheels of Change, a book about bikes and feminism I read last year, and about how even though I'm infinitely more privileged than Edwardian women cycling DOES make me feel freer in a strange sort of way. I think some of it has to do with the stuff from last summer I told you about and how it affects how I feel when I'm out and about in town to this day.

    Meghan: Jessica is really sensible and practical - I hope her words help you as much as they did me.

  11. I have S2 of The Legend Of Korra on the DVR, but I have yet to watch any but the first episode.

  12. Tasha, definitely save our discussion for later, then, as it's full of spoilers. And happy watching!

  13. Many congrats on learning to ride a bike!! Are you enjoying it? I have never been able to settle on a standard "weird fact" about myself, but I usually default to telling the psychotically high number of first cousins I have.

  14. Congrats on learning how to ride a bike! What a beautiful ride to work! I hope that things are getting better with your libraries and that the strike was (is?) successful.


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