Sunday Morning Paper: Truth & Beauty Bombs

The Lion and the Mouse

Much of what [children’s librarian Anne Carroll] Moore did in that room had never been done before, or half as well. She brought in storytellers and, in her first year, organized two hundred story hours (and ten times as many two years later). She compiled a list of twenty-five hundred standard titles in children’s literature. She won the right to grant borrowing privileges to children; by 1913, children’s books accounted for a third of all the volumes borrowed from New York’s branch libraries. … In each of the library’s branches, Moore abolished age restrictions. Down came the “Silence” signs, up went framed prints of the work of children’s-book illustrators. “Do not expect or demand perfect quiet,” she instructed her staff. “The education of children begins at the open shelves.” In place of locked cabinets, she provided every library with a big black ledger; if you could sign your name, you could borrow a book.

The case for starting sex education in kindergarten

Researchers found that among 12 to 25 year olds in the Netherlands, most say they had “wanted and fun” first sexual experiences. By comparison, 66 percent of sexually active American teens surveyed said they wished that they had waited longer to have sex for the first time.

Women graduate college at higher rates than men… Unless they’re gay

[Education researcher Leigh Fine] found that the pattern we see in which women are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree is reversed among sexual minorities. Gay and bisexual men are more likely to report graduating than lesbian and bisexual women. In fact, they’re more likely to report graduating than heterosexual men and women as well.

In contrast, sexual minority women were the least likely of all four groups to report graduating.

UK Disney store scraps gendered categories after 8-year-old aspiring Darth Vader complains

Disney’s UK online store no longer categorizes toys by gender at all. In the top menu bar, the site only has a general “kids” section where all children’s toys are housed. Way to change the world, Miss Cornthwaite—or should I say Sith Lord Cornthwaite?

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Sunday Morning Paper: Five Hundred New Fairytales

Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter

I am not done with living. I am not done with my things. I love them, in fact, more and more each year, as I recollect the journey that brought us together. I will cherish them, till death do us part.

Sally Ride’s Secret: Why the First American Woman in Space Stayed in the Closet

Then I thought, why does her sexual orientation matter? Finally, I got it.

Never before had the words astronaut and lesbian appeared in the same sentence. Google them today, and you get more than half a million hits, all pegged to Sally Ride. Most salute her as an icon with an added, posthumous message of hope for the LGBTQ community. So why the secrecy?

Five Hundred New Fairy Tales Discovered in Germany

A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years. The tales are part of a collection of myths, legends and fairytales, gathered by the local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810–1886) in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since charmed adults and children around the world.

 When Darcy is a Dog: How Wishbone Introduces Children to Jane Austen

“FURST IMPRESSIONS,” AN EPISODE OF THE PBS CHILDREN’S TELEVISION seriesWishbone (1995), is one of few adaptations of Pride and Prejudice that has not received much critical attention, although for many of today’s college students it has served as the introduction to the novel.  In light of recent critical interest in cinematic portrayals of Mr. Darcy, it seems worthwhile to consider how an adaptation in which he is played by a Jack Russell terrier serves as a child’s first impression.  While Wishbone the dog is adorable, he is not going to inspire romantic longing on the level of Laurence Olivier, Colin Firth, or Matthew Macfadyen.  I will argue that the Wishbone episode is not only appropriate for children but lacks many of the Hollywood clichés and the “harlequinization” that frustrate scholars about Austen films aimed at adults.

Sunday Morning Paper: You Are What You Read

Thorns in My Throat: Writing Through the Scars

We’ve all read stories about changelings, how they’re replacements for the true human children who will ultimately come back to their victimized families. No one wants the changeling; when it’s not a piece of wood, it’s a demonic creature that must be driven out with a hot poker or tossed onto a roaring fire. Brutal stuff, but that’s how the story goes.

Everyone wants the child that knows how to be human: what to say, what to do, how to be.

But what happens when you’re the changeling? Or to put it another way, child of two worlds, ill-suited to either, where do you belong?

How do you feed that part of yourself deep inside, the one that’s always hungry?

You Are What You Read: Young Adult Literacy and Identity in Rural America

Rothbauer’s findings suggest that teens seem to be acquiring their reading material by “accident,” simply picking up whatever happens to be handy at home. Many of them live in communities that do not prioritize literacy, reading, and education. The offerings in the school and public libraries are slim and unappealing, making teens feel that they have no one who can help them seek out material that they might find appealing and useful. In fact, many of the teens who enjoy reading keep this habit private, afraid of the social repercussions of being identified as a reader.

Keep Harriet Tubman – and All Women – Off the $20 Bill

America’s currency is viewed as a place to honor people of historic political influence. To suggest that black women are part of that club by putting Tubman’s face on the $20 simply would cover up our nation’s reality of historic and lingering disenfranchisement. Of the 104 women in the House of Representatives, only 18 are black, and only one black woman has sat in the U.S. Senate since the nation was founded. Of the 78 women in executive statewide offices, just one is a black woman. There’s no doubt that black women have a political representation problem in America. But putting the face of an admired black American heroine on currency won’t fix it – it will only mask it.

Yoko Ono and the Myth That Deserves to Die

The kind of hate that seems too big and billowing to be directed at just one woman, the kind that seems like a person or an entire society is vomiting out all its misogyny onto one convenient scapegoat.

Black Widow, Scarce Resources and High-Stakes Storytelling

To be honest, I can’t think of another Avenger whose story Natasha could have swapped with who wouldn’t, in some way, raise questions of whether the story was influenced by gender stereotypes. If she had Tony’s story, she’d be the one who messed up and wouldn’t listen, who created the need for a rescue. If she had Cap’s story, she’d be the one who tries to keep everyone from being vulgar – the behavior cop. If she had the Hulk’s story, she’d be the one whose superpower is being carried away by her uncontrollable emotions. If she had Thor’s story, she’d be the one who doesn’t have very much to do and is omitted from a large stretch of the movie. If she had Hawkeye’s story, she’d be the one who just wanted to go home and be with the kids.

Oprah Winfrey: one of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinkers

Oprah recognizes the pervasiveness of anxiety and alienation in our society. But instead of examining the economic or political basis of these feelings, she advises us to turn our gaze inward and reconfigure ourselves to become more adaptable to the vagaries and stresses of the neoliberal moment.

Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures. In doing so, they make the American Dream seem attainable. If we just fix ourselves, we can achieve our goals. For some people, the American dream is attainable, but to understand the chances for everyone, we need to look dispassionately at the factors that shape success.

Sunday Morning Paper: Sleepless Queers

Hahaha vs Hehehe

The terms of e-laughter—“ha ha,” “ho ho,” “hee hee,” “heh”—are implicitly understood by just about everybody. But, in recent years, there’s been an increasingly popular newcomer: “hehe.” Not surprisingly, it’s being foisted upon us by youth. What does it mean?

Let’s start with the fundamentals. The basic unit of written laughter, which we’ve long known from books and comics, is “ha.” The “ha” is like a Lego, a building block, with which we can construct more elaborate hilarity. It sounds like a real laugh. Ha! The “ha” is transparent, like “said.”…

The feel-good standard in chat laughter is the simple, classic “haha”: a respectful laugh. “Haha” means you’re genuinely amused, and that maybe you laughed a little in real life.

Sleep Tips for Sleepless Queers

When I can’t sleep, I start to freak out. I try out every corner and side of my bed. I lie one way and then I lie another way. I give up, get up, and play Trivia Crack on my phone all night until I pass out from sheer content overload and then cry when my alarm goes off an hour later. I know we all share in this struggle ’cause y’all are the ones reblogging my tumblr posts at 3 AM. We’re in this together!

So, let’s help each other sleep, yeah? I’ll share my tips and you’ll share yours. Then maybe we can have an international spiritual slumber party, but the kind where people actually slumber.

Geographic Diversity

When we talk about diversity in literature and publishing, those who think diversity is stupid or that books published by marginalized people are only for marginalized communities often like to kvetch that reading a few words here and there in another language or referencing a religious practice or cultural practice without explaining it in detail is a shortcoming because then “nobody can understand it.” That is, of course, because the presumed readership and audience of all cultural production is the magical Default Human, who is white, upper middle class, Protestant, and heterosexual (and, furthermore, is entirely generic and conventional and doesn’t participate in any subcultures of music, politics, fashion, etc), so anything mentioned that does not come from one of those groups must be defined and explained ad nauseum.

You could look at geographic and climatic references the same way.

Boos for girls

Notice the girls did not boo Thomas or Justice League or cars. Many cheered those things too. But the boys booed Barbe and EAH in unison, loudly, as if it was only natural, expected.

I’ve stopped putting up with it. When they boo, I stop them now. I demand respect. “I don’t know who told you it was okay to boo anything that you think girls like, but it’s not okay with me. That will stop. Girls, you don’t have to put up with that. The things you like deserve respect. You deserve respect.” I don’t know if they listen. But I’m going to say it all the same.

Sunday Morning Paper: Give ‘Em Hell

1950s Shibuya

Shibuya in the 1950s, via.

Rainbow parade celebrates LGBT equality push

In a nation where prejudice against sexual minorities persists, the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade has sought to counter the trend by openly spotlighting LGBT residents and spreading their voices.

But this year, LGBT participants and proponents seemed particularly joyous, emboldened by what they see as a blossoming of LGBT-friendly moves by municipalities and companies.

Last month, an unprecedented ordinance passed by the Shibuya Ward Assembly in Tokyo saw the district become the first in the nation to issue legally nonbinding certificates that would declare same-sex partnerships as “equivalent to marriage,” allowing them to be treated on a par with married couples in terms of hospital visits and apartment rentals.

Game of Fear

The recent explosion of online abuse has exposed the limits of law enforcement’s ability to police the predators and abusers as their behavior migrates online—and as social media amplifies the ability of online harassers to inflict damage on their victims. Wu claims she loses at least a day each week “explaining the Internet” to the police, saying that she’s had to convince numerous officers that Twitter isn’t “just for jokes,” but is in fact her primary means of marketing her business. In February, Wu pulled Giant Spacekat from the mammoth PAX East conference in Boston after police declined to beef up security, even though she’d shown them death threats she’d received via email and social media.

When Quinn has spoken to police, she says she’s had to print out the threats and explain what a user name is. She regularly hears suggestions that she simply stay offline. “In 2015, that’s like saying, ‘Oh, there’s an angry mob camped outside on your sidewalk, just don’t ever go outside again,’” she says. Quinn also wants to change the vocabulary we use to describe online abuse. “These aren’t trolls,” she says. “And it’s not online bullying. Bullying is something that gets you a pink slip in high school. These are people stalking, sending death threats, trying to get the cops to raid homes. These are criminals.”

Give ‘Em Hell, Bernie

“Bernie Sanders,” he said. “That’s the one who cares, right?”

“Right, that’s the guy,” I said.

How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere

Palestine has offered continued assistance to American pro-democracy activists, sending anti-tear-gas kits to those protesting police brutality in various American cities. Egyptian pro-democracy groups have also said they will be sharing their past experience with U.S.-made counter-protest weapons.

Sunday Morning Paper: The Book I Did Not Write

Books By People of Color Are Disproportionately Likely to be Banned

What kind of books are most likely to be banned? Books that focus on diversity. The ALA points out that 80 percent of 2014’s most challenged books include “diverse content”—meaning they have main characters who are LGBT, people of color, or have a disability and/or the book deals with issues like racism, mental illness, and religion.

Four of this year’s most-contested titles were written by people of color and two were challenged specifically for containing homosexuality. Seven were challenged for being “sexually explicit.”

In their press release, the ALA stated that their Office of Intellectual Freedom analyzed complaints about books from 2001 to 2013 and found that “attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.”

The Tim Burton-Directed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Starts Filming

Production is underway on director Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, based upon the best-selling novel by Ransom Riggs. …

The unforgettable, thrilling and haunting tale centers on 16-year-old Jacob (portrayed by Asa Butterfield), who follows clues that take him to a mysterious island, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores the abandoned bedrooms and hallways, he discovers that its former occupants were far more than peculiar; they possessed incredible powers. And they may still be alive.

A Beginner’s Guide to Invisibility

If you choose to be invisible, it’s a superpower; if it’s forced upon you, it’s a plight. The same goes for being visible. We typically speak of visibility as an asset—but the subjugated are not always overlooked, and they do not always want to be seen. … As Foucault or any bullied school kid could tell you, the powerful often wield scrutiny as a weapon, punishing the powerless for any deviation from an exacting code of speech, dress, behavior, and physical appearance. For those thus rendered visible against their will, the dream of invisibility is not about attaining power but escaping it. Camouflage is, after all, an adaptation not only of predators but also of prey.

For Expats, Spice is the Spice of Life

Japan scored extremely well. Sushi and ramen are super popular: 93% of expats there said they loved the local food, and 68% said living there had improved their diet.

Gender Gap

There is a book I did not write when I put all my energy into not-eating, and there is a book I did not write when I felt weird because I was in love with a girl. There is a book I didn’t write when I was dodging sexual comments, and there is a book I didn’t write when I was feeling inadequate for not receiving sexual comments. There is a book I didn’t write when I was sick with what I thought was love.

The Real Image

There are certain qualifications that a film or television show must meet in order to cause this slippage of reality. As with the example of CGI, or with the skill of an actor, the fictional scenario presented must be “real” enough to adequately fool my senses. A Claymation fantasy film, for example, won’t cause an equivalent level of existential angst as would a big-budget, computer-generated extravaganza, because the more aesthetically complete the fiction is, the more difficult it is for me to extricate myself from it.

And yet it’s not simply aesthetics that trigger my confusion, either: As in the case of Lucy, the film or show must also challenge reality in an anxiety-producing way for the wall to dissolve.

Sunday Morning Paper: Riot Grrrl Day

パスワードHow Pokemon’s world was shaped by real-world locations

If you compare the world map from Pokemon Red to a map of Tokyo, the two look pretty similar. In fact, every Pokemon game is based on a real-world location.

But if you look a little closer, you’ll see that they aren’t identical. Pokemon Red’s map isn’t based on present-day Tokyo, it’s based on the pre-sprawl Tokyo of the 1960s. The towns that are connected by forests and rivers in the Pokemon world are connected by concrete and bullet trains in our world. The fantasy of this world is not just that humans and Pokemon live side by side, but that the golden age of Japan never ended. This world is in a state of tranquility while its real-life counterpart was in a state of upheaval.

What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?

Occasionally, however, a contranym arises through a process called amelioration, whereby a normally negative word develops a secondary, positive meaning. This phenomenon is particularly common in slang: “bad” becomes good, “wicked” becomes awesome, and “sick” and “ill” become wonderful. (They have been ameliorated: made better.) The use of “no” to mean “yes” appears to be an example of amelioration, but with one important distinction: “no” can’t mean “yes” on its own.

Children of Sailor Moon: The Evolution of Magical Girls in Japanese Anime

Since the global success of Bishōjo senshi Sērā Mūn (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) in the 1990s, anime fans have come to associate mahō shōjo anime with a very specific type of heroine—a schoolgirl who transforms herself into a fetching super-warrior armed with a magical scepter or some other prop with which she courageously fights the forces of evil. But the mahō shōjo genre of anime actually goes back to the early days of Japanese television animation, and the magical girls of the 1960s were very different from today’s morphing warriors. What can the evolution of mahō shōjo in anime tell us about gender and the changing self-image of girls in Japanese society?

‘The Dark Tower’ Movie: Sony Pictures & MRC Team On First Installment Of Stephen King’s Series

King, who options his works for $1 and likes to see progress, has been incredibly patient as this mammoth project — it’s his answer to Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels — has taken its time and its twists and turns. He’s sparked about where the project is now.

“I’m excited that The Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen,” he said in a statement. “Those who have traveled with Roland and his friends in their search for the Dark Tower are going to have their long-held hopes fully realized. This is a brilliant and creative approach to my books.”

Mayor Walsh Proclaims April 9 as Riot Grrrl Day

The proclamation itself is signed by Mayor Walsh, and disclaims that it is in part adapted from Kathleen Hanna’s ‘Riot Grrrl Manifesto.’ A portion of the proclamation reads: “The riot grrrl philosophy has never felt more relevant, with misogyny still rampant in many cultural spaces;” and “Riot grrrls redefine the language used against them and continue to fight the newest incarnations of patriarchy. In doing so, they ironically confirm one ex-congressman’s accidental wisdom: ‘the female body has ways to try to shut that down.’ It sure does: women’s voices telling their stories can shut that down.”

‘Call Me Tree’: A Children’s Book With No Gender Specific Pronouns

By being gender free, Call Me Tree provides for some a much needed break from the constant boy-girl assumptions and requirements. It can also provide a moment to pause and consider those assumptions, requirements and their impact.

Despite the fact that there are no gender specific pronouns, reviewers have assumed the main character is a cisgender boy. The main character is actually based on someone assigned girl. The specificity doesn’t matter as much as the opportunity to notice the assumption. Many of us assume a child with short hair, dressed in a t-shirt and pants is a cisgender boy. What does an assumption like that fully communicate? About gender requirements? fitting in? living up to expectations? being accepted? Who does it leave out and what is the impact of being excluded?

Call Me Tree also opens up the possibility that it’s ok not to know the gender of a child. No matter what their gender identity may be, what is valuable is that they feel free, strong, a sense of belonging and appreciative of difference and sameness in themselves and others.

Series of steamy shojo manga illustrations takes on the sizzling topic of IT security

It’s one of the all-time classic scene setups of Japanese girls’ comics. Our heroine finds herself in a secluded hallway of her school, alone with a handsome but mysterious male classmate. He turns to her and dramatically pounds the wall behind her, executing a perfect kabe-don before leaning in close to tell her a secret.

So what’s the dramatic line going to be this time? “I love you?” “We actually met years ago and were childhood friends befire you lost your memories?” “Don’t hug me, or I’ll transform into a dog?”

How about, “Don’t you know how important protecting your smartphone password is?”