[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by brainwane

This weekend, April 28-30, people coming to Penguicon in Southfield, Michigan can catch a number of sessions of interest to Geek Feminism readers.

Coraline Ada Ehmke is one of the Guests of Honor (her Penguicon schedule). Ehmke “is a speaker, writer, open source advocate and technologist with over 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. She works diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in open source and the tech industry.” She and others are participating in a Women in Tech panel and Q&A on Saturday.

Perhaps I’ll see you at the con! Feel free to comment if you’re going to be there and mention any parties or sessions you’re particularly looking forward to.

[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed

Another digital commission for the Year Two Kickstarter! Bitty and Jack enjoying a rainy day at Jack’s place. They are very happy (sleepy?) boys. Thanks for the awesome request, VG!!

Get thee to an independent bookstore.

Apr. 26th, 2017 08:26 pm
[syndicated profile] thebloggess_feed

Posted by thebloggess

Y’all, this Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day and to celebrate, participating indie bookstores have a bunch of cool stuff, and some are offering a thick, lovely poster of an exclusive drawing of mine.  It isn’t in YOU ARE HERE and the numbers are … Continue reading
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Behold, the penultimate hotel window view for this tour! It’s also the view from the highest floor (I think). Hello, San Francisco.

Tonight! If you’re in Santa Cruz, come see Cory and me at the Santa Cruz High Theater at 7, sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. It’ll be my first time in Santa Cruz ever. I’m very excited.

Tomorrow! Borderlands Books here in San Francisco! That’ll be at 6. Come see us there if you’re in the Bay Area.

It’s coming to a close, this tour. It’s been great so far, but I’ll be happy to be home soon.

Dialect readers redux?

Apr. 26th, 2017 04:02 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Seidenberg

In a recent article Patriann Smith, a professor of Language, Diversity and Literacy Studies at Texas Tech, makes a bold proposal: that “nonstandard Englishes” such as African American English (AAE) and Hawai’i Creole English be used as the primary language of instruction in educating children who speak them. ("A Distinctly American Opportunity: Exploring Non-Standardized English(es) in Literacy Policy and Practice", Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 9/12/2016) Smith reviews evidence that speaking “nonstandard English” (her term) as a first language interferes with children’s educational progress, given the way children are taught and progress is assessed. She also questions the privileged status accorded to the “standard” (aka mainstream, higher status) dialect of English (SAE) used in education, business, government, and other institutions, and the traditional view of literacy as the ability to read that dialect. Hence the proposal that children be taught in their native dialect whether “standard” or not.

In this post I'll look at some implications of this proposal for learning to read. The idea that children who speak AAE (or another nonstandard dialect) might benefit from being taught to read using materials written in their dialect isn't new.  Some 40 years ago there was a brief, a mostly-forgotten educational experiment with "dialect readers".  They weren't widely accepted then.  Has their time finally come?

Smith's article is gaining some traction: It was picked up by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS), a major advocacy group, and an article about using AAE for instruction will appear in The Atlantic magazine some time soon. Many of her observations are accurate and yet her proposal raises difficult, contentious issues, including ones that fall outside the greater Language Log topical area (e.g., who would be willing or able to teach in such programs? Would they create race and language based tracking? Would they be legal?)

The evidence that amount of AAE usage is negatively related to progress in learning to read is substantial (see, e.g., Gatlin & Wanzek, “Relations Among Children’s Use of Dialect and Literacy Skills: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 2015, and articles cited therein). The basic reason is simple: Books are written in the mainstream dialect. Every beginning reader's progress depends on familiarity with this code. Greater use of AAE is usually (though not always) associated with weaker knowledge of the mainstream dialect. The children then have more difficulty learning to read than do mainstream dialect speakers.

Dialect readers were intended to address this disparity.

Bridge—A cross-cultural reading program” by Simpkins, Holt, & Simpkins from 1977 consisted of five pamphlet-length books. They were written as remedial texts for older children, not beginning readers. The first few stories were written in “Black vernacular.” Here’s a screenshot from Book 1. Over the course of the series, stories written in “standard English” gradually replaced the Black vernacular ones. The thinking was that the child would initially benefit from language similar to their own speech, and then transition to reading the standard dialect.

The design of the Bridge series is explained in an article by Simpkins & Simpkins in the 1981 proceedings of a conference at Wayne State University ("Black English and the education of Black children and youth: Proceedings of the national invitational symposium on the King decision"). The "King decision" is better known as the Ann Arbor decision, the famous case (Martin Luther King Junior Elementary School Children et al. v. Ann Arbor School District) about the education of lower income Black youth in the Ann Arbor schools.  Judge Charles W. Joiner (an African American) described, with remarkable linguistic insight, how dialect differences could affect children’s education.  The judge ordered the school district to identify Black English speakers and to "use that knowledge in teaching such students how to read standard English".

The Wayne State meeting brought together experts in education, law, literature (James Baldwin attended) and other areas to consider how to create educational practices better matched to African American language and culture in accord with the Ann Arbor decision.  The Bridge readers were a serious attempt to accomplish this for reading. I found the proceedings very moving, an account of people attempting to develop novel solutions to urgent educational problems with little research or precedent to build on, and also revelatory, because they identified basic issues that still haven’t been adequately addressed (e.g., the need for teachers to be educated about language variation and strategies for accommodating it; meeting the educational needs of African American children).

Bridge readers didn’t get very far. They weren’t widely adopted, it wasn’t clear whether they were effective, and other research from that era suggesting that dialect differences have little impact on reading or school achievement undercut the rationale for the books and killed off interest in them. The Oakland Ebonics controversy (1996-97) made it harder to incorporate AAE in instruction.

Now there is stronger evidence that AAE usage can interfere with learning to read standard texts and a proposal to use AAE in the classroom. Do dialect readers merit a second chance?

These issues are genuinely intersectional, involving race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and history. Let’s set aside those factors long enough to look at the linguistic, psycholinguistic, and educational considerations.  The approach is consistent with some common educational tenets. The Bridge authors recognized that books that were more closely connected to students’ experience might encourage deeper engagement, a tenet of what is now called culturally-relevant instructional practice.  Using one type of material as a bridge to another is a fundamental instructional strategy. Books for beginning readers are often written in “nonstandard” English: Run, run. Run, Dick, run. Run and see. That Sam-I-am, that Sam-I-am! I do not like that Sam-I-am.  Books can also be written in a nonstandard dialect, and the Bridge readers could be updated.

Although the logic was clear, the approach nonetheless seems seriously flawed. Here are a few major concerns.

1. The goal of dialect readers was to develop children’s ability to read standard texts, using stories that incorporated elements of AAE as a transitional tool. The books focused on getting children into reading despite limited knowledge of SAE. But if the goal is being able to read such texts, the linguistic gap has to be filled. Dialect readers didn’t address this.

The problem with dialect readers is that the children’s problem isn’t reading; it’s knowledge of the language the books employ.  An alternative approach might be to focus on increasing the child’s familiarity with that language (for example, via language enrichment activities in pre-K and after).  Or, the opposite: drop the goal of being able to read standard-language texts, as Smith considers, a radical step that raises many other questions.

2. The concept of writing a book in African American English seems straightforward but what would it involve? American English has numerous regional variants and dialects. No one speaks the “standard American English” used in texts.  Illustration: people don’t talk the way this post is written; I certainly don’t. Texts are written in a more or less conventionalized version of English that exists mainly because of the ways that texts are used in education, government, business, etc.  Social, historical, political, and economic factors are also involved.  (See previous Language Log posts such as:

"Trevor Noah reflects on language and identity", 12/1/2016
"Mutual unintelligibility among Sinitic lects,” 10/5/2014
"About those dialect maps making the rounds…”, 6/6/2013
"Understanding across varieties of English," 8/1/2013

and many others.)

AAE also has numerous regional variants (Wolfram & Kohn, "Regionality in the development of African American English"). However, because it is an oral dialect, they aren’t anchored to a “standard” version. Prescriptivist dialecticians would have to create one—and then figure out how to render it orthographically and get people to adopt it. Given the regional variants and large individual differences in dialect density, a text written in Standard AAE would still vary in how well it aligned with children’s own speech.

3. Would dialect readers be effective?  For whom? Judged by what criteria? Compared to which alternative approaches?  The answers aren’t known.

There is no credible evidence concerning the effectiveness of dialect readers, though advocates of the approach can point to some suggestive findings. In “Dialect readers revisited,” Rickford & Rickford offered several encouraging anecdotes about the use of the readers, and described the results of two suggestive “mini studies” that were not published elsewhere.

Smitherman (2015), "African American Language and Education: History and Controversy in the Twentieth Century," describes the results of a more substantive study in which 413 children used Bridge readers and 137 used another “remedial reading” program.  When tested after 4 months of instruction,  children who used the Bridge readers were said to have made much more progress than the other children.

The source for these findings is the 1981 Simpkins & Simpkins article mentioned above.  It is another unpublished study that can’t be assessed because so little is known about the methods and data.  These findings nonetheless have been repeatedly cited as evidence that dialect readers worked but were abandoned prematurely. They are also repeated because other evidence is lacking.  Evaluating the effectiveness of reading curricula and instructional practices is a notoriously challenging task. Intriguing but unverifiable findings from several decades ago aren’t an adequate basis for adopting an approach.  They might at best justify conducting additional studies, if researchers could find enough children, parents, teachers, and educational authorities willing to participate.

The conceptual problems with the dialect reader approach seem insuperable to me, and the prospects for adopting them in the present political context seem remote. However, the pressures to improve literacy outcomes are such that novel, untested educational approaches are often implemented in case they might work. Nor is there evidence that the approach can't be effective in principle. I am not a speaker of a minority dialect and the decision is not mine to make. But the logic of the dialect reader approach is questionable and the evidence that it is effective and superior to other approaches is lacking.

The title of Smith’s article frames these issues as "distinctly American” but that isn’t entirely accurate. American circumstances are unique but the linguistic phenomena are not.  Dialects exist in languages, not just in English, and there are low status “nonstandard” dialects spoken by lower SES minority populations in other countries. Australia and Canada have programs in which speakers of minority dialects learn mainstream English as a second dialect (Siegel, Second Dialect Acquisition), analogous to learning English as a second language. Language Log readers will undoubtedly be familiar with circumstances elsewhere.

These issues are a reminder that language variation and dialect are not widely understood despite decades of basic research. Non-mainstream dialects are still commonly perceived as “bad English,” even by people who speak them. Teachers are conflicted about whether to correct their students' use of a nonstandard dialect. The linguistic integrity of dialects is not clearly distinguished from their sociolinguistic status. Dialect variation needs to be addressed in education, as Judge Joiner stated years ago. But dialect readers are unproved. At this point, introducing them would be like conducting a large, unregulated behavioral experiment.  This country has a long history of experimenting on minority and low income individuals without their knowledge or consent, and educational experiments raise the same ethical concerns.

Profile: Dre

Apr. 26th, 2017 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] genderfork_feed

Posted by Vlad

You can call me… Dre

I identify as… a gay searching woman with a disability

As far as third-person pronouns go, … I use she/her/hers

I’m attracted to… Loving, unique female-bodied people

When people talk about me, I want them to… Respect my privacy

I want people to understand… Names and language are important; if I tell you how to refer to me, it’s important that you respect that.

About Dre

» Define yourself. «

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

This month sociologist Matthew Desmond won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Desmond’s book documents, in rich and depressing detail, what it’s like to try to pay rent as a low income earner and how easy it is to end up on the street. Eviction is not caused by personal “irresponsibility,” Desmond insists, it’s essentially “inevitable.”

Eviction is psychologically scarring, but it also throws families further into poverty, destabilizing their work and family lives, often stripping them of their few possessions, and costing money — all while enriching landlords.

Here’s 7 minutes from Desmond about his experience living among low income families and the lessons he learned:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

[syndicated profile] queer_ya_feed
This was lovely, how it shows all diversity as equally worth celebrating, including ours...

Thanks to creators R/GA and the Ad Council, and everyone featured in the public service announcement.

Find out more about the Love Has No Labels campaign here.

E.B. White and quotative inversion

Apr. 26th, 2017 12:26 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

For some documentation and discussion of the New Yorker magazine's curious aversion to quotative inversion, see "Quotative inversion again", 10/29/2009. And against that background, consider this sentence from E.B. White's 1957 piece "Letter from the East", quoted in my earlier post:

"Omit needless words!" cries the author on page 21, and into that imperative Will Strunk really put his heart and soul.

A careless slip of the red pencil? Or was E.B. White exempt from the dictum? Or was the no-quotative-inversion diktat imposed by a post-1957 New Yorker style maven? Perhaps someone who knows more about the history of that publication's quirks can tell us.

Removing needless words

Apr. 26th, 2017 11:54 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Yesterday I was skimming randomly-selected sentences from a collection of English-language novels, and happened on this one from George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four: "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words." This brought to mind two things I had never put together before, Orwell on Newspeak and Strunk on style.

Here's Orwell:

'How is the Dictionary getting on?' said Winston, raising his voice to overcome the noise.

'Slowly,' said Syme. 'I'm on the adjectives. It's fascinating.'

He had brightened up immediately at the mention of Newspeak. He pushed his pannikin aside, took up his hunk of bread in one delicate hand and his cheese in the other, and leaned across the table so as to be able to speak without shouting.

'The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,' he said. 'We're getting the language into its final shape–the shape it's going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we've finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We're destroying words–scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won't contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.'

He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, then continued speaking, with a sort of pedant's passion. His thin dark face had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost dreamy.

'It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well."

And here's Strunk, as described by E.B. White ("Letter from the East", The New Yorker, 7/27/1957):

Every so often I make an attempt to simplify my life, burning my books behind me, selling the occasional chair, discarding the accumulated miscellany. […]

A book I have decided not to burn is a small one that arrived in the mail not long ago, a gift from a friend in Ithaca. It is "The Elements of Style," by the late William Strunk, Jr., and it was known in the Cornell campus in my day as "the little book," with the stress on the word "little." I must have once owned a copy, for I took English 8 under Professor Strunk in 1919 and the book was required reading, but my copy presumably failed to survive an early purge. I'd not had eyes on it in thirty-eight years. Am now delighted to study it again and rediscover its rich deposits of gold. […]

From every line there peers out at me the puckish face of my professor, his short hair parted neatly in the middle and combed down over his forehead, his eyes blinking incessantly behind steel-rimmed spectacles as though he had just emerged into strong light, his lips nibbling each other like nervous horses, his smile shuttling to and fro in a carefully edged mustache.

"Omit needless words!" cries the author on page 21, and into that imperative Will Strunk really put his heart and soul. In the day when I was sitting in his class, he omitted so many nedless words, and omitted them so forcibly and with such eagerness and obvious relish, that he often seemed in the position of having short-changed himself, a man left with nothing more to say yet with time to fill, a radio prophet who had outdistanced the clock. Will Struck got out of this predicament by a simple trick: he uttered every sentence three times. When he delivered his oration on brevity to the class, he leaned forward over his desk, grasped his coat lapels in his hands, and in a husky, conspiratorial voice said "Rule Thirteen. Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!"

Book burning, mid-century horror-movie vibe, removal of undesirable words, ruling-class ideas of appropriate language, …

For added irony, this was the advertisement on the magazine page facing the passage just quoted:

See also "Modification as social anxiety", 5/16/20014.

[syndicated profile] maedchenmannschaft_feed

Posted by Charlott

Miriam Meckel, die das Podium „Inspiring women: Scaling Up Women’s Entrepreneurship“ beim Women 20 Summit moderiert, dreht sich zu Angela Merkel und stellt die Frage, die mittlerweile zum Standard-Repertoire der unsinnigen Fragen an bekannte Frauen gehört: Versteht sich Angela Merkel als Feministin?

Während ich gelangweilt gähne, mehren sich im Publikum laute „Ja!“/ „Yes!“-Rufe, angepeitscht durch Christine Lagarde, die Chefin des Internationalen Währungsfonds. Ich bin hochgradig irritiert, was Sinn und Zweck dieser Bekenntnis-Übung ist und Angela Merkel lässt sich gewohnt nicht aus der Ruhe bringen, bevor sie zu einer (ersten) Antwort kommt:

Die Geschichte des Feminismus ist eine, da gibt es Gemeinsamkeiten mit mir und es gibt auch solche, wo ich sagen würde, da gibt es Unterschiede. Und ich möchte mich auch nicht mit einem Titel schmücken, den ich gar nicht habe, denn ich möchte mal sagen Alice Schwarzer oder so haben ganz schwierige Kämpfe gekämpft. Und jetzt komme ich und setze mich auf die Erfolge und sage „Ich bin jetzt Feministin“, das ist doch absurd. Also, ich habe keine Angst, wenn Sie finden, dass ich eine bin, stimmen Sie ab, okay. Aber ich möchte mich nicht mit der Feder schmücken.

Dass Merkel für sich erkennt, dass sie wenig mit feministischen Kämpfen gemein hat, ist dann eine eigentlich sehr redliche Reaktion. Dass feministische Kämpfe für sie vor allem Alice Schwarzer bedeutet, ist auch keineswegs verwunderlich, ist sie der EMMA bereits seit ihren Zeiten als Ministerin durch ausführliche Interviews verbunden. Feminismus, der sich sinnvoll mit einer Vielzahl von Diskriminierungsformen und Gewaltsystemen auseinandersetzt, ist in jedem Fall kein Fokus. Die Frage aber bleibt, was genau ist überhaupt dadurch gewonnen Merkel zu fragen, ob sie Feministin ist, wenn eine Analyse ihre konkreten Politiken doch viel aufschlussreicher und wesentlicher wäre?

Ivanka Trump, die ebenfalls auf dem Panel saß, hatte weitaus weniger Scheu das Feminismus-Label für sich anzunehmen und argumentierte gar, dass ihr Vater feministisch sei und zu ihrer feministischen Erziehung beigetragen habe (sie wäre in einem Haushalt aufgewachsen, in dem sie immer gewusst hätte, dass sie alles erreichen kann – dass sehr viel Geld für diese Gefühlslage sicher auch nicht unwesentlich ist, blieb natürlich unerwähnt). Was bedeutet auf diesem Panel das Wort „Feminismus“ überhaupt noch? Es ist so ein leerer Container, das Gespräch wäre genau so schlüssig gewesen, ersetzte man „Feminismus“ mit jeder anderen beliebigen Buchstabenfolge. Ich möchte „Gfhrl“ vorschlagen. Angela Merkel, verstehen Sie sich als Gfhrl? Ivanka Trump, sind sie gfhrlig aufgewachsen?

Die niederländische Königin Máxima (ja auch sie war Teil dieses skurrilen Panels) bietet eine Definition von Feminismus an, mit der sie sich identifizieren kann: Feminismus bedeutet für sie, dass Frauen Wahlfreiheit und Möglichkeiten haben. Mit diesem Minimal-Verständnis kann sich auch Merkel anfreunden und – zur Freude des Publikums – stellt sie fest, dass sie dann auch Feministin sei.

Ich frage mich, was all jene, die laut „Ja!“ rufend vor der Bühne sitzen, sich davon erhoffen, wenn eine Person wie Angela Merkel von sich sagt, sie sei Feministin/ Gfhrl? Was ist jetzt gewonnen? Wird Angela Merkel nun wichtige feministische Forderungen in ihre Regierungsarbeit integrieren? Natürlich nicht. Wie so häufig, wenn berühmte Frauen dazu aufgefordert sind, sich zum Feminismus zu bekennen, ist die Feminismus-Identitäts-Frage eigentlich relativ ziellos. Die Frage (und Antwort) emotionalisiert vielleicht kurz, eine wirkliche Auseinandersetzung aber mit feministischen Praxen und Ideen findet nicht statt.

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Davelis Cave

Apr. 26th, 2017 03:01 am
[syndicated profile] epod_feed

Davelis_DSC_0230 (2)

Photographer: Leonidas Tzanis

Summary Authors: Leonidas Tzanis; Jim Foster

Shown above is Davelis Cave found on Penteli Mountain near Athens, Greece. This historic cave was discovered some 2,500 years ago when workers in a nearby marble quarry stumbled upon it. The marble quarried in this area was used to construct the Acropolis. Davelis Cave is a natural cave formed over tens of thousands of years from carbonic acid in rainwater working on the softer limestone and marble that composes much of Penteli's slopes. Also known as the Cave of Pendeli, it's approximately 230 ft (70 m) long, averages about 150 ft (46 m) wide and is 65 ft (20 m) high at its highest point. The name Davelis comes from the story of a 19th century pirate of sorts, named Davelis, who is rumored to have used the cave to hide his bounty.

[syndicated profile] thebloggess_feed

Posted by thebloggess

In Japan there’s an art of repairing broken objects, called kintsukori.  My friend Emily McDowell explains it beautifully here: So last night Hailey dropped one of the china plates from our wedding and there aren’t many left so I thought … Continue reading
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hi Captain,

My husband, at the ripe age of 35, is losing his hair. He has had luxuriant long locks since he was a young teenager, long before I knew him. He fought multiple administrative battles with his conservative Catholic high school’s dress code in order to keep it. He considers it an inextricable part of the identity he constructed that turned him from a sad, isolated kid into an adult with a social community. In his own words, he can no longer picture himself without long hair. Nevertheless, it’s visibly thinning on top–and he knows it.

His anxiety over this is really ramping up: he bought a second mirror so he can examine the top/back of his head, he’s exploring combover-like hair arrangements to hide the thin area, and the angst performance over every stray hair in the shower drain trap is… heartbreaking. Also more than a little annoying.

I’m a fat woman, Captain. I have never in my life looked the way I wanted to, much less the way society told me I ought to. After thirty years, I’m largely over it in most circumstances… but when my husband starts up this new routine about his hair, part of me wants nothing more than to roll my eyes and notify the whaaaambulance. As a bonus, my husband is quite thin, and has done the dance of fat-shaming in the guise of “concern for your health” at me in the past, so that resentment lingers a bit. (Even though I did break him of that habit and it hasn’t come up in years, I can’t avoid the basic truth that he’s thin and I’m fat and I have feelings about that.)

I want to be supportive, but at the same time I dread the day he actually asks my opinion of the effectiveness of his combover techniques (spoilers: they are super not effective). Right now all my buried bitterness about my own body wells up in my throat when he gets started about how many hairs fell out during his latest post-shower brushing, so I just kind of shrug and nod sympathetically to avoid choking on it. Do you have any scripts for soothing sounds I can make in response to his escalating sads-spirals?

Some of Us Have Never Been Beautiful, Howl

Dear Some Of Us:

When you’ve expressed uncomfortable feelings about your body in the past, is there any soothing thing a thin person could have said to you to make you feel better?

True story, a thin friend recently offered to sort through plus size dresses online to help me find something to wear to an event, and while she found the least hideous-shoulder-cutout-boob-sequined-couch-upholstery looking things that fell within my many parameters, the best part about it was afterward when she said:

“I gotta say.
Shopping for plus-sized lady stuff
The prints, Jen. The prints.
It was awful.”

I love her so much for it, because, while she’s always quick to say “You’re beautiful!” it was amazing to have her, for one brief second, know and affirm how much things can suck out there. #YOUSEEME #YOUREALLYSEEME #letmypeoplehavesleeves

Applying this to your husband’s hair loss, I think the best soothing noise you could make is some version of affirming his feelings of anxiety and loss. Nodding sympathetically works. “Aw man, that sucks!” works. If he asks for more of a response, try “Your hair is so pretty, I know it sucks to lose it so much earlier than you planned.” “No advice, just sympathy.” Resist the urge to flood him with supportive “Bald Is Beautiful”* memes and let him come to his own peace with it in his own time.

Edited to Add: I had this as a P.S. but I want to emphasize this: There is a reason that this is bringing up old feels about body image. You (understandably) had and have a lot of feelings about having a body that is seen as non-standard, not sexy, not lovable, not celebrated, and downright discriminated against by our culture. You’ve made an uneasy peace with those feelings and didn’t ask your husband to manage them for you. In fact, you had to do a lot of emotional labor to shut down his harmful attempts to manage them. But now, it feels like he is asking you to be the audience and cheerleader while he manages his feelings about getting older. You don’t have to manage his feelings about aging and baldness. Nodding sympathetically and saying, “Aw, that sucks” is enough “work” around this issue. Giving him a lot of space to work through it himself is actually a kind thing to do. If he’s looking for something else, he needs to come out and ask you or tell you what that is.[/Edit]

At some point, when he asks your opinion, or if his unhappiness escalates or shows no sign of stopping, here’s your script: “Husband, I can tell this is stressing you out a lot, and I hate seeing you so unhappy about it. I don’t know the first thing about styling men’s hair, and I think it’s time to call in a great barber or hair stylist who can help you work with it and make you feel maximally handsome.

Once you’ve invoked this stylist/barber, you can defer everything to them. “I look at you every day, I’m not a good judge. Let a professional at it!

He’s 100% gonna say; “But they’ll just cut it off or tell me to cut it off!” to which you can truthfully say “Maybe so, but they won’t actually cut it off unless that’s your decision, too. Why not work with someone who knows what they are doing?

To use the example from your letter, you are at peace with your body (mostly). But if you talked about being unhappy with it every day, it would be okay if someone close to you said “Hey, this is clearly making you unhappy, and I don’t feel right commenting on it, but I also want you to have every bit of support and help you deserve, so, who can we call?” Finding a fat-friendly doctor is much more of a crapshoot than finding a barber who can gently steer your husband into his post-ponytail life.

*About those “Bald Is Beautiful” images: One thing that got me to be more comfortable with my fat body was looking at beautiful images of fat people – from the Fatshionista LJ Community in Ye Olden Tymes to various fashion blogs. Our media culture is so saturated with fatphobia that this process was an important part of normalizing eye so I could see myself. If your husband were writing to me, I’d tell him to build a Jason Statham/Luke Cage Pinterest board post-haste. Since he isn’t the one writing, it would probably be overstepping if you did it for him. I’m putting this here in case it helps another baldy or future baldy. Retrain your eye!


The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

Apr. 25th, 2017 02:45 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

April has been light on Big Idea posts because I’m on tour (don’t worry, May’s gonna be packed), but let’s make sure we don’t get through this last week of the month without a fine piece of work for you to consider. Today: Maurice Broaddus brings you all the details on his new novella Buffal0 Soldier, including who the work is a love letter for.


My novella, Buffalo Soldier–in fact the entire saga of its hero, Desmond Coke–is essentially one long love letter to my mother.

Growing up, my mother would take any opportunity to regale us with stories from her homeland of Jamaica. ANY opportunity: during family meals, before bedtime, Saturday mornings, during our favorite television shows (not hers though: she had what could only be described as an unhealthy fascination with the show, Hee Haw). She spun all manner of duppy (ghost) stories, even a long running tale of the duppy that haunted our family (which, as it turned out, was the spirit of her grandmother looking out for us).

For some reason she still found it surprising that I grew up to be a writer.

One of the genres I fell in love with was steampunk. Yet many times whenever I read steampunk stories, with their Victorian ethos and imperialist bent, I usually ended up wondering where the black folks were. All of my steamfunk stories (a term for steampunk stories seen through an Afrocentric lens), beginning with “Pimp My Airship,” all take place in the same universe, one where America lost the Revolutionary War and remained a colony of Albion. And my stories follow what some of the black folks might be up to.

My mother has since retired to Jamaica. During one of her visits here, she began telling me about her trip to a part of the island, governed by the Maroon people, only open once a year to outsiders. The British weren’t able to conquer them, so they had agreed allow the Maroon to have a separate government, and the British would colonize the rest of the island. I grew fascinated with the idea of a Maroon-run Jamaica and started playing with the alt-history repercussions of them totally keeping the British out of Jamaica. Leaving the island in control of its resources, its culture, its wealth, and its technology.

Of course Jamaica would become a superpower. Because, well, that’s what my mom would want.

In this Jamaica, undercover agent, Desmond Coke, gets drawn into a web of political intrigue when he stumbles across a young boy, Lij Tafari. As it turns out, Lij is a clone of Haile Selassie, a messiah figure to the Rastafarians, who the government plans to raise as their puppet to control the people. Desmond frees the boy and goes on the run. This is where the story of Buffalo Soldier begins.

In Buffalo Soldier, Desmond Coke and Lij are chased through the nation state of Tejas and into the First Nations territory. As they hide from Jamaican intelligence, they are pursued by business and political interests. As they search for a place to call home, Desmond tells Lij stories. The heart of the novella is about the power of story and how it helps us create a sense of home wherever we go.

Plus shoot outs, giant robots, assassins, and sword fights because that’s what else my mom would want.

Well … probably.


Buffalo Soldier: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

Page 140

Apr. 25th, 2017 07:00 am
[syndicated profile] strongfemaleprotag_feed

Posted by editor

It’s here! Please check out our Kickstarter to fund the printing of Book Two of this comic (chapters 5 and 6) and pledge if you can! It also helps us immensely if you spread the word on social media or directly to people you think would like the comic. Thanks for reading!

Three Parts of the Night Sky

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:01 am
[syndicated profile] epod_feed

Matureia003p (4)

Photographer: Marcelo Zurita

Summary Authors: Marcelo Zurita; Jim Foster

In this one photo I was able to capture cloud-to-cloud lightning (at bottom), a starry sky above the storm clouds and a dazzling meteor. It was taken from a rural area in Brazil's eastern-most state of Paraiba. My attention was actually on the distant storm on the horizon but as I snapped the shutter a meteor passed through the field of view. The lightning is at an altitude of perhaps 40,000 ft (12,192 m); the meteor is streaking by 70 mi (112 km) or so above the Earth's surface; the brightest star in the frame, Menkar (at upper right center in the constellation of Cetus), lies approximately 250 light years from our solar system.

Photo Details: Camera Model: NIKON D5100; Focal Length: 14.0mm (35mm equivalent: 21mm); Aperture: ƒ/5.0; Exposure Time: 30.000 s; ISO equiv: 800; Software: GIMP 2.8.14.

Checking In on Monday

Apr. 25th, 2017 12:26 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

O hai, Whatever readers! Here’s me and Cory Doctorow just hanging out, as we do.

For those of you in the LA area, remember that he and I are going to be a Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena tomorrow at 7pm, talking about our new books and life, the universe, and everything. And then on Wednesday, we’ll do it again at Bookshop Santa Cruz! And then on Thursday, we’ll do it YET AGAIN at Borderlands books in San Francisco! We got a thing going, is what I’m saying, and you can be part of it, if you want.

Otherwise: Hey, how’s it going?

[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed

I drew a lot of bookplates for the Year Two Kickstarter.

- Jack and Parse as kids in the Q
- Lardo and George talking about their dumb boys
- There’s a huge S in the Samwell hockey locker room for this purpose
- Parse, at home, probably on insta
- Bow before Lardo, Flipper of Cups, Ruler of Bros
- A swim (◡‿◡)


kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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