Some Links

May. 7th, 2010 11:26 am
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (all in capital letters)
Here are some links that have been keeping me going lately.

1. This one I may actually have linked to before, because I find myself returning to it regularly. Orson Scott Card, meet Alan Turing. This is a post at Feminist SF about Alan Turing, the British mathmatician who worked on cryptanalysis during the second world war (and was awarded the OBE for his work there), and was later chemically castrated by the British gvt for admitting to having sex with other men; and Orson Scott Card, the famous homophobe (and author of Ender's Game, the tremendously well-known and influential science fiction novel.) Yonmei at feminist SF makes a terrific point, beautifully (and movingly) put, that Orson Scott Card owns a great deal of his literary career to Turing's work; yet people who share Card's views on queer people were probably responsible for his early death by suicide. I've read this post about 10 times now. I just can't recommend it enough, and I think it a challenge, as clear as a bell, to SF fandom: stop tolerating this behaviour. Stop buying Card's books: many of the themes in science fiction we love today are derived from the work of a man who Card despises. Stop tolerating homophobia in SF. Stop tolerating transphobia in SF. Stop tolerating, basically, this bullshit. Stop tolerating racism and sexism. Science fiction is about change. It is about the possibility of a different future. But we need to start enacting change here, now, today.

2. The Top 100 Children's Novels. This list was derived from an online poll asking people to list the ten books that had influenced them most as a child, and why. The top 100 are being posted in a careful, illuminating manner, including posting pictures of covers, quoting from what people wrote when nominating the books, history of the books, and, notably, addressing significant flaws of the books (for example, she linked to numerous criticisms of Lynne Reid Banks' The Indian in the Cupboard, which is notable for its racist and inaccurate portrayal of its titular 'Indian'.)

What would your ten be? I've been thinking about this for a few days now, and I think I have some of them straight, but in no particular order:

10. JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit. This is one of the earliest books I read independently as a child, and in fact reading it is one of my earliest memories. It introduced me to fantasy and all its tropes, and I re-read it several times in my childhood and young adulthood - although I haven't re-read it for about five years. Must get on that sometime. Although I wouldn't say that this book changed or influenced me particularly - if it did, it must have done so much too early for me to now distinguish - it certainly influenced my future tastes, which in turn have, literally, changed my life; changed my friendships; and introduced me to the wide, weird, wonderful world that is fandom (because I read LOTR... and then became involved with fandom through a friend who first fell into fandom through theonering.net.) ETA: I ought to have said earlier that I do not underestimate the influence Tolkien's works had on the fantasy genre generally, which has included pervasive racism, sexism, and Eurocentrism. All of these things should be held in mind when considering Tolkien's enormous influence on the field.

9. Witi Ihimaera, The Whale Rider. One of the earliest distinctively New Zealand books I had ever read, and possibly the earliest book I ever read explicitly about Maori culture and its place in my native country, but I also remember noting its remarkable attitude to transsexuals and gay people (this is actually a real side note in the book, but it struck me at the time), to family, and to expectations.

8. Tamora Pierce, In the Hand of the Goddess. This is a weird pick, the second book in a series, and not, IMO, Pierce's best series, either. (That would be Protector of the Small, for those playing the home game.) This quartet, Pierce's earlist, is in mnay ways the most flawed: it has problems with race, espcially in the first book (Alanna: The First Adventure), but also in the third and fourth. This one, by dint of being set mostly in Tortall - the typical mostly-Europe country of epic fantasy - retains only the usual problems that epic fantasy has with race (monocultural, monoracial). However, this is the book I was reading when I met one of my best friends. It was one of the first fantasy books I read with a female protagonist. It was one of the first books I read that tackled feminism and women explicitly. Still one of not-very-many novels I have ever read that deal with getting your period, contraception, and having sex when you're ready for it. These have all had an ongoing effect on me.

7. David Hill, See Ya, Simon. The first novel I read about grief; the first novel I read about disability and illness; the first novel that ever made me cry. This book has returned to me every time I have had to deal with grief and every time I attempt to become less ablist (although from that perspective it remains a flawed novel.)

6= William Taylor, The Blue Lawn. The first novel I read about being queer, and in many ways this book has dated extremely; on the other hand, it's pretty brilliant for its time and expressive of the struggle for, I am sure, many young New Zealand gay men. (The reasons it's dated: this is very much one of those novels going Oh, It's So Hard To Be Gay, and although neither of the boys die, it doesn't have a happy ending. Optimistic, though.) Incidentally, this is also one of the earliest books I read that talked about the Holocaust, although it's only in retrospect that I realise that's what's going on for the grandmother. That William Taylor, he sure did go for Issue novels.

6= Paula Boock, Dare, Truth, or Promise. Another of my earliest queer novels, and probably the second novel I read, after In the Hand of the Goddess, that really discussed female sexuality. it has a happier, more defiant ending than The Blue Lawn, if I remember it correctly, and I should mention while I'm on these two novels that the experience of reading these novels and having them be set in New Zealand are part of the reason why David Levithan and Nancy Garden aren't here: it's not that I don't love them, but they meant less to me than these novels did.

4. Lois Lowry, Taking Care of Terrific. There is a category of children's and young adult novels that I always describe as 'plain and tall' (of course, a joking reference to the US children's historical novel Sarah, Plain and Tall, which is by the way much better than the Little House books.) 'Plain and tall' books are books with direct, unadorned language. They are lucid, they are clear, they address themselves directly at children and young adults, and they stand up tall in their subject matter, their unpretentious beauty, and their dignity. Lois Lowry's stand-alone books, which include this, Summer to Die, and Number the Stars fit in this category for me (so, by the way, do Sharon Creech and Katherine Patterson's novels: Bloomability and Bridge to Terabithia are nearly on this list). Taking Care of Terrific is, I'm guessing, a weird pick for Lois Lowry, because it's not one of her best-known - oh, Anastasia Krupnik, you are a truly great heroine. But this book is just... beautiful, and that's all I can say about it.

3. Louise Fitzhugh, Nobody's Family is Going to Change. Another weird pick. Harriet the Spy just didn't mean as much to me as Emma did. Overweight, black, angry Emma who wanted to grow up to be a judge to impress her father who thinks women can't be lawyers; who wants to stick up for her little brother, Willie, who wants to grow up to be a tapdancer; who joins the Children's Army looking for change and is let down by their beauracracy; who helps organise her branch to look out for each other. This book made a huge impression on me when I was eleven, which is how old I was when I stole a copy from the bookshelf at school (this was a very weird bookshelf, not part of the library, that contained partial sets of what I am guessing were books that had been previously studied at my school but weren't any longer.) Along with Taking Care of Terrific, this is one of the earliest books I read when I understood how different the US was. (Another one: Maniac Magee, of course.)

2. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. And here's an absolute classic. I'm sure I don't need to explain why this book is so high on my list.

1. Margaret Mahy, The Changeover. My first ever supernatural romance. 'Nuff said.

There's one person I wish I'd fit on here: Tessa Duder, whose courageous, bright, brilliant, influential, sporty, booky, drama-y, musical, overweight, underweight, Kiwi heroines are the women I'd most like to be when I grow up. Here's to Alex, Tiggie, Bingo, and Geraldine.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Here are some of the things I have been reading instead of studying for my Linguistics test next week:

Don't Delete (try the random user function.) If you haven't heard that this week AOL released the search logs of 500,000 users over a period of two months, the rundown (from Public Address, a NZ blogging group) is pretty clear on why this is a Bad Thing. (Interestingly I believe Google recently refused to give the same kind of information to something in the US gvt, and their legal right not to dop so was upheld in court. I believe, anyway, but can no longer find where I read this. Still and all...) Don't Delete makes the data userfriendly, which is kind of like compounding the problem (the idea is apparently to find search records that make the user identifiable, and then contact AOL to get them to remove said user.) On the other hand, the random user function is really kind of fun, and occasionally very interesting.

via [livejournal.com profile] blythely, Plagiarism scandals at Ohio University, featuring a kind of horrifying amount of plagiarism in the Engineering dept at said university. Entertaining in its similarities to that other plagiarism scandal; on the other hand, I didn't find one of the people involved (a professor & supervisor who supervised a large number of plagiarised theses) being quoted as saying "at any university, at any department, I think you would find the same[,]" very amusing at all. What I really want to say is maybe at any other Engineering department, since those dudes can't write to save their lives, and that this is the responsibility of an education system that fails to adequately value communication skills... but even that I don't think is really true. Plagiarism is everywhere, sure. On this scale, at that level? No, that's unusual.

(It's worth noting two things: one, most of the plagiarism found was in introduction sections, which, as someone pointed out, are not very highly valued. I mean, in an arts essay the introduction is kind of like the keystone, but maybe for eng students it's different... And also, I'm aware most education systems force students to do some kind of english credits. However, there is no attempt to show students why this is important, leading to my quite bright brother saying "English is so pointless! I mean, essays are such a waste of time" and my mother and I having noisy heart attacks at the dinner table. Avoid horrifying your family members! Understand the beauty of the essay!)

via [livejournal.com profile] dduane, an outsider's perspective on Lumos 2006, mostly good for being rage-inducing. I seethed about it for half an hour and have now run out of steam, but if anyone wishes to discuss it... *points to comment link* Yeah, I wanna.

Also extremely excellent for wasting time: Quite Interesting clips on YouTube. Stephen Fry hosts a game show where points are awarded not for correct answers but for interesting ones. Extremely, extremely funny, featuring British stand-up comedians. Occasionally obscene so, you know, watch out for that, but hilarious.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
I have been lax in my duties as a fangirl and have not yet linked to Girl-Wonder.org. It will come as no surprise to anyone, I'm sure, that there is sexism in comics. g-w.org is dedicated to changing that, and unlike many movements of this sort they're motivated by love for the medium. They're just starting up with a letter-writing campaign, but they're also hosting a collection of really interesting blogs and academic articles. I have a lot of respect for the women & men who are running this project; go and check them out!

Girl-Wonder.org

Because capes aren't just for boys.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Indulging in a little navel-gazing of the ethnic type, as Pakeha New Zealanders are so wont to do, especially in the weeks leading up to our census. Cut for length, but I think it's sort of interesting, and if you're a Pakeha New Zealander I'd love to know what you think. Or even if you've never heard the word Pakeha before.

For those of you who have not been following the debate (Tze Ming Mok and Russell Brown of Public Address have both posted on the topic over the last few days: what do Caucasian New Zealanders, who are born here, put as their ethnicity on their census form? The option given on the census form is “New Zealand European”, but historically a reasonably significant percentage have ticked “other” and put either Pakeha- the Maori word for white person, derived from an older word for pale-skinned fairies in Maori mythology- or “New Zealander.” The recent debate has been sparked by an email forward urging white New Zealanders to put down simply “New Zealander” as their ethnicity.

More learned people than I have discussed why New Zealander is not an ethnicity )
Damn. Why is it so much easier to navel-gaze about my own ethnicity than it is to, you know, actually write real essays? 1500 words in forty minutes, man, If I could do all my assignments like this… I could completely turn this into an essay, people.

*stunned*

Oct. 28th, 2005 06:50 pm
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
So, in the post-Election National party shuffle-around and line up, #14 Wayne Mapp has been appointed:
Labour & Industrial Relations
Political Correctness Eradication
Chair of Caucus Policy Committee

I kid you not. Actual Eradication. In Radio NZ interviews, he's gone on to advocate the removal of the Human Rights Commission, along with- predictably- the Waitangi Tribunal (I haven't listened to the interviews but I would not be much surprised if he also had a tizzy about Women's Affairs. @!@#$) Keith Ng has an awfully good column about liberalism and the National- liberalism in the ACT/USA sense, which is not always the way we use it in NZ. David Haywood was very funny in a satire that, unfortunately, is not all that far from the truth. Holly Walker has s short piece about the usefulness of the phrase "political correctness", Adam Gifford writes about PC and mainstream.

Lyndon Hood kind of summarised my thoughts on the issue, though:
Wayne Mapp: Opposition spokesman for Political Correctness Eradication.

W - as they say - TF?

Had National been elected, we would presumably be forming a Department (surely not a Ministry) of Political Correctness Eradication.


fuckers. To think I thought I wouldn't have any more use for this icon after the election.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
All New Zealanders, and anyone who's seen any media coverage of a general election, MUST read Diana Wichtel's hilarious TV Review for this week, optimistically entitled "Getting Results," about the media circus on Election Night. At a friend's 21st until about eleven, I apparently missed the most hysterical lines from John Campbell in particular, who came up with such gems as

"Richard Langston is with us now. He looks like he's been sleeping under a bridge."

(On the TV1 panel's discussion of Clarkson, a running right-wing MP who grabbed his crotch in public- don't even ask)
"We have the crotch grabbers on this side and the non-crotch grabbers on this sid. And I'm sitting in the middle with my legs crossed."

(On the PM's parents leaving her house) "That's her mum and dad. Either that or the stress of the night has aged her considerably."

"I haven't had a clue all the way along. I haven't a clue. Go, democracy."

*wipes tears from eyes* Oh, John, you're bloody marvellous.

The entire article is hilarious, though, including an election to the fabulous Election Night Drinking Game, which I personally think should have got one of Russell Brown's Election Media Awards. These were also very funny, with an award for

The Quote You Never Thought You'd Hear going to Don Brash for "I don't want any candidates talking about their testicles, to be quite frank."

The People's Art Award to the Make Your Own National Billboard website.

Best Personae to John, Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko of KeepLeftNZ

But what really summarises the whole fiasco, to me, is the Strangest News Event Award:
"The campaign involvement of the Exclusive Brethren, who don't even vote? Bob Clarkson's left testivle? Pontell's ponytail wig? A bomb threat by a man demanding to talk to Helen Clark shutting down Taurange two days out from the vote? Another man's threat to fly a stolen plane into the Sky Tower on election night? The Green's Keith Locke carrying out his promise to run naked through the streets of Epson if Rodney Hide won? Take your pick. it was a very strange campaign."

New Zealand Aotearoa: You only wish your country's election campaign was as cracktastic as ours.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Still kind of talked out so today, instead of actual substance, I present you with Hamish McKenzie's Blogosphere Government in which he allocates seats to the Right and the Left on the quality of the major blogs for either side. 70-40 landslide for the Left (plus 10 in the Centre for Keith Ng, who I personally would have put slightly more left than right. But *shrug*) It's funny, especially if you read any of the blogs in question. Also, it makes a good point that Right bloggers are actually less literate than the Left, in terms of knowing how to use things like commas and apostrophes. The Left is also considerably more thoughtful. I especially like "Russell Brown: knows everything about everything and isn't afraid to let you know it" as both a pro and a con. ;)

Speaker has this very thorough- and impartial- breakdown of the energy policies of all parties currently in Parliament. The bit I find most interesting is that the Greens, who I haven't actually mentioned for months but are definitely my second-favourite party (It's the GE thing.), actually have the most sensible energy policy- and it's one I'd really love to support because it's incredibly environmentally conscientious as well. I only wish more people were aware that the Greens actually have science on their side- as approved by an energy engineer- beyond just the whole tree-hugging aspect which tends to make people think they're one-sided biased idiots, when they're the furthest thing from it.

Yesterday Speaker had this post on race relations and the election is fantastic. Do read it if you're at all interested in race relations between Maori and Pakeha as they stand now and under National's platforms.

In conclusion: Okay, I actually have no conclusion. So check out All Your Seats Are Belong To National. If you ever needed a reason not to vote for Brash...
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
blademistress tells it like it is
PARODY. :P Light-hearted but, you know. Awesome. :D Also not terribly biased.

KeepLeftNZ
Tidy, new, pro-Left site pointing out advantages of the left. non-party specific but obviously left-biased. I think [livejournal.com profile] miriamus and [livejournal.com profile] absent should be paying particular attention. ;)
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
I'm going to be one of the other umpteen zillion people to say...
I can see my house from here although, yeah, it doesn't quite zoom in far enough but never mind. ;) Also, if anyone has the original Latin of that, I'll love you forever- I don't know if it was giving in Jingo actually, but I suspect it exists...
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Hi there folks,

The Black Caps, which are the New Zealand cricket team, are planning a tour to Zimbabwe later this year. If any of you feel you can, go to http://www.saynotozimtour.com/index.asp to sign a petition to stop them touring. this might remind you about the Springbok tours of 1981.

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labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
worryingly jolly batman

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