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Dear parents, you are being lied to.

evmaroon:

Word. As someone who was quarantined along with my family for whooping cough even though we’d all been vaccinated (resulting in a more mild illness for us), I can say that anti-vaccination stances are all based on misinformation and fear. Vaccinate your kids. You may be saving a life.

Originally posted on Violent metaphors:

Standard of care.

In light of recent outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable illnesses, and the refusal of anti-vaccination advocates to acknowledge the problem, I thought it was past time for this post.

Dear parents,

You are being lied to. The people who claim to be acting in the best interests of your children are putting their health and even lives at risk.

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Questions Nobody Asks Me About My Novel

cover for TUTTOne of the reasons I enjoy interviews about my writing (other than the most ridiculous ego-tripping reasons, of course) is because it gives me insight into how people are interpreting my work, which is often something new or that I wasn’t creating intentionally. Sometimes an interview veers in an unexpected direction, and then I’m joyful as I get caught up talking about texts and narrative and form and extrapolating into popular culture more generally. But often there are pieces of the story that I think are glaring for readers but that never come up in conversation. So for my love of talking about textuality and literature, I thought I’d go over a few aspects of The Unintentional Time Traveler that haven’t come up in any of my Q&As.

The protagonist’s name(s)—I could answer this self-imposed question in a few different ways. First, “Jackson” is an intentional play on patrilineage, which the character winds up disrupting by choosing at the end to spend a lot of time as Jacqueline instead of in the time of Jackson’s actual life. But more important to me was the iconic use of the name “Jack” as it appears in scads of children’s literature: nursery rhymes, Jack & Jill, Jack & the Beanstalk, Jack Frost, Jack Sprat, etc. It’s almost at the level of generic marker for boys. So I wanted to create a narrative that took the mainstay name and immersed it in a novel that was focused on LGBT themes and characters. I want to see our stories and our lives within this greater mythology and literature, not apart from it. Jack was the perfect moniker to use to make this kind of a statement. And Inman is the name of a family I know from Washington, DC, but it’s also a great double entredre.  Read More…

Afterthoughts and Aftershocks: Why a Dozen Different Editors Failed Dr V

evmaroon:

Another trans voice dissatisfied with Bill Simmons’s apology on behalf of Grantland, about the death of Dr. V.

Originally posted on aoifeschatology:

If you are a trans person contemplating suicide, please visit here for information on how to find help. I’m not going to tell you it gets better; but I will assure you that your survival is important and meaningful. Please consider alternatives.

James Joyce once exclaimed that trying to cross Dublin without passing a pub would be an excellent puzzle.

Here’s a much easier one: see how long it takes to get through Bill Simmons’s reflections on Dr V before you pass by the word ‘sorry’.

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Make Time to Write

When I was an intrepid tween writer I came across a quote by Stephen King that went something like “Writers write. I meet people all the time who say they’re writers, and when I ask what they’re working on, they tell me they’ve never written a word. They’re not writers. Writers write.” Apologies to Mr. King for the paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. What this did to my consciousness as someone who really wanted to be a writer was set an external expectation on me. If I ever stopped writing, I could no longer call myself a writer. I had to be a shark, always swimming, always moving, or poof! I’d disappear in the mist of my own failure. So I wrote and wrote, terrible stories but interesting to me, and definitely definitive in setting up the foundation of my craft. Early on I was fascinated by ordinary people in near-extreme circumstances, and the relationships between them. I submitted to summer writing programs between my high school years, getting rejected a lot and accepted a couple of times, and then I absorbed as much as I could from the other writers around me.

I saw that folks each had their own rituals for writing, their habits, good and bad, and their tendencies, like being a night owl or a midday writer. They also took on the specific task of writing differently. Some wrote and rewrote through their first draft, others plowed through and got to the nitty gritty in later drafts. One woman spent months writing backstory and plotting reveals and twists before she ever got into the manuscript, and another friend jumped in and let the words take her wherever they happened to go. There were tradeoffs for every strategy of course, but taken in aggregate they led to a literature among us. That is what literature should do—provide an avenue for people who need to tell a story of importance to someone else. If the process of writing is varied, so is the access to writing. So it behooves us who care about the characters in our heads to open a space for the writing to happen. Here are a few of my ideas, humbly offered with no expectations for agreement. Read More…

An Open Letter to National Public Radio

NPR radio national public radioThis is the second day in a row I’ve taken to the keyboard to write about the unnecessary and hurtful treatment from the media toward Chelsea Manning, the Army private who leaked government secrets about our country’s involvement in Iraq and other activities around the world. Chelsea Manning is a declared transsexual woman, which we all know now because of her public announcement to the media and the rest of us. I was bothered by several news outlets yesterday which continued to use masculine pronouns and her former first name, but most of those organizations have a history of transphobic and insensitive reporting (I’m looking at you, Daily Beast).

What I did not expect was that National Public Radio would be one of those media institutions to so ignorantly take up its reporting on Pvt. Manning’s declaration. Your position was very clearly stated by your spokesperson:

“Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him.” —Anna Bross, NPR Spokesperson Read More…

Lambda Literary Emerging Writer’s Workshop, Day 2

purple keyboardWe’re here, we’re queer, and we’re critiquing each other’s work. So came the second full day of the retreat, enshrouded in mist once again and with a chilly breeze that made me glad I’d chosen a sweater vest for the morning. Thank goodness I discovered how to command hot water out of my shower, because a second event of freezing liquid was just not going to work for me. I woke up at 6:30 and went through my new French press coffee routine, then groomed myself.

I’d read two more stories last night and done my best to provide guidance without dissection. I tucked a small notebook into my pocket so that I could jot down the authors and titles of recommended reading (I’d missed two or three references on Monday). I chatted with people in the dining hall over steaming bowls of creamed wheat and not-so-fresh squeezed orange juice. One of my colleagues was dog-tired and held her head in her hands. And before I knew it, she was crying.

I’ve been in this place of sudden compassion before, and it has always involved a decision between sitting quietly so as to let them have their emotions, or filling up the space partway to offer a hinge they can swing from if they want to. So I told a very short story to express empathy in an indirect way, and she thanked me and then got up. Sometimes I wonder if spending so many decades divorced from my feelings hasn’t made me more able to connect to people now, because I refuse to pretend humans are strictly rational. I’m making up for lost processing time. Read More…

Five Other Legal Things SCOTUS Should Strike Down

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States voided Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, saying that the law no longer applied to the current state of election laws in the country. This suggested that there was some kind of divorce between the mandate of the law—that problematic voting districts with a history of racist vote engineering should be subject any changes in their election law to the Department of Justice for approval—and the “current conditions” in those (and all) voting districts. Apparently it’s not that the presence of Section 4 of VRA stymied racist vote filtering or disenfranchisement, it’s that the country has moved on from its racist past. So if that’s the case, I (tongue in cheek, of course) hereby propose other laws that SCOTUS should feel free to void or strike down because we just don’t need them anymore:

child laborers1. The Fair Labor Standards Act—Passed in 1938, this law prohibited child labor and gasp! established a minimum wage as well as hours limits on work. We employ so few children in the United States anymore, it clearly isn’t a problem and SCOTUS should just strike down all of the child labor-related statues. Read More…

The Watchers and Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis screen capture filibusterThis news out of Texas was quickly supplanted by the SCOTUS decisions around marriage equality today, the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman trial, and somehow, by continued coverage of Paula Deen’s racism. But it’s worth taking a closer look at the 11-hour filibuster by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis because it was a moment that perhaps can give us some lessons to remember for future political battles—which will inevitably will come our way. Or say, next month.

1. The filibuster was well planned and executed—Wendy had several things going for her, including a thick binder of germane content to read on the floor of the chamber, testimony from women that had not been allowed during earlier hearings on SB5, a Web page collecting more on-point testimony, and apparently, a big old Depends undergarment. She also had clearly prepped on the rules of the Senate filibuster allowances, and while she was abruptly ended by the Senate President for getting off-topic, talking about how SB5 would harmfully interact with an earlier passed law on sonograms was arguably still germane to the discussion. Dr. Gunter outlines the argument why that’s the case. But that she held the floor so long, despite extreme bending of the Senate’s rules on the part of the GOP supermajority makes this moment a prime example of successful governance. Big-ticket issues like a woman’s right to choose should be filibuster material, especially when the stakes are the closure of 37 out of 42 abortion-providing clinics in a state with 26 million people. Read More…

Commentary Roundup: Critiques of Oscars 2013

audience at the 2013 OscarsI keep wanting to write something about this, and I may in the next day or two, but in the meantime, here are very thoughtful analyses of The Man Who Loved the Sound of His Own Voice, Seth MacFarlane, and Hollywood’s love of the cruel.

And now because we’re all so pissed after reading all of this, here’s something to remind us that some people in Hollywood, even award winners, are pretty awesome people:

Zombie Defense by the Seasons

from Jillian McDonald blogThrow a stick at any bookstore over 2,500 square feet and you’ll hit at least three books on surviving the zombie apocalypse. Weapons guides and DIY, symptoms to look out for, protective clothing, how to shop for your garden variety gas mask, it’s in print and readily available. But there are other factors that can affect human survival, and seasonal shift is often overlooked as one of these. So let’s take the seasons in turn, starting with spring, and help uncover methods of defense that we can use no matter when we’re fighting for the future of our species.

SPRING

Fortunately the days are getting longer, so there is less opportunity for zombie hordes to accumulate in the dark of night and make mob attacks. There are also no tall crops at this point in the year, unless a region has been growing winter wheat, so it will be harder for zombies to make their way quietly through crop fields (of course this matters not at all in urban areas). Spring also comes with a new generation of wildlife, which can be observed to help identify where bands of zombies may be hiding out. But be warned; depending on the kind of zombification that’s happening, mammals in general may also be zombies, so you may need to pay special attention when litters of new small animals are underfoot, because they may not be very clever defenders against the undead and will become a new source of infection for humans. BONUS FOR MOUNTAIN AREAS: Spring also often means strong river runoff from melting snow, which can be used to wipe out zombies, carrying them away in streams and creeks, where they can be rounded up downstream. Also keep an eye on frozen lakes, because as the season progresses these can be used to take out whole groups of zombies by luring them to thinner areas where they can fall into the icy water and get trapped. Read More…

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