/Tag: culture


The actual publisher, Bloomsbury, deems [Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses] as for a teen audience. But if you’ve actually read the book, like me, this gives you a double-take. The graphic sex scenes in both this book and its sequel, though great in my opinion, are not suitable for the entire “young adult” audience. 13-year-olds finding this book in their section of the library is profoundly discomforting to me.

Mya Nunnally on women’s fiction.

This is from a longer article about the problems with speculative fiction written by women being constantly mis-categorized, in this case as being “for children” when it isn’t.

I found the quote above interesting because it’s something I ran into, albeit reversed, when trying to shop The Dragon of Rosemont High. The characters in that are about fifteen, and the book was pitched as young adult. But the feedback I got from multiple editors was that it felt “too young”1 for “young adult”, and that I should “rewrite it as a middle grade” novel, i.e. bump everyone’s ages down a year or two and set it in a middle school, not a high school. I had… Issues with this,2 particularly because at the time there was an active online dust-up going on in the YA scene with Actual Teens positing that, like. Maybe “Young Adult” fiction was swinging a bit too far towards the “adult” rather than “young” side.

And, to be clear. Like, DoRH deals with some pretty heavy issues; there’s violence and death, gore, slurs and the sorts of people who use them, and aspects of young sexuality. But, like. It’s about fifteen-year-olds, and is intended to be read by people who’re also about that age?

But, apparently, “books about fifteen-year-olds” fall into some kind of marketing black hole that’s too old for middle grade (i.e. children) and too young for “young adult”, which now apparently means “adults who read otherwise ‘adult’ books with seventeen-year-old protagonists”. Which… okay. Sure.

Publishing. Go figure.

  1. The fact that one Unnamed Editor From a Big 5 Publishing House also specifically mentioned the fact that the main character experiences bullying as making him feel “young” and “unlikable” was just… wow. That happened. And also ironically only the second hottest take I’ve ever gotten from a Big 5 editor. ^
  2. Not the least of which was being asked to essentially rewrite an entire novel on spec but, y’know. Never let it be said that publishing isn’t wildly exploitative! ^
2019-02-20T09:04:54+00:0011th February, 2019|Tags: books, culture, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH, young adult|

Milquetoast progress.

Consider David Rubenstein, a co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. He’s a billionaire who practices what he calls “patriotic philanthropy.” For example, when a 2011 earthquake damaged the Washington Monument and Congress funded only half of the $15 million repair, Mr. Rubenstein paid the rest. “The government doesn’t have the resources it used to have,” he explained, adding that “private citizens now need to pitch in.”

That pitching-in seems generous — until you learn that he is one of the reasons the government is strapped. He and his colleagues have long used their influence to protect the carried-interest loophole, which is enormously beneficial to people in the private equity field. Closing the loophole could give the government $180 billion over 10 years, enough to fix that monument thousands of times over.

Anand Giridharadas makes a thinking face emoji.

Tl;dr, the emphasis on individualised philanthropy is bullshit and primarily designed to keep in place the structures of existing power inequality.

2018-09-05T08:56:11+00:0011th February, 2019|Tags: culture|

Split the T.

“Man,” some of you might be thinking. “Why is it I keep hearing about TERFs recently? Like, they’re all suddenly everywhere. What’s up with that?”

Well, this is what’s up with that. [Content warning for transphobic rhetoric at the link, used for illustrative purposes.]

Tl;dr, the far-right is co-opting progressive language as a way of trying to fragment leftist activists in general, and queer and feminist activists in particular. The resulting rhetoric is what we think of as “TERF-y”.

That being said, TERF-y rhetoric has existed in fauxminist circles for decades, so it’s not that the right is inventing this garbage so much as they’re stirring the pond so it all floats back up to the surface. It’s up to everyone else—or, more specifically, cis feminists—to grab the nets and skim that shit off.

2018-09-05T08:43:53+00:0010th February, 2019|Tags: culture|

Die in earnest.

A Twitter follower reminded me of a line in the famous parable from Bion of Borysthenes: “Boys throw stones at frogs in fun, but the frogs do not die in fun, but in earnest.” Defenders of trolling insist it’s all just a joke, but if trolling is inherently designed to get a rise out of someone, then that’s what it really is. In many cases, it is designed to look and feel indistinguishable from a genuine attack. Whether you believe what you are saying or not is often immaterial because the impact is the same — and you are responsible for it, regardless of how funny you think it is. It is a lesson kids learn time and time again on the playground, and yet, it is ridiculously difficult for people to accept the same basic notion in online culture, no matter their age. Why is that so? Because those are the social norms that develop when you create a culture where everything is supposed to be a joke.

It’s no accident that the corners of the internet that subscribe most deeply to this idea are also the most openly miserable.

Film Crit Hulk on trolling.

2018-08-28T10:46:05+00:004th February, 2019|Tags: culture|

… do you?

Sometimes it seems to me a better way to organize the political spectrum than along a continuum of right and left would be the ideology of disconnection versus the ideology of connection. In the short term we are working to protect the rights of immigrants and to prevent families from being torn apart at the border—and to address the relationship between our greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate, between our economic systems and poverty, between what we do and what happens beyond us, because the ideology of isolation is in part a denial of cause and effect relations, and a demand to be unburdened even from scientific fact and the historical and linguistic structures governing truth. In the long term our work must be to connect and to bring a vision of connection as better than disconnection, for oneself and for the world

Rebecca Solnit really cares.

2018-08-27T15:55:16+00:002nd February, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Advantage blindness.

This Harvard Business Review article on “advantage blindness” probably isn’t all that revolutionary to anyone who spends any time in intersectional/social justice spaces. But that’s kinda the point; it’s not for those people, it’s for the sorts of people who read the Harvard Business Review and need to be handheld through the 101. Well, now you have an article to send to them to do so.

2018-08-27T15:49:10+00:001st February, 2019|Tags: culture|

Corporate government.

The government-thinking has a secondary appeal to executive teams [of social media sites]. If their site is a country, that makes them the ruling class. It makes the CEO the president (or dictator). And again, squinting, it can kind of feel that way. Running a company, like managing a community, is literally a power trip. You can do things your members can’t, including punishing those members. Power, even tiny power, can be addictive.

But it’s not true. None of it. Your product is not a country. You are not a government. Your CEO is not a president. And, worse, thinking that way is damaging to the community, disastrous for the company, and may just be ruining the world.

Derek Powazek on false equivalences.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The widespread conflation of private platforms and businesses with public (i.e. government) services and infrastructure is like the Original Sin of late-stage capitalism. This is what causes people to cling desperately like Twitter and Facebook, under the assumption that angrily @ing Jack Dorsey is somehow equivalent to making phonecalls to political representatives. This is what causes people to say things like they “believe in” Facebook and “won’t give up on it”, won’t try out new or equivalent services, because they feel some kind of strange, pseudo-patriotism towards the platform. And this is what causes those people to think attitudes like that are somehow valorous.

Spoiler alert: a company is not a government, nor a country, nor a polity. The fact that you think it is is a lie capitalism has taught you, because the reality is the sorts of actions that work on governments (e.g. democracy, accountability) don’t work against corporations—who are accountable to their shareholders/board, not their consumers/product—and yet the foundational conceit of the nation-state (specifically, patriotism) is immensely profitable in the sense that it keeps consumers locked into a particularly brand…

2018-08-25T12:49:53+00:0030th January, 2019|Tags: culture, social media, tech|

Tide pods for Satan.

Interesting look at why people perpetuate conspiracy theories, specifically ones they know, rationally, have to be false. Worth reading both parts, though note that the second part makes reference to a specific kind of animal cruelty in order to make a point about preformative moral outrage.

2018-11-26T08:21:27+00:0026th January, 2019|Tags: culture|


But the imperative to “connect people” lacks the one ingredient essential for being a good citizen: Treating individual human beings as sacrosanct. To Facebook, the world is not made up of individuals, but of connections between them. The billions of Facebook accounts belong not to “people” but to “users,” collections of data points connected to other collections of data points on a vast Social Network, to be targeted and monetized by computer programs.

There are certain things you do not in good conscience do to humans. To data, you can do whatever you like.

Nikhil Sonnad on social media immorality.

2018-08-17T14:09:44+00:0025th January, 2019|Tags: culture, social media, tech|