Carla M. Lee (carlamlee) wrote,
Carla M. Lee

[linking] Sunday Sporadic Link Round-Up

Inuit, Tattoos: 'This is so powerful:' Kitikmeot women revive traditional Inuit tattoos by Juanita Taylor, CBC News

Indigenous people are bringing back sacred practices that were forbidden by Christian missionaries a century ago, and it is wonderful. They're learning and sharing the traditional hand-poke and skin-stitching tattoo methods, too, and sharing with their community. This is so, so important.

Millie Angulalik broke down in sobs after seeing herself in the mirror.

Her niece had practised her new skill flawlessly, creating an exact replica of a traditional Inuit facial tattoo on her aunt's face.

"I feel so complete," said Angulalik. "Like really complete. I feel like flying like a bird."

The lines on her forehead represent her parents, who have died. The lines on her chin represent her niece, parents and two sisters.

"My mom and dad ... they're right there, they're the centre of me. They'll be with me forever to guide me through the Inuk way of life. This is so powerful and I'm really blessed my niece did it.

"I've always been Inuk but this is real Inuk, you know? I love it, I'm so proud of myself for doing that. I know I'm going to be strong now to walk forward in life."

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nostalgia: 'Pioneer Girl' Laura Ingalls Wilder's Real Memoir Overturns Our False Nostalgia by Jennifer Grant at Christianity Today

One of my earliest memories is of my mom reading the Little House books to me. I can remember how she read, her lips shaping the words, precise, careful. I visited Mansfield, Missouri (Where the Little House Books were Written) as a child and as an adult, for different reasons, with different results. A friend of the family bought me LET THE HURRICANE ROAR when I was young and staying with her; we read it together, and then road tripped to Mansfield, and she told me stories about her own childhood. Episodes of the show were on in the background when my great-aunt taught me to cross-stitch.

There is a nostalgia, for me, that supersedes the actual story, and is much more about the experiences surrounding it, when I read it, when it was read to me, where, by whom. But there is a nostalgia to the books themselves, and it sounds like PIONEER GIRL really pushes back against that. I'd like to read it, because false nostalgia is interesting to me; Sarah and I talk a lot about the false nostalgia for the 50s and how to use that in our writing. (Not our current project, but one slated for the future.) I hope that it also pushes back against the way western expansion is idealized and the treatment of the Indians, but we'll see if it does.

I can’t imagine an editor that takes more pains in her diligence than does Hill in the new volume, published by the South Dakota Historical Society. Her notes detail everything from the differences between kinds of plums and varieties of jackrabbits to detailed minutiae about every person whom Wilder mentions in Pioneer Girl. The book is nearly 500 pages long; many of these are devoted to Hill’s research.

Despite my wistful memories of the Little House books and TV show, Pioneer Girl is not all grassy meadows and hymn sings. As has been noted in many reviews, the book paints an uglier picture of life “on the prairie” than do the children’s stories. The blizzards are colder, the people are generally less respectable, and the food is much, much scarcer.

Not long into reading Pioneer Girl, that sentimental fog that’s risen in me whenever I’ve thought about Laura Ingalls completely burned off. As Hill said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the real Laura Ingalls saw a “much grittier world” than did the fictional one.

YA, Publishing, ARCs, Blogging: On ARCs, Ethics & Speaking Up by Kelly at

This was written back in 2012, but is still applicable; there's a pretty huge discussion going on right now, after BEA (Book Expo America, a giant book event; 2016's event just took place in Chicago).

The problem emerges when ARCs show up with a price tag attached. When one person puts a price tag on a book that’s clearly an unfinished copy, that clearly has a note on it saying the item is not meant for sale, they’re practicing something that is unethical.

But the blame isn’t just on the person who sells the ARC. It’s also on the person who buys it, especially if it’s someone who knows better than that. It sort of sounds like a no duh moment, but the fact is, it happens, and it’s not as hidden as people think it is. Buying and selling of ARCs is much more common than we like to believe it is.

When someone purchases an ARC, rather than a finished copy of the book, they rob the book of a sale. The author and the publisher and the agent and the editor and everyone else involved in the production of a book sees nothing. The money spent on the ARC goes to the person unethically selling it, rather than to those who worked hard to put together the best finished version of that story.

Tattoos, Disability, Ableism, Queer: Tattoos and Disability: Surviving An Experience Not Everyone Can Handle by Carrie at

The suggestion that you manicure your disability (like you’re plucking your eyebrows or fixing your hair), the hungry curiosity, the gut reaction to stay “in hiding” while everyone else “walks nude through the house”—I’ve felt all of that, deeply. Sometimes I do it to myself. That’s the ableism I know: benevolent, well-meaning, even familial. The kind that everyone understands is wrong almost never happens to me. No one yells at me on the street, I’m not being denied social services or lifesaving care, and walking means that I can access most spaces (if not always on the first try). Instead, I get pity dressed as compassion. I get “I forget you’re disabled!”, glares for not giving up my seat on the train, and congratulations on being “so close to normal” (yes, that’s an actual thing somebody said). Able-bodied strangers ask “what happened?” not as an accusation, but in a way that invites sympathy. As if I’m going to say “yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it?”. They expect common ground. I look and behave and sound and succeed so much like them that I get an honorary spot on the team. That’s what ableism looks like filtered through privilege: an invitation to distance. Vitamin E for erasing parts of the body that bother other people.

Law, AIs, Tech: Artificially Intelligent Lawyer “Ross” Has Been Hired By Its First Official Law Firm

Don't mind me, I'll just be over here humming "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)". (Technology progresses, takes jobs, AIs inherit the earth.)

Literary Journals, Diversity, Marginalization: Who really needs another literary journal? by Ron Charles at The Washington Post

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a friend of mine, recently took over as editor in chief at the Offing, and I was interested to see this interview from last year about the journal and its purpose and goals.

And the fact is that, though necessary and laudable, the recent strides made by the literary community hardly touch its historical reality: The sheer volume of published work by mainstream writers versus historically marginalized writers speaks for itself. The Offing’s reason for being is, at least in part, to move beyond liberality, beyond tolerance, even beyond ‘welcome,’ to seek out and amplify the voices of these writers and artists, to put them at the center, to put them in charge. We are working, alongside many others, toward a more profound transformation of, and a true diversity in, the literary world — and the world beyond.

Vin Diesel, Social Media: A Powerful Collective Rooting for You: On Vin Diesel's Facebook by Muna Mire at the New York Times Magazine

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when it was difficult to find other people who were fans of Vin Diesel, even online. (This was post-Pitch Black and before The Fast and the Furious really started to take off.) And now look at him.

I also think there's an interesting look at traditional masculinity versus what he's creating there, but I haven't yet put those thoughts into order. If I ever do end up writing about this, I'd want to look at Dwayne Johnson's social media presence, too, because I think he does something similar in how he presents himself, though it's not quite the same sort of community building. (In part because it is on a different platform.) Actually, I'd also want to contrast them to Steve Austin and Chris Jericho -- crap, I do not have the time to do an in-depth analysis of masculinity tropes and how they are subverted (or not) in certain (former) pro wrestlers (and Vin Diesel, who is what started this whole train of thought in the first place).

It would be saccharine coming from anyone else, but Diesel's Facebook page stands in stark contrast to the gritty, unbreakable masculinity that has made him famous. VinBook certainly complicates his public image, adding a layer of earnestness that is both unexpected and welcome.


VinBook allows us a rare glimpse at a man who is so secure in his sense of self that he is able to be painfully sincere. Diesel is not self-conscious in the slightest; he posts about his love for Sarah McLachlan's music and his Dungeons and Dragons birthday cake (he wrote the foreword to the game's 30th anniversary retrospective book), decidedly unmasculine attributes.

Evolution, Fossils, Science: A Monster Comes out of Hiding: Researchers solve a long-standing phylogenetic mystery by Rachel Nuwer at Scientific American

If I had another life to live (or enough money that even more education wasn't prohibitively expensive; alas, I am still paying off my last degree), I would go into paleontology in a heartbeat.

In 1955 amateur fossil hunter Francis Tully discovered an exceedingly odd specimen in Mazon Creek, a collecting hotspot near Chicago. Imprinted on Tully's rock were the remains of a tubular creature with stalk eyeballs and a long mouth apparatus terminating in a feature that resembled an alligator clip. Dubbed the Tully monster, the 300-million-year-old specimen later became Illinois's official state fossil. Despite its popularity, though, researchers have made neither heads nor tails of it—until now.

Technology, Diversity: The 7 Very Coolest Things I Found At NY Tech Day by Ali at

My favorite of this list is the Bitsbox, because it is CODING FOR KIDS, and it sounds amazing.

I LOVE box subscriptions. Love love love. And this is a box for kids that teaches them how to code—every box comes with dozens of apps, and everyone gets everything. No girls box or boys box. The Rocket Girl project goes out to everyone. The coolest thing, said Anastasia, the Director of Operations, is then watching the kids break the apps and rebuild them into exactly what they want. Kids build with real code, not visual building blocks. The box is $30 per month.

Fat, Feminism: 6 Ways I Was Taught to Be a Good Fatty (And Why I Stopped) by Kitty Stryker at Everday Feminism

(Photos may be NSFW.)

Still, I’m not immune to the messaging on television or on the street, where my body taking up space was always seen as a threat and something to be ashamed of.

So I learned, over time, how to perform the dance of the “Good Fatty” – the fat person who can never be socially acceptable, but at least publicly flogs herself for the sin of excess pounds.

The Good Fatty comes in many guises, though the one I encounter the most often is the performative, apologetic, trying-not-to-be-fat Good Fatty.

The Good Fatty is the one who acknowledges and accepts their Othering, both by the people in their personal lives, and the professionals they interact with. The Good Fatty is influenced by the medical profession, the corporate world, the advertising that seeps into our lives.

The Good Fatty is the fatty that people will tolerate – so it quickly becomes a survival strategy for many fat folks, including myself. But it’s also a strategy we can learn to leave behind – for other forms of self-preservation.

So here are some of the lessons I learned – and how I’m beginning to unlearn them.

Money: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans: Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I'm one of them. by Neal Gabler at The Atlantic

I did not find anything about this surprising, but a ton of people I know from law school did. I think that says a lot about the family wealth situations of people who go to elite law schools, to be honest. (Obviously not all of them.)

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.

Racism, Work: The Customer is Not Always Right: Microaggressions in the Service Industry by Saher Naumaan at the Toast

Working in the service industry, I was involuntarily subjected to this uncomfortable and often intrusive examination of my history on a regular basis. It’s as if I had tacitly agreed to become an object of scrutiny — on display — due to my job and my background, and every inch, every aspect of my life was fair game for questioners. In a context in which responding in kind to a rude question is never an option, I felt trapped by the need to maintain a professional demeanor, even if I would prefer to be flippant. You know how “the customer is always right”? That phrase takes on a whole new meaning when you get inappropriate questions about your racial and ethnic background in your place of employment.

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