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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.





text that says Ana's Section

Gender Bias at NPR: Clearly, female novelists have neither the cultural capital nor the financial capital that male novelists do. When will people face up to that? And when will it change?

This article about William Mayne, children's author and sexual abuser, gave me a lot to think about. I first heard about Mayne in Alison Lurie's very interesting Don't Tell the Grown-Ups and immediately got excited about his writing. But when I looked him up online and found out about the sexual abuse, my instant thought was, "I don't want to read read him anymore". I don't know that I never will, but I think either decision is valid. I completely respect people's right to decide not to support or engage with certain artists for whatever reason, but I also think it's dangerous and simplistic to think that someone who reads Mayne is automatically aligning themselves with his criminal behaviour and with what it represents ethically.

Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Female Friendship: Articles with titles like this tend to worry me a little bit, because it's so easy for them to fall into an Abyss of Essentialist Doom and become about how women are inherently more prone to forming strong friendships (and as I've said before, the subtext is that those of us who don't do this easily at all, much like those of us who, say, don't want children, must be unnatural). To sum it up: women are not a monolithic entity, but hooray for countering the widespread women-are-backstabbing meme.

My favourite bit:

It also made me realize how much people diminish and poo-poo the real power and strength of female friendship, especially between women, which is either supposed to descend into some kind of male lesbian love scene porn fantasy or be dismissed as meaningless or be re-written as a story of competition. Here’s the truth: friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, “bonus” relationships to the truly important ones.


Here at Lady Business we often have conversations about how we wished there were more stories out there that acknowledged the importance and reality of non-romantic relationships, and what I liked about this article was that it addressed that.

➝ Muslim Media Watch asks: How are Muslim Women Doing in Political Cartoons?

➝ Look, it's Hipster Avatar :D

➝ The Amelia Bloomer Project, which distinguishes "the best feminist books for young readers", has announced its list for 2012. Sigh, so many books that I want. (Via [twitter.com profile] misskubelik)

➝ I hope nobody will mind it if I wrap up my section by plugging a project I helped orchestrate: The Year of Feminist Classics has announced its reading list for 2012/3. Come read books with us?




text that says Jodie's Section

I have no substantial news to offer this week, I'm afraid. My section is all pictures of cute animals and stuff. I know, I bet you are all really sad about that.

World's smallest deer is small.

➝ David Attenborough recites 'What a Wonderful World' like it is a poem, over beautiful wildlife shots. Every time this comes on TV I really stop and pay attention.

➝ When I did my zoo keeper experience they let me cuddle the tapirs for a very long time. It was totally worth the money just for that. The baby tapir in this video had yet to be born and I imagine they do not let randomers cuddle the precious, tiny tapirs, but it is soooo cute and I thought you might like to see a video.

The Biodiversity Project is a photographic attempt to encourage people to care about the extinction of species by showing just what cuties are out there right now. So many pictures! My favourite so far is of the poison frog. via [twitter.com profile] CatherineHaines

➝ io9 has details of some planetary chocolates which are pretty.

➝ Claire LeGrand has a feature called The Weekly Unicorn where each week she showcases one awesome thing featuring our future benevolent overlords.

Edit - mistakenly left in comment: More actually important stuff next week (I mean if the Internet throws it my way).




text that says Renay's Section

It's Youtube time in my neck of the woods!

➝ Even though SOPA and PIPA were dealt a blow, it didn't stop the shutdown of Megaupload. I personally used Megaupload to host lecture recordings, and now all those recordings are just gone! Poof! Jonathan Coulton wrote an excellent post about it and piracy in general. It's great.

I believe in copyright. I benefit from it. I don’t want it to go away. I love that we have laws and people to enforce them. But if I had to give up one thing, if I had to choose between copyright and the wild west, semi-lawless, innovation-fest that is the Internet? I’ll take the Internet every time.


➝ In the same vein, have Gaiman on Copyright Piracy and the Web. He's very smart and very well-spoken! I particularly like this bit:

People were discovering me by being pirated. And they were going out and buying the real books. And when a new book would come out in Russia, it would sell more and more copies. [....] I tried a few experiments. And some of them were quite hard, you know, persuading my publisher, for example, to take one of my books and put it out for free. And we took American Gods, a book that was still selling, and selling very well, and for a month they put it up completely free on their website and you could read it and download it and what happened was that sales of my books through independent bookstores, because that's all we were measuring it through, went up the following month 300%.


Those Pesky Dames are, as defined on their channel, Five women who can't jet around in the Mystery Machine solving ghost stories, so shout about patriarchy instead. I am bad with short video and haven't been through all their videos yet, but it looks really promising!

Sherlock BBC recast as a romantic comedy. I love you, fair use! But mostly I love the fans of transformative works that risk overzealous copyright holders trying to add to their silo of millions to make cool and interesting material that makes me laugh after a terrible day.

➝ I found this music video for the song Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen the other day and was completely charmed by the romance novels (!!! hilarity) and the ending.

➝ A lovely person on my reading list is started a project and has opened a Kickstarter account to fund Plunge Magazine, which will, as stated at the link, "publish quality short stories, poems, and articles about queer women in a variety of genres from space operas to mysteries, wild west to fairy tales, superheroes to the end of the world." My first reaction is QUEER LADIES IN SPACE!!! Susan, alert!

➝ In closing, have a snoring dormouse, who I am going to spend some time imitating as I get back into a normal working schedule. Damn you, $dayjob!

Date: 2012-01-29 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] dastevens
Okay, once again you're going to make me conveniently misplace my to-do list so I can instead spend the morning checking out all these incredible links. So--do I curse you all or thank you all?

But Jodie, you made me sad with your closing line there--I think trying to make people care about biodiversity *is* actually important stuff. :)

Date: 2012-01-29 06:06 pm (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
What to-do list? I don't even see one, so clearly you're free to click ALL the links. ;)

Date: 2012-01-29 06:09 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Oh, I kind of added that link in the middle of everything at the last second and did not check all through again it seems.

Date: 2012-01-30 03:50 am (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Jodie, tsk. Some weeks we should allow ourselves to focus on non-important stuff with no shame. NEVER BACK DOWN. NEVER APOLOGIZE. ;)

Date: 2012-01-30 01:55 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Ana the article on William Mayne was really interesting. Sometimes I find it hard to seperate current authors personal behaviour from their work (as in I sometimes don't read authors whose biography contains problems for me, or at least I put them way down my mental reading list) even if what I find distateful about their out of text opinions doesn't make it into their work. I think the immediacey of my connection to a modern author, like often I can watch a whole catastrophe play out in real time, makes linking work and biography much more apparent.

When it comes to authors who wrote a long time ago, or are even dead it's much easier to create that seperation. And to go off on a mind wander, it becomes much more acceptable to wind biography into any analysis of their text (even though lots of people are oppossed to texts being read biographically it's still become a recognised approach to study). Distance is a big influencer for me I think and I find it a lot easier to say 'this work was important to me before I knew this and remians important' about authors who aren't around anymore. It becomes much more complicated when the people are still alive and producing. I'd love to hear how other people feel about that.

Date: 2012-01-30 06:56 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
I definitely think that's the case with me as well. Some of it might have to do with not feeling that I'm supporting someone who actively contributes to something I find harmful - for example, Orson Scott Card donating big piles of money to Prop 8 campaigns, though that's obviously a lot more straightforward than feeling that you're 'funding' Mayne's abuse. But in any case, the person being dead puts an end to all that. There's also the fact that it's easier to have a wider view of how they lived their life, of the kind of person they went on to become, once said life has reached its end. Anyone who's still alive is constantly evolving.

You know me, I'm a big believer in texts standing on their own and etc, but all the same it would be silly to say that biography doesn't influence me. I guess part of that has to do with the fact that I'm curious about writers as people - I'm interested in the art itself, of course, but also in the overall vision of the person who created it; in who they were; in how different aspects of their worldview coexisted and what that might say about all of us; in the good and the bad. And I guess it's much easier to admit to feeling this way without feeling creepy or intrusive when the author is no longer around.

Date: 2012-01-30 06:58 pm (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I am one of those who struggle with reading problematic authors who are alive. Specifically, people who say and do *ist things and then refuse to apologize or worse, refuse to apologize and insult the people who raised the concern. I have also, in the past, not read authors who disallow fanfic or wank about how their writing is so precious and special snowflake, because from my perspective, it's a very anti-feminist notion that's denying the female communities that are built around fanfic itself. They act like fanfic is something people do in their basements by themselves and erase the community, which, in my case, saved my life as a young woman, so it's very difficult for me to get past.

I ultimately disagree with the idea that reading someone is aligning with their interests, alive or dead. I still reread Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead every year, and Card is as homophobic as the day is long and still around and spouting terrible things but don't consider myself to hold those same opinions. I don't believe that people who still choose to read him are homophobic (for example, Chris still reads him).

That applies across the board: we can choose not to read certain people because of their life choices or ideals, but we can also choose to read them in spite of or sometimes even because of. It's a personal choice that depends on our ability to compartmentalize and divide the art from the artist (I suck at it). There's also something to be said for reading these things but doing so in a way that doesn't financially contribute to that artist or their estate (if they happen to be dead).

Date: 2012-01-30 07:25 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
I agree with all this. Ultimately it's a personal choice, and I dislike the idea of making assumptions or generalisations about people's beliefs, ideals, and what they care about based on who they read/listen to/watch movies by/etc.

Also yes re your last point. Hooray for used OSC novels :P

Date: 2012-02-01 08:30 pm (UTC)
spindizzy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] spindizzy
QUEER LADIES IN SPACE YOU SAY.

RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS YOU SAY.

... I'll make better points at some point, but for now!

Date: 2012-02-03 08:44 pm (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I KNOW YOU SO WELL, SUSAN. SO WELL.

Date: 2012-02-03 08:45 pm (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I am actually considering breaking my embargo and reading some authors who dislike fanfiction but talking about it explicitly in the review. Like the book I linked to you recently that I was going to suggest we read together? Because I know zero about the history there and you're really smart? >.>

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Renay is a long time member of slash fandom and nerdfighteria who stumbled into book blogging by accident and decided she liked arguing with herself at length and in capslock — it was all downhill from there. more? » about.me icon twitter icon pinboard icon tumblr icon

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