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Tuesday News: ATT wants to merge with Direct TV, new Yahoo...

“This is a unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens — mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

         He described DirecTV as the “best option” for AT&T “because they have the premier brand in pay TV, the best content relationships, and a fast-growing Latin American business.” –CNN

In other words, no one else may use your Yahoo address to send on your behalf which millions of internet resources are designed in this fashion. If you wish to reply to a Classified ad and you have a Yahoo address, same applies. Implications here are massive and impact everyone. We may find there are work-arounds for this but I’m not seeing them. Having trouble wrapping my brain around this. –Mandolin Cafe

As criticism swirled around the concept of trigger warnings for university literature courses – one professor told the New York Times that “the presumption there is that students should not be forced to deal with something that makes them uncomfortable is absurd or even dangerous” – Meredith Raimondo, Oberlin’s associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that providing warnings was “responsible pedagogical practice”, and that she objected to “the argument of ‘Kids today need to toughen up'”. “That absolutely misses the reality that we’re dealing with. We have students coming to us with serious issues, and we need to deal with that respectfully and seriously,” Raimondo told the US paper. –The Guardian

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s came under fire on Monday after a photo surfaced of a 12 Years A Slave DVD display that gave customers the opportunity to “get the look.” As in, the slave “look,” as if 12 Years a Slave was some kind of Hollywood fashion trend. The supermarket DVD stand included a mannequin wearing cropped trousers and a loose-fitting beige shirt: supposedly a slave-themed outfit. –Daily Dot

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. Sandy James
    May 20, 2014 @ 05:19:14

    I want to scream at Yahoo! Their new email system is a PITA! I finally had to switch to their “basic” version because their new version kept freezing up! Why do companies “fix” things that aren’t broken?? Gah!

    Sorry for the rant…

  2. beccadi
    May 20, 2014 @ 07:44:04

    I switched from yahoo to gmail last September. There are things I miss about the old yahoo mail system, but on the whole I’m very glad I did the switch.

  3. SAO
    May 20, 2014 @ 08:31:05

    I view a trigger warning as just that, a warning. There’s a difference between pointing out something unpleasant is going to be read and discussed and excusing students from reading/discussing it.

    I had an unexpected episode of uncontrollable weeping at some event in my 4th grader’s classroom, that included the teacher reading a Thanksgiving story, which featured Caribbean refugees in a rickety, not-quite-sound boat coming to America, because when I was in the Peace Corps in Haiti, some of the people I’d worked with later took risky boats to America, half of them survived the voyage.

    So there I was, a happy occasion, lots of parents, my daughter proud to see me there, with tears running down my face. I quietly left the room and spent about 10 minutes before I got a grip. Luckily, all attention was on the teacher and the book, but I cry easily and I’ve noticed that grown women with tears make lots of people very, very uncomfortable. It’s much better to be able to prepare people for it.

  4. Erin Burns
    May 20, 2014 @ 09:48:13

    On trigger warnings; while I wouldn’t necessarily agree with excusing people from topics because I think that is something of a slippery slope, I do think warning are very appropriate.

  5. helen
    May 20, 2014 @ 10:45:44

    I think trigger warnings are ridiculous. Life is messy and adult literature is as well. If you are in a college literature class (or really any humanity class) you can expect that you will read works of literature that contain, murder, violence, sex, rape, and any every unsavory aspect of the human condition as well as every good that humanity encapsulates. Good literature reflects our fears, hopes and dreams. Life doesn’t come with a warning label, neither should our literature.

  6. Sunny
    May 20, 2014 @ 11:06:27

    TW: CSA, Graphic Rape, Suicide

    I appreciate trigger warnings like no tomorrow. I have PTSD due to CSA and while some things make me uncomfortable and can trigger anxiety attacks, things can also throw me into full-blown flashbacks.

    I had friends take me to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in theatres. It warned for scenes of “Sexualized nature”, I figured, fine. Oh, no. Instead there is a fully-depicted rape scene of a minor by a social worker. I had to be removed from the theatre because I could not stop screaming and crying, my first full-blown panic attack. I thought I was going to die, I could not breathe, and I could not stop seeing it happening.

    The worst part? I’ve never had flashback issues until then, because my entire childhood is pretty blank thanks to the PTSD (I can list events but I can’t see them or actually remember them). Now I have fucking flashbacks of the scenes from this movie on a frequent basis — and I can’t avoid them. I’ve gone from avoidance of rape scenes to literally throwing up when they are mentioned or shown in any detail, and just describing it I am shaking and covered in sweat and my eyes are leaking.

    I just need to “toughen up” because I was raped and abused repeatedly as a child? Life doesn’t come with warnings? Good literature needs child rape in it? Please. It’s bad enough I have spent so much time in therapy and on so many different medications to find a way that I can function in everyday society, hold down a job, etc. I’ve lost my hopes of having a family. This isn’t just “overreaction”, these are significant physical and chemical changes that have been tracked through my brain over time. There is a huge amount of science poured towards this.

    And it’s people who decide that anyone who has lived through something traumatic enough to cause PTSD, PDSD, cPTSD are just “not tough” enough that make me furious, because you’re right, with 100% PTSD rate on CSA, those kids should just be tougher and suck it up when they’re raped and abused by people they trust, and should come through with zero issues, so that we can… what, exactly? Depict it in film and books as “art”? Then again, anyone who thinks that rape, sexual assault on children and suicide caused by both is “hilarious” and “good literature that needs to be forced on the world” probably doesn’t have the empathy of a fly.

    Yeah, hilarious.

  7. DS
    May 20, 2014 @ 11:21:04

    I’ve been kind of puzzled about the article that mentioned a trigger warning for colonialism. Don’t understand that at all.

  8. Sunny
    May 20, 2014 @ 11:21:26

    Also, I am grateful for trigger warnings, content warnings, etc. I have never insisted on them but you’d better believe I appreciate them and people who care tend to incorporate them into our lives without even thinking about it — friends will tell me “I liked this movie but it has X scene in it, so you might want to watch it on DVD with someone so you can skip it” or “That movie was great, nothing that will bother you, I want to see it again, want to go?” or “I read this book and it’s definitely not for you, and wasn’t really good enough for you to bother”. We have the EXACT SAME conversations about things we just DISLIKE — isn’t that what people do? Recommend stuff to their friends that they think they will like, with caveats on stuff that they might not?

    I can generally suss out from reviews (especially here, but sometimes even on Amazon) if something is going to really be a problem. I read to escape, to enjoy myself, to enjoy someone’s world — I don’t read to put myself in a med-induced fugue because something was a graphic enough depiction to pretty much put me out for the count for that day. There is no “literature” amazing enough that it is worth that to me.

  9. Liz H.
    May 20, 2014 @ 11:58:56

    I am very divided on the issue of trigger warnings. I sympathize with those who are affected, and think the Oberlin dean discussed it particularly well. However, I don’t think the trigger warnings as currently proposed are feasible for a variety of reasons. How should they be phrased and what should be included? Do they apply only to literature classes, or to history, psychology, medical, etc? Do they create a legal responsibility, and thus a legal vulnerability if someone thinks you’ve done it wrong? And generally, it seems impossible to ensure that warnings can cover every possible trigger for every possible person (and who’s to say that one person’s trigger is less important just because it may be less common).

    Creating warnings for entire courses protects the privacy of those students. However it does create the opportunity for students to avoid material that makes them uncomfortable, and more importantly, can have a stifling effect (it should escape no one’s notice that many of the books used as examples have been included on a variety of banned books lists). And here I must disagree, strongly with Sunny- violence, abuse, sexism, discrimination, war, etc. are all incredibly important issues and their discussion in literature, history, and yes, art, increases awareness and understanding, and can have a huge real world impact.

  10. Sunny
    May 20, 2014 @ 12:26:51

    @Liz H.: You’re right, I was speaking just for myself about literature, not for the world. But then I’m not a lit major, either.

    I think it’s less about legal concerns and just having the ability to not be taken by surprise for some stuff. If I know going in that a book or movie contains something I can be prepared, make judgements if it is going to be an issue, if I have my meds handy, etc. For example, I was not okay with a book being read aloud in class in high school, but could read it fine on my own. I have a lot more trouble with films than I do books, because of the full-sensory nature of them. I can watch them at home with the lights on and someone with me (with the ability to skip over brief parts), but that is not the same as “Surprise!” in class.

    If someone’s making a syllabus for a class, it’s pretty easy to say “we will be watching x, y, z movies in class, if people have concerns about content please contact me”. Living with this means you have to be very pro-active about things, so it’s not expecting to be spoonfed or coddled, just given a heads-up that these things are going to happen in advance, so if absolutely necessary alternative arrangements can be made.

    The equation between “upsetting” and “triggering” really bothers me, too. There is a huge, huge difference, and people really seem to love chasing the straw man of “Well what if…” when most people are really up-front about what actually makes it difficult for them to live their lives.

  11. Jula Gabriel
    May 20, 2014 @ 12:28:40

    I can understand warnings on movies and television shows. I don’t suffer from PTSD but there are types of violence I don’t care to watch. And I bawl my eyes out at any movie where a parent dies because my mother died when I was young. But the Great Gatsby? Shakespeare? There is a difference between a graphic depiction of something and a movie or a book about something. You can write a book about suicide without graphically depicting suicide. Great literature is usually not about happiness (which is why I like to escape into romancelandia). I tell my students every semester, trouble is what’s interesting in art. (Though that essay about having sex with another student in the class, I might have appreciated a warning on that one.)

    All that said, when I create my syllabi every semester I do rule out short stories and essays (even an entire poetry textbook once) because the potential administrative and bureaucratic headache just isn’t worth it. I am truly sorry to say that because books were my escape from the violence and poverty of my childhood. The public library was my safe place. But I don’t get paid enough and any time I spend dealing with complaints at the university is time I don’t have to spend on my own writing (or reading).

  12. Fallen Professor
    May 20, 2014 @ 12:38:39

    Here’s the thing about writing a syllabus with trigger warnings: how do I know I’m covering all the bases? I’m not being facetious here; this is a serious concern, and I do propose a solution further down. It’s just that I (and other people I know) have some fairly obscure triggers. By “obscure” I don’t mean “ridiculous” or “trivial”; I mean just that – obscure, as in stuff that might not even come to mind. And for many, the very mention of these triggers is a trigger; what about them? Don’t they deserve the same deference?

    So one solution might be to provide the information on triggers, but through a “middleman” so to speak. For example, a database/wiki (created by the university, by professors, by communities of readers, by whomever) listing books/films tagged with all possible triggers. This would allow prospective students to research the course material and make an informed, anonymous decision, while keeping the syllabus as a simple list of books and assignments, etc. That’s basically what I do when I want to watch a movie: I can’t watch certain types of violence, so I read through detailed reviews and even spoiler sites and decide whether I’ll like it or it will freak me out to no end.

    As for the argument about whether “good” literature needs to have all the unpleasant stuff, well that’s another whole topic. But in a nutshell: it’s there. Narrative fiction especially relies on conflict, and conflict means that at some point, something bad is going to happen. Do we need to “suck it up”? No, no we don’t. But, those of us who need to know certain details about the books we read or films we watch usually manage to ferret them out before we begin reading or watching.

  13. Elinor Aspen
    May 20, 2014 @ 12:43:17

    I notice that the article makes no mention of the returning veterans who are entering college. It implies that the students who want trigger warnings are just coddled millennials. I wonder if attitudes would change if a veterans organization advocated for trigger warnings in college courses? The trigger warning for colonialism is only perplexing if one does not realize that colonialism has not ended in all parts of the world and is indeed traumatic to the members of exploited and disenfranchised populations. Works of literature that treat colonialism as a good and “civilizing” influence should be approached as products of their time, and students should understand that the professor is not trying to advocate that point of view or make students from exploited nations feel less worthy than their white peers. Trigger warnings show respect for students by acknowledging that some of the values expressed in works of literature are abhorrent. Blindsiding students with rape scenes or racial slurs can give the impression that the professor wants to make women or minorities particularly uncomfortable in class.

  14. Liz H.
    May 20, 2014 @ 12:58:50

    @Sunny: I think there is a big difference between asking for a complete syllabus (including all films and extra material covered in classes), and the proposed trigger warnings. The latter asks the professors to create those trigger warnings for everyone (and as I asked, how do you possibly do that). A complete syllabus would allow students to do their own research to check for triggers and/or discuss content with the professor. I at least, think that is far more feasible solution, and avoids the problems of the general warnings, so long as schools have (or develop) procedures to deal with such situations “seriously and responsibly”, as the Oberlin Dean said. Although it does expose students to having to discuss history/problems that may be intensely private to people they know only obliquely; but perhaps a “responsible” policy could avoid or limit that problem somehow.

    I absolutely agree that there are worlds of difference between uncomfortable and triggering, but to establish policies it is one that must be delineated.

  15. Emily
    May 20, 2014 @ 13:33:07

    Thank you, Thank you! I didn’t know it’s not just me. I use yahoo as my primary account and it is really doing badly. I can’t email someone who was waiting for my email. Thank you Dear Author!

  16. Mzcue
    May 20, 2014 @ 14:08:12

    I’m shocked to find myself suggesting this, but could a possible compromise be found in a hybrid of the movies/television ratings system? The instructor could indicate that certain course materials contain violent or potentially inflammatory scenes, encouraging students with strong sensitivities to inform themselves via the database references suggested above?

    I’m sympathetic to people with PTSD and other vulnerabilities, but I dread an academic culture heading toward excluding harsh subjects out of general fear of liability or offense. As one who has grappled with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse, I prefer having it out in the open.

    I can also envision angry reviewers blasting authors online for failing to adequately warn readers/viewers of increasingly obscure triggers. My sister is terrified of turtles because of a nasty childhood encounter with a snapper. Even seeing a photo of a turtle makes her physically ill. (You can chuckle, but it’s clear she’s very unhappy.) Nevertheless, I think it’s incumbent on my sister herself, her friends and family to steer her away from all things turtle rather than to expect a warning label on her reading/viewing material.

  17. Alexandra
    May 20, 2014 @ 15:58:48

    As in the example of the UC Santa Barbara student mentioned, any momentary personal embarrassment in such an occurrence doesn’t concern me so much as the potential victim-blaming an individual may face after being unintentionally outed as a sexual assault survivor. That is where I see merit in trigger warnings. Last week’s Time cover story was about the rape epidemic on college campuses. A good friend of mine attended the University of Iowa, one of the most notorious party schools in the U.S., and told me stories about rape whistles “being handed out like candy”, a description that was both disturbing yet seemed to reduce the importance of the issue.

    I also believe that trigger warnings – on literature especially – could easily become exploitable and similar to a form of “policing”. What parameters should be used to issue a warning? Should a student be excused from that portion of the syllabus? Should alternative content be offered? This is also alarming to me because I see it as a slippery slope that could hinder educational progress for everyone rather than create awareness and a safe environment for those with certain triggers.

  18. Robin/Janet
    May 20, 2014 @ 16:05:32

    To elaborate on @Elinor Aspen‘s point, there has been an explicit linking of “trigger warning” in some of these articles to Feminism, especially Internet Feminism, when the concept is based in the kind of PTSD soldiers suffered post WWI. Student veterans, though, have been a consistently underserved population, so it doesn’t shock me that there hasn’t been consideration of their experiences in this discussion.

    More generally, some of these issues are coverable under disability services on campuses, and therefore eligible for accommodation. However, there are many students who do not want to feel targeted by registering for Disability Services, and other students who don’t even realize they are eligible. And not all faculty show the same level of support and welcome for students who do have a legal right to reasonable accommodation.

    I’ve always been wary of content warnings myself, but as Sunny points out, there’s a HUGE difference between feeling uncomfortable or offended (which is, some would argue, a necessary part of the educational process) and suffering from PTSD. Unfortunately, this discussion tends to trivialize the second by eliding it with the first.

  19. Amanda
    May 20, 2014 @ 16:47:20

    When my cable went up recently I switched to DirectTV and have been very happy with it so far . I do now worry what this merger will now bring. Fewer choices are never a good thing for subscribers. Dreamer that I am I keep hoping for the day when these companies allow you to pay for channels you want instead of making you buy packages.

  20. Donna A
    May 20, 2014 @ 19:05:54

    I don’t normally comment but this hit a few buttons for me so here goes.

    I am in no way discussing it but I have many issues that can cause me to be affected by any number of things. That is exactly why I read reviews and use common sense. I’m an adult. I chose not to study literature at university not because of my mental health issues but because I preferred philosophy (turned out to have way more issues attached but that’s another story). Did I assume there would be books in a university level syllabus that might feature provacative issues? Well, duh.

    I don’t have an issue per se with trigger warnings – though I find it a vague and next to useless warning and far prefer checking a variety of online reviews to determine content. And for what would be termed a contemporary romance, then fair enough, you mightn’t expect rape or molestation etc, so warn of it.

    No, the problem as I see it is a matter of taking personal responsibility as an adult – and if at 17/18 you cannot begin to do such a thing I am rather worried for the world of tomorrow. Fair enough to have warnings say up through secondary level – I had a hugely embarassing and distressing incident in year 8 (aged about 13) when we were shown the video of A Room With A View and the men unexpectedly ran utterly naked about a pond. Full on panic attack ensued, class was cancelled, guardians called, I had to try and explain to my friends, just awful.

    Despite that I really find the need to warn adults taking university literature classes of them being potentially traumatic actually offensive in a way. It seems to promote the sense of victim mentality and an inability to assume personal responsibility for your own welfare. And that is something I took a long time regaining and still struggle with so I prefer you don’t take it back away from me.

  21. Ridley
    May 21, 2014 @ 11:53:09

    I lol so hard at all of these comments telling rape victims, trauma survivors and war veterans to toughen up, take personal responsibility and stop being big babies.

    That’s totally more productive than including a note on a syllabus that a lecture deals with rape, violence or other trauma.

  22. cleo
    May 21, 2014 @ 12:36:32

    @Donna A –
    “I really find the need to warn adults taking university literature classes of them being potentially traumatic actually offensive in a way. It seems to promote the sense of victim mentality and an inability to assume personal responsibility for your own welfare. ”

    I don’t know – I think wanting information ahead of time so that one can make a grown up decision about managing their response IS taking personal responsibility for their welfare. A trigger warning is just a piece of information – nothing more.

    I have PTSD (from CSA). I was in serious denial when I was a college freshman. I didn’t start therapy until I was 20 and honestly, after I started treatment, my symptoms got worse before they got better. I think the fact that some young people are self aware enough to ask for information that they need to take care of themselves is a good thing.

    I think as a culture we’re still figuring out how to deal with trauma. I don’t think trigger warnings are perfect or always useful. But I think it’s a good sign that we’re even talking about them and not just expecting people with PTSD to always suck it up and get over it already.

  23. Sunita
    May 21, 2014 @ 13:23:42

    @cleo: Your point about the life-stage aspect of college is really important. For many students it’s the first time they have affordable access to therapy, and as you say, therapy frequently makes things worse before it makes things better (confronting the issues that brought you to therapy can precipitate its own trauma in the short run).

    I wrote about this in more detail at my personal blog, but I want to reiterate that severe trauma like PTSD is almost certainly covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and universities have a legal responsibility to make accommodations for such students. It has nothing to do with a “victim mentality” or failing to take responsibility; quite the reverse, since it is designed to provide accommodations for students who need them in order to participate in the public sphere. And college is, at least to an extent, part of the public sphere.

  24. Mzcue
    May 23, 2014 @ 17:36:30

    Here is an interesting contribution to the discussion about the advisability of trigger warnings on college course material. The author is Sarah Roff, “a fourth-year resident in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington Medical Center. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the Johns Hopkins University and worked as an assistant professor of Germanic languages and literatures at Princeton University.” Her area of specialization includes the psychiatric consequences of trauma. I thought it might be a good follow up to the discussion, since those above have spoken from the standpoint of trauma survivers and the people who care for them, but not from those who treat them (if I recall correctly). In short, Rott is not in favor of warnings, but certainly not insensitive to those susceptible to the aftermath of trauma. I won’t try to paraphrase, but her rationale seems thoughtful.

  25. Erin Burns
    May 23, 2014 @ 17:55:20


    While I’d certainly agree with this in theory:

    “It would be much more useful for faculty members and students to be trained how to respond if they are concerned that a student or peer has suffered trauma. Giving members of the college community the tools to guide them to the help they need would be more valuable than trying to insulate them from triggers. Students with unusually intense responses to academic cues should be referred to student-health services, where they can be evaluated and receive evidence-based treatments so that they can participate fully in the life of the university.”

    In practice I find the idea of getting faculty trained and compliant and actually getting these students the services they need a pipe dream. There simply isn’t any real way to monitor this, whereas mandating warning on a syllabus could be tracked an monitored. I’m certainly not insensitive nor do I disagree with the students getting treatment, but working in a University setting I just doubt that any meaningful headway would be made in such a program. For example, the university I work for has a large Deaf education program, an active Disabilities office, active state Department of Assisstive and Rehabilitation services office, AND an audiology clinic on campus. And yet, we still have problems getting the students the services they need and getting the professors to accommodate.

    Maybe I am just being pessimistic, but I think there would be a much larger chance of getting something done for the students if there was a warning, which would prompt them to speak with their academic advisers about options. Maybe it is different here than at other universities, but the advisers seem to be the most knowledgeable about what is available.

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