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Tuesday News: Authors United insult just about everyone, Robin Thicke’s deposition disaster, LEGO’s gender trouble, and portraits of Black Victorians

Tuesday News: Authors United insult just about everyone, Robin Thicke’s deposition...

Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to China. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers. This is the process Amazon is obstructing.

. . . traditional publishing houses perform a vital role in our society. Publishers provide venture capital for ideas. They advance money to authors, giving them the time and freedom to write their books. This system is especially important for nonfiction writers, who often must travel for research. Thousands of times every year, publishers take a chance on unknown authors and advance them money solely on the basis of an idea. By assuming the risk, publishers expect—and receive—a financial return. What will Amazon replace this process with? How, in the Amazon model, will a young author get funding to pursue a promising idea? And what about the role of editors, copy editors, and other publishing staff who ensure that what ultimately ends up on the shelf is both worthy and accurate? –Authors United

The transcripts of the depositions don’t necessarily refute the plaintiffs’ contention in their own summary judgment motion that “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” are not substantially similar for purposes of a copyright analysis, but on the road to a trial that is currently scheduled for February 10, 2015, the Gayes believe they have ammunition to destroy the plaintiffs’ credibility and honor.

“Thicke, for his part, now claims he made all of his statements while drunk or on drugs, none of them true, and he mentioned Marvin Gaye only to sell records,” states the counter-claimants’ court papers. “He also actually testified that he is not an honest person. This complete contempt for the judicial system, and their obligations to tell the truth, can best be summed up by Thicke’s ultimate admission, while under oath, that he ‘[does not] give a f—k’ about this litigation.” –Hollywood Reporter

Family-owned LEGO toys used to be staunchly gender neutral – as self-professed Lego geek David Pickett exhaustively demonstrates. The early advertisements featured both boys and girls playing with identical toys. When minifigs were first introduced in the late 70s – the era of androngyny – gender was downplayed, and the 80s were a golden age for the company. But between the late ‘80s and early ‘00s, the company launched a stream of product lines aimed at girls, none particularly successful and most heavily anchored in pink. These weren’t toys that boys and girls could play with – the company was now making one set of toys for boys (which were often more interesting and challenging to build) and one set of pink, simplified products for girls, including a jewelry line and dollhouses. As Pickett points out, many of these pieces weren’t even compatible with the majority of Legos (i.e., the boy Legos) – and interchangeability is the whole value proposition of the Lego system. –Harvard Business Review Blog

Fittingly, the exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall, the influential left-wing cultural theorist who died this year, and whose writings underpin The Missing Chapter project. “They are here because you were there,” he wrote of the black British people whose experience he illuminated. “There is an umbilical connection. There is no understanding Englishness without understanding its imperial and colonial dimensions.” The excavated images in Black Chronicles II provide a crucial and, until now, overlooked way of further understanding that complex connection. –The Guardian

Thursday News: English accents of the past, Metropolitan Museum photos now online, is YA too dark, and more on trigger warnings

Thursday News: English accents of the past, Metropolitan Museum photos now...

A Linguist Explains What Old-School British Accents Sounded Like – This is a great article that challenges the widely accepted assumption that English folks from, say, the 17th and 18th centuries spoke what we now think of as an English accent (also known as RP, aka Received Pronunciation) instead of using the rhotic pronunciation. Watch the videos, read the essay, and compare to how we “hear” British aristocrats speak in Historical Romance.

First, we need to talk about how it came to be that British and American accents are different in the first place. Most people assume that the British have always basically talked like that, and at some point after Shakespeare had died and while Ichabod Crane was asleep, the American colonists started speaking differently. That’s certainly what Sleepy Hollow assumes.

But it’s actually the opposite: at the time shortly post-Shakespeare and pre-Ichabod when the majority of British settlers arrived in North America, they actually spoke much more like current Americans than current Brits. One example is in the pronunciation of R after a vowel: at this time, everyone on both sides of the Atlantic was saying things like “paRk youR caR in HaRvaRd YaRd” (well, if cars had existed at the time, which they didn’t. Harvard Yard actually did exist, which, just…whatever, Harvard Yard). –The Toast

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non-Commercial Use – Thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 400,000 images are now available for download for non-commercial use. This is just incredible, and I hope it inspires other museums and libraries to release their collections in the same way. –Colossal

YA books on death: is young adult fiction becoming too dark? – A rebuttal to the Wall Street Journal article alleging that YA fiction has become too “dark” and death obsessed. Among other things, Sian Cain points out that fictional representations of death and other losses can provide an opportunity for young adults to work through issues and emotions.

In the post-Twilight era, the link between death and eternal love has become an alluring reinvention of the classic, gothic romance. In some cases, the colder and deader the beau, the better: before Isaac Marion’sWarm Bodies, who would have ever thought a zombie could be a romantic lead? Angels, in books such as Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Fallen by Lauren Kate and Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, are the divine, immortal alternative to Meyer’s brooding bloodsuckers. –The Guardian

TriggernometryNote: Souza continues to update and add to her post, and there is currently an image at the end (The Falling Man photo from 9/11) that you may find disturbing. I have no idea if she plans to add/alter it in any other ways. Okay, so in light of the ongoing conversations about trigger warnings in an academic environment, I think this piece discusses the issue(s) in somewhat unique ways. Valéria Souza, a lecturer at Washington University (the one in St. Louis, not in Washington), combines a lot of research, theory, and personal opinion in an essay that is provocative and controversial. Even if you don’t agree with her argument, I think it’s a worthwhile examination of some issues that have not yet been covered in the more mainstream discussions of the issue. In the end, she’s trying to shift the terms of the discussion altogether, and she draws out some pretty interesting research findings and observations along the way.

We are creating an environment where speaking, naming, or showing trauma is becoming more taboo than actually traumatizing another human being through an act of violence—and this is a problem, particularly for students from less-privileged socio-economic backgrounds who may leave our classrooms and encounter repeated, ongoing violence at home and in their communities. These students often cannot “choose to avoid” or even “prepare themselves beforehand” for repeated encounters with trauma, for it is happening all around them—to them—on a daily basis. We are coming dangerously close to fostering a culture of silence around trauma that threatens to perhaps “protect”—temporarily, for avoidance is not an effective long-term strategy for dealing with trauma—more privileged students while both failing to protect and silencing less privileged ones. Only if you are privileged enough to experience an end to your lived trauma do you have the time—the luxury, the choice—of insisting that literary and cultural objects reminiscent of your original trauma bear “warning labels.” Only if your lived trauma is not relentless does it even occur to you that you might be able to avoid confronting it (despite the fact that all evidence shows that failure to confront trauma is detrimental to recovery). –It’s Complicated.