Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. I adored this discussion with Phillippa Soo and Lea Salonga about the growing number of Asians on broadway.
2. If you've been wondering about presidential turkey pardons, this piece will help.
3. Hawaii has been experiencing unprecedented levels of homelessnies, this piece looked at one camp.

Monday, November 23, 2015

7 Things: Faith in YA

1. I wrote way back when about how I found myself to be a UU, so no need to rehash that. I recognize that the US as a whole is becoming less religious and that would include current teenagers.  (Of course for anyone writing historical or fantasy, the numbers would be different.)  However, it is now noticeable if a YA character makes even a passing mention to attending some sort of place of worship, that a little like fesity red-heads, it seems out of sync with the reality of life for many teens.
2. I am not saying we need more conversion or inspirational stories.  (We may. I...don't know.) But certainly there could be more teens in fiction who identify as a part of something. 
3. In the years that I have been working with the high schoolers and now middle schoolers, the number of teens regularly attending our congregation has doubled.  Now that is clearly due to all sorts of factors, and not a representative or scientific sampling of teens.  I will also tell you I have spoken to teens who get their parents to drop them off even when the parents don't attend.  Who create their own teen gatherings, because their congregation doesn't offer them.  Who say that the teens they meet at multi-state or multi-congregational events are the only teens they know who get them. 
4. I'm not saying that every book needs to include a YA of some faith.  But off the top of my head, I can think of a few Christian, and a handful of Jewish, and that's it. Miranda Kenneally's Stealing Parker was the first YA I can think of that talked about the fact that different churches in the same town might have different approaches to the same issue. 
5. Some people have been very hurt by religious institutions.  I don't want to gloss over that.  But some people have found great comfort in them.  Or not.  Some people find formal religion not for them.  All of these experiences are valid and should be represented.
6. And atheism to.  Atheism isn't the same as being unchurched or none.  It can also be a destination for folks who have spent time thinking carefully about the world. And these things, whether a YA character has made the same choice as the people who are raising them or not, could be powerful motivators without being preachy. 
7. Religion is not necessarily in the same category of some of the other glaring omissions in the YA landscape.  But again, if the idea is to represent the breadth of experiences out there, leaving religion out more often than not seems problematic. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. This post is part of Gay YA's transgender awareness week series - and is quite touching about the honor and the burden of representation.
2. I might be mildly (super addicted) to this silly game, so I appreciated the interview with the creators about making the English version.
3. And this amazing woman has destroyed all our excuses as she manages to complete part of her psychology exam, while in labor, from her hospital bed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris and Beirut and All of Us

Certainly some people are determined to cause a lot of harm.  It is clearly their intention to make people feel that things that we wish to do are unsafe.  I saw a number of comparisons to September 11th, but really, in many ways this reminded me of the MD snipers. Certainly it took a longer period of time for them to be stopped, but they were targeting places people shopped, places people went to get gas, places people went to school.  In other words they were going after things you often need to do.  And yes, people needed to live and work in the Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and whatever other building they had been hoping to hit.  But we go to cafes, to concerts, to sports games to relax and unwind.  People working to make those places unsafe hits particularly hard.  And yes, the folks who have mentioned that Beirut, Ankara, and large parts of Egypt and Syria have been dealing with this on a larger scale are entirely correct. 
But Mr. Roger's Look for the helpers advice remains true. Taxi drivers in Paris offered free rides home. Hashtags opened up offering people places to seek shelter in Paris, or find a place to stay if they were stuck in the US or Canada unable to fly home as a result of the borders being shut. People shared lovely images of Paris. And this wonderful bookstore, with their wall quote about strangers, offered themselves up as a refuge during the attacks as well, reaffirming my belief that bookstores are where you find some of the best people.
So, I will try to remember that for every person who thought blowing themselves and others up was a message, there were so many more, who reached out to others, who sang songs as they evacuated the stadium, who looked for ways to help. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. This is truly a horrifying ad, because, as the article so clearly points out, not just someone, but a lot of someone's thought that was funny. And it's for a department store tht isn't known for "edgy" marketing.  And the apology is pretty tepid in the "now that we have feedback we see that people might feel this is problematic" kind of way.  (TW for sexual assault.)
2. They've been looking at how cats clean themselves, to see if there are applications to machinery and have determined, that cats, are in fact huge, like ping pong table sized.
3. And one man has come up with a simple, transportable, way to remove cataracts, allowing him to help people across the world see again.