Posts by: Lauren O'Neal

Man vs. Terrifying Gigantic Agribusiness

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…“grew up in world (S.C.) that wouldn’t accept him,” “needs adulation,” “doesn’t sleep,” was “scarred for life.”…“What’s motivating Hayes?—basic question.” An actor’s notes for a role? A writer’s sketch of a character for a novel? Actually, these are observations by the communications manager of agribusiness giant Syngenta, as she and her colleagues try to figure […]

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Trolls Are “Sadists and Psychopaths”

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Common wisdom has it that the Internet has disconnected people from their sense of empathy—but maybe it’s just exposed society at large to greater numbers of people who were already unempathetic. This Washington Post blog post reports on a Canadian study which “found that trolling correlated with higher rates of sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a certain lack […]

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A Different Kind of Valentine

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Looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift for the book-lover in your life? Why not pay that gift forward to your community? Romance novelist Anna DeStefano’s Hearts for Hearts initiative “to give back to their communities by donating books they already own to nearby assistance groups” such as “homeless shelters, Medicaid nursing facilities, or similar […]

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Famous Librarian Also Famous Jerk

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Melvil Dewey: inventor of the Dewey decimal system, godfather of modern library science, and…sexist jerk? According to this Bitch blog post, Dewey helped open the field of librarianship to women by allowing them into his classes at Columbia’s library school, but he also relentlessly sexually harassed them. Plus: “Due to blatant racism, anti-Semitism, and sexual misconduct, […]

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Do Writers Also Have to Be Protesters?

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Pankaj Mishra has always been a politically outspoken writer, so when Mo Yan, who has defended the Chinese government’s censorship, won the Nobel Prize, Mishra was the last person anyone expected to defend him. But he did, asking, “Do we ever expose the political preferences of Mo Yan’s counterparts in the West to such harsh […]

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How Writing Helped Connu’s Founders with Business

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Last year, writers Susannah Luthi and Niree Perian launched Connu, a sort of literary magazine in app form that curates short stories for readers. (We blogged about their Kickstarter campaign back in June.) You’d think creating apps and writing fiction would go together like water and oil, but Luthi says it was actually surprisingly helpful […]

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The Obsessive, Nerdy Joys of Copyediting

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This conversation at the Millions between Edan Lepucki and her copyeditor Susan Bradanini Betz is a beautiful paean to the editing process—and enlightening for anyone who wonders what precisely a copyeditor does. Lepucki and Betz discuss author/editor compatibility, obsessive style sheets, and Donna Tartt’s anti-copyediting broadside. A preview: No, I can’t turn it off, but […]

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Studies Confirm: High School Sucks

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…over the past 40 years, despite endless debates about curricula, testing, teacher training, teachers’ salaries, and performance standards…there has been no improvement—none—in the academic proficiency of American high school students. Also, “American high schools are even more boring than schools in nearly every other country.” Read more depressing facts about American high schools at Slate.

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Acclaimed African Author Comes Out as Gay

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Supporters of African LGBT rights were so relieved about Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s veto of an anti-gay bill that they were nearly blindsided when Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s signed a similar bill into law. The law prompted Binyavanga Wainaina, a prominent Kenyan author who also spends a lot of time in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, to […]

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Grimm Fairy Tales Just Got Grimmer

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British art giant David Hockney is best known for pop-art paintings like A Bigger Splash, but he has also worked in many other mediums—including, it seems, illustrations for children’s books. Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova highlights a recently reissued collection of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm with striking, discomfiting drawings by Hockney. As Popova […]

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Lil Wayne: Ecofeminist

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Back in college, Chelsey Clammer proclaimed herself an ecofeminist with an outbreak of bumper stickers on the back of her car: “Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper,” “‘The Only Bush I Trust is My Own (and underneath that I wrote ‘and my girlfriend’s’),” and “a slew of…rainbow Ani Difranco stickers.” These days, she’s more partial to Lil Wayne […]

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Japanese-American Zoot-Suiters Subverted Pretty Much Everything

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Conflicts between “rowdies” and other prisoners interrupted the daily routines of several, if not all, the camps. At the Gila River camp in Arizona, for instance, the editors of the center’s newspaper complained that zoot suiters had swiped all the chains from the laundry sinks to use as watch chains. Nikkei Chicago’s Ellen Wu has […]

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Addiction, Alcohol, and Authors

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You didn’t ask directly about gender, but I’ll answer anyway: I stuck with men for a more personal reason, which is that my experience as a child was with a female alcoholic and the subject was just too painful for me. That’s a book I hope someone writes. Buzzfeed’s interview with Olivia Laing, author of The […]

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Barrelhouse Turns 10, Publishes Books

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Ten years marks the “tin anniversary,” but lit-mag Barrelhouse is celebrating theirs in a different way: by starting a small press! Two of Barrelhouse’s first titles are You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, a poetry collection by Justin Marks, and Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox, a nonfiction book […]

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Hearing Mandarin, Speaking English

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In middle school, “Yo Mama” jokes infuriated me. My mother was so Chinese she couldn’t eat a hamburger without pinching her nose. She was so Chinese she wore bamboo slippers. In a stunning essay for the Michigan Daily, Carlina Duan writes about growing up as the child of Chinese immigrants in America. She renders her relationship with […]

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The Grimmest Adjuncting Story Yet

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D. Watkins is an adjunct professor. He doesn’t make much money, but most of his family and friends are even worse off, struggling with wrongful convictions, the impossibly high cost of health care, and the loss of loved ones to drugs and guns. Read his account of life in East Baltimore at Salon: Ten-plus years and three […]

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Sometimes It’s Okay to Read the Comments

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It’s a truism among people who spend a lot of time online that you should never, under any circumstances, read the comments—especially not YouTube comments. But when writer Mark Slutsky broke that rule, he found unexpected flashes of genuine emotion hidden in the cesspool of racial slurs and semiliterate rantings—memories of a deceased friend under […]

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Millennials of Color Don’t Fit Your Stereotypes

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There have been a lot of hand-wringing thinkpieces about Millennials in the media, but most of them are just wordy ways to say, “Kids these days.” As Mike Dang points out, these thinkpieces also fail to take race into account, which is a pretty big oversight considering Millennials constitute “the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort […]

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Armchair/Shotgun‘s 5th Anniversary Party

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Literary magazine Armchair/Shotgun—winner of the 2012 Saboteur award, one of the New York Times Magazine‘s ten “literary heirs,” and subject of an upcoming Rumpus interview—is turning five years old! Go celebrate with them tomorrow, February 7, at 7:30 PM at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore. Contributors to all four previous issues will be there to read their work, including Alanna Bailey, […]

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Before the “Dumb Blonde” Joke

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Literary blondes have always held a totemic power….Sex, politics, and power: fictional blondes had it all. For the Toast, Stassa Edwards looks back at centuries of literature and culture—Petrarch’s Laura, Middlemarch‘s Rosamond Vincy, Taylor Swift—to parse the semiotics of blondness. From redemptive purity to sexual danger, we’ve been reading all kinds of meaning into blond hair […]

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The State of American Poetry

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If you liked David Biepsiel’s State of American Poetry address, here’s a nice counterpart by Natasha Trethewey at the Virginia Quarterly Review. “Despair about the place of poetry in American culture is nothing new,” she begins, and goes on to write about the necessity and indelibility of poetry at the most basic levels: For all […]

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“Give Me Your Little Paw”

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In a luminous essay for the Morning News, Julia Phillips describes tagging along with the mushers of the Beringia, a Russian dogsled race that’s like the Iditarod but even more intense. It’s a definite must-read in which Phillips deftly chronicles the simultaneous beauty and horror of half-wild dogs, a rainbow of Russian curses, the “mat […]

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