Roller Girl: Newberry-honored coming of age graphic novel about roller derby and difficult tween friendships

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Victoria Jamieson's 2015 graphic novel Roller Girl won the prestigious Newberry Honor Award and it's easy to see why: Jamieson's story of a young teen's interest in roller derby is the perfect vehicle to explore the difficult and even traumatic way that girls' friendships change as they become teenagers, while never losing sight of the core story, about personal excellence, teamwork, and hard-hitting, girl-positive roller derby.

The best 2 seconds in the history of reviewing servers

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Looking into my options for a compact, inexpensive home server, I chanced across PC Magazine's May 2016 review of the Dell Optiplex 3040. In the middle of it, reviewer and PC Magazine Lead Analyst Joel Santo Domingo is seen very briefly to caress the Dell. Pack it in, gadget reviewers: the best 2 seconds in the history of reviewing servers is over.

I added the music.

Here's the full review:

Read the rest

Nimona: a YA graphic novel that raises serious, unanswerable moral quandries with snappy dialog and slapstick

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I first encountered Noelle Stevenson's work through her groundbreaking, brilliant comic Lumberjanes, but before the 'Janes, Stevenson was tearing up the webcomics world with Nimona, which was collected and published by Harper Teen in 2015.

Pirate Utopia: Bruce Sterling's novella of Dieselpunk, weird politics, and fascism

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Between 1920 and 1924, the Free State of Fiume was a real-world "pirate utopia," an ungoverned place of blazing futurism, military triumphalism, transgression, sex, art, dada, and high weirdness. In Bruce Sterling's equally blazing dieselpunk novella Pirate Utopia, the author turns the same wry and gimlet eye that found the keen edges for steampunk's seminal The Difference Engine to the strange business of futurism.

Messy: a celebration of improvisation and disorder as the keys to creativity, play, and work

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Tim Harford's Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives plays to Harford's prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better.

Eleanor & Park: a terrifying YA romance that has rescued its readers and frightened their parents

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Last week, the National Coalition Against Censorship honored Rainbow Rowell for her refusal to be back down on the frequent challenges to her multiple-award-winning, bestselling 2013 novel Eleanor & Park. I was there, and got a copy of the novel, and have read nothing since, and now that I've finished it, I find myself profoundly moved.

Everfair: a diverse, ambitious steampunk novel of Fabian socialists and American Black Zionists in Belgian Congo

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Though Everfair is Nisi Shawl's debut novel, it's also been a hotly anticipated book for years, as Shawl is the co-author of Writing the Other, a seminal book about diversity in prose; and is a much-respected critic and teacher. The book was worth the wait.

Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy

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Today sees the publication of Bonnie Burton's (previously) long-awaited new book, Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy. Read the rest

The Attention Merchants: a deep dive into the origins of the surveillance economy

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Tim Wu is a multiple threat: the originator of the term "net neutrality"; a copyfighting lawyer who cares about creator's rights; a fair use theorist; Zephyr Teachout's running mate in the NY gubernatorial race; an anti-monopolist who joined the NY Attorney General and used open source to catch Time Warner in the act; a lifelong deep nerd who was outraged by the persecution of Aaron Swartz, and the author of one of the seminal books on telcoms policy and human rights.

Now, he's back with his best book yet: The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, an erudite, energizing, outraging, funny and thorough history of one of humanity's core undertakings -- getting other people to care about stuff that matters to you.

"Incentivized" shill reviews now banned on Amazon

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Following complaints and a scathing exposé by Review Meta (previously) Amazon announced it will now ban incentivized reviews, a form of shill review written in exchange for free or reduced-cost products. Read the rest

Ghosts: Raina Telgemeier's upbeat tale of death, assimilation and cystic fibrosis

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YA graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier is a force of nature; her Babysitters Club graphic novels are witty and smart and snappy; her standalone graphic novels are even better, but her latest, Ghosts, is her best to date: an improbably upbeat story about death, assimilation and cystic fibrosis.

The Doonesbury Trump retrospective proves that Garry Trudeau had Drumpf's number all along

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On September 14, 1987, Garry B Trudeau ran the first Doonesbury strip that mentioned Donald Trump, in which his characters marvel that New York's "loudest and most visible asshole" had floated a political trial balloon, hinting that he would run for president; thus began 30 years of marveling at, mocking, and skewering Der Drumpf, so rattling the Short-Fingered Vulgarian that he felt the need to issue a series of wounded denunciations. Now, just in time for the election, Trudeau has released a collection of his Trump-themed strips, Yuge: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump, just the thing to put the Republican nominee on tilt.

Phoebe and her unicorn are back in Razzle Dazzle Unicorn!

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Since 2015, our family has been in love with Dana Simpson's Phoebe and Her Unicorn books, a kind of modern take on Calvin and Hobbes, only Calvin is an awesome little girl, Hobbes is a unicorn, and the parental figures can see and interact with the unicorn, but are not freaked out because she generates a SHIELD OF BORINGNESS. Now, the insanely prolific Simpson has released the fourth collection in the series: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure.

Making Conversation: 59 lively and delightful essays from Teresa Nielsen Hayden

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It's been more than 20 years since the publication of Making Book, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's collection of essays, mostly drawn from the pre-online days of fanzines and letters columns; this year, in honor of Teresa's stint as Fan Guest of Honor at Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, NESFA Press has published a second volume: Making Conversation, a collection of essays drawn from the online world on subjects as varied as moderation and trolling, cooking, hamster-rearing, fanfic, narcolepsy, the engineering marvels of the IBM Selectric, and more.

High bias found in Amazon reviews of low-cost or free samples

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Review Meta has published an in-depth analysis of 7 million Amazon reviews and found that "incentivized reviews," those with a disclaimer that the reviewer got the product free or discounted, skew substantially higher than non-incentivized reviews. Read the rest

Mighty Jack: a new series from Ben "Zita the Spacegirl" Hatke

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Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl trilogy was one of the best kids' comics of the new century (and it's headed to TV!), and he's been very productive in the years since, but his new series, Mighty Jack feels like the true successor to Zita: a meaty volume one that promises and delivers all the buckle you can shake a swash at, with more to come.

Mysteries Revealed and The Curios Exposed

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The Mysterious Package Company’s (previously) audience is bifurcated into two groups which seem to overlap only slightly. The first group buys one or more of the six (soon to be seven) “experiences” and sends it either to themselves, or more likely to an unsuspecting victim … and then waits for the fun or horror to start. The second group subscribes to a quarterly newspaper called Curios & Conundrums (more about that in a moment). If an experience is sent to yourself, it’s a collectible rather than a mystery; but if sent to someone who has no clue what it is or what’s coming next, then it becomes the unexpected and thus unsettling occurrence the folks at the Mysterious Package Company have in mind. Here is their video for “The Century B*e*a*s*t,” their first Kickstarter project sold last summer.

In the end, "The Century B*e*a*s*t" seemed too scattered and drawn out, with 10 mailings sent out over almost a year. The older experiences are more compact with fewer mailings, a lower price, and have more impact. If you’ve never done anything like this before, and wish more immediate satisfaction, I would become a member of the Mysterious Package Company and send either “R*i*s*e*n” or “The K*i*n*g in Yellow” to yourself or a friend—they will begin shipping with 30 days of your order and are both creepy.

Costing only $99 is the least expensive experience which consists of a single mailing, “The W*e*e*p*i*n*g Book,” which is genuinely dark stuff and prompted at least one terrified recipient to call the police. Read the rest

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