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This week’s blog sampler includes Supreme Court cases to watch, Francine Prose on Anne Frank, advice for Hearst’s Cathie Black as she prepares to run the NYC school system, and a happy birthday to Ursula Le Guin from geek feminists, including why the doyenne of science fiction hates the Sci-Fi  (make that SyFy) Channel.

  • We noticed only last week  that we’d missed the 81st birthday of writer Ursula K. LeGuin, thanks to Geek Feminism, which reprinted a tribute to LeGuin from Mary at Hoyden About Town. Among Mary’s reasons for venerating the much-awarded author of The Left Hand of Darkness and many other works: LeGuin’s assertion that her genre should be inherently feminist, since “feminism is the idea that differences between the genders, beyond the strictly physiological, are an interesting subject of study, but have not been determined, and so are not a sound basis for society to use in prescribing or proscribing any proclivity or activity.” Thus, Le Guin’s gender-bending books. Mary also offers links to LeGuin’s commentary over the years, including an astringent look at the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel.
  • The National Women’s Law Center’s blog updates us on two Supreme Court cases they’ve had their eye on: Flores-Villar v. United States, a gender-discrimination case involving citizenship rights, and ATT Mobility vs. Concepcion,   which will decide whether arbitration contracts can prohibit class actions. In the latter case,  the center’s friend-of-the-court brief emphasized that class actions can be essential for  women who experience violations of wage and hour laws and anti-discrimination laws. “For many workers, individual lawsuits aren’t an effective means to enforce their rights. Litigation costs often dramatically exceed individual damages (for example, when an employer violates wage and hour laws, the per-person damages—especially for low-wage workers—may be very small), workers who act alone may fear retaliation, and workers may not even know their rights have been violated.”
  • The appointment of Hearst Magazines CEO Catherine Black as chancellor of New York City’s public school has created quite the furor across the blogosphere. Here are two very different takes on the appointment: At GothamSchools, Anna Phillips gathers experts to compile a recommended reading list for Black, perhaps necessary given that Black has no experience with public education as either a parent or student. A mirror-image take comes from Camilla Webster’s Forbes blog, At Work in Progress, which envisions a restructuring along the lines of Black’s corporate memoir Basic Black. “If you’re a curious teacher, parent or community member who is wondering what to expect,  Black goes over how to dissolve a department, restructure a workspace,  manage the firing process and handle your own career in this Forbes video. Watch out NYC Schools, you’re about to get Black listed!”
  • And She Writes, the writers’ social network and blog platform, offers an interview by co-founder Kamy Wicoff with the acclaimed Francine Prose, whose biography of Anne Frank comes out in paperback this month. And in case you think that sounds like a downer, click below as Prose talks about finding our voices as women and how the Diary is also one of the first frank-about-my-sex-life memoirs.

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