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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dear Miranda: Traffic safety engineers are basically the OWCA

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In response to Dear Kyra: The trouble with sisters

Dear Miranda,

You know how in Phineas and Ferb Agent P works for the Organization without a cool acronym?

This past semester I had to edit a traffic safety manual for one of my classes. The target audience was traffic safety engineers, which apparently are a thing. The whole thing was just such an experience. Imagine your drivers education book except with a whole bunch of math.

In fact, we’re not even sure if some of the equations they used were real equations. Like the following:

k=/

Toi = J2wkyoi(k) (3)

minq l*o(fr) ~ *,(*)I + £maxq l*o(fr) ~ xi(k)I (2) l*o(k) ~ xi(*) I + £maxa- l*o W – xi(k) I

I mean, I’m not great at math, but I’m a little skeptical of the authenticity of such equations. Perhaps the only thing worse than the equations were the acronyms. Their uncoolness puts the OWCA to shame. Here’s a few of the best.

AASHTO, American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials

AADT, Annual Average Daily Traffic

BBBB, Broken Bones and Bleeding Blood (as opposed to all the other fluids you can bleed)

CATMOD, Categorical Data Modeling

FHWA, Federal Highway Administration

IHSDM, Interactive Highway Safety Design Model

IRM, Intersection Review Module (they have a module for everything these days)

MUTCD, Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices

SWOV, Dutch Institute for Road safety Research

TPHREG, Test Proportional Hazards Regression

WHO, World Health Organization

And  of course my favorite, DVI. Which, in case you couldn’t guess stands for Duurzaam Veilige Infrastructuur. Naturally.

So yeah. Drive safely.

Love,

Kyra

P.S. Here’s the super cool cover I designed for the traffic safety manual. I think the traffic cone orange was a nice choice. Also the sign next to the road with a picture of a road (as most roadside signs tend to have). The back cover had quotes from the editors. Things such as “This book has taught me everything I need to know about road traffic safety!” and “Road traffic safety. Need I say more?”

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We Need Diverse Books

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The great thing about books is that there’s always room for more. This week I’m going to be participating in a online campaign called We Need Diverse Books. I often shy away from campaigns like these, not because I dislike diversity, but because I dislike feeling ashamed of being white. I don’t like feeling like I should apologize for being who I am.

But encouraging books with diverse characters doesn’t mean that books with neutral (white, heterosexual, able-bodied, no strong religious convictions) characters by neutral authors are bad, or that we need less of them. It just means that we need more books with diversity by diverse authors.

In particular, I want to talk about the lack of books about religiously diverse characters in YA fiction. I’m LDS, and I think it would be awesome to read a mainstream YA book where the main character is a Mormon. But the only one I have ever heard of is Ellen Hopkin’s Burned, which from the reviews I’ve read grossly misrepresents the LDS church. It has a lot of key facts wrong which distract from what otherwise could be a very potent message.

Now I’m aware that the LDS church isn’t perfect, and I’m sure there are oppressive families like the one discussed in Hopkin’s book. Religious radicalism is a real problem that’s worth being talked about. But as somebody who has had quite a bit of exposure to the Mormon culture, I can say that it isn’t the norm by any means. However, when Burned is the only YA book on the shelves about a Mormon, it makes it seem like that’s the norm.

For instance, what if the only book on the shelves that featured Islam was about al-Qaeda? Maybe it’s a very well written, thought provoking book that asks important questions. But if it’s the only book about Muslims, it is going skew perceptions of Islam and Muslims.

It makes me sad to think that Burned may be the only exposure some teens have to Mormonism. That they’d come away from it thinking that people of my faith can’t read Harry Potter or that we have to go to three hours of youth group a week where people give droning testimonies (youth group for me was 1 hour, and frequently consisted of marshmallow dodgeball).

I want to read a book that shows the other side of Mormonism, the side that shows the loving religious community I grew up with. A book about Mormons who are actively searching for truth and trying to be better people.

And I want books about Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Baptists, Shintoists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Taoists, Hindus, Jains… you name it. With the exception of Francisco X. Stork’s Irises, I can’t remember the last YA contemporary book I read with deeply religious main characters.

More books about people with disabilities. More books with people from different ethnicities and cultures. More books with LGBTQ characters.

After all, reading is about exploring the world. It’s about understanding ourselves and others. Having more diverse books allows us to explore a more diverse world. It makes reading more adventurous.

And I’m all about the adventure.

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Follow the movement on Twitter: #WeNeedDiverseBooks