03 August 2022

It's Election Season

No license. No limits. And all too often, that goes for truth as much as for politicians (who, I should add, seldom believe that they have any limits, either).

  • Methinks a little immigrant-friendliness will help get the chips made, get the job done. But there's a much more disturbing implication behind his story: At least in theory, these are the "good manufacturing jobs" that the Heffalumps have been proclaiming the sole legitimate objective of a public-high-school education for, oh, a quarter of a century overtly and at least two decades before that covertly. (I remember all too well the "ambitions" being for a good production-line job at Boeing or Paccar according to my high school's district board.) What does it say that this critical component can't be so serviced? But Lafayette and Hamilton have it right.
  • A piece at the Grauniad asks "Why do female artists make 10p/£ of male artists?" without — quite — engaging with the multiple layers of the problem. Let's leave historical aspects aside; comparing groups like Renaissance-era female artists to their contemporaries is utterly unfair on any axis of inquiry due to overt, active suppression (meaning that the population of "female period/context artists whose works have survived for contemporary evaluation" is not at all congruent with that of the males). But looking at contemporaries, it's pretty easy to spot the problem: Old-school male dominance of the entire chain from the moment the paint dries. The auctioneers/gallery owners; the critics; the museums and other curators; above all, the almost-exclusively male buyers; all reflect, for lack of a better term, the "male gaze."

    Application of the preceding paragraph to category-fiction publishing is left as an exercise for the truly perplexed; as dodgy as the statistical baselines and sources are in the fine arts, in publishing they're worse because "actual compensation to the creator" is much more open for the visual arts…

  • …as is reflected on book covers. Over the years — extending back over a decade now — I've ranted at the nonrepresentative nature of book covers. I usually do some sort of statistical thumbnailing to illustrate the problem. This time, though, I was stymied. On a recent trip to ChainBookstore, the twenty new-release casebound covers in the Mystery section had no data fit for analysis: There were zero non-Caucasians depicted. A different outlet of the same chain was slightly better a week later, with one non-Caucasian depicted on sixteen casebound covers and two non-Caucasians depicted on thirty-two softbound covers. That's… Nancy Reagan's dream of appropriate, beautiful cover design. OK, maybe not — that rather assumes that she'd read anything, or care about those who do.

    Maybe one cannot judge a book by its cover; it's only sample size of one, after all. But one can definitely judge a publisher (or bookstore) by its covers!

  • It was not a good weekend on the historic-entertainment-figures front. RIP, Nichelle Nichols and Bill Russell.