Monthly Archives: March 2010

pic of the day

It’s raining today, and will be raining tomorrow. So I’m just putting up a picture.



Normally, I don’t like to complain too much about work. At least, not too much in public. In private, sure, don’t we all? Especially with other people who do the same sort of work. Because, of course, they understand. They’ve been there. Actually, that’s a lie. I complain in public, or at least pseudo-public. If the Internet counts. Though that’s often not so much complaining about my work specifically but the industry I work in, which is publishing. Which, as we all know, is a dying, soon to be obsolete business. The book business has been slowly decaying for decades, but the process has been speeding up lately. Thanks to the Internet. And no one having any money to spend on food, let alone books.

For the past seven or eight years, I’ve worked mainly in the “editorial production” functions—copyediting, proofreading, working as production editor—the stuff that happens between the time an editor hands over the manuscript and page proofs get sent off to the printer. I freelance, taking proofreading jobs, even when I’ve got full-time work, but the full-time work never seems to pay quite enough.

But lately, or actually really the past two or three years, there have been, for me at least, a steady stream of political pundit-type books. Mostly by folks at the more conservative end of the political spectrum, because, as we know, the media is controlled by liberals. Now, I have a bit of science geek background, spent a little time in an engineering school—RPI, which, unlike MIT, encourages you to flunk out–so I am slightly predisposed to favor things like facts and logic and reality. These attributes are frequently absent from political pundit books, which probably comes as no surprise to any of you. And it does no good to point out even straightforward factual errors; these corrections will generally be ignored.

Anyway, I just finished another one, by a Fox News Blowhard, which I can’t really say too much about, since it was embargoed. That means the contents are supposed to be secret until it gets published. I didn’t explicitly promise to honor the embargo, but I like the client I got the job from, and want to work with them again, so I will. I’m not entirely sure the reason for the embargo—the book was largely a rehash of conservative talking points that have been covered elsewhere.

Clearly, these folks are really, really unhappy that Barack Obama is president. For conservatives, this is the unhappiest thing to happen to them since the Clinton years. So some of it is just the transfer of the infrastructure of Clinton Hate that had been built up over the previous 16 years to Obama. I mean, there was an extensive cottage industry devoted to Clinton Hate, and the Clinton Hate had to be nurtured and maintained throughout the Bush years because Hillary would just not go away. Then Obama came along and kept Hillary out of the White House, but you can’t just flush 16 years of Hate down the crapper. The Hate had to go somewhere. Add to that the fact that Obama is Not One of Us, and you have a recipe for much of the teabaggy goodness we’ve been seeing on the news lately.

My wife and I have a small collection of cookbooks of the sort that were promotional giveaways and supermarket checkout items in the decades past. Many of these are notable for the execrable photography and printing that frequently makes the prepared food appear to be have been something left behind at the scene of crime, or perhaps an auto accident. Some of these feature amusing ancillary illustrations that I suppose were intended to be comforting to the reader.

When you see a teabagger on the news saying they want to take the country back, and they seem a little vague about who they think took it from them, and what they did with it, it seems a good guess that the country they want back looks in their mind something like this:

How quaint and wholesome! An old-fashioned country fair. Everyone was happy and getting along fine, and then this guy shows up:

Jeez, thanks for the wine, but we’ll have to count the silverware after he leaves. And probably disinfect everything, too.

Not surprisingly, the publishers of these books pretty much assumed that the readers were middle-class WASP women. Anything beyond the realm of the middle-class WASP woman was “exotic.” The illustrations make this pretty explicit. “Exotic” is probably the most charitable way to view it. In fact, I can’t quite wrap my head around the inspiration to include these guys:

Anybody want to hazard a guess what was being suggested here? Is it too far-fetched to think that the average WASP housewife of 1956 is going to find this maybe a little threatening, with an implication of cannibalism, yet at the same time she is supposed to see a welcoming invitation to soups?

So now we live in a world where it is possible for an African American man to be elected president, after graduating from Harvard Law School and teaching at the University of Chicago, and still, in the back of some people’s mind, or even not so far back, they’re still afraid of these guys and their soup pot.