White Men (Apparently) Can't Write, Either

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So last year I blogged about this tweet from Joyce Carol Oates:

The pushback on JCO was (predictably) voluminous and nasty. I thought she was onto something, and I tweeted a couple of items in support.

For example, the Guardian's Introducing our 10 best debut novelists of 2021: two out of the ten were white and male. At gobookmart.com, the white males grabbed 3 out of the 15 Best Debut Authors of 2021. (Common to both sites: Sam Riviere.)

So I was wondering if 2021 was just a fluke, a bad year to be white, male, and a debut novelist. Let's look at some of the 2022 retrospectives:

  • Powells.com: their Best Books of 2022: Debut Authors article lists ten books. Eight are from women. The guys are represented by Sidik Fofana (African-American) and Oscar Hokeah (apparently Native American). So nobody at all qualifying as "white male".
  • Here's the Guardian again: Introducing our 10 best debut novelists of 2022. They have pictures at the top of the article, and there's one lonely white guy, Daniel Wiles.
  • And how about gobookmart.com? Here's their Best Debut Authors of 2022: Out of their list of eight, seven are ladies. And there's one pallid male, Erik J. Brown.

So career advice to white guys apiring to write fiction as a path to fame: have a backup plan.

As I said last year: if the race/sex disparity worked the other way, there'd be no end of bitching assertions about how this proved White Male Dominance.

As it is… well, maybe white males are simply going into more lucrative professions, like HVAC installation.

Briefly noted:

  • Andy Kessler writes of a sad development: The Rise of Kickback Capitalism.

    “I’m a capitalist,” President Biden said in the State of the Union address. Yeah, right. He then added, “But pay your fair share.” He’s missing the fashionable modifiers for capitalism: late, sustainable, patrimonial, state-directed. Real capitalism is, by definition, a meritocracy in which money flows to those providing the highest returns. No modifiers needed.

    Collectivism always fails for lack of meritocracy. America’s rugged individualism makes it most compatible with real capitalism. Sure, the U.S. always has had some patronage and cronyism. Elections are expensive, after all. But now we’ve entered an era of kickback capitalism, which has created a mangy mob of meritless mooches.

    Kessler provides a long and depressing list of Biden's favored cronies. You're probably not on it.

  • James Freeman has had it up to here (imagine me holding my palm about six inches above the top of my head) with Biden’s Disgraceful Rhetoric.

    Many media folk still cling to the belief that President Joe Biden’s serial falsehoods represent a sort of grandfatherly charm, a harmless desire to spin compelling yarns. But Americans have been paying a heavy price for his tall tales about the economy. Sunday brought a reminder of how poisonous his distortions can be to our public discourse.

    What might have been a somber and serious remembrance on Sunday of the brutality of Jim Crow Democrats and the courage of civil rights demonstrators was simply used as a backdrop by Mr. Biden for vicious and false attacks on contemporary Republicans.

    Speaking on the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful marchers were brutally beaten by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Mr. Biden outrageously pretended that his political rivals are seeking to prevent people from learning of this history. Mr. Biden said, according to the White House transcript:

    Well, you can read that for yourself. Freeman's adjective is precise and accurate.

  • Arnold Kling asks a good question: What's the matter with kids today?. It's a theme on which he quotes a number of observers, and here's Rod Dreher:

    What’s the excuse of young progressive hysterics, male and female? They’re not mentally ill; they’ve simply been trained to know that catastrophizing and freaking out until those in authority give you what you want works. Why should they change?

    …Eventually people are going to back away from you, realizing that you are a hopeless case, and that you are going to have to be left to deal with your stuff yourself. They are going to grasp that you are nothing but manipulative. And when the world runs out of people you can control by berating them and threatening to have a hissy fit, what then?

    I believe the most consistent advice is: Mamas, don't let your babies get on social media.

  • Philip Greenspun offers more disparate resonses from AI: ChatGPT waxes poetic about Joe Biden and Corn Pop. He gathers ChatGPT's (February 22) responses to:

    Write a poem praising Joe Biden, especially for his role in defeating Corn Pop.

    Write a poem praising Kamala Harris.

    Write a poem praising Donald Trump.

    So check that out. But hey, what about Mike Pence?

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:27 AM EDT


Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

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Zach Weinersmith's web comic, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is a periodic stop for me, so when I noticed that Portsmouth Public Library owned a copy of this book, I grabbed it. Zach is a co-author, with his wife Kelly, who is a "behavioral ecologist".

That must be an interesting household.

Those ten technologies are explored in … wait, let me count … yes, ten chapters. Conveniently titled: cheap access to space; asteroid mining; fusion power; programmable matter; robotic construction; augmented reality; synthetic biology; precision medicine; bioprinting; and brain-computer interfaces. (A windup chapter discusses a hodgepodge of topics they left out, like quantum computing.) Zach and Kelly interview cutting-edge researchers and technologists in these areas. The book is © 2017, but that's OK; most of this stuff is still in the future.

One exception: the synthetic biology chapter discusses the possibility of designer disease-causing organisms. The latest news, guys, tells me (with "low confidence") that's already happened. I kind of wish we'd gotten fusion power instead.

Their descriptions are a volatile mix of geeky science, out-there engineering, and hilarity. Zach's wacky cartoons appear at appropriate spots in the text. I recommend reading the book in small portions; if you're like me, even very funny stuff gives rise to humor fatigue after a while. (For some reason, there's no Wikipedia page about that; see museum fatigue for a close analog.)

There is a website for the book. Where you can get an app that will demonstrate augmented reality on your phone or tablet. Very nice!

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:26 AM EDT