This and That


A few things on the web worth taking note of:

Justine Larbalestier is talking, in some detail, about the experience of having one of her books white-washed.

Liar is a book about a compulsive (possibly pathological) liar who is determined to stop lying but finds it much harder than she supposed. I worked very hard to make sure that the fundamentals of who Micah is were believable: that she’s a girl, that she’s a teenager, that she’s black, that she’s USian. One of the most upsetting impacts of the cover is that it’s led readers to question everything about Micah: If she doesn’t look anything like the girl on the cover maybe nothing she says is true. At which point the entire book, and all my hard work, crumbles.

No one in Australia has written to ask me if Micah is really black.

No one in Australia has said that they will not be buying Liar because “my teens would find the cover insulting.”

Both responses are heart breaking.

There’s much more at her blog, including a simple solution to support the publishing houses that get it right.

Also, at The Reality-Based Community, a look beyond the obvious at the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Not that the obvious isn’t bad enough, but it’s important to note this too.

No one who is familiar with law enforcement can miss the significance of Crowley’s report. As so often happens with documentary evidence, a person seeking to create a false impression spends lots of time nailing down the elements he thinks will establish his goal, but forgets about the larger picture. Under color of law, Crowley entered a residence to investigate a possible break-in, and after his probable cause had evaporated, he continued to act under color of law, but without any justifiable purpose. And he covered it up with false charges. Figuring that his best defense was a criminal charge, Crowley did what bad cops do. He decided he would look better if Gates looked worse. Perhaps one day cops will figure out that trumped-up charges worsen a case of investigating something that turns out not to have been a crime. It is horribly wrong when police officers falsely accuse an injured arrestee of A&B PO (“assault and battery on a police officer,” a felony) but at least there is some logic to the lie. If a disorderly conduct charge follows an investigation of a non-crime, chances are pretty good that the cop handled himself badly. Pursuit of charges should be strongly disfavored.

Finally, the U.S. minimum wage increases tomorrow to $7.25 an hour. To put that in perspective, that’s only slightly less than I was making when I quit cashiering at a gas station to get a real job. Sixteen years ago. Sociological Images has an inflation-adjusted chart that quickly shows how minimum wage has historically compared to the official federal poverty line. It’s more than worth a look.