Separate But Equal(ly Bad)

1 October 2002

Well, we started this morning with an airline mix-up here, but I think we've got it more or less figured out. Which is good, of course. I read some more Gogol short stories, talked to C.J. about all manner of things, went out for dinner with Mark, worked on the Not The Moose.

I can't decide how to feel about the rejection I got on Out of Apples yesterday. (For those of you keeping score at home, Out of Apples is one of my picture book texts.) It was a personal rejection from a fairly large publishing house -- hurrah! But basically the editor wanted more explicitly instructive works. On social or psychological issues, or on counting or the seasons -- something, she said, that they could easily sell to librarians. Sigh. On the one hand, personal rejections from big publishing houses are good, and this one gave me specific, concrete detail about what kind of a book she'd like to see instead.

On the other hand, oh, bleah. I mean, what a terrible reason for not wanting to buy a book: it's not didactic enough? What, like little kids can't just enjoy a story? Like they can't tease out subtle meanings to a story if adults don't bang them over the head with "Feel good about yourself!" or "Get along with your new stepdad!" Or, worse, "Here are the numbers! One! Two! Three!...." It's just bad. Bad, bad, bad. I mean, yes, some picture books can slip in "here are the seasons" or "here are some basic colors." But it seems like there should be room for plenty of other picture books that don't do that. Like most classics, for example. Sigh.

I just hate the feeling that parents are buying books as something to use on their kids, rather than as something their kids can enjoy.

So in mid-rant about why this was the dumbest reason ever for rejecting a book, I came up with two picture book ideas that would be cool and might be didactic enough to suit these folks. They both depend on how much these folks are opposed to the fantastic in their lessons, and one of them depends on what they think is an important psychological lesson. But the latter has lots of toads in it. Unless I decide to make them frogs. What do you think? Are frogs or toads better? Anyway, I think amphibians improve important psychological lessons, don't you?

So I'll definitely be working on the Not The Moose Book today, but I may also be working on a toad book. Or a frog book. Or Space Moose. Which is all about triumphing over adversity and overcoming discrimination, sort of, because generally they don't let moose become astronauts. You see. Right then.

And Evan responded to my comments about his previous day's entry. I'll agree with him that many of the positions of the Bush administration are probably less Green-friendly than comparable positions of the Gore administration may have been. (And yes, I will keep using hedge words like that, because we don't know what Gore would have done. He has not been President. It's very easy to say what you would have done, as long as there's no way that you can possibly do it.) The problem is, the President and his staff are not most of the executive branch, much less most of the federal government, to say nothing of the state or local governments, and treating the President as the entire government is rhetorically effective but not particularly accurate. The President is not the government, and I would lay money that a significant number of Greens have been displeased with the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government, with lower-down actions of the executive branch, and with state and local governments. I know that Evan knows this. I also know that he meant it rhetorically. But I think the President gets too much credit and blame for his role in the government, and I think that we should pay attention to the other branches more than we do.

I also think that Evan and I have a significantly different idea of who voted for Nader and why. I don't believe that very many people voted for Nader because of what he said about Gore. I doubt that very many people were strongly for Gore. Oh, wait, no, there is more to that sentence. Sorry. I doubt that very many people were strongly for Gore, then listened to Nader and decided to vote for him instead. And I doubt that anybody who voted for Nader thought, "Golly gee whiz, I'll bet he's gonna win!" I vote for small party candidates all the time. I can tell you: if it's a higher office than dogcatcher, we don't expect our candidates to win. That's not why we vote for them. Nader is not that slick, not that convincing when he talks about other politicians. And Greens are, frankly, not that dumb.

People can argue and posture until they're blue in the face about whether George W. Bush won the 2000 election. But it's pretty clear to me that Al Gore lost it, either way. He had worked for eight years in an administration that remained quite popular despite scandals and all kinds of discrediting actions. The economy still looked fairly strong at the time. He was running against a guy who was widely reputed to be not so bright, the spitting image of his father, a Texan for heaven's sake. And he only got approximately half the votes? That's a loss, people. Argue about whether it's because he didn't bring in Clinton enough, didn't appeal to the Greens, didn't appeal to the Socialists, didn't appeal to the middle of the road, didn't appeal to anybody in particular -- but the man lost, and there's no one to blame but himself. (Well, and the people he hired to run his campaign, but he hired them, so it gets back to "himself.") Figure out what you want to change for next time. Don't get mad at people for not voting for a guy they didn't want to vote for.

It is entirely possible to recognize that people are not equivalent, and to also believe that they are equally bad. It's even possible to believe this and be -- gasp -- a rational human being. And if you want to keep not getting the votes of people who believe that, just keep telling them they shouldn't believe it. Keep acting like the only way they could possibly hold their belief system is by being stupid or deluded. You don't win a lot of converts that way, but I don't mind -- I didn't want your candidate to win anyway. I didn't want either of them to win. Not because I think they're the same on every point. Because I think they're equally bad on the average, and I refuse to support either of them.

Well, the game is already not going so well. (What game? The Twins-A's game. Honestly.) So I guess I know what I'm going to do.

Work on the book. Duh.

Back to Morphism.

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Or the last entry.

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