5 Quick Things: May 2024

Welcome to 5 Quick Things that I saw since last month that I thought were interesting enough to share with you. None of them are particularly timely so feel free to just enjoy 🙂

>Number One<

A Numbers Game

So just before the pandemic, in 2019, I actually got a good bite on my query letters. In the befor times I was trying to get an agent and get traditionally published because I thought maybe my books could bring joy to the world so it actually really interests me that the truth is much worse than I had even assumed. No one is buying any books. No one is making money from books. Almost no one hits the jackpot except once every 5 or so years when a book (that I inevitably dislike and usually is at an 8th grade reading level) hits the jackpot. Otherwise the majority of books being sold are legacy classics, children’s book, and the odd biography of a person who had an actually interesting life. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to me because I am surrounded by people in publishing at various levels but the starkness of it is honestly kind of making me reel. A friend of mine is a “workman writer” and she writer 2-3 books a year, does a solid trade, and basically makes a little above the median wage but according to these stats she’d in the top 4 or 5% of all professional writers and her work is literally only possible with help from her partner having a regular full time job.

I don’t know why but the pit in my stomach that hurts every time I think about people talking about AI replacing authors just grew larger.

>Number Two<

Pretty Women, Flower Picking

Continuing my streak of interest in taxonomy and classification here’s an interesting piece about one of the figures that should get more flowers in botany. There’s a huge irony in women being erased from discovering more about flowers that increase our understanding of the complexity of gender. Tapping my foot impatiently about the irony that falls out if you think about that for more than 10 seconds.

Like many sciences/activities, botany was seen as the women’s realm until it had applications which made it directly valuable to society wherein all the women who had previously occupied the field were pushed out and then erased. See also: computers.

Women are often deemed hobbyists, even as the tide turns on who receives a standardized, rigorous education which used to be the gold standard but has suddenly become secondary to hands on experience which remains more accessible to men through nepotism and other forms of bias hiring.

In the end I find the story of this one woman pushed to the margins slightly less interesting than the constant string of women being sidelined though the origins of gender in plants is inherently interesting and reminds us that gender is not as fixed as we imagine it in any sense.

>Number Three<

Sucking at Something is the First Step to Getting Good

I have no idea how I happened upon Sarah Renae Clark’s YouTube channel. Mostly she does the kind of harmless art noodling that I assume is fun and interesting for people in the same way that watching a person cook if you’re not much of a chef is fun and interesting. However, this video gave me pause for a number of reasons including I just assumed if a person did art (professionally or semi-professionally) that they would know how to draw.

Anyway watching this extremely raw and at time really unflattering version of learning how to do a skill and not always succeeding in a linear way was extremely calming and helpful. For the past few weeks when I get frustrated at my language skills I think about this video and how she would literally draw an extremely lovely piece and then the next day, absolute trash. Unequivocally dog shit art.

Mastery is just the long road until you lean closer to decent every time you try.

>Number Four<

Please Vax Your Kids

Medical news has been a whole roller coaster for the past few years but what is becoming clear is that, at least in America (and also in many other spheres), trust in health information has broken down because of repeated lies, unclear information, and also, purposeful disinformation from trusted health sources. However, one of the worst things that has happened is the repeated stumping for anti-vaxxers of all stripes. We are really lucky to live in an age where we have many wonderful vaccinations against common ailments that used to maim and kill and we rely deeply on herd immunity and personal immunity to keep things that way and it’s just been a nightmare out there where I have personally had conversations with previously very science-focused folks who suddenly question if they want to give their children vaccination against mumps, against measles, etc. especially as these viruses surge in our communities.

This article walks through some of the major anti-vaxx points which you will commonly see now taken for granted when they remain incorrect and frankly, dangerous. Vaccines are one of the great things we can do and protecting yourself from getting sick is still the best way to ensure you will remain healthy. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

>Number Five<

Flexible and Free Layouts

I love love love these free layouts. I had to recently update my stupid main page on my main website and now it uses like WordPress and some block thing stacked on top of each other and I just hate the way it looks and how I have no idea what is going on. While you can argue that I’m out of touch because I haven’t made websites as a hobby in over 10 years, some of that is the web has gotten more complex and saavy with layout. I don’t think life needs to be that complex, the web can be fun and easy still, we don’t all have to be running Ruby compatable CMS laden hellscapes.

That’s all for this month and hopefully I’ll see you back again next month with some more exciting and cool things!

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