Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And Other Stories



And Other Stories is a new collection of short stories by Emma and me. It's available...

...as a trade paperback at CreateSpace: And Other Stories

...for Kindle at Amazon: And Other Stories

...for Nook and other epub readers at Barnes and Noble: And Other Stories

...in many electronic forms at Smashwords: And Other Stories

The contents:

Stories by Emma Bull
"The Princess and the Lord of Night"
"Man of Action"
"The Last of John Ringo"
"De la Tierra"
"What Used to Be Good Still Is"
"Joshua Tree"
"Silver or Gold"

Stories by Will Shetterly
"The Princess Who Kicked Butt"
"Oldthings"
"Brian and the Aliens"
"Taken He Cannot Be"
"Little Red and the Big Bad"
"Secret Identity"
"The People Who Owned the Bible"
"Kasim's Haj"
"The Thief of Dreams"
"Black Rock Blues"
"Dream Catcher"

And Other Stories


And Other Stories is a new collection of short stories by Emma and me. It's available...

...as a trade paperback at CreateSpace: And Other Stories

...for Kindle at Amazon: And Other Stories

...for Nook and other epub readers at Barnes and Noble: And Other Stories

...in many electronic forms at Smashwords: And Other Stories

The contents:

Stories by Emma Bull
"The Princess and the Lord of Night"
"Man of Action"
"The Last of John Ringo"
"De la Tierra"
"What Used to Be Good Still Is"
"Joshua Tree"
"Silver or Gold"

Stories by Will Shetterly
"The Princess Who Kicked Butt"
"Oldthings"
"Brian and the Aliens"
"Taken He Cannot Be"
"Little Red and the Big Bad"
"Secret Identity"
"The People Who Owned the Bible"
"Kasim's Haj"
"The Thief of Dreams"
"Black Rock Blues"
"Dream Catcher"

Friday, May 25, 2012

the problem with "Final girl" "phallic appropriation" theory

The "Final girl" is the girl or woman in horror films who is the only survivor, who either ends the evil or escapes. Carol J. Clover popularized the name. Wikipedia notes, "During the final girl’s confrontation with the killer, Clover argues, she becomes masculinized through "phallic appropriation" by taking up a weapon, such as a knife or chainsaw, against the killer."

I do wonder about people who see phalluses everywhere. As Freud noted, sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. The final girl does not become masculinized—she takes charge of her life by using what's available to save herself. Symbolically, she comes of age. The change has nothing to do with masculinity and everything to do with adulthood, where we must kill monsters and then live with our wounds.

the problem with "Final girl" "phallic appropriation" theory

The "Final girl" is the girl or woman in horror films who is the only survivor, who either ends the evil or escapes. Carol J. Clover popularized the name. Wikipedia notes, "During the final girl’s confrontation with the killer, Clover argues, she becomes masculinized through "phallic appropriation" by taking up a weapon, such as a knife or chainsaw, against the killer."

I do wonder about people who see phalluses everywhere. As Freud noted, sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. The final girl does not become masculinized—she takes charge of her life by using what's available to save herself. Symbolically, she comes of age. The change has nothing to do with masculinity and everything to do with adulthood, where we must kill monsters and then live with our wounds.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The easiest way to sell comics and picture books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

I recently made my old comic book series, Captain Confederacy, available as two ebooks on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The cost to me? Free.

But I had to figure out a few things that I'm sharing now in the hope of helping other folks.

Note: This approach is for creating a very basic ebook. It won't have a table of contents that people can use to navigate within it. For ebooks consisting primarily of text, a functioning table of contents is customary, but picture books and comic books are designed to be read without interruption, and all ebook software remembers the last page someone was on, so I suspect few readers will notice.

Useful software
  • A program to resize your pages and save them as jpegs.
  • A program to save those jpegs as a pdf file.
  • A program to turn the pdf files into an epub file.
I used Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat Pro, and Calibre. Photoshop was especially useful because of its "save to web" option, which makes very small jpeg files, and its macros, which let you quickly resize many pages. Acrobat Pro easily makes pdf files—it's essentially a drag and drop process. And Calibre is a free way to convert a pdf file to an epub file.

What you need to know about page size and file size

Page size refers to the number of pixels in an image. File size refers to the number of bytes needed to store it. Keep both in mind when you're making your book.

Because there are so many tablets available, you have many possible choices about page size. I chose a width of 600 pixels, which means most ebook readers will display them at actual size. (The length of my pages varied, but most were at or near 900 pixels.)

If you want people to be able to zoom in for more detail, choose a larger page size, but remember the 127 KB limit for the page's file size. Be prepared to save your files as medium or low quality jpegs.

Amazon will let you sell ebooks as large at 50 megabytes, but Barnes & Noble's limit is 20 MB. You could choose to only sell on Amazon, but you'll reach more buyers if you sell on Barnes & Noble too. Keep your total file size under 20 meg, and you can sell your book on both.

How to make a basic picture-based ebook

1. Resize your pages.

2. Assemble them in an epub file smaller than 20 MB.

3. Go to Kindle Direct Publishing to make your Amazon book. There's one tricky thing: KDP offers two royalty options, one that gives you 35% of the cover price or one that gives you 70%. If you choose the 70% plan, you have to pay 15 cents a meg for each download, which makes large files incredibly expensive. Choose the 35% plan for free distribution.

4. Go to Pubit to make your Barnes & Noble book. Probably because they don't allow files larger than 20 MB, they don't offer royalty choices: there's no charge for downloads, and you get 65% of the cover price.

A note about pricing: You might be tempted to charge more for the Amazon book because Amazon takes a bigger cut. Don't. Amazon will notice if your book is cheaper elsewhere and reduce its price automatically to match it. Just accept that you'll get a different rate for Kindle sales than for other readers.

Good luck!

Update 1: On Google +, Stephen Geigen-Miller asked, "Have you gotten any feedback about the image quality? I've heard that graphics files need to be optimized differently for ebooks."

I answered, "Alas, no feedback yet. I was working with old files, so I decided not to spend time optimizing them, but if I was doing new work, I would try to find the magic spot between file size and image quality."

Update 2: Steven Sudit added, "I read them on my wife's Kindle Fire, and it was fine."

Update 3: Thanks to IRS requirements, selling comics this way is harder if you aren't a US citizen. See: Comics in the New Media ~ Part III

Update 4: Amazon Kindle Tax Information for Non-US Publishers.

The easiest way to sell comics and picture books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

I recently made my old comic book series, Captain Confederacy, available as two ebooks on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The cost to me? Free.

But I had to figure out a few things that I'm sharing now in the hope of helping other folks.

Note: This approach is for creating a very basic ebook. It won't have a table of contents that people can use to navigate within it. For ebooks consisting primarily of text, a functioning table of contents is customary, but picture books and comic books are designed to be read without interruption, and all ebook software remembers the last page someone was on, so I suspect few readers will notice.

Useful software
  • A program to resize your pages and save them as jpegs.
  • A program to save those jpegs as a pdf file.
  • A program to turn the pdf files into an epub file.
I used Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat Pro, and Calibre. Photoshop was especially useful because of its "save to web" option, which makes very small jpeg files, and its macros, which let you quickly resize many pages. Acrobat Pro easily makes pdf files—it's essentially a drag and drop process. And Calibre is a free way to convert a pdf file to an epub file.

What you need to know about page size and file size

Page size refers to the number of pixels in an image. File size refers to the number of bytes needed to store it. Keep both in mind when you're making your book.

Because there are so many tablets available, you have many possible choices about page size. I chose a width of 600 pixels, which means most ebook readers will display them at actual size. (The length of my pages varied, but most were at or near 900 pixels.)

If you want people to be able to zoom in for more detail, choose a larger page size, but remember the 127 KB limit for the page's file size. Be prepared to save your files as medium or low quality jpegs.

Amazon will let you sell ebooks as large at 50 megabytes, but Barnes & Noble's limit is 20 MB. You could choose to only sell on Amazon, but you'll reach more buyers if you sell on Barnes & Noble too. Keep your total file size under 20 meg, and you can sell your book on both.

How to make a basic picture-based ebook

1. Resize your pages.

2. Assemble them in an epub file smaller than 20 MB.

3. Go to Kindle Direct Publishing to make your Amazon book. There's one tricky thing: KDP offers two royalty options, one that gives you 35% of the cover price or one that gives you 70%. If you choose the 70% plan, you have to pay 15 cents a meg for each download, which makes large files incredibly expensive. Choose the 35% plan for free distribution.

4. Go to Pubit to make your Barnes & Noble book. Probably because they don't allow files larger than 20 MB, they don't offer royalty choices: there's no charge for downloads, and you get 65% of the cover price.

A note about pricing: You might be tempted to charge more for the Amazon book because Amazon takes a bigger cut. Don't. Amazon will notice if your book is cheaper elsewhere and reduce its price automatically to match it. Just accept that you'll get a different rate for Kindle sales than for other readers.

Good luck!

Update 1: On Google +, Stephen Geigen-Miller asked, "Have you gotten any feedback about the image quality? I've heard that graphics files need to be optimized differently for ebooks."

I answered, "Alas, no feedback yet. I was working with old files, so I decided not to spend time optimizing them, but if I was doing new work, I would try to find the magic spot between file size and image quality."

Update 2: Steven Sudit added, "I read them on my wife's Kindle Fire, and it was fine."

Update 3: Thanks to IRS requirements, selling comics this way is harder if you aren't a US citizen. See: Comics in the New Media ~ Part III

Update 4: Amazon Kindle Tax Information for Non-US Publishers.

wealth in Japan and the USA

wealth in Japan and the USA

more about toilets

The inevitable post about toilets | Almost Passive House: "Peter Yost recommended the Niagara Stealth, which he installed in his house more than a year ago. The Stealth ($300) is a single-flush, vacuum-assisted toilet that uses a mere 0.8 gallons per flush (most dual-flush toilets use that amount for only the small flush, and more for the big flush). It's very quiet (Peter let us test his) and by all accounts works great. We even asked a disinterested plumbing supply rep about it, and he told us that a customer with multiple rental properties is gradually buying them for all his units because it's saving him so much on water, and the tenants haven't had any complaints."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I want to write Disruptive Fiction

Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre Fiction Is Disruptive Technology | Entertainment | TIME.com

It's oddly appropriate that a piece like this is in Time, a magazine I think too little of to despise or even consciously ignore. I don't agree with everything Lev Grossman says, but I completely agree with something he suggests, which I'll elaborate on: revolutions always come from below. Elites are conscious of their position, simultaneously smug and fearful, so they are only comfortable with tweaks to what they know. This applies to conservatives and liberals within the elite—they quibble over degrees of change within their worldview, but can't imagine anything outside it. And so they sneer at what they fear.

I want to write Disruptive Fiction

Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre Fiction Is Disruptive Technology | Entertainment | TIME.com

It's oddly appropriate that a piece like this is in Time, a magazine I think too little of to despise or even consciously ignore. I don't agree with everything Lev Grossman says, but I completely agree with something he suggests, which I'll elaborate on: revolutions always come from below. Elites are conscious of their position, simultaneously smug and fearful, so they are only comfortable with tweaks to what they know. This applies to conservatives and liberals within the elite—they quibble over degrees of change within their worldview, but can't imagine anything outside it. And so they sneer at what they fear.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Emma at the Dancing Ferret

From Sabrepunk » Blog Archiv » My night in Bordertown:

Emma at the Dancing Ferret

From Sabrepunk » Blog Archiv » My night in Bordertown:

Cuba leapfrogs the US on sex reassignment

LGBT Rights in Cuba, the United States and Beyond: "In 2010 the Cuban government began providing sex reassignment surgery free of charge as part of their universal healthcare."

Cuba leapfrogs the US on sex reassignment

LGBT Rights in Cuba, the United States and Beyond: "In 2010 the Cuban government began providing sex reassignment surgery free of charge as part of their universal healthcare."

the young Martin Luther King: capitalism has outlived its usefulness

A letter from King to Coretta Scott has a fascinating look at his thinking in 1952.

the young Martin Luther King: capitalism has outlived its usefulness

A letter from King to Coretta Scott has a fascinating look at his thinking in 1952.

Facts are Cool #2: crime and race, now with class!

Added this to Facts are Cool: race and gender, now with class!.

Facts are Cool: race and gender, now with class!

Inspired by Jim C. Hines' class-free look at race and gender in the USA in Facts are Cool, I'm doing a post about what happens when you add class.

1. Poverty

In 1967, Martin Luther King said, "In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike."

Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are three times as many poor whites as poor blacks if you include Hispanics who identify as white, or there are still twice as many poor whites if you exclude white Hispanics:

from Table B. People in Poverty:
20092010Change in poverty
NumberPercentNumberPercentNumberPerecnt
Race and Hispanic Origin
White
29,83012.331,65013.0*1,819*0.7
   White, not Hispanic
18,5309.419,5999.9*1,070*05
Black
9,94425.810,67527.4*732*1.6
Asian
1,74612.51,72912.1-17-0.4
Hispanic origin
12,35025.313,24326.6*893*1.3

The Poorest Part of America is white:
Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains ... The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm.
Sherman Alexie alluded to that in Diary of a Part-time Indian. mentioning a place that's
...filled with the poorest Indians and poorer-than-poorest white kids. Yes, there is a place in the world where the white people are even poorer than you ever thought possible.
Dale Maharidge notes:
Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge.
Regardless of race, Americans have less hope of rising to a higher economic class than people in Canada and Western European countries.

2. The drug war and the death penalty

You can find people of all races in US prisons, but you'll have to look hard to find anyone who wasn't poor. From Prison Legal News: "Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest."

The part of the criminal system that most disproportionately targets poor people of color is the drug war. John McWhorter notes, "the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."

Class is the uniting factor in the death penalty, too: "Ninety-five % of defendants charged with capital crimes are indigent and cannot afford their own attorney to represent them. They are forced to use inexperienced, underpaid court-appointed attorneys."

To make sense of class, race, and the death penalty, we need the racial breakdown of the 46.18 million Americans living in poverty. Using the 2010 census, here's how poverty looks in racial terms:


Number% of U.S. Poor
White
31,65068.5
   White, not Hispanic
19,59942.4
Black
10,67523.1
Asian

1,7293.8
Hispanic origin
Other

13,24328.7
2


And here's the US population:

White persons, percent definition and source info White persons, percent, 2010 (a)72.4%
Black persons, percent definition and source info Black persons, percent, 2010 (a)12.6%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent definition and source info American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2010 (a)0.9%
Asian persons, percent definition and source info Asian persons, percent, 2010 (a)4.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent definition and source info Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2010 (a)0.2%
Persons reporting two or more races, percent definition and source info Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 20102.9%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent definition and source info Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2010 (b)16.3%
White persons not Hispanic, percent definition and source info White persons not Hispanic, percent, 201063.7%

Here are the racial percentages for people legally executed for murder since 1976:
WHITE: 56%
BLACK: 35%
HISPANIC: 7%
OTHER: 2%
The races of their victims:
WHITE: 77%
BLACK: 15%
HISPANIC: 6%
OTHER: 3%
The breakdown of murder victims is relatively closer to that of the US population; the racial breakdown of murderers is closer to that of US poverty, though in both cases, the Hispanic population seems to be under-represented. This may be due to differences in rural and urban poverty: the black poor are more urban. Or there may be other factors. At Race and the Death Penalty, John McAdams says:
...it is clearly the case that blacks who murder whites are treated more harshly than are blacks who murder blacks. This looks like racial disparity if you assume that the circumstances are similar in the two cases. Unfortunately, it's vastly unlikely that they are. Most murders are among people who know each other. Murders done by strangers are much more likely to be regarded as heinous than are murders growing out of domestic quarrels, drug deals gone wrong, and such. It might seem reasonable to compare the punishment received by blacks who murder whites with the treatment received by whites who murder blacks. Unfortunately, while black on white crime is relatively rare, white on black crime is even rarer. There simply isn't an adequate statistical base to allow us to generalize about whites who murder blacks, which pretty much leaves us to compare the way the system treats blacks who murder blacks with the way it treats whites who murder whites. When we do this, we find some fairly solid-looking evidence that the system is unfairly tough on white murderers -- or if you prefer, unfairly lenient on black murderers. But even this finding is one we have to be skeptical about. Is the average black on black murder quite similar to the average white on white murder? Or are there systematic differences?
 When I wrote about this in 2005, someone who identified himself as Carl commented:
For the past 20+ years I’ve worked in the criminal justice system – the past 8 years for a criminal defense firm, and the 14 years before that as a court clerk – I’ve done more death penalty cases than I want to think about (very few attorneys or judges ever want to do even one, and once you’ve done one, you never want to do another – they’re brutal on everyone involved), and can honestly say that in my experience (in California – your state may be different), the vast majority of DP felons (and felons in general) tend to be poor, poorly educated, and not very bright in general, with very poor social and coping skills. While there are occasional exceptions, they are damned rare.

The only notable exception I worked on was a wealthy woman who went even more psycho (she was bizarre at first, and went completely around the bend when her husband dumped her in favor of Next Year’s Model), and murdered the ex and his new wife in their beds. That one showed up on TV, both in the news and in movies-of-the-week, and she managed to avoid the death penalty, where poorer killers were far more likely to get Death. (Yes – you can probably guess the name).

In my experience (and hers, and OJ’s), money plays a far greater role than ethnicity.
Carl's reference to OJ Simpson points to a truth about race, class, and crime: Middle and upper-class black folks are no more likely to be in prison than white middle and upper-class folks.

3. Gender, prison, and rape

Carrie Lukas offers a conservative take on the gender wage gap in There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap:
The Department of Labor's Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap.

Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.

Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more.

Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. Given that women are outpacing men in educational attainment, and that our economy is increasingly geared toward knowledge-based jobs, it makes sense that women's earnings are going up compared to men's.
Hanna Rosin offers a liberal take in The End of Men:
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same.
How to determine wage equality today is tricky, but it's clear that while the economic gap between rich and poor is growing, the one between men and women is narrowing.

The rape gap has also narrowed for victims: "The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women."

The "likely" matters, because not all inmates are male, but the overwhelming majority are. From Women in Prisons:
Although the statistics can vary, approximately 2.5 million people are incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails. Of these, according to a study conducted by the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice (IWCJ) in 2006, the number of women in prison is approximately 105,000.
Since most prisoners are poor, we know most of those rape victims are poor.

One point that isn't tied to class, but is often cited by liberals. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey,  nearly one in five women have been raped. Christina Hoff Sommers has a conservative response in CDC study on sexual violence in the U.S. overstates the problem:
...where did the CDC find 13.7 million victims of sexual crimes that the professional criminologists had overlooked?

It found them by defining sexual violence in impossibly elastic ways and then letting the surveyors, rather than subjects, determine what counted as an assault.
Whatever the real numbers for sexual assault may be, even outside prison, poor people are more likely to suffer.

Recommended: Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being (pdf)

An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women PREPARED FOR: U.S. Department of Labor (pdf)

WHAT DO WAGE DIFFERENTIALS TELL US ABOUT LABOR MARKET DISCRIMINATION? by June E. O’Neill and Dave M. O’Neill (pdf)

Facts are Cool: race and gender, now with class!

Inspired by Jim C. Hines' class-free look at race and gender in the USA in Facts are Cool, I'm doing a post about what happens when you add class.

1. Poverty

In 1967, Martin Luther King said, "In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike."

Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are three times as many poor whites as poor blacks if you include Hispanics who identify as white, or there are still twice as many poor whites if you exclude white Hispanics:

from Table B. People in Poverty:
20092010Change in poverty
NumberPercentNumberPercentNumberPerecnt
Race and Hispanic Origin
White
29,83012.331,65013.0*1,819*0.7
   White, not Hispanic
18,5309.419,5999.9*1,070*05
Black
9,94425.810,67527.4*732*1.6
Asian
1,74612.51,72912.1-17-0.4
Hispanic origin
12,35025.313,24326.6*893*1.3

The Poorest Part of America is white:
Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains ... The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm.
Sherman Alexie alluded to that in Diary of a Part-time Indian. mentioning a place that's
...filled with the poorest Indians and poorer-than-poorest white kids. Yes, there is a place in the world where the white people are even poorer than you ever thought possible.
Dale Maharidge notes:
Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge.
Regardless of race, Americans have less hope of rising to a higher economic class than people in Canada and Western European countries.

2. The drug war and the death penalty

You can find people of all races in US prisons, but you'll have to look hard to find anyone who wasn't poor. From Prison Legal News: "Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest."

The part of the criminal system that most disproportionately targets poor people of color is the drug war. John McWhorter notes, "the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."

Class is the uniting factor in the death penalty, too: "Ninety-five % of defendants charged with capital crimes are indigent and cannot afford their own attorney to represent them. They are forced to use inexperienced, underpaid court-appointed attorneys."

To make sense of class, race, and the death penalty, we need the racial breakdown of the 46.18 million Americans living in poverty. Using the 2010 census, here's how poverty looks in racial terms:


Number% of U.S. Poor
White
31,65068.5
   White, not Hispanic
19,59942.4
Black
10,67523.1
Asian

1,7293.8
Hispanic origin
Other

13,24328.7
2


And here's the US population:

White persons, percent definition and source info White persons, percent, 2010 (a)72.4%
Black persons, percent definition and source info Black persons, percent, 2010 (a)12.6%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent definition and source info American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2010 (a)0.9%
Asian persons, percent definition and source info Asian persons, percent, 2010 (a)4.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent definition and source info Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2010 (a)0.2%
Persons reporting two or more races, percent definition and source info Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 20102.9%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent definition and source info Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2010 (b)16.3%
White persons not Hispanic, percent definition and source info White persons not Hispanic, percent, 201063.7%

Here are the racial percentages for people legally executed for murder since 1976:
WHITE: 56%
BLACK: 35%
HISPANIC: 7%
OTHER: 2%
The races of their victims:
WHITE: 77%
BLACK: 15%
HISPANIC: 6%
OTHER: 3%
The breakdown of murder victims is relatively closer to that of the US population; the racial breakdown of murderers is closer to that of US poverty, though in both cases, the Hispanic population seems to be under-represented. This may be due to differences in rural and urban poverty: the black poor are more urban. Or there may be other factors. At Race and the Death Penalty, John McAdams says:
...it is clearly the case that blacks who murder whites are treated more harshly than are blacks who murder blacks. This looks like racial disparity if you assume that the circumstances are similar in the two cases. Unfortunately, it's vastly unlikely that they are. Most murders are among people who know each other. Murders done by strangers are much more likely to be regarded as heinous than are murders growing out of domestic quarrels, drug deals gone wrong, and such. It might seem reasonable to compare the punishment received by blacks who murder whites with the treatment received by whites who murder blacks. Unfortunately, while black on white crime is relatively rare, white on black crime is even rarer. There simply isn't an adequate statistical base to allow us to generalize about whites who murder blacks, which pretty much leaves us to compare the way the system treats blacks who murder blacks with the way it treats whites who murder whites. When we do this, we find some fairly solid-looking evidence that the system is unfairly tough on white murderers -- or if you prefer, unfairly lenient on black murderers. But even this finding is one we have to be skeptical about. Is the average black on black murder quite similar to the average white on white murder? Or are there systematic differences?
 When I wrote about this in 2005, someone who identified himself as Carl commented:
For the past 20+ years I’ve worked in the criminal justice system – the past 8 years for a criminal defense firm, and the 14 years before that as a court clerk – I’ve done more death penalty cases than I want to think about (very few attorneys or judges ever want to do even one, and once you’ve done one, you never want to do another – they’re brutal on everyone involved), and can honestly say that in my experience (in California – your state may be different), the vast majority of DP felons (and felons in general) tend to be poor, poorly educated, and not very bright in general, with very poor social and coping skills. While there are occasional exceptions, they are damned rare.

The only notable exception I worked on was a wealthy woman who went even more psycho (she was bizarre at first, and went completely around the bend when her husband dumped her in favor of Next Year’s Model), and murdered the ex and his new wife in their beds. That one showed up on TV, both in the news and in movies-of-the-week, and she managed to avoid the death penalty, where poorer killers were far more likely to get Death. (Yes – you can probably guess the name).

In my experience (and hers, and OJ’s), money plays a far greater role than ethnicity.
Carl's reference to OJ Simpson points to a truth about race, class, and crime: Middle and upper-class black folks are no more likely to be in prison than white middle and upper-class folks.

3. Gender, prison, and rape

Carrie Lukas offers a conservative take on the gender wage gap in There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap:
The Department of Labor's Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap.

Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.

Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more.

Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. Given that women are outpacing men in educational attainment, and that our economy is increasingly geared toward knowledge-based jobs, it makes sense that women's earnings are going up compared to men's.
Hanna Rosin offers a liberal take in The End of Men:
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same.
How to determine wage equality today is tricky, but it's clear that while the economic gap between rich and poor is growing, the one between men and women is narrowing.

The rape gap has also narrowed for victims: "The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women."

The "likely" matters, because not all inmates are male, but the overwhelming majority are. From Women in Prisons:
Although the statistics can vary, approximately 2.5 million people are incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails. Of these, according to a study conducted by the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice (IWCJ) in 2006, the number of women in prison is approximately 105,000.
Since most prisoners are poor, we know most of those rape victims are poor.

One point that isn't tied to class, but is often cited by liberals. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey,  nearly one in five women have been raped. Christina Hoff Sommers has a conservative response in CDC study on sexual violence in the U.S. overstates the problem:
...where did the CDC find 13.7 million victims of sexual crimes that the professional criminologists had overlooked?

It found them by defining sexual violence in impossibly elastic ways and then letting the surveyors, rather than subjects, determine what counted as an assault.
Whatever the real numbers for sexual assault may be, even outside prison, poor people are more likely to suffer.

Recommended: Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being (pdf)

An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women PREPARED FOR: U.S. Department of Labor (pdf)

WHAT DO WAGE DIFFERENTIALS TELL US ABOUT LABOR MARKET DISCRIMINATION? by June E. O’Neill and Dave M. O’Neill (pdf)

11 things the wealthiest Americans could buy for the U.S. that most families can't afford for themselves.

11 things the wealthiest Americans could buy for the U.S. that most families can't afford for themselves.

11 things the wealthiest Americans could buy for the U.S. that most families can't afford for themselves.

11 things the wealthiest Americans could buy for the U.S. that most families can't afford for themselves.

Monday, May 21, 2012

on Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks

it's all one thing: on Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks

The Killing Rage of Bell Hooks

My hasty review at Goodreads, where I gave it one star:
The opening essay of Bell Hooks' Killing Rage: Ending Racism is very much worth reading, though not for the reasons she offers. Think of her as a Nabokovian unreliable narrator, and it's both sad and hilarious. It's the story of a ticket mix-up on a plane. A white man has a ticket for a seat, and due to some error, a black woman believes the seat is hers, but her ticket says otherwise. To Hooks, all the whites who observe what happens are complicit in racism because they don't ignore the ticket and accept the black woman's word.

It never occurs to Hook that she might be mistaken. She defines herself as an anti-racist, and therefore she must find racism to oppose wherever she goes. Like many middle class black folks, she has an especially odd take on Malcolm X: she talks about his rage rather than his demand for getting and giving respect, and she prefers what he said when he served the Nation of Islam to what he said later.

She also has a double-standard on class that I find among many of her fans: she'll mention that class matters, but she expects full deference from those who wait on her. If working-class folks are trying to finish another task before getting to her or goof up when they're helping her, it's because of their racism. If people always served me instantly and perfectly, I might give her claims more weight.

This is not to say that hooks has never faced racism. An old joke applies: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. The tragedy of racism is that folks who might be its victims have to wonder if they're its victims whenever a person of another race does anything that hurts or inconveniences them.

I didn't start this book expecting to agree with her, but I expected to find more substance for her beliefs. Her desire to "liberate subjectivity" explains why there's not.

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in anti-racism theory google Adolph Reed Jr.'s "The limits of anti-racism." He never mentions hooks by name, but his critique of the vagueness of the theory applies.
If you want to read that essay from her book, it's here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Is "Straight White Male" The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is? Part Five

In a discussion at G+, a friend brought up the issue of "passing", of being perceived as straight or white, and noted that straight people who're seen as gay can be bashed. I answered:
I grew up being called queer and niggerlover. I know about those problems from the hard side of a fist. No one's saying racist and sexist assholes no longer exist. They come in every skin tone and every gender. But really, how do you change things by running around blaming white men, 99.9% of whom have far less power than Obama or Oprah or Condi Rice or Herbert Cain or...?

Remember, it was white men who gave the vote to women and people of color. As a group, they don't want identity privilege.

Is "Straight White Male" The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is? Part Five

In a discussion at G+, a friend brought up the issue of "passing", of being perceived as straight or white, and noted that straight people who're seen as gay can be bashed. I answered:
I grew up being called queer and niggerlover. I know about those problems from the hard side of a fist. No one's saying racist and sexist assholes no longer exist. They come in every skin tone and every gender. But really, how do you change things by running around blaming white men, 99.9% of whom have far less power than Obama or Oprah or Condi Rice or Herbert Cain or...?

Remember, it was white men who gave the vote to women and people of color. As a group, they don't want identity privilege.

Friday, May 18, 2012

L'Hôte: anti-racism as social sorting

L'Hôte: anti-racism as social sorting: "I felt more hopeful for the end of racism when opposing racism was an end and not a means."

Balloon Juice: Scalzi and White Poverty

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Talking About White Poverty: "I wish that Scalzi had done more to look specifically at economic class. Because class is incredibly important, both theoretically and in practical terms of social mobility and equality. I understand that Scalzi embeds that discussion in his talk about different distributions for “attribute points” and such, and I largely agree with that metaphorical analysis. But by being so arch about class, he takes the risk that some readers will miss that point entirely—and they’re the ones who need to understand class the most. To me, the people who need educating are not just the aggressive, privileged straight white men who Scalzi is targeting. It’s also the educated white savvy set that is endlessly linking and tweeting his piece."

Balloon Juice: Scalzi and White Poverty

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Talking About White Poverty: "I wish that Scalzi had done more to look specifically at economic class. Because class is incredibly important, both theoretically and in practical terms of social mobility and equality. I understand that Scalzi embeds that discussion in his talk about different distributions for “attribute points” and such, and I largely agree with that metaphorical analysis. But by being so arch about class, he takes the risk that some readers will miss that point entirely—and they’re the ones who need to understand class the most. To me, the people who need educating are not just the aggressive, privileged straight white men who Scalzi is targeting. It’s also the educated white savvy set that is endlessly linking and tweeting his piece."

L'Hôte: how long are we going to keep doing this shit?

L'Hôte: how long are we going to keep doing this shit?: "There appear to be two rational explanations for this behavior. One is that Scalzi and the commenters who aped his behavior have a simply atrocious grasp on psychology, human behavior, and politics, and sincerely believed that mocking people would lead to their enlightenment. The other is that John Scalzi's purpose was never to actually contribute to education and social justice, but rather to demonstrate his superiority to those people he claimed to want to educate, and in doing so show what a brilliant and enlightened guy he is to the liberals he is in cultural competition with."

L'Hôte: how long are we going to keep doing this shit?

L'Hôte: how long are we going to keep doing this shit?: "There appear to be two rational explanations for this behavior. One is that Scalzi and the commenters who aped his behavior have a simply atrocious grasp on psychology, human behavior, and politics, and sincerely believed that mocking people would lead to their enlightenment. The other is that John Scalzi's purpose was never to actually contribute to education and social justice, but rather to demonstrate his superiority to those people he claimed to want to educate, and in doing so show what a brilliant and enlightened guy he is to the liberals he is in cultural competition with."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Banned “Tax the Rich” TED Talk slides and text here - SlashGear

Banned “Tax the Rich” TED Talk slides and text here - SlashGear: "If the typical American family still got today the same share of income they earned in 1980, they would earn about 25% more and have an astounding $13,000 more a year."

Is "Straight White Male" The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is? Part Four

I just left a comment at “Lowest Difficulty Setting” Follow-Up which went into moderation. In case it never comes out, here 'tis. The quotes are Scalzi's claims:
"wealth and class are not an inherent part of one’s personal nature"

Under capitalism, wealth and class are at least as much a part of one's personal nature as race, a social construct that was a creation of the slave trade.

"speaking as someone who has been at both the bottom and the top of the wealth and class spectrum here in the US, I think I have enough personal knowledge on the matter to say it belongs where I put it."

Herman Cain could make the same argument.
Since I'm at my blog now, I'll unpack this a little:

I haven't been at the top of the wealth and class spectrum, but I spent two years at Choate, so I've lived with those folks. However, I spent my earlier years at public schools in northern Florida, and I graduated from Western High School, an inner-city Washington school that was mostly poor and black, and I've mostly lived in working class neighborhoods since then. So I think I have enough personal knowledge on the matter to say it belongs where I put it.

Which is the bogusest of bogus argument, of course. Let's look at a couple of people who know more about this than John or me.

Regarding racism and slavery, historian Eric Williams noted in Capitalism and Slavery:
Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.
As for classism and racism, Rev. Thandeka, author of Learning to Be White: Money, Race and God in America, wrote in "The Whiting of Euro-Americans: A Divide and Conquer Strategy":
...we must not forget that white racism was from the start a vehicle for classism; its primary goal was not to elevate a race but to denigrate a class. White racism was thus a means to and end, and the end was the defense of Virginia’s class structure and the further subjugation of the poor of all "racial" colors.
Recommended:

RACE - The Power of an Illusion at PBS.

Race, class, and "whiteness theory" by Sharon Smith

Is "Straight White Male" The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is? Part Four

I just left a comment at “Lowest Difficulty Setting” Follow-Up which went into moderation. In case it never comes out, here 'tis. The quotes are Scalzi's claims:
"wealth and class are not an inherent part of one’s personal nature"

Under capitalism, wealth and class are at least as much a part of one's personal nature as race, a social construct that was a creation of the slave trade.

"speaking as someone who has been at both the bottom and the top of the wealth and class spectrum here in the US, I think I have enough personal knowledge on the matter to say it belongs where I put it."

Herman Cain could make the same argument.
Since I'm at my blog now, I'll unpack this a little:

I haven't been at the top of the wealth and class spectrum, but I spent two years at Choate, so I've lived with those folks. However, I spent my earlier years at public schools in northern Florida, and I graduated from Western High School, an inner-city Washington school that was mostly poor and black, and I've mostly lived in working class neighborhoods since then. So I think I have enough personal knowledge on the matter to say it belongs where I put it.

Which is the bogusest of bogus argument, of course. Let's look at a couple of people who know more about this than John or me.

Regarding racism and slavery, historian Eric Williams noted in Capitalism and Slavery:
Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.
As for classism and racism, Rev. Thandeka, author of Learning to Be White: Money, Race and God in America, wrote in "The Whiting of Euro-Americans: A Divide and Conquer Strategy":
...we must not forget that white racism was from the start a vehicle for classism; its primary goal was not to elevate a race but to denigrate a class. White racism was thus a means to and end, and the end was the defense of Virginia’s class structure and the further subjugation of the poor of all "racial" colors.
Recommended:

RACE - The Power of an Illusion at PBS.

Race, class, and "whiteness theory" by Sharon Smith

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is "Straight White Male" The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is? Part Three

Emma Bull has the best answer yet. (Why, yes, I'm prejudiced, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.)

From her comments at Scalzi’s Latest: But I didn’t get MY say!:
Our host is saying, I think, that ALL identitarian bickering is obscuring the real issue, which is that all but the richest people live in a world that’s unnecessarily limiting and unjust. When you focus on the minor imbalances of ethnicity or gender or sexuality or religion, you help obscure the real problem. In other words, whether you’re assigning “privilege” to white males or Asians or Latinos or women, you’re playing the socially approved game, and failing to acknowledge that the game itself is deplorably rigged.
and
The issue is not whether women have an advantage over men, or men have an advantage over women. As long as we frame the injustice in terms of, “I am struggling because I am X,” we can’t understand the real rules and rewrite them. We are struggling because a small percentage of humanity–male and female, of many skin colors, religions, and national origins–owns a disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth and has made the game rules to give themselves the points. They’ll win no matter how hard we try to outplay them.

So why are we still playing? And worse, why are we participating in identitarian side combats that only offer us the illusion of winning, when in the real game we’re nothing but cannon fodder and non-player characters?