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Just a quick note

For those of you in need of a chuckle, and aren't already reading the sporadic LJ posts of pnh, take a quick look at this one: http://www.livejournal.com/users/pnh/5026.html. Big snerk at the comment about being hated, which, in GEnie terminology was an unfortunate snarf on my part, as I was drinking water at the time.

yhlee, I haven't forgotten the question you asked about category romance and the attempt to market certain lines towards a more mainstream audience -- I'll get right on that tomorrow. I'd answer off the top of my head, but my head is flat about now, and while I've been doing some research into the whole history of romance as a genre, I really don't know enough about it to answer any question authoritatively; I can give my take, but it's not on as firm a ground as the usual SF/F takes would be.

I'm coming out of paralysis at the moment. The one thing that the internet offers in this regard is speed; the speed of information, the gathering of it, the discussion about it -- things happen more quickly here than they do in real life. Not that this isn't real life, but you know what I mean. Someone posted an excellent comment about, for instance, the concept of abortion as a social justice issue -- and I've been thinking about it, mulling it over. forodwaith asked why Canada is more liberal, socially, than the US, and I'm also mulling that over. I think we're secretly in love with lawyers, since 99% of our politicians seem to have been practicing lawyers at one point in their career. Yes, I know -- how strange is that?

But I also think, at heart, that we'd rather have someone really, intimidatingly smart at the helm. Our cult of personality PM was Pierre Elliot Trudeau, a man know for his razor wit and his intellect. Oh, and his arrogance, and his ability to condescend you into an early death. We know, by default -- and yes, gross generalization here, but it's 2:30 in the morning, and I've been line-editing all night -- that we're not up to the task of governance because we don't know enough, or are not inherently smart enough to do a good job, but gosh, it would be nice to have someone at the helm who is, so smart isn't a threat in the same way it sometimes seems to be for more of the US electorate than the Canadian electorate.

Also -- and I'm not terribly representative in this regard (although it could be said that no single individual is representative of an entire plurality, regardless of whether or not they've been elected to represent that plurality) -- many Canadians really don't like fuss, bother, and change. Change, when it comes via lawyers, comes slowly and with a lot of documentation and words; change, when it comes through people outside of those venues? It's often too fast. I've never woken up after a depressing election to wonder what country I'm actually in. Otoh, if I were living in Alberta, I might <wry g>.

And last? If it's greedy bastards, you at least know what kind of trouble you're in for. If it's someone outside of that -- if it's a theocrat masquerading as a lawyer or an actor masquerading as a lawyer (lawyers being, as I mentioned, most of our politicians), well... you don't know quite what they'll do. People understand a certain type of power-mongering, and a certain type of political patronage -- they may despise it, but it has some logical struts beneath it (see: greed). But people who do things for reasons of faith, who do things that don't have a logical or sensible trail behind it -- they're harder to predict and harder to watch out for.

I have been line-editing, and realizing that, in fact, contemporary and anecdotal though my voice for this book is, it still requires one to read all of the words.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
msagara
Nov. 6th, 2004 08:31 am (UTC)
 It's been fascinating reading the Canadians' take on the whole thing.

 Also, on the romance question--no hurry. We were just idly curious. :-)


The Canadian take, as the US take, does vary widely, although perhaps not as widely. I believe it was generally assumed -- no, really, honestly assumed -- that Kerry would win. By those of us with a wider base of US friends with whom we're in constant contact (i.e. who live on-line <wry g>), that assumption was not as strong, but the pervasive sense of gloom was stronger.

I have to work at the store today -- Kelley Armstrong will be there in the afternoon, signing copies of Industrial Magic, her fourth novel.

I only wanted to answer the romance question because it's interesting in the context of bookselling, or rather, the history of romance within bookstores themselves is interesting.
dancinghorse
Nov. 6th, 2004 08:37 am (UTC)
I think I'm a spiritual Canadian.

On history of romance: Must consider the way books are released in lines and series, and buyers can subscribe to lines/imprints and collect the whole set. There's nothing exactly analogous in sf/f.
msagara
Nov. 6th, 2004 08:44 am (UTC)
On history of romance: Must consider the way books are released in lines and series, and buyers can subscribe to lines/imprints and collect the whole set. There's nothing exactly analogous in sf/f.

No, nothing quite. But it's why Harlequin failed so badly with the Worldwide Library (does anyone even remember that? Besides pnh, that is).

However, the categories and the subscriptions were less about the bookstores -- and it's the bookstore stuff, or the move from the one to the other, that I think is interesting. I promise I'll be clear about the differences -- because I think the roots -- or branches -- of that are affecting the fiction market. Or the adult market, at any rate.
drenilop
Nov. 6th, 2004 10:07 am (UTC)
Canada vs US on liberalism
forodwaith asked why Canada is more liberal, socially, than the US, and I'm also mulling that over. I think we're secretly in love with lawyers, since 99% of our politicians seem to have been practicing lawyers at one point in their career.

Can the comparative/international political scientist chime in? I'm not sure I'd agree with the lawyers argument - that would suggest, since your rate of lawyers-in-politics is higher than the US (only about 2/3 here), that change in Canada should be SLOWER than in the United States.

On the other hand, Canadian social policy is more liberal than American all the way back through the interwar years. I'm going to attribute at least part of the difference to the nature of the federal units in the two countries. US units are generally quite similar - they don't often differ too markedly on most social, economic, cultural etc. criteria. Canada, on the other hand, is QUITE different. The presence of Quebec, whose industrial/economic and cultural profile is a lot different than the others, and the federal/parliamentary nature of the political system (which encourages compromise/collaboration across multiple province-based parties to form governments), creates an environment where social benefits can be used as goodies to buy cooperation. It keeps rather wealth Quebec in the federation, and satisfies the needs of other groups. [I'm having serious recollections of the health care system being largely the result of a compromise between a Quebec-based party and another major party. NO CLUE what source I'm pulling from though - Huber and Stephens 2001?]

There's also the prominent fact that in the post-war period, most of the issues that divide US conservatives and liberals (particularly the highly salient foreign policy/'role in the world' ones that define the conservatives) are largely absent from Canadian politics. One of the advantages of not being the neighborhood gorilla, I suppose. Without the extensive defense policy commitments, more funds are available for social policy. Once these policies are in place, they create a constituency in favor of their continuation. With basic bread and butter issues securely removed from the political field because of this (while they're still major issues in the US), Canadians were able to shift their interests to additional questions which tend to flow logically from the policies provided. (i.e., is abortion a 'health care service'?) The general result of moving the bread-and-butter, basic-subsistence-level questions out of political discourse is that the elements which define conservative and liberal - role of the state in the economy, public (vs private) provision of social services, etc. - are no longer as prominent and discussion shifts to other things.

Anyway.... 'Tis enough impromptu lecture for today. :-) I'm curious to know the take of other Canadians though - are my largely-institutional arguments out of touch with practical Canadian politics?
(Deleted comment)
drenilop
Nov. 7th, 2004 09:29 am (UTC)
Re: Canada vs US on liberalism
"soothing multisyllabic words"

::cringes - is uncertain whether this is a compliment or something else::

I make NO claims to be an expert on Canadian politics or the Canadian political system, or even on how the US got to its current position. These remarks are my quasi-informed speculation only.
msagara
Nov. 7th, 2004 12:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Canada vs US on liberalism
"soothing multisyllabic words"

::cringes - is uncertain whether this is a compliment or something else::


I would see it in every possible way as a compliment -- for people who find multisyllabic words, and their existence and correct use, to be soothing <wry g>. There's a sense that there's an active dislike for "intellectuals" in the US in some quarters at the moment, and the definition of intellectual has slid to some extent.
drenilop
Nov. 7th, 2004 01:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Canada vs US on liberalism
Hey, I voted for Kerry. We nerds must stick together. :-) Though I will admit that Bush's penchant for butchering this language has provided me with substantial amounts of fodder for discussing writing with my students. Some of them make Bush look positively eloquent. ::shudders:: I suspect, though, that the number of people who enjoy properly used big words is a fairly small proportion of the population.

While intellectuals in general might have a bad name right now, people in my line of work - political scientists - were MUCH more out of favor four years ago, when the inadequacy of our exit polling practices was exposed. :-) Back then, it wasn't safe to admit my line of work in public. Now, people all just assume that like all university professors I'm a radical leftist who's voting for Kerry anyway, so I'm safe again. ::vbg::
(Deleted comment)
drenilop
Nov. 7th, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Canada vs US on liberalism
LOL... Sorry... My parents yell at me all the time when I go home to visit about talking with "big words" that they don't understand. They think I'm putting on airs or some such. Unfortunately, that's more or less normal language for me, so I was thinking it might have been a bit of an insult along the lines my parents, or of comparing me to Kerry, etc., or even Bush's bastardizations of the language.

I actually rather used to enjoy reading our early-1970s encyclopedia when I was younger, at least when I was in an pinch and hadn't gotten to the library in a while. Not as fond of ship rigging as you are, but I learned all sorts of use(less)ful stuff. Now I get paid to entertain undergraduates by reciting it several days a week. :-) And my mother told me reading the encyclopedia would never pay the bills... heh little does she know. :-P
(Deleted comment)
drenilop
Nov. 8th, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
Re: Canada vs US on liberalism
Hm, that's a bit of an odd one. Not sure I'd like that much. I've always found reality stranger than fiction; you don't need much fiction because reality is always MUCH funnier/stranger/scarier if you know where to look. Here's one for you, then:

In Guyana, you are legally prohibited from petitioning the Ombudsman if you're dead.

It's in their constitution, I'm serious. I spent my summer reading constitutions from countries most people have never heard of. I have NO idea how one might make use of that, but just trying to *imagine* the situations under which such a provision would be invoked, or the situations which may have caused it to be put into the constitutions in the first place, is certainly kind of fun.

I'm also a bit intrigued by a bit in a failed Albanian draft that gave the constitutional right to have household pets, provided the pets were appropriate for the dwelling and were treated fairly -- thus implying that pets have a constitutional right to fair treatment...
(Deleted comment)
drenilop
Nov. 9th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)
Re: Canada vs US on liberalism
Oyy, that definitely shows that I'm a writer of NON-fiction... I didn't even THINK of werewolves and vampires. LOL
(Deleted comment)
forodwaith
Nov. 6th, 2004 11:10 am (UTC)
Hi, and thanks for the post pimpage. Some people have dropped by with really well-thought-out comments on my rather flippant original post.

> many Canadians really don't like fuss, bother, and change

Oh, boy howdy is this true. IOW, are we really more tolerant, or just more apathetic? Sometimes I truly envy the way Americans get all het up about whatever political change is in the offing.
drenilop
Nov. 6th, 2004 12:48 pm (UTC)
I suspect most Americans get heated up about change because they dislike change *period*, not because they like or dislike the proposed change. We're a staunchly conservative group, in the sense that we don't even want to fix things that ARE *notably* broken, let alone the ones that are just squeaking a bit. :-)
msagara
Nov. 7th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, boy howdy is this true. IOW, are we really more tolerant, or just more apathetic? Sometimes I truly envy the way Americans get all het up about whatever political change is in the offing.

It happens occasionally; remember free trade? But in general, I would say the -type- of apathy that exists in Canada exists regardless of whether your Right or Left or Centrist; i.e. if it's apathy, no single group is good at herding their constituents.

Yes, my tongue is slightly in my cheek here, but.

Mostly, making rules takes time & responsibility; I still think we're lazy but because we have a clearer idea of what change entails, we make the 'changes' that already essentially exist (gay marriage, marijuana) within the social culture. Which is to say -- gay marriage didn't exist in a legal form, but it certainly did in every other way, and granting legal rights to a lifestyle that was already extant wasn't going to cause enormous amounts of social effort or repair. Marijuana? Harder, but sort of the same.

I think the "none of your business" culture is also stronger here. There are more things you just don't talk about if you're any kind of polite or well-socialized.

I remember reading an interview in which Douglas Adams asked with some curiosity why exactly it was that North Americans found his stand as an atheist so incredibly fascinating. When asked if it didn't cause him grief among his non-atheist friends, he more or less answered, "Why would it ever come up? They know, I know, we have other things to talk about it."

There was also another site -- about stupid fights someone had had with his girlfriend of many years (I'm sorry, I don't remember the link) which had a longish rant titled What is it with you North Americans and Marriage???. It seems that North Americans emailed him in some number, urging him to marry the girl; he could not understand why, since no one he knew, parents included, cared one way or the other; marriage was just government paper, and also no one else's business. Europeans seemed to understand this.
drunkencricket
Nov. 8th, 2004 10:47 am (UTC)
It seems that North Americans emailed him in some number, urging him to marry the girl; he could not understand why, since no one he knew, parents included, cared one way or the other; marriage was just government paper, and also no one else's business. Europeans seemed to understand this.


If the "North Americans" in question were specifically from U.S.A. part of the push to get married can be the lack of any benefits if you are not married. It is a horribly prejudicial system here, and doing anything as a couple if you are not married can be a complete quagmire or legal forms to get you to the same rights (inheritance, visitation in hospital, health insurance, custody of children...anything at all that involves a contract of any kind). And sometimes still they won't be recognized unless you push through the legal system. I know of one apartment complex that won't allow unmarried people of opposite sex to rent an apartment together! (But I guess that would make it easier for gay couples, contrariwise...)

[Speaking from experience - renting an apartment and buying cars and insuring them together was bad enough, but I wanted to buy a house because I hated renting and was told by many, MANY people to marry before even starting down that road! Marriage isn't a religious thing for me, it isn't even a signal that we love each other more than unmarried couples, or a signal of greater faith that we'll stay together - it was a piece of paper that smoothed things when entering contracts!]
quiller77
Nov. 6th, 2004 01:26 pm (UTC)
I've never woken up after a depressing election to wonder what country I'm actually in. Otoh, if I were living in Alberta, I might .

Are you referring to provincial or federal elections here? Because I can assure you that every time there's a federal election most Albertans feel alienated and, though they might not voice it, disenfranchised. Our votes are essentially meaningless with the election being decided east of Manitoba. So yes, after every federal election I wake up feeling that I live in a different country.

We're going through the quietest provincial election I've ever seen right now. King Ralph will win, of course. My hope is that he will at least be surprised with a larger opposition.
msagara
Nov. 7th, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC)
Are you referring to provincial or federal elections here? Because I can assure you that every time there's a federal election most Albertans feel alienated and, though they might not voice it, disenfranchised. Our votes are essentially meaningless with the election being decided east of Manitoba. So yes, after every federal election I wake up feeling that I live in a different country.

Federal, mostly; I know a number of Albertans, and I can understand the sense of complete and utter frustration of each and every federal election. I live in Ontario; the sense that our total votes can't sway the election doesn't exist here :/.

Although, you know, Ralph Klein and his continual winning? That would make me feel like I lived in a different country, post-election, for other reasons.
quiller77
Nov. 7th, 2004 09:55 pm (UTC)
You mean, we're not a differnt country?
Alberta voters have always had a strange sort of Borg mentality. When the current gov't goes down, it will doubtless sink faster than the Titanic and be replaced by a new large majority.
Living in Alberta isn't so bad (these rednecks are amongst the most personally generous people I've ever known and prov. charitable donation stats back that), but when the king starts muttering about privatization and other ultra right-wing POVs, I can't help but cringe. And he mutters too much for my liking.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )