I’ve been looking a lot at the Job Voyager, a nifty interactive chart of the U.S. labor force from 1850 through 2000. On it, you can see the number of farmers and farm workers decreasing fairly steadily and the number of clerical workers rising. You can see the percentage of women in workforce increasing, with an impressive leap between 1950 and 1960. A fascinating fact: until 1950, one could claim “inmate” as an occupation on one’s census form. Likewise “retired.” Some professions, like blacksmith, have basically disappeared, while others, like electrician, have emerged. Aside from a spike in 1990, the percent of public officials has been fairly constant.
Today is National Punctuation Day. Today, a day for celebrating the marks that make our writing readable, is a good day for grammar nerds. Because we are, in fact, grammar nerds, we bring you our two favorite punctuation marks.
I love the semicolon.
It is a beautiful grammatical device, neatly linking two parts of one thought. Though a high school English teacher once accused me of using more semicolons in a single paper than he had used in his entire life, I am not a semicolon addict; I have never once given in to the urge to use a semicolon twice in a single sentence. This forbearance has not always come easily; it would be so easy to give in to the semicolon’s flow, its gentle leadership from one clause to another. The semicolon is a good dancer, leading its partner through the steps of an at times complicated dance. It is an energetic schoolchild, at the front of the line for follow the leader. It is a scout, not selling Thin Mints but looking ahead to warn us that the path does not end as soon as we think; rather, the path continues on.
Our offices are located in the Emmett building, which was built in 1912. The façade is gorgeous and the building has a history of being a former home to publishers like Dorling Kindersley (DK), Orchard Books, Kingfisher, Franklin Watts, and Millbrook. So for what was once a big publishing building, LEE & LOW remains the last publisher to reside at 95 Madison Avenue. The building has many quirks, but the main gripe all the tenants share are the elevators—they are old. Right now only one of the three is operational—barely. We all have gotten used to the habit of bringing our cell phone with us while riding the elevator in case we have to call for help.
Woot! GRACIAS • THANKS by Pat Mora is our second book this fall to get a starred review from Kirkus (a review journal certainly not known for dishing them out freely). Since it’s running later than our other fall titles, this is the first review we’ve gotten in, so we were all pretty excited this morning to read this:
Earlier this week we posted our lunch poll because, well, at LEE & LOW we like food a lot. It plays a central part in many of our books, and here’s why. Think about the phrase, “You are what you eat.” That goes beyond guiltily scarfing down a bar of chocolate. What we choose to eat on a regular basis says a lot about the culture(s) we belong to. Vegetables or meat? Spicy or bland? What you like to eat is more than just biology; it’s the way you were raised, how your grandmother’s kitchen smelled, the kind of supermarket your parents shopped in.
We’ll talk later in the week about food, culture, and books, but for now, let’s get straight to the poll:
It’s been an odd summer, weather-wise: roasting in April, cool in June and July, and just a few blazing weeks in August before the current chill September. So yesterday I mused, are we going to get an Indian summer?
And then I stopped thinking about the weather itself and started thinking about the term “Indian summer.” I had no idea where the term came from. The surface meaning—an unusually warm period between the leaves changing and the first snow—is harmless, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the origin of the term was racist.
Wikipedia gives three theories of the term’s etymology:
I was reading an article about women’s roles in the United States military and was surprised to learn that regulations still prohibit women from serving in combat. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have blurred the lines of warfare to such a degree that women have found themselves, despite the rules that forbid it, fighting alongside men for the first time. The women have proven themselves to be tenacious soldiers and they have earned many medals of valor.