Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ugh. It is COLD in Austin today. I feel misled by the past two years of 50+ degree winter weather. I did not know below 32 degrees was possible. Except "rarely". Anyway, I'm wearing all wool today and sneezing up a storm.

Benazir Bhutto is dead. It was over 20 years ago that Indira Ghandi was also assassinated. Why couldn't it have been Margaret Thatcher? That's all I want to know. Bhutto's leadership has been under constant controversy - some of which I believe is political baiting and some not - but she at least aimed for military reform. And then it's fucked up that one of the few female political leaders in the world has been assassinated. Yes. That's right. ASS-ASS-IN-ATED. Bomber, shooter, I don't care. Someone supplied the weapon.

Suffice to say, there aren't that many female political leaders in the history of nation-states. And most of the women have been terribly conservative. Here's a list I've started to compile of female political leaders. Not all of these women were democratically elected (and we can contest this as well), but I've tried to identify those who were by an (*):

Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka, Prime Minister, 1960 - world's 1st Female political leader)
Indira Ghandi (India, Prime Minister, 1966 - assassinated 1984)
Golda Meir (Israel, Prime Minister, 1969)
Margaret Thatcher (United Kingdom, Prime Minister, 1979)
Eugenia Charles (Dominica, Prime Minister, 1980)
*Vigdís Finnbogadóttír (Iceland, President, 1980 - world's 1st Female elected President)
Agatha Barbara (Malta, President, 1982)
*Corazon Aquino (Philippines, President, 1986)
Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway, Prime Minister, 1986)
*Violeta Barrio de Chamorro (Nicaragua, President, 1990)
*Mary Robinson (Ireland, President, 1990)
*Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma, Prime Minister, 1990 - democratically elected; denied post)
Hanna Suchocka (Poland, Prime Minister, 1992)
*Kim Campbell (Canada, Prime Minister, 1993)
Tansu Ciller (Turkey, Prime Minister, 1993)
Sylvie Kinigi (Burundi, Prime Minister, 1993)
Agathe Uwilingiyimana (Rwanda, Prime Minister, 1993 - assassinated 1994)
*Chandrika Kumaratunge (Sri Lanka, Prime Minister, 1994)
Jenny Shipley (New Zealand, Prime Minister, 1997)
Mary McAleese (Ireland, President, 1997)
Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan, Prime Minister, 1998 - assassinated 2007)
Jennifer M Smith (Bermuda, Premier, 1998)
*Vaira Vike-Freiberga (Latvia, President, 1999)
*Megawati Sukarnoputri (Indonesia, President, 2001)
Angela Menkel (Germany, Chancellor, 2005)
Yuliya Tymoshenko (Ukraine, Prime Minister, 2005)
*Ellen Johnson Surleif (Liberia, President, 2006)
*Michelle Bachelet (Chile, President, 2006)
*Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina, President, 2007)
*Pratibha Patil (India, President, 2007)

This list is not exhaustive. It's what I could gleam from the lists available online. I'm not altogether pleased with the fact that I could do this over a two hour period or less. Damn. Damn. Damn. I'm upset with the circumstances of Bhutto's death, too. More than anything else.

On another note altogether, though also not so happy, Lisa C. brought to my attention this article by Tom Christensen of blog.rightreading.com on small presses and the current challenges faced by said small presses as a result of large media conglomerates. Here are two small excerpts:

"Now, you might say, publishing companies are sold and merged all the time. Why does any of this matter? It is true that such changes in its landscape have been a part of publishing since the Renaissance. But:

Never before has such a large percentage of the publishing market been in the control of so few organizations.
Never before has so much of American publishing been accountable to foreign owners.
Never before has publishing been a piece of giant entertainment multinationals that control not just book publishing but to a large degree its promotion and distribution
"

AND

"Today 80 percent of U.S. publishing is controlled by five giant multinational corporations. In my next post we will take a closer look at who they are and how their activities affect the way books are published in this country."

I've been trying to follow what's going on since the merger of distribution companies earlier this year. It's a little overwhelming, and as a strong supporter of small presses, I immediately think of all the implications. How many small presses will close this year? How many magazines? Because of lack of distribution (note: those big chain stores only carry books that are available through distributors), or resources to print. What does it mean for emerging authors, such as myself or others who are trying to get their FIRST book published? What are the implications for our social-cultural landscape if only a few multinationals are controlling the output and production of books (not all literature)?

I'm really not trying to be morose. It's just a cold day. You know?

1 comment:

k. terumi shorb said...

about publishing: it reminds me of a little factoid i remember vaguely hearing in a civics class in high school. i don't know the specifics, but it was something to the effect that the japanese government subsidizes presses that are smaller than a given size. now, things might have changed since then, but even then, i took note about how this subsidy of small presses created an immense diversity of reading material. and i believe that one of the reasons reading culture in japan is still so robust (i remember one of the pet rules in junior high was: don't bring outside books to school) and part of popular culture.