South African Skeptics

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News and current events / Re: The Offense Industry Strikes Again
« Last post by brianvds on December 21, 2020, 08:10:16 am »
Just saw this on Quora, and thought it's kind of relevant to this thread:

I don't know whether non-members of Quora can see posts there, so I'll reproduce it here in full:

What is something interesting that you know because of your career that other people might not?

I illustrate children's books used in schools worldwide. The publisher has a staff of editors to scrutinize the books before they go to press to ensure they are accurate and contain nothing that could be offensive to anyone. This often means that something that would be inoffensive or quite normal in one culture has to be left out because it causes offense in another.

For instance, pigs and pork are considered disgusting in much of the Middle East where we sell books. Parents reading the books to their children would not be happy if there was reference to something they consider horrible. So if I'm illustrating a BBQ or something similar, I never draw sausages, because sausages are traditionally pork. However I am perfectly ok drawing hamburgers. Despite the porky name, hamburgers are traditionally beef. Beef is fine.

To avoid any issues, I just don't draw certain things as a rule. Meat. Women exposing any flesh at all. Anything that could be remotely considered as dangerous. Any activity without the correct safety equipment in place. I'm very careful to draw people in cars wearing seat belts, people on bikes wear helmets etc.

It's not just causing offense I have to worry about. Apparently there is a train expert in virtually every family, so once I had to completely redraw a book because it was set in the 1880's and I drew a train in it that didn't come into service until 1906.

Even so, the publisher often receives long, long letters pointing out all the litany of "mistakes" in the books, despite extreme caution and much careful scrutiny. It's as if some people have made a career out of going through the books (we've done hundreds) and noted down anything they dislike. They count the number of dark-skinned people in a crowd. They check who is serving in shops and are they doing it correctly. (A fellow illustrator recently received a stiff letter about a man in a jewellery shop looking too stereotypically Jewish. This was bad, apparently). Is there something dangerous going on in the background? It must be exhausting.

The books might seem excessively PC, but it's not because I or the publisher are sanctimonious or too cautious. It's because the publisher wants to sell books worldwide and doesn't want to spend their lives politely answering letters from "Outraged of Aberdeen".

So the answer is that people as a rule don't know the lengths children's book publishers go to make sure what they publish is accurate and inoffensive.

I can see now just why the vast bulk of children's books have become so bland and uninteresting. A guy like Hans Andersen would never get a story published today, and would in fact have been lynched. One more reason to consider self-publishing, though I suppose Andersen would have found himself promptly banned from Amazon as well.

Fun / Re: I lol'd
« Last post by Tweefo on December 16, 2020, 06:17:56 am »
Fun / Re: I lol'd
« Last post by BoogieMonster on December 14, 2020, 16:18:30 pm »
General Skepticism / Re: The joy of Facebook
« Last post by brianvds on December 11, 2020, 15:06:37 pm »

I notice in Wikipedia that the condition tends to resolve spontaneously, which is of course precisely how quackery like acupuncture "works." :-)
Fun / Re: Puns
« Last post by brianvds on December 11, 2020, 05:27:03 am »
One of my occasional ventures in cartooning.... :-)

Conspiracy Theories / Re: Lotto numbers in a run of six
« Last post by brianvds on December 08, 2020, 17:05:34 pm »
I reckon this means we won’t be seeing more runs of consecutive numbers any time soon…  ::)


Or, erm, any numbers. Except maybe number of years in prison. :-)
Conspiracy Theories / Re: Lotto numbers in a run of six
« Last post by Mefiante on December 08, 2020, 16:40:21 pm »
I reckon this means we won’t be seeing more runs of consecutive numbers any time soon…  ::)

Fun / Re: Puns
« Last post by BoogieMonster on December 08, 2020, 13:30:39 pm »
Q: Dad why is this book so thick?
A: It's a long story...
Conspiracy Theories / Re: Lotto numbers in a run of six
« Last post by Rigil Kent on December 05, 2020, 16:54:34 pm »

Fantastic. Then 6! X 44 / (49!/43!) is the answer. And with no further appeals to overclocking processors at that.

Conspiracy Theories / Re: Lotto numbers in a run of six
« Last post by brianvds on December 05, 2020, 16:00:41 pm »
There is a nice way of illustrating to the number conspiracy theorist (or is it number theory conspirator?) that the numbers on the balls are only nominal, and only for purposes of identification. Ask him to imagine, if he will - which he probably won't - that he replaces each of the 49 numbers on the balls with a picture of, say, a different breed of dog. This will still allow a perfectly viable Lotto draw, since the 49 balls are still separately  identifiable. So a run of 5,6,7,8,9 and10 may now manifest as collie, chihuahua, great Dane, pekingese, Jack Russel and standard poodle. The theorist will be forced to admit that there is nothing special about the canine arrangement, and by extension, its numerical equivalent. Or am I hoping for too much?

It is when you realize that in six random numbers, the draw 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is exactly as likely as, say, 4, 6, 7, 3, 9, 1, that you realize how small your chances really are. :-)