Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Popular Science: "The Future of Space Travel"

Popular Science offers a “Special Edition” mag “The Future of Space Travel”, 96 pages, from Times Books.

There are many short illustrated articles in 5 parts, “Places We’re Going”, “How We’ll Get There”, “How We’ll Survive There”, “Other Tools of Exploration.”.

There is a wide variety of interesting information. One fact is that Proxima Centauri, in a 3-star system that is the closest to the Earth, may have a rocky planet in the “GoldiLocks” zone. The shortest time that it is technologically possible to send a robotic probe on a photon light sail with laser accelerator would be about 20 years, which means it would take 24 years to get the photos and information back as to what the planet looks like.  It is about 8000 times as far to this star system as it is to Pluto.

The other most interesting section is “The Everyday Life of an Astronaut”.  This would be very important for a voyage to Mars, for example.  It raises questions as to who would go:  what about childless or single people?  The long exposure to zero gravity is bound to cause physical deterioration, so this is not a place for pretty preppies.  Essential body functions are different.  You bathe with soap that does not have to be rinse off but stays on the skin to disintegrate. Without gravity, it is hard for your body to sense when it needs to urinate.
There is an artist’s closeup of Europa on page 8, a closeup on Pluto on p. 16.  There is an article on space mining on p. 16.  I didn't see any discussion of Titan.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Remembering Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead": At age 24 I loved it, a lot of people hate it

Here’s a curious article by Pamela Paul from the New York Times Review on Sunday, April 16, “The Joy of Hate Reading”, or, online, “Why you should read books you hate”   Sounds like good material for a monthly book club.

Paul describes her experience reading Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”(1943, the year of my birth), which became a film in 1950. I remember reading it in the fall of 1967 (the Signet paperback), my last semester of graduate school at the University of Kansas, before entering the Army in 1968.  My roommate, from a town near the Colorado border named Tribune, was a fan of Rand and objectivism, and students had an objectivism discussion group that met in the cafeteria of McCollum Hall (now torn down and replaced).

I remember Dominque, Howard Roark, and the suave but conventional Peter Keating.  I remember the climax, where the hero blows up his own building out of contempt for being made to misuse his property.

I would read “Atlas Shrugged” two years later, while at Fort Eustis VA while in the Army.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Progressive Policy Institute: "Building a New Middle Class in a Knowledge Economy"

Harry Holzer, of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in Washington DC, has offered a position paper through “Progressive Policy”, “Building a New Middle Class in the Knowledge Economy”, a PDF with this link (34 pages).

Holzer picks up on Donald Trump’s exploitation of the disenchantment of some groups, especially older white males without college degrees, with the job market and their earnings ability.

He notes that the stability of jobs with regimentation but narrow skill sets has become less, as has the pay, not only because of foreign offshoring, but because of technology and automation. He says that families need incomes of at least $50000 a year to be middle class (possibly $40000 for smaller families) and notes the difficulties of single parents.

The most effective measure would be to improve trade or vocational education opportunities at the community college level, especially in smaller communities or rural areas.  He also mentions the value of paid family leave.

What I noticed after my forced “retirement” at the end of 2001 was the tendency for companies to resort to hucksterism to create jobs, and for the employment outplacement services and policy makers not to notice that this was happening so much. This has led to a culture clash:  aggressive attitudes in some communities about preserving telemarketing and door-to-door sales, versus resistance from consumers who see accelerating security problems. We need more manufacturing jobs to reverse this trend toward hucksterism.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Jesus and the Apostles: The Rise of Christianity" from NatGeo

National Geographic has an Easter season special issue (in supermarkets) for coffee tables, “Jesus and the Apostles: Christianity’s Early Rise”, 128 pages. This booklet succeeds "The Story of Jesus" from NatGeo, March 29, 2016 here.

The editor, Chris Johns, the Chief Content Officer of the National Geographic Society, opens with “A Matter of Faith”, starts out by saying “Faith … is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.

There follows a keynote essay (p. 28) by Don Belt, “Life in the Time of Jesus”.  One of the remarkable points made by the essay is the rampant lawlessness of ordinary life in the country.  That would continue past Roman times into Europe and contribute to a medieval system of feudalism.  There was a lot of vigilantism and populism in the desire to resist external Roman rule by various Jewish sects.

 All of this is carried much further in the recent film on PBS, (“Last Days of Jesus” ) which brings up the role of Roman deputy Sejanus, kept out of the Gospels out of political repression, not covered in this booklet.

Another essay, “Taking the Stage” (p. 40) makes the point (as did the film) that it is not completely clear if Jesus saw himself as a Messiah (despite the Temptation), at least until his baptism by John the Baptist and his ministry, which frankly advocated communalism and distributed consciousness.  There are the Miracles (rather like a young Clark Kent’s powers), and a Jesus imploring others to stand by their feelings for him and “believe”, indeed a moral paradox of upward affiliation.  But this was an era when people thought the end of time could come soon.  Did it make sense to have children?

When Jesus took on the money changers, it’s interesting, as the film points out, that the authorities didn’t resist much.

“The Gospels” looks at the three synoptics and questions whether there is a common hidden source “Q”.

The booklet looks at both the Gospel of Judas and later the Gospel According to Thomas, “The Secret Sayings” (of Doubting Thomas).   Could Judas’s have been a forgery?  The booklet does take up a little bit the controversy of “Judas Kiss”, and the 2011 gay sci-fi film of that name may have more to do with that then critics recognize.
The booklet goes on to enlarge the disciples into the Apostles, and account for the formal creation of Christianity by Emperor Constantine by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.

Monday, April 03, 2017

"Rich Man, Poor Man": Is Irwin Shaw's 1969 novel a template for today's debate on inequality?

I do remember reading the paperback of Irwin Shaw’s “Rich Man, Poor Man”, 1969, Delacorte, while in the Army.  The novel was a large -sized family drama moving around the world, about an upstate New York Family, the Jordache’s, whose two sons Rudolph and Thomas, who turn out so differently. While on one level the novel concerns the “rich and poor”, it also emphasizes that the social and personal connections of wealth and poverty tend to be self-reinforcing. The novel is considered remarkable in literary circles because of the way if manipulates the “omniscient observer” concept of third person narration.

The  novel became a TV miniseries in 1976 on ABC with Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte playing the two brothers.

An article by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post Sunday, April 2, alluded to the novel as she wrote about people who have it all losing it, partly through trying to coast too soon into retirement.  The article is titled “From privilege to poverty” about Pulitzer Prize author William McPherson, author of “Falling” (2014), who died last week at 84. The online title of the article is more brazen, “The next face of poverty could be yours”.

I’d also look at Robert Samuelson’s column this morning, “Is the American dream killing us?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Time: "Innocent: The Fight Against Wrongful Conviction"

Time has a Special Edition “Innocent: The Fight Against Wrongful Convictions”, :25 Years of the Innocence Project”, 96 pages, heavily illustrated, many writers.

There are seven chapters, each with several essays.  The first one starts with the wrongful conviction f a man for a brutal robbery and murder of a money order salesman in Cleveland in 1975.
One of the biggest topics is DNA evidence.  But it has been surprisingly difficult to get cases retried with new DNS evidence,  Politically motivated prosecutors or the police entice confessions out of vulnerable defendants, especially from child witnesses in sex cases.

There is some attention to forgiveness and to reparations.

Chapter Six contains an excerpt from “Ghost of the Innocent Man” by Benjamin Rachlin, this excerpt focused on the Center for Actual Innocence in North Carolina.

The book should be interesting to filmmakers Andrew Jenks and Ryan Ferguson (who was himself unjustly convicted of second degree murder in Missouri and got out after 10 years (Andrew Jenks’s film “Dream/Killer”, Movies, Jan. 22, 2016), and the MTV series "Unlocking the Truth".

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Beer Garden Book Club" celebrates birthday with nature books

The Westover Market Beer Garden Book Club had its Fifth Birthday party tonight in Arlington VA.

The featured books were “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail”, by Cheryl Strayed (Vintage, 2012) and a children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are”, by Maurice Sandek.  They are in the bedroom.

I had time to read the kids’ book.  The “Happy Birthday” song is copyrighted.

The “Wild” book would remind me of Ken Kwapis’s film “A Walk In the Woods” (movies, Sept. 5, 2015). 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Joseph Nye delivers major paper on cybersecurity, "Deterrence and Dissuasion in Cyberspace"

Joseph S. Nye, the University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard, has a major paper in the MIT Press Journal,  Winter 2016-2017,  “Deterrence and Dissuasion in Cyberspace”, with access link to the 71-page PDF here (free).

Nye discusses for major strategies: (1) Punishment or retaliation (2) denial or defense (3) entanglement (4) taboos or norms.   Some of his scenarios refer to LOAC, or the Laws of Armed Conflict.

Nye mentions the possibility of threats to power girds, and doubts that they can be fully prevented by “air gaps” between grid or infrastructure pieces and the public Internet

He mentions the importance of rogue states or non-state actors.  One of his concepts, of norms, would preclude attacks on targets that have civilian use only (this might include political parties). Yet that seems to be the point of attacks by entities like North Korea, or some hackers motivated by ransomware (often in Russia or former Soviet components), or radical Islamists who resent modernism.   North Korea attacked a corporate entity outside its borders, Sony Pictures, in the US, for mocking its leader.  It seems as though a sufficiently radical and nihilistic actor could be motivated by asymmetric targeting of individual speakers in the US or other western countries just to prove it could wreak havoc with all parties associated with a particularly provocative person or private business.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

First Book aims to put hardcopy books in the hands of underprivileged kids

Today, a sermon at First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC mentioned a charity called “First Book”.

I visited the site, which asked for a donation before it would say much else about itself.  But I did do a $25 contribution (I prefer to consolidate contributions through one portal at a bank).

The charity seems to work with the American Federation of Teachers and the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association of Tampa, FL (and others), as it explains it a recent blog post.
I would appear that the focus is specifically on children’s books, which I normally don’t cover much (but I have covered some self-published young adult books on a newer Wordpress blog).
But this is another example of a renewed interest in physical books (as opposed to e-books) to get young people into reading.  My own output doesn’t normally comport much with children’s (below, say, AP high school).

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Should authors "troll" book clubs?

There are some book clubs here in Arlington VA – one for AGLA, which meets in members’ homes or sometimes at Freddies’s, and another one at the Westover Market BeerHaus (Facebook ).

Book clubs are a bit time consuming for me, where I need to review what comes across my plate as important (I reviewed as self-published novel on bullying (and the horrific consequences from revenge for it), “Crossing the Line”, by Alan Eisenberg, although I could see it fitting in at Westover with “Diana’s Magic” by Mr. Hicks himself).

And some clubs really involve semi-radical hospitality, rotating member’s homes, rather like my parents’ shrimp creole parties in winter in the 1950s (I remember one during a 1958 Saturday February blizzard, which nearly turned into a preview scenario of the movie “The Ice Storm”).

Where book clubs would help is with authors working on fiction manuscripts that they want to sell as actual copies of books.

Erin Geiger Smith writes “When You Bomb at Book Club” here in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

"The Dead Sea Scrolls" from Life

Life Magazine offers a coffee table book “The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Race to Solve an Ancient Mystery” at sypermarkets, 96 full size pages, heavily illustrated, by J.I. Baker.

There are seven chapters, explaining how a religious sect left the area in AD 68 in a region near the Dead Sea, in today’s West Bank.

The first scroll was found in a cave by a shepherd in the winter 1946-47, and others followed.

The largest scroll contained a lot of today’s book of Isaiah.

The book also describes rural Jewish subcultures in the first century AD, most of all the group Essenes, looking for a messiah to return and lead to an apocalyptic battle.  But later on the ideas of the Essenes would lead to many of the ideas of the Rosicrucian Order (April 7, 2007).

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Newsweek's "Hitler" The Evolution of Evil" seems all too appropriate now

Newsweek offers a 100-page gloss table-top booklet, “Hitler: The Evolution of Evil” with the subtitle, “Can he happen again?”  The booklet has two parts: “The Kingdom of Hatred” and “Evil on the Rise Again”.

It used to sound amazing that a nation could be duped by someone who had been an adaptive failure early in life (and who had unrequited desire for recognition for mediocre artistic talent). 
Of course, there was hyperinflation, unemployment, the burden of reparations, and the resentment of the elites.  Individualism wasn’t possible, but hyper-nationalism was, starting as populism.  Dumb.  Low IQ.  Stupid. 

Is history repeating itself?  It’s pretty shocking that Donald Trump could mobilize the proletariat and get it chanting “Lock Her Up” and “Build that Wall” as if he were conducting an imaginary orchestra. 

 And today, there is the Wiretap Tweet Storm on about the level of Comet Ping Pong. 

This is a good place to re-mention Lothar Machtan's 2001 book "The Hidden Hitler: The Double Life of a Dictator" (Basic Books, translated from German) which sounds so blase dispensing "Hitler's homosexuality", legacy review
Here’s a typical collection of free response answers on how Hitler pulled off his swindle of the masses. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Where the Four Roads Merge: A Chronological Narrative of the Four Gospels"

Author: Tony Kessinger

Title: “Where the Four Roads Merge: A Chronological Narrative of the Four Gospels

Publication:  By author, ISBN 978-0692809006, 180 pages, 8 chapters, paper
The book presents a synoptic narrative of the four gospels, with reference charts pointing to the passages in each gospel.   Much of the material also appears in Acts.  The introduction points out that the synoptic gospels were written for specific audiences:  Matthew for Jews, Mark for Roman citizens, and Luke for Gentiles. 

A good comparison is “Gospel Parallels” by Burton H. Throckmorton, which a Dr. Bauman used to teach on television from on Sunday mornings. It's a blue hardcover with large pages that I have somewhere. 

The author does have his own idea about the Trinity.

The book was mailed to me as a sample. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of the 'Orch OR' Theory", by Hameroff and Penrose; getting closer to explaining individual free will

Here’s an e-booklet on Science Direct, by Stuart Hameroff (University of Arizona) and Roger Penrose, “Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of ‘Orch OR Theory”, here (see link there to PDF, 79 pages). as originally pointed to on the HuffingtonPost .

“OR” refers to “objective reduction” of the quantum state (not to operations research, my first job).  Consciousness if described as following combinations of three models (1) biological evolution (2) religious, or outside of science, or (3) a property of structures in the universe, having access to other dimensions or dark energy (perhaps origami), that “maps”’ into certain structures inside cells (microtubles) at the quantum level.  The individual human or animal brain is seen as like an orchestra rather than a computer;  a thread of consciousness is like the unveiling of a symphony (especially by Bruckner) over time (as a dimension) rather than the experience of a single note on a single instrument at one instant of discrete time. 

This leave us to wonder about the principle of identity.  I cannot wake up tomorrow morning and find I have a particular 21-year-old’s body (and learn what it would be like to be strong again, a chance I threw away); I can only know if by affiliation (which might be sex).  My identity perceives the world only through one body.  Causality is irreversible;  I (and not someone else) would experience a prison cell if I committed a particular crime as an “experiment”.  We know this from experience, but I don’t know if we can prove this mathematically.  This sounds like Godel’s incompleteness theorem.   

Consciousness may be the way the Universe protects itself from entropy.  “God” plans for independent beings to develop, capable of free will, to change course.  Biology seems to be the best way to do this. Maybe this is even consistent with the occasional need for a savior, grace, and prophets.  (We can all be Christians, Jews, Muslims, and everything else at the same time.)

If you’ve ever been “adopted” by a stray cat, a wild animal who returns to your home after hunting game in his own environment, communicates to you and “knows” you, you get a sense that there are other ways that free will develops.  It’s quite a moment (and a challenge to our ideas not only about race but even biological destiny) when another creature communicates his sense of existence to you, even by kneading on your bed and making sounds at night. You realize your sense of superiority to him is an illusion.

At a moral level, sustainability seems to go way beyond usual ideas of family and procreation, and even environment (climate change).  It seems as though we, through descendants, must get to know the entire universe someday, if we don’t blow ourselves up with someone like Donald Trump.  Maybe the “Star Wars” model really exists somewhere.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ayn Rand Institute book on radical Islamic totalitarianism banned from "free speech" event at UCLA

I don’t know whether I’ll order and formally review this book yet, but I wanted to note a story about an attempt by students or activists at UCLA to block access to it as “Islamophobic”.  The book is by Elan Jouro and Onkar Ghate, “Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond”. It’s from the Ayn Rand Institute (maybe a clue as to the student reaction), ISBN 978-0996010106, 206 pages, five parts,  many short chapters as separate essays.

“TheHill” has a blog entry, “UCLA banned my book on Islam from a free speech event”.    In this world of trigger warnings and microaggressions, his book was “inflammatory” and had to go after protestors ganged up (reminiscent of protests against Milo Yiannopoulos).
I just posted this link on Milo’s FB page, to see if he is aware of the incident.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Local Washington DC independent bookstore retools for modern competitive pressures

The Kramerbooks and Afterwoods CafĂ©, just north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut Ave. in Washington DC, has a new owner, Steve Salis, who also found “&pizza” (story in my IT jobs blog yesterday).

There are reports of some dissent among employees, and Salis seems to have an interest in items that would be bigger volume sellers, like children’s books.  The Washington Post has a major local story by Abha Bhattari Monday.

I’ve been in the store many times.  There are stacks of books on all sorts of non-fiction political, scientific, social, psychological, LGBT, and other topics.  I do not recall seeing any of my own authored DADT there, although I believe my third book was pitched there is a recent bookstore marketing campaign.  Kramerbooks tried to expand in the Clarendon area of Arlington about ten years ago, and had a store there for about a year.

Lambda Rising, the gay bookstore, used to live one block to the north. It closed in 2010. Specialty independent books stores have a hard time competing against online retailers, especially with books online through Kindle and Nook.  It’s former owner, Deacon Maccubbin, was supposed to write a book (Citypaper story),  But I don’t see a book by him on Amazon (ironically) yet.  Milo will beat him to press.

In the meantime, some self-publishing companies (like Author Solutions) have been trying to pressure authors (especially since about 2012) to work harder to actually sell physical books to stores rather than live in cyberspace, as if on a Dyson’s Sphere.  It’s really not feasible for so many self-published authors to support families selling books, and employees of publishing companies, in this age of Trumo-ism and MAGA, have to wonder about their own holding patterns.  You simply can’t stop change.  .

Monday, February 13, 2017

AWP "Political Book Fair"

I got an email about a bookfair sponsored by AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs , the article being a detailed one in Publisher’s Weekly   “AWP 2017: A Political Book Fair”.
Many participants reportedly were concerned about the expected loss of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, and some had connections to left-wing movements like Black Lives Matter.
 I’ve always been on my own.  But I remember those days back in Minneapolis in 2002-2003 networking with the National Writers Union --- how tied in some people were to “guerilla marketing” and to circles of grant-writing assignments.  Most people have to write what others want.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Remembering Clive Barker's "Sacrament"

Because Clive Barker has attracted some publicity recently for his sponsorship of a new Project Greenlight contest (Movies Feb. 10) I thought I would recall my experience reading “Sacrament” (1997), while on a weekend trip to the Las Vegas area after moving to Minneapolis in 1997.  My old legacy review is here.

This is a story of a wildlife photographer, partially reincarnated, it seems, saving the world with his special insights as a gay man having lived through the AIDS tornado of the 1980s.

Here is Clive Barker’s own site reference to it.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Frum's book-length "How to Build an Autocracy" runs in Atlantic

David Frum’s article “How to Build an Autocracy”, booklet length, from the March 2017 Atlantic, is online now, here. Frum prefers the term "kleptocracy" to "oligarchy".

It looks insidious, like “it won’t be so bad, or will it?”  The country will survive, as well as most of familiar online life.  But Trump will go after The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos will sell to eastern European interests, and it will degenerate into a local paper about consumerism.

It seems that Trump actually will prefer amateur media (like mine) than gets picked up in “Bubbles” news feeds (no honor to Michael Jackson).

Shadowproof, in an essay by Kevim Godztola, weighs in on David Frum's unwillingness to respect mass movements in another piece, "David Frum is definitely not the right person to give advice on 'effective protest'".

The cover for January-February has a shorter piece, “Donald Trump and the Future of America” by James Fallows, which also blames Mark Zuckerberg and his news aggregation for “stupid people” for Trump’s unintended win.  He probably agreed with Hillary Clinton’s idea of deplorables.

Then Peter Beinart writes about “Glenn Beck’s Regrets”.  Beck believes that we sometimes have to pay for our mistakes.  The article traces Beck’s conversion to Mormonism.

Update: March 3

Atlantic came out with the print version of Frum (pun).  Jonathan Rauch has a piece "Containing Trump", who discusses the work of Yascha Mounk and his group "After Trump".

And Gaeme Wood writes "American Jihadist", about Texas-born John Gerogelas, now a leader of ISIS, tracing how a left-brained engineer with some physical difficulties in childhood gets drawn to a certain kind of rigid religious extremism.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Atlantic issue gets attention with "The War on Stupid People" as a prelude to "How American Politics Went Insane"

The July-August 2016 Atlantic had three booklet-like stories that caught my attention.

The most flagrant was David H. Freeman’s article “The War on Stupid People” on p. 13. “As the intellectually gifted reap ever greater rewards, we are beginning to mistake smarts for human worth.” I thought, no, Milo Yiannopoulos never said this.  True, not just Mark Zuckerberg but now people like Jack Andraka enjoy the limelight and quick financial rewards of their smarts in youth. But that’s turnabout from a time when being smart wasn’t cool.

Trump himself pitted “Book smarts” against “Street smarts” on “The Apprentice”.  I was actually called “stupid” by a couple people in Army Basic back in 1968.  Some people thought I was behind, when they came from a way-off base point (one of them had to do with “who had the spirit” at a church campfire in Texas.)
But a lot of the “whitelash” during the election concerned working people who felt left out by the intellectual “elite” who have never had a rite of passage or gotten their hands duty.
And some of it comes from certain parts of the evangelical community who want to deny science because it confounds their “simple faith.”

It sounds stupid to chant “lock her up” or “Build that wall” as part of a mob at a rally.

But I recall as a child, it you said “You, stupid”, your parents would wash out your mouth with soap.

Then, on p. 51, there is “What’s Ailing American Politics”, aka “How American Politics Went Insane” by gay libertarian author Jonathan Rauch (who had authored “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America” back in 2004, pubbed by Henry Holt).  Rauch talks about the complete backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms in the past – like we need that now for network neutrality. But the end result seems to be the problem that intellectual people don’t want to run for office and get people to give them money.  Of course, there is gerrymandering. It’s weak parties and strong partisanship (that is, tribalism).

And Peter Beinart opines with “The White Strategy” on p. 81

Link for letters on all three pieces is here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NatGeo: "Gender Revolution: The Gender Issue": It's complete, and some say it's controversial

The January 2017 issue of National Geographic is a special one, “Gender Revolution: The Gender Issue”.

There are many chapters, by Eve Conant, Tina Rosenbrg, Chip Brown, Alexis Okeowo.

There are introductions by Suan Goldberg, Gloria Steinem, and particularly and Facebook COO Sheyrl Sandberg’s “The Power of Peers”.

There is a vocabulary page, “A Portrait of Gender Today”, from “The Teaching Transgender Toolkit”.
There is an early section about gender-related toys.

Soon the issue gets into gender ambiguity among animals, which is quite common in invertebrates.

It also compares countries for gender equality, and the richest countries are not always the most equal.

The section “Rethinking Gender” presents two twins, one of whom is male-to-female trans as a teen.

Later the booklet notes “A recent survey of a thousand millennials found that half of them think gender is a spectrum.”

There is a world map on p 65 showing the legality of gender change by country. “Legal with no restrictions” applies in only five countries.

The most provocative chapter starts on p. 74 with “Making a Man”.  There is a detailed account of a boy in western Kenya leading up to his circumcision ritual, which even includes some bizarre homoerotic followup.

On p. 90, there is a mural, “Many Paths to Manhood”, which compares the rites of passage among different cultures in history and compares to present day in some parts of the world.  These include Sparta (where boys had to pass a “survival of the fittest” war culture), Rome (where marriage and children were mandatory for citizenship), the Middle Ages, Native Americans, and the Mafia, which it compares to ISIS.

On p. 97 Chip Brown asks why boys go through such extreme manhood rites, often exuding mindless collective fungibility (like Jahar’s “boat manifesto”)  “The disquieting answer is, of course, to prepare for war.  As anthropologist David Gilmore notes, where resources are scarce and the collective welfare uncertain, ‘gender ideology reflects the conditions of life.’”

But the last section, by Tina Rosenberg, is “American Girl”.

There is also a section on “Dads at Home”.  There are studies which show that fathers’ testosterone levels drop when they are caring for children, a point that the Family Research Council is willing to promote.
Some people (on the social-political or particularly religious “right”) have criticized the issue, claiming that gender ambiguity should not be promoted but viewed as a “handicap” sometimes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Preview of "Men Without Work", "Mo More Heroes", "Steel and Promise"

Here’s a little sneak preview of some paperback books that have come my way.

(Sales images will be provided as the books are reviewed in much more detail on Wordpress in the future.)

Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis”, Templeton Press, Philadelphia, 2016, by Nicholas Eberstadt at the American Enterprise Institute, 206 pages, looks at the trend for men in their prime working years, 25-55, to stop looking for work, to live with parents, and to become “watchers” or “spectators”.  Immigrant men are less likely to do this than native men, and married men following conventional gender roles, with children, are certainly less likely.  The trend continues into the 60s as people live longer and expected retirement ages increases.  One problem could be the quality of jobs, though;  the loss of manufacturing, and the rise of hucksterism.  This book was the subject of a forum on Jan. 10 at the Cato Institute in Washington.
No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality”, AK Press, Baltimore, by Jordan Flahterty, forward by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, takes the position that people who do charity work to “save: poorer people think that they’re better than the people their “saving.”  The book seems to challenge individualistic ways of looking at people, even the idea of “right-sizing”, and suggest that people need to belong to groups and movements.  The trouble is that even within egalitarian movements there is politics and pecking orders.

Steel and Promise”, by Alexa Black, Liberty Press, 2016, is a Science Fiction fantasy in another galaxy, presented at AGLA last month, but on the day of an ice storm so it wasn’t well attended.  Another presentation may happen. (A storm lowered attendance at one of my book signing parties, in Moorhead MN, back in 2000.) 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Milo's publisher (for "Dangerous") Simon and Shuster threatened with boycotts by reviewers

I’ve just done my pre-order on Amazon for “Dangerous” by Milo Yiannopoulos, “the dangerous faggot”, and already some critics are protesting Simon and Shuster (through its Threshold imprint) for giving him “the privilege of being listened to

Some of the criticisms are temperate enough, such as Alice Jones on “News UK” “My View” column, “We need to talk about Yiannopoulos” (his name got misspelled in the heading – easy to do).

Here’s a Breitbart article with “unlisted” video (note what YouTube means by “be considerate” if you try to embed it)  where Milo allegedly harassed an transgender statement.    I didn’t see it that way.  I saw it more as “toughen up, get a thick skin”.  I had to do this when I was younger.  I had no safe spaces or trigger warnings.  So, sometimes, I think people should.  If I didn’t, somebody else would have to take the risks for me.   Sometimes it does seem like there is a lot of whining around.

Earlier, Milo had reported a literary agent in the UK dropping him after he was permanently suspended from Twitter over the Leslie Jones and Ghostbusters matter. But he got published, big.
Simon and Shuster made this statement on the “outrage” over the publication.

But some critics wanted they would boycott all of Simon and Shuster, as in this Huffington Post story.  That's a horrible picture of him on the Huffington article, digitally doctored, making him look old, to show (like Oscar Wilde) that we can all grow ugly with age in a time machine.  In the Gaurdian, Adam Morgan of the Chicago Review of Books explains why it won't review any S-S books for a year, even if it hurts other authors ("unfair"), because, Morgan claims, Milo incites violence in mentally unstable people like Dylan Roof.  Milo loves to post all these stories in his own Facebook timeline (which he still has).  Elle also published a strident article by Sady Doyle about the threat of Milo's book.

Milo has also suggested that the magnification of his "attack' on Leslie Jones, getting him suspended, as a publicity stunt to keep "Ghostbusters" tickets selling (Breitbart).  I haven't seen the film (just the 80s original).  Here's Guardian article on Studio handling of cult actor roles.

That’s dangerous to me, even.  I suspect that Milo will say some of the same things I say in my three “Do Ask Do Tell” books back to 1997.  I am not as strident as Milo, and am reasonably careful with the choice of words (I’ve learned to be as I got older).  I’m not with “anti-intellecutalism” and excessive “populism” (I think climate change is real) but some of Trump’s ideas (like paying attention to foreign enemies, to infrastructure security  and having more manufacturing jobs at home) do make sense, if implemented properly.  I’m capable of wild, dangerous fantasies but probably would say them to Billy Bush.  Normally, I’m a “gaycon” myself.  Yet, I’ve gotten a couple blistering criticisms a little like what Milo gets, such as in one particular review   ("Incoherent") of my first book (or "screed") and also on these two emails sent to me in 2006/2007 (note the tone of the second review especially)   and I’ve been flamed a few times, like (on AOL's old disbanded Movie Grille) for favorably commenting on how Sebastian Junger treats the subject of “freelancing” for a living and its dangers in his book and movie “A Perfect Storm” (by a “BeeBopBob4”), mainly by “anti-intellectualists” who want everyone to have his own skin in the game (like by having kids) before having a public voice.

Some of Milo’s other statements about his personal preferences ought to defuse any ideas that he is personally “racist”.  I have yet to run across anything myself that should be “banned”.  But you wonder, what happens on Twitter or social media when people go after a celebrity who has been made the (T)Rump of a joke.

I have to remember another (Aussie) friend online, who tweeted “Whoops, England”? – informing me of Brexit.  So then, after all, Milo is a Brit (with a Greek name).  He can’t run for president.  Don’t worry.  (He can run for prime minister in the UK with the far right, though.)  By the way, Milo has made a great trademark (trade dress) from his first name.

Update: Feb. 14, 2017

Amazon informs me that the book will not be available until June 13, 2017.

Update: Feb. 20, 2017

Milo says on Facebook that they canceled his book after the supposed "pedophilia video" flap.  The real facts are not quite clear yet to me, and I'll try to decipher exactly what happened.  I have commented on Facebook that I hope he self-published it.  The order is still on my Amazon queue right now.

Update: Feb. 21, 2017

Milo now says he has offers from other publishers and that the book should be out about when he had expected in June.