Thursday, March 15, 2018

A "colleague" review of "Red Clock": does "every child need two"?

It isn’t often that I feature “somebody else’s” book review, but Kathi Wolfe has a great account of the new novel “Red Clock” by Leni Zumas  (Little Brown [a “real” publisher], 2018, 368 pages).  The review is in the Washington Blade, March 9, "Viewpoint", p. 19.  
The novel, set in a dystopian future and probably capable of generating another LionsGate-like movie franchise, imagines a future where surrogacy and abortion has been forbidden, single people can’t adopt, and there is an “Every Child Needs Two” law.  Oh, it sounds so much like Rick Santorum a few years ago, or maybe Pat Buchanan before that.

It almost sounds like procreation is mandatory for everybody so that everyone else can find a partner.
I’m more interested, as a writer, in how a society becomes dystopian:  but with Russian meddling in our social media, weaker social capital, and a certain background complacency, all leading us to have a “President Poopiepants”, we can imagine how it starts. It's about a lot more than phony religious freedom laws . 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wired: Facebook's Two Years of Hell, and Zuckerberg's Manifesto

The March 2018 issue of Wired offers a cover with Mark Zuckerberg having undergone what looks like a bloody nose attack (or cut eyelash) from Vladimir Putin. Perhaps Putin doesn’t want to allow a 33-year-old become more powerful than Putin.

On p. 46 there appears the booklet-length essay by Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, ”Inside  the Two Years that Shook Facebook, and the World”, link (paywall after free article allotment;  I bough a print copy at Union Station today after the kids’ “National Walk Out” gun demonstration on the Capitol Grounds).
The narrative begins with a tale of the firings of two contract employees, one of whom had done some private sleuthing of Facebook’s intended way of trying to defeat Trump in early 2016.  One of the employees was fired only for social media connection to a Gizmodo editor who released the leak. But then the article (in thirteen sections) goes back to give the history of Facebook’s energy in doing news aggregation, for the bucks. 

The article explains how Facebook has depended on Section 230, discussed widely on the blogs in connection with trafficking, especially sex trafficking and Backpage. So Facebook insisted on neutrality in presenting content to users, considering only the users’ interests according to algorithms.
Facebook wanted to have its chocolate cake and eat it too.  Newscorp (Fox) acted threatening, as Facebook was creating serfdoms to subordinate the news media, and underming Section 230 might be a way to hit back.  (That could silence individual bloggers, like me, over eventual downstream liability fears).  
By mid 2016, it had become evident that the neutrality was an albatross.  Trump’s people considered how to use the idea to feed fake stories about Hillary Clinton, and soon the Russians were doing it. Facebook was becoming a publisher of supermarket tabloid stuff while pretending not to be one.
The article discusses Zuckerberg’s 5700-word “Manifesto”, titled “Building Global Community” , from February 2017.  He does talk about Supportive, Safe, Inclusive, Informed, and especially Engaged communities.   It is the last one that is the hardest.  The new world seems to demand personalized community engagement that would have been unwelcome in the past.   But the Manifesto was written before Mark saw  all the wheels that had come off. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Atlantic" produces inner booklet with three stories of human trafficking and slavery

Rebecca Rosen edits a “booklet” in The Atlantic for March with three life stories of human trafficking.

All three are women who worked domestically.  Two are from the Philippines, one from Brazil.
They were generally involved in caregiving as live-ins, and were paid much less than promised contractually.  Some did not have good living conditions, as in Boston winters.  Some had immigration and visa issues, although the articles do not go into detail on this.

But there is “slavery” in other areas (especially caregiving) besides the sex trafficking which is in the news now because of the FOSTA-SESTA bills in Congress.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Authors push for black characters in children's books

I’m not one who will sign up to write for specific minority groups or play identity politics, but I noticed with some interest a story by Denene Millner (with her own book company) on p. 10 of the New York Times Review, “She wants more than M.L.K. at bedtime”, or, online, “Black kids don’t want toread about Harriet Tubman all the time”. 

She then writes about the need for more black characters in children’s books.
I keep getting these messages on how to sell volumes of books for specific groups, and fortunately have had the luxury of ignoring them. 
But there was a minority-focused book table at the NBC Washington Health Fair in DV this weekend.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Guardian's "Long Read" article on Casa Pound and the resurgence of fascist groups in Italy

Tobias Jones has a booklet-length article in the Guardian, “The Fascist Movement that Has Brought Mussolini Back into the Mainstream”, in a series called “The Long Read”, link here.
The article describes the muti-facted Casa Pound.  It seems to have started in bars in the late 1990s and been evangelized through rock and “fight clubs”.  The movement would get pushed in some books in the middle 2000’s and would be pushed farther by the migrant crisis starting in 2014. 
I can remember well from a freshman history course in college that Mussolini “taxed bachelors” and demanded procreation.

Andrea Mamomme has an alarming article on CNN, “Can AnythingSave Italy from a Return to Fascism? Brexit (Blogtyrant’s tweet “Whoops, England?"), in June 2016, Trump’s election, and the softening of EU have come with shocking speed after the migrant crisis.

 Illustration by Luc Giarelli on Wikipedia under CCSA 2.0 , “We dream of a Roman Italy”

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Indiana teacher's request for mental health books goes viral

A grade school teacher, Tina DuBrock, in Dyer, IND (almost on Lake Michigan) has come up with a wish list for mental health books, and the list went viral.  Here is the MSN story, and here is the Amazon link to the list.
The story says the teacher notes the “blaming” by parents on teachers and vice versa for serious discipline and security problems.

Some of the subject matter requested is pretty specific, like dyslexia.
Reid Ewing’s past discussion of his body dysmorphia might seem appropriate.  Here is a typical story in People Magazine explaining it.

Monday, March 05, 2018

"My 10 Year Odyssey Through America's Housing Crisis", in Alabama

Ryan Dezember has a booklet-length Saturday essay in the Wall Street Journal, “My 10 Year Odyssey Through America’s Housing Crisis.”

A lot of issues here: living on the Gulf Coast with hurricane risk;  flipping of property, subprime risk, do-it-yourself mentality, and a young man prepared to deal with all this as long as he had no dependents.

There’s also the problem of renting to unstable tenants who squat if they can’t afford anything  And the way abandoned property around deteriorates and smells.
I remember a Dr. Phil episode with a young couple who thought they could skip education and get by flipping houses with a baby on the way, back in 2006.
It’s all raw capitalism.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

More companies emerge to do book reviews: maybe this works with new books not yet self-published

A couple days ago I got an email from a company “USBookviews” which offers review services.  The strike page is here. The email marketing page is more colorful.
A process like this might work with a new book, like the novel that I am planning (“Angel’s Brother”). I don’t think sending older books (even as recent as 2014) makes a lot of sense, especially non-fiction and commentary.  I’ll think about this as I work on the novel.

The video above is another review service I found on YouTube.
I have a template for outlining the novel that I explain here.  This process helps tie “loose ends” together before it goes out to the world.