Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Atlantic piece by Applebaum wants citizens to go overboard in volunteering to monitor the elections themselves

Here’s a big article in the Atlantic by Anne Applebaum, “The Election Is in Danger, Prepare Now”, with the subtitle, “A Citizen’s Guide to Defending Democracy”.  

She wants citizens to make the effort to vote in person if at all possible.

She wants you to work the polls (if not is a medical risk group, or maybe if you are on the edge of one).

She wants you to drive people to the polls.  Just open the car windows and make them sit on the rear passenger back (well, what if there are several).  Do you make them wear masks?

She wants people to volunteer virtually to help voters in battleground steps.

I voted by mail in Virginia Sept. 25 (the first day possible) and did not need a witness (despite the instructions on the envelope, I conferred with the state's website). 

I worked the polls for the primary March 3 (the day the other candidates collapsed for Biden), but backed out of Nov. 3 after talking to the county officials on the phone.  They thought they would have enough workers under 70 (with laid-off people working ).  They have many more young people as election judges than ever before. 

It links to a similarly strident article by David Litt.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Politico Magazine: "A Day-by-Day Guide to What Could Happen If This Election Goes Bad"


Garrett M. Graff has a full magazine-length booklet for Politico today, illustrated by Daniel Zender, “A Day-by-Day Guide to What Could Happen If This Election Goes Bad”, from a series called “The Friday Cover”, with the subline “Election Experts game out the chaos that could unfold in the minutes, hours and days after the last ballot is cast”, link

Some of the risks are (1) voting is extended (2) false of premature claims of victory (this one is a biggie) (3) Armed groups mobilize (no, far Left, you don’t want to “abolish the police”) (4) The Justice Department intervenes (5) Hackers undermine results (6) Ballots turn up late (7) a counting collapse (8) legitimate fraud is uncovered (8) vote counters are intimidated or attacked (9) Supreme court challenge that stops a count or ultimately decides the election (10) Trump or Biden refuses to accept the legitimacy of the results (11) state or local officials refuse to certify results (12) Electors revolt or are replaced (13) The winner is incapacitated or dies (14) Congress chooses a president (15) Trump refuses to leave office.

Why did the Republican party have to implode in 2016?

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pete Buttigieg's new book "Trust: America's Best Chance" (NY Times preview)

Palace Theater, Morris Performing Arts Center, in South Bend


The New York Times Book Review gives us a review and sneak preview of Pete Buttigieg’s “Trust: America’s Best Chance”.

The review describes the pressure Pete felt writing the book, right after he dropped out of the race on March 2, the day before I was to work the Virginia primary, just as the pandemic was about to explode in the United States.  And the book is already a "best seller". 

A quick look at the prologue shows that Pete looks at decades of history as defined by critical events:  9/11, the 2008 financial collapse, Obama’s presidency and an unequal recovery, Trump’s election based on resentment, and now the pandemic.  But he doesn’t mention the pandemic until talking about the wave of protests stemming from historically systemic racism.

His first chapter starts out by talking about unit cohesion in his own stint in the military.  This sounds like it will be interesting reading for me.  I could compare this to my own experience writing “Do Ask Do Tell” in 1995-1997.  But I was not a recognized celebrity.  This gives me cause to ponder.  I have to read Zakaria and Feiler.  I never became a best seller, although I believe that I did become a hidden influencer, and that itself is controversial. 

The new book is relatively short (224 pages), from Liveright.

In 2019 Pete authored “Shortest Way Home”, from the same published, longer, about the rebuilding of South Bend.

Picture: Wikipedia, Performing Arts Center in South Bend.  I wonder how it will recover from the pandemic. Embedded picture, click for attribution.  I don't recall being in South Bend; I have been in Fort Wayne (and spend a summer in Indianapolis in my first job in 1970). 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

WSJ: "In Xi Jingping's China, Nationalism Takes a Dark Turn": so does a formal social credit system

China Senate House

 Chao Ding and Liza Lin have a booklet-length illustrated article in the Wall Street Journal, “In Xi Jingping’s China, NationalismTakes a Dark Turn”.  The article links in turn to a Jonathan Cheng article, “China’s Economy Is Bouncing Back – and Gaining Ground on the U.S,”

The main article develops the idea of a unary state loyalty to the nation, on top of statist capitalism, that sounds like an admixture of communism and soft fascism.  And, knowing the treatment of the Ugyhur Muslims, it is racist.

China does have a definite “social contract” policy for individuals expressed through its social credit system (still evolving) and suppression dissent, because it believes that unearned fame and wealth will erase the best motives for people to behave.

And it appears that China’s authoritarian handling of the pandemic did squelsh it – but we aren’t sure about whether there are hidden outbreaks, or whether their vaccine (which they have given to their military) really works.  China can claim that its communitarian ideology is superior to the West in responding challenges from the natural world requiring citizens to deal with hardship and sacrifice equitably.

At the very least, since China’s delay in admitting the problem in early January led to such a catastrophe for the rest of the world, they should be lending their knowledge of vaccines and medications that actually have worked.

The father and son Barrett Channel keeps giving a glowing report of life in China for people who behave.

Picture: The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Putnam's "The Upswing" builds on "Bowling Alone"

Yuval Levin reviews another book about communitarianism, “The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again”, by Robert Putnam with “social entrepreneur” Shaylayn Romney Garrett, from Simon and Schuster, 465 pages. 

I was not aware that this is a sequel (or perhaps rewritten expansion of) Putnam’s “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community”, a book that I vaguely remember being discussed (2020) but apparently never reviewed and read (when I was living in Minneapolis and still employed by ING-Reliastar, right after Y2K).  It was from the same publisher, but longer.

It was two world wars and depression in between that brought us together, to the point that we could actually fight effectively with a segregated military at D-Day with “the greatest generation”.  That was a paradox that never made much sense in the 1990s when we were debating gays in the military – and I enjoyed being in the thick of it.  We go back to Gary Senise’s performance as “Truman” on HBO.’

The “We” Putnam apparently talks about seemed predicated on hierarchy and legacy tribalism, that could hardly be expected to last.  The best arguments for Civil Rights (and shortly thereafter “gay rights”) were indeed individualistic.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Washington Post: 2 booklets, on (1) how we can use coronavirus genetic code changes for contact tracing (2) the risks taken by workers for all of us


The Washington Post has a major booklet-like insert today, “Scientists have a powerful tool for controlling the coronavirus: Its own genetic code”. 

Partly illustrated like a comic book (in “ScienceVille”), it then goes into how you can compare mini-mutations within patients to trace spread.

For example, if different people who test positive in a school have different strains, the spread was not within the school, and you don’t have to close the school.

There is a comment by Oppenheimer48 that seems serious for considering the Moderna vaccine.  He says “spike protein is uniquely dangerous … coronavirus passed blood brain barrier and antibodies (are) formed that cross react with myelin protein” causing MS and spinal paralysis. He asks where lipid-coated mRNA goes.

Ironically, Avi Schiffmann’s short film “The Central Dogma of Biology” from June 2019, reviewed July 1, 2020 on the Movies blog here, seems to touch on that point at the end.

The article links to two others stories, about an outbreak in a meatpacking plant, and about spread from the Boston Biogen conference in February.

I’m going to also list here another booklet in the WPost, “24 Hours in the Lives of American Workers” on the risks they have to today.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Children's publishers want black characters; more on fundraisers for independent bookstores during COVID

Recently some media outlets (I think it was Good Morning America) mentioned that publishers were looking for children’s books specifically with role model black characters  (see June 13, 2020 posting also).

This is not my own forte but Heathline Parenthood has some suggestions for consumers, here

Another topic worth noting is that independent community bookstores have been doing crowdfunding fundraisers to stay afloat during shutdowns.  There is a comprehensive article from Publisher’s Weekly last April. 

Bonfire has a typical fundraiser selling merchandise.