Saturday, July 11, 2020

Izabella Hickle's Summary of Robin DiAngelo's 'White Fragility'

It isn’t real common that a controversial book gets summarized by another writer.  Jordan Peterson summarized his own “12 rules”.  No one has done me that honor with my three “do ask do tell” books.

Izabella Hickle apparently has written these for a few controversial books.  I’ll briefly go over her “Summary: White Fragility: Why It’s do Hard for White People to Talk About Race”, 62 pages, ISBN 9798661267184, 12 chapters, paper.

First, as to the writing.  Sometimes it is hard to tell if she is restating what the white person feels (as an assertion, in subjunctive mood, which is much easier to do in most foreign languages than in English), or stating Diangelo’s prescriptions. 

The sin of the white person is not their own decisions or actions in the normal sense of individualized personal responsibility;  it is the historical fact that they have unfairly benefited from systemic racism hardwired into the economic and social system and must now take responsibility to pay something back for this ancestral wrong. Many examples include segregated schools, redlining real estate, and especially police profiling, which seems to result from a mental reinforcement of past ideas.

In Chapter 2 she does provide some interesting detail about physical attractiveness, mentioning skin color, (scalp) hair texture, and eye shape.  It is not clear from what is given whether she (or Robin) thinks it is “wrong” to refuse to date out of your race (if you are white). One artifact on skin color;  Caucasian skin is generally not as thick.  The only reason for the difference in skin color is adaptation to distance from the equator.  People who live with a lot of sunlight need the pigment to protect them from too much ultraviolet light;  people with less sunlight need to make Vitamin D.   The hair comment is interesting.  Only whites normally (although not always consistently) have significant differences in body hair between men and women, as a secondary sexual characteristic. Hickle doesn’t mention that.  I’ll find out if Robin did when I read her book on Kindle (I couldn’t get hers in print, which is easier to follow;  I did get Hickle’s in hardcopy.)

My main issue so far is proximity. I do live and work alone and I don’t really have social situations where these issues come up. 

I will review DiAngelo's full book (Kindle) on my featured Wordpress blog as soon as I finish it (next week) 

There is one more book I don’t think has been mentioned here, Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Anti-Racist”, 320 pages, One World Press, 2019.  

There is also “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism”, here, by Layla F. Saad, 258 pages, Sourcebooks, 2020, and this looks more like a personal instruction manual when looked at on Amazon (mentioned in video).  It reminds me of the Perry-Ellis "Do Ask Do Tell" workbooks on gay rights from the mid 1990s. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

"What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane" (Atlantic, 2019)

Good Night Malaysian, Three-Seven-Zero”, from the July 2019 print edition of The Atlantic, long story by William Langewiesche, Internet title “What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane”,  with the byline, “Five years ago the flight vanished into the Indian Ocean.  Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.”

“The Event” with Malaysian 370 started on March 8, 2014, the good old days for me.

The gist of the article is that they found an artifact near Reunion Island (belonging to France), so many of the conspiracy theories involving Russia and the Ukraine disappear.

The airlines may have depressurized suddenly, resulting in quick loss of consciousness and death before the plane ran out of fuel and flew into the sea, maybe a hijacking.

For the passengers, no funerals, no remains to bury.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Should books by "problematic" authors be read and reviewed?

“Reading Books by Problematic Authors”, by the Artisan Geek.

Well, she really means to include “reviewing books” too.

As for authors with (today) unacceptable views, she thinks makes a material difference whether the author is still alive or is deceased, even long deceased.  She seems to give some heed to cancel culture, which almost any sin can trigger.  She mentions HO Lovecraft (horror) as an example, with his apparent racism.

If the author is still with us, then there is a question of their social creditworthiness, "the privilege of being listened to." 

She also considers whether the author committed an major crimes, or whether the behavior was criminal during their lifetime.  She mentions Lewis Carroll and notes that interest in underage girls was more acceptable (ironically) in Victorian England than it is today.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Coronavirus lockdowns slow down the traditional book publishing business, because they need in-person encounters all the time

Here’s a strategically important piece by Elizabeth A. Harris in the New York Times, “Books are a great fit for a quarantine; the Book business, not so much”, June 25.

This article seems to carry on a discussion here May 12 about how literary agents really work.

There’s a lot of business socializing among agents (who “intern”), and editors, and sometimes authors.  A lot of that has moved to Zoom, which is a little awkward.

What seems more relevant is that authors would not be able to set up booksignings at bookstores, especially independent bookstores, which were back on the rise until Covid hit them so suddenly in March.  Combine that with, say, the opportunities of Booktube.  I don’t yet know how this can come back.

The article links to another Times article about an online Book Expo event.

Monday, June 29, 2020

“This Is Nathan Wolfe: We Should Have Listened to Him”, about pandemic reinsurance (in Wired)

Evan Ratliff writes in Wired, This Is Nathan Wolfe: WeShould Have Listened to Him”.  Had he earned my “privilege of being listened to?”

We Can Protect the Economy from Pandemics.  Why Didn’t We?” “A virologist helped crack an impossible problem. How to insure against economic fallout from devastating viral outbreaks. The plan was ingenious.  Yet we’re still in the mess.”

It’s July/Aug 2020, p. 40.  The concept is massive reinsurance for pandemics.  He had designed a product.  Nobody bought

The article gives the history of Metabiota, the disease surveillance company he bought in 2013, as a disease surveillance company.  That sounds a bit like Avi Schiffmann’s tracking databases for coronavirus today.  

In 2001, ReliaStar, the subsidiary of ING where I worked in Minneapolis, had reinsured many companies in the World Trade Center in NYC, which was sometimes cites as one reason for the layoff I finally exited in.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

"How the Virus Won": Picture booklet by the NYTimes (with lots of animated drawings)

Derek Watkins, Josh Holder, James Glanz, Weiyi Cai, and Jeremy White explain “How the Virus Won” in a New York Times booklet today.  

The article maintains “invisible outbreaks sprung up everywhere.”  Many of them died out.

It also traces the West Coast v. East Coast strains, and there are some indications that the East Coast version has an extra spike protein (D614G mutation) that makes it more transmissible.

Some of the outbreaks were attributed to specific spring break activities, like Mardi Gras. 

People in the US don’t seem to accept the self-sacrifice for the group that authoritarian societies like China demand.

Update:  June 28

The New York Times followed up Sunday with a News Analysis by Sabrina Tavernise, Frances Robles, and Louis Keene: "After Asking Americans to Sacrifice in Lockdowns, Leaders Failed to Control Virus." 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"The Coming Bank Collapse" in The Atlantic

Frank Partnoy examines “The Looming Bank Collapse” in The Atlantic.  The tagline is “The U.S. financial system could be on the cusp of a calamity. This time, we might not be able to save it.”

This time the poison is “collateralized loan obligations” or CLO’s and they don’t contain mortgages or default swaps.  But they can be badly undermined by the collapse of so many “non essential” businesses as it is so difficult for any enterprise dependent on people coming together for large events or for rapid travel.

The latter part of the article goes into worst case scenarios, with some virus-like diagrams showing that most CLO’s have failed, undermining the values of (apparently) most bond funds (even those invested mainly in Triple-A’s).

Tyler Mowery, a screenwriting guru (April 3, 2020), also advocates bitcoin and digital currency as ultimately more stable given the upcoming crisis, and cites this thread by Public Citizen