Sunday, August 01, 2021

Laurie Garrett in Foreign Policy: "The Science Says Everyone Needs a Covid-19 Booster Shot -- and Soon"


PW County park 2021-7

Laurie Garrett has a booklet-length article in Foreign Policy (paywall) “The Science Says Everyone Needs a Covid-19 Booster Shot – and Soon” with the byline “The biology of the delta variant has made mass revaccination an urgent necessity”.

There is a lot of attention to Israel’s starting its third dose revaccination for those over 60.  She also discusses the UK, which seems to be reversing its rise in Delta cases now (maybe because a longer time before the second shot). 

The basic problem seems to be, if you don’t vaccinate everyone in the world very quickly, selective pressures may encourage nastier vaccine-evading variants. 

For my money, that sounds like pressuring China to take even more responsibility for vaccinating the entire developing world.

Yet the Sinovac vaccine doesn’t sound like it has done as well in preventing serious disease as the mRNA’s.  That’s a soft statement.  In theory, since it seems to use a greater variety of proteins, its protection ought to be more stable.  But that would be a whole new subject for Garrett to take up, what kind of vaccine really will be the most dependable in discouraging selective escapes.  China does sound capable of the mass production and it owes the world this given the origins. 

The world has never tried to vaccinate its way out of public health crisis quickly before (which is what mRNA specifically intends to do).  But the only other alternative would be some mass-produced rapid testing and automated smartphone contact tracing for everyone (Mina’s idea).  Well, plus, more rapid testing and approval of therapeutics to be given by mouth or simple injection right after infection (the “gay medicine” idea).  We haven’t gotten there, either.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

"Beyond Human Endurance": 3-D article in Washington Post explains how some areas of the planet could become unhabitable


Nevada, 2012-5 

The Washington Post has an extended animated “3-D” article “Beyond Human Endurance: How Climate Change Is Making too Hot and Humid to Survive”, by Ruby Mellen and William Neff.

Even ocean breezes in some parts of the world could be deadly.

It’s true, even, that temporary heat domes like recently in the Pacific Northwest could make an area temporarily uninhabitable.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Amazon suddenly delists "When Harry Became Sally" book by Ryan Anderson, believing it presents trans-genderism as "mental illness", while presenting an "explainer" free on Kindle


NIH Clinical Center, where I was a patient in 1962

OK, the 2018 book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan Anderson, runs 251 pages in hardcover and was published in February 2018 by Encounter books. I had to pull figurative teeth – log on to Goodreads through Facebook and allow friends to see I was looking for it, to find the name of the publisher, just to write this post.  It is said to be a “best-seller”.

The book was characterized at first by the Washington Post as labeling transgenderism as a “mental illness”.  When the author complained, the Post corrected the story.

Then in February 2021 Amazon suddenly delisted the book, almost after three years, saying it would not allow books that claimed LQBTQ people were mentally ill to be listed.  Amazon also ignored the Washington Post’s own retraction.  The author explains in a WSJ article, and the WSJ follows up with an op-ed (paywall, unfortunately).   Compare the author’s account of his work with, say, ThinkProgress or NCRegister.   Sunday night, July 25, Fox News told this little story again on its "Canceled in the USA" news series

The theory was offered that the delisted was a political ploy to encourage Congress to pass the Equality Act as is.  There are still some controversies, like transgender and women’s sports, with that legislation, and the HRC insists they have been resolved.  Some reviewers call Ryan a “social conservative”.

But the idea that a book must not “frame LQBTQ identity as a mental illness” is superficial and deceptive itself.  First, the group encompasses many different “identities”.  The emotional world of a cis gay man is very different from that or a trans person.  By definition, a transgender person would need medical treatment to transition, although that does not define mental illness, but in that sense, yes, biological gender at birth “matters”.  A gender fluid or non-binary person would not need such attention however, so, yes, the claim that it is not a medical issue is credible.  Anderson talks about gender dysphoria as needing therapy or counseling, at least, and apparently advocates that parents and kids should wait on physical intervention like with puberty blockers or surgery (the latter will be irreversible).  None of this is, he claims, the same as “mental illness”.

Gender dysphoria is not the same as body dysphoria, which actor Reid Ewing talked about a lot a few years ago.

The book is still available at Barnes and Noble’s website, and there is an “Summary” still on Amazon by “Fireside Reads”, free by Kindle or inexpensive by paperback.  I read the Kindle free on my desktop (this works if you have a regular Amazon account), and the explainer presents an outline (like Cliff Notes) and then quiz questions, like a course handbook.  There is even an explainer of its being delisted. The style of the handbook reminds me of two books in the mid 1990s with buttons using my own "do ask do tell" title written in the style of persuasion handbooks for lay people or students than in the form of a formal non-fiction book (like mine, with footnotes and endnotes).   It's important to remember that when presenting the history of any GLBTQ person or subpopulation, the "mental illness" classification was accepted until 1973, so accurate history has to describe this past, however unpleasant for activists today.  It was certainly applied to me in 1961-1962.  

Amazon should restore this book to normal purchase.

(This article is a rewrite/update of a more fragmentary story on February 2, 2021.) 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Tim Wise: Medium essays on anti-racism


artwork at Rafko Park Leesburg VA

The way I use this blog now, it’s fair to share a group of essays by Tim Wise on his Medium account.

The most important of them is, that “conservative” attempts to ban anti-racist education “isn’t about protecting kids, it’s about pacifying them”, here.  

Another one is “missing the systemic forest for the individual trees”, here.

Finally, “it isn’t about white people, it’s about whiteness”, here.

OK, I’ll take the last one first.  Karlyn Borysenko has been incredibly emphatic that critical race theory is not the same as anti-whiteness, and she blocks people who make that claim, and says the claim only enrages people back to white supremacy.  The article says that “whiteness” was created and embedded into the legal system in the early nineteenth century, and some of it persists (the old “one drop rule”).  But he stops short of claiming that students should be indoctrinated to feel personally guilty about this.

Likewise, students should learn the gory details about how bad it really was, as to how slavery was built into the early history of the US, as was (sometimes) capturing indigenous people’s lands – and the latter resembles the whole European history of colonialism.   Likewise, systemic racism creates hidden privilege that looks like invisible ink.  The real question is what you expect individual people do to about this today in their own personal and public (especially online) lives.  There are those who say making these implicit demands for conditional allyship is part of the theory, however. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

"America Is Getting Unvaccinated People All Wrong": interview by Young and Boyd in The Atlantic


San Francisco 2018-9

The Atlantic has a major interview by writer Ed Yong of San Francisco pediatrician Rhea Boyd, titled “America Is Getting Unvaccinated People All Wrong”. The subtitle is “They’re not all anti-vaxxers, and treating them as such is making things worse.”

One of the biggest problems is that children under 12 are not yet eligible according to FDA clearance for the vaccines, but may be more affected by the Delta variant than earlier strains, and maybe indirectly exposed even by superficial infections that still happen with fully vaccinated adults, who themselves usually don’t get sick.

The other problem is that many poorer people are unable logistically to get to vaccine sites or get time off from work or get the child care they need.

The Atlantic's coronavirus coverage is provided without paywalls, and is supported by grants from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

"I Alone Can Fix It": Book by Loennig and Tucker renders JCS chief's comments about Trump's near coup in 2021

General Mark A. Milley

Journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Tucker authored “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year”, 592 pages, will be released by Penguin Press on Tuesday July 20 and possibly arrive that day if ordered by Amazon.

The main controversy the past few days has been the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley’s recent statements that the JCS contemplated a once-a-day mass resignation (a reverse Saturday Night Massacre) to thwart a possible Trump coup after the Nov 3 election.

Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen and Elizabeth Stuart interviewed the authors and provide a summary on CNN, with a video of Anderson Cooper, explaining the details of Milley’s assertions.

It’s a little hard to assume what would have happened to ordinary citizens.  Martial law, as such, is very difficult to pull off.  Would the Internet be turned off? 

The terms “brownshirts” and “Reichstag moment” appear in the interview. 

But again, it’s a little hard to see how it would happen.  I ordered the book just now. Trump remains in charge of the Republican Party.

Update: July 18:  Now there are reports that Trump wanted to launch an attack on Iran to create a national emergency so he could stay in power (??)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

"Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness": is this children's book kindness, or simply indoctrination


June 2020 protests in DC meant boarding properties

Author, illustrator: Anastasia Higginbotham

Title: “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Publication: Dottir Press, 2020, ISBN 978-1-9483-4000-7, hardcover, illustrated heavily, 65 pages, hardcover.

I bought this book to find out for myself what kind of indoctrination is going on.  This is a series of four books about “ordinary terrible things”  for children (also divorce, death, and sex).  

First, many observers maintain that Critical Race Theory is not the same as “anti-whiteness”.  Dr. Karlyn Borysenko says that much, and equating the two will only motivate the far right further.

The “contract binding you to whiteness” appears on p. 59, and on p. 60 reminds you that you do not have to “sign on to whiteness”.  But others have maintained that whiteness is system and ingrained so that most “white” people are not aware of it. So on the surface this book actually contradicts Robin DiAngelo. 

I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and was not immediately affected by the Civil Rights Movement.  In seventh grade, in 1955, we were taught about Brown v. Board of Education.  In the DC area we would read about the unrest in the South, including the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964, but it seemed distant.

The problem, in my thinking, comes if you want (white) people living today to be held personally accountable for the supposed unearned benefits from the past on a history that used slavery, and seizure of indigenous lands, sometimes.  We have seen civil rights for black people and other minorities slowly improve since the mid 1960s, to the point that many minorities succeed well as individuals, but where statistically more black people remain in poverty (also some other groups like Latinos) than those of European descent.  But the idea of expecting “white” people to suddenly take this seriously today is novel, although it was certainly aggravated by the Trump administration and then events like Charlottesville and January 6.

So I am not so concerned with educating people about a theory, just as you educate people about communism or fascism.  But I am concerned about manipulation and indoctrination of pre-teens through high school students, although I don’t know how much this is going on.

Timcast IRL (video above) examined a “Workbook for How to Be an AntiRacist” (Amazon)  which is a handbook accompanying Kendl’s book written by a third party.  The book goes on to jumble up critical race theory with intersectional groups around sexuality and gender.  This is being used in some public school systems but would not be part of academic critical race theory.

My practice is to place the Amazon ad in a review of a book I have bought and read, even if I find its contents problematic.