Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Lempi of Finn Hollow": children's viewpoint of immigrant life for Finns in late 19th century

The children’s book “Lempi of Finn Hollow” is a large-format children’s paperback sold ($5) on the groups of the Finnish Heritage Museum in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, north of Painesville (on Richnmond Highway and SR 385, just about three miles, on Lake Erie).

The book is authored by Elaine Lillback and is based on the life of Lempi Johanna Sironen Juuti Tokka (1889-1987) and is a sequel to “Finn Hollow of Fairport, Ohio”.  The publisher is Painesville, Publisning Co in Painesvlle (about 25 miles east of downtown Cleveland on US 20). There is no ISBN apparent or UPC code. 

The book describes a difficult ship crossing of immigrants from Finland, becoming less hospitable because of Czarist Russian influence.  Lempi is born two or so years after the crossing on High Street, a few blocks from the Lake.

The immigrants are opportunistic in terms of work all over the northeast, including the iron mines in Minnesota, to heavy steel and tool industries in the northeast.  But many of them settle in northeast Ohio and work for a shipping company.

The families go through the labor of manually moving their homes when the docking company demands their land, and the experience is seen through children’s eyes.  Families get together and raise money to start cooperative retail businesses.
Religious upbringing is very communal.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Vox: "The War to Free Science" and the high cost of paywalls for academic journals, and the role of the "Books in Print" company

Brian Resnick and Jullia Belluz have a Vox booklet (illustrations by Xavier Zarracina) “The War to Free Science”.  The subtitle is quite telling “How librarians, pirates and funders are liberating the world’s academic research from paywalls.”

The article notes that there are 27,500 scientists affiliated with the University of California.  (Young nuclear scientist Taylor Wilson is affiliated with the University of Nevada in Reno.)

In February 2019 the University of California System ended its $11 million subscription to Reed Elsevier, the largest owner of academic journals.

The company is also known for “Books in Print”, which I got to know pretty well when I got my ISBN log book for my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book in 1997.  It was mailed to me on a piece of computer paper for about $200 as I recall.  I should have it somewhere. The imprint at the time was called “High Productivity Publishing”.

I even considered doing a little contract work for them in the spring of 2002 after my “career ending” layoff at the end of 2001 (when I was still in Minneapolis).

Vox goes on to describe the push for some kind of open access, and other funding mechanisms for the necessary peer reviews for academic journals.

Jack Andraka had talked about the problem around 2015 or so after he won his Science Fair prize for his work on diagnosing future risk for pancreatic cancer inexpensively.

He says that access to research journals was a big deal when he started the work.  Fortunately, when he found a sponsor at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, he had access.  But to get access to the articles to even write the original proposal was a problem.

Basic research continues in fields like theoretical physics, where the mathematics of some objects (like Lie groups) gets us closer to an understanding of why we even exist and whether we could become immortal. It all gets peer reviewed.  This is real publishing.
This is a problem Electronic Frontier Foundation could do more work on.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Old book on "Sissy Boy Syndrome" might have clues (however objectionable) for real developmental disorders

I found a book review in the New York Times of a 1986 book by Dr. Richard Green, “The ‘Sissy Boy Syndrome’ and the Development of Homosexuality”, published by the Yale University Press in February 1987, article by Jane E. Brody.

Why would I bring up such an old chestnut?  This was a sacrosanct idea as far back as the early 60s, pre-Stonewall, when the male-only military draft influenced things (leading to Vietnam); there was an idea that men had a Spartan obligation to prove themselves worthy physically, father children and protect women and children for the future of the tribe;  those who failed to do so were viewed as moochers or even cowards, willing to allow the male risk-taking to be shifted to others. Indeed, some of the demand to respect gender fluidity from the woke left today is motivated by a desire to break up this kind of oppressive thinking from the past. (In the 1980s, when this book was published, the dangers of behavior in a community amplifying HIV within itself would have been relevant.)

Before going further, we’ll note a CNN short documentary that discredits the study.

Actually, I’m trying to figure out my own past.

Apparently as a youth I did have some sort of Developmental Coordination Disorder, or dyspraxia, which seems to have genetic causes distantly related to autism and Asperger’s, but is often very mild and sometimes is outgrown in puberty.  Sometimes boys with this presentation will have unique talents (like music) that seem to come at the cost of other capacities, almost as if there were a premature brain pruning process.

On the other hand, at NIH in 1962, I was officially diagnosed as having “schizoid personality disorder”, probably with some schizotypal thoughts or feelings or fantasies.  This is in Group A of the DSM personality disorders, distantly related to schizophrenia in some families, so it may have a genetic basis, but not the same as autism. 

A schizoid understands the emotions of others, but does not personally want to join in and share tribal or brotherly warmth with others, and remains aloof to making emotional commitments required for a life-long marriage that can raise children and endure unpredictable risks and challenges to intimacy. As Asperger person supposedly doesn’t understand them. But with dyspraxia, the behavior pattern may tend to fit closer to schizoid, so it is very hard to figure out what genetic or epigenetic or familial neurological processes are actually happening.

On my mother’s side of the family, several males seem to fit the schizoid pattern.  Most have done fairly well in life because they can adapt by doing well at their own jobs, which are often solitary (like writing software) rather than working with others (like salesmanship or leading others in a political movement).

In fact, both schizoids and people with mild Asperger’s often do very well in a modern technological individualistic society (they can literally outflank others) but would not survive in a more primitive, communal one.

I never encountered a lot of dyspraxia until I was in Basic Combat Training in the Army, in 1968 at Fort Jackson, where it seems in retrospect that most of the other men in Special Training Company displayed the same syndrome. They had been drafted to prove they were not moochers. Imagine how that would play out with the politics today. I got better at housekeeping, cleaning and reassembling a rifle, etc. but after leaving the Army I went back to my old habits gradually and lost the improved coordination I had learned.  That alone is an interesting finding.

It seems intuitive that some of this would lead back to homosexuality in men. But no one really talks about this. The 1980s article seems a bit flawed. It says that only about one third of gay men were typically “masculine” as boys.  I find, in my own interactions, that if you exclude those who want to be viewed as gender fluid (and they are still a distinct minority within LGBTQ), probably 75% of the men were normally “masculine” growing up, but maybe a quarter were not.  Among gay men, a substantial fraction are physically fit enough to be able to play professional sports or compete in Olympics.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

"Teenagers Pray": a Sunday school guide from 1955, hardcover, still on my nightstand after downsizing out of a house

Haven’t done a book review here in a while, and I found this 1955 prayer book that survived my downsizing (in 1977) the other day under my nightstand.

It’s “Teenagers Pray”, from Concordia House, written and edited by William Kramer.

This book was published during the first Eisenhower administration. The current building of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC opened on Christmas Day 1955 under Dr. Pruden, and this book predates that.

Running 79 pages, it comprises pre-written prayers, for days of the week, and for interesting personal situations, such as before a date, and after a date.  Those were the days, when the expectation was marriage and procreation.

There is a prayer for Ascension.  That today makes me think of Jesus as an “alien” who remains young forever by time dilation while speeding to other planets near light speed.
Relativity matters to faith.  Most of our ancestors lived on what they perceived as an infinite flat earth with no boundaries, because a sphere has none.  In four dimensional space, the Universe may likewise have no boundaries as we normally understand it.  Maybe Clive Barker really had the Universe figured out with his 1991 book “Imajica”, which still needs to be filmed.

I can remember one time being told in Sunday school, maybe around 1956, that public prayer matters. And other faiths, ranging from Catholicism to Islam, make public prayer a real expectation.
The Amazon insert is for a different but similar (more recent) book.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Amazon counterfeits can indeed get in the way

Since Amazon dominates the online bookstore market, counterfeit books (and other goods) seem to have become a problem, as reported on the front page of the New York Times today by David Streitfeld, link.
He starts the article with a discussion of “The Sanford Guide for Antimicrobial Therapy” from a small publisher in Sperryville VA, along US 29-211, on the way to the entrance to Shenandoah National Park and many hikes in my young adulthood. Apparently the book has become the target of counterfeits.  So do many others, especially textbooks.

I had never thought about counterfeit books.  I don’t think it would be a problem with POD. But my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book had a print run in 1997, as did “Our Fundamental Rights”.  I have sometimes seen “collector’s” copies of these show up from third party retailers and I feel flattered. And sometimes the books (or my online notes) have been plagiarized.

There could be a problem of books with gross misinformation (like anti-vax, maybe).  Amazon has pulled books advocating pedophilia after an AC360 report. The book “Hit Man” from Paladin Press led to a lawsuit against the press as an “assassination manual” and the copies were allowed to sell out;  the book does not seem to appear on Amazon now. Paladin Press went out of business in 2017 (Denver Post). 
This would not be as big a problem in traditional book distribution, as to major and independent stores.

I visited the Sperryville property today.  It appears to be a business that gives therapy treatments and the book is incidental.  There was no bookstore open when I visited it.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Major periodical booklet explores whether "school choice" amounts to continuing segregation

An online magazine called “Southern Spaces” has a booklet length article “Segregationists, Libertarians, and the Modern ‘School Choice’ Movement”, by Steve Suitts in Atlanta, link

The general concept is that many parents still want to get to choose whom their kids don’t have to go to school with.

I can remember being taught about Brown v. Board of Education (1954) in “General Education” class in seventh grade middle school, in 1956. But I saw very few black students in middle school or high school through to my 1961 graduation from Washington-Lee (name recently changed to Washington-Liberty).

I suppose that “school choice” will result in private schools with fewer black students that statistics would justify.

That may be less true of Catholic schools.  Many parents will pay for Catholic school simply because they know that, through all the conservatism, they will get a great grasp of fundamental academic skills. Those Covington kids turned out to be very strong indeed.  
I have to admit that I have sometimes heard shocking statements in family gatherings (from my parents’ side) as recently as maybe 2007 still wanting some kind of segregation. It’s infrequent, but it has happened. I think of Kyle Kashuv’s unfortunately foolish behavior at sixteen, as reflection of private conversations of the adults in his life then, probably.

Monday, June 17, 2019

"Racism, Guilt, and Self-Deceit": controversial book from African professor relates language to ethical and discrimination (anti-gay) problems

I wanted to mention a book originally published back in 1990, “Racism, Guilt, and Self-Deceit” by Gedaliah Braun.  The book was republished in 2010 (Amazon says not available now in print) and offered on Kindle in 2013.  The publisher seems to be Amazon Digital Services.

On the strike page on Goodreads, she says she left the US in 1976 to teach philosophy in Nigeria. I noticed a comment about a "Muslim president" that seems way off-base. 

On that page, and on other pages, she says that many African languages don’t have the ability to express complex abstract concepts such as conditionality or supposition, so people in this part of the world haven’t learned to process moral concepts the way western individualists can.  They understand tribal authority. She even maintains that complex languages common in the west develop when people live in colder climates and deal with more natural challenges.

This might explain the anti-gay attitudes (and anti-gay laws in past years) that seem purely tribal (fewer children) and irrational.
Here is a Blogger page about her writing.

Wikipedia attribution for photo: 
By Jeff Attaway - by MrPanyGoff, CC BY 2.0,