Thursday, January 26, 2017

Atlantic issue gets attention with "The War on Stupid People" as a prelude to "How American Politics Went Insane"

The July-August 2016 Atlantic had three booklet-like stories that caught my attention.

The most flagrant was David H. Freeman’s article “The War on Stupid People” on p. 13. “As the intellectually gifted reap ever greater rewards, we are beginning to mistake smarts for human worth.” I thought, no, Milo Yiannopoulos never said this.  True, not just Mark Zuckerberg but now people like Jack Andraka enjoy the limelight and quick financial rewards of their smarts in youth. But that’s turnabout from a time when being smart wasn’t cool.

Trump himself pitted “Book smarts” against “Street smarts” on “The Apprentice”.  I was actually called “stupid” by a couple people in Army Basic back in 1968.  Some people thought I was behind, when they came from a way-off base point (one of them had to do with “who had the spirit” at a church campfire in Texas.)
But a lot of the “whitelash” during the election concerned working people who felt left out by the intellectual “elite” who have never had a rite of passage or gotten their hands duty.
And some of it comes from certain parts of the evangelical community who want to deny science because it confounds their “simple faith.”

It sounds stupid to chant “lock her up” or “Build that wall” as part of a mob at a rally.

But I recall as a child, it you said “You, stupid”, your parents would wash out your mouth with soap.

Then, on p. 51, there is “What’s Ailing American Politics”, aka “How American Politics Went Insane” by gay libertarian author Jonathan Rauch (who had authored “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America” back in 2004, pubbed by Henry Holt).  Rauch talks about the complete backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms in the past – like we need that now for network neutrality. But the end result seems to be the problem that intellectual people don’t want to run for office and get people to give them money.  Of course, there is gerrymandering. It’s weak parties and strong partisanship (that is, tribalism).

And Peter Beinart opines with “The White Strategy” on p. 81

Link for letters on all three pieces is here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NatGeo: "Gender Revolution: The Gender Issue": It's complete, and some say it's controversial

The January 2017 issue of National Geographic is a special one, “Gender Revolution: The Gender Issue”.

There are many chapters, by Eve Conant, Tina Rosenbrg, Chip Brown, Alexis Okeowo.

There are introductions by Suan Goldberg, Gloria Steinem, and particularly and Facebook COO Sheyrl Sandberg’s “The Power of Peers”.

There is a vocabulary page, “A Portrait of Gender Today”, from “The Teaching Transgender Toolkit”.
There is an early section about gender-related toys.

Soon the issue gets into gender ambiguity among animals, which is quite common in invertebrates.

It also compares countries for gender equality, and the richest countries are not always the most equal.

The section “Rethinking Gender” presents two twins, one of whom is male-to-female trans as a teen.

Later the booklet notes “A recent survey of a thousand millennials found that half of them think gender is a spectrum.”

There is a world map on p 65 showing the legality of gender change by country. “Legal with no restrictions” applies in only five countries.

The most provocative chapter starts on p. 74 with “Making a Man”.  There is a detailed account of a boy in western Kenya leading up to his circumcision ritual, which even includes some bizarre homoerotic followup.

On p. 90, there is a mural, “Many Paths to Manhood”, which compares the rites of passage among different cultures in history and compares to present day in some parts of the world.  These include Sparta (where boys had to pass a “survival of the fittest” war culture), Rome (where marriage and children were mandatory for citizenship), the Middle Ages, Native Americans, and the Mafia, which it compares to ISIS.

On p. 97 Chip Brown asks why boys go through such extreme manhood rites, often exuding mindless collective fungibility (like Jahar’s “boat manifesto”)  “The disquieting answer is, of course, to prepare for war.  As anthropologist David Gilmore notes, where resources are scarce and the collective welfare uncertain, ‘gender ideology reflects the conditions of life.’”

But the last section, by Tina Rosenberg, is “American Girl”.

There is also a section on “Dads at Home”.  There are studies which show that fathers’ testosterone levels drop when they are caring for children, a point that the Family Research Council is willing to promote.
Some people (on the social-political or particularly religious “right”) have criticized the issue, claiming that gender ambiguity should not be promoted but viewed as a “handicap” sometimes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Preview of "Men Without Work", "Mo More Heroes", "Steel and Promise"

Here’s a little sneak preview of some paperback books that have come my way.

(Sales images will be provided as the books are reviewed in much more detail on Wordpress in the future.)

Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis”, Templeton Press, Philadelphia, 2016, by Nicholas Eberstadt at the American Enterprise Institute, 206 pages, looks at the trend for men in their prime working years, 25-55, to stop looking for work, to live with parents, and to become “watchers” or “spectators”.  Immigrant men are less likely to do this than native men, and married men following conventional gender roles, with children, are certainly less likely.  The trend continues into the 60s as people live longer and expected retirement ages increases.  One problem could be the quality of jobs, though;  the loss of manufacturing, and the rise of hucksterism.  This book was the subject of a forum on Jan. 10 at the Cato Institute in Washington.
No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality”, AK Press, Baltimore, by Jordan Flahterty, forward by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, takes the position that people who do charity work to “save: poorer people think that they’re better than the people their “saving.”  The book seems to challenge individualistic ways of looking at people, even the idea of “right-sizing”, and suggest that people need to belong to groups and movements.  The trouble is that even within egalitarian movements there is politics and pecking orders.

Steel and Promise”, by Alexa Black, Liberty Press, 2016, is a Science Fiction fantasy in another galaxy, presented at AGLA last month, but on the day of an ice storm so it wasn’t well attended.  Another presentation may happen. (A storm lowered attendance at one of my book signing parties, in Moorhead MN, back in 2000.) 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Milo's publisher (for "Dangerous") Simon and Shuster threatened with boycotts by reviewers

I’ve just done my pre-order on Amazon for “Dangerous” by Milo Yiannopoulos, “the dangerous faggot”, and already some critics are protesting Simon and Shuster (through its Threshold imprint) for giving him “the privilege of being listened to

Some of the criticisms are temperate enough, such as Alice Jones on “News UK” “My View” column, “We need to talk about Yiannopoulos” (his name got misspelled in the heading – easy to do).

Here’s a Breitbart article with “unlisted” video (note what YouTube means by “be considerate” if you try to embed it)  where Milo allegedly harassed an transgender statement.    I didn’t see it that way.  I saw it more as “toughen up, get a thick skin”.  I had to do this when I was younger.  I had no safe spaces or trigger warnings.  So, sometimes, I think people should.  If I didn’t, somebody else would have to take the risks for me.   Sometimes it does seem like there is a lot of whining around.

Earlier, Milo had reported a literary agent in the UK dropping him after he was permanently suspended from Twitter over the Leslie Jones and Ghostbusters matter. But he got published, big.
Simon and Shuster made this statement on the “outrage” over the publication.

But some critics wanted they would boycott all of Simon and Shuster, as in this Huffington Post story.  That's a horrible picture of him on the Huffington article, digitally doctored, making him look old, to show (like Oscar Wilde) that we can all grow ugly with age in a time machine.  In the Gaurdian, Adam Morgan of the Chicago Review of Books explains why it won't review any S-S books for a year, even if it hurts other authors ("unfair"), because, Morgan claims, Milo incites violence in mentally unstable people like Dylan Roof.  Milo loves to post all these stories in his own Facebook timeline (which he still has).  Elle also published a strident article by Sady Doyle about the threat of Milo's book.

Milo has also suggested that the magnification of his "attack' on Leslie Jones, getting him suspended, as a publicity stunt to keep "Ghostbusters" tickets selling (Breitbart).  I haven't seen the film (just the 80s original).  Here's Guardian article on Studio handling of cult actor roles.

That’s dangerous to me, even.  I suspect that Milo will say some of the same things I say in my three “Do Ask Do Tell” books back to 1997.  I am not as strident as Milo, and am reasonably careful with the choice of words (I’ve learned to be as I got older).  I’m not with “anti-intellecutalism” and excessive “populism” (I think climate change is real) but some of Trump’s ideas (like paying attention to foreign enemies, to infrastructure security  and having more manufacturing jobs at home) do make sense, if implemented properly.  I’m capable of wild, dangerous fantasies but probably would say them to Billy Bush.  Normally, I’m a “gaycon” myself.  Yet, I’ve gotten a couple blistering criticisms a little like what Milo gets, such as in one particular review   ("Incoherent") of my first book (or "screed") and also on these two emails sent to me in 2006/2007 (note the tone of the second review especially)   and I’ve been flamed a few times, like (on AOL's old disbanded Movie Grille) for favorably commenting on how Sebastian Junger treats the subject of “freelancing” for a living and its dangers in his book and movie “A Perfect Storm” (by a “BeeBopBob4”), mainly by “anti-intellectualists” who want everyone to have his own skin in the game (like by having kids) before having a public voice.

Some of Milo’s other statements about his personal preferences ought to defuse any ideas that he is personally “racist”.  I have yet to run across anything myself that should be “banned”.  But you wonder, what happens on Twitter or social media when people go after a celebrity who has been made the (T)Rump of a joke.

I have to remember another (Aussie) friend online, who tweeted “Whoops, England”? – informing me of Brexit.  So then, after all, Milo is a Brit (with a Greek name).  He can’t run for president.  Don’t worry.  (He can run for prime minister in the UK with the far right, though.)  By the way, Milo has made a great trademark (trade dress) from his first name.

Update: Feb. 14, 2017

Amazon informs me that the book will not be available until June 13, 2017.

Update: Feb. 20, 2017

Milo says on Facebook that they canceled his book after the supposed "pedophilia video" flap.  The real facts are not quite clear yet to me, and I'll try to decipher exactly what happened.  I have commented on Facebook that I hope he self-published it.  The order is still on my Amazon queue right now.

Update: Feb. 21, 2017

Milo now says he has offers from other publishers and that the book should be out about when he had expected in June.