Monday, April 29, 2019

White nationalist demonstration disrupts reading of Metzl's book "Dying of Whiteness" in DC

A book reading at the Connecticut Ave. bookstore for “Politics and Prose” was interrupted Saturday April 27, 2019 by a brief demonstration by what appeared to be a small group of white nationalists, WTOP reports.

The event was the “National Antiracist Book Festival”. 

The book was Jonathan M. Metzl’s “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland”, from Basic Books, 320 pages.

The book rails at the tribalism on the new right, with the science denial and poor individual choices, that oddly parallels similar tribalism on the extreme left.  From reports, the book would seem to encourage more personal intellectual responsibility of the Jordan Peterson kind.

Marissa J. Lang has an account of the protest, with the bookstore near Comet Ping Pong, here.  The "trade homeland for handouts" meme is rather striking.

Update:  See also the previews of DiAngelo's book, similar ideas, April 21, 2019 and Sept. 16, 2018. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Time's "The Science of Good and Evil"; physicians discuss personal "Compassionomics"

I’m getting ready to review Joshua Greene’s “Moral Tribes” on my main Wordpress blog (recommended by Harvard undergrad vlogger John Fish), but I’ll preview it with the Time special edition coffee table book “The Science of Good and Evil”, edited by Edward Feiesenthal and D. W. Pine, with a lot of leadership from Jeffrey Kluger, 96 pages.

There is an interesting chapter by Richard Jerome on whether animals have morality. Well, capcuchin monkeys and bonobo chimps do, as do dogs,  Sand tiger sharks, however, cannibalize their weaker siblings in the “womb” before they are born.

The first chapter, by Kluger et al, takes up some of the well-known moral puzzles (The Sinking Lifeboat, the Crying Baby, the Runaway Trolley and the switch problem).  Subsequent chapters look at the physiology of evil, in terms of the structure of the brain (Bundy, Holmes, etc).  There are also biographies of Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler (who was quite spoiled and incompetent in practical things as a boy, rather telling).  Yet there is evidence that even the worst can eventually develop a moral compass.

There is an important chapter (p. 34) on voluntarism by Kate Rope, “Good Deeds, Good Health, and Good Life”.  There is discussion of caregiving and compassion fatigue, but there is a general impression that relatively open (and not overly selective) volunteering is a good thing for most people.

This morning (April 27), Smerconish (CNN) interviewed author Anthony Mazarrelli who (along with Stephen Trzeciak and Cory Booker) authored “Compassionomics”, published Studer Group.  A lot of this is about whether medical practitioners care, but a lot of people will survive challenging illnesses and cancers if they know others care personally.  This is a bit of a change from how things were when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, when less could be done.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Martine Kalaw: "Illegal Among Us: A Stateless Woman's Quest for Citizenship", book preview, long immigration narrative starting in Zambia

TASSC International (the Torture Abolition Survivors and Support Coalition) in Washington DC had an event today, which I did not attend, with author Martine Mwanj Kalaw, of the Huffington Post, along with her legal team. 

She is author of  Illegal Among Us: A Stateless Woman’s Quest for Citizenship”, from Sunbury Press, 263 pages.  It is also called  “Woman Without an Identity”.

Her life story, originating with her father’s desertion and mother’s death from AIDS in Zambia, and her lengthy period in the US as undocumented and the assistance she received in getting citizenship, is quit intricate, as summarized here.

The story would touch on the DACA issue today.

It would also bear on the question of what can American citizens do on their own (legally) to help persons in her situation.
I purchased a Kindle copy and should do a detailed review later.

Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. photo of Victoria Falls. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

"White Fragility", by Robin DiAngelo, would seem to demand white people today personally own up to their implied collusion with inherited racism

The Guardian, in an article by Nosheen Iqbal, gives a preview of the book “White Fragility: Why It's so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo, from the University of Washington. The book has a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson, from Beacon Press, 192 pages.

The book is concerned with the idea of institutional power, born of past colonialism.

She seems to believe that neutrality and the absence of mention of race by white people is not enough. She considers racism a “white problem”, and doesn’t consider “reverse racism” (by the radical Left today) to be racism.

Therefore it seems morally acceptable, perhaps, to hold up speech by people with past privilege until they step forward and will do something specifically about their implicit collusion with this problem.
This could become quite threatening.  White speech could be silenced until it will acknowledge this problem explicitly.  It could come down even on my head, as I almost never take up race or minority group status as such, and treat everything as an individual matter in my DADT books.

Update: May 28, 2019

There is a 2019 piece in Tolerance by Anya Malley et al "What's my complicity?" that also discusses DiAngelo's book. 

I see there was an earlier preview of this book Sept. 16, 2018 here. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Brittany Pettibone ("What Makes Us Girls") asks "Why Are Books Becoming so Terrible?" -- answer: SJW's

Brittany Pettibone , author of “What Makes Us Girls”  (Reason Books, 2018, 152 pages – she has a few signed copies left)  does a video“Why Are Books Becoming so Terrible?

She starts out by explaining how New York literary agents work – and I had some experience with one (Mike Sullivan) in the 1990s with my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book.  Predictably, the bias of most agents is toward the Left.

Then she migrates the specific genre of young adult fiction, and, you guessed it, the social justice warries have invaded it like termites.

Really, there are so many sins that contradict each other. For a white author to dare to create a black character.  But, aw, to have only white heroes, to have black or Muslim villains.  You can imagine where this heads.

Kat Rosenfeld  explains all in a Vulture article The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter”. 

Similar concerns have invaded Hollywood, and even television series.  I have to admit, “The Good Doctor” transcends this problem because the autistic hero surgeon of the series becomes a better person than everyone else and has his own kind of charisma – so the series gets beyond SJW political correctness that views disability as a group. But think of the popular series like TheWB’s  “Smallville”, about a teenage Clark Kent, which started in 2001. Today it would be seen as too white-centered.

I didn’t pay much attention to this in the two short stories at the end of my DADT III book (2014), but it could undermine my novel (“Angel’s Brothers”) where the two leading characters (there are dual omniscient observers) are gay men, one middle aged and white, the other of Latino background but described as white (which is very common in Texas).  I make the high ranking CIA official a PoC woman, but that won’t satisfy the SJW’s.  I’ll get into this again on my Wordpress blog about the progress of my own work.

Monday, April 15, 2019

"Cats: Companions in Life" from the legacy publisher of the same name

Life Magazine offers a new coffee table book about one of our favorite companions, edited by J. I. Baker, “Cats: Companions in Life”, 96 pages, glossy, paper, heavily illustrated.

The main sections are “Feline Behavior”, “Rulers of the House”, “The Truth about Kittens”, and “Cats v. Dogs”.

The second chapter covers ancient history 8000 years ago when man started inventing agriculture and then having housing. Cans moved in and helped eliminate the mice, and stayed around and domesticated themselves, and got smaller.

The book has a comparison of the intelligence of dogs and cats.  Dogs may have more brain neurons, but the cat cerebral cortex may have more folds and actual surface, like humans.  When cats “downsized” they kept their intelligence.

Dogs are born tribal, and cats are born as individualists – except for lions, which are genetically similar to tigers (can cross mate) but look different because of their social groupings (a good example or race in wild animals). Foxes, while biologically closer to dogs, behave more like cats.

Dogs may know more words and commands, but cats may be better at solving problems on their own, because they have to do so to hunt alone.  That’s why among mammals, carnivores and omnivores (primates) have to be smart.

When I was in a second floor apartment in Dallas with outdoor balcony access, a cat adopted me. He would recognize the sound of my car as I drove up.  He could disappear for a few days, and return to the right apartment to check up on me. He would offer me mice he had caught. He definitely knew who he was as an individual, and he knew who I was.  Sometimes he slept at the foot of the bed.  If he wanted to go outside, he would claw the pillow and mew.  I had the feeling that Timmy knew a lot about a wild world I had no  concept of, and he thought that I was supposed to go out and learn to hunt.
In the IQ test in the video, Cosmos (the Cat) beats Milo (the dog) 5-3, but the test seemed skewed to wild solitary hunting skills that Milo didn’t need.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Foreign Affairs takes on ethnic nationalism in Europe

The March/April issue of Foreign Affairs offers, on p. 61, a long essay by Lars-Erik Cederman, “Blood for Soil: The Fatal Temptation of Ethnic Politics”, link

The writer is a professor of International Conflict Research at ETH Zurich.

The combination of growing inequality and the hardships imposed by helping the migrants in Europe have given rise to ethnic nationalism in some countries, especially in eastern Europe.

Often, as with Trump in the US, it is rural whites who feel they are being sacrificed for abstract (to them) goals like climate change.  And some will look to authoritarian figures like Orban or Erdogan to make an ethnic group for them and expropriate by force from their enemies and make things right. Trump is not as bad as some of these dictators in Europe.
In Poland, some politicians no go after gays as enemies of “Christian western culture”.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

David Pakman interviews author Denise Hearn, "The Myth of Capitalism"

The David Pakman show interviews author Denise Hearn who, along with Jonathan Tepper, authored “The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition”, 382 pages, published by Wiley.

The title explains the book.  And corporate lobbying (as opposed to grassroots speech) helps protect the consolidation of big companies.

The irony is that in Silicon Valley, big monopolies have championed leftist values when it comes to censorship of speech, and this has even spread to payment processors.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Baltimore Mayor's children's book scandal draws negative attention to self-publishing even in print, not just online

Just when individualized Internet self-expression is coming under scrutiny from various threats (FOSTA, EU Article 11/13/17, fake news and even the left-wing idea of “stochastic terrorism”) now the book self-publishing industry gets a smear, from a scandal involving Baltimore’s mayor Catherine Pugh and her sale of her own self-published children’s books in her “Healthy Holly” series.

Remember, book publishers don't have a Section 230 problem;  they are responsible, but the volume of what they have to look at is manageable (unlike the case with YouTube videos) because of the "granularity" of the product. 
Mary Carole McCauley writes this up in the Baltimore Sun, "How the Rise of the Self-Publishing Industry Contributed to the Problems forBaltimore’s Mayor". 

The article points out that some famous literary figures, like Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman have been self-published, and that the development of the Amazon Kindle (and the BN Nook) led to a book in it starting around 2007.

But actually print-on-demand had started before 2000, and I did my own print run (about 400) of my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book in the early summer of 1997, relatively inexpensively, although the binding wasn’t that good; I converted to POD in August 2000.

Not all self-publishers accept everything.  Page, for example, keeps saying “if we accept your book …” in its ads.  Some smaller outfits are more like cooperative publishers, and won’t accept material they don’t think can sell actual copies.

I could talk about how I’ve been “hounded” about why I don’t sell well now, and the fact is, personal accounts from non-celebrities don’t sell forever.  That was true with many autobiographical books by those caught up in “don’t ask don’t tell” (or maybe “do ask do tell”) for gays in the military as Clinton’s proposal struggled in the 1990s. Sales would be good for the first year or so and stop, even though most were from traditional publishers.
The Sun article notes that children’s literature is especially challenging for self-publishers.