Monday, December 30, 2019

Quillette article maintains the Left wants to institutionalize mediocrity


Here is an important essay in Quillette by Adam Ellwanger, “Accessibility, Ableism, and the Decline of Excellence”. 
Adam discusses a software product called Accessibility Ally which professors are supposed to use to make their lesson plans more understandable to persons with physical or sometimes learning disabilities.   This may include obvious issues like color blindness (especially in men) to ADHD or dyslexia (which teenagers often outgrow during puberty however).

He then goes on to discuss the aims of the far Left concerning equity of outcomes instead of just equality of opportunity and concludes that the far Left wants.
  
The Left, he argues, wants to “institutionalize mediocrity” so people don’t “scope” one another any more for “desirability” and everyone is a comrade.  Then why care about your interactions with anyone?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

"The Revolt of the Public" against too much information online (when self-broadcast?)


In 2014, Stripe Press published a 400+ page book by Martin Gurri, “The Revolt of the Public”. 

 Today, Seam Illing of Vox interviews him, in an article called “A Decade of Revolt: Meet the author who predicted the upheaval of the 2010’s”.
  
Gurri believes that the self-broadcast aspect of the Internet disrupted the use of political and social structures and hierarchies to mediate the spread of information to the masses. The Internet destroyed the idea that social and political authority can determine what information a person should get.
  
 
At first the new freedom led to demands for more democracy (the Arab spring) but soon authoritarian leaders could turn the Internet on the masses and use it to sow more divisions among individuals who had fallen further behind in an individually competitive globalized world.

Update:  David Pakman interviewed the author on Jan. 10, 2020, interesting perspective here (12 min), as he calls for more localism and fewer levels of bureaucracy. A "revolution" has lost all chance of happening since the end of 1991 (the collapse of the Soviet Union).  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Authors are getting pestered for typos in Kindles they sell



Reclaim the Net advises Kindle authors that some readers have been Amazon Kindle’s reader correction utility and been removing books whose authors don’t respond in time.

This would sound like it applies to Create Space, but not to work from other POD companies.

The facility has long been present, but there are reports that trolls have recently been causing authors to be harassed.

Amazon Create Space no longer offers its own copyediting, so it is essential for authors to hire 3rd party proofreaders.
  
An author said her informal spelling (of words like “moreso”) was being incorrectly flagged.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Joan C. Williams, preview of "White Working Class" and critique of personal attitudes toward non-PoC who do badly in this economy



Here’s a quick book preview of a 2017 paperback by University of California law professor Joan C. Williams, “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America” from Harvard Business Review Press.


Dr. Williams appeared on Fareed Zakaria on CNN Saturday morning Dec. 21 to discuss how the American public and especially the former Democratic party elite is clueless as to the problems faced by white rural working class Americans, which are more similar to the problems of urban PoC than they realize.  This triggers the explanation of “why Trump won” according to PragerU.

The book has a preface by entrepreneur Mark Cuban (Shark Tank) which explains his own humble upbringing in a family that lay carpets for a living.  When he moved away to Dallas and started earning money as a bartender and in sales, he broke away from it, but he seems to attribute some of that to fortune.

Williams provides her own preface where she takes an ambivalent stance on current criticisms of “identity politics” as by Mark Lilla.  She also slams the personal attitude of many people toward other white working class people who do badly and wind up on opioids or run around with weapons.
  
There will be a full review on Wordpress soon.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Why do literary agents reject your book?



Spalmorun (Karen Akhavein) explains the seven reasons literary agents reject your book. I had my experience with agents in the 1990s. 


First, “you don’t send books to publishers”.  That sounds like an oxymoron.  But you send books to literary agents.

It has to be the “right” agent, and you have to follow the agent’s website instruction on how to do the pitch or query.

It shouldn’t be a “hard sell” for the market at the time.

But point (5) is the most interesting:  your social media presence should present you as having authority to write the book (and it isn’t so much a numbers game – although YouTube’s and Facebook’s problems right now make all that iffy anyway.)  What she calls “authority” I call “personal branding”

Point (6) has to do with the need to grab the reader’s attention on the first page.  In the past, this hasn’t always been true.  Irwing Wallace wrote some spy novels about the Cold War and he used to take his time building back stories for each major character in the early chapters (particularly with “The Plot” that never became a movie). 

At the end of the video, she does discuss self-publishing. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

"The Christian Withdrawal Experiment" in rural Kansas (Atlantic), recalls "The Ultimate Frontier", perhaps


Emma Green has an interesting article in “The Atlantic”, called "The Christian Withdrawal Experiment".
The story concerns an intentional community, this time conservative Catholic, at St. Mary’s Kansas, a bit east of Manhattan, Kansas (and Kansas State University).    Lawrence and KU are farther away. 

Somehow I’m reminded that in my draft of the unpublished 1969 novel “The Proles”, I had imagined a town called Atkins.
  
  
The community reminds me a bit of Amish values.  The people are heavily socialized in communal sharing, and women are expected to grow up to be either nuns or wives and mothers.
  
This is localism in the extreme.  The people say they are retreating from the culture wars rather than preparing to be “warriors”.
  
   
In Stelle, Illinois (back in 1970;  I visited it in 1982), associated with Richard Kinienger aja Ekial Kueshana (“The Ultimate Frontier”;  I read the paperback 40 years ago), women were not allowed to work.  The author had monthly meetings at a unitarian church in Dallas in the 1980s. 

Monday, December 09, 2019

"Why Liberalism Failed", by Patrick Deneen, argues for localism



Joseph Hogan of The Nation interviews author Patrick Deneen, author of “Why Liberalism Failed”, Yale University Press, 2019, 264 pages.  The Nation article is “The Problems with Liberalism, a QA with Patrick Deneen”, a professor of political science at Notre Dame.


The gist of the Nation piece seems to be that Deneen believes liberalism allows over-individualistic but sometimes not really competitive young people to throw off the idea of any loyalty to the communities that they came from, with no real sense of purpose to replace it. 

He seems to be advocating a return to localism, where everyone is socialized in an immediate community physically and doesn’t expect to move out into the world without being effective within a natural family first.

This could easily slip into a ehtno-alt-right “blood and soil” if you aren’t careful.
  
Economic Invincibility has a video review of the book here (which is where I first heard about the book) and covers similar points.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Peter Bergen has a new book: "Trump and his Generals: The Cost of Chaos", just as North Korea starts sabre-rattling again


Time Magazine has published a chapter of Peter Bergen’s news book “Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos”, from Penguin Press (400 pages), available Dec. 10.
  
  
  
At best, it becomes erratic, unpredictable, volatile, without any quantum entanglement regulating it.
Vox has an interview by Alex Ward, “Trump once suggested that all of Seoul’s 10 million residents move to avoid North Korean threat”. It’s interesting that Steve Bannon even admits that there is no way the US can get away with attacking North Korea pre-emptively, and Trump’s statements in 2017 (“little rocket man” v. "dotard") were indeed asking for it. 
   
Mysteriously, things calmed down after the Winter Olympics in February 2018.
    
We saw the summits, and Trump buttering up Kim, and admitting at least once that he had to.
And now Kim threatens a “Christmas present” at the end of the year just as impeachment is probably brought against Trump (as Pelosi announced today and discussed on CNN this evening.)  More missile or nuclear tests, to say the least.  Activity at one of the North Korean missile sites reported on CNN this evening.
     
It’s truly shocking how dismissive he was at the beginning about Korea.  Oh, yes, he never served in the military.

Update: Dec. 10, 18

Trump called for evacuation of Seoul in early 2018, but Mattis simply ignored it (Guardian). Bergen discusses the Olympics on pp 214-215 as very important in changing Trump's mind (the book arrived today, Dec. 18). 

Monday, December 02, 2019

Time: "How America's Elites Lost their Grip"


Here’s a guilty conscience, Time essay, “How America’s Elites Lost their Grip”, by Anand Giridharadas.
  
  
Tim Pool blew up at actor Mark Ruffalo on Twitter when Ruffalo railed against capitalism and linked to this story. “Prove you mean it” Pool ordered, as if Ruffalo were the rich young ruler in Matthew.
  
The article quotes the normally moderate Pete Buttigieg as decrying “neo-liberalism”.
  
Late in the article, Abnand admonishes me:  Remember, I don’t join “other people’s causes” very often or march in their demonstrations or protests.
   
“If there is one thing that could hasten the end of the age of capital and accelerate the coming of an age of reform, it is a vigorous new culture of joining in American life. Not clicking, not liking, not retweeting, not TikTokking, not screaming at MSNBC/Fox, but actually joining: political movements and civic organizations with memberships so vast that politicians cannot ignore them. The age of capital has been facilitated by a remarkable solidarity among the ultra-fortunate. Putting that period in the museum will take other, broader solidarities.