Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Time: Pharrell Williams: "We Deserve a Black Future"


The Aug. 31 issue of Time has a large section edited by Pharrell Williams and Michael Harriott, “We Deserve a Black Future”, starting on p. 76.   The over-title is “The New American Revolution” and the longer title is “America’s Past and Present Are Racist: We Deserve a Black Future”. 

The introduction refers to the statues erected by “secessionist traitors who wanted to start their own white-supremacist nation” and to the ideas of chattel and property in Virginia in the first centuries.  The original patriots would tear down a statue of King George but not allow the same liberty to those they had enslaved.  The authors talk heavily of reparations.  The do refer to the original patriots as also “oppressors, unwilling to extend the freedoms for which they had fought to everyone.  America’s wealth was built on the slave labor or Black people; this is our past. To live up to America’s ideals, we must trust in a Black version of the future.”

But what do the authors expect personally from elder white people like me?

There are many other contributors in areas like Activism (Angela David), Education, Politics, Health, Arts, Sports.

A few of the contributors should definitely be noted. Imara Jones (p. 91) talks about the plight of black trans women. Janaya Future Khan started out in boxing (there used to be a site dedicated to female bodybuilders!) and played a major role in organizing Black Lives Matter  (the controversy over Marxism is not discussed).  One paragraph (p. 89) is particularly telling. “Activism is about being alive: about fighting for life. Activism is being for someone else who you needed most in your most vulnerable moment. There’s something inherently spiritual and supernatural about what happens when we tie our fate to another person we discover who we are in service to others.”  Note – reborn. But then she goes on “There are some people who might think, ‘This is not my fight, I don’t have to do anything’”. (Anti-racism.) “But not doing something makes them an agent of a society that creates moral apathy and a selfish bewilderment.”  She goes on to talk about pronouns and non-binary consciousness. 

On p. 84, Danielle Greathers talks about activism and organizing on campus.

What is common throughout all these is affiliation with groups and deriving a sense of identity through betterment of others in a group rather than on defining your own callings in individually separatist behaviors such as what I had, and what became controversial early in my own adulthood.

But at some point you have to come clean on what you want.  I think they want white people to change their own personal priorities and join them in a group sense, and they may think some coercion is appropriate.  But what means?

Monday, August 24, 2020

Previewing Suzanne Nossel's "Dare to Speak"


I’ve quickly ordered Suzanne Nossel’s new book “Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All”, from Dey Street, 304 pages.  The author is CEO of "PEN America". 

The book appears to have the premise that individuals need to take more responsibility for how they deploy their own speech rather than depending on governments, as we saw with President Trump’s Executive Order regarding Section 230 on May 31.

Roy S. Gutterman has a prospective review in the Washington Post July 31.

The Los Angeles Times goes one better. Sewell Chan, a lead editor of the paper, interviews the author on July 21.  The author thinks that “speech transgressions” can do real harm in a culture that is already polarized and unequal at an individual level, and lays out three principles of contrition.

One of the problems, looking from a distance, seems to be “skin in the game”.  Many writers or speakers are less directly affected by issues than others when they talk about them.  With that point in mind, my own history of past speech, with gays in the military, is unusual and ironic, but less so today than it was in the years before “don’t ask don’t tell” was finally repealed in 2011. 

In today’s culture, many activists “expect” everyone to accept the idea that they belong to groups (intersectionalized) whether they want to accept that “reality” or not. One problem with inequality is that it really calls for “action”  (even willingness to appreciate and behave with “solidarity”) and not just gratuitous or undirected speech on abstractions. 

 T1J offers an interesting piece (April 2019) "Is 'Civil Debate' Actually Useful"?

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Leah Sotile illustrated article "The Chaos Agents" about Boogaloo Bois (New York Times)

View of Virginia state Capitol from the intersection of East Main and North 10th Street

Leah Sottile, with illustrator Tomer Hanuka, have a comic book (or maybe graphic novel) insert “The Chaos Agents”, with the subtext “The wave of political unrest gave adherents of the Boogaloo a chance to test their theories about the collapse of American society.”  The article offers an audio-book option.

The bad word is “Boogaloo” which I guess can get a YouTube or Facebook post banned.

The difference between Boogaloo Bois and the militias is that the Boogaloo want to make stuff happen.  Okay, Portland for starters.  There is a saying “learn to hate, or die silently.” 

Wikipedia embed:  Richmond, Jan. 20, 2020.  I was there but was not aware of far extremist presence as is claimed here.  Click for embed. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

WSJ booklet: "A Deadly Coronavirus Was Inevitable. Why Was No One Ready?"

6VSB spike protein SARS-CoV-2 monomer in homotrimer


Betsy McKay and Phared Dvorak offer a long booklet in the Wall Street Journal, “A Deadly Coronavirus Was Inevitable.  Why Was No One Ready?, Aug. 13, 2020.  Subtitle: “Scientists warned of a pandemic for decades, yet when Covid-19 arrived, the world had few resources and little understanding.”

One reason is that people didn’t connect the dots.  Asymptomatic transmission of a highly infectious “respiratory” virus meant that if it caused severe disease in any significant rate, we would have to have lockdowns or effective contact tracing to avoid collapse of the health care systems. We didn’t see that long term we would have to shut down all indoor gatherings.

I have been corresponding in YouTube comments with a UK doctor who says there are many other coronaviruses which cause isolated flareups, and I may have encountered one in California in Feb. 2002.  Having simultaneous coronavirus infections might cause codon inserts.  Often, however, most healthy people learn to deal with these viruses with their T-cells in time.

But they can become dangerous.

Picture: Embed from Wikipedia of spike proteins, click for attribution 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Time Mag: "It's time to radically rethink public safety in America"


Josiah Bates (from Camden NJ) and Karl Vick (Minneapolis) along with Anna Purna Kamnhampaty, offer a long commentary in the print version of the Aug. 11 Time Magazine, a Nation article,It’s time to radically rethink public safety in America”.

The tagline is “The police are a broken legacy of a racist system and tasked with work they are not trained to do.”

On p. 46 the writers ask, “What could replace the police?”

Much of the article is vague, and maintains that there is not enough personal or social contact among different classes of people to frame a reliable answer.  It says, well yes, but actually no, it doesn’t mean abolishing law enforcement and leaving the world to anarchistic socialism and communism (where everyone joins an intentional community or “Chaz”).  To me, "abolish the police" sounds like an extension of "Abolish ICE". 

The article does, toward the end, give a detailed account of how the Camden NJ police department was replaced essentially by the county police, with rehiring of only properly performing officers.

There is little question that in much of northern Europe, for example, community management works because the population is more homogeneous, even given the immigration controversies of the past few years.

I was personally near Camden last August for a Minds event in Pitman NJ, moved to Philadelphia. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

3-D Book: "Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation"


Author: Velma Maia Thomas

Title, subtitle: “Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation

Publication: Crown: New York, 1997, 32 pages, “a three-dimensional interactive book with photographs and documents from the Black Holocaust Exhibit”, ISBN 0-609-60030-3, 12 stories

The book has pullouts of envelopes with letters and sample contracts and one map.

The work describes what life was life for slaves on a daily basis, when in transport (from Africa), when auctioned, when children were being broken in to work, and when trying to escape. Being auctioned was particularly dreadful, as families were broken up.  The book ends with a piece about the Emancipation Proclamation.

It’s hard to imagine how men could even have families knowing what would happen.

I see that Amazon Associates lists the book for about $39, but on Amazon itself I had to pay $92.  Not sure what is happening.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

National Geographic offers new coverage of the aerosol issue for coronavirus


 National Geographic in August has an important article by Maya Wet-Haas, “What ‘airborne transmission’ means, and how to protect yourself”, link.  

Recent research suggests that as water in aerosols evaporates, even tinier droplets could be transmitted for further distances and through some masks, beyond the CDC gold standard of 6 feet.

But it is not clear if the concentrations would normally be enough to cause disease or real infection. On the other hand, the recent studies could cause real concerns about the ventilation in indoor spaces, like schools and even apartment buildings. It could also lead to narrowing of mask recommendations and requirements, even for civilians. 

The article makes more comparisons of coronavirus transmissibility to other diseases, included measles and chickenpox.

Apoorva Mandavelli has a similar "smoking gun" article in the New York Times today about aerosol in hospitals. 

Picture:  Embed from Wikipedia, click for attribution. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Georgia Senate candidate Matt Lieberman confounds everyone with a self-published novella which some see as "imaginary racism"


Former independent Senator Joe Lieberman’ son Matt Lieberman is running for the Senate as a Democrat in Georgia.

Matt also has a self-published book, a novella, “Lucius” which some people see as racist.  I bought it for $2.99 on my Kindle today but I won’t run the normal ad.  The book can be read for free on you Kindle. It seems to be published by Create Space. 

The title refers to an imaginary “slave” and companion of an elderly man “Benno” resembling someone Matt met in an eldercare center.  It sounds almost like an imaginary playmate of a child.

The introduction is a bit confusing as to Matt’s motive for writing it. Part of it has to do with “race blindness”, yet some of it he sees as coming to terms.  Most of us have to work through our needs for power or submission relationships with others, based on notions we have grown up, he seems to say.

Kevin Robillard and Clare Fallon discuss this situation in the Huffington Post (reposted on AOL’s site).

Sunday, August 09, 2020

"Christianity Will Have Power": Long NYTimes piece explains Trump supporters among evangelicals

Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD

Elizabeth Dias has a long booklet-like article “Christianity Will Have Power”, with photographs and video by Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber, in the New York Times.  The subtitle is “Donald Trump made a promise to white evangelical Christians, whose support can seem mystifying to the outside observer” – as if from relativity theory.

Curiously the article doesn’t have a date in the expected place, but at the end it mentions the fact that, around Sioux Falls SD (even with the meat packing plants there) most white evangelicals have not seen much experience with COVID.  Oh, I see at the bottom the fine print, that in the print version today’s Sunday Times, p. A1, same title. It’s about group power when individual freedom has to be circumscribed.
It does describe their “trust” in Trump as their belief that he is there (perhaps proto-fascist) bully to keep minorities in line who have threatened to erode their own social hegemony.

But the article hints at the importance that older “family values” – where women submit to husbands who proved during courtship that the men could protect them (and their children), and the belief literally that more freedom for gays and lesbians and for other minorities means less freedom for them – it’s a zero-sum game.
The article also presents some Hispanic families (which tend to be larger with lower incomes) and the hardships they encounter which white evangelicals don’t seem to grasp.

Embed picture is from Wikipedia, picture of the Falls (click for attribution).  I was there in Nov. 1999. Also look at this (GNU license) picture of Falls. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Yuri Deigin offers long Medium "booklet" on the genealogy of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus, with possibly major implications for tracing the source and path of the virus (from bats)

Positive-pressure biosafety suit

Yuri Deigin, who appears to be a Russian medical researcher, has an important Medium article, “Lab-Made? SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research”. (His YT channel).

The author traces many projects since 2003 with coronaviruses in China and other countries (there were a few in the 2006-2008 time frame)   This paper is extremely detailed.

But one particularly critical development concerns the relationships among the viruses related to Cov-2, especially RaTG13, considered the closest bat relative but not announced publicly until Jan 2020 (around Jan 20).
Particularly curious is the insertion of the “PRRA” sequence of condons into the genome, as explained by Christ Martenson in the Peak Prosperity Video on May 4, 2020.  He has related videos May 1, May 6 and May 12 (the May 1 and May 12 videos are embedded in the International Issues blog on those dates).
Bloomberg had reported July 5 that a sample was sent to Wuhan Virology Lab in 2013 from a copper mine in SW China.  While three miners died and there may be people in the area with Cov-2-like antibodies, there was no widespread outbreak in the region then. Why then in Hubei and Wuhan in late 2019?
Circumstantial evidence that somehow a lab worker might have been infected, maybe asymptomatic, and then given it to someone who started community spread, seems to be accumulating.  There are various reports of a communications blackout at the Wuhan virology lab in early Oct. 2019.  ABC News reports satellite data or parking lots near Wuhan hospitals and Internet searches show increased activity back as early as Sept 2019.
There are also curious reports of finding the coronavirus RNA in wastewater near Barcelona as early as March 2019 and possibly near Italy in December.  ABC News reports satellite data or parking lots near Wuhan hospitals and Internet searches show increased activity back as early as Sept 2-19.
Teenager Avi Schiffmann started work on his Covid tracker in December 2019, before the world knew about this.  Other science fiction and screenwriters were talking about pandemics in the fall of 2019.  A lot of people knew something. But not the CDC.

Fox has a recent video (Bill Hemer) where a female Hong Kong scientist talks about China's "coverup"/ 

Picture: embedded from Wikipedia, a CDC researcher wears a space suit for protection in the pressurized lab, click for attribution. 

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Major Time Magazine summer issues cover John Lewis, protests, coronavirus origins

The Aug. 3 – Aug. 19 issue of Time Magazine is appropriately dedicated to John Lewis (1940-2020), “Conscience of a Nation”, pp 32-47).  The most important takeaway is that Lewis felt that young adults have to take personal risks (with arrest and their safety) to jumpstart social progress – “good trouble”.  That is not something I (with my schizoid personality) have been willing to do.

There is a major section on going back to school (as in Europe).

The last section, starting on p. 78, has a long section by Charlie Campbell and Alice Park, “Anatomy of  Pandemic, Inside the Global Effort to Understand Where Covid-19 Came From.”

The article starts with a discussion of the Shitou Cave, and a female scientist Shi’s discovery of a virus RaTG13 that is very close to the SARS-Cov-2.  Apparently the Wuhan lab obtained a sample sometime in 2013.  Although there is no direct evidence of mishandling or accident, the progress in small genetic changes that allowed the virus to spread like a respiratory disease among humans needs to be traced in detail.  This would include accounting for insertion of the “PRRA” sequence associated with furin cleavage inside the ACE2 receptor (and maybe other receptors).  On p. 82, Time offers a circle color chart allowing you to track virus samples to countries by color code, and this technique (if programmed) might give an exact account of how the mutations evolved and where.
The article more or less supports conventional ideas that, although the virus patient zero probably did not come from the Wuhan wet market, that place may have helped spread;  it also supports the idea of an intermediate animal like a pangolin.
The article doesn’t explain how a Seattle teenager (Avi Shiffmann) knew enough in early December 2019 to be motivated to spend scores of all-nighters setting up his coronavirus tracker, one of the largest sites in the world.  Sometime individuals, even very young ones, tech savvy, find out things our entire intelligence apparatus overlooks.
The July 6-13 issue has a special set of essays "America Must Change". There is an important essay June 25 (for this group) about the Hmong (by Viet Thanh Nguyen), as a "model minority", and I became familiar with it when I lived in Minnespolis-St Paul 1997-2003 (partly through someone in the Libertarian Party who ran for office). 
I also want to refer the visitor to a June 8 an article in Time by Brooke Cunningham, in a series called “America must change”.  It is “Protesting Police Brutality and Racial Oppression is Essential Work”.  Yes, “protesting” is a job.  Interesting view. Ask journalists who film them, like Ford Fischer and Alejandro Alvarez.  And notice also that so far protesters (congregating outside and sometimes using masks) and their journalists have remained rather healthy in the Covid world.  It may well be that very gradual but repeated exposure to germs outdoors enhances natural “T-cell” immunity which does protect (younger people at least) against COVID in practice (NIH).

The artwork picture is from the eastern shore of Maryland, June 2017.