Tuesday, April 06, 2021

“Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals”: Karlyn Borysenko reminds us of one of its most shocking ideas in describing the "investigation" of a non-woke professor

LWTech Allied Health Building 2


I need to mention another older book on this blog, Saul D. Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals”, as analyzed here on infed by Mike Seal.    The book, 196 pages, was originally published in 1971 by Random House.

One of its most shocking quotes: “He who sacrifices the mass good for his personal conscience has a peculiar conception of ‘personal salvation’; he doesn’t care enough for people to ‘be corrupted’ for them.”   That is, “the end justifies the means”.  If I had to give in to this, I would prefer not to exist at all.

Another one “He who sacrifices the mass good for his personal conscience has a peculiar conception of ‘personal salvation’; he doesn’t care enough for people to ‘be corrupted’ for them.”/

Or, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it (Alinsky 1972: 130). This is perhaps Saul Alinsky’s most controversial rule and is the counter to the common idea that we should not make things personal.

The book comes up at the start of Karlyn Borysenko’s video on the trials of Elisa Parrett, a newly tenured professor of English at the Washington Institute of Technology, who was investigated for 8 months after objecting to segregated sessions teaching white fragility and critical theory at the workplace (although she visited the Trump rally Jan 6 but did not go into the Capitol).  Reason magazine describes the whole situation in an essay April 5 by Jesse Sengal.

Embed of Wikipedia picture, click for attribution. 

Monday, April 05, 2021

Don Lemon previews “This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism”


New Orleans, French Quarter, early 2006

Don Lemon, CNN night anchor at 10 PM, gives an interview to Time Magazine (March 29, p. 104), Jannell Ross, about his new book from Little Brown, 224 pages, “This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism”, link.

An interesting part of the interview is how Lemon distinguishes “point of view” from “opinion”.  Indeed, in my own life, a succession of episodes, one leading to the next and always with irony, establishes a “point of view”, where I am unwilling to go along with a superficial idea of group-centered tribal justice.

The interviewer challenges Lemon on his earlier comments five years ago to black youths, “pull up your pants”.  He says there is no real contradiction among his statements of position.

There is mention in the online (not print) review of the Online German Coast Slave Uprising on the Mississippu River in 1811.   

Friday, April 02, 2021

"Reimagine Safety: A project of the Editorial Board in consultation with outside voices" by the Washington Post

BLM Plaza, DC, June 2020

The Washington Post has a six-part booklet style (with illustrations and murals) opinion, “Reimagine Safety: A project of the Editorial Boardin consultation with outside voices.”

Part 1 is “Police reform is not enough.  We need to rethink public safety”.

Part 2 is “Whom can we call for help? Police should not always be the only option.”

Part 3 is, we should change the physical environment of neighborhood schools to make them safer

Part 4 is, we must focus our resources on those with the highest risk to prevent violence

Part 5 is, we need to empower community leaders with resources

Part 6 is, we must deal with police unions.

But we also have to deal with how much stability we expect when there is so much inequity.  That seems to be what “Antifa” screams at us.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Shanna Swan's "Count Down", a book about pollution and declining sperm counts


Ocean City MD, 2014

There are sporadic reports online about shrinking male fertility and even “primary organ” size, as a result of chemical pollution.  TRTWorld proffers the article “What’s behind the epidemic of shrinking genitals and low male fertility?”  It warns that boys are poisoned in the womb, and are growing up with low drive, obesity, diabetes, and lack of masculinity.   

But the article leads to a discussion of a book in GQ, review by Andrew Zalewski, book by Shanna Swan, “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race”, from Scribner, Feb. 2021, 304 pages hardcover.   Zalewski interviews Swan, who warns we face a dystopian world like “The Handmaid’s Tale” (or maybe the 2006 film "Children of Men").

  Some of her findings are based on an Oxford Update  ("Human Reproduction Update" from 2017), to which she contributed. 

It’s ironic that, with all the talk of non-binary status, gay men desire masculinity and potency from partners strictly out of upward affiliation rather than procreation. Swan may be hinting at what George Gilder had called “Sexual Suicide’ in a 1973 Quadrangle book.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Bret Weinstein effectively reviews new book by Ibram X. Kendi, "Be Anti-racist"


BLM Plaza, Washington DC, June 2020

DarkHorse Podcast Clips with Bret Weinstein offers what amounts to a book review of Ibram X. Kendi’s  Be Antiracist: A Journal for Awareness, Reflection and Action”, from One World, Oct. 2020.

The philosophy of the book forces everyone into a binary state.  There is no in between (not racist and not actively and publicly anti-racist as a public ally).  The video explores the logical contradictions that come from such a position, resulting that eliminating the possibilities that are inconvenient happen only out of seizing power, not out of moral rightness in itself.  Weinstein points out some internal logical contradictions in the idea of equity as compared to equality. Jordan Peterson has done the same in the past. 

I don’t see that this was covered in John Fish’s survey reviewed here June 6, 2020 (even in the comments).

Kendi has many other related books, including children’s, at this Amazon link.

Kendi’s work seems to have taken over the controversial “diversity training” lesson plans from Robin DiAngelo.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Cathy Park Hong, author, interviewed in the Atlantic on anti-Asian racism, and "allyship"


San Francisco

Morgan Ome, assistant editor of The Atlantic, interviews author Cathy Park Hong, “Minor Feelings: As Asian American Reckoning”, in this article saying “this time it feels different’.  The paperback reprint is from One World (March 2, 2021, 224 pages).

Yes, after four years of Trump, and the international politics of COVID.

But before, Hong writes, there was often competition among different minorities, especially in Los Angeles, as they settled different neighborhoods and developed enclaves of business.  Today the idea of expected “allyship” seems to have spread.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

New York Magazine: two big articles on COVID19 ("The Lab-Leak Hypothesis", and "How the West Lost COVID19".


Corcoran Hall, GWU, where I attempted organic chemistry in 1963

Let’s cover two very strong and detailed New York Magazine articles about Covid19, in the Intelligencer series.

The first is Nicholson Baker, Jan 4, 2021, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis”, with the byline “For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not starting one. But what if…”?

Let me make the biggest observation from this piece of all.  Somehow, he says that Wuhan is the only foreign lab the US has supported for significant time, cut off by Obama, apparently resumed briefly under Trump.

The booklet article comprises fourteen (roman numeral) sections.  The last starts with “Here’s what I think happened”.  It starts with the Mojiang Mines incident in 2012, with a sample winding up in Wuhan Virology Lab (and other places), attracting the attention of Peter Daszek and Shi Zhengli. A SARS-like coronavirus sample called BtCoV/4991 (also called RatG13, as in videos by Peak Prosperity’s Chris Martenson, May 4, 2020) was studied extensively, resulting in papers. However, the Mojiang virus does not seem to have been as transmissible, particularly before or without symptoms, person to person. A change called furin cleavage accomplished that (when the spike protein opens up the receptor).

Now other sources have told me that furin cleavage does occur in nature, even in influenza, particularly in persons or animals with more than one simultaneous viral infection. And there is other evidence that humans, in China, maybe Europe and even the US, had mild cases in late 2019.  It ‘s possible that the virus was transmissible among humans by the early fall of 2019 if accidentally introduced, and that increased contagion happened with a mutation in a human, maybe immunocompromised.  We’re seeing that pattern with variants, which have become more troublesome since this article was published.

Still, workplaces have accidents.  In my own career in IT, there were two mishaps that were particularly troubling, one in 1976 and another in 1991, and either one might have become career ending.  Lab accidents will inevitably happen.

And there is a lot of other reliable reporting of coincidental news from China in late 2019, including the October 2019 communications blackout at the virology lab.

Personally, I was a klutz in the lab myself, dropping chemistry (at GWU) as a major in late 1963 (just before the assassination) after an accident where I cut my hand severely, while working in my first job in rheology at NBS at the old Van Ness Street location. I wound up in math. The computers.  Then my own brand of journalism.  But I remember the trips with a dolly to the oil shed.

The other big article is more recent, March 15, 2021, “How the West Lost COVID19”, by David Wallace-Wells.  The byline is “How did so many rich countries get it so wrong? How did others get it so right?”

One important point:  the real lighter for the epidemic in the west was northern Italy.  It spread out much more quickly than from China.  In Italy, the virus had a minor mutation (from a “D” to “G”) which seemed to make it more amendable to superspreader transmission events, although it didn’t change the clinical course.  That says that the virus is capable of engineering itself a lot to escape defenses, just in nature.

The countries that suppressed the virus quickly were either (1) isolated (New Zealand) or relatively low population density countries (Australia), or (2) willing to subject citizens to automated contact tracing and mandatory strict quarantines and isolation (South Korea, Taiwan), or frankly authoritarian (Vietnam, besides China itself).

Just how remarkable is SARS_CoV2 for a respiratory virus for causing long term damage to many organs in protracted cases?  Measles can do that, but our vaccine for it is nearly 100% (I got measles in 1950 before my 7th birthday;  maybe it did affect my coordination and strength later).  But most viruses that cause long-term damage and auto-immune disease are enteroviruses (sometimes arboviruses).  

The regard that governments should have for disruption of individuals, suddenly, is something we haven’t covered systematically enough.  It goes beyond surveillance, as Electronic Frontier Foundation would see it.  It certainly causes job losses.  In China and maybe other countries, it has led to personal property destruction, too. The argument for becoming so strict on individuals, rather than hoping for herd immunity and vaccines, is what if the virus really is much more deadly, down the road.  What if it caused an airborne-transmitted variety of "AIDS"?  Or maybe sterility in most people? ["Children of Men", 2006 film.] Or inevitable intellectual decline in most of the infected?  We don't know that this couldn't happen.  (But arguments like that were hurled by the religious right at gay men in the 1980s.  You can't prove a negative, and "there is always a first time".)  We were shocked by how quickly we were thrown into personal crises by unimagined circumstances, and that we could individually be held responsible for the possibility that our contaminated bodies had become deadly weapons (the mask issue). Perhaps that could force us into top-down localization, which China already has. 

The far Left, Umair Haque of Eudaimonia, has scolded Americans for their hyperindividualism and unwillingness to identify with the common good of the larger group, and blamed capitalism.  Indeed, it’s quite disturbing, that in retrospect, the whole pandemic, with its Goldilocks property of being a mild disease for maybe a majority of people but deadly for some, and catastrophic life long for others (the long haulers), could have been imagined as designed to conquer the West with communism with a plausibly deniable biological attack.  That is what drives some of the fury on the right, having lives they did not earn taken away from them.  There is also the implication that letting people make up their own minds as to how to behave (like on masks) could have resulted in a "survival of the fittest" scenario which can be viewed as a preview to eventual fascism. 

The enclosed video comes from New York Magazine on April 30, 2020, when students volunteered to be infected with SARS_CoV2.  The magazine is definitely defined as part of mainstream media commentary, and is not advancing extremism in broaching a very sensitive topic for some people. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

"Unlocking the Mysteries of Long COVID", long article in Atlantic by Meghan O'Rourke


NYC 2015

Meghan O’Rourke authors a long article in the March 8 Atlantic, “Unlocking the Mysteries of Long COVID”, link   

The narrative begins with the work of a physician Zijian Chen, at Mt Sinai in NYC, after he was appointed to be in charge of post-COVID care in the spring of 2020. He saw many more patients than he had expected, including other physicians and professionals (one was a dietician).

Many of them were relatively young (even under 40) and many were women, who were not supposed to be as vulnerable to severe COVID as men.  They reported having “mild” cases.   But they seemed to have trouble with breathing and heart rate, “brain fog” and muscle pains, sometimes digestion. 

The underlying problem is dysautonomia, abnormal function of the autonomous nervous system. The virus seems to damage the peripheral nervous system even in mild cases, maybe through autoimmunity. The article also discusses a condition called POTS, “postural orthostatic tachycardic syndrome”. Of some help in therapy is retraining patients to breathe more deeply, which may be difficult because of some lung scarring. 

It is unusual for a respiratory virus to cause so much systemic damage (enteroviruses are more likely to do this) but that is partly because the virus can lock onto receptors that many tissues have, especially ACE2,  a capability that evolved with bats, with their high metabolisms.

We could have a public health problem for years, where 10-30% of those with noticeable disease fight off the disability caused by “long hauler COVID”.  Who pays for this.

You have to wonder, when people belligerently say they won’t wear masks, if, outside of possibly believing in the hoax theory, simply believe in “survival of the fittest”, literally, that the disease is a purge of the unworthy whom the virus has tested, and that belief certainly comports with fascism.  It certainly can drive the angry indignation of the “left”.


Thursday, March 04, 2021

Jack Edwards: "A day in the life of a book research assistant" with a major trade publishing house

British recruits August 1914 Q53234


Perpetual student in the UK Jack Edwards entertains us with “A day in the life of a book research assistant: Work in publishing”.

I didn’t know large trade publishers assign research assistants (who are contractors) to assist authors in getting together all the research material, to target potential audiences and bookstore marketing.

During London’s second big lockdown over the new variant, he works at home in an immaculate flat (you have to have a clutterless space, and I am too old school), and he gives us a desk tour.

He also pitches a book he is reading, a self-help book, “Think Like a Monk”, by Jack Shetty (Sept 2020, Simon $ Schuster), Google books link for preview.

Wikipedia embed picture: British recruits during WW1, p.d., Wikipedia embed, click for attribution.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Dr. Seuss foundation removes six books over racial sensitivity; more on "Little Black Sambo" and the history is more complicated than you think


book pyramid at Ford's Theater

ABC News and the Associated Press report that six Dr. Seuss children’s books will be removed from publication by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the trust that preserves his legacy, story by Mark Pratt.  The books were felt, however unintentionally, to preserve racial and gender-related stereotypes by the cultural standards of today.  The book series publisher is Random House Children’s Books.

I see also in the story that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” novels have fallen into cultural disfavor over portrayal of native Americans.  I remember the series for Michael Landon, who had a premature death from pancreatic cancer in the summer of 1991 at age 54, and there are new stories that he may have been exposed to carcinogens at a filming site in California.  He became ill on a ski trip in early 1991. 

I remember the Little Golden Book “Little Black Sambo” (author Helen Bannerman, illustrator Gustav Tenggren) as a boy, and today the title sounds racist. There is also a “ Story of Little Black Sambo”, the only “authorized” hardcover.  The original book stems from 1922, and the Little Golden Book came out in 1948.

Wikipedia explains the long history of the controversy over this book, which went through some changes, and it is more nuanced than you would think.

Here also is the Wikipedia article on book censorship in the US.

Friday, February 26, 2021

NYTimes et al: "The Coronavirus Is Threatening a Comeback"


NYCity from Freedom Tower 

I’ll call Apoorva Mandavilli’s long piece in the New York Times today a “booklet”, The Coronavirus Is Threatening a Comeback: Here’s How to Stop It.”

She believes we have a false sense of security from the recent drops, which is leveling off this week, after last week’s horrible weather in the Midwest and Texas.  The drop in death rates and ICU is partly attributable to vaccinating people in care facilities.

But young adults have not been vaccinated yet.  Essential workers will help.  People in large households will help.  Young adults living alone (this seems like gay men especially) as adults have, ironically, very little disease right now, given the past.

We should be concerned that the variants may be more aggressive with young adults (as there are sporadic horror stories in the media, but they don’t hit close to home yet).

We should also be very concerned if the virus keeps on becoming more evasive and aggressive, despite our previous expectations.

She does talk a lot about behavioral change, and perhaps personal social values changes.

The Zeynep Tufecki tells us in The Atlantic, “5 PandemicMistakes We Keep on Repeating”.  They have to do with engaging risk, evenhandedly.

One question that sounds critical:  with the new variants retain their high dispersion, with most spread in super-spreader events?  Or could surfaces and even personal hygiene turn out to become more important than they have so far?

Monday, February 22, 2021

Amazon apparently removes a book critical of "transgender ideology", but you can tell where the author is coming from


World Pride, NYC, 2019

The Epoch Times (whatever its supposed connections to China and the CCP’s agenda, publishing a conservative newspaper) reports that Amazon has “quietly” removed a high-profile book “criticizing transgender ideology”.

In 2018, Matthew J. Franck had written the book review, “Pressing Pause on the ‘Transgender Moment’”: Ryan T. Anderson’s “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” (Encounter Books). If you press the link on Amazon, you get a “sorry, couldn’t find that page”.

I sometimes get offers of samples of children’s books that seem to promote transgenderism in minors, and I have let them pass.  In real life, I don’t know any cases of puberty blockers or surgery in younger minors, middle school, etc.  This does not sound like something that happens a lot.  When there is a genuine physical medical reason, that may well be a different matter.  But it is relatively uncommon.

There isn’t much video from the author on YouTube;  if you look, you see where he is coming from.

But I am not one for saying everyone has to declare their pronouns, or use “their” when you really know the person is a he or she.

  Update: March 2:  Amazon has quietly published content guidelines that mention "hate speech".  The Epoch Times (paywall now) and Free Beacon Times have published stories about this development. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

“This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race” by Nicole Perlroth, preview



This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race” is almost too encyclopedic to be the warning it should be.  Author Nicole Perlroth has worked for years as a security reporter for the New York Times.  This 491—page opus looks like the career output. The publisher is Bloomsbury, with hardcover ISBN 078-1-63557-605-4.  There is an Author’s Note, Prologue, seven parts, 23 chapters, an Epilogue, Acknowledgements, Endnotes, and Index.  The Prologue adds 27 Roman-numbered pages.  A Prologue or Introduction is part of the book and should be numbered as such.  The Prologue chronicles Ukraine’s power outages at the hands of the Russians, where the Russians were showing off what they could do.

The New York Times has a short review by Jonathan Tepperman Feb. 9, 2021, “The most serious security risks facing the United States”, link.

The basic premise is that the United States drew first blood by using cyber as a weapon itself, most notably with the Stuxnet worm against Iran, to interfere with its getting nuclear weapons. 

The biggest controversies are zero-day vulnerabilities – those that hackers can exploit with immediate effect on existing systems, and a strategy called Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), a system of weapons for the government to keep in its arsenal. 

In the meantime, we have seen all kinds of counter attacks, of Sony Pictures by North Korea over a movie at the end of 2014, leading to the ongoing hack of the Solar Winds contractor firm.  Recently, there was a hack in Florida at the time of the Super Bowl trying to poison a water supply.

The warnings in Ted Koppel’s “Lights Out” (Nov 10, 2015) seem grim indeed.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bart Ehrman's "Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife", previewed


Sierra Nevada, California, 2012

I ordered a hardcover copy of “Heaven and Hell: A History of the After Life”, by Bart D. Ehrman, sometime back because, well, of my current situation with age and the pandemic, and my writing, where certain character are “angels” (particularly in the screenplay “Epiphany”).

The publisher is a biggie, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-5011-3673-3, 326 pages, endnotes and index starts at 297, fourteen chapters.

I expect to do a more thorough review on Wordpress after some time, but I want to note that the middle chapters provide a sequence of views, from the old testament (“why wait for a resurrection?”), then Jesus himself, and finally the apostle Paul.

One theme that comes up is that for many people who did not “make it”, death is simply annihilation, and back to non-existence.  Indeed, it seems, if the brain is physically intact, even after death, there might occur a “life review” and time could stretch out infinitely and create the impression of eternal life, if one never “converges” to death.  But if the brain is destroyed traumatically, as in war, of some forms of self-harm, or by an enemy with religiously based destruction, there could be no opportunity for such an indefinite extension. Paul, particularly, wanted the reward for the faithful (remember “faith” = “works”) to come with some kind of re-embodiment, as an angel.  In theory, at least in the realm of science fiction, this opens up the idea that “angels” are those who came back (the opposite of “the Leftovers” as in the HBO series). 

There is a review of the book by Ben Corbitt for Saint Matthias Episcopal Church, link

One of my own issues is my own personal agency.  Given a sequence of ironies in my life, the current pandemic challenges my agency (really, almost as a result of quantum theory, when I was privileged enough to escape the things that happen to most people, so I get caught in the paradoxes posed by lockdowns, quarantines and maybe sequestrations). Situations can occur that would seem to nullify what I had believed in my whole life.  Would I want more than annihilation if I was triaged?  This is all quite disturbing. I would have to be much more willing to bond with people "where they are" with less of my own individuality than I have been.  That sounds like the tale of the "Rich Young Ruler"

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Andy Ngo's "Unmasked": the mainstream media refuses to take Antifa seriously

Andy Ngo by Gage Skidmore


I just got (purchased through Amazon) my copy of Andy Ngo’s book, “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy”, published by Center Street in New York and Nashville, 308 pages in hardcover, main text ending at page 238, with index, volumes of endnotes, an introduction, afterword, and twelve chapters.  ISBN is 978-1-5460-5956-1.

Many in the mainstream media will be very critical of Ngo’s opus, such as (Los Angeles Times) Alexander Nazaryam, with an article whose headline appears to imply that Antifa is not a “real enemy”.

Ngo starts out his introduction by the depiction of his milkshaking and beating in June 2020 in Portland. 

His epilogue describes his parents’ expropriation while in Vietnam after the Americans left in 1975, their forced reeducation until their long escape.  They were regarded as criminal by communism merely having unearned capital from the labor of workers.

Of course, I won’t diminish the gravity of the Capitol riots on January 6 or their significance. Generally speaking (not always) white supremacist groups are far “better” armed than the relatively amateurish antifa “cells”.  A major exception in the past would have been the Symbionese Liberation Army that kidnapped Patty Hearst, for example.  But the demands of the Left seem to be that the “privileged” accept arbitrary disruptions of their property and businesses and honor their quid pro quo’s, demands to join them in quid pro quo’s and reparations for past sins of their ancestors.  This is a case of classical Marxist (or even Maoist) moral theory getting mixed up with critical race theory.  Ngo maintains that the rise of Antifa corresponds with the growth of Black Lives Matter.

I will cover this in more detail soon on my Wordpress Media Reviews blog.

Ngo is gay, but his index does not mention homosexuality or gender issues. See the Los Angeles Blade article by Karen Ocamb.

Photo embed from Wikipedia, click for attribution (from Skidmore).

Friday, February 12, 2021

A top-of-the-line podcast (with transcript) on self-publishing for new authors, especially with fiction


Near Frederick MD

“AskAlli has a valuable Advice  podcast and transcript for “self-publishing advice,” 

The speakers are Oma Ross and Michael LaRonn.

They talk about author websites, and their embedded blogs, which they say are more obviously appropriate for non-fiction and for fiction, where you might have little to say about the novel itself regularly.  They like Wordpress, and they are not decisive about whether you should use a package.

They talk about liability insurance, which they say would be unusual for fiction (but conceivable if you based the novel and real people and didn’t obscure things).  Generally, you won’t be able to get media perils very easily anyway, and it isn’t clear that it would cover much (whether regular torts like libel, or even copyright or trademark infringement, a troubling possibility from trolls, like with the CASE Act (copyright). Yet large media companies have the insurance, and it is arguable (as was suggested in 2008 before the financial crisis) to propose requiring it for authors (who usually do have to indemnify their publishers, but this is self-publishing).  They also warn that you could have to be concerned about safety liability if you hold events after the pandemic winds down.

They also talk about business organization, including proprietorship and LLC.  You may have to watch zoning laws in your locality or bylaws if you are in a condo or HOA. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

"How the Coronavirus Tore Through D.C., Maryland and Virginia", Washington Post online booklet


Virginia Hospital Center, Arlington

Rebecca Tan. Antonio Olivo, and John D. Harden offer a horrifying booklet in the Washington Post, “How the Coronavirus tore throughD.C., Maryland, and Virginia."

In the DMV, “900000 infected, 15000 dead”.

The first positive case in the District of Columbia was announced by Mayor Bowser on Saturday, Feb. 29.

There were no cases in Virginia until early March.

But whole families started getting infected, sometimes with serious results, and by the end of March lower income people in larger households, who could not isolate, were starting to get it.

It would spread among different demographics with the reopenings.  In the fall, it would be college students spreading it home.

Families would have little gatherings, and everyone would get sick in a few days.

Among younger adults, or even older adults living alone with lower exposures, actual illness would be much less common.  But in some families, many would be come very ill and would have deaths, sometimes after a prolonged time on ventilators. Some adults would have to go to skilled nursing facilities to learn to walk again after “recovery”.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Time article on the behind-the-scenes activity all 2020 to "fortify" elections in the face of a pandemic -- and the piece becomes controversial


polling place where I worked March 3

 Time Magazine has published a controversial articleThe Secret History of the Shadow Campaign that Saved to 2020 Election.”

Much of the article examines the work of organizer and labor operative Mike Podhozer to lead the effort to keep the entire electoral process under a kind of supervision.   It had started perhaps with a 2019 dinner in Mark Zuckerberg’s home.

There were enormous Zoom meetings with many operatives throughout 2020, mainly to deal with the challenges that the pandemic could present with normal voting in person legally. Obviously, Trump did not want to see any changes that would lead to increases in turnout for black or other minority voters (outside of his own base). A major problem was that poll work is often done by elderly workers, who arguably could not work safely on Nov. 3 (I talked to Fairfax County about this and was told that persons over 70 need not work).  By and large, states are free to change their rules on how voting works, as long as legislatures have authorized election administrators to do so.

Other problems included the poll watchers.  Republican poll watchers claimed that the were kept away, and poll workers claim they were harassed by watchers not wearing masks.

A particular threat was that in swing states, officials might be “bullied” into letting Republican-controlled electors choose the electors and override voters  (all part of “stop the steal”).

Tim Pool had a run-in with Twitter, not allowing a major tweet to be retweeted or linked, as he stated the facts about the article. Cassandra Fairbanks was suspended for a day on Twitter for posting a particular story about alleged fraudulent delivery of ballots in Michigan, after the story had been ruled false.  Her claim (however questionable) is on Gateway Pundit (link, if you want to see it) and can be read online on Telegram.  (She is also on Gab, which is down now.)   Timcast IRL examines the matter with Jack Posobiec in this video

But it is correct to say that a “cabal” did “fortify” the election so that unusual maneuvers by Trump, leading to the insurrection, could not change the result.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

"Inside the Battle for Fulton County's Votes", from Atlanta Magazine and WABE-NPR

Philips Arena

Johnny Kaufmann has an article for Atlanta Magazine and station WABE (“where Atlanta meets NPR”), “Inside the Battle for Fulton County’s Votes”, which you can read (long), or listen to as a podcast (30 minutes).

Many of the complications resulted from a plumbing failure in the State Farm Arena where the Fulton County ballot processing took place. It’s ironic because the facility sat vacant after March 11, 2020, the day the world ended, on a day that the Atlanta Hawks lost a basketball game to the New York Knicks, and then all major league sports shut down as players started testing positive.  The failure occurred as a result of excess unrelieved water pressure in an unused, unentered men’s bathroom, overflowing the urinals.

The article discusses some specific personnel, the difficulties they faced, and the indignation from Trumplikins when Georgia went for Biden (even before, while they counted) and then when the runoffs went for the Democrats, too.

I worked a 16 hour day in the Virginia primary March 3, but the county decided that those over 70 need not work the election.

Voting in a pandemic did provide a tremendous challenge.

Picture: Atlanta State Farm Arena, p.d., embed from Wikipedia, click for attribution 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Literary agent fired merely for having Gab and Parler accounts; are publishers and agents going to look at an author's "social credit"?


New York, 2015

 Tucker Carlson (of course!) interviewed Colleen Oefelein, who was fired from a literary agency merely for having Parler and Gab accounts. 

National Review has a news story about the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency and its firing her, by Zachary Evans.  EugeneVolokh examines this question in Reason, as to whether New York State law might have prohibited the firing and as to what “recreational activity” means and whether it includes political speech (in promoting books or even in authoring them).  I went through this issue with my own employer in the 1990s and actually took a corporate transfer to avoid an issue. 

In fact I have a Parler account but have never posted on it.  She says she posted the same contents on Parler and Gab as on Twitter and she has never had a problem with Twitter.

In other words, her employer (as a book literary agent) doesn’t want one of its associates even “associating with” people on the right by using platforms that tend to attract them (that might include video channels like Bitchute). 

Indeed, Gab lost its hosting in 2018 after one of its members launched the Pittsburgh attack.  Most of these platforms have had to go to hosts like Epik.

It’s disturbing that a mainstream literary agency would behave this way.  But there is a great sense of nod to anti-racism and critical theory coming into mainstream corporate thought, as we have seen with the social media platforms, largely as a result of the stresses on the country and extreme political polarization, exacerbated by Trump and the events Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

The book business is also stressed by the pandemic lockdowns and closures, which certainly interfere with events at both chain and larger (or even neighborhood) bookstores.  Agents want to see authors sympathetic and interested in solving these problems.  Now that I think about it, I haven’t noticed many (or even any) Zoom book events, because people want to meet authors in person and get signed copies.

There is also a concern in the literary business that authors are willing to “write what other people want to read” rather than just what they want to say.  This has political overtones.  “Identarianism” (and addressing people where they are, as in handbook-style writing) is sometimes seen as more appropriate than a detached, academic, distant style (that sound elitist and in the last few years has become offensive to some people).  That was particularly an issue with my issue of the past, “gays in the military”. 

We may see a world where writers are expected to see some “social credit” if they are to be heard at all, and critical theory indeed mixes in with that.  It’s a big concern right now, and an existential threat to writers who want to remain “independent”  of outside “collective” pressures from others. .

Friday, January 29, 2021

"Ready Player Two": quoting it to criticize it leads to DMCA copyright takedowns

Reno, 2018

Apparently an author, Ernest Cline, is using the DMCA takedown to stop criticism of his book “Ready Player Two” (Ballantine, 2020) by making lengthy quotes in social media (especially Twitter).

Katie Smith explains for the Boston Globe, with some of the amputated tweets, here.

Electronic Frontier Foundation also weighs in with this op-ed.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

"Wired" Magazine dedicates issue to excerpts from "2034: A Novel of the Next World War" by Ackerman and Stavridis

Aerial view of Woody Island


The February 2021 issue of Wired (Conde Nast: I have both print and digital subscription) offers, as its entire issue, excerpts (Chapter 1, 2, and 4) from a new novel “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” by Elliot Ackerman and James Admiral Stavridis (USN), with illustrations by Owen Freeman, from Penguin Press, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1984881250.  The magazine issue titles itself “A History of the Next World War”.  Ackerman has an earlier contribution in Wired, Oct 30, 2020, "A Navy SEAL, a Quadcopter, and a Quest to Save Lives in Combat". 

The novel appears to start with the capture of a Chinese boat called the WenRui, based on the name of someone associated the Maoist 1960s Cultural Revolution. It seems to have a lot to do with Chinese intentions regarding Taiwan, territory around Hong Kong, Iran, and parts of the Middle East.  (Chapter 1 is titled “The Wenrui Incident”.)

The narrative seems to start on March 12, 2034 (a Sunday) and one of the domestic characters in Washington is Dr. Sandeep Chowdhury, who apparently lives with his mother in middle age (bachelorhood?)  That evening (in Chapter 2, titled “Blackout”), a complete blackout of much of the US occurs, as he flies to Beijing.  Apparently service (including cell and Internet) gets restored in a few days. 

Chapter 3 is called “Blinding the Elephant” and Chapter 4 is “Red Lines”.

I believe there is an issue of cutting transoceanic cables.  But it isn’t real obvious what causes the total blackout, other than compounding of effects of hacking such was what happened recently with “Solar Winds” and “Fire Eye”.  One major possibility would be the widespread use of non-nuclear magnetic flux weapons that can produce an EMP effect (and they may wipe out unprotected [Faraday cage} electronics.  The US had considered this kind of attack on North Korea in February 2018 before the Winter Olympics and saner voices calmed Trump down.  Another possibility could be attacks on utilities that break “air gaps”.  None of these things have actually happened to civilian facilities in western countries so far.  But the US military has used such weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan in some circumstances.

At least we have a new president who will take normal responsibility for the military (and intelligence services) now. 

 I don't think this novel is quite the equivalent of an another "One Second After".  I wonder if my own novel ("Angel's Brother") would make for an interesting issue of Wired ("LOL"). 

I don’t know of this is in the book or not, but I’ve embedded a Wikipedia picture of Woody Island, which China and two other countries claim now, in the South China Sea (click for attribution).

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Lewis Leary's "The Book-Peddling Parson" and George Washington biographer Mason Locke Weems


Weems Bott Museum Dumfries VA

Author: Lewis Leary

Title:The Book-Peddling Parson

Subtitle:An account of the life and works of Mason Locke Weems- patriot, pitchman. Author, and purveyor of morality to the citizenry of early United States of America

Publication: Chapel Hill, NC, Algonquin Press, 158 pages, hardcover, Introduction, 9 chapters, Appendix, Index.

Saturday, January 2, 2021 was a mild day in northern Virginia, and given the circumstances of social distancing, I went on a short day trip,.alone, to Dumfries, just off I-95, and visited the outdoor area of the Weems Bott Museum.

discuss G W biography

There is a sign that talks about the first biography of George Washington, authored by a pastor Mason Locke Weems (which is an expensive collectible on Amazon) who in turn gets a biography by Lewis Leary, which is bookbound in colonial style.  It’s pretty easy to imagine it being assigned in an English class in high school in eleventh grade (American literature). Maybe this year for online school.

The parson made bringing, selling and distributing books to rural areas away from the coastal cities, which had few bookstores, a life priority.  That’s rather ironic for me.

The book has a silly middle chapter “To all the singles … the pleasures of the married state”, which in rather verbose flowery manner preaches and lists family values, in an era when people needed to have many children.

Blacks, who were usually slaves, are spoken about with some deference in Weems’s own writings, as were native Americans, who were (incorrectly) viewed as not well socialized.

This is a very curious little book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Atlantic: Many of the rioters were privileged and "respectable", and thought they could get away with this

July 4, 2014

Two important pieces in the latest “The Atlantic”.

Adam Sewer writes that “The Capital Rioters Weren’t Low-Class”.  He refers to them as small-business owners, real-estate brokers, and former military service members who thought they had the “inviolable right to rule”.  He gives many examples for comparison from the Reconstruction and early 20th Century, almost out of “Gone with the Wind”, the second half of which depicts many clandestine meetings early in the Reconstruction while Scarlett rebuilt Tara.

Worse still, David A. Graham writes “Why the rioters thought they could get away with it.”     Indeed, they didn’t wear masks, rather Halloween costumes (the one guy with the medieval tattoo had the left side of his chest shaved for the body art), and rather behaved like spoiled white boys supporting Antifa in Portland.

When members of the House hid, the Republicans didn’t wear masks, and at least one Democratic member now tests positive, and has gotten a monoclonal antibody shot, and seems to have few symptoms now. Yet, “those Republicans” acted as if, you’re old or infirm and vulnerable, it’s your problem. 

To me, in this Sun video, they seem like zombies. 

Here is the official Electoral College vote, as finally certified by 4 AM January 7. 

Monday, January 04, 2021

"The Lab-Leak Hypothesis": New York Magazine article by Rob Nicholson will revive the Wuhan lab controversy

Yangzi River - by Peter Morgan

An early January 2021 issue of New York Magazine has a book-length article (paywall, but they seem to allow this one) by Rob Nicholson, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis”.  The tagline, “For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses  in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one.  But what if?....” (ir came from a lab?)

The article is in seven parts, looks at the “death by natural causes” idea, and sets up a scenario how a sample was stored from the Mojiang Caves accident in 2012.  The theory is similar to Chris Martenson on Peak Prosperity on May 4, 2020 (then the codon was called PRRA),  The article describes gain-of-function experiments with many pathogens with the US involved in many of them.  And with the safety concerns about the BS4-level Wuhan lab,’

The article pays a lot of attention to furin cleavage, but this can occur naturally when there are other infections in a person (it even happens with influenza). 

Still, it sounds like a pretty convincing “screenplay treatment” for what really could have happened. 

There is a recent update in Nature on the Mojiang bat cave incident in 2012.

None of this relieves Americans (and people in other western countries like especially the UK right now) of their new “moral” responsibility not to let the strong infect the weak.

Remember that New York and The New Yorker (often pubs Ronan Farrow) are different periodicals, but sometimes their styles overlap.  I wonder what Farrow would come up with on this topic.

Yunnan mountain scene, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution