Sunday, November 28, 2021

"What We Do and Don’t Know About the Omicron Variant And what we don’t know remains a lot.”, New York Mag


NYC 2021-6

Chas Danner has a summary article in New York Magazine (Intelligencer)  today, “What We Do and Don’t Know About the Omicron Variant And what we don’t know remains a lot.”

Early reports among mostly younger patients indicate mainly very mild illness among often vaccinated patients.  But SA has a low vaccination rate among and more illness is likely.

 The article suggests that the beginning may have been sooner than we think.     

Wastewater indicates rapid increase in SA

Laurie Garrett has already warned New Yorkers to get ready for lockdowns and find a pod they want to live with. .

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Matt Taibbi's "Hate, Inc.", paperback update, preview


cloudburst DC

Back in early August, I purchased a paperback copy of Matt Taibbi’s “Hate, Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another” from OR Books / Counterpoint Press, originally 2019, paperback in 2021.  There is a roman-paged Preface “A Utopia of Division” for the 2021 reprint.

He has two appendices:  a piece about why MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow belongs on the cover, and a deadpan interview with Noam Chomsky (“Manufacturing Consent”).  There is no index or endnotes, which would be helpful.

And on a Saturday when I tried to visit the exterior of the Afghanistan embassy before Biden’s evacuation , I got caught in a pop-up thunderstorm and the book (taken to read on the Metro) got drenched.

The overall point is that the mainstream media feeds on tribalism, which in pure numbers is stronger on the identarian Left right now.  So it is easy and tempting to drive people toward false analogies and conclusions, as is happening now after the Rittenhouse acquittal.

According to Variety (Brent Lang, May 2021) the book has been “optioned” by media company Vespucci and is likely to become a documentary film.

  Matt talks about the Rittenhouse verdict today on his Substack. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Ministry for the Future", book preview


flying over Nevada, 2018-9

There is a lot of praise for Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Ministry for the Future”, now from Orbit (2020, 576 pages, although the novel was completed before the pandemic.

The book apparently starts with a wet bulb heat wave that kills 20 million in India.

Various articles (some paywalls) indicate Robinson’s views, that those in privileged positions may have to be willing to act more energetically and personally sacrificially than they have expected.  He thinks that civilization as we know it could end if capitalism doesn’t change. He even wants to entertain the idea of doing away with fiat money (what about crypto and blockchain)? Another idea could be to tie currency to carbon sequestration.

But there may be constructive ideas, that even private interests could sponsor. There could be ways to deflect light from the Sun (hydrogen sulfide?)  Maybe people should travel in electric busses or even airships rather than planes.

Here are a few discussions:  Time magazine;  Jacobin (socialism), New Scientist (with internal links).

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Preview of Johnathan Karl's "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show"


white house 12/1/2009

The new book by ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl, “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show”, Dutton, 282 pages, will describe the absolute fealty to Trump by is cultish loyalists during the last weeks of his presidency after the election was called for Joe Biden.  Like "The Truman Show"?

Karl maintains in this interview notes that our democracy depends on the fact that most people in power will act honorably.  What if they don't? 

It also gives another detailed account of what happened outside and inside the Capitol.

 James Doubek gives a blog post summary for NPR,

Chris Megerian of the LA Times maintains that the book compares Trump’s last days to those of Julius Caesar, with Miles Taylor being Brutus (I use that character name in my own screenplay, but with a different connotation).

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, "My Monticello", novella accepted by Netflix



Isaac FirzGerald offers a detailed preview (NYTimes) of the book “My Monticello”, by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, in a Times series “It’s Never too Late”.

The book comprises a novella (same title) and six short stories. This is an interesting format for a book.  I did something similar mixing non-fiction and fiction as two parts (3 short stories of my own) with my DADT III book in 2014. 

There is a Netflix deal for the novella, which stages a white supremacist local coup and where people of color take refuge in Jefferson’s homestead, set in a perhaps dystopian near future (if Trump gets back in?)

One short story is called “Control Negro”, published here. 

Amazon link.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

College textbooks and "equity" in access

Water Tower, UC Davis(cropped)


Rory Mir describes what looks like collusion among some academic textbook publishers, on a piece for Electronic Frontier Foundation, ”Inequitable Access: An Anti-Competitive Scheme by Textbook Publishers”.

Some publishers encourage universities to offer only bundled tuition, with digital access to texts included for the course period.  That wouldn’t work for lab notebooks, where students write down observations, maybe.  Students would buy used texts, or bargain their grades on getting by without them.

Texboooks are not viewed as part of the trade book publishing industry.

He links to an  article by the late Elliot Harmon from 2016 about university objection to open education.

Wikipedia picture embed: UC Davis, click for attribution 

Monday, November 08, 2021

“The Car Becomes the Weapon” when protesters illegally block highways (Boston Globe)



Jess Bilgood offers a Special Report for the Boston Globe (paywall), “The Car Becomes the Weapon” with the byline, “Demonstrators around the country have been injured and killed by vehicle rammings, but there’s been precious little justice. And new laws could make accountability even scarcer.”

The article discusses incidents where protesters illegally block traffic, especially interstate or major highways that have not been lawfully closed, and are struck by vehicles.  In some cases drivers may feel threatened or trapped.

The report starts with an incident on I-244 in Tulsa on May 31, 2020, a few days after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and gives the account of a protester grievously and permanently injured. .

The article has dynamic maps showing deaths from these incidents all over the US.  

There is a broader moral question.  When radical protesters bloc  access of persons through a public space or enter private property in trespass, they are trying to coerce others to take sides and join their revolutions, or at least share personally the experience of their pain. Perhaps the gravity of the crimes of Donald Trump on Jan. 6 and the treat that poses forces non-political people to take sides (think about notorious examples in history) and accept personal loss to be imposed on them (think about the way the burdens of the pandemic were not shared).

Picture: downtown Tulsa, Wikipedia embed, p.d. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Biden DOJ goes after major book publishing merger to "protect" established authors who live off advances; what is book "accreditation" ?


Huntsville AL 2014-5

Hoeg Law looks at a major Biden DOJ lawsuit based on antitrust acts, trying to stop Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster from merging (#1and #4 trade book publishers in the US).

One theory is that established author advances would decrease reducing the capacity of some authors to earn a living and therefore reducing the choice of quality books for consumers.

Authors Guild mainly enrolls authors  who make income this way.

Yet Hoeg recognizes that self-publishing, if competitively a long haulm appeals to many writers.

There is a new service offered by some self-publishing companies called book “accreditation” which seems murky.

Monday, November 01, 2021

"The Attack": Washington Post online booklet on January 6: Before, During, After -- and "The 187 Minutes"

DC Capitol Storming IMG 7957


The Washington Post offers an online booklet about the January 6, 2021 “Insurrection”, called “The Attack”, divided into three parts: (1) “Before” – Red Flags; (2) “During” – Bloodshed, and (3) “After” – Contagion.   This attack was like a pawn storm in a chess game, not a sacrificial piece attack. .

There are lots of details and illustrations.

The Post’s major conclusions are that preparation was woefully inadequate, as wells the law enforcement response, because of White House interference. 187 minutes passed after the first breach of the Capitol before Trump “intervened”.  Also, there was some early outside violence that I don’t recall seeing reported on YT channels like News2share.

The pressure on Pence to deny Electoral college certification and to turn over the process to state legislatures was shocking.

The GOP largely continues its fealty to Trump, insisting on “stop the steal” claims that do seem baseless, even given my own experience working in elections (in Va.) where I know election officers must follow procedure exactly and have no discretion of their own.

I actually got a request (Dec. 20)  from a FB friend in Nevada to help house protesters, and was shocked that anyone had interpreted my own online content that way.

Wikipedia embed of storming the Capitol, click for attribution.