Provincetown Public Library

One of the exciting things that I am able to do after 18 years of flight training is go to public libraries in different towns. The photos below are from a recent rare calm-wind, above-freezing day in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Adjacent books in the featured Young Adult Non-Fiction section:

From the rest of the shelf:

What about New (and/or featured) Children’s Fiction?

I do hope that at least one candidate in 2020 adopts Gordon Jack’s slogan of “When they go low, we go slightly lower.”

In between the fiction and non-fiction sections:

What about for little kids? The library is in a converted church and makes great use of the high ceilings:

There is a restroom:

The little kids have their own books, in which it turns out that adults and cisgender boys are guilty of cisgender-normative and hetero-normative prejudice.

The reviews of I’m a Girl on Amazon:

  • A wrongheaded picture book attempts to celebrate “girl power” and the rejection of traditional gender roles but ends up perpetuating stereotypes. … The damaging fallacy extends in every direction, though, as the bystanders’ sometimes derisive comments, which assume that she’s male (“Ugh! Boys are so messy.”), support an additional set of (binary) gender stereotypes.
  • Besides the message of “you can be as annoying as you want as long as you’re breaking gender stereotypes,” having to read “I’m a girl!” with emphasis throughout the entire story gets tedious.
  • Intentional or not, it’s about gender identity and being misgendered. … It never says she is trans, but could easily be read that way

And of 10,000 Dresses:

  • I am building a collection of books and lessons to help my children understand what the GLBTIQ crowd experiences to help teach them how to treat others and how NOT to treat others.
  • I selected this book as part of an independent English literature course that I am taking that involved examining LGBT experience through literature. This is an excellent selection for starting discussion on transgender identity in childhood. The author’s use of pronouns is especially insightful and overall it’s a reaffirming story. I removed one star from my review because the main character’s parents and sibling are rude and intolerant and the book in no way addresses this.
  • I do have a problem with the girl running to a stranger’s house and going in as if that is a perfectly safe behavior.
  • I returned mine today and was appalled as I read the story to my son before reading it to myself. Kids need to feel safe at home, especially when dealing with gender non-conformity.
  • This book seems intended to be positive about a boy wearing dresses, but in the story, the boys’ parents and sibling reject him, and one girl becomes his friend and makes dresses with him. The issues with his family are never resolved.
  • [From American University] 10,000 Dresses is a true depiction of what a young child goes through when feeling that they do not fit in. … There are also no diverse races in this book; every character that is depicted is Caucasian. Since children of color are unable to see themselves represented in the book, they cannot relate to the greater message behind the story.
  • The story is poorly conceived: the parents are unsupportive and cold, while a stranger provides comfort.
  • A child is systematically mocked by each member of his family, only to find refuge with a random stranger.

Should these paper forms be called “Normally aspirated tax”?

From the convenience store, we learn that customers are passionate about marijuana, but that the claimed health benefits for humans do not translates into health benefits for our canine companions:

What’s happening in the rest of the town?

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Shop from women-owned businesses at Amazon

A friend recently pointed out this feature from Amazon: “Shop women-run businesses”:

In a gender-fluid age, what does this mean? Can any enterprise in which an owner or manager clicks “I identify as a woman” be considered “women-run” as far as the Amazon database is concerned?

[Separately, I’m not sure that this works. I searched for “razor”, hoping to see if it was possible to purchase an anti-toxic masculinity Gillette product from a woman-owned business. The first option was to buy a Fusion 5 (my continued testing against the Dorco Pace 7 and Pace 6 Plus show that the Koreans make a superior product if performance, rather than politics, is the relevant measure) from Amazon itself. In what sense is Amazon “women-owned” or “women-run”?]

Things are simpler here in the Boston suburbs. From a coffee shop in Lexington today, “we source this coffee exclusively from women coffee farmers”:

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Bulletin board at the Lutheran chuch

From University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square. Small sign to fit small window:

Why don’t black lives matter enough for a big banner down the side of the building?

Ever wonder about the difference between “use” and “utilize”? This sign should help:

Concerned about starving Venezuelans? It is the “hundreds of thousands of federal workers” whose paychecks are delayed for whom you should worry. Also that “this President [has made] numerous statements disparaging our fellow human beings, fellow people of the faith, and all of them children of God.”

Turns out that the God’s Jewish children living in Israel (perpetrators of “colonialism”) might need to be disparaged…

[Martin Luther himself proposed “First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians …Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. …” It seems that the majority of Lutherans were supporters of Hitler and National Socialism (not to be confused with the Democratic Socialism espoused by Bernie Sanders and AOC). This church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which periodically makes the news for its anti-Israel positions (example). Maybe they can’t forgive Israel for executing fellow Lutheran Adolf Eichmann?]

Need help changing your gender so that you can qualify as an LGBTQ (but not “IA”?) minister?

Some final notes:

Related:

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Harvard graduate discovers that the suburbs are packed with narrow-minded white heterosexuals

The old white guy who led the First Parish church in our suburban town, a union of Congregational and Unitarian, retired. The Millionaires for Obama on the church hiring committee found Manish Mishra-Marzetti, a young Indian-American (Indian from India, not Indian like Elizabeth Warren) to become the new minister (in 2015). He, his husband, and their two adopted kids (characterized as “African American” in the video link below) moved into our midst.

On paper, at least, this guy is exactly the kind of person that the residents say that they want to assist and/or get to know better. He’s the child of immigrants. His skin is nearly as dark as a Virginia Democrat headed out for a party. He identifies as LGBTQIA. He organized trips to our southern border to assist migrants. He sermonized against the evils of Trump and Trump supporters.

In a YouTube talk, he tells the story of playground interactions with the soccer moms. Spoiler alert: He bailed out on our boring suburb and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This can’t be because he didn’t want to pay the 30-percent property tax increase (we are demonstrating our commitment to environmentalism by bulldozing a 140,000-square-foot school, having trailers trucked in to house students for three years, and constructing an identical-sized school on the same spot (full story); at $110 million and considered per-town-resident-student, this will be the most expensive school ever built in the United States). As pastor, he received free housing from the church and I don’t think that the church-owned house was subject to property taxation.

Watch the video (start at 8:30 if you’re pressed for time) and see what the Harvard Divinity School graduate learned!

The video made the rounds on our town’s mailing list. Some excerpts from the Millionaires Who Hate Trump (formerly the Millionaires for Obama):

Where is the outrage? The outrage each and every one of us should feel that we are the cause of this man and his family moving half way across the country so they could feel welcome!

Being black in America is dangerous, especially these days. Being a woman in America is dangerous as well. Being a Muslim is dangerous. Being any person of color… Being poor and homeless is dangerous as well – and there are homeless in the suburbs, even [Happy Valley].

When we were in our adoption classes years ago, one lesson I heard there and have learned over and over again is that if our children say they are being discriminated against, we had best believe them. For those of us that are members of the dominant society, it is not possible to fully recognize all the nuances of racism.

It’s unfortunate that the First Parish could be blamed for Manish’s
unhappiness, because they extended an invitation to him and his
non-traditional family, which other organizations might have denied. [i.e., because it was two daddies and two adopted children, this guy should have been grateful for the job because the rest of the country is even more hostile to gay multi-racial families? Where is the evidence that other Americans are yet more racist?]

it’s awesome how open and welcoming Ann Arbor has been, guess I need to check my own prejudgment of the general Midwest! [the minister’s new job, mentioned favorably in the video, is in Ann Arbor; folks here know so much about the rest of the U.S. that they assume Ann Arbor is solid MAGA land! (the square around Ann Arbor voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016)]

He talks about his children which is a difficult issue for a male parent. [What better way to show one’s lack of prejudice than to assert that men are inferior at handling the challenge of talking about children?]

The perceived’symbolic moat around our Town should be a wake-up call that I hope our Town leaders will address. Perhaps the [Board of Selects] might consider forming a Task Force on Ethnic and Gender Diversity and Inclusion in [Happy Valley]. The enormous amount of money we are spending on a school building will not make a “school” unless we teach the values of embracing differences to both parents and children in school and outside in “playgroups”.

As a person of color [who let her in?!?], I am quite tired of “seeing the intent” of my fellow citizens, and having to assume the best of them every time I’m asked where I’m from (or even “where my people are from” if I don’t play along nicely. Even in the [Happy Valley] post office I was asked if I was from Outer Mongolia. Hey, I’m from New Jersey.) I’ve spent a lifetime of assuming the best of people when they make me feel like “other.” Maybe it’s time for the majority to take a deeper look at their own biases and presumptions. Please don’t whitesplain Manish.

Do you know how many times I’ve been asked where I’m from? Exactly zero. Because I’m white. It’s not difficult to understand how a question like that, given our society’s history, could bother a person of color who not only has to field the question frequently but recognizes that the question often comes with undertones of “do you belong here?” [You belong if you want to spend $250,000 per town-resident student on a renovated school!]

I cannot convey enough how valuable this book has been for me. Everyone can get something from it. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo [I don’t think it addresses how whites should deal with the fact that average white IQ and income is lower than average Asian-American IQ and income]

Speaking as a woman who was an international athlete in the 70’s and who suffered greatly from the negative assumptions then prevailing about physically strong women and the privileges available to male athletes which were denied to women, I can attest that although times have changed for the better, I still see anti-female intent in events where others don’t necessarily see it. The Kavanaugh interviews were a good example.

[From a guy with an Indian-sounding name] Most (All!) immigrants are vulnerable. On some difficult circumstances they had to leave their native country. They are looking for support and help. [Maybe the U.S. could set up a program where an immigrant who wants support and help could get free housing, food, health insurance, and smarthphone from the government? To be funded by taxes on the native-born…] Hence an immigrant can feel intimidated by seemingly unfriendly questions. … The color of skin adds another layer of sensitivity. Here it is a function of profiling the person as less intelligent or of lower character. I observe this as a cultural issue in the US because of the history. Because of my own skin tone, i have faced such individuals.

On Sunday afternoon, over a hundred people gathered [at the church] for a facilitated workshop and discussion of our reactions to the video. … The First Parish, founded in the New England tradition of individual thought and conscience, is a democracy. [I wonder how long a member would last after expressing the individual thought that Donald Trump would make a better president than Hillary Clinton!] Many people who thought they had gone out of their way to welcome Manish and his family to the church and to [Happy Valley] are disappointed by their failure to make that welcome fully understood. [The white say-gooder (few actually take action and rise to the level of “do-gooder”) is doomed to be misunderstood] We do need to take a careful look at who we are and who we appear to be when we deal with newcomers and people who feel like outsiders. [i.e., the problem is mostly the appearance of white narrow-mindedness]

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Will New York build public housing on the defunct Amazon HQ2 site?

Amazon is bailing out of New York City (thus, thousands of potential fat-target defendants have now escaped New York’s winner-take-all family law system!). From a Facebook friend:

Bezos is like every Manhattanite, says he’s going to a great house party but then finds out it’s in Queens and doesn’t show up….

What will the wise central planners in the NYC government do now? From their site:

Every New Yorker deserves a safe and affordable place to live, in a neighborhood that provides opportunities to get ahead. The market alone is not always able to meet that need, and, accordingly, governments at all levels must work together to help. Mayor Bill de Blasio has made affordable housing a top priority of his administration and has committed the City to “build or preserve nearly 200,000 affordable units, and help both tenants and small landlords preserve the quality and affordability of their homes.”

New York City’s shortage of affordable housing has reached a crisis point. The crisis has many causes, starting with the erosion of New Yorkers’ purchasing power in the housing marketplace. Wages for the City’s renters have stagnated over the last 20 years, increasing by less than 15 percent, after adjusting for inflation. During the same period, the average monthly rent for an apartment in New York City increased by almost 40 percent.

A massive increase in the population results in stagnant wages as humans are no longer scarce? While simultaneously generating increased demand for housing that drives up prices? Textbook Econ 101 in action? Not exactly, according to the government technocrats:

Another cause of the affordable housing crisis is the mismatch between demand for, and the supply of, housing.

Econ 101 wouldn’t call this situation a “mismatch.” It would just turn out that the market-clearing price is higher than people want to pay and folks would have to start sharing 2BR apartments with 7 roommates, moving to eastern Pennsylvania and riding buses, etc. Maybe the technocrats are illustrating the general principle of “When the market gives you an answer that you don’t like, declare market failure”.

Regardless of whether this shows the failure or success of Econ 101, the politicians have promised more apartments and the city has plenty of money, since the finance industry has been booming for years. With Amazon out, there is a big empty space. The neighborhood already contains a big government-run apartment complex (see “Amazon’s New Neighbor: The Nation’s Largest Housing Project” (nytimes)).

If the politicians in New York are true to their word and housing those who are unable or unwilling to work is truly a “top priority,” should we expect to see government-run housing built on the proposed Amazon site? If not, what else could happen with this part of the city?

[My own Facebook comment on the collapse of the Amazon deal with New York’s Office of Crony Capitalism: “It is a dark day when small retailers in NYC are denied the opportunity to pay the expenses of their largest competitor.”]

Related:

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Can public school teachers be credible social activists?

Here’s the public Instagram feed of the teacher at a suburban Boston-area school (one of her thankless tasks is molding the 12-year-old mind of a friend’s daughter who previously caused mayhem with a feigned nut allergy). The feed is primarily for communicating with her students and their parents and many of the items are titled “Homework” and contain instructions such as “Just answer the Part 1 Questions! Please DO NOT do the figurative language on the back!”. Some non-homework material has made its way into the feed lately though…

(clumsily redacted in MSFT Paint for some privacy!)

This public servant, whose union has ensured her a total comp of well over $100,000 per year (salary, benefits, and pension), has apparently attended a “Teaching Social Activism Conference”. But with median hourly wage in Massachusetts down around $23 (was $22.81 in May 2017), or $46,000 per year on an annualized basis, can she credibly teach Social Activism? She and her union are directly acting to increase inequality by taking money from people who earn median wages to put it into the pockets of folks who earn above-median wages.

[The other parts of this feed are also interesting. The teacher exhorts her charges to “do something great for your community in honor of Dr. King”. Yet she teaches in a nearly all-white suburb thanks to the miracle of two-acre zoning minimums. African Americans are welcome as long as they can afford $1 million for a vacant lot and $30,000/year in property tax on a completed house.

There is an LGBTQ+ meeting on “Pink Days” in a 7th grade classroom sponsored by the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. Where does that leave 12-year-olds who want to gather around the topics of sexuality and gender but don’t identify as “LGBTQ+”? (maybe the “+” includes cisgender heterosexuals?)

Finally, the Instagram feed reveals that “Google Classroom” is heavily used. Americans will be Google users from cradle to grave? Will Google automatically flag K-12 heresy as a service to the young? An AI on a Google server will read one of the assigned essays on refugees and mark any passages in red that are not appropriately sympathetic and welcoming?]

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Middle school students assigned books about and by People of Color

Received from a teacher by a parent of a local 7th grader:

We will be reading March together as a class for our next unit and additionally students will be working cooperatively in book clubs for books that are about and by People of Color.

I asked “So they can pick any book written by or describing a Virginia Democrat?”

It seems that the answer is “no.” The letter continues with

Today in class the students had the opportunity to preview the book club books and rank their top choices.

So students can’t stray from the approved list and pick the autobiography of Clarence Thomas, for example, or Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell:

Government spending is often said to be beneficial to the economy, as the money disbursed is spent and re-spent, creating jobs, raising incomes, and generating tax revenues in the process. But usually if that same government money had remained in the hands of the taxpayers from whom it came, they too would have spent it, and it would still have been re-spent, creating jobs, raising incomes, and generating tax revenues in the process. This again is usually at best a zero-sum process, in so far as the transfer of money is concerned, and a negative-sum process in so far as high tax rates to finance government spending reduce incentives to do all the things necessary to generate economic activity and the prosperity resulting from it.

Poetry by Kanye West is presumably also excluded, though it might be interesting to hear a class discussion of “Gold Digger”:

Eighteen years, eighteen years
She got one of your kids, got you for eighteen years [23 in Massachusetts]
I know somebody payin’ child support for one of his kids
His baby mama car and crib is bigger than his
You will see him on TV any given Sunday
Win the Super Bowl and drive off in a Hyundai
She was supposed to buy your shorty Tyco with your money
She went to the doctor, got lipo with your money
She walkin’ around lookin’ like Michael with your money
Shoulda got that insured, Geico for your money
If you ain’t no punk
Holla, “We want prenup! We want prenup!” (Yeah!)
It’s somethin’ that you need to have
‘Cause when she leave yo’ ass, she gon’ leave with half [maybe closer to 0% after subtracting litigation costs?]
Eighteen years, eighteen years
And on the 18th birthday he found out it wasn’t his?!

The official list would also keep students from asking whether Chinese Nobelists such as Gao Xingjian and Mo Yan qualify as “of color” (of the wrong color?).

Personally I would love to see a student with the temerity to demand In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World, by Rachel Dolezal.

Readers: Does it help Writers of Color to put them in a February ghetto and tell students they can read books on white subjects by white authors the rest of the year?

Exciting Update: I got hold of the list! (Kanye West is not on it!).

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Gillette versus Dorco Shaving Test 1

The controversy over Gillette’s recent “toxic masculinity” ad campaign got me curious about the state of the art in razor blades.

Test 1:

  • three days of growth
  • no shower beforehand
  • warm water applied with cloth
  • Edge shaving gel
  • Dorco Pace 7 on right side of face
  • latest and greatest Gillette Fusion 5 ProShield with FlexBall on left side of face
  • brand new cartridges in both handles

Results:

  • Dorco: slight pulling/grabbing sensation at times, no trouble shaving under nose despite lack of single blade in the back, no nicks
  • Gillette: less resistance, one nick

Winner: Draw. Equal smoothness of face on both sides.

[Separately, from Friday:

Costco cashier assistant (looking at roses in cart): “What’d you do?”

Me: “If you’ve seen the Gillette ads, then you know that simply existing as a man is reason enough for apologizing.”

Assistant (in her 60s): “Aw. That’s not true. We need men.”

Cashier (in her 30s): “I’m doing fine without. The only thing that I miss is the dual income.”

]

Readers: How much better could Dorco do in the U.S. if they didn’t market their flagship under the name “Dorco”?

See also: Test 2 (in-shower shaving).

Related:

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