Fund burning of existing copies of harmful Dr. Seuss books?

Books containing harmful ideas will no longer be sold new, says “Dr. Seuss Enterprises Will Shelve 6 Books, Citing ‘Hurtful’ Portrayals” (NPR):

“In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, for example, a character described as Chinese has two lines for eyes, carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice, and wears traditional Japanese-style shoes. In If I Ran the Zoo, two men said to be from Africa are shown shirtless, shoeless and wearing grass skirts as they carry an exotic animal. Outside of his books, the author’s personal legacy has come into question, too — Seuss wrote an entire minstrel show in college and performed as the main character in full blackface.”

Let’s look at If I Ran the Zoo. The used (“collectible”) book is still available at Amazon, however, for $1,700:

and it may be available in a lot of public libraries where young minds could fall into error.

Would it make sense for a billionaire Silicon Valley progressive to fund the purchase of all extant copies of these harmful works and then burn them? A typical public library would presumably be happy to receive $1,700 for a worn book that had originally cost them $10. Like the Pfizer vaccine that is not banned in India (“mostly false” and a “conspiracy theory” according to Newsweek; it is just that the vaccine is not approved and therefore illegal to use), the libraries wouldn’t be banning If I Ran the Zoo. It would just be deaccessioned to make room for better/newer books.

(If your budget is smaller and you’re looking for bedtime stories that don’t offend modern merchants, Amazon will sell you a new copy of Mein Kampf for $22.49 ($10.99 Kindle):

“I am convinced that we cannot possibly dispense with the trade unions. On the contrary, they are among the most important institutions in the economic life of the nation. Not only are they important in the sphere of social policy but also, and even more so, in the national political sphere. For when the great masses of a nation see their vital needs satisfied through a just trade unionist movement the stamina of the whole nation in its struggle for existence will be enormously reinforced thereby.” and “For this, to be sure, from the child’s primer down to the last newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this one great mission”)

The Russians and Dutch rebels behind Library Genesis have preserved a PDF of the not-banned Dr. Seuss work. The world of 1950 contains some all-white neighborhoods:

But one can travel to find Asians (“who all wear their eyes at a slant”):

He goes to Nantucket without a Gulfstream? My rating: #MostlyFalse

The remote African island of “Yerka,” not as realistically depicted as in National Geographic:

As with the 2016 election, it all comes down to the Russians:

Update, evening of 3/3: at least some sellers are hoping to get $5,000 per copy.

Related:

  • the Cobra effect (if a billionaire offers $1,700 per copy, maybe more copies will magically appear?)
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Executive Order Idea: Rename District of Columbia to District of Crazy Horse?

Joe Biden is fixing most of what ails us via executive order. Could he turn his attention to a thorn in America’s side that surrounds him: The District of Columbia? There is nothing good to say about Christopher Columbus. He #DeniedScience (regarding the circumference of Earth). He was cruel to both Europeans and Native Americans.

If not after Columbus, after whom should we name the city of bureaucrats, cronies, contractors, and lobbyists? We have a list of the 100 Greatest Americans, according to University of Washington circa 2009. Drawing from this and with an eye toward minimizing reprinting, the city could be

  • District of (Noam) Chomsky
  • District of (Hillary) Clinton [Bill Clinton does not make the list]
  • District of (Cesar) Chavez [not to be confused with the most successful politician of modern times, Hugo Chavez]
  • District of (Rachel) Carson
  • District of (Samuel/Mark Twain) Clemens

(Racist Woodrow Wilson, subject of a recent renaming at Princeton, is on the list!)

“District of Sacagawea” would make the most sense to me because I am a huge fan of this talented diplomat who traveled with an infant, but she is not on the list (sexism?). My choice therefore is to fall back on District of Crazy Horse.

A mid-1990s photo of a D.C. memorial to a slaveholder (this one should be renamed too!):

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Science lawn sign idea

A fair number of our neighbors seem to have invested in “In this house we believe… science is real” or “Science is not a liberal conspiracy” signs. Signs of Justice (TM) are ubiquitous:

How about making some $$ with the following sign:

In this house we oppose science, because it was invented by the white patriarchy to enslave indigenous peoples, to enrich corporations that poison humanity with processed and genetically modified foods, to pollute our local environment, to destroy the Earth with climate change, and to kill millions of non-white people with nuclear weapons.

Readers: Who can turn the above text into a fetching graphic design?

(Don’t try to sell this in Florida. Lawn signs, bumper stickers, and other attempts to tell others how to think and what to believe were present at perhaps 1/100th the rate of what we have here in Maskachusetts.)

From a reader who wishes to remain anonymous, lest he/she/ze/they be Gina Caranoed:

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Animated and illuminated BLM yard art? (or Rainbow Flagism displays?)

Our neighborhood has gone from Bleak Maskachusetts Winter to Yet Bleaker Maskachusetts Winter due to folks having taken down their epic yard displays, e.g.,

What about cashing in on the latest trends in righteousness, and making American suburbs far more beautiful in the process, by offering animated and illuminated BLM yard art analogous to what one can buy for Christmas? The Christmas season is short, but the BLM season can last continuously for decades!

Americans have demonstrated a commitment to BLM yard displays by purchasing signs, but generally these are not illuminated. This should give us some confidence that some containers of night-time BLM yard displays would fly off the shelves.

Readers: What should the illuminated and animated displays depict? Let’s refer to the Wikipedia timeline of BLM for a few starter ideas:

  • animatronic Karen Amy Cooper with camera and image recognition software that can identify Black passersby and harangue them
  • an inflatable burning Minneapolis Target store, commemorating the mostly peaceful protests of 2020

What if we adapt the idea to the religion of Rainbow Flagism? Would would the nighttime lawn scenes look like then?

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How does Indian-American intersect with BLM?

Message in a discussion group from an (East) Asian immigrant:

My town is half Indian. Everyone is “Love is love”, “BLM”. I want to see their daughter fall in love with a Dalit boy.

Readers: How are your Indian-American friends doing with BLM? What does it mean to folks who recently showed up and missed nearly 400 years of Black-white relations? Are they identifying with the oppressed or the oppressors?

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MLK Day: Maskachusetts imprisons Black urbanites on weekends

This is the weekend when many Boston-area commuter rail lines cease to run (NBC). Black families that have been locked down for nearly a year, their children in the parody of education that we call “remote school”, will henceforth be unable to come out to the white suburbs/exurbs and walk around in the conservation land.

(The righteous folks of Arlington and Lexington, Massachusetts nearly all have BLM signs, but they previously fought hard to keep the core MBTA subway system from expanding in their direction, thus imposing a transportation barrier to the dark-skinned. Coronaplague has enabled white suburbanites to get a little closer to their dream of isolation from the BIPOC.)

In What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do for us today? I noted that MLK seemed to contemplate a future in which Black Americans would have jobs. Presidents Biden and Harris, though, promise to make it illegal for millions of Black Americans to work (via shutdown: CNN; also via a $15/hour minimum wage: Prospect (anyone whose skills weren’t worth at least $30,000/year would become either impractical or illegal to employ)) and instead to provide them with more welfare.

MLK organized a 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” (the two things that, in a typical state with shutdown orders from the governor, Black Americans have lost during coronapanic!). From the speech:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

(What about those who don’t identify as “sons”? They were going to be cooking in the kitchen and then serving at the table?)

Harvard University did not get this memo:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Gender binarism:

…. one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

Circling back to the “Jobs and Freedom” theme, is it fair to say, then, that coronaplague has helped white Americans take the country farther away from what MLK was hoping to see for Black Americans?

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Competitive white suburban parents quite happy about school shutdown

One of the scarcest commodities during coronaplague is honesty. Rich white Americans love to say that they are advocating the lockdown of poor Black Americans and the closure of schools for Black children for the benefit of poor Black Americans.

One of our Boston-area Deplorables refuses to be cast into this mold. He says that he is happy that Shutdown Karens are denying an education to children of color throughout the U.S. and also denying urban children the opportunity to train athletically. His primary goal right now is getting his white children, currently in high school, into elite universities (both parents are Ivy League grads), and where the New York Times sees deprivation (caused by the policies for which the New York Times has advocated) he sees reduced competition. Unlike their urban counterparts, his children have not had any interruption or slowdown in their learning . His children have not had any interruption in their elite athletic training (since dad was an elite college athlete and can train them himself whenever organized sports are canceled; plenty of space in their massive suburban house with fully equipped gym and multi-acre yard).

(In fairness to this Deplorable, he was not himself in favor of shutting down any schools. But now that the say-gooders have crippled millions of his children’s competitors, he is not shedding crocodile tears.)

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NYT: Government funding based on skin color is ALLEGEDLY discriminatory

Who says that the New York Times has lost its ability to be neutral? “A Covid-19 Relief Fund Was Only for Black Residents. Then Came the Lawsuits.”:

Oregon earmarked $62 million to explicitly benefit Black individuals and business owners. Now some of the money is in limbo after lawsuits alleging racial discrimination. …

But now millions of dollars in grants are on hold after one Mexican-American and two white business owners sued the state, arguing that the fund for Black residents discriminated against them.

The journalists can’t say whether or not a government fund reserved for people with a particular skin color actually is discrimination based on race, so they report on what was alleged or argued.

Also of interest in the article, the most persuasive argument for why this fund should be able to discriminate on the basis of race is that other government programs are already discriminating on the basis of race:

Supporters of the fund argued that the $62 million accounted for about 4.5 percent of what the state received, leaving plenty for residents who are not Black. They also noted that other Covid-19-related funds were tailored in a way that allowed them to almost exclusively benefit particular racial or ethnic groups — a $10 million fund created by the state that largely benefits undocumented Latino immigrants and one created by Portland officials to aid a district of largely Asian-owned businesses.

What’s the fund for the undocumented?

The Oregon Worker Relief Fund provides financial support directly to Oregonians who have lost their jobs yet are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance and federal stimulus relief due to their immigration status, and now face hunger, homelessness, and economic hardship.

This raises another issue… the state money is coming from a separate source compared to the federal money. Wouldn’t the 14th Amendment‘s Equal Protection clause require the state to make money equally available to the documented, undocumented, and non-immigrant?

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Rich white Americans help themselves to subsidies from Black Americans

“Complacency and wasteful spending blight US higher education” (ft.com):

The push by American progressives to have Joe Biden’s incoming administration forgive $50,000 of student debt per borrower is deeply stupid, but at least clarifyingly so.

More polite language fails to capture the absurdity of singling out college attendees for an unprecedented $1tn transfer of wealth — equivalent to the total spent on cash welfare in the last 40 years. The top sources of US student debt are professional business and law degrees. [Brookings]

(The comparison to “cash welfare” is misleading because nearly all U.S. welfare spending is officially “not cash” and, for Democrats, “not welfare”. A person who gets a free “means-tested” house, a free “means-tested” health insurance policy, free food via SNAP/EBT, and free phone service via Obamaphone is not “on welfare” and is not receiving “cash welfare”.)

The article contains some other fun facts. College here costs 2X what it costs in Germany or France. Only one quarter of the folks who sign up at two-year community colleges earn a degree within six years. And the author points out that young people would be stupid not to take the opportunity to enjoy “sports and parties, sex and alcohol” for four years at taxpayer expense.

What the author doesn’t mention is that Black Americans will be paying for this while white Americans will be the ones primarily enjoying the sports, parties, sex, and alcohol.

If 2020 was the year that old white rich Americans stole a year of life from young healthy slender Black Americans (by locking them down to “protect” them from a disease from which they faced minimal risk), maybe 2021 will be the year that young white rich Americans steal massive quantities of cash from Black Americans via student loan forgiveness?

Related:

  • “Who owes the most in student loans: New data from the Fed” (Brookings): The highest-income 40 percent of households (those with incomes above $74,000) owe almost 60 percent of the outstanding education debt … The lowest-income 40 percent of households hold just under 20 percent of the outstanding debt. … education debt is concentrated in households with high levels of educational attainment. In 2019, the new Fed data show, households with graduate degrees owed 56 percent of the outstanding education debt—an increase from 49 percent in 2016. The 3 percent of adults with professional and doctorate degrees hold 20 percent of the education debt. These households have median earnings more than twice as high as the overall median.
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The social justice of coronashutdowns

An email exchange with a friend who was trying to persuade me to see reason (i.e., accept that the obviously correct reaction to COVID-19 is shutdown). If you’re short of time, just check out the two sections highlighted in bold face.

Me:

Opponents of shutdowns, including me, primarily argue that the shutdowns do not save either lives or life-years. While a shutdown in a non-police state may delay some deaths tagged to COVID-19, the shutdown itself, in our view, will kill far more people via deferred health care (e.g., cardiology), increased obesity, reduced fitness, increased alcoholism and drug use, despair due to loneliness, poverty due to unemployment, intensified poverty in poor countries with which we have reduced our trade and tourism. (a partial calculation).

It is not that we deny the value of “lives saved”. We deny the assertion that the government is actually saving lives. It will be 5-10 years before we can see for sure who was right. And maybe we won’t ever get an accurate total because a lot of the deaths due to shutdown will be in countries that may not be great at keeping statistics (see https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/world/africa/coronavirus-hunger-crisis.html for example). And some of the deaths won’t happen for another 60 years or so. Children who have lost a year of education will have shorter lives, if previous statistics of life expectancy versus education can be used as a forecast. We don’t have an infinite fountain of money and resources, so the $trillions being spent right now on coronapanic won’t be available to spend on health care and medical research in the decades to come.

Proponents of shutdown wrap themselves in virtue by claiming that they are the only people who care about human life. But I see these proponents as mostly indifferent to human life. They don’t care about any deaths that aren’t tagged to COVID-19.

Him:

Mostly people are scared and confused and it is hard to make an accurate model on which to base decisions, because we only have “in circuit” testing of the various components that makes the anticipated effect of changing things hard to gauge.

Complicating things further has been a president with a personality disorder and the unfortunate human susceptibility of many people to become enthralled to those with that disorder, so that the matter of shutdowns is conflated with that man and his followers.

In any case, I get what you are saying. If that was all you were saying I would not object. But mixed in is a streak of righteousness that I think is uncalled for. Your adversaries are mostly not stupid or badly motivated. They mostly just disagree with you.

Let’s take obesity. I think it is highly unlikely the pandemic will directly affect obesity long term. … If you had appropriate clothing and water, you could walk to California without eating, because walking is extraordinarily efficient and fat is extraordinarily energy dense. Exercise and dieting rarely make a significant direct difference in obesity and often have a paradoxical effect, especially dieting. Babies born to women during famine develop obesity as a compensatory response. Obesity is a result of cheap high energy food intersecting with a natural response in some people’s genes to hoard energy when available.

Me:

Folks who are advocating for shutdowns are presumably the most scared, though. So they are therefore the least likely to be thinking and acting rationally. If shutdown advocates actually had facts/science on their side, they wouldn’t have to censor Facebook and Twitter, fire anyone who dissented (e.g., this trauma specialist), etc. Astronomers don’t have to work on hunting down astrologers to get them fired for their heresy. The results of astronomy speak for themselves. To my knowledge, Anders Tegnell wasn’t paying attention to Donald Trump. Nor were the scientists at the W.H.O. when they said (through June) that masks for the general population wouldn’t stop the plague from spreading.

It wouldn’t bother me if they disagreed, so long as they didn’t also claim that they had a monopoly on scientific truth and that people who don’t accept these truths are idiots. The raging plagues in fully masked Spain and California are good examples. People who say that science proves that masks for the general population will substantially slow down or stop a plague won’t accept any evidence, including the Spanish/Californian plagues, as sufficient to falsify their hypothesis. This is a fundamental aspect of religion. An earthquake that destroys your church and kills innocent children won’t shake (literally) your belief in a benevolent omnipotent God. …

Finally, there is an equity issue that would prevent me from supporting a shutdown. The shutdowns are ordered by people who live in mansions (governors) and supported by rich white people who live in 4,000+ square foot suburban houses (and who may have vacation houses in addition). I’ve heard a few of your [rich Boston suburbs] neighbors talk about how the school shutdown wasn’t a serious inconvenience and they thought it should continue indefinitely nationwide. These are from people who live in 6,000 square feet, who have two college-educated parents at home, who have multiple private automobiles, etc. They never mention what they imagine school shutdown means to a single parent in a 2BR public housing apartment with three kids. Nor do these folks, generally in their 50s, ever say what benefit the shutdown is delivering to a 30-year-old single mom and her 10-year-old kids.

As a rich white 57-year-old, of course I would like to be protected from coronavirus. But even if I thought that wrecking the lives of a 30-year-old public housing mom and her not-at-risk children (via lockdown) would help me, I would be unwilling to use political and police power to extract this benefit for myself. In my view, the young mom and her kids should be free to continue with their lives and education. They’re not stopping me from hiding in my suburban bunker. Why do I need to force them to give up their First Amendment right to assemble and their right to an education under https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ ?

[your lockdown arguments sound] reasonable, but, again, it is one in which old rich people (watching cash stack up even faster while quarantined in their massive beachfront mansions) say that they want to help Group A (the elderly) and they will make Group B (the essential workers) pay for this by taking away schools for Group B’s kids, freedom for Group B to exercise and socialize, etc.

Him:

… it looks like Sweden has now admitted it botched things. and the numbers are rising quickly there now. No ?

Me:

The King of Sweden, a guy with 11 palaces and 3 taxpayer-funded Gulfstreams to move among them, has come out as an advocate of shutdown for the working class. So that’s a kind of admission. And the Prime Minister has decided that he will keep his job by appearing to do some stuff (masks on the crowded metro system where people don’t have the flexibility to social distance; reduce the max gathering size for public events (you can still legally have a party at your house for 100 people if you really want to)).

But I think it is more a shift in how people perceive the situation, not a dramatic change in numbers. Below is a chart of Swedish ICU occupancy by COVID-19 patients. Out of a population of 10.4 million they have 300 people nationwide in their ICUs with a COVID-19 tag. (Keep in mind that Sweden has only about 30% of U.S. ICU beds per capita.) They had closer to 550 during the April peak (and Swedish academic modelers predicted that 20,000 Swedes would be in the ICU during the spring 2020 peak).

Is it a “mistake” to have 1 million children in school (without masks) and 300 old/sick people in the ICU with a positive COVID-19 test result? If you believe that humans are in charge of the virus AND that the interests of the old/sick people outweigh the UN-listed universal right of the children to have an education, maybe this is a “mistake”. But the numbers from all around the world suggest that humans are not in charge of the virus, e.g., with raging plagues in masked-and-shut countries or states. In that case, it could look like a “mistake” to deny 1 million children a year of education in hopes of saving a few life-years.

The complete 2020 data won’t be available until mid-January, but right now it seems almost certain that Sweden will have a lower overall death rate than it had in 2010 (the population has grown about 10% during that interval).

Sweden has a COVID-19 death rate that is less than half of the Massachusetts rate. Given recent trends, it seems likely that Sweden will have a cumulative COVID-19 death rate lower than California’s. With lower income children here in Massachusetts and California now having missed nearly a year of education, I personally wouldn’t say that it is the Swedes who are the failures.

So… anyway, I think we can explain different attitudes by different value systems and different personal situations. The Californians whom I know who are pro-shutdown and pro-mask orders do not have children in public school, do not have to leave the house in order to earn money, and simply deny that there is any cost to the loss of freedom of assembly, the loss of gyms, the shutdown of social life (“I can walk outside by myself any time I want”), etc. If we took them seriously, it wouldn’t be cruel or unusual to put convicted criminals into solitary confinement because as long as they have Zoom they wouldn’t have suffered any loss at all by being confined. Shutdown has almost no cost for them so they don’t need a comprehensive scientific theory regarding the benefits of shutdown in order to advocate for it.

The working class people whom I know in Massachusetts (don’t know any in California) feel that their lives have been mostly destroyed. So they demand a logical explanation for how the governor’s 59 orders (so far) will accomplish something more than delaying a few cases by a few weeks. And, of course, the state of the “science” is nowhere near sufficient to provide them with a coherent-sounding explanation. The virus is an aerosol… but a bandana will provide a lot of protection and children who are together in a (white suburban) classroom for 5 hours/day won’t spread the virus to each other so long as they’re all wearing bandanas. Flying and driving lessons are banned after 9:30 pm for COVID-19 safety, but it won’t be unsafe to be in an enclosed car or aircraft prior to 9:30 pm. If this is our best science, it is not good enough to justify the costs of what is being done in the name of science in the eyes of the working class.

We had to agree to disagree, of course, on what is a religious issue. We’re both MITers so, unlike the Facebook righteous, we are able to disagree on a technical issue without destroying our friendship. I asked him to confirm his mailing address for a New Year’s card. He sent me a new address, which I looked up in Zillow. He is living in more than 8,000 square feet in a house with an estimated value of $9.6 million.

Related, an #InThisTogether aerial photo of a house in Lincoln, Maskachusetts:

(by Tony Cammarata with me flying the helicopter)

Related:

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