Monday Reads: Counter the Culture

Joni MitchellGood Morning!

I’m going to try to go light and easy this morning since we’ve had enough trauma recently.  Here are some interesting reads! For those of you who are fans of Joanie Mitchell, there’s a great set of interviews with her on the occasion of her 71st birthday and her release of new and old music.  Mitchell has been a nearly life long muse for me.

Q: You’ve voiced concern over what you call the “push-button generation of today.” What is impairing us the most?

A: Everything is about channel changing. It has ruined attention spans. I spaced out in school but I didn’t develop attention-deficit issues because I placed attention on my imagination and ignored the curriculum. I didn’t have a million newsfeeds to contend with. It is just like when I have people over to my house to watch a film—it’s like living in a Robert Altman movie! They are always talking over each other. We are all losing the plot. It’s an addiction to phones and too much information.

Q: What repercussions do you think future generations will feel now that everyone is on their phone during concerts, etc.?

A: Here’s an example. My grandson and I were sailing on a boat and he said, “It’s boring.” I asked, “How can you say it’s boring? The sun is shining, we’re going across the water so fast . . . ” And he said, “Not fast enough.” Technology has given him this appetite.

Another inspiration from my high school and university days was Jack Kerouac.  I live less than a block where he used to jump off the train–you’ll Jack Kerouachear it frequently if you’re on the phone with me–and hang out at one of my neighborhood bars.  It seems the Neal Cassady letter that described Joan Anderson and inspired “On the Road” has been found and will be sold at auction.  It’s been lost for 60 years.

It’s been called the letter that launched a literary genre — 16,000 amphetamine-fueled, stream-of-consciousness words written by Neal Cassady to his friend Jack Kerouac in 1950.

Upon reading them, Kerouac scrapped an early draft of “On The Road” and, during a three-week writing binge, revised his novel into a style similar to Cassady’s, one that would become known as Beat literature.

The letter, Kerouac said shortly before his death, would have transformed his counterculture muse Cassady into a towering literary figure, if only it hadn’t been lost.

Turns out it wasn’t, says Joe Maddalena, whose Southern California auction house Profiles in History is putting the letter up for sale Dec. 17. It was just misplaced, for 60-some years.

It’s being offered as part of a collection that includes papers by E.E. Cummings, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Penn Warren and other prominent literary figures. But Maddalena believes the item bidders will want most is Cassady’s 18-page, single-spaced screed describing a drunken, sexually charged, sometimes comical visit to his hometown of Denver.

“It’s the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation, and there are so many rumors and speculation of what happened to it,” Maddalena said.

Kerouac told The Paris Review in 1968 that poet Allen Ginsberg loaned the letter to a friend who lived on a houseboat in Northern California. Kerouac believed the friend then dropped it overboard.

“It was my property, a letter to me, so Allen shouldn’t have been so careless with it, nor the guy on the houseboat,” he said.

As for the quality of the letter, Kerouac described it this way: “It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves.”

00d866b924c60902c085c1c947c755b9Well, I’ve always known my life in the Dismal Science as a woman wasn’t easy.  Here’s more on that.

British physicist Matt Taylor, who was involved with the Rosetta comet landing, recently found himself in the middle of a controversy about sexism and bad taste, after he was interviewed wearing a tacky shirt featuring pin-up girls toting guns. In true Internet fashion, the incident was labeled ShirtStorm, and it sparked a debate about sexism in the sciences. Taylor has since apologized, issued a series of mea culpas, and showed as much contrition as one person could for a sartorial offense. Some of his female colleagues even came to his defense.

But all of this raises a question: Why is it that the sciences look like a feminist nirvana compared with the economics profession, which seems to have a built-in bias that prevents women from advancing?

Consider this 2011 blog post by George Mason University economist Robin Hanson. Hanson writes that “gentle, silent rape” of a woman by a man causes less harm than a wife cuckolding her husband:

I [am puzzled] over why our law punishes rape far more than cuckoldry…[M]ost men would rather be raped than cuckolded…Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret…Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape.

There was no outcry whatsoever over these remarks, nor any retraction that I could find.

Or consider this similar post from 2013 by University of Rochester economist Steve Landsburg:

Let’s suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm — no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission…Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?    

The  blog post sparked protests at Landsburg’s university, but silence from the economics profession itself. Landsburg later apologized, stating that some readers “got the impression that I was endorsing rape, while my intent was to say exactly the opposite.” Although it’s good that he apologized, Landsburg has made other sexist remarks on his blog. In 2012, he seemed to call pro-contraception activist Sandra Fluke a “prostitute,” and defended Rush Limbaugh’s demand that Fluke post a sex tape for the world to view.

In physics, a shirt depicting scantily clad women is a big deal, but in economics, everyone just sort of expects these things.

These aren’t just anecdotes. There is quantitative evidence showing that economics is uniquely biased against women. According to a new paper by economists Donna Ginther and Shulamit Kahn and psychologists Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, sexism in econ is much more severe than in the sciences.

Oh, and that’s economist Joan Robinson up there if you don’t recognize her.   She was an major influence on J.M. Keynes.  She extended Keynes’ analysis in to the long run in the 1950s and also took Keynesian analysis to Marx’s works.  She’s also a mentor to Joseph Stiglitz and one other Nobel Laureate. 

It has been claimed that Joan Robinson did not mind upsetting people with her work: “Never one to mince words, possessor of a civilized wit, sometimes bleakly rude, not always fair but always honest, as hard on herself as on those she criticized, Joan Robinson more than any other economist of the twentieth century became a model for progressive radicals, fearlessly following arguments to conclusions no matter how incompatible they proved to be.”

 Journalists are being arrested in Ferguson, MO again despite court orders and instructions. 

A Journalist’s arrest during a protest near the Ferguson, Mo., police headquarters early Sunday drew renewed attention to disputes over 1st Amendment rights in the wake of a white police officer’s killing of an unarmed black man.

Trey Yingst, a reporter with News2Share, was accused of unlawful assembly and taken into custody, according to St. Louis County police. News2Share publishes stories by freelance reporters online.
A police summary notes that Yingst was among a group that was obstructing traffic at South Florissant Road and Compton Avenue.

“The group of subjects were gathered on the street and sidewalks at that intersection. The on-scene commander engaged the crowd and instructed them that they were impeding the flow of traffic and would be subject to arrest if they did not exit the roadway,” the police summary says. “The crowd ignored the commander’s verbal commands to exit the roadway and continued to impede the flow of traffic.”

Police say most of the crowd dispersed, but Yingst and another person, David Rodriguez, 26, did not, so they were taken into custody. Several witnesses said Yingst was on the sidewalk when he was arrested.

Shortly after his release from jail, Yinsgt said on Twitter that he had been “arrested for exercising my 1st amendment rights on a public sidewalk.”

The protests in Ferguson began Aug. 9, when police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an 18-year-old unarmed black man, Michael Brown. In August, some journalists were arrested while covering the demonstrations.

On Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union said it was “unclear what legal authority police officers would have had to order him to disperse.”

“We are deeply troubled that the 1st Amendment rights of the media are still being violated in spite of the recent court order we secured against such action by the County of St. Louis,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary swiftly pursue aggressive action to ensure that unlawful interference with the press comes to an end.”

 A 12 year old boy that was playing in a play ground with a toy gun was shot and killed by the Cleveland Police.  I’m sure you don’t have to guess the fergusonrace of the child that law enforcement is now characterizing as a “young man”.

The 12-year-old boy wielding what turned out to be a BB gun when he was shot by police outside a Cleveland recreation center died early Sunday morning, a police union official confirmed.

The boy, whose name has not been officially released, was shot in the stomach at Cudell Recreation Center, at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard, about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.

He was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in serious condition, EMS officials said. Throughout the night his condition deteriorated and he died early Sunday, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer said.

The shooting came after a man at the park adjacent to the rec center called police when he saw “a guy with a gun pointing it at people.

The caller twice said the gun was “probably fake” and told dispatchers the person pulling the gun from his waistband was “probably a juvenile,” according to audio released by police officials late Saturday.

3568ecaa36b392f4d5b0ca08cbe0dc39Sunday news shows including shows of white men defending a system where police indiscriminately shoot black children.  The worst of them was ABC where Rudy Gulliani  blamed black people for causing white police presence in their neighborhoods.   I seriously wish these guys would actually come live some place other than white enclaves with gates everywhere and see what the real deal is.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) got into a heated argument about race and crime with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson during a discussion on Ferguson, Mo.

“But the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here,” Giuliani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” while discussing whether police forces reflect the demographics of the communities they serve.

Dyson called this a “false equivalency.”

“Can I say this, first of all, no black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as a agent of the state to uphold the law,” he said. “So in both cases, that’s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which is exacerbated tensions that are deeply imbedded in American culture.”

Later in the argument Giuliani argued that while police officers are only present in certain communities because black people are committing crimes.

“It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community,” he said. “White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 percent of the time.”

Dyson shot back at Giuliani and said, “this is a defense mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind.”

So, that gives you a choice of the serious and the interesting to read this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


31 Comments on “Monday Reads: Counter the Culture”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I thought I’d heard every possible defense of violence against women until I read those blog post about “gentle silent rape.”

    My god, we live in a culture in which women are treated as nonpersons and objects, the killing of black children by police officers is excused, and disgusting, evil white men like Rudy Giuliani can go on TV and spew blatantly racist arguments while TV hosts sit by passively and say nothing.

    It’s incredible how far we haven’t come since I was a child in the 1960s.

    • janicen says:

      I was horrified by that too, bb. It’s unbelievable that there are still some people who just don’t get that the rape part of rape is the problem. Apparently she’s saying that violating someone without physical pain is okay? It’s kind of like, “…if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it fall…”?

      And the part about being puzzled why rape is punished more severely than cuckoldry is about as convoluted as it gets.

    • RalphB says:

      BB, We’ve regressed because you couldn’t have done that shit on television in most of the 60s without fear of some retribution.

    • Fannie says:

      I hear you BB. I can’t believe what I am witnessing in the 21st Century. Rudy was being Rudy, he said that as a mayor he cracked down on blacks because they are suppose to RESPECT the police. The tv hosts are just spineless. I listened to them talk about the reasons why Chuck Hagel is resigning.

      Hey are you on hitting the road for Thanksgiving? Hope the weather is nice for you, and everyone else traveling.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I just got to my hotel a little while ago. The weather hasn’t been very nice, but I made it. I’m waiting to hear the Ferguson grand jury announcement before I bring in the rest of my stuff from the car.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Weird. I’m not sure how that is supposed to “reassure” anyone. I guess we’ll get more info in the days ahead.

    • RalphB says:

      Obama stood by Hagel at the announcement pretty well. I’m not too sure if he was fired or if that’s mainly DC back biting assholes talking.

      On another note, Hagel probably didn’t get along well with the political generals who largely populate the Pentagon. Those generals are politicians and lobbyists for their pet programs, not soldiers. Lots of them have only been staff officers and have never led as much as a platoon, in or out of combat. They’ve ascended through the ranks as aides to more senior officers etc until they get their own spot in the pecking order. Nothing more than parasites feeding off the fighting men and women at the tip of the spear. I would bet anything Hagel was attempting to change that culture and they got him for it.

      • janicen says:

        Yeah, I was thinking along the same lines but it concerns me even more if Obama really asked for his resignation. I’m wondering if Obama traded with the Republicans, throwing Hagel under the bus in return for…what? It would be interesting if Obama got something in return.

        • RalphB says:

          That’s a good question. For some reason it seems to be really hard for Democrats to stand up to the uniformed military and tell them to fuck off. Those lobbyist generals seem to keep Congress on their side.

          • bostonboomer says:

            But Obama has fired a couple of generals, and he stood up to them on withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

  2. RalphB says:

    How bad have police killings become? Read this, it’s fucking amazing!

    Salt Lake Tribune: Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides

    In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members.

    Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse.

    And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners.

    As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.

    “The numbers reflect that there could be an issue, and it’s going to take a deeper understanding of these shootings,” said Chris Gebhardt, a former police lieutenant and sergeant who served in Washington, D.C., and in Utah, including six years on SWAT teams and several training duties. “It definitely can’t be written off as citizen groups being upset with law enforcement.” …

    • NW Luna says:

      it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.

      “Potentially”? Seems clear that it’s an actual safety problem!

  3. dakinikat says:

    Giuliani Won’t Back Down: The Danger To A Black Child ‘Is Another Black’ (VIDEO)

  4. dakinikat says:

    I’m on twitter with Noah. I just asked how Robin Hanson can create a false equivalency between violating one’s autonomy with an ego slight?

  5. Fannie says:

    Governor Nixon’s calling out the National Guard, calling on the Baptist Ministers, and Catholic Bishops, and for everybody to get out their bible and come to meeting this afternoon. Shaking my freaking head. I’ll have to turn on tv, and will try keep you all updated.

  6. NW Luna says:

    The office of Bob McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St Louis County, has confirmed that the grand jury verdict will be announced at a press conference in the Clayton justice centre at 8pm CST.

    Missouri governor Jay Nixon is scheduled to speak, the Guardian’s Jon Swaine reports …. Nixon will be joined by department of Public Safety director Dan Isom, St. Louis county executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis mayor Francis Slay.

    “They will be calling for peace and discussing preparations to protect the public and free speech, in anticipation of the announcement of the grand jury decision,” the advisory says.

  7. Fannie says:

    I heard that Officer Wilson just got married (to another Ferguson Officer) and that a lot of his criminal cases have been ignored because he has been in hiding and can’t make his court appearances. They keep delaying the time for release of verdict, was 5, now 7. I guess.

  8. Fannie says:

    Watching, Rachel Maddow………any minute now. I guess they were too gutless to address the crowd, so they are in a ROOM, nice and little one. Expect about 20 minutes, and questions from journalist.

  9. Fannie says:

    Questions from hand pick local news only!

  10. bostonboomer says:

    McCulloch’s statement is incredibly biased.