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In case you missed it

Have you seen inside the book 'To Climates Unknown'?

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The alternate history novel To Climates Unknown by Arturo Serrano was released on November 25, the 400th anniversary of the mythical First Thanksgiving in what is today the United States. It asks: What if the Mayflower never made it? I've got a hardcover at home, and I want to show you how cool it is. Never mind a summary — let me show you some scenes. Part 1       “...palace, I was the best köçek.” He took two spoons from a side table and started clanking them in his hands. “I learned to charm the eyes of a man like no harem ever can,” he added, gradually twirling his shoulders and tracing endless circles with his hips. “I sweetened the weary days of palace officials and ministers.” The rhythmic sound of the spoons became hypnotic, and he moved around the dining table with a gracefulness that should have been impossible for his massive frame.       “You’ve made your point, Signor Fulla,” said Brigitte, but he continued dancing, oblivious to their astonished stares.

What do we value when we value ignorance and hypocrisy?

Ben Smith's article in the New York Times (November 28, 2021) observes that it's easier to handle "an information crisis...than a political one." Some "well-meaning communications experts" have tended to believe, Smith writes, that "if only responsible journalists and technologists could explain how misguided Mr. Trump’s statements were, surely the citizenry would come around." Unfortunately, they "never quite understood that the people who liked him knew what was going on, laughed about it and voted for him despite, or perhaps even because of, the times he went 'too far.'" And that is still how they feel. It's not a lack of information. Some people deliberately choose falsehood. That is their politics. On that note... Spotted on Twitter, an argument: "Hemry, Local Bartender" says: People who take health precautions during pandemic — vaccines, masks — tend to assume that people who deliberately avoid these prec

Four podcasts that teach about a broad range of topics

The Very Short Introductions Podcast "Launched by Oxford University Press in 1995, Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects — from Public Health to Buddhist Ethics, Soft Matter to Classics, and Art History to Globalization." See if the topics interest you! Ologies "Alie Ward is a Daytime Emmy Award-winning science correspondent for CBS’s "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca,” and host of “Did I Mention Invention?” on the CW. She hosts "Ologies," a comedic science show named one of Time Magazine’s top 50 podcasts." You're Wrong About Hosts: Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall. As described by Wikipedia, "the show explores misunderstood media events interrogating why and how the public got things wrong." This Day in Esoteric Political History

Several books of literary criticism, with focus on African-American fiction and metafiction

Here are several books that were recommended in a study of African-American metafiction. "In From Behind the Veil , Robert Stepto shows that the history of African American literature has been a movement toward the invention of a self-authenticating voice. In Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative , Valerie Smith traces the development of voice from nineteenth-century autobiography, illustrating the resilience and adaptability of first-person narration. Gayl Jones [in Liberating Voices: Oral Tradition in African American Literature ] makes ‘freeing the voice’ the central trope of her study of the oral tradition in African American literature.” Madelyn Jablon. Black Metafiction: Self-Consciousness in African American Literature . University of Iowa Press, 1997. p. 112. More books that Jablon mentions: . Phillip Brian Harper, Framing the Margins: The Social Logic of Postmodern Culture Clarence Major, The Dark and Feel

Against ecological catastrophe, all of humanity should be playing on the same side

Two recent podcast episodes that mention climate change, on the periphery, but in nuanced ways. First, this episode of the Rachel Maddow show, "Steven Bannon indicted (again), giving new teeth to January 6th Committee" (13 November 2021). It is guest-hosted by Ali Velshi. At the end, climate activist Bill McKibben is interviewed about the failures at the COP26 climate conference. Velshi quotes an 11-page online article from McKibben's Substack blog : "It's gone from talking about phasing out coal to phasing out unabated coal, from talking about ending fossil-fuel subsidies to ending inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies. And on the deepest question, how much and how fast we're planning to cut emissions heating the planet, there's been no real advance." McKibben responds that the COP26 conference in Glasgow was hampered by U.S. politics. "Truly, this is not what people had hoped for. We're not catching up to the physics of global warming at

The value of strategic lying does not mean it is ethical to lie

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In Gordon Bonnet's post "Shame, Lying, and Archie Bunker" ( Skeptophilia blog, November 9, 2021), he resurfaced a 2013 opinion piece. Creationists, specifically David F. Coppedge for Creation Evolution Headlines , responded to a 2013 science paper, " Cooperation Creates Selection for Tactical Deception ," by Luke McNally and Andrew L. Jackson. They titled the response " Evolutionists Confess to Lying ." In that response, they argue (as Bonnet paraphrased it) that because the paper supports an evolutionary edge for people who are deceptive, it is equivalent to the evolutionary biologists stating, 'Ha ha! We were lying all along!' Image by PicsbyFran from Pixabay The creationists' response is interesting — in an embarrassing way, as Bonnet points out. Of course, there's a crucial distinction between descriptive and normative accounts of behavior: observing what people actually do, contrasted with judging what they ought to

Wyoming Republican Party: Politicians can't challenge the party line

In January 2021, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, as chair of the House Republican Conference, voted along with the majority of House representatives (232–197) to impeach President Trump for "incitement of insurrection." On February 9, the state party in Wyoming passed a resolution to censure Cheney for this vote. (The U.S. Senate acquitted Trump several days later.) Despite being censured by her party, Cheney went on to serve as Vice Chair of the House January 6th Committee which investigates the insurrection. In November 2021, the Wyoming Republican Party voted to cease recognizing Cheney as a party member, citing the language it had used in its February censure. This outcome is hardly surprising, but what I want to note here is the odd language use by the Wyoming party. The party said that evidence for impeachment needs to be "quantifiable" (clearly, it does not, since not all evidence is expressible in numbers) as well as "undisputed" (which again, i