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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 30th, 2020

What is critical race theory?

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From a newsletter by Susan Smith Richardson, CEO of the Center for Public Integrity:

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered the Office of Management and Budget to stop federal agencies from any government training programs that included references to critical race theory or white privilege, calling them divisive and anti-American.

Ian Haney López, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at the University of California, Berkeley, specializes in critical race theory and is the author of “Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America.” Trump’s mischaracterization of critical race theory as an attack on white people is part of his ongoing efforts to weaponize race to pit whites against people of color, says Haney López.

My interview with Haney López was on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, and Trump was at the National Archives promoting his ideas to “restore patriotic education” to schools and denouncing The 1619 Project, the New York Times Magazine series on the legacy of slavery, and critical race theory as “toxic propaganda.”

And now a moment with Ian Haney López… (This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.)

What is critical race theory?

I think you can only really understand critical race theory by understanding what it was reacting to. There was, and remains to a certain extent, something that can be called liberal race theory. And liberal race theory understands racism in a fairly truncated way. It understands racism as personal prejudice that risks nothing more than errors in judgment — the sort of personal prejudice that liberal race theorists deemed could be cured simply by getting to know people across racial divisions. To see that in operation, you can think about the grand hopes in the 1950s for school integration. There was a sense that school integration and justice required little more than Black and white children mixing in schools, and they would get to know each other, and voilà, no more racism.

Critical race theory responds to that by saying individual prejudice, yes, that’s real. That’s a major thing. But we have to understand that racism has been essential to the foundation of this country and indeed essential to the creation of the modern world. Capitalism and racism co-evolved under colonialism, including in what would become the United States of America. … Now, once you move to this notion that racism is actually a part of the way that the country was founded, you then have to have a lot of very challenging conversations about how racism is part of our culture. It’s built into our institutions.

Two important points that I really want to emphasize: One, the critical in critical race theory is a gesture toward European philosophical thinking that said almost all of our practices and ideas are socially produced. They do not exist in nature. They are not handed down from God. They are socially produced. … The other important insight is that racism is a complex phenomenon that requires serious study. And you can’t hope to understand racism simply on the basis of living race in your daily life, just as you cannot hope to understand the economy because you are spending money every day to buy goods. That doesn’t make you an economist. It doesn’t make you an expert on the economy. Likewise, living in a racially stratified society doesn’t mean you understand race and racism.

Give me an example of a law that reflects what you just said.

So, my first book was entitled “White by Law,” and it examined one of the first laws that Congress enacted. Under the Constitution, the first Constitution, the Constitution of 1787, it wasn’t clear who would be a citizen and who could [be a citizen]. In 1790, Congress passed a law that said only free white persons could naturalize and become a U.S. citizen. But, in turn, this required courts to interpret who was white. And more than that, because courts need to reason in a way that allows their judgments to be transparent and could be extended to other cases, they not only had to rule on individual cases, white or not, they had to explain their reasoning.

The result is an astounding series of cases, including two decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, that seek to define who is white and why the U.S. Supreme Court, that seek to define who is white and why some people are white, and others are not. In other words, what we see is the courts directly engaged in the legal and social production of racial categories. To emphasize again, there is no white race as a matter of biology, as a matter of nature.

What do you think is the purpose of President Trump’s attack on critical race theory? Why now?

In order to understand what President Trump is doing, you have to understand his basic strategy for getting elected in 2016 and for possible reelection in 2020. His basic strategy is to promote a story in which a country is locked into a racial battle between whites and non- whites. And he wants to encourage people to believe that battle is really inevitable and that they have no choice but to choose sides. One way that battle is framed is as direct physical threats to whites. And that’s the rhetoric of law and order: arson, looting, terrorism.

But another part of his story is the threat of cultural replacement. And this is evidenced in his rhetoric about, for example, cancel culture or even the rhetoric “Make America Great Again.” Part of the story he’s telling is, hey, this country is fundamentally a white country, was built by whites. It’s led by whites. It evinces the values of whites. And yet white culture is right now under threat of being replaced and disrespected and that there’s this new culture that’s arising that in fact denigrates and insults whites and celebrates people of color. That’s the story in which these attacks on The 1619 Project and critical race theory fit. … That’s why in the president’s version, critical race theory is said to claim that whites are inherently evil, that there is this fixed condemnation of white people that is supposedly emanating from critical race theory and progressive scholars.

But, of course, that’s an outrageous lie. Rather, what critical race theory is saying is we need to take racism seriously. We’re all enmeshed in this system, and all of us have a capacity to change. All of us have the capacity to see our shared humanity, to connect and build bridges across racial differences, and to build a multiracial society in which every family is valued and has a place, whether they are people of color or white.

Ian’s must-read list is a platform he co-founded that “explains our political descent as well as the way forward by showing how racial political descent as well as the way forward by showing how racial division has served as the main weapon in the class war the rich have been winning.”

Whiteness as Property” by Cheryl I. Harris explores how white racial identity became the basis for privilege and receiving public and private benefits in American society. The ground-breaking analysis was published in the “Harvard Law Review” in 1993.

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2020 at 9:58 pm

The dark side of capitalism (aka greed): Investors Extracted $400 Million From a Hospital Chain That Sometimes Couldn’t Pay for Medical Supplies or Gas for Ambulances

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Peter Elkind with Doris Burke report in ProPublica:

In the decade since Leonard Green & Partners, a private equity firm based in Los Angeles, bought control of a hospital company named Prospect Medical Holdings for $205 million, the owners have done handsomely.

Leonard Green extracted $400 million in dividends and fees for itself and investors in its fund — not from profits, but by loading up the company with debt. Prospect CEO Sam Lee, who owns about 20% of the chain, made $128 million while expanding the company from five hospitals in California to 17 across the country. A second executive with an ownership stake took home $94 million.

The deal hasn’t worked out quite as well for Prospect’s patients, many of whom have low incomes. (The company says it receives 80% of its revenues from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.) At the company’s flagship Los Angeles hospital, persistent elevator breakdowns sometimes require emergency room nurses to wheel patients on gurneys across a public street as a security guard attempts to halt traffic. Paramedics for Prospect’s hospital near Philadelphia told ProPublica that they’ve repeatedly gone to fuel up their ambulances only to come away empty at the pump: Their hospital-supplied gas cards were rejected because Prospect hadn’t paid its bill. A similar penury afflicts medical supplies. “Say we need 4×4 sponges, dressing for a patient, IV fluids,” said Leslie Heygood, a veteran registered nurse at one of Prospect’s Pennsylvania hospitals, “we might not have it on the shelf because it’s on ‘credit hold’ because they haven’t paid their creditors.”

In March, Prospect’s New Jersey hospital made national headlines as the chief workplace of the first U.S. emergency room doctor to die of COVID-19. Before his death, the physician told a friend he’d become sick after being forced to reuse a single mask for four days. At a Prospect hospital in Rhode Island, a locked ward for elderly psychiatric patients had to be evacuated and sanitized after poor infection control spread COVID-19 to 19 of its 21 residents; six of them died. The virus sickened a half-dozen members of the hospital’s housekeeping staff, which had been given limited personal protective equipment. The head of the department died.

The litany goes on. Various Prospect facilities in California have had bedbugs in patient rooms, rampant water leaks from the ceilings and what one hospital manager acknowledged to a state inspector “looks like feces” on the wall. A company consultant in one of its Rhode Island hospitals discovered dirty, corroded and cracked surgical instruments in the operating room.

These aren’t mere anecdotes or anomalies. All but one of Prospect’s hospitals rank below average in the federal government’s annual quality-of-care assessments, with just one or two stars out of five, placing them in the bottom 17% of all U.S. hospitals. The concerns are dire enough that on 14 occasions since 2010, Prospect facilities have been deemed by government inspectors to pose “immediate jeopardy” to their patients, a situation the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines as having caused, or is likely to cause, “serious injury, harm, impairment or death.”

Prospect has a long history of breaking its word: It has closed hospitals it promised to preserve, failed to keep contractual commitments to invest millions in its facilities and paid its owners nine-figure dividends after saying it wouldn’t. Three lawsuits assert that Prospect committed Medicare fraud at one of its facilities. And ProPublica has learned of a multiyear scheme at a key Prospect operation that resulted in millions of dollars in improper claims being submitted to the government.

Leonard Green and Prospect, which have operated hand-in-glove throughout this period, both declined requests for interviews. (Near the end of the reporting for this article, Prospect’s CEO, Lee, spoke to ProPublica on the condition that he not be quoted.) Leonard Green and Prospect responded to ProPublica’s questions in . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, including a photo of mold breaking through a hospital wall.

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2020 at 11:15 am

A brief guide to the accusative in Esperanto

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Lee Miller is the author of this overview, which I found in a Facebook post quoting him. It struck me as useful and succinct.

In Esperanto, the accusative does several things. These are the main ones:

1. It marks the direct object of a verb. (The thing which is being acted upon – so the thing being eaten, or read or had etc)

Mi havas katon.
Mia kato havas katidojn.

2. It indicates movement towards (not movement in general).

La kato saltas sur la tablon.
Mi vojaĝis norden.

3. It marks expressions of measurement (weight, length, time, distance, height, etc.)

Mi aĝas 68 jarojn.
La konstruaĵo estas 40 metrojn alta.

4. It marks points or periods in time.

Mi alvenos lundon.
La parado okazos la sekvan tagon.

5. It marks a number of customary greeting and other expressions.


The accusative isn’t optional. In places where you need it, you have to use it. But it also isn’t random. Don’t just throw -n endings in without a reason.

Note that in 2 (the accusative of direction) one result is distinguishing whether “en” means “in” or “into” (since those two English words differ in meaning):

La knabo kuris en la ĉambro. = The boy ran in the room (i.e., running around inside the room).
La knabo kuris en la ĉambron. = The boy ran into the rooom (i.e., from outside the room).

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2020 at 9:45 am

Posted in Esperanto

Another tobacco shave: Puros La Habana from Van Yulay

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Van Yulay soaps, which I like a lot, vary in their formulation — some are vegan, some are, and the fats and herbs used vary as well. This soap uses lard among its fats:

Stearic Acid, Aloe, Coconut Fatty Acid, Palm Stearic, Castor, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Coconut-Tallow-Lanolin-Babassu-Manteca-Emu Oils, Shea & Kokum Butters, Sodium Lactate, Calendula, Extracts, Poly Quats, Allantoin, Silica, Bentonite & Kaolin Clay, Tobacco Absolute, and Fragrance.

Despite the clay content (both Bentonite and Kaolin), the lather was easy to generate and quite rich and thick, with distinct “aromas of a Cuban Cigar. With very Smokey robust tobacco leafs & hint of cedar.” That is from the catalog description.

I used one of my Vie-Long horsehair brushes and enjoyed it. Horsehair, like boar, works best if you soak the brush before using by wetting the knot well and then letting the brush stand while you shower.

That Maggard V2 open comb (very like the Parker 24C/26C head) is riding on their MR7 handle, and that combination is a very fine razor indeed: three comfortable passes left my face perfectly smooth, and ready for a small dab of Van Yulay’s aftershave balm in the Puros La Habana fragrance:

Water, Aloe Vera, Glycerin, Emulsifying Wax, BTMS, Stearic Acid, Emu Oil, Glycerin, Abyssinian Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Allantoin, Par d Arco, Ylang-Ylang, Tea Tree, Hydrolyzed Oat, Holy Basil, Liquid Silk, Germaben II, and Fragrance.

Regarding the ingredients, she notes:

· Tea Tree – To prevent bacteria to grow & help with ingrown hairs.
· Argan- Provides a high content of vitamins & provide moisture.
· Hydrolyzed Oats – Protective, moisture binding and coating on the skin.
· Holy Basil – Prevents breakouts,relieving acne, redness and sensitive skin.

A good way to end the month.

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2020 at 9:42 am

Posted in Shaving

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