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Why the patriarchy is killing men

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In the Washington Post Liz Plank has what I take to be an excerpt from her book For the Love of Men: A Vision for Mindful Masculinity:

When I traveled to Iceland in 2018, the World Economic Forum had ranked it No. 1 in gender equality for an entire decade. According to the common way of discussing that honor, the country must be a feminist utopia for women. What goes underreported is how great it is for men, too. In fact, Icelandic men enjoy the highest life expectancy in Europe. They live almost as long as women do. If the number of years spent on Earth is one of the strongest predictors of well-being, Icelandic men are doing pretty well.

Is there some unique magic in the Reykjavik air that makes this possible? Not at all. Iceland offers a model that could be widely adopted elsewhere in the world. It helps show that changing men’s ideas about what it means to be a man, and lifting up women in the process, doesn’t make men worse off — it has far-reaching benefits to their lives.

The health advantages of feminism for men are not evident only in Iceland. In other countries with stronger gender equality, men also tend to fare better. According to research by Norwegian sociologist and men’s studies expert Oystein Gullvag Holter, there is a direct correlation between the state of gender equality in a country and male well-being, as measured by factors such as welfare, mental health, fertility and suicide. Men (and women) in more gender-equal countries in Europe are less likely to get divorced, be depressed or die as a result of violence.

These findings undercut one of the favorite facts of men’s rights activists — that men die younger than women do. They use this data point to argue that feminism is unwarranted because women already live fuller (or at least longer) lives. But a world without feminism would exacerbate this problem, not solve it. Feminism is the antidote to shorter male life expectancy. Saying feminism causes men to decline is like saying firefighters cause fire.

America doesn’t just have a gender pay gap. It has a gender wealth gap.

Women typically live longer than men because of several biological advantages that make them more resilient and give them more stamina (despite the stereotype that women lack it). But that’s only part of the equation. The other component of the life expectancy gap is what scientists literally call man-made diseases. These are cultural: Men are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, engage in high-risk behavior and have accidents at work. A report from the World Health Organization points to three reasons men don’t live as long: the way men work (they endure greater “exposure to physical and chemical hazards”), their willingness to take risks (thanks to “male norms of risk-taking and adventure”) and their discomfort with doctors (they’re “less likely to visit a doctor when they are ill and, when they see a doctor, are less likely to report on the symptoms of disease or illness”). When I became a lifeguard, I was shocked to learn that 80 percent of drowning victims are male , even though their aquatic skills are equivalent to those of women, because they’re less likely to wear life jackets, more likely to overestimate their swimming abilities and more likely to take risks.

If men’s rights activists really want to improve men’s lives, then, they should join feminists in dismantling bygone ideals of masculinity. When researchers controlled for unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or drinking, for instance, they found that men who earned less than their wives for an extended period of time still experienced poorer health outcomes, shorter life expectancy and increased chances of cardiovascular problems like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension and stroke. Because of the observable increase in men’s anxieties in these familial arrangements (and the lack of measurable change for women), researchers believe that these men lose the only sense of connection to their identity as breadwinners. Violating the code of idealized masculinity can be such a point of stress for men that it strains their overall health.

Men’s reluctance to care for themselves is especially perturbing when it comes to mental health. Unsurprisingly, the more a man associates with traditional and inflexible ideas about masculinity, the less likely he is to seek counseling. For too many men in America who suffer from mental health issues, it’s easier to get a gun than a therapist , especially in rural areas, where 80 percent of counties don’t have a single psychiatrist. No wonder suicide rates are rising in rural states with the highest gun ownership rates and that the vast majority of those deaths are among men. Although women are three times more likely to attempt suicide, the suicide rate for men is four times higher because men tend to use more violent means when choosing to end their lives — the most effective and violent of which is, of course, a firearm. And the connection between gun ownership and traditional masculinity is hard to deny, especially when we see gun manufacturers like Bushmaster instructing men to get their “man card” reissued by buying a gun.

When feminism is met with violence

The mass availability of guns in the United States doesn’t simply affect men; it disproportionately impacts boys. Of all the youth gun deaths between 2012 and 2014, a staggering 82 percent were boys, many of whom had used guns to kill themselves. The more a man identifies with traditional notions of masculinity, the more vulnerable he is. In fact, research on 2,431 young adults 18 to 19 years old by Daniel Coleman of Fordham University found that men who identified with rigid beliefs — that men must provide at any cost, be invulnerable or be self-sufficient — were more likely to have suicidal thoughts and exhibit signs of depression. Coleman concludes that idealizing “high traditional masculinity” is a “risk factor,” especially for men who aren’t able to fulfill that ideal because of life circumstances such as illness, disability or the loss of a job. A more flexible understanding of masculinity wouldn’t prevent men from becoming unemployed, but it could help them cope with it better. They’d have a wider set of roles they could fall back on, like being a caregiver or contributing to their family outside of the narrow scope of material or financial resources. Suicide peaks during financial crises. When Hong Kong experienced economic turmoil in the 1990s, the suicide rate of men ages 30 to 59 almost doubled. After 2007, as recessions took over Europe, male suicide rates also spiked . While rates of suicide for both women and men rise in times of economic downturn, the increase tends to be sharper for men.

But data show that gender equality may dampen rates of male suicide, because women’s empowerment may protect men from economic shocks. If women are educated and can work, it lessens the financial responsibility that rests on men’s shoulders. Research by Holter shows that societies with lower levels of gender equality are the ones with the highest rates of male suicide and that the gender gap in suicide is smaller in nations with higher gender equality. One study by sociologists Aaron Reeves and David Stuckler found that in countries with high levels of gender equality, like Sweden and Austria, “the relationship between rising unemployment rates and suicide in men disappeared altogether.”

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 September 2019 at 2:48 pm

Tofu in tubes

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Silken tofu comes in tubes, something I learned on the trip. The Son made a wonderful Korean soup from the book Cook Korean: A Comic Book with Recipes, and that used the tubed silken tofu. I spent some time looking through the cookbook and it strikes me as a good cookbook to have if you can find a Korean market. (We do have a couple here.)

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2019 at 9:44 am

Posted in Books, Food

“Sapiens” condensed

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a fascinating book. You should read it, but this blog post outlines the argument. Note the importance of memes in our evolution as humans.

The post begins:

I spent over 25 hours building a cut-down version of Sapiens. The goal? Future-me should be happy to read this once future-me forgets how we evolved. It’s massive for a blog post, just under 30 minutes, but that’s the best I could do, condensing 9 hours worth of material.

I’ve tried to keep editing to a minimum: It’s the original text, edited to ensure it still flows like the book.

You can get the book here1

The best way of navigating is clicking on the images. These are best experienced on a tablet or a laptop. I’ve also included the table of contents, which work well on every screen size.

. . .

Development of brains

What caused our brains to develop? We’re not sure.

It doesn’t seem likely. A larger brain needs more energy and thus reduces the chance you’ll survive. Getting more energy meant hunting more.

One contributing factor was the domestication of fire. Fire paved the way for cooking.

Whereas chimpanzees spend 5 hours a day chewing raw food, a single hour suffices for people eating cooked food. The advent of cooking enabled humans to eat more kinds of food, to devote less time to eating, and to make do with smaller teeth and shorter intestines. Some scholars believe there is a direct link between the advent of cooking, the shortening of the human intestinal track, and the growth of the human brain. Since long intestines and large brains are both massive energy consumers, it’s hard to have both. By shortening the intestines and decreasing their energy consumption, cooking inadvertently opened the way to the jumbo brains.

And, we weren’t alone. Competing with us were the Neanderthals, among other species. They were stronger, they had bigger brains, and they could survive the cold. How come, then, did we “win”?

We aren’t sure. The most likely answer is the very thing that makes the debate possible: Homo sapiens conquered the world thanks above all to its unique language.

Cognitive Revolution . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2019 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Books, Evolution, Memes, Science

Capitalism Is Making Us Sick: An Interview

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In New York Sarah Jones interviews Emily Guendelsberger about her new book, On the Clock:

Back in 1980, Dolly Parton had it all figured out. “Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living!” she sang. “Barely gettin’ by, it’s all taking, and no giving. They just use your mind, and they never give you credit. It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.” Work hasn’t changed much since Parton wrote the words of what would later become Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign song. Americans work more than almost anyone else in the developed world, and for many, that work is getting more and more unpleasant. The rise of automation has been accompanied with jobs that, increasingly, force workers to behave like robots.

The psychological burdens imposed by this regime can be serious, as Emily Guendelsberger documents in her new book, On the Clock, out now from Little, Brown and Company. After her newspaper closed, Guendelsberger, a journalist, took three low-wage jobs. At an Amazon warehouse in Kentucky, a call center in North Carolina, and a McDonald’s in San Francisco, Guendelsberger dealt with threatening customers and isolation at work, physical pain and emotional turmoil. Her book, a clear successor to Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, recounts those experiences alongside explorations of the history of work. Technology may have created software that monitors every minute of a person’s workday down to their bathroom breaks, but the quest to turn human workers into docile drones predates the invention of the computer. The problems workers face, then, are much larger than any single corporation — even Amazon. Here, Guendelsberger talks to Intelligencer’s Sarah Jones about her reporting, and why capitalism is making us all sick.

Sarah Jones: What really struck me most about your book is that the jobs you held — at Amazon, and Convergys, and McDonald’s — were not jobs designed to let human beings be human beings. What sort of psychological effect does that have on workers?

Emily Guendelsberger: That is the takeaway that I hope people have. The book was mostly written for people who have not had one of these jobs, to clue people in, I suppose. But I also wanted workers from these industries who read it to be able to recognize that it is all the same struggle. People in fast food should have common cause and solidarity with people who work at Amazon. I think the Fight for 15 has done a really great job of showing fast-food workers that this is one fight. It’s not just unionizing McDonald’s or just unionizing Burger King, it’s all fast food. And I think that the inescapability of the sort of computer business systems and timing and monitoring systems that I talk about in the book, I tried to draw sort of a thread between them. And it’s been really cool, honestly. The feedback I expected to get on the book was just people saying that millennials don’t have any work ethic, people don’t know how to work hard, it’s their own fault if they can’t keep these jobs, no one’s holding a gun to their head. But honestly the response that I’ve gotten from almost everybody who’s actually had one of these jobs is, wow, I didn’t realize it was this similar in other industries. I thought it was just my job that sucked.

We’ve gotten so good at technology that can quantify workers’ job performance with metrics. And since it’s pretty much the same everywhere, it’s difficult, especially for unskilled workers, to vote with their feet the way they used to be able to, and the way that classical economics says that they should be able to. You know, if you don’t like your job, you go find another job, and then the previous job can’t find workers and it goes out of business. But when the situation is the same at pretty much everywhere you go, you’re expected to be a robot — whether it’s mentally, like at Convergys or McDonald’s, where you’re supposed to suppress all of your anger and shame and rage when people treat you like garbage, or Amazon, where you have to really push your physical limits.

The mental effects are what I think is even more dangerous than the physical stuff, which is what people generally focus on when they talk about Amazon. Amazon has been getting mowed down by the press lately. But it’s not just Amazon: At other warehouses it’s as bad or worse. I found that, at least among people who had had other warehouse jobs, they tended to find Amazon to be comparatively safe and comparatively well-paying. The problem is that they hate being treated like robots, like where you’re expected to not need to talk to people all day or you’re expected to have to do this extremely monotonous, repetitive job without any sort of mental distraction.

You go into this a bit in the book, but could you tell me more about the specific coping mechanisms that you and your co-workers devised to stay sane?

Well, Amazon is the easiest one to describe, because the mental part is mostly isolation and it’s really difficult. Most jobs in an Amazon warehouse are set up so that you don’t really ever get to talk to your co-workers except on break and lunch.

I was a music theory major, I went to Oberlin, and I did a lot of singing stuff in college. Especially weird, 13th-century chant stuff. So I probably weirded a lot of people out doing some Hildegard von Bingen bangers out there. I definitely sang all the time so that I wouldn’t go crazy. I snuck in headphones at one point, and I’m sure other people do that too. But you can get in real trouble for doing that.

And at Convergys and McDonald’s, where you are in a customer-facing job, I think the coping mechanism that I ended up with and saw mirrored in my co-workers was that you just have to stop caring about the customers. Because otherwise, it leaves you kind of vulnerable, that American work ethic where you make sure the customer has the best possible experience and you go above and beyond to give good service.

There’s a perception, and I think it’s a bipartisan perception, that minimum-wage or low-wage work is typically performed by either teenagers or young adults. That it’s supposed to be your first job, a way to get paid work experience. But many if not most of your co-workers were supporting families with their pay, right?

It’s a weird upper-class idea that people who are teenagers don’t need to make a living wage; in the first place I worked with teenagers at Convergys who had children, like multiple children. But the average age of a fast-food worker is 29. And I believe that a third of them are supporting at least one dependent. If I could, I would force Congress to go have to work one of these jobs during recess, without telling people who they were. Amazon lately has been trying to counter all the bad publicity they’ve been getting with warehouse tours, and it’s just so comical, the idea that walking through it is somehow the same as working there.

The whole thing is gonna be so stage-managed.

Yeah, exactly. I went to tour a new one pretty recently. You walk around with some tour guide, and I was with another reporter who was there to write about my impression of the warehouse. And she had a PR person with her constantly, hovering over her shoulder when she was talking to workers. Don’t be ridiculous! Of course people aren’t going to be honest with you if they have some higher-ups looking over their shoulder. If people want to know what it’s like, just go hang out at the smoking area and talk to people without someone hovering over your shoulder, or go work there. It’s easy to get a job there.

Speaking of Amazon, it suffered another wave of bad press recently because of these Twitter accounts from people from people saying that they were fulfillment-center employees.

Yeah, I’ve known about this for quite awhile. It’s an interesting thing. I really dislike people dragging these people on Twitter or saying they’re bots or whatever. They’re the real people. I met plenty of people at Amazon warehouses that were very enthusiastic about it because in a lot of rural places, especially since the $15-an-hour raise, it is a better job than you can get in a lot of places. A lot of people are very grateful for it.

It’s hard to talk about because Amazon does need to treat their people better. They need to treat them like human beings, and not burn through them like they’re rental cars. But the mainstream understanding, the Twitter understanding, of what makes Amazon jobs bad is not right. It’s not about the pay or hours. People I worked with thought that they paid pretty well and had good benefits back when I was working there, when it was $10.50 an hour. [Ed. note: In 2018, Amazon raised its company-wide minimum wage to $15 an hour.] The long hours — most of the year it’s usually ten-and-a-half-hour shifts, though during peak it’s longer than that — people from the outside tend to look at that as if it’s egregious. But a lot of the people that I talked to actually liked the ten-and-a-half-hour shift because that meant they only had to work four days a week, which made child care a lot easier.

Anyway, be nice to those people! They are real. They probably are not being exactly honest, but it’s not like a PR bot or something. They are real Amazon workers who work in fulfillment centers. They are on the clock when they’re doing it. There are better fights to pick out there.

How have your co-workers reacted to the book since it came out? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 August 2019 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

Interesting phytate fact

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I’m rereading How Not to Die, and I thought this passage was interesting:

Subsequent research has suggested that dietary prevention of cancer may involve something other than just fiber. For instance, colorectal cancer rates are higher in Denmark than in Finland,34 yet Danes consume slightly more dietary fiber than Finns.35 What other protective compounds might explain the low cancer rates among plant-based populations? Well, fiber isn’t the only thing found in whole plant foods that’s missing from processed and animal-based foods.

The answer might lie in natural compounds called phytates, which are found in the seeds of plants—in other words, in all whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Phytates have been shown to detoxify excess iron in the body, which otherwise can generate a particularly harmful kind of free radical called hydroxyl radicals. 36 The standard American diet may therefore be a double whammy when it comes to colorectal cancer: Meat contains the type of iron (heme) particularly associated with colorectal cancer37, but lacks, as do refined plant foods, the phytates to extinguish these iron-forged free radicals.
>For many years, phytates were maligned as inhibitors of mineral absorption, which is why you might have heard advice to roast, sprout, or soak your nuts to get rid of the phytates. In theory, this would allow you to absorb more minerals, such as calcium. This belief stemmed from a series of laboratory experiments on puppies from 1949 that suggested that phytates had a bone-softening, anticalcifying effect,38 as well as from subsequent studies with similar findings on rats.39 But more recently, in light of actual human data, phtates’ image has undergone a complete makeover.40 Those who eat more high-phytate foods actually tend to have a greater bone mineral density,41 less bone loss, and fewer hip fractures.42 Phytates appear to protect bone in a manner similar to that of antiosteroporosis drugs like Fosamax,43 but without the risk of osteonecrosis (bone rot) of the jaw, a rare, potentially disffiguring side-effect associated with that class of drugs.44

Phytates may also help protect against colorectal cancer….

The numbers in the text identify footnotes that specify the studies on whose findings the statements are based.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 August 2019 at 1:45 pm

The Last of the Ayn Rand Acolytes

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Alexander Sammon writes in the New Republic:

Eight rules governed the original Ayn Rand clubs that proliferated across college campuses in the 1960s, as they sought to seed Objectivism—Rand’s philosophical glorification of laissez-faire capitalism and heroic individualism—in the minds of impressionable youth. And of these eight, only two rules could ever be mentioned publicly: 1) Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who has ever lived, and 2) her novel Atlas Shrugged is the greatest human achievement in the history of the world.

For the Randian faithful, this pair of diktats has withstood the test of time. At this year’s Objectivist Conference, the world’s largest annual gathering of Rand acolytes, everyone seemed to be in compliance. Take Emily Bujold, 26 years old. She was once an avowed environmentalist. She didn’t own a car or eat meat, and had even signed a pact to never have a child, so as not to help perpetuate a rapacious species. But a chance encounter with Rand’s wisdom rocked her world. “Now I know that the only solution is to celebrate and encourage development,” she told me.

Bujold was among the 500 pilgrims who made the trip this June to the conference, held this year in Cleveland, Ohio. The organizers at the Ayn Rand Institute stressed that the location was significant: Cleveland was the city Rand chose for the fictional Patrick Henry University in Atlas Shrugged, where a penniless but ideologically unimpeachable John Galt first made his mark before going on to lead the resistance against collectivism. It’s also, they pointed out, the first major American city to produce commercial-grade steel. But the choice of Cleveland was tinged with irony as well. The once-robust Rust Belt metropolis has been ravaged by a real-life version of Randian corporate overlordship—its factories closing, its people fleeing, its scraps fed to a subprime mortgage machine.

This was the grim setting for a nearly week-long celebration of Rand’s genius that coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of her clarion call for a capitalist-aligned cultural and aesthetic movement, The Romantic Manifesto. Thrumming in the background was a related, similarly unnerving trend for Objectivists: The romance of the movement has lost a good deal of its cachet in an unequal, austerity-battered America—particularly when it comes to pulling in the young recruits who were once the backbone of the Rand insurgency. All the kids these days are becoming socialists and communists. Only 45 percent of young Americans view capitalism positively, compared with 51 percent who profess a fondness for socialism. They want higher taxes, regulations, a Green New Deal. Their thousand-page tome of choice isn’t Atlas Shrugged; it’s Marx’s Capital (or perhaps Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century).

Objectivism has a serious youth problem, and the conference’s organizers were quite aware of it. They offered a discount rate for those under 30, a talent show, and extracurricular activities like “late night jams.” It made me wonder: Is Rand’s hyper-capitalist philosophy—which has influenced some of the most powerful political and economic giants of recent history, from Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan to Mark Cuban and Steve Jobs—running out of juice? There was only one way to find out. I would have to attend the conference’s various panels on the virtue of selfishness, the evils of regulation, and the greatness of capitalism’s dark patron saint, and try to fraternize with the next class of Paul Ryans in the making. So I went into the Objectivist sanctums of Cleveland, sporting an Ayn Rand tote bag outfitted with an “I ❤ fossil fuels” pin, to gauge the reach of Rand’s cult of unbridled capitalism on today’s political scene.

Ayn Rand might not have become the world-conquering figure we know today were it not for an eager teenager. In the late 1940s, Nathan Blumenthal sent Rand a series of fan letters, proving his dedication to her work by functionally memorizing the 750-page novel The Fountainhead, then her most popular title. In 1950, as a 19-year-old, he netted an invitation to Rand’s house. And once they were better acquainted, she anointed Blumenthal, who changed his last name to Branden, as her proselytizer-in-chief.

It was Branden who elevated Rand’s profile, hosting lectures and presentations on her writing across the country. When Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, it was unsparingly savaged by critics on the right and left, not only for its soulless vision of a world whose highest aspiration was personal pocket-stuffing, but also for its melodramatic plot, wooden characters, and didactic and interminable philosophizing. “I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance is so implacably sustained,” wrote National Review critic Whittaker Chambers—certainly no pinko—at the time. “Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal.”

But Branden’s propaganda campaign helped turn Rand’s novel, against all odds, into a word-of-mouth best seller. Thanks to his efforts—which included the establishment of an Objectivist newsletter, an Objectivist magazine, a nationwide lecture series, book clubs, movie nights, and an annual gala—the Rand student movement ten years later numbered 3,500 card-carrying members across 50 U.S. cities.

After Branden and Rand parted ways in 1968—the two Objectivists were having an extramarital affair that blew up over Branden’s relationship with another woman—Rand named Leonard Peikoff, a onetime student, her true heir. When Rand died in 1982, Peikoff inherited her estate and set about rehabilitating a legacy that had grown stagnant since Rand’s 1960s heyday. In 1983, the first Objectivist Conference was held in San Diego. Two years later, the Ayn Rand Institute was formally founded. Its mission was to turn a new generation into apostles of no-holds-barred laissez-faire capitalism—a savvy marketing move at the height of the Reagan revolution.

“The first program of the Ayn Rand Institute was focused on young people,” said former director Yaron Brook. “From the beginning we understood we’re going to have to appeal to young people at the point in their life when they’re making big choices.” True to that aim, the ARI began donating 400,000 copies of Rand’s novels to advanced-placement high school programs each year. It also awarded big cash prizes for Rand-themed essay contests (in 2018 alone, ardent young Objectivists raked in a cool $130,000 for such broadsides).

Over the decades, the Objectivists’ full-court offensive bore fruit in the culture at large. Everyone from Peter Thiel to Jeff Bezos to the members of the Canadian power trio Rush got a taste of Rand’s philosophy. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have had a Rand phase.

To this day, Objectivism continues to appeal to a certain kind of precocious youngster: contrarian, brash, frustrated with the status quo but uncertain of where to direct that frustration. At the opening ceremony of this year’s conference, the ballroom at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown was buzzing with fresh-faced capitalist devotees sipping wine and beer and declaiming their love of Rand’s work. I struck up a conversation with two young Objectivists, Jonathan Brajdic and Michael Beardsley, both recent graduates of nearby Ohio State. They hadn’t known each other previously; each had assumed he was the only Objectivist on campus, and their meeting had the feel of a reunion of spiritual twins separated at birth. “I was introduced to Rand by a roommate,” boasted Jonathan. “It changed my life forever.” “It either changes your life or puts into words everything you’ve always felt,” replied Michael.

My first conversation with the Objectivist youth was a challenge. Like other ideological movements, Randism brims with a jargon of authenticity, tailored to reinforce the sense of belonging for young initiates. Jonathan had studied architecture, which made him, according to Michael, “our own Howard Roark” (the strident, world-hating hero of The Fountainhead who blows up a public housing complex because it was compromised by government regulation). Aspiring venture capitalist Michael was more of a Hank Rearden (a 20-hour-workday-pushing inventor-investor hero of Atlas Shrugged). When I told them I was writing about this conference for a magazine, their enthusiasm faltered. It went without saying: I had just outed myself as an Ellsworth Toohey, The Fountainhead’s villainous newspaper journalist. I assured them I was open to their ideas, but I was already in a hole.

That wasn’t my only mistake. When I asked Michael how long he’d been into conservative politics, he clarified that . . .

Continue reading.There’s much more—and it’s one weird movement.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2019 at 2:11 pm

Standard Ebooks: Free public-domain ebooks, carefully produced

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This is a good site for ebook readers. As they note:

Other free ebooks don’t put much effort into professional-quality typography: they use “straight” quotes instead of “curly” quotes, they ignore details like em- and en-dashes, and they look more like early-90’s web pages instead of actual books.

The Standard Ebooks project applies a rigorous and modern typography manual when developing each and every ebook to ensure they meet a professional-grade and consistent typographical standard. Our ebooks look good.

Transcriptions from other sources are often filled with typos or suffer from issues like inconsistent spelling, missing accent marks, or missing punctuation. Submitting corrections to such sources can be difficult or impossible, so errors are rarely fixed.

At Standard Ebooks, we do a careful and complete readthrough of each ebook before releasing it, checking it against a scan of the original pages to fix as many typos as possible. Even if we do miss something, our ebooks are stored in the hugely popular Git source control system, allowing anyone to easily submit a correction.

Our ebooks include complete, well-researched, and consistent metadata, including original, detailed book blurbs and links to encyclopedia sources. Perfect for machine processing or for extra-curious, technically-minded readers.

Each Standard Ebook takes full advantage of the latest ereader technology, including:

  • Hyphenation support,
  • Popup footnotes,
  • High-resolution and scalable vector graphics,
  • Ereader-compatible tables of contents,

and more. One of our goals is to ensure our ebooks stay up-to-date with the best reading experience technology can provide. Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean it has to use old technology.

Everyone knows a book is judged by its cover, but most free ebooks leave it to your ereader software to generate a drab default cover.

Standard Ebooks draws from a vast collection of public domain fine art to create attractive, unique, appropriate, and consistent covers for each of our ebooks. . .

Continue reading.

I just downloaded The Lerouge Case, by Emile Gaboriau, published originally in 1866. Wikipedia notes:

Gaboriau was born in the small town of SaujonCharente-Maritime. He was the son of Charles Gabriel Gaboriau, a public official and his mother was Marguerite Stéphanie Gaboriau. Gaboriau became a secretary to Paul Féval, and after publishing some novels and miscellaneous writings, found his real gift in L’Affaire Lerouge (1866).

The book, which was Gaboriau’s first detective novel, introduced an amateur detective. It also introduced a young police officer named Monsieur Lecoq, who was the hero in three of Gaboriau’s later detective novels. The character of Lecoq was based on a real-life thief turned police officer, Eugène François Vidocq (1775–1857), whose own memoirs, Les Vrais Mémoires de Vidocq, mixed fiction and fact. It may also have been influenced by the villainous Monsieur Lecoq, one of the main protagonists of Féval’s Les Habits Noirs book series. . .

More at the link. The book was easily transferred and looks good in the Kindle.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 August 2019 at 8:13 am

Posted in Books, Software, Technology

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