My book has been released

Note: I am going to keep this as the new top post for a while. Later posts will appear below it so please scroll down.

To find out more information about the book, click here and for ordering information (including discounts) click here. You can read the first three chapters at the Amazon webpage for the book. (Click on the ‘Look inside’ link at the top left.) Barnes and Noble gives a smaller excerpt (Click on the red arrow on the cover image.).

If those of you who read it and could spare a few moments to post a review on the various book-related sites and as comments here as well, I would really appreciate it.


Why the mainstream media hates Sanders though he is the leader we need right now

Election year politics has taken a back seat to the coronavirus news but Donald Trump of course sees everything in terms of how it will affect his re-election chances. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has been active in pushing for more relief for ordinary people and not so much for big corporations. But as is often the case, in order to help the former, Republicans demand the latter and so compromises have been made.

Nathan J. Robinson writes that Bernie Sanders is the kind of leader the country needs right now at this time of crisis, not Joe Biden and definitely not Trump. While Biden has largely been quiet and when not has been wishy-washy and issuing platitudes, Sanders has been vigorously arguing for what needs to be done.
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Using the word ‘irony’

I use the word ‘irony’ on occasion. It is a problematic word in that it is often used in a wide variety of ways, some of which do not match its definition in the Oxford English Dictionary that describes it as “cruelly, humorously, or strangely at odds with assumptions or expectations.” Roger Kreuz reports on the work of psychologist Joan Lucariello who classified 28 different usages of the word and grouped them under seven general headings.
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Coronavirus cases dashboard

There is a lot of stuff being written about the Covid-19 pandemic and hard data threatens to get lost in the noise. Here is a dashboard that shows clearly the rates of positive tests, deaths, and recoveries using data provided by the CDC and the WHO for each country and for regions within some countries. Interestingly, this dashboard was created by Avi Schiffmann, a high school student in the state of Washington, who is clearly using his time at home to sharpen his computer skills.
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Post-mortem for the Elizabeth Warren campaign

One of the mysteries of this election cycle was the fairly sudden drop in Elizabeth Warren’s popularity that led to her poor performance in the early primaries and eventually dropping out. There have been several theories put forward and this article by David Dayen suggests that it was due to the pernicious influence of campaign consultants who think that they can ‘package’ a candidate to make their appeal broader but in doing so risk ending up removing the very qualities that made them appealing to the people who used to support them and now they seem less authentic.
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The challenges of suddenly teaching online

Now that classes in schools and colleges are being shut down, faculty have been asked to shift to teaching online. In my former life heading a teaching center at a research university, I know that teaching online is not easy and to do it well requires a lot of preparation and help from online course designers. Many faculty are reluctant to try online teaching for a variety of reason. Some feel that there is positive dynamic in face-to-face interactions that gets lost when mediated by technology. Others are simply technophobes who worry that they will mess things up and not know how to recover. Some faculty at research universities like mine are unwilling to expend the time because research takes priority and there is simply no great benefit to it. And finally some faculty simply don’t care. They long ago stopped putting any effort into improving their teaching and see no reason to start now.
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A very thin line separates being diplomatic from being a sycophant

Dr. Deborah Birx has become a very public figure because of her presence at the daily press conferences of the coronavirus task force that Donald Trump has turned into a substitute for his campaign rallies.

Prior to being assigned to the coronavirus task force on Feb. 26 (the same day Vice President Pence was assigned to the body), Birx was the U.S. global AIDS coordinator. That’s an ambassador-level job inside the State Department in which she oversaw the U.S. government efforts to combat the spread of HIV globally. She was appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2014.

She’s one of the few Obama-era holdovers at the Trump White House. Her job as AIDS coordinator included running the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the highly praised program launched by President George W. Bush that has gotten millions of people with HIV around the world onto life-saving anti-AIDS therapy.

Before that, she spent nearly a decade running the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s global HIV/AIDS division.

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Maybe Mexico will build that wall

In an ironic turn of events, Mexicans in the border state of Sonora are urging their government to close its border with the US to prevent Americans from bringing Covid-19 into their country.

Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus.

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday.

They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to “stay at home”.

Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000.

The border is supposed to be closed to all except “essential” business, but protesters said there has been little enforcement and no testing by authorities.

The blockade was led by members of the group Sonorans for Health and Life, who called for medical testing to be done on anyone who crosses from the US into Mexico.

If this push to keep Americans out of Mexico becomes widespread in that country, who knows, Trump’s campaign promise to have Mexico build the wall might yet come true.

We’re #1!

We have come a long way in the short time since Donald Trump blithely announced that the 15 Covid-19 cases that had been reported thus far would start to decline to zero and that by magic the virus would disappear by April. Yesterday, the US reached a grim milestone, overtaking China to become the country with the most number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country with at least 82,404 positive tests.

According to the latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, the US overtook China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589).

The grim milestone came as President Donald Trump predicted the nation would get back to work “pretty quickly”, after 3.3 million layoffs.

More than 1,100 people with Covid-19 have died in the US.

All together now: “We’re #1! USA! USA!”