I React to a Thought-Provoking Essay On Whether Reading ‘the Classics’ Is Good

Naomi Kanakia’s essay, “Are “The Classics” Bad for You?”, provoked many thoughts. I enthusiastically recommend the essay.

This isn’t a coherent reaction essay. Instead, I’m jotting down a train of thought.

Here’s a quote to get me started:

Some people try to strike a middle ground here and say, “Well, you don’t have to read white people, but you really ought to read books from before the contemporary era.” Except who are we really talking about? What nonwhite writers specifically? The Indian and Chinese and Latin American writers from before 1900 are usually just as wrapped up in prejudice and exploitation as the white writers.

I know so little about Latin American literature from before 1900 that I won’t comment. However, based on what I know about Indian and Chinese literature from before 1900… I’m not sure that the statement that Indian and Chinese writer from before 1900 “are usually just as wrapped up in prejudice and exploitation as the white writers” is true. A good-faith argument could be made that the statement is false. However, doing a deep analysis to figure out whether they are just as wrapped up in prejudice and exploitation would be a waste of effort since, ultimately, what benefit would come from settling the question? And to answer the question, one would first need a comprehensive description of ‘prejudice’ and ‘exploitation’ are, and trying to define those things too rigidly would be unfair to people suffering in the edge cases. And the most expansive definitions may find that writers after 1900 are just as ‘wrapped up in prejudice and exploitation.’

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If Nothing Bad Happened, How Can I Say My Childhood Wasn’t Happy?

I heard Rosendale’s newest song, “Just a Kid,” about how he wants to be a kid forever and I realized… I don’t want that.

Childhood wasn’t a happy time for me. Nor was it an unhappy time. It wasn’t about any external events which happened in my childhood—I was more fortunate than many, perhaps most children, in the circumstances I was born into. It was more about the internal experiences. (And yes, there were times when I felt happy as a kid, that’s just not the dominant mood when I recall my childhood).

One of my oldest memories is about trying to reach the sink and failing because I was too short. It was so awful that I do what I wanted. No authority figure stopped me from reaching that sink—I just lacked the ability. That’s what my childhood memories feel like—an inability to reach for my goals.

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Why Do So Many Doctors Refuse to Listen to Fat Patients?

Some doctors who are otherwise perceptive have a huge mental block when it comes to fat people.

I appreciate the comments IM Doc, a doctor on the frontline of the pandemic, makes about covid-19 on the Naked Capitalism blog. To quote a comment he made on January 1 of this year:

On Dec 31 2020 231K COVID cases were logged in USA – on DEC 31 2021 – that number is 443K. Deaths on DEC 31 2020 were 3,400 and on DEC 31 2021 – were 1,181. Please remember in 2020 – we were much further into the hospitalization curve so that death number may very well increase. I certainly pray every day that is the case. But the difference between 2021 (approximately 65% of USA fully vaccinated) and 2020 (0% vaccinated) could not be more stark and concerning. As I have repeatedly taught medical students over decades – we must look at the final common outcomes to really gauge the success of an intervention. Given these numbers, and the status of the ERs all over America, I would give the vaccines a solid F as a public health measure. That said, it is clear for INDIVIDUAL risk mitigation, there is currently an advantage.

His perspective on vaccines has persuaded me. As a public health measure, vax-centric policies are a failure. The countries which have much lower covid-19 death tolls are the ones where public health authorities put a much heavier emphasis on non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as border controls/quarantines, indoor air quality, widespread testing, material support for people in self-isolation, and/or masking.

Since IM Doc has, at times, been the only doctor on duty in a hospital emergency room while the other doctors were in quarantine, I want him to save his time and energy for taking care of himself and his patients, not arguing with strangers on the internet. That’s why I haven’t challenged his fatphobia directly in comments. So instead, I’m blogging. This isn’t even about him as an individual—he’s just an example of a pattern.

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Their Youth Is Not the Problem

The producers of My Teenager Girl are manipulative and effective. Some of the viral clips which passed around on YouTube hooked me. I haven’t seen every episode from beginning to end, but I’ve watched more of the show than I want to admit.

My Teenage Girl is a South Korean music survival show, in which contestants compete for seven debut slots in a new Kpop idol group. (Though they also perform some non-Kpop songs in the show).

One controversy is that some contestants are 10-13 years old, and that some debut slots were set aside for this age group (but then the quota system got tossed).

Some say that they are too young for the toxic Kpop industry. Yes, the Kpop industry is toxic (I’ve seen no one argue otherwise), but isn’t it also toxic for 23-year-olds? That’s the age of the oldest contestant, Kim Hari. The problem isn’t the contestants ages, it’s that the Kpop industry is toxic.

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