White Trash, by Nancy Isenberg

White Trash – The 400 Year Untold Story of Class in America is an important book in today’s environment. The book can be hard to read at times as it leans toward academic prose and style. The ideas and history are critical to learn nonetheless and I found it worth the effort required by the prose. For me, this was in the impact genre of Zinn’s A People’s History – though Trash is much narrower in scope.

Three things really strike me as i look back over my reading. 1. Colonization could have been as much about cultural cleansing (sending the undesirable as far away as possible) as it was about rape and pillage; 2. Different colonies in the south began with opposing views on slavery; 3. Class manipulation (pitching one class, especially the poor white class, against another more lowly class) is as alive today as it was in any other time of our history.

A few quotes:

“When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.” 

“We know, for instance, that Americans have forcefully resisted extending the right to vote; those in power have disenfranchised blacks, women, and the poor in myriad ways. We know, too, that women historically have had fewer civil protections than corporations. Instead of a thoroughgoing democracy, Americans have settled for democratic stagecraft: high-sounding rhetoric, magnified, and political leaders dressing down at barbecues or heading out to hunt game.” 

“If this book accomplishes anything it will be to have exposed a number of myths about the American dream, to have disabused readers of the notion that upward mobility is a function of the founders’ ingenious plan, or that Jacksonian democracy was liberating, or that the Confederacy was about states’ rights rather than preserving class and racial distinctions.” 

A climate reason behind ‘why not’

Looking at different new investments, an industrial REIT surfaced from my value screens … I am not a huge fan of economic cycle REITs at this point, but the valuation was interesting – MNR

I was primarily interested in a preferred stock MNR/PR/C. But … after looking at their financials and business model a bit closer, this graphic struck me

They have a sizable property distribution on the eastern US seaboard … if i am looking at a 10 yr investment, do i really want to purchase hard physical assets that are on the coast? NO! Climate change risk was a big factor in walking away from this investment.

Child labor – consumers are responsible

Washington Post published an article today about child labor in the cocoa farms of West Africa – CHILDREN. Consumers are responsible for supporting products and supply chains that do not / cannot promise conflict and child-labor free outputs.

Purposeful consumption – or responsible consumption – is a new priority for me. If you purchase the product you are responsible for the intended AND unintended consequence of that product’s full supply chain. Elective ignorance no longer removes culpability. You buy it, you’re responsible. We all need to consumer carefully … purposefully, responsibly.

Article – subscription may be required

Carbon Capture – Not sufficiently talked about

I found this article a bit ago and it struck me pretty hard. I hear people often talking about carbon reduction through their advocacy and daily activities. But according to this author, reducing carbon output is necessary, but not sufficient. We need to figure out how to capture carbon out of the atmosphere and remove it, destroy it, or turn it into something benign. Nobody is really talking like this – is this a bridge too far or does this need to be included in any climate change discussion?


Plastic – oh my!

Infographic: Plastic Recycling Still Has A Long Way To Go   | Statista

Thanks to the great folks at Statista for the data … this only goes back to 2015, and I imagine that the growth since then is above linear. their story is equally as good https://www.statista.com/chart/18064/plastic-waste-in-the-us-municipal-solid-waste-disposal/ … what the blazes are YOU doing about it? Reducing your plastic usage, reusing the plastic you have …

Things to keep in mind when you cruse thru your favorite store:

  • Can i buy it without single use plastic?
  • Can i reuse that plastic if i buy it?
  • What are alternatives to plastic that i can use, buy, and share?

Auto Carbon Footprint

I had not seen something like this before and found it pretty interesting – it’s mostly from a CO2 perspective and not detailed on heavy metals – another environmental cost to consider.

It’s hard to argue against more and more EV autos … but especially here in US – will people buy them without incentive with higher cost than combustion models?

This is worth poking at if you are interested in buying car


Pavilion of Women – Pearl S Buck

Just finished reading this novel and found it a great story with some very nice turns of plot … As I find myself in the later part of life, there are some strong reminders in the story for me. As always personalizing the story … control and love and letting go for something grander than one dreams. I recommend the book.


A spoiler review

Wikipedia @ Pearl S Buck

A negative view of American retirement

This is a sobering piece on the financial health of American retirement. Who will have money, who will not, and what this may mean for government funded social programs. This could potentially be the second largest crisis after climate change we Americans will face in the next 20 years. Unfortunately, the political, social and individual wills and self discipline to solve this crisis (or climate) just do not exist. I count myself in the ‘lucky’ bucket but it does not change the great disruptions that this set of reports puts on the horizon. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4257916-boomers-facing-financial-crisis

Enjoy the unreliable narrator

That old saying about learning history to avoid repeating it is hard to dispute. I really love history, but I most often read good, well researched historical fiction. All history is told by unreliable narrators. What bothers me the most are those authors who profess absolutely factual events … as long as they uphold their world view – Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States gives numerous examples of unreliable historical narratives that should shake most of us out of our lazy reading and believing.

Both types of story tellers are unreliable narrators; they select events, facts and the right emphasis to support their narrative. I just find historical fiction more entertaining and most importantly, no less ‘factual’. Learning from great stories of the human condition within a historical context, helping to recognize the repeats, rhythms and parallels of surfacing in current events. A salve for my curiosity of the past.

The wonderful teacher and author, Lilyan Kesteloot (sorry only in French) who I had the honor of studying with for 1 year, carefully showed how the griot (or bard) artfully modified stories to retain the publically ‘known’ version but used the story to justify the current holder of power. Her publication of the Sundiata story is a masterpiece.

I will comment from time to time on the better stories, for example Cicero.

Post high school education challenge

I have recently been working on a couple of consulting projects in the post high school education space and a common challenge is surfacing … enrollment. More precisely, the continued decline and absence of growth in enrollment with traditional and non-traditional students.

Bloomberg posted an article today on a similar topic, though seemed to focus more on the ‘for profit’ segment. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-04-18/america-s-great-college-boom-is-winding-down

How this all plays out is a coin toss at this point in my perpsective, but the landscape will be VERY different 10 years from now. How these institutions recreate themselves in an era of ubiquitous digital connectivity will be the key test in my opinion. Competition for every eyeball (whether for entertainment or education) is intense and will only increase as the demographics in US continue to decelerate and decline.