Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo

Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo came out in 2017 and received good reviews. I picked it up the other day in our university library. A decent read, it is a domestic drama set against backdrop of Yoruba culture and Nigeria in the 1980s. Personally, I do not find dramatic stories of marriage problems (and boy does this one have them!) that interesting. The writing is competent, though sometimes it seemed like the author and editor lost track of what they were trying to accomplish (occasional fast-forwards, multiple points of view…) and Akin’s point of view sections are far less interesting than Yejide’s, and one fundamental issue with him is never really explained or explored, which was kind of weird.

The author talks about her book:

Posted in Book and film reviews

Recent reading, novels and short stories

Harp of Burma, Michio Takeyama. 1946. For our book club (whose rule is under 200 pages). Not politically correct by any means, this tale of a Japanese company towards the end of the Burma war in 1944 was apparently intended as a redeeming novel for young people in Japan to draw the right lessons from the war. Lots of understated Buddhism, but too many stereotypes about Burma.

Nebula Awards Showcase, 2018. Mostly the stories tended towards fantasy, which is not my preferred genre. Unless Ursula K. Le Guin is writing. I enjoyed reading “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar, “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” by Jason Sanford, and “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” by Sarah Pinsker, and “The Orangery” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.

The Stone Country, by Alex la Guma. Fine writing, classic political prison novel.

Vladimir Nabokov, King, Queen, Knave. A lot of fun to read. When I retire, English PhD, on Nabokov. how come nobody is studying his work?

Short stories in The New Yorker.

  • John L’Heureux, “Escape.” One’s own imminent suicide has to be pondered, by writing a story about one’s father and his bad death. Yikes was my only reaction. this story was so close to home, with Alzheimers and Parkinsons and getting older.
  • Camille Bordas, “The Presentation on Egypt.” A father’s suicide has to be filtered and processed by mother and daughter. A finely-etched portrait. Not revelatory, more like a chapter in a novel.
  • Ben Lerner, “Ross Perot and China.” A family sketch. And definitely part of a novel. Very little to chew on here. Like leaving a time capsule for 1,000 years from now: how did some humans live and what did they think of?
  • Lauren Groff, “Brawler.” Sad tale of a teenager whose mother is dying. Yeah, beautifully written but definitely not my groove when I have a teenage daughter at home!
  • Greg Jackson, “Poetry.” Very literary story, about a couple and their relationship, and maybe dying after eating some fruit on the beach.
  • Te-Ping Chen, “Lulu.”  Political story about a young woman in China who gets obsessed with… justice and liberty. And her brother, who isn’t.
Posted in Book and film reviews

Les Paul and Mary Ford “There’s no place like home”

Posted in Music

Revenue-strapped government of Burkina Faso? I don’t think so.

Government revenue has been rising steadily over the past 15 years. While there are many competing demands for funds, the amount available has increased. So analyses that start by saying “the government does not have the funds” are misleading. the government has more funds than ever, and the allocation of those funds is, as always, a political challenge.

BF government revenue

Posted in Burkina Faso

How much is the Trump trade war helping African consumers of soybean?

According to the IITA, Africa imports about 1.5 million tons of soybean a year.  Let’s say that Trump’s trade war with China has been the reason that soybean prices have fallen from $10 a bushel to $7.50 a bushel over the last year or two.  There are 36 bushels in a ton so African countries are saving $2.5 x 54 m bushels = $135 million each year. Not enough to change consumption or nutrition very much unless there is a huge import surge. of course, we must also remember that soybean has been a rapidly growing crop in many production regions in Africa, and a price slump could slow that growth, and the consequently the externalities that come from developing the export market and the processing market.

Posted in Burkina Faso, International trade issues

Recent reading: Beard, Twain, and Pinsker

Sarah Pinsker, Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea. Short stories set in the future. Billed as sci-fi, but these did not appeal to me as much as I had hoped. Nicely done, small moments of human insight. When I read sci-fi though I usually want more of a sense of wonder.

Mary Beard, SPQR. Fun reading this over last few weeks, a long history of the Roman Republic. I knew very little about that history. I wonder whether it will stick. But so interesting the institution of the two elected consuls. And how little historians actually know.

Mark Twain, Roughing It. Amazing to think this was an incredibly literate person, with keen insight, traveling for months in the western territories, only about 150 years ago. Not something you read straight through. I pick it up and read a dozen pages at a time.  The opposite of sci-fi, I guess. He relishes the tall tales, Twain does.

Posted in Book and film reviews

Should anti-vaccination parents be liable under tort law if their child infects a baby and kills them?

With the current measles outbreak this is a “live” issue. From Dorit Reiss at UC Hastings College of the Law:

Further, we do make exceptions and impose liability for nonaction when there are strong policy reasons. When parents decide not to vaccinate (absent a valid medical reason), they are choosing a bigger risk for their own child and rejecting expert opinion. That is bad enough; in a real sense, they are failing their own child. But they also put others at risk, others who did not choose that risk. Under these circumstances, there are good reasons to create an exception and find that parents who do not vaccinate violate a duty of care and should take personal responsibility when anyone is harmed. This social choice can be made easier by legislative action. State legislatures can create laws that impose liability when non-vaccinating is shown to cause harm.

From a 2014 piece by Blake Simpson, then a J.D. Candidate at the University of Nebraska College of Law:

In response to the problem of decreasing vaccination rates in Ashland and other communities with high non-medical exemption rates, bioethicist Art Caplan has advocated for using tort law as a policy-shaping tool to help achieve public health goals regarding vaccine mandate compliance. Caplan believes that statutory religious and philosophical exemptions should still be available to parents, but that liability for negligence should flow from any harm caused by their decision to withhold vaccination from a child regardless of whether an exemption has been procured. As Caplan explains,

If your kid gets the measles, and remember public health officials are getting very, very good at tracing outbreaks to their source, and makes my kid sick (can happen since vaccine is not 100% effective), my newborn baby die (newborns can’t benefit from vaccines) or my wife miscarry (fetuses are at especially high risk), then shouldn’t I be able to sue you for the harm you have done?

In a typical case, the plaintiff would shoulder the burden of proving each element of a traditional negligence claim in order to recover against the parent of an unvaccinated child: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. As to duty, Caplan contends that parents have a general duty to prevent foreseeable harm to others. Because the failure to vaccine could result in reasonably foreseeable harm to the child and others, this duty applies regardless of whether a parent has obtained a religious or philosophical exemption. Caplan believes that exemptions do “not negate the fundamental duty one has to act reasonably in preventing the spread of disease to others,” and the failure to vaccinate a child represents a breach of duty regardless.

And from a University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 82 [2014] article by Teri Dobbins Baxter:

Parents have the right under current state and federal law to choose not to immunize their children. Their choice to exercise this right should not expose them to tort liability. However, their choice, and the constitutional and privacy rights implicated by the choice, do not absolve them of their duty to exercise ordinary care to prevent causing harm to others. Allowing those who have been infected by unvaccinated children to pursue tort claims merely recognizes this duty. While courts have not addressed tort claims or duties in this precise context, holdings in other cases involving negligent transmission of contagious diseases support the conclusion that public policy favors tort liability. It promotes the compelling state interest in preventing the spread of disease without unduly infringing on the right of parents to direct the care and upbringing of their children. For these reasons, tort liability should be available against parents who choose not to immunize their children and who fail to use due care to prevent those children from contracting harmful diseases and infecting others.

Posted in Burkina Faso, United States