The Gradual by Christopher Priest. Literary SF novel set in the author's "Dream Archipelago" world. A composer lives in the grim, staid nation of Glaund, locked in war with a rival. But when he manages to get on a rare concert tour of the Dream Archipelago, it leads him to a crisis and transformation.
I liked this one. Though the pace is a bit languorous it does have something of a plot. It's also good to see a bit more of this world and some of its anomalies.
Well worth reading if you can cope with the combination of SF and slow-paced literary fiction
So, Trump. There's thinkpieces galore so I don't have much to say. Made the mistake of looking at Metafilter which is going completely ape. My random thoughts.
- Terrible result for climate change and science.
- Bad news for minorities in the US.
- Foreign policy: unclear. In theory he was less hawkish than Clinton, in practice his inability to keep his temper may be a problem.
- For straight white Americans, probably not that bad (despite the gleeful anticipation of apocalypse on Mefi). For one thing there may be a functioning Federal government again.
- There's no simple way to untangle xenophobia and economic anxiety, as I said before they're tangled together like twin boa constrictors
- Willingness to say racist things was a huge help to Trump in the primaries. In the general it was a dog that didn't bark: he didn't get more votes overall than Romney, didn't get more white votes than Romney. But it either didn't dissuade Republican voters, or attracted as many as it dissuaded.
- Compared to the last two elections, the Republican vote held steady but the Democrat vote collapsed. To that extent, it was Hillary's loss rather than Trump's win. However Trump did manage to not lose votes despite a hostile press, being outspent, the supposedly inferior "ground game", and Republican opposition. He also managed to extend the Republican vote to less affluent white voters, and into Rust Belt states.
- The analogy with Brexit can be overplayed. Trump extended the vote a bit, but Trump voters were still wealthier than Clinton voters; while Leave voters were poorer and more working class than Remain. Democrats should try to avoid the Remainer mistake of making too many specific, immediate predictions of disaster.
- Polling was reasonably accurate, only a 2% systematic error. American pollsters string of luck in not actually getting a Presidential result wrong is over though. Welcome to our world.
- Did like this Mefi comment: "More than 80% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. These are people who've spent the last forty years fantasizing about being brave resistance fighters against the Antichrist. And when an authoritarian cult arose around a charismatic leader who's literally the opposite of Jesus, they couldn't bend the knee to him fast enough."
- The "President Lex" storyline looks way more plausible now
Socioeconomics. Uber ruling. Uber: control without obligation:
Go back to the 18th century and you would find a place like London was one big gig economy. Few people had jobs as we know them now; most were hired intermittently and were paid by the "piece" or task...
Manufacturers replaced putting out with the factory system to control and standardise processes thereby ensuring quality control and driving down costs. The only problem was that when workers were together they tended to do awkward things like take collective action and demand employment rights, a process which eventually saw most piecework being replaced with regular wages . The factory system can therefore be said to have created employment in the way that we now understand the term, complete with its legal obligations.
New technology, though, enables companies to control their processes without their workers being in the same place. You can therefore combine factory discipline with the piece rates and reduced obligations of the putting out system.
Politics. A short critique of Stallmanism
US Presidential Politics. Why were the US polls wrong? Michael Moore: Morning After To-Do List. 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win. The Democratic Party Establishment Is Finished. Glenn Greenwald: Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit.
Random. British author Sarah Caudwell wrote four mystery novels without revealing the main characterâ€™s gender. Medieval bathing. How to smash a grape through your head. 10 lost artistic works. Funeral trolleys.
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