Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Rainy Day

Yesterday was gray. I stayed inside and read: Valiant by Holly Black, which I liked, and Old Man's War by John Scalzi, which I did not like, though it's a page turner. I read right through to the end.

I am not a fan of military sf, except for The Forever War. I don't like generic bad aliens. Too many of Scalzi's aliens ate humans, which is the behavior of trolls and bogey men. How likely is it that a bunch of unrelated alien species will all find humans edible and tasty?

I had the sense that Scalzi might be planning a twist or surprise, but it didn't happen in the first book, and I don't feel I want to read the rest of the books.

In general, I want a convincing reason for wars, though the ones we have here on Earth often seem to have trivial reasons. Real life can be unconvincing. Fiction can't be.

Today it's raining, a steady all-day rain. I have stayed inside thus far, working on the new Lydia Duluth story, then making a Mexican beans and rice recipe off my basmati rice package.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weather Report

Autumn is progressing. A lot of leaves have fallen and some trees are entirely bare. The leaves that remain are muted. We had a warm September and a cold, rainy October, not good for colors.

There have been several snow falls, none lasting in the Cities.

I continue to look for work and work on my writing -- a new Lydia Duluth story, the Wiscon essay and the sequel to Ring of Swords.

I have a job interview next week, after a long dry spell.


Our hoya is blooming again -- four clusters of flowers this time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mid October

It's cold and grey in Minnesota. There was mixed rain and snow in the morning, turning to rain. The snow that fell on Monday is gone.

I exercised this morning, then got my flu shot, then came home and made baked apples. I am now making baked winter squash.

Patrick is going to the annual meeting of a homeless shelter. Last year the shelter gave an award for the outstanding participant in their family program. The award went to a six year boy, homeless with his family. He got up and gave a speech on how the shelter taught him that if he did well in school, then he would not have to be homeless.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

G20 Meeting in Pittsburgh

I found this on the Internet.

From the Thomas Merton Center/Twin Cities Pittsburgh and Indymedia/Glassbead Collective NYC

Pittsburgh, PA, September 27th, 2009:

On the first day of the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, residents and visitors arriving in the downtown area of the two time “Most Livable City” winner were greeted with a town locked down with security fences, barricades, and checkpoints staffed by security forces in camouflage standing next to armored vehicles typically seen in TV news reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Apache, Blackhawk, and Chinook helicopters traversed the skies. National Guard and airborne regiments staffed local jails, extended with temporary holding facilities created from mobile trailers, portable toilets and generators, where incarcerated protesters were referred to with military terminology as “detainees” not “arrestees”.

Activists planning G-20-related protest events were repeatedly harassed by police during the week preceding the Summit, and residents unconnected with any protest organizing saw similar visits from a police force acting as if it expected a foreign army to invade the city. As collectives who support activists by providing food services at similar scale events entered Pittsburgh immediately prior to the convention, they and anyone who offered space to their mobile kitchens were harassed and threatened by local police. Attempted public feedings in the downtown area, open to all, were physically blocked by police citing lacks of permits.

Police responded to demonstrations with riot control equipment including batons, tear gas, pepper spray, percussion grenades, and Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) used by the New York Police Department during the 2004 Republican National Convention and by the U.S. military to disperse crowds in Iraq. Pre-recorded dispersal orders including the phrase “no matter what your purpose” were blasted from police loudspeakers in crowded public spaces, making it clear that anyone who stayed in the areas following the warnings would be in danger of riot control weapons and arrest—including journalists.

Weather Report

There is a slight chance of snow Friday night.

The Walker

I went to a dance performance at the Walker Art Center on Sunday. It was a combination of South Indian and Balinese dance with two orchestras, one Indian and one Balinese. I liked it, though I know so little about both traditions that I had trouble figuring out how the two traditions were being used.

My friend and I came early and went through the museum. I have complicated responses to the Walker, since I grew up in the old museum, which no longer exists. The permanent collection is on exhibit right now. I recognized some of the pieces from the 1950s. In some cases I have memories of the artists.

I know my father had trouble buying art, since the Walker was not the super museum it is now and did not have the current financial resources. I look at the works I know he bought, thinking they are so small -- but also often lovely.

I also have memories of the old Guthrie Theater, which is gone, reduced to a green lawn behind the existing Walker; and I have memories of the house where my family lived, another green lawn.

So for me the Walker is haunted by ghosts.

But the dance performance was enjoyable and had no ghosts, though it did have a Monkey King and a Bird King and a ten-headed demon.

The guy playing the demon was Balinese and terrific. He had the most amazing evil stage laugh.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Weekend Report

Yesterday was cold and damp with an iron-grey sky. Patrick was feeling under the weather, due to his sciatica. We stayed in most of the day, Patrick dozing in front of his computer, while I read economics, trying to prep for revising my Wiscon essay.

I need to find a brief and forceful way to describe the housing and financial bubbles and their current collapse -- though Wall Street is rebubbling at the moment, which will likely lead to another crash.

We need to rebuild the country and the planet, if human civilization is going to survive; and much of our wealth is being sucked into financial con games. This cannot continue. But how can I say this briefly?

This afternoon I am going to the Walker Art Center for a performance of Asian Indian dance, done to Indonesian gamalan music. It should be neat.

I seem to be finally building a structure for my new life as an unemployed person. I am exercising four or five times a week, which will make my doctor very happy. I'm writing. I'm looking for work and becoming less picky about what I want to do. I'm setting up dates with friends, because staying home makes me crazy.

As long as I pay attention to my budget and don't get discouraged about finding work, I could continue like this for a while.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Jobs Lost in September

This is a long post by Meteor Blades at Daily Kos, with some editing because it's so long:

Another 263,000 jobs were lost in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning, far above the consensus of experts. Last month, the revised figures show, there were 201,000 jobs lost. The unemployment rate rose from 9.7% to 9.8%...

The latest figures reversed what had been a steady downward trend in job losses since spring. In the 21 months since the downturn began, there has been a net loss of 7.6 million jobs. Currently 15.1 million Americans are officially out of work. Another 11.4 million are unemployed because their unsuccessful search for a job has discouraged them, or they are underemployed because they want full-time work and can only obtain part-time hours...

The once-all-but-ignored alternative measure of unemployment and underemployed – U6 – rose from 16.8% to 17%. That figure includes jobless Americans who have become discouraged and those working part-time but desire full-time jobs, a total of 26.5 million. Without the government’s economic stimulus, which was fiercely opposed by Republicans, the situation would be far worse. But the latest figures give more credibility to those economists and other observers who have long questioned whether the stimulus as currently constituted can sustain a recovery.

In another much-watched statistic showing weakness in the labor market, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers fell back to 33 hours, a record low.

The number of long-term unemployed - workers who have gone jobless for 27 weeks or more rose - by 450,000 to 5.4 million. In September, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

The official unemployment rate for whites was 9.0 percent for September, for blacks 15.4 percent, for Hispanics 12.7 percent, and for Asians 7.4 percent. The rate for women of all races was 7.8 percent, for men 10.3%. Count in the discouraged and the underemployed, and those breakdowns are far worse, too.

Most economists and other expert observers believe that the quarter just ended and the quarter that we have just begun will show growth, perhaps in the 3% to 4% range. In the past that’s usually meant a rise in hiring. But in recovery periods following the previous two recessions, there’s been a disconnect: an extremely weak labor market. Those recessions were comparatively mild. What we’ve seen since December 2007 is the weakest employment market since the Great Depression. And it’s not likely to go away without additional stimulus no matter what the deficit hawks in both parties have to say.

Chances are that unemployment will continue to rise to 10% or beyond by year’s end and well into 2010. This is in great part because companies currently are utilizing their production capacities at very low levels. Even if their delivery orders increase, they can get more productivity from current employees. All this could easily mean structurally high unemployment for a long time – that is, several years – because employers have seen no need to hire as many new workers.

I'm currently trying to update the speech I gave at Wiscon in 2004, Writing Science Fiction During the Third World War. Do do this, I have to explain the current economic situation, which is not easy.

How can we have a recovery if people aren't working?