|word count screenshot for 2015-12-18|
2015-12-18 - 2015-11-22 = 26
So about 65% of the desired rate. Still, not nothing and much of it is lamentably philosophical.
|word count screenshot for 2015-12-18|
I have excellent readers and they send me typos and formatting infelicities so I can fix them. (And if I've received them I have fixed them. Thank you, one and all.)
The current idea is to publish updated epubs of The March North or A Succession of Bad Days around about the Gregorian new year.
So if you have any typeaux or formatting niggles that you'd like to be fixed and you don't know that I have them, please do feel free to stick them into the comments should you be so inclined.
Every now and again I get to feeling like some things are really obvious, but no one else seems to get them. Or maybe they're too polite to talk about them. And then sometimes I get writing fiction and bits of reality insist on intruding, or maybe vice-versa, and I get an explanation of why I cannot stand to read a lot of otherwise excellent writing. And then I wonder if I ought to post this at all.
But, anyway; if we talk about "power" in a human social context, power is the ability to have other people not fight back when you harm them.
(If you're doing a really good job exercising power, they'll come up with reasons why they deserve to be hurt. A mediocre job will have them come up with reasons why they cannot hope to retaliate effectively.)
Any power structure has to do two things; it has to make it unambiguous who is allowed to hurt whom, and it has to get itself copied into the future.
Attaching the exercise of power to individuals isn't the only way or the best way to organize society, but it's extremely persistent.
It's extremely persistent because it's simple—better usually means more complicated means more maintenance and more trouble with system exploits by defection—and because it provides a powerful motivation; no one wants to be powerless because being powerless means you get abused.
There's a big set of social and economic changes going on where the (obviously) economically superior form of organization says "let's not structure society around who gets hurt" and there's enormous pushback from the people who have power and want to keep it.
(This is why it's useless to talk about "privilege"; privilege is in the passive voice, and you don't get from impersonal historical forces to a recognition that those who now have power ought not to because there is no legitimate exercise of social power vesting in individuals.)
So one response to the helpless—refugees, the poor, anybody lacking the social connections to have a good-enough lawyer—is to hurt them. This has (from inside that social structure) the positive feature of reinforcing the social order.
So when people get up and make calls for refusing any and all Syrian refugees, the harm to the refugees isn't a lamentable side effect of due public caution; it's the point. It establishes who legitimately exercises power.
When people engage with art by adding layers of story, there's a ubiquitous tendency to make violence and cruelty not that character's fault because that's the character they like. This is arguably what art is for. This context of art makes looking at the legitimacy of social power vested in individuals difficult. (There isn't any, unless you agree that you should be hurt for the convenience or pleasure of others. It's…awkward, to have to start over.)
This presents the really difficult question of "what else should we do?"
Social power structures depend on getting copied into the future. Imagining an entire future is too difficult; no one can, or can expect, to be able to do that.
Fortunately, an entire future is not necessary. Delegitimizing social power vested in individuals -- agreeing that nobody gets to hurt others because they want to (or claim they need to, or have a belief system which asserts the positive good of coercion…) -- is enough. The result isn't predictable in detail, but is predictably better in result.
It's enough to get something better; that's success. Control, specific foreknowledge of just what better thing can be had, isn't available and (fortunately) is not required.
 this is why "gender neutral" children's clothing looks like boy's clothes. In a patriarchial culture, girl's clothes label you as someone anyone male can hurt. Very nearly someone who anyone male should hurt.
|Word count screenshot for 2015-11-22|
|word count screenshot for 2015-11-16|
|Juvenile merlin in the Hawk Hill oak in High Park|
|Aoife the cat stricken with philosophy|
In the last few days, I've had email from four different progressive organizations about a drowned child from Syria.
They talk about compassion and accepting refugees and petitioning governments to allow the people trying to escape Syria into where we live, which, well, it makes me want to tear my hair.
Not because I disagree with compassion or the duty to accept refugees; those are both obvious and necessary.
Because this is just the start.
Syria's collapse isn't solely due to drought and failed crops, maybe isn't mostly due to drought and failed crops — being next to a failed state that's exporting gunmen can't help; having a despot can't help — but political difficulties can, in principle, be fixed. The Eastern Mediterranean going very, very dry cannot be fixed. (The Eastern Mediterranean is larger than Syria.)
California going very very dry can't be fixed, either. Nor parts of Africa going dry, nor the prospect of the Asian Monsoon shutting down, or the discomfiting observation that folks farming up in Grey County in Ontario are trying to get the hay off in early September, rather than June. It's not like we've got an expectation of nice ordered slow linear failure of agriculture with lots of warning. It's not like it can't happen here; Saskatchewan grows not quite half Canada's food, and they're trending dry, as is pretty much all of Canada west of Winnipeg.
It's not like we have any reasonable expectation of being able to do anything about it once agriculture gets broken enough that even an oil executive or the owner of a coal mine will acknowledge there's a climate problem. There's a decade or two of continuing change built in once the emissions stop; things will go right on getting worse.
Discussions of the bad effects of climate change focus on habitability; the sea will rise, and the coastal cities that hold most of humanity will have to move. Some places may get too hot to survive in at peak summer temperatures, and people will have to leave them, or have very robust air conditioning. Worries like that, safely distant in the future.
The most pressing worry is not safely distant. It's happening.
Agriculture goes long before habitability does; agriculture depends on predictability so you know what and when to plant. Agriculture depends on predictable climate so you know what crop-eating pests you're dealing with and the soil fauna work so there's a viable nutrient cycle and just a whole lot of things.
Agriculture absolutely depends on sufficient rain.
California's agriculture sector desiccating takes a fifth of American food production with it. Yes, there's presently sufficient food surplus in Canada. Yes, we're at 0.8C warming relative to baseline, not the 2.0C warming that's the official figure for "very bad, agriculture breaks". (Though that 2.0 C figure is not looking like a safe bet at this time.)
Thing is, food security goes, everything else goes, too. You can't have a society or an economy or a culture without food security underneath it. There's any number of unfortunate examples from as much history as we've got. Our population is high enough that it has to be mechanized agriculture, too. (Which means that we're desperately dependent on the cause of the problem, and really have to fix that. Any government serious about climate change is heavily supporting not zero-emission electric cars but zero-emission electric tractors. Which is to say, none of them.)
It's all tied together; climate, immigration, the economy, what to do about the increasing numbers of refugees the political instability in other places climate instability creates. It all comes down to being sure people have enough to eat and somewhere to sleep out of the rain. Continued fossil carbon extraction breaks that, and with that, everything.
So, certainly, I will be voting NDP; not because I'm comfortable with their centre-right repositioning as a party and not because they've got an adequate climate policy (it's extremely weak tea), but because it's possible an NDP government won't make our food security worse.
The Conservatives have a pro-fossil-carbon policy of making our food security worse.
The Liberals... it's possible they wouldn't make things worse. It's possible. Given their stunning act of political cynicism around bill C-51, I don't feel very confident they're on speaking terms with reality, though, and I'd consider them a bad bet.
I really, really want someone to vote for who is taking our food security seriously. I have no hope of it happening in time.
There are a lot of good things about the Waterfront Trail, starting with "it exists". Even understanding "it exists" to be heavily qualified by the presence of shoreline estates, nuclear power plants, and the occasional feature of geography like McLaughlin Bay.
Still, the signage. It's small, much of it is old, and, well.
|Bicycle at Rouge Hill GO Station|
|Bicycle under the Aldershot GO station sign|
Yesterday was the annual Carden Count, where bunches of people haul themselves up to the Carden Alvar for a 06h00 start time and go stand on designated points and spend five minutes counting all the birds they can see or hear.
This requires somebody comfortable with GPS devices, as well as someone who can ear-bird, so I still get to be useful.
A cloudy cool morning, dimmer than usual, and much wetter; it's been raining enough to leave puddles on the surface and established mud, which is tough to do on an alvar -- and a faster spring; the prairie smoke is nearly all done blooming, and the mosquitoes were available in quantity. The expected birds, though; loggerhead shrike (I am hoping the low nesting reports are a side effect of reduced funding and thus fewer researchers, because we found a probable nest location), upland sandpiper, (winnowing) snipe, grasshopper sparrow, vesper sparrow (so many vesper sparrows), golden-winged warbler, indigo bunting, an absolutely brilliant rose-breasted grossbeak, sedge wren, marsh wren, kingfisher, hooded merganser, surprise ruffed grouse, and the inescapable turkey vultures. (Also a kestrel and a probable distant harrier, plus an osprey on the way up.) No sandhill crane. Pretty good day.
But the "best bird" wasn't, it was
|startlingly southern moose|
So it's not April and it's not quite May, either, but I've committed book again.
|Available on Google Play Books|
The Marsh Boardwalk observation tower provides really excellent views of the nesting barn swallows.
|Male barn swallow|
|Female barn swallow|
So, yes, I've entirely missed March. Whups.
So, anyway --
|Short-eared Owl on a large snowy branch|
I think James liked The March North; woohoo!
A Succession of Bad Days has been out for an unfamiliar critical read, and now another unfamiliar critical read (the people who one gets to bounce up and down and burble at about the gubbins of the world building are invaluable, but they're also not going to tell you where you've been incomprehensible quite the same way a new reader will), and ought to be winging its way to the editing processes relatively soon-like.
Doesn't look like I'm going to make a march release date, but April's not looking unlikely.
So a bunch of people have had trouble getting to the "Download EPUB" functionality with Google Play Books when trying to get their archive copy of The March North.
So it's about that time again.
I've got all of three written, people have read it, they have not informed me it is dire, dreadful, or despicable, so I can contemplate to publish Commonweal book two, aka A Succession of Bad Days.  Which means:
|Black cat exploring fire sprinkler pipes|