luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
That was definitely my favorite part of this day. ♥

Am suuuuper-tired, on a train home. I spontaneously took part of the Extinction Rebellion action in Stockholm today. I'm not actually active in that organization, but I was in Stockholm anyway, so. As compared to the "Shut down London" thing going on right now, it was pretty minor.

First we did a lie-in at the parliament building, lying down in a spreading circle with our feet towards the center and then repeatedly singing "Lascia ch'io pianga" but with rewritten lyrics about grief over climate change and species extinction. The acoustics were great, since it's a closed-in space with high stone walls, and people were singing impressively in tune, with a harmony, even! A+ idea and execution; that experience is going to stay with me.

Then later there was a blockade of a walk bridge between the parliament and government building for several hours, but not actually a total blockade since people could get through if they really wanted. I mostly walked around informing people what was going on; nobody got arrested. I guess this is where I express my uncertainty about what is actually a strategy that can bring action on climate change. : / I mean, if I am occupying an old-growth forest, I am physically saving those trees from being cut down. I would gladly be arrested for that. But climate change is such a global, interconnected thing. I am not emotionally willing to be arrested for a blockade like this, and also wonder what effect it actually has. Arrested for shutting down a coal mine? Yeah, more likely. Who knows what is a good strategy to stop fossil emissions, really?

I also got to sleep over at the Greenpeace action center in Stockholm, which was pretty cool. It's in an industrial lot on the outskirts of the city, and had kayaks, wetsuits, climbing equipment, ropes, banners from old actions, etc. Also among various boxes for engine parts was a large box labeled "butt plugs". Are those also a kind of engine part, or does Greenpeace have industrial-level supplies of sex toys? It is a mystery.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
I have unfortunately let the Fix Things Friday meme fall by the wayside--my last such post was in November. Ah well, I can't possibly write up everything I've done since November.

But in short, I have left the union board and rejoined the board of the environmental org. I am happy with this decision--I was on the union board for two years and at the annual meeting two other people stepped up when I left. So that's good. I am still the one welcoming new members, and also I am the person preparing elections, which means that I ask around to find new people for various elected positions for the next annual meeting. I basically already did that job when I was on the board, which is not ideal, but necessary since we had no one else who did it. We'll see if I'll do anything else in the union now--I went to a great workplace organizing course yesterday, but it seems a bit scary, as does negotiation in workplace conflicts. But that might be a reason to do it, or try it, anyway. I mean, what I've been doing so far is the supporting work around workplace organizing, which is the actual reason for the union to exist.

The annual meeting of environmental org went well. Or mostly, at least--the old board did not quite have things together for the meeting, and I had to remind them of things that they should have known to do. *rolls eyes* I'm not your mom, guys. I mean, I know not everyone knows organizational procedure from the start, and that's fine, but when you're on a board it is your duty to learn it! It's not like it's rocket science. But it was good as well, I met a lot of people I am fond of.

Well, and now I'm on that board again, with some new people as well. I am one of the two media spokespersons, as well as treasurer (though that takes very little time) and no doubt I will do a fair amount of coordinating within the board. We'll see how it goes. Next week we are launching a report on the bad behavior of the state-owned forest company, which I have worked with on and off for months (the report, that is). I am looking forward to that!
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Elbilen och jakten på metallerna by Arne Müller (2019, title means The Electric Car and the Hunt for Metals)
This is the fourth book I've read by Müller, and he consistently writes really good journalism. His themes are mining, the environment, regional politics and the impact of capitalism on the countryside. He wrote one book on the mining boom in Sweden about ten years ago; after that, metal prices crashed and many mines went bankrupt and planned projects didn't happen. Now metal prices and demand are rising again, especially for minerals used in battery technology. Müller looks at several projects that don't look so good on the environmental front, and also he looks at how much metals we'd actually need to electrify all cars; the result is not encouraging. Probably there will be more conflicts over mining in Sweden's future.

Queen's Shadow by E. K. Johnston (2019)
Recced by [personal profile] skygiants. I thoroughly enjoyed this! Read if you want women being competent and loyal to each other while also wearing cool space outfits and carefully crafting their public personas. Funny how this and Blood Lines are both about the political process in a way that the Star Wars movies are not (it's ages since I watched I-III though, so I can't speak for those). In the movies, the good guys are always the underdogs and they do dramatic war stuff with spaceships and blasters. In The Last Jedi, they even cut down the Resistance to just a few people who now have to start over, like they weren't underdogs enough already. In these books, I do enjoy watching people try to build something instead of desperately fighting.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (2012)
For my fannish book club; abandoned partway through. I am a bad book club participant! It was unfortunate that before this book, I had read an account of the role of the internet in the Arab Spring and after, written by a participant who is also a programmer, because it made that aspect of the book seem completely unrealistic. I could not suspend disbelief at all, and was relieved once the magic stuff got into it. To be fair to the book though, it was actually written before the Arab Spring. But even besides the computer stuff, I did not like the main character and the book did not grip me.

Revolution at Point Zero by Silvia Federici (2012)
I will probably abandon this as well. I wish it was written a bit less academically--I guess I've gotten spoiled with books written in a more direct and accessible way. Anyway, it's about housework, childcare, eldercare, etc, and how those things intersect with capitalism, and the author's changing views on this throughout her life.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
A Daughter of No Nation by A. M. Dellamonica (#2 in Hidden Sea Tales)
Still a page-turney and entertaining portal fantasy! \o/ I continue to enjoy the protagonist and her efforts to bring science and a high standard of evidence to a fantasy world.

Fjällvandra i Padjelanta och Sulitelma by Fredrik Neregård
A hiking guide to an area where I plan to go this summer.

Lär känna våra sällsynta fjällväxter by Mora Aronsson, Margareta Edqvist, and Thomas Strid
A guide to rare alpine plants, some of which only occur on peaks in the area described in the hiking guide above. *drools over the thought of seeing Potentilla hyparctica*
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
So, time for an update. I'm home with a slight sore throat, which I still have hopes of conquering before it turns into a full-on cold.

1) My current geeky pursuit is birdwatching. I usually focus on one kind of organism each year, and this year it's birds. I'm enjoying following all the new species that arrive with the spring, and yesterday I heard a rördrom (Great Bittern) for the first time! It sounds like someone blowing in a bottle.

2) My teaching has been going well. In the fall, I had a difficult group that wasn't really interested in math and gave me mostly bad evaluations, so I've been happy to teach a course that I know well (several variable calculus) and where the students appreciate me. I love the students on the teaching program, they are engaged and help each other and generally are great.

3) The housemate situation has ups and downs. The up: a while ago we asked one housemate to leave, which I posted about here. He moved out with minimal drama, and another guy has moved in who is working out wonderfully well! He's an engineer from Germany who has been involved in the environmental movement and the left movement in Germany, and also he climbs, so we have a lot in common. He's easy to get along with and interesting to talk with. \o/ The down: another person also moved into our small room who has not been working out as well. They are not great at intuiting social situations--for example, when they first moved in they tried to get close to my other long-time housemate and me by giving us presents and hugging us all the time, at which point we had to set boundaries. Which was awkward, and now they don't do that anymore but things are still awkward and we just don't click well. We'll see how it goes.

4) I have splurged on an expensive one-person tent. The tent I've had for twenty years is a three-person tent and annoyingly heavy when it's just me, and I do also have a hammock that I've used a lot, but it's good to have something to use when there are no trees or I just want to sleep on the ground. So I had to get new hiking boots anyway because the old ones were worn out, and my favorite outdoors store had a 1000 SEK discount when you bought something else at the same time as a tent. And they had this tent I've been pining for for a while, so I bought it and the hiking boots at the same time! I am now planning a solo hiking trip in the mountains (Kvikkjokk-Staloluokta-Sulitelma) which goes through a very botanically rich area. Looking forward to this so much.

5) I am planning a big party when I turn forty in May. The last time I had one was eleven years ago when I got my Ph D, and it was fun to bring together different groups of people from different parts of my life, and I will do that again (family, relatives, friends of the family, environmental activists, colleagues, syndicalists, and miscellaneous other friends). I have booked a good place where people who aren't from town can also sleep over, and I have sent out the invitations. This was a bit agonizing, because there's always that person which you feel you have to invite because they invited you to something and also they are friends with other people you have invited, but whom you would actually prefer not to invite, and that other person whom you think is cool and would like to invite, but maybe they would think it's weird because you don't actually know them that well. Augh.

Saving the organizational work for another update...
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Twitter and Tear Gas: the Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci (2017)
This is a seriously impressive and useful book. It's about the difference between social movements in the age of the internet compared to before the internet, written by someone who's a programmer, a social scientist and an activist herself. Some of her examples are the Arab Spring, Occupy, and student protests in Hong Kong, compared with the earlier civil rights movement in the US. But she also looks at right-wing movements like the Tea Party.

Tufekci describes the strengths of social media for activists in creating a networked alternative public sphere, mobilizing many people quickly, and organizing logistics efficiently. Then she goes on to also describe the downsides, saying that a large protest in the past is really not the same phenomenon as a large protest today. In the past, you had to do lots of organizing in order to make a large protest happen, and that organizing meant that you had built up structures that would also give you the capacity to make decisions and shift tactics when challenged. By contrast, a large protest today is often formed quickly by people who have not worked together before, and they often lack this capacity and have to start building it after they come together. This is why the US government could ignore the huge protests against the war in Iraq.

Apparently the often anti-authoritarian and leaderless structure of today's movements (such as Occupy) arose before the internet, but the internet facilitates this form of organization. Tufekci sees both pros and cons. I have to admit that I was a bit aghast at the description of Occupy's meeting techniques, where a single person in a huge group can block a decision and also the facilitator has a lot of informal power. : / Tufekci highlights how this can lead to "tactical freeze" where a group can't move forward and can't make decisions. The pros are that it encourages participation by all and that a movement can't be taken over as easily by co-opting or jailing its leadership.

Another part of the book is about government repression and counter-strategies against the kind of internet activism and public sphere that was part of the Arab Spring, when Middle-eastern governments were taken by surprise because they didn't take social media seriously. Since then they have wised up. The counter-strategies are not so much censorship and surveillance (though they have their place) as information glut, trolling, and casting doubt on activists' reports (for example by "exposing" them as hoaxes and also planting hoaxes of their own). Doubt and confusion make people downcast and less likely to act. There's a section on China's strategies, which are somewhat different since they have a wall around their internet in a way other countries don't. Apparently they let people criticize the government in social media (and use that to gather information about what people think) as long as it doesn't seem likely to lead to collective action, in which case it is censored. Also whenever something important happens that might lead to protest, there's an army of government trolls that start posting. But not to criticize or argue--instead they post cute cat pictures or some other unrelated thing, in order to deny attention to the protest. Finally Tufekci also writes about the unreliability of using social media owned by companies who want ad revenues and whose algorithms can hinder social movements.

In short, this book is highly recommended if you're interested in politics!
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Ooof, I have been really busy (and am still) and I now have a backlog of books to write about:

Lobsters on the Agenda by Naomi Mitchison (1952)
Daily life in a Scottish village, as seen through meetings of various groups, from a choir to a church to a district council. The main character is the district councillor Kate, and together with others she is working to get a village hall, which various religious groups object to. Besides that, there's various other subplots. At times it's almost too mundane, but I love Mitchison's writing and I do like how it all comes together. There's a really lovely conversation at the end where a man proposes to Kate because he thinks that maybe he ought to, and she turns him down, and they both laugh in mutual affection and are relieved that they don't have to get married. Awww.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (audiobook, #3 in the Wayfarers trilogy, 2018)
Maybe I had my expectations set too high by the reviews I've seen, because I did like this a lot but I wasn't blown away by it. It has much less narrative drive than the middle book in the trilogy. For a lot of the book it's curtain-fic set in what's pretty much a utopia, which of course runs into the problem of nothing much happening, though the different strands do come together and there is eventually a plot. Like the other books, it has a lot of heart and I appreciate that, but I think the middle book is better.

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson (the revised 2015 version, #1 in the Green Earth trilogy)
About science, politics, and climate change, set in Washington DC. Apparently KSR revised and shortened it because he realized he didn't have to describe that city like he did with settings on Mars. Hee. Anyway, I like this a lot, like I almost always do with KSR's work. It's basically people trying to work within the system to stop climate change.

Arrival and Garh City by Robert Nichols (#1 and #2 in Daily Lives in Nghsi-Altai, 1977 and 1978)
This is utopian anthropological SF in the vein of Le Guin's Always Coming Home (there's actually a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to it in ACH). I don't quite know what to make of it, and I find it hard to like. It's fragmentary, like ACH, and that combined with a flat emotionless tone makes it hard for me to connect to it. Also it is obvious that this was not written by Le Guin but by a dude in the '70:s. Exhibit A: the sentence "I was assigned a wife." It's seen through the eyes of four famous male figures from various points in history who are there to visit (any issues with time are basically ignored). I guess there are some interesting elements, but I might skip the next two (they are all really short, though).
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
I have now seen The Talk of the Town from 1942, and I am entirely charmed. I haven't seen a slashier movie in ages. It is a screwball comedy about a labor union agitator who is framed for a crime and has escaped from jail, a law professor, and a schoolteacher (the first two are men, the third is a woman). There is constant debate and banter about the purpose and nature of the law, and also they all fall in love. This last requires very little imagination on my part; it is basically text. Also I actually find Cary Grant fairly attractive in this movie, which is a first. Probably this is because he does not have a moustache.

I watched this movie because [personal profile] skygiants said I should, and I was richly rewarded. Also then I could read [personal profile] skygiants' happy threesome fic from this Yuletide!
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
So I did manage to write something for Chocolate Box, but it was short and felt like pulling teeth, and I don't think it was particularly good. : / It was a pairing I'd offered to fill out my offer, which I was reasonably sure I could manage to write, but I wasn't really inspired. Considering I defaulted on Yuletide, right now I feel like I will never be inspired to write again, but hopefully that isn't true. To be fair, it wasn't just lack of inspiration, but also that my mind was full of other things.

But! I did receive an absolutely wonderful gift myself. I've asked for this fandom several years for Yuletide and never got it, and I am so happy to get it now--it's such a well-observed portrait of Ann and Sax.

Lookout Point (2283 words) by arpent
Fandom: Mars Trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Ann Clayborne/Sax Russell
Characters: Ann Clayborne, Sax Russell, Nadia Chernyshevski
Additional Tags: Antarctica, Depression, Pining, First Kiss, Very slight reference to child abuse
Summary: It was a code, in their little society. There were, of course, reasons to go hiking that had to do with science, or beautiful views, or mental well-being, but the fact remained that saying “x and y went on a hike together” meant a very particular thing, and Sax couldn't fail to understand it.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (2019)
It's a great feeling to sit down with a book that I pretty much know that I will love, because I loved the previous books in the series. And I did indeed love this! Spoilers )

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (2011, audiobook)
For my fannish book club. I think I enjoyed this more as an audiobook than I would have otherwise--the reader has what I assume to be a Nigerian accent, which adds a lot since the book is set in Nigeria. Also she's a great reader. As for the book itself, it's perfectly fine YA fantasy and I enjoyed it but was not super-enthusiastic? I liked that there was no romance front and center, I liked the group of protagonists, and I liked the setting. But it does that thing where experienced adults send children into life-threatening danger to defeat Evil (even though the adults also have magic). The book is aware that it's doing that and does somewhat question it, but not enough to explain it, I think.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Hjärnstark by Anders Hansen (2016, only in Swedish. Title means Brainstrong; the pun sadly is not captured.)
About the benefits of exercise for the brain--it is good for stress, for mood, for memory. This is pretty similar to the book about sleep that I just read, in that they are both pretty heavy-handed about their message. But I didn't mind, and I am certainly convinced. Funny though how the books both go "Sleep is probably the most important thing you can do to prevent dementia in old age!/Exercise is probably the most important thing you can do to prevent dementia in old age!" And don't at all mention the other's subject. Oh well, I guess that's specialization for you.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (2015)
I am just more impressed by every Hardinge book I read. She is so original, and the writing is so good! I didn't warm up to this one as quickly as I did to A Skinful of Shadows, but the way everything came together at the end really got to me. I love the breadth and depth of the female characters, even the minor ones (yay, surprise lesbians!).
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Child of a Hidden Sea by A. M. Dellamonica (2014)
I wanted something lighter to read, and this was perfect! It's a fun portal fantasy in which I totally identify with the main character's reaction when arriving in a new world. She's all "ooh, what a cool eco-system! I wonder what that species is!" Hee. Other than that, there is swashbuckling adventure and family drama, and a bit of courtroom procedural drama. Oh, and a charming brother-sister relationship. I have already ordered the next two in the series.

En svensk anarkist berättar by Nisse Lätt (1982) [The Tales of a Swedish Anarchist, only in Swedish]
These are the memoirs of a Swedish anarchist who was a sailor, then fought in the Spanish Civil War, and then was a traveling agitator for the SAC (the union I'm in). He also worked cutting timber in the north of Sweden. It's a rambling, vigorous and opinionated account. Quite interesting.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Oops, I forgot to post this, though I finalized the goals around the new year. If you're new: the idea here is not that I have to do all of these things! It's a five by five bingo square, though I'm too lazy to actually put them in a square here. I really like this approach to New Year's goals--if I fail to do things, it's no big deal, and I like the process of thinking through what I want to do in the coming year.

Unfinished goals from last year that I aim to do this year:
  • Go running 50 times. (Just...keep up with the running, basically.)
  • Try out Marcq St Hilaire's method of determining one's position with a sextant. (This is such a specific geeky goal, but it's actually also related to my teaching. I'd have to go to one of the outer islands in the archipelago here, or do it when I'm out sailing with my parents, so I have a clear sea horizon.)
  • Perform with my sister or record songs with her.
  • Take a dance course and/or go dancing twice. (I actually love dancing and don't do it enough.)
Finished goals from last year that I am aiming for again:
  • Make a new friend. (I don't expect this to happen every year but I like it as a goal.)
  • Go swimming in 20 new lakes/places by the sea. (I always enjoy this goal.)
  • Go to one of the Swedish national parks I haven't been to. (I guess eventually I will run out of parks, but no danger of that yet.)
  • Do something which sounds interesting but is out of my comfort zone or that I have never done before.
  • Sleep outdoors (well, in a tent/hammock) 20 nights.
  • Go tree climbing eight times.
Goals from last year that I am developing/changing:
  • Post 2h of podfic. (Was: Post 3h of podfic, but I had a long WIP last year. I'm scaling down the ambition, but I do want to keep doing some podficcing.)
  • Read at least 25 unread books from my book case (My reading goal for this year. Was: Half the books I read should be non-fiction.)
  • Write three fanfics. (Was: Participate in a new fic exchange.)
  • Have at least 100 species in my wood-living fungi herbarium (fungarium?) and/or 350 moss species in my moss herbarium (Was: to have 150 species in my moss herbarium, and another goal to learn more about wood-living fungi.)
New goals:
  • Have a party when I turn 40.
  • Learn to stand from a sitting position with my legs crossed, without using my hands or knees. (I can already stand up from a sitting position on the floor without using hands or knees, but I do it in a different way. My sister can do it from crossed legs, which spurred me to also want to learn it.)
  • Build a tree platform from pallets and put it in a tree, and then sleep on it.
  • Learn GIS. (That is, geographical information systems. This is for forest inventory purposes.)
  • Be part of an Extinction Rebellion action.
  • Improve my sleep habits. (It's not that they're terribly bad, but they could be improved.)
  • Not be on the union board anymore. (Because I want to go back to environmental org board again...but I don't want to leave the union board before we find someone to replace me. It's not that I don't like the union board! More that I served my two years of office and want to prioritize my other org again, though I'll keep being active in the union.)
  • Go on a trip to either Öland, the mountains or western Norway (and geek out about nature).
  • Quarrel less with my mom. (We'll see how this one goes.)
  • Lose 2 kg of weight. (I'm not overweight, I just want to carry less when I'm running/hiking.)
  • Develop my workout and exercise routine. (I'm pretty happy with it, but it could probably use more variation, and I want to think about if there's anything important I'm missing.)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (2017, audiobook)
Okay, this was an eye-opener. I really didn't know how many bad effects there were of not getting enough sleep. I usually do get enough sleep, but this book convinced me to be more vigilant about it.

Svälten by Magnus Västerbro (2018, The Famine, only in Swedish)
A historian writes about the Swedish famine years 1867-1869. This book won prizes and was reviewed widely, so I picked it up. And it's good--definitely popular science, but in a good way. The writing is sort of like painting, like, it pauses and meanders a bit, filling in more details. Although the subject is heavy, obviously.

I also did not manage to finish Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, which I was reading for my fannish book club. The writing did not engage me, and I rolled my eyes at the approaching YA romance (the main characters are two brother-sister sets! obviously they will pair up in the predictable way!). Maybe YA is just not for me. (I think that, and then I remember Frances Hardinge.)

But I wanted to talk (yet again) about magic and democracy. This book has downtrodden persecuted magic users again, although to be fair it's more realistic here because they don't actually have magic anymore (at least in the beginning). But in general I feel like people who have magic are usually a bad metaphor for downtrodden minorities. It seems more probable to me that people who have magic would become powerful and be the people who are doing the treading down. Magic as a metaphor for the rich and powerful? But there's a reason why it's not written that way: magic is cool, right? You want your heroes to be cool and have magic. But you also want your heroes to be the underdogs.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
A Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy (2014)
The genre of this is "wanting something better in the age of empire", a bit similar to Nisi Shawl's Everfair or possibly Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown (though it's very different in tone from that one). The empire here is called Borol and the geography is different, but it's still pretty much England. I mean, they wear top hats, ride trains, etc. The protagonist is a journalist who is sent out to the front to write about the glorious imperial war, but he defects to the other side. The other side are failed revolutionaries from a neighboring country who fled into the mountains and there joined forces with independent villages already living there, developing an anarchist mode of living together. This is my favorite of Killjoy's books so far, though there's something about her writing that makes me like her books rather than love them. Oh, and it does not in fact end in "cannons go off, everyone dies" but has a fairly optmistic ending. Also, gay main character, FYI.

I also abandoned White is the Color of Death, a collection of three connected short stores, one by Margaret Killjoy. What I read of it seemed to be grim pointless post-apocalyptic dystopia.

The Divide by Jason Hickel (2017, audiobook)
An account of how the present economic inequality between countries came about and how it's maintained, and how it's worsened since the 1960's. I already knew some of this, but not all--the stuff about how international trade works and how (for example) the capital outflows from Africa are far larger than the inflows was very interesting.

Kapitalet, överheten och alla vi andra by Göran Therborn (2018) [Capital, the upper classes, and all the rest of us, only in Swedish]
More about economic inequality, this time about changes in Sweden's class structure since the 1980's and how those changes came about. This is where those statistics I quoted yesterday came from. I picked this up on a whim at the library, and I'm glad I did. It's a popular account of a research project and really had a lot of stuff I didn't know about and also interesting analysis.

...maybe I should read some non-political fluff soon.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
I offer these depressing statistics about Sweden:

In 1965, the combined wealth of the five richest families was as much as 1.17% of that year's GDP. In 2016, the combined wealth of the five richest individuals was as much as 23.2% of that year's GDP.

Between 1983 and 1997, the richest 1% increased their wealth with 81%, and the poorest 40% decreased theirs with 129%.

In 2017, the richest 10% of the population owned 78% of total household wealth (not sure if wealth hidden away in tax havens was counted). To compare with Norway (63%), Denmark (69%), and Italy (51%). In this respect we're even worse than the US, at 77%!

I mean, we do still have free university and healthcare, but it's going downhill fast. Also, when I presented these statistics to my dad, he went on a rant about immigration as the root of all evil. The mind boggles.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
I predict that this will probably be my favorite book of this year. I mean, I already love Mary Doria Russell's writing, especially her historical books, but that subject matter? It is basically designed to push all my buttons. I have been waiting for that book for years, ever since she first said on her blog that she was writing it.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
I am now "done" with Yuletide, in the sense that I've gone through all fandoms that I'm interested in and read everything shorter than 5K words and put the longer stuff on my ereader. So here are some more recs!

the leaning grasses and two lights above the sea by [personal profile] toft (Earthsea, with Ged, Tenar, and Seserakh)
This has Le Guin's appreciation of domestic daily life, and Seserakh is beautifully written, especially as seen through Tenar's eyes.

build a bridge to the stars by [archiveofourown.org profile] jediseagull (The Course of Honour, Jainan/Kiem)
I am a sucker for this pairing and how they support and complement each other.

The Theft and the Gift by [archiveofourown.org profile] dr_zook (Norse mythology, with Heimdall, Loki, Freya, Thor)
Vivid and interesting characterization, with an ending and a beginning that hang together ominously.

better cheated to the last by [archiveofourown.org profile] Damkianna (The Sting, Henry Gondorff/Johnny Hooker)
Aaah, I ship these two so hard, and this fic captured them perfectly, the way they can catch each other cues without speaking.

She Who Saw the Deep by [archiveofourown.org profile] lnhammer (Gilgamesh)
This is about Gilgamesh and Enkidu seen through the eyes of Shamhat, the woman who brings Enkidu into civilization by having sex with him. I really like how she's written as an interesting character in her own right.

The Business and Process of Writing by [archiveofourown.org profile] phnelt (Galaxy Quest, mostly gen)
Delightful ensemble fic set during the filming of a new Galaxy Quest series.

Csethiro Ceredin Speaks Her Mind by [archiveofourown.org profile] BeccaStareyes
Csethiro's view of Maia's proposal and the process of her learning more about Maia himself.

The Work of Feeding Humans by [archiveofourown.org profile] Miss_M (Robin McKinley's Sunshine, Constantine/Rae "Sunshine" Seddon)
Con helps Sunshine with the baking.

In which there are an Abundance of Wings by [archiveofourown.org profile] aedifica (Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle)
A short story with delightful living furniture.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
So as well as previous quarrels, my mom and I have now had The Money Quarrel! Fun times. But tomorrow I will be back home, whew.

Really no need to click, I only wanted to vent )
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Here are some statistics about my reading, for my own navel-gazing pleasure. In 2018 my goal was that half my reading should be non-fiction. Previous goals: reread more books (2017), read fewer American books (2016). Next year's goal: whittle down the pile of unread books I own.

Statistics under the cut! )

Favorite new-to-me non-fiction books in 2018, in no particular order. Links go to my book posts.
The Collapse of Complex Societies (1998) by Joseph Tainter (Fascinating theory about the declining marginal benefits of complexity in society.)
The CNT in the Spanish Revolution (2011) by José Peirats (What it says on the tin. Simultaneously dry and moving, and full of interesting practical detail.)
Carbon Democracy (2011) by Timothy Mitchell (About the interplay between politics and fossil fuels.)
Fossil Capital (2016) by Andreas Malm (Same subject as the previous one, but from a different, complementary angle.)
All of Lilian Ryd's historical books about life in northernmost Sweden, with many practical details of life as it was lived (Kvinnor i väglöst land (1995), Renskötarkvinnor (2013), Tusen år i lappmarkens historia (2012)).
The Ecology of Agroecosystems (2011) by John Vandermeer (Brilliant application of the science of ecology to agricultural ecosystems.)
Debt (2011) by David Graeber (Compulsively readable history of debt from an anthropological perspective, and of economy in a wider sense.)
The Great Eating Disorder (2016) by Gunnar Rundgren (About what's wrong with the global food and agricultural system.)
Brainstorm: the flaws in the science of sex differences (2010) by Rebecca Jordan-Young (Impressive study focusing on the flaws both in individual experiments and in how they fit together.)
Messages From Islands (2016) by Ilkka Hanski (Good popular account of the science of biodiversity and nature conservation, woven together with personal memories of research.)
My European Family (2015) by Karin Bojs (About the last 50 000 years of European history, from a genealogical perspective based on DNA testing.)
The Art of Selling War (2016) by Pierre Gilly (About how pro-war propaganda works and how many lies are usually involved.)

Favorite new-to-me fiction books in 2018, in no particular order.
Kindred (1979) by Octavia Butler (An exploration of how slavery distorts intimate relationships.)
The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988) by Robin McKinley (Robin Hood retelling with a lot of heart and community feels.)
The Course of Honour by [archiveofourown.org profile] Avoliot (Delightful arranged marriage in space, with lots of pining.)
A Skinful of Shadows (2017) by Frances Hardinge (Girl fights to get to choose which ghosts will live in her head, set in 1600's England.)
A Monstrous Regiment (2017) by [archiveofourown.org profile] AMarguerite (Elizabeth Bennett, dragon captain.)
Raya (2018) by Henrik Johansson (Set in an industrial bakery in the lead-up to a strike.)
Spinning Silver (2018) by Naomi Novik (..everyone already knows about this one.)
The Murderbot novellas by Martha Wells (Also about this one.)
The Comfortable Courtesan (2017) by A. L. Hall (Have only read volume 1 so far, but this is a delightful and very readable regency series that passes Bechdel test in spades.)
Moll by Elizabeth Rynell (Extrapolation of the depopulation of the Swedish countryside.)

In conclusion, this was definitely the year of non-fiction for me. I mean, I read equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction, and yet there were a lot more candidates for the "favorite" category among the non-fiction books.

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