Tuesday, April 03, 2007


A really nice quote from Kim Stanley Robinson's latest paperback:
Of course there were all the hysterical operatics of 'history' to distract people from this method and its incremental successes. The wars and politicians, the police state regimes and terrorist insurgencies, the gross injustices and cruelties, the unnecessary ongoing plagues and famines—in short, all the mass violence and rank intimidation that characterized most of what filled the history books; all that was real enough, indeed all too real, undeniable—and yet it was not the whole story. It was not really history, if you wished to include everything important that had happened to humans through time. Because along with all the violence, underneath the radar, inside the nightmare, there was always the ongoing irregular but encouraging pulse of good work, often, since the seventeenth century, created or supported by science. Ongoing increases in health and longevity, for larger and larger percentages of the population: that could be called progress. If they could hold on to what they had done, and get everyone in the world into that bettered state, it would actually be progress.

The book is Fifty Degrees Below and it's the sequel to Forty Signs of Rain. I found The Years Of Rice And Salt a bit hard to take, because it was just so painful, but these books are a lot more fun, even if they are talking about a global environmental catastrophe of epic proportions. Speaking of good work going on beneath the radar, there's a really nice article on UI design. I hope a lot of people read this and pay attention to what he says, and that some jerk hasn't patented it.

Andrea and I are in Austin visiting her folks for Passover. The weather here is warm, and right now it's pretty sunny, with some really nice thunderclouds off in the distance. Andrea's trying to get me to exercise more, so I went and did six miles at the Veloway on my rollerblades. It was nearly eighty degrees and humid, and I suffered a bit of garment failure - I was badly overheated by the time I'd done my two laps.

Why is it so hard to get long-sleeved shirts in breathable cloth in the U.S.? I went down to REI to see if they had any, and got a nice white breathable undershirt, but it's probably good to about sixty degrees, not eighty. Summer in the southwest is a time for muslin fabric that gets wet when you sweat on it and lets the wind in to evaporate the sweat and cool you down. You don't want to wear shorts and a T-shirt, because you'll get a bad sunburn this far south. But nothing doing - I couldn't find anything but smart fabric at REI, and all the organic cotton at Whole Foods is too tightly woven, or cut for women. Sigh. I keep thinking it's time to take up sewing...


Blogger Will Shetterly said...

Not to discourage sewing, but you might check here:


We got a shirt and a jacket from them maybe twenty years ago that still get worn.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007 8:02:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Ooh, they use really nice fabric. I might check them out. They aren't exactly what I want, but better to modify an existing garment that basically works than to have to make one from scratch, right?

The main thrust of my rant, though, is that it's kind of crazy that appropriate clothing isn't sold in stores. By appropriate, I mean clothing that doesn't require you to set the thermostat to 72 degrees and avoid any sort of strenuous activity.

Being in India, you figure this problem out quickly, because there is essentially no air conditioning in the back country. If it's hot, you sweat. Might as well wear something in which sweating is less miserable.

But in Arizona, we don't even have to sweat all that much, because the air is so dry. So cotton muslin is perfect here - it's too bad that you can't go down to Bloomingdale's and buy a loose-weave muslin shirt.

Some of the clothing stores on fourth avenue seem to get decent clothing in from time to time. Maybe when I'm back in town I'll check them out. :'}

Tuesday, April 03, 2007 7:59:00 PM  
Blogger Jym said...

=v= Stephen Jay Gould once wrote something similar: "Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the 'ordinary' efforts of a vast majority."

Oh, and linen shirts are da bomb.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 7:36:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

That's a good quote - thanks! And I agree about linen shirts. Sadly, we didn't bring any this trip. :'(

Thursday, April 05, 2007 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have a shirt from Deva that's approximately twenty years old, is only beginning to show signs of age, and still gets worn. Short sleeves, though.

And I'm crazy never to have replaced my one linen shirt after it got stolen.

I've been in southern Arizona only since September and just in these past weeks have learned that all you're saying here about the right clothing for here is simply correct.

- Loren

Thursday, May 03, 2007 8:02:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Aah, the Potemkin weather is over, isn't it? How are you doing, Loren? We haven't seen you in a while!

Thursday, May 03, 2007 8:35:00 AM  

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