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...