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Notes on Piketty’s CAPITAL IN THE 21ST CENTURY-INTRODUCTION

As promised, I’m going to journal my rather slow progress through Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, at least from my perspective. Today I’m taking a look at the introduction.

First off, I’m impressed. Either the writer or the translator has a rather smooth writing style–not something you necessarily expect from an economist. I’m also impressed by an economist who openly says that his answers are imperfect and incomplete.

Piketty leaps right away into his argument–that we have avoided the Marxist apocalypse but not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality. He looks at the historical analysis, going through Malthus to Ricardo, Marx, and Kuznets. After explaining why he does not agree with the Kuznets curve–i.e., inequality decreases as industrialization and economic development increases, he goes on to discuss his sources. He is also careful to point out that the modern theorist can more easily deal with massive amounts of historical data than their predecessors. He flat out says “It is much easier to study the history of the distribution of wealth today than in the past. This book is heavily indebted to recent improvements in the technology of research.”

Thank you computers. I guess.

He sums up his conclusions as follows: first, “one should be wary of any economic determinism in regard to inequalities of wealth and income.” Extrapolating from data gathered during the 1910-1950 time period is affected by both World Wars and policy decisions taken in reaction to those conflicts.

Second–which Piketty identifies as the heart of the book–“is that the dynamics of wealth distribution reveal powerful mechanisms pushing alternately toward convergence and divergence. Furthermore, there is no natural, spontaneous process to prevent destabilizing, inegalitarian forces from prevailing permanently.”

He spends some time discussing the forces of convergence and divergence, sounding a worried call that the forces of divergence leading to greater income inequalities may be getting stronger, though he considers his conclusions to be less dire than Marx’s.

Then he outlines the geographic and historical boundaries of his study. Historically, he’s looking at the dynamics of wealth distribution on national and international levels since the eighteenth century, with a caution that there is not always adequate historical data. Primary foci are the United States, Japan, Germany, France, and Great Britain, identifying France and Great Britain as having the most complete historical sources. He considers France to be particularly important because first, as a result of the French Revolution, there was a systematic method established to record wealth in land, buildings, and financial assets. Secondly, France’s rate of population growth is a more reliable and consistent means of measuring the impact of such growth than say the United States due to stability of territory and population increase.

This particular point struck me as something I hadn’t considered before. Piketty comments that “the dynamics and structure of inequality look very different in a country whose population increases by a factor of 100 compared with a country whose population merely doubles.” As an American and non-economist I really hadn’t sat down and considered this factor. He goes on to stress that this rate of growth reduces the strength of the inheritance factor in the US, but that we can’t necessarily generalize to the whole world from the US. He considers France to be a more accurate source for anticipating future developments.

Piketty goes on to discuss the theoretical frameworks of this work, getting in a zinger about the problematic dominance of math in economic theory while downplaying historical research and collaboration with the social sciences.

Overall, it’s an interesting introduction to this work and a heck of a lot more readable than a lot of other economists I’ve read. It’s clear I’m going to be learning a lot about things that never popped up in my studies of political science, and it’s going to be useful not just in further development of my political understanding but in potential science fiction worldbuilding work.

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RadCon 2019

Some days you just gotta love how fandom pulls itself together. One recent example was the last RadCon, located in the Tri-Cities.

Now RadCon has always been somewhat of an interesting science fiction convention. Because it’s located near Hanford there’s been a bit of a draw toward panels based on science topics and a heavy number of attendees with science and engineering backgrounds. There’s a regular core of gamers. Cosplayers. Writers. Its attendance pulls as much from the Portland, Seattle, BC, and Spokane areas as it does from the Tri-Cities.

So when a bad winter storm hits the week before RadCon, that’s going to be problematic, right? Six inches or so of snow at the Pasco Red Lion and even locals snowed in. Ice all over the place. Around 500 attendees canceled due to weather–including panelists, presenters, and dealers. Eeek. A conrunner’s nightmare, right?

Well, that’s not accounting for the dual nature of the Pacific Northwest. West of the Cascades, snow is rare. People just don’t have the tools to manage large amounts of snow, much less deal with driving in questionable weather. Even those from elsewhere who do have experience with snow get frustrated with what they see as inadequate preparation for the rare heavy snow event (when you are talking about something that maybe happens 2-3 times in ten years, city budgets aren’t inclined to include snow removal equipment as a regular budget and training expense. BTDT, ever since experiencing my first big snow event in the 60s). But there’s just not a lot of incentive to dedicate much attention to something that goes away within a couple of days, which is the usual state of affairs when a big snow dump hits Portland or Seattle.

Those of us who’ve lived here all our lives know and accept this reality with a shrug. Some West-siders learn how to handle snow and do so well. Or they grew up in snow country and they adapt to the West-side freakouts.

But east of the Cascades, especially for those populations who live in and around mountains? No big deal for most of us, just like it is for the minority of West-siders with snow experience. And that got reflected in RadCon attendance. Both the Columbia River Gorge and Snoqualmie Pass had a small window opening up for safe traffic to reach RadCon. The experienced and the bold in Portland and Seattle went for it. And then there were the Canadians…..

The question still remained…was anyone going to show up? And what was going to happen with the holes in the schedule because people couldn’t travel safely?

Attendance got answered pretty quickly on Friday, when the registration lines were as long as they ever were–only perhaps for not as long as in years when the weather behaves. Granted, there were still fewer people there than in past years, but nearly every panel I attended had at least a partial audience, and others were standing room only. We panelists marveled at the number of people who showed up for 9 AM panels on both Saturday and Sunday.

Programming told panelists to feel free to jump into panels that had less than four panelists (while checking with the other panelists, of course). So we rose to the occasion, filling in so that most panels had a full range of presenters.

It was fun. The con had a more intimate, collaborative feel to it. I was able to visit with people I don’t normally get to talk to, and relax at the same time. I missed seeing some people who didn’t make the drive, but then again, not everyone is cut out for winter driving. It wasn’t overwhelming, and even though we drove home in a little bit of weather, it still wasn’t bad.

I’ll probably remember this RadCon as the Yaktrak con, since I ended up wearing my Yaks every day to hike over the icy path from the Best Western to the Red Lion. But I’ll also remember the new people I met, and others that I got to know better. We all pulled together to make things work, and they did. Gotta love it.

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Snow, winter, writing, CAPITAL

Well, hello there. I guess maybe I need to spend a bit more time blogging these days. Instead of composing lovely blogs in my mind while Doing Stuff, then not following through when I finally get to a computer because I forgot the brilliant post…I’m going to dance through with just the plain stuff and if it turns out to be brilliant, great. And if not…such is life.

In any case, we’ve finally got some decent snow amounts that aren’t ice here in NE Oregon. I’ve been really annoyed by the Wallowa winter this year because it’s been light on the snow front but with just enough (and temps hovering right around freezing) to cause ice. Lots and lots of ice. There’s been times when I’ve gone out to see Mocha where I needed to hang onto her to keep from falling when I bring her in for grooming and attention. She has extra-big nail heads on her front shoes which help with traction…if anything, she’s more likely to slip on her hinds right now. And four feet are often more stable than two. At least the two of us aren’t slipping at the same time!

Currently we have temperatures in the teens and six inches of snow, with rumors of The Big Dump coming soon. Nonetheless, today was the first time in several weeks that Mocha and I could caper in the snow. She was eager to trot and then lope, but I kept her under wraps because we’ve just not been able to get as much work in this winter. But we both enjoyed a short, brisk lope in the snow. It’s similar but not the same experience as skiing–wind in my face, flying along, snow swishing along her feet. I’m hoping the conditions hold for a few more snow rides, at least.

I’m ditzing around with writing right now because I have stuff going on–all writing-related but it’s also all not the novel. I’m putting the final touches on a self-publishing class I’ll be teaching in two weeks, and working on a short nonfiction project that I managed to land a few weeks ago. I’m wanting to get it off my plate and sent to the editor before we leave for Radcon. And then there’s other things I’m doing as well.

And today I finally got my hands on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, in a particularly Wallowa County way. Last night I saw a notice on the local Facebook marketplace that someone was selling books. I clicked through, noticing philosophy, logic, and Greek classic titles I either already own or have read and don’t feel the need to own. Then Capital popped up. Since I’m flush after a successful sales weekend at the Grange’s Sweetheart Sale, I asked if it was gone–no. So I set up a meeting with the seller at the local chocolate and coffee shop. When I got there (after spotting the horde of hungry quail working through the birdseed underneath the feeder and prepping for the Mocha ride), I paid him for Capital, chatted for a few minutes about writing (he had a Moleskin he had been writing in), bought a chocolate, then headed out for Mocha time. He was tucked in for a cozy afternoon staring out at the snow, writing, and reading yet another thick philosophy book. Can’t blame him…but I had a hot date with a chestnut mare.

In any case, we might get dumped on tonight and tomorrow, we might not. We’re right at the edge of this storm. Nonetheless, between projects and Piketty, I’m ready for it.

Oh, and planning the next quilting project. Gotta do that too.

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Well. That was 2018.

This is going to be one of those yearly summary posts–some good, some bad, some whatever. 2018 has been another one of Those Years. You know, the sort where you’re flailing about at everything, trying to get things going and stuff just keeps happening…and happening…and happening. I made some book sales, found some cool new fans as well as kept up contacts with old fans, did stuff with the horse, and etc.

Not that it’s been a particularly bad year…it’s just been one of Those Years. Crappy moments and shining moments, all wrapped up together.

Part of the reason (besides politics which is absolutely horrific, horrible, crappy, ick, and I’m totally back in fretting about apocalyptic scenarios–well hey! I’m writing an apocalyptic book right now and the next fantasy book will also be apocalyptic in tone so I’m right on track here!) is that I think I really started kind of feeling my age this year. The area that has suffered the most has been this blog. Writing-wise, I’ve been chugging along, though not as faithfully as I would like. I think the sales of Pledges of Honor are finally slowing down…but I’m not going to gripe, because it has been selling steadily over the past three years, ever since I published it back in 2015. Sales still occasionally pop up for the Netwalk Sequence series, though no one really seems to go too far with it. I…have plans to do something about that.

Pledges did earn itself a Semifinalist position in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. I had hopes for higher, but c’est la vie. A review is supposed to come out for it next week from one of the reviewers.

So let’s look at Joyce’s Year in Writing, Horses, and Health.

Writing:

I published two books and edited an anthology, for starters.

Challenges of Honor, the second book in the Goddess’s Honor series, came out in the spring. It hasn’t sold as well as the first book, but you know, things can change.

Blurb and linkage for Amazon here.

Linkage for Books2Read here. (Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc)

Klone’s Stronghold, a contemporary fantasy featuring a mix of supernaturals, cryptids, and family issues in the isolated Bucket Mountains of NE Oregon, came out in the summer. It’s not done as well as I had hoped; nonetheless I’ve got some ideas for a sequel to it.

Blurb and linkage for Amazon here.

Linkage for Books2Read (Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc) here.

I’m currently working on a rewrite of a previously published novella, Seeking Shelter at the End of the World. The new title is Beating the Apocalypse. It’s not going to look much like the original. I’ve added two viewpoint characters, eliminated at least one and maybe two deaths in the course of the book (though I do kill others), am at about 20k additional words, and am making it a MUCH more complex book.

I also edited a themed anthology, Pulling Up Stakes, (includes my Oregon Country story “To Plant or Pull Up Stakes”) and am working on a second one, Whimsical Beasts (which will include my story “The Wisdom of Robins”).

Pulling Up Stakes Amazon details here.

Short stories also happened this year. I wrote the following Goddess’s Honor tie-in shorts:

Return to Wickmasa (post-Pledges of Honor) B2R (includes Amazon), Cleaning House (post Challenges of Honor) B2R (includes Amazon), and Unexpected Alliances, B2R (includes Amazon). I’ve decided not to mess with loading short stories directly to Kindle but will load them into Kindle via Draft2Digital.

I wrote Going Gently for the Netwalk Sequence universe. B2R (includes Amazon).

“The Cow at the End of the World” came out in Well, It’s Your Cow, edited by Frog Jones. Amazon.

I have two new stories in circulation (“A Quilter’s Stellar Sandwich” and “My Woman Left Me, My Dog Hates Me, and There Goes My Truck”). I’m also marketing a novella, Bearing Witness, which is a weird alt-Western set in a universe I’m now calling the Vortex Worlds. I was originally going to self-publish it but decided to try my luck with the trad pub market so far. I’m underwhelmed, so it may go on the publishing schedule this spring.

Then I started playing around with Medium. I’m not very diligent about posting essays there yet, but I do have a few up. I’m also toying with writing a poem a week and posting it on a separate blog page. I plan to switch hosts in this coming year, and have temporarily set up a site on wordpress.com. I’ll be transferring the whole domain at some point here. Just works better for me than what I’ve been doing.

Horse:

Mocha turned 18 this year, and is fully a mature, opinionated mare. But we achieved a bucket list goal by winning a show series buckle in the local show series in the Ranch Horse division. So I now sport a genuine, honestly-won, silver belt buckle.

She was pastured up by the east moraine of Wallowa Lake this summer, so we spent some time riding the moraine and doing Real Trail Horse stuff. She loves it. One day she was edgy and energetic so I sent her straight up the side of the moraine (actually a fairly steep climb), with plans to sidehill it if she encountered problems. She didn’t.

She went into the winter looking the best I’ve seen her in a long time, her back completely filled out around the spine and minimal sign of rib. Nonetheless, she’s getting up there in years so I’m not pushing her. She’s let me know that she really, really likes the idea of gaming as opposed to rail classes but OKAY WE WILL DEAL WITH STUPID RAIL STUFF IF THERE’S GAMING (keyhole and barrels are her favorites). As long as she enjoys the notion of “turn and burn” we’ll keep doing it. We did our first winter lope under saddle a couple of days ago (it’s been a not-so-good winter for riding outside) and she was full of energy, ready to go, and everything you want to feel with a mature horse living outside 24/7.

Health and Other Stuff:

This is the year that the teaching stuff has pretty much gone away. I substitute occasionally, and will be teaching a writing class in February, but otherwise–my long-term substitute gig abruptly ended at the end of the semester in January, and I’ve not been actively drumming up anything other than writing coaching business. I think it’s time to move away from K-12 teaching–I’m ready.

This year I feel like I’m really starting to get with it in quilting. I’ve made two small quilts and a bigger one as well as several small wall hangings. I think I will start working toward art quilt wall hangings for the science fiction and fantasy market. Other craft work is “meh”. I do have a few fans of my jewelry but not enough to put much energy into it outside of the occasional bazaar. Well…I might start trying the science fiction art show circuit again.

Health-wise, I had a real wakeup call in the fall of 2017 when I had problems hiking because my hips were too tight and I had issues. Plus I was having leg spasms bad enough that I could watch them go in waves down my right leg at their worst. Things were not good. I hurt a lot. Not the earth-shaking, major pain-killer pain, but that dragging soft-tissue coupled with arthritic pain that no traditional doctor takes seriously in a woman, especially if you can’t/won’t handle muscle-relaxants for the soft tissue stuff. And then there was the persistent shoulder issues.

Then I discovered a shiatsu massage pillow. That led to acupuncture and chiropractic work in addition to my regular massages because I realized part of the relief I was feeling came from adhesions getting broken loose. I also got smart about living in the world of ice/snow and bought hiking sticks and Yaktrak shoe chains to reduce the risk of falling (still happens but not as much). I started using a neck pillow for any drives over two hours. Additionally, I started using CBD and THC topicals, as well as oral CBD. Things aren’t perfect, but I can move again. There’s one troublesome spot in my right hip which has plagued me for thirty-eight-some years, thanks to a fall while jogging, but it’s much improved from what it’s been over the last ten years. What’s even more encouraging is that I have the urge to move again. I want to work out. My muscles are tight on a three-day cycle, but it is absolutely not the same sort of thing as I was experiencing before.

I’ve also gone back to using moisturizer and makeup. Part of it is that I have an excellent source of mineral-based makeup here in Enterprise–Wild Carrot Herbals has their company store here (as well as their warehouse/manufacturing headquarters) and they carry a nice line of makeup. I went back to my favorite Elizabeth Arden Ceramide-based moisturizers and foundation. It really does make a difference, and the moisturizer holds up to a lot of winter weather. I do need to find something different for hot summer days, though….

In any case, it’s been a year. I’m hoping to be more energized in 2019–if anything, that’s my goal for the year ahead. I want to advance my writing, perhaps expand my craft work into art shows, and otherwise.

I’ll probably put up another post about 2019 goals tomorrow. We’ll see.

 

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Still here

Wow. So it’s been a few months since I blogged–for various reasons, including dealing with wrapping up the online teaching job, winter, gut stuff, and simple lack of response to anything I’m throwing out there onto the interwebs.

Another part has been simply that I’ve been contemplating where to go from here in social media. Dreamwidth has fallen off, and I’m kind of tired of Facebook and its squabbles. All the same, I end up writing more over there in short bits, especially the horse and wildlife stuff that requires pictures. DW is being cranky about letting me post pictures and now I’m having login problems again over there. This blog won’t propagate over there, so I have to cut and paste it–all things which become annoying and frustrating after a while.

All the same, stuff has been going on. I completed my first real quilt, even though it’s a particularly long wall hanging and not a full bed quilt.

I’m working on the revisions for Challenges of Honor and it appears to be on track for release in April. I’ve been dawdling around with launch publicity plans but I suppose I should get off of my rear and start doing that.

I’ve created an aggressive publication/craft plan for the year and hope to get that out there.

Lots of stuff on deck, and part of it means getting this stuff back up and running.

Hope to see more of you.

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Lots of stuff going on….

As usual, June is flying by. Between MisCon and 4th of July, it always seems like I’m flying around getting things wrapped up for the end of the school year and then jumping into summer stuff. It’s no different now that I’m working online instead of in a classroom. OTOH, I’m less tired from working online, so that’s a win.

The late spring meant we’ve been dragging on getting the garden running and getting in the wood. But at last, we got the garden finished off in early June and it is happily growing at our friend S’s place in Clatskanie. This past week in Enterprise, we did get two loads of wood hauled, plus horse show stuff…

But there’s so much to blog about and I keep putting it off because, well, who wants to spam the linkage? I’m thinking now that I need to write some things but just not publish them. The alternative is not blogging at all…and I am discovering that I really don’t like that option, either.

So yeah. Time to start writing blog posts and timing them. I will post one soon talking about the two short pieces I have available on preorder right now. I also want to post about politics, because I’m contemplating a few things. I also want to write and post something about a few things I’ve been considering about writing process that has solidified to some extent by now. And then I also want to blog about the horse.

Meanwhile, I’m putting this one up. Hopefully we’ll see a flurry of posting soon.

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Winter moods

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Today one of the neighbor kids told me she was tired of all the snow. I smiled to myself, remembering when I heard that from Government Camp kids who lived for skiing and snowboarding. Only in the case of the Govvy kids, it took until April, of a rather cold and snowy year, for them to tire of it. This year certainly seems to be shaping up to be one of those years.

And yet I’m still not really tired of the snow. I am tired of the -20 temperatures, simply because they make everything so hard. But teens and twenties with the snow? Not so bad…if I could only get my ski boots on so that I could enjoy it. But both my ankles are rebelling against going into the boots, so I’m working with them twice a day to see if that will help (and they are Really Nice Boots, too!). If it doesn’t? Guess the skiing days are over. I’ll miss that, but I’ve lost my condition and strength, plus the way the ankles are stiff? Not necessarily a good sign that I should be doing it. I didn’t think it would be ankle flexibility that would put an end to my ski days.

On the other hand, there are simple moments to enjoy even without the skiing. I’d much rather march through snow than rain. Cold rain that sends tendrils of wet ice into your muscles and bones is no fun at all. Snow in a dry climate doesn’t act like that. The cold, even the subzero cold, is a weight shoving against you that can be kept at bay with enough shielding and heat. Even when it crawls into the house at 20 below it doesn’t possess the sharp, bitey edges of damp icy rain. The boots I have now are much less slick than the boots I had 35 years ago, when I remember slipping and sliding around Enterprise at 20 below. Then again, it’s a newer era and I bought good snow boots for skiing and work with an eye toward safety and comfort.

This snow can be easily swept or scraped out of the way.

But there needs to be routines to deal with it and the cold. Below about 10 degrees, it’s time to turn on the water to a trickle at bedtime so the one junction where the water comes into the house doesn’t freeze (or the meter, either). Turn the thermostat so that the furnace switches on in the early morning, when the last heat from the wood stove fades. Watch the thermometer on the wood stove to keep the temps running as they should.

Remember to drink water. In the dry cold it’s easy to forget about keeping hydrated. Until Mocha went through her first winter at pasture I worried that she might not drink enough. I shouldn’t have worried. She took to drinking from a heated trough easily and continued the trend I noticed early on of drinking more than I remember her doing in Portland. This year, I notice more how she savors the warmed water when she drinks, dipping her lips in the water and drinking slowly. Last year, true, she was low in the herd hierarchy and ran with a herd member who wanted to fight everyone. This year, she’s friends with the herd alphas and has a comfortable place in the hierarchy. That comfort gets reflected in her relaxed behavior at the water trough.

Going outside in subzero temps definitely requires forethought, layering and planning. Scarf/neck gaiter, hat, gloves, sweater, coat, boots. One set of clothing for the barn–heavier because there’s more wind out there and I’ll be out longer than I would be walking around town. Another set for going to meetings or walking around town. Still another set for inside the house where the wood stove makes it quite temperate.

And yet I won’t trade one whit of it for the damp and the rain.

 

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Trial #2

It would be nice to be able to read comments on DW and LJ!

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Testing, testing

Checking to see how the posting works to Dreamwidth.

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Sue and Kate

One of the hardest things about aging is that not all your friends get to live a long life. I got hit with two of those whammies yesterday after getting back to Enterprise. Still processing these deaths, and I don’t know how eloquent I can be.

I can’t remember now when I first met Kate Yule, whether it was at a mutual friends’ Christmas party or at Orycon. Her bubbly, infectious laughter; her wry, sharp, wit; and her wordplay all struck me as engaging and fun. But I was in the early days of motherhood and didn’t have much time to hang out with Kate other than at Orycon or gatherings of mutual friends. I remember when she first got together with David Levine and thinking that there was quite a couple. Kate and David started putting out a small zine called Bento that they handed  out to friends every Worldcon. Cracked me up. Kate never lured me into knitting, but I remember her knitting at conventions and enjoyed listening to her talk about it. At one point, I shared a jam making interest with Kate and gave her some plums and maybe other fruit to preserve–I can’t remember now, and of course it’s all been eaten. But I enjoyed reading her accounts of the adventures she and David had, and talking to her at conventions, and just all sorts of good stuff. When she first got sick, I was in the throes of setting up our current two-house lifestyle, so wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to help. But…a couple of visits, brought over some food and produce. Not enough but it was what I could do at the time. And now she’s gone.

I met Sue Bolich at either Radcon or Miscon, I can’t remember which now. Sue was part of a circle of women writer friends who shared a lot of experiences, and even though we didn’t see eye-to-eye in our political philosophies with regard to candidates, in practical applications we were a lot closer than it might seem. I enjoyed Sue’s writing and meeting with her at conventions, where we could always swap horse stories and speculate on writing ideas. She was one of my favorite people to encounter and gave cancer a long, hard fight. I last saw Sue at Westercon. She was frail but still holding on, and I was hoping to see her at either Orycon or Radcon or Miscon again.

Alas, not to be, for either Kate or Sue.

 

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