November reading update

I read 7 books for this month.  Another ebook only month, Kindle Unlimited had some good options.

I read Larry Correia’s second high fantasy book, the third is out next year or so.  It was a little thin, but still engaging.  T.W.O. read it too and what jumped out for him as a flaw was the lack of dance.  Dance is deeply important to martial fighters for what are no longer obvious reasons, and it’s usually absent from fantasy fiction involving martial arts these days, and this was, alas, no exception.  I continued in sequels with the latest in a magitek series written very quickly by one of the assortment of modern pulp authors.  It was ok, I’ll probably read a third or fourth.

I also read some more Tanith, short stories and novellas that were easy to check out.  I finally read Cordwainer Smith’s spy novel, published under yet another pen name.  It is all too short, but very action-filled and fascinating.

I also read one of those historical society collections of annotated pictures about a pair of counties in Indiana because it had a paragraph about Gene Stratton-Porter.  I thought it would be more than that, lol.  The evolution of the counties over a century was much more interesting than expected.  Indiana is a major cultural fulcrum point in American literature and social myth.

I have some print books I’ve been working on, but I don’t know if they’ll be done by December’s end.

Anyway, 94 books down, 6 to go.

 

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October reading update

I read 15 books for this month.  It was also an ebook-only month, which is pretty unusual for me.  It usually means I’m mentally overexerted and want easier stuff to read.  So almost everything was fluff, esoteric, or esoteric fluff.

I read seven short novella-length ebooks about spies and true crime.  I also read Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s love letter to fandom and when nerds *really* loved science, Fallen Angels.  That one is cute and parts of it remain terrifyingly plausible.

I also continued reading a light D&D-ish series, as the third book was just sent to the mailing list and was a happy surprise.  In similar vein, I read the wrap-up book of a pretty good zombie series, also a surprise release earlier than the author said.

I tried out Kindle Unlimited, and I’ll probably keep it for a couple months.  I used that to read a truly fascinating biography of Cordwainer Smith, a collection of Clifford Simak shorts that reminded me of why I am just not that into his work, a very silly but cool-concept sci-fi book about magic being introduced into the world when humanity is banned from using space technology by evil aliens, and a very cute Tanith Lee novella.

I also used Kindle Unlimited to read the very funny, very sharp, but also very “written by a Boomer” satire “The Narrative.”  It’s by Deplora Boule and quite spot-on.

Anyway, 87 books down, 13 to go.

 

Less than 25% of America’s businesses have paid employees.

“The majority of all business establishments in the United States are nonemployers, yet these nonemployer establishments average less than 4 percent of all sales and receipts nationally.”

“Most nonemployers are self-employed individuals operating a very small unincorporated business, which may or may not be the owner’s principal source of income.”

Here’s a handy chart of how the nonemployers are distributed by industry.

two-thirds-nations-businesses-do-not-have-paid-employees-figure-1

“The three states with the largest percentage of nonemployer establishments are Texas (79.5 percent), Georgia (79.4 percent) and Florida (79.0 percent). North Dakota is the only state where more than 30 percent of the establishments have paid employees.”

Interesting what the surrounding context is for self-employment these days.

Excerpts and chart from the census, here.

Hippies of the Religious Right, Chapter One: Modern Culture– Mainstream and Mainline

In the first chapter, Shires begins to lay out the groundwork for his exploration of how the counterculture spun off Christianized hippies.  He does this by pointing to the rise of modernism, with its whispers of neophilia and materialism that carried a clinical yet intense passion for material gain and economic security.  He doesn’t get quite as blunt as what the Third Child study researchers found, that the Boomers’ parents were people who thought hiding your Christian faith was fine if it meant getting a raise. But he does point out that the Boomers’ parents were very invested in Getting Paid and that they accepted the idea that church is just for Sundays easily.

When I started hanging around in evangelical circles, there was a free-floating idea that “Church is just for Sundays” was a recent thing and that in the 1950s, say, it wasn’t like that.  This is completely wrong.  “Church is just for Sundays” is roughly a century old at this point in terms of American religious practice.  By the 1950s it was even codified that there was no particular immorality or degenerancy attached to not attending.

One very interesting thing Shires does in the first chapter is explain that the liberal-material Christian view was an accommodation with the advances of technology and scientific thinking.  He briefly mentions something I’ve encountered in some of the early 20th century American writers I’ve read, the pushback against early-stage Affluenza which predated the counterculture by a couple of generations.  It is beyond the scope of his book, but the post-frontier Nature-love types like Gene Stratton-Porter were forerunners to the counterculture Christian-hippies.

Part of the fallout of the high highs and low lows of technology-driven rapid prosperity was liberal Christianity and wider social mores adopting conformism as a tool against unchecked greed and lust for profits and as a way to preserve economic prosperity and social stability.  They were anti-technocrats, but ones who integrated a technocratic perspective into their faith, secularizing the story of the loaves and fishes as merely a model of sharing.  That watered-down, materialist approach was already a dominant force in American Christianity prior to the counterculture.

The modernist, liberal Christians whose perspective dominated much of the middle classes that Christian-hippies came from were essentially Pelagian individualist materialists.  There was nothing supernatural about God and faith, it was just about love, and further, love that could be expressed by just living a good life and not being too greedy.  There was no Again to be Born.

The “Chrippies” rejected this idea of worship being a Sunday thing and optional at that as too private and self-contained a way to be Christian.  They wanted a more muscular, open, light blazing kind of faith.  Which leads to Chapter Two, a discussion of the counterculture.

Blogging through a book: Hippies of the Religious Right, by Preston Shires.

This is a book about how the counterculture spun off the Religious Right.  It’s by a guy who thinks that was totally awesome and wrote this book laying out the timeline.  This book was written over a decade ago, in 2007, so it will not be covering the Obama era or the impacts of social media on his thesis.  I may attempt that when I am done reading it, though.

Anyway, as I finish a chapter, the link will be added to this post.

I read the preface, which is just a quick summary of my first two sentences using the example of Billy Graham’s son.

Hopefully this will get me back on the reading books silently saddle.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Private retreat is impossible without scale

The frontier, the leading edge of private retreat, was not possible without a massive international and global infrastructure and use of cutting-edge technology and instant communication.

A common modern variation, telecommuting while “farming” ten acres in a rural community, is also obviously impossible without technological scale.  Scale refers to the idea that human societies grow in complexity and, er, scale with advancements in technology and the resulting productivity gains creating a reinforcing cycle of more and more scaling and consolidation and globalization.

As to more typical forms of conservative private retreat, they are also scale-dependent.  Homeschooling was originated by people using cutting-edge communication technology and benefiting from the postwar explosion in mechanical advancement producing farm equipment that could be used to work otherwise marginal parcels of land in either size or quality.  Even though ultimately most didn’t do much agrarian stuff and still don’t, the online and DIY ethos was carried forward and is still a substantial part of homeschooling as lifestyle.

There’s also the dependence of conservatives on industries that can’t exist without an overscaled society.  Like IT, or government administration.  Many small-government conservatives are employed in government jobs at government departments that didn’t even exist thirty years or even twenty and see no contradiction between their dependence on a larger and larger government and their belief that government should be smaller.  IT in its tech-company form is obviously full of deviance and general anti-family social aspects, yet it is if anything promoted the absolute most by conservatives as a family-supporting career path.

Conservatives tend to rely for frugality tips on mass production of cheap goods and also see nothing wrong with this dependence on cheap global labor in textiles and food. A common example where Costcos are located is telling mothers to take the kids to Costco to fill up on samples before dinner as a “frugality hack”.

There is much truth to the idea that progressives want everyone to progress towards a state of total and perfectly individual consumption, but the flipside of that is that conservatives want the same thing, except one level up, at the level of the nuclear family rather than the single individual.

But the problem with relying on more and more scaling up is that extreme complexity collapses, and brutally so.  There is no graceful failure mode in a world of just in time grocery shelf stocking.  Yet without an outlet for private retreat, there isn’t anything like the American conservative at all.