All Wound Up: Review of Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl”

Cover of "The Windup Girl"I was so inspired by yesterday’s Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy (QSF&F) Book Club meeting that I published a review of “The Windup Girl”! I’d love to read your comments about the review.

California Election Recommendations for May 19, 2009

The California legislature authorized this unnecessary special election in a special deal with Republicans in the state. All of the propositions are pernicious because they would negatively impact spending for human services in the state while not doing anything to cut spending in the areas where it makes sense.

Here are my recommendations:

1A: NO (this is the most important one to oppose because the spending cap would permanently hamper the ability to fund human services programs in California)

1B: Maybe (only goes into effect if 1A passes in which case it might help with preserving some education funding)

1C: No (promotes lottery gambling, which has a disproportionate negative impact on lower-income people, while providing more funding to lottery consultants and less funding to education programs)

1D: No (removes early childhood program funding)

1E: No (removes mental health program funding)

1F: No (constitutional limits to legislator pay increases do nothing to solve the budget crisis… we can always vote them out if they vote to increase their pay inappropriately)

Budget propositions I’d like to see on the ballot this fall that would actually help solve the budget crisis:

  • Reduce the percentage of votes required to pass a budget and/or raise taxes in the legislature from 2/3 to 55%.
  • Get rid of prop 13 property tax limits for corporate real estate
  • Limit 3 strikes to violent crimes
  • Legalize and tax marijuana
  • Single payer health care
  • Tax oil extraction (if the oil companies are permitted do it)
  • Corporate tax based on executive compensation and bonuses

First Impressions on Return to United States

My first impressions on returning to the United States–

  • I’m still hearing Portuguese chatter even when people aren’t speaking it.
  • Three obese passengers requested “extenders” on the plane so they could buckle their seatbelts.
  • I had a discussion with a guitarist named Mary in the Dallas – Fort Worth airport about political, economic, and social problems in the United States:
    • Medical care disappearing
    • Education system failing
    • Corporate control of media
    • Cost of taxpayers of wars — corporate lobbying and profiteering
    • Effect on cost of travel abroad
    • Intense effects on workers of corporate welfare capitalism — multiple jobs, long commutes, no time for political awareness or participation
    • Concentration of increasingly immense portion of all wealth in decreasing proportion of the population
  • Time to buy land abroad?
  • Bloated faces of U.S. pod people ;-)
  • People don’t touch each other as much in non-sexual contexts

Comedor de Piqueteras

Comedor de Piqueteros, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Jim e and I went to Puerto Madero thinking we could eat at the Comedor de Piqueteros in support of their work there. The piqueteros are unemployed workers in Buenos Aires who have organized together for government benefits and jobs. One famous piquetero opened a food stall for unemployed people in the middle of the prosperous Puerto Madero neighborhood, which caused a bit of a scandal. When we got there, we found out that we couldn’t eat there since it was free or cheap food for the piqueteros, not for tourists. So we ate at a Caribbean restaurant instead.

Bridge, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Everywhere in Puerto Madero we saw statues of cows.

 Jim e Sparklepants Milking Cow, Puerto Madera, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaMy Girlfriend Was a Cow in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaClimbing Cow, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

We walked on the Costanera Sur, full of my favorite Buenos Aires attraction the parrillas or meat stalls, across from a swampy ecological reserve built on landfill which we couldn’t enter because it was closed on Mondays. Since the workers’ strike had ended, we took the Subte (metro) home.

Parilla (Meat Stall), Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaJim e Sparklepants, Costanera Sur, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaSubte (Metro), Buenos Aires, Argentina

That evening, we ate at Bar 6 in Viejo Palermo and want to Aca Bar for dessert. Palermo is one of the largest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and has a variety of names for its various parts, such as Viejo Palermo, Soho Palermo, Hollywood Palermo, and so on. Aca Bar is a funny name for a restaurant because the verb acabar in Spanish can mean to orgasm.

Natural Capitalism

I finished reading “Natural Capitalism” by Paul Hawkens and Amory and L. Hunter Lovins last evening. Although written in 1999, the messages of the book seem very current and compelling to me. The description of systems approaches where the impact on “externalities” such as the environment are very convincing. I found the description of market approaches to natural capitalism a bit more murky, yet interesting nonetheless. It’s the first time I’ve come close to understanding how a market in pollution credits could possibly be helpful, although I’m still not entirely convinced of the value of the idea. The description of the Brazilian city of Curitiba was wonderful… makes me wish I had known to visit there during my trip to Brazil in the spring.