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Showing posts with the label social change

Reading journal: Growing Pains: the future of democracy (and work) by Gwynne Dyer

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Genre: Non-fiction Published: 2018 Date read: August 2018 A short read exploring the rise of populism, Donald Trump and Brexit, and whether democracy as a form of government can survive. Dyer’s premise is that the problem is not one of ideology but of inequality. If a person’s ability to survive and benefit from economic growth is tied to employment, then there’s a problem, because paid employment is falling and wages are stagnant. Populists take advantage of this situation to blame immigrants and create dangerous social division. Dyer makes a good case for the use of a universal basic income as the solution to ever-increasing automation in manufacturing, transport and information-based work. That’s a hard sell in a neo-liberal world.

Reading journal: Flight 404 by Simon Petrie

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Genre: Science Fiction Published: 2018 Date read: June 2018 An engaging novella from a Canberra author. Charmain is a pilot en route to a rescue mission in the vicinity of the arid home planet she abandoned long ago. It takes a long time to get anywhere in space, and brief spurts of action are interspersed with long periods of reflection on the past. Charmain explores the relationships she abandoned when she changed gender and left home through the means of conversations with her AI, K@rine, an interesting idea. The stakes rise when she discovers that her sister’s family is on the lost ship, and the actions of the other rescuers pose threats or add to the general confusion. I enjoyed the story. It’s low key; space is filled with people with normal human issues like regret, fear and greed, rather than high adventure, although there is some of that too. It reminds me of Nathan Lowell’s Traders’ Tales . And there are some lovely ideas — the arid planet has underground habi

Reading journal: The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

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Genre: Crime Published: 1949 Read: December 2017 The action takes place in a small English village, one of the most dangerous places on earth if television is anything to go by. A staid solicitor, Robert Blair, is caught up in the defence of two women accused of abducting a teenage girl with the aim of forcing her to do domestic work for them. The girl is an innocent child with the media on her side, and Blair has to exert himself to prove her accusations wrong. This is a well-plotted and well-written story. The problems come with the subtexts — the author’s middle class concerns permeate everything. The servant ‘problem’, the stupidity and ignorance of rural people, the lack of class and pursuit of febrile thrills found in industrial city dwellers, the inevitable consequences of bad blood and the triumph of nature over nurture; all these pernicious ideas find their way into what would otherwise be an excellent yarn. In the end, unable to cope with an England that ha