End Of Year 2022

 I initially considered creating a long and detailed review of 2022 however on further reflection I decided on a more sparse post. One main reason is time and energy. There are so many complexities involved that I do not have the time or energy to do a worth deep dive. So I will list a few items as place holders and perhaps in a year or two or ten or a hundred I might get back to them.

For me 2022 started in a mostly positive manner. In November of 2021 I made my first airplane trip since the pandemic began; I flew to Los Angeles and spent some time at museums and at Loscon. In December 2021 I made a much longer trip to Washington DC where I had time for more museums and to attend Worldcon which had been postponed from the summer. With those two trip experiences and seeing the success of the vaccination and boost programs I had positive expectations for 2022. 

Then in February Russia invaded Ukraine. Certainly I and most people were glad that Putin did not get his wish for a quick takeover of Ukraine and the installation of a puppet regime.  Unfortunately there have been many killed and injured along with great destruction. While one might hope for an end to the conflict and Russia to withdraw, I think it is more likely this will be an ongoing conflict. Depressing as it sounds I think there is a 50% chance that the conflict will continue and there will be active fighting at this time next year.

On the domestic USA front there were several major events in 2022. In June the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade decision. Roe v Wade might not have been the best decision ever rendered in terms of the reasoning and articulation however for several decades it increased the individual liberty of women. Now Roe v Wade is overturned. One thing which struck me was how often we heard phrases like "settled law" when nominees for a SCOTUS position appeared before a Senate committee. So now we have increased hand wringing and moaning in some of the public commentators about the decline of the status in the rating polls. SCOTUS appears to sinking to the low levels already reached by both executive and legislative branches. One possible approach to the situation is to decrease the amount of interference the federal, state and local governments play in mandatory control over lives of people. Of course that means the authoritarians of all stripes will be dismayed because from my vantage point each authoritarian thinks their own authoritarianism is proper, just and legitimate.

Schools are back in operation and now there is a discussion about what policies worked and what policies did not work. One trend I see is that teacher unions lost some political clout and some positive status in the general public. Interest and enrollment in private schools, charter schools and home schooling appear to be on the upswing. There are also some politicians and some parents supporting laws like the "don't say gay" and similar restrictions on school curriculum. Perhaps this will open up a larger discussion about what is the purpose of education and how to best meet that purpose. Perhaps. But honestly I doubt if there will be a discussion using the tools of rationality and critical thinking in the coming year. It will likely take more than a year for all of the overblown rhetoric to clear out.

As I write this end of year note there is still a lot of political divide in the USA. I expect this political divide will continue for many reasons; a primary reason is how much political positions are based on loyalty to an ideology, a party or a politician instead of well researched data and critical thinking. I want to emphasis that I am not a member of the Republican party and I am not a member of the Democratic party, in fact I am not a member of any political party. And just so there no misunderstanding; I do not necessarily think all political parties are the same so I am not guilty of a naive "both sides" rhetoric; it is all much more complex and complicated.

I will conclude with my suggestion that the best path forward is to drop loyalty to a political party or loyalty to a religion and instead look toward benevolence, empathy, pan-critical rationalism, reason and critical thinking which I have discussed in other posts.



Review of the novel City Limits

 Review of the novel City Limits by Jim Peron


The novel opens by describing the situations of two recent High School graduates, Brian and Tony, in the context of their small rural Kansas town with the usual problems associated with small Kansas towns. Not to mention Brian's mother, Eunice, who is kindhearted but often misguided in how she interacts with Brian and Tony. However this novel is not an angst filled coming of age story set in Kansas, certainly the humor in the first chapter overshadows the angst. There is even humor in Brian and Tony deciding to relocate to San Francisco and their trip. The novel does not turn into a travelogue or road story although that might have been interesting. Nor is it a romantic comedy although during the novel there is both romance and comedy. The novel is about characters and life as they create and experience it.

It is in the San Francisco area that the other characters are introduced. And they are quite a bunch of characters. Stella encounters Brian and Tony soon after they arrive in San Francisco and it is with this encounter that the narrative jumps up a notch. From arranging for Brian and Tony to rent an apartment in the Castro to assisting them in acquiring suits for a job interview, Stella fulfills the role of older sister, mentor and also guide around San Francisco. The limo driver Anthony, his boss Mr. Santori and the daughter Elizabeth Santori soon follow in the narrative. Brian, Tony, Stella, and others try to avoid getting tangled up in their own minor machinations while working to unmask a major deception and scam against the ill, desperate and unsuspecting.

This novel references many actual events with a fictional but loving eye. And locations are described with just a bit of literary license however the locations are generally easily recognizable to those familiar with the area which adds to the texture of the narrative. I have lived in the Silicon Valley area for many decades and thus am familiar with the Bay Area and certainly San Francisco where I meet the author many years ago. One might easily image some of the events happening today such as Stella confronting the street evangelist. Or taking a ferry to Sausalito to interview for a job and being driven back in a limo.

There is much in the novel about being human; what it means to be part of a social circle, a family not of relatives but of chosen persons. And importantly the development of the individual; not the infantile pseudo-individualism one typically associates with a toddler; instead the honest, benevolent, rational, and mature individual which one ideally develops into as they become an adult. The novel covers the time span of only about a year yet one sees Brian and Tony develop and grow in their new home and with Stella and all of the others. It is in this sense that if I had to use only one phrase to characterize this novel I would call it life affirming.