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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

What books are you reading?

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10 Dec 2021 16:47 #328695 by DarthJoJo
I do not get Anton Chekhov. I’ve read a collection of his short stories and just finished reading five of his major plays, and they did absolutely nothing for me. There is no subtlety, and everyone is constantly complaining about how miserable they are despite all being landowners. You could level a lot of the same criticisms at Flannery O’Connor, whom I enjoy immensely, but her prose bleeds. Maybe he reads better in Russian.

A friend of mine suggested part of his status is due to Europeans not wanting to admit that Poe and Hawthorne mastered the short story form first.
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10 Dec 2021 17:55 #328698 by Shellhead
I am reading The Food of the Gods, by Cassandra Khaw. It features the adventures of Rupert Wong, cannibal chef, and his interactions with various pantheons.

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10 Dec 2021 20:57 #328703 by jason10mm

Shellhead wrote: I am reading The Food of the Gods, by Cassandra Khaw. It features the adventures of Rupert Wong, cannibal chef, and his interactions with various pantheons.


You CAN NOT just drop "cannibal chef" in a sentence and mic drop!

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11 Dec 2021 11:05 #328707 by Cranberries
I am reading Neal Stephenson's "Fall, or Dodge in Hell" which is a dumb title. Long essays about how socially inept but brilliant engineers and coders will save us. Also a really interesting look at how, in the near future (this was published in 2019) large swathes of the midwest will become Ameristan, a sub-country filled with conspiracy-obsessed fundamentalists who are completely entranced by AI-charged social media apps that track eye movements and other indicators of engagement. Characters from Cryptonomicon show up, and we learn of the old-age deaths of Randall Waterhouse and Amy Shaftoe which made me oddly sad.

“Yes. It’s really only since wireless networks got fast enough to stream pictures to portable devices that everything changed,” Enoch said, “and enabled each individual person to live twenty-four/ seven in their own personalized hallucination stream.”
― Neal Stephenson, Fall; or, Dodge in Heck


All the earlier criticisms of Stephenson brought up when I discussed Termination Shock apply to this book as well. I mostly read it right before sleep or when I wake up at 3:00 a.m.

Warning: Spoiler!

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11 Dec 2021 13:43 #328710 by Shellhead

jason10mm wrote:

Shellhead wrote: I am reading The Food of the Gods, by Cassandra Khaw. It features the adventures of Rupert Wong, cannibal chef, and his interactions with various pantheons.


You CAN NOT just drop "cannibal chef" in a sentence and mic drop!


Okay, I will share some paragraphs from the book:

pg 133:

"So, who's Veles? My Greek mythology isn't up to snuff, but ---"
"Nobody of any significance anymore," Demeter says, almost sadly. "Once, the Slavic people knew Veles as a god of dark, growing things. The earth and the water, the forest and its wolves. But Christianity tore his worship to shreds. He became their saint, and then their devil, and then nothing at all."

pg 141:

I don't waste anything. Not even the gallbladders, which I spice and sauté, before slicing them thin and plating them with creamy globs of yoghurt. The small intestines are rinsed, over and over, until only the faintest stink of decomposition remains, then poured into the food processor with garlic, layers of caramelized onions, pepper, and a glazing of white wine. At some point, after they've been sewn up in their casings and left to smoke for weeks, we'll turn them into proper andouille.
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11 Dec 2021 14:23 - 11 Dec 2021 14:24 #328711 by Sagrilarus
How the War Was Won by Phillips Payson O’Brien. I mentioned this earlier when I had just read the beginning, now I’m deeper into the book.

Often with books like this it’s worth reading the Introduction and Conclusion, and the chapters in the middle seem designed to turn a pamphlet into a book. This one started with that feeling, but has turned into a more interesting read.

O’Brien is a big data guy, and he’s examining the war from a Grand Operations perspective. Eisenhower is too low in the hierarchy to be mentioned in the book. And the overall thrust of the book is that all of the second world war was fundamentally about production and costs to interrupt it. Individual battles are almost incidental to the big picture, and the big picture decided battles more than battles decided big picture. That is, Kursk was won by Anglo-American strategic bombing.

This is similar to the kind of work I do for a living, though on a far smaller subject matter. O’Brien has taken his time to set up his data sink and is now dipping into it to provide clear examples of how he views the war. It’s very interesting. I just finished a chapter on how German submarines cost the allied forces dearly, and it had nothing to do with sinking ships.

Likely not everyone’s read, but it has my attention now. I like these grander visions of history.
Last edit: 11 Dec 2021 14:24 by Sagrilarus.
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11 Dec 2021 15:16 - 11 Dec 2021 20:33 #328712 by Not Sure

Cranberries wrote: I am reading Neal Stephenson's "Fall, or Dodge in Hell" which is a dumb title. Long essays about how socially inept but brilliant engineers and coders will save us. Also a really interesting look at how, in the near future (this was published in 2019) large swathes of the midwest will become Ameristan, a sub-country filled with conspiracy-obsessed fundamentalists who are completely entranced by AI-charged social media apps that track eye movements and other indicators of engagement. Characters from Cryptonomicon show up, and we learn of the old-age deaths of Randall Waterhouse and Amy Shaftoe which made me oddly sad.


Hahaha, sucker. That's the book he should have written. You're already past the good stuff, now get ready for 400 more pages of wankery about consciousness and artificial worlds and compute power. When you're done, go play the paperclip game as a palate cleanser. ( www.decisionproblem.com/paperclips/ )

I hated, hated, hated that book, except for the Ameristan stuff. In fact, I only read Termination Shock because I thought (somewhat correctly) that it might be more along the lines of the fake-out that was Fall.

I did finish Termination Shock recently. It's much improved from Fall, but still a pretty sloppy novel. It's interesting to hear him rail about the USA, but then reach some sort of grudging acceptance. A very axe-grindy book, overall. The info dumps really are the best part.
Last edit: 11 Dec 2021 20:33 by Not Sure.
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12 Dec 2021 18:29 #328724 by dysjunct
THE WIZARD’S BUTLER. A little hum-drum but mostly cozy yarn about the titular butler. Modern setting, family drama drives the plot.

TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST. The classic American nonfiction work, written by a lettered man who, in dire financial straits, decides to sign on as a sailor with a commercial sailing ship. Detailed and slow, it removes most of the romance about running away to sea. It is hard, relentless drudgery. Shift work, four hours on, four hours off. But it is fascinating, and I suspect most of the knowledge has been lost. I am about a third of the way through, and the ship has just made landfall in Monterrey CA — when it was still a Spanish colony. The author has a Spanish/English dictionary, and is therefore seen as a man of towering intellect by the crew, and then sent to buy supplies.

It’s a unique look at a lost era, from the point of view of the people who are passed over by history books.
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19 Dec 2021 11:13 - 23 Dec 2021 23:36 #328911 by Cranberries
I finished "Fall, or Dodge in Hell" by Neal Stephenson and noticed that the switch from writing about tech Seattle to simulated reality was off putting at first, but then I got into it. And as more of humanity moved into the virtual space, it was reflected in the ratio of real life vs. virtual life exposition in the novel. I know that some of you go Tasmanian Devil over Neal Stephenson, but despite flaws I enjoyed it. I am just not in a hurry and read Stephenson when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. for about 30 minutes before going to sleep.

I'm now 250 pages into Seveneves, which could be retitled, "Long essays on creating an ad hoc orbiting civilization, and orbital mechanics, with people attached." But again, I am reading to take my mind off of Omicron, grading, and those dark thoughts that come to the surface at 3:00 a.m., like "Maybe I don't really like board games, I just use them as a filter to find like minded people to hang out with" or "Whose idea was it to label people 55 or older 'Post-Prime employees' and how will I adapt to my structural uselessness?" or even "Am I even capable of change at this age?"

So I'm giving Seveneves a qualified thumbs up so far. A lot of people hate it, because it is slow and filled with exposition. I mean, it's better than 95 percent of the internet, and I read that for hours.

Warning: Spoiler!
Last edit: 23 Dec 2021 23:36 by Cranberries.
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19 Dec 2021 22:37 #328928 by Shellhead
I am reading Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk for the first time. 20% of the way through, and so far the book is remarkably similar to the movie. Everybody remembers the fight club scenes, but this book is reminding me of all the other crazy stuff, like how the narrator was going to various cancer survivor support groups to help his insomnia, not because he actually had cancer.
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20 Dec 2021 09:41 #328936 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
@Cranberries - I like Stephenson, but he needs an editor pretty badly. Speaking strictly for myself, I like the digressions. But there needs to be some plot. Anathem kind of danced on the edge of good for me, but Seveneves fell off that edge. So maybe he needs the right kind of editor.
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21 Dec 2021 14:30 #328983 by Jackwraith
Am on a minor vacation and, in anticipation of the release of John Company next spring, am halfway through The Anarchy. It's excellent and a really good insight to a part of that period of time with which I was woefully unfamiliar.
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27 Dec 2021 21:51 #329056 by DarthJoJo
A couple of classics for me. I didn’t think much of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. It felt cliche. There are femme fatales, crooked cops, rumpled private detectives, small criminals and big criminals. Nothing is clean, and it’s always raining. Maybe I’m being unfair in that it is such a foundational of work of noir that decades of imitators and inheritors can’t help but make something that was once bleeding edge feel trite, but it is absolutely overwritten. There are good lines, but if you’re going to write ten words when two would suffice, eventually you’ll string together gold. You could call it misogynistic and homophobic (it’s only saved from being racist by a lack of non-white characters), but that seems unnecessary when absolutely no one is spared from Philip Marlowe’s disdain and cynicism. Give me Dashiell Hammett any day over Chandler. Give me things unsaid and satisfying mysteries built on investigation over coincidence.

I much prefer P.G Wodehouse’s Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves. Wodehouse overwrites, but it’s in service of precisely drawing a character flouncing through life, just barely avoiding ruin by luck and charm. It’s hilarious.
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30 Jan 2022 13:37 - 30 Jan 2022 13:38 #330272 by Sagrilarus
1619, which is . . . remarkably uncontroversial.
Last edit: 30 Jan 2022 13:38 by Sagrilarus.

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02 Feb 2022 16:24 #330360 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
Joe Abercrombie's Age of Madness trilogy. If you like Joe Abercrombie, it's more of the same. Luckily I do.

Marko Kloos' Frontlines series. I've been reading them since they came out. Not bad for the genre. Don't expect deathless literature so much as aliens eating hot lead. But it's okay.
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