Re: Ask the Mineshaft: Ethical Instruction

1

I'm in the middle of Methland. It's pretty good and fits the bill: middlebrow didacticism, timely content, gripping narrative.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:01 PM
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Bolaño, By Night in Chile? Compact, and deals with e.g. responsibility of the artist in society. Also, fascism -- good or bad?


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:09 PM
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Nixonland? It teaches how conservatives are evil.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:17 PM
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Tom Geoghegan's "The Secret Lives of Citizens"? Civic engagement and why it's hard?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:18 PM
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Omnivore's Dilemna? Lots of meaty stuff to chew in there. Politics, Econ, Ethics, Soc, International Studies, etc.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:22 PM
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Into Thin Air

"Look around kiddies. Sure you're all full of hope now, but some of you aren't going to make it".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:25 PM
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Lots of meaty stuff to chew in there.

If you will.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:25 PM
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It's one of my obligatory recommendations but The Last Shot is a fabulous book that raises a number of nice ethical issues. There are various issues regarding exploitation, but also the questions of what to make of the Coney Island community which comes across as a relatively tight-nit community in some ways and utterly dysfunctional in other ways.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:32 PM
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Watchmen is good for themes around the ethics surrounding nuclear war, crimefighting, and omnipotent beings. Plus, its a cartoon.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:34 PM
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Thank you, everyone! I will be me again when DHSO gets out of class and joins us in the comments (and presumably gives the ok to drop one layer of anonymity on the inside). This is exactly the kind of stuff he was thinking about.

More info: Elie Wiesel's Night and a collection of Barry Lopez essays apparently did not work well. Why, I do not know.


Posted by: Xanthippe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:35 PM
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I note, in reference to the OP, that The Last Shot is 240pp, so it matches the length criteria quite nicely.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:36 PM
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Waiting For The Barbarians is what I can think of off the bat, though right now I can't remember much of it (but it seems to fit the bill).
Also, Solzhenitsyn?


Posted by: U. Awl | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:39 PM
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13

The New Testament.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:41 PM
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14

It is a little long but this book is very good:

In this open-minded, provocative, unsettling inquiry into the causes of evil, Baumeister rejects the entrenched view that low self-esteem causes violence and aggression. On the contrary, he argues, violent or evil people tend to have highly favorable opinions of themselves, and cross the line to commit immoral, hurtful acts when they feel their egotism is threatened by others. Among the root causes of evil he identifies are ambition, desire for power or wealth, misplaced idealistic adherence to a creed or doctrine and sadistic pleasure. He applies this framework, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, to an analysis of diverse evils: murder, rape, street crime, war, petty cruelty, emotional abuse, wife beating, government repression, racial and ethnic hatreds. A social psychologist at Case Western Reserve University, Baumeister believes that evil grows and spreads when cultures stop restraining individuals' angry, violent impulses?a process abetted by desensitization, yearnings for revenge, group conformity and inadequate socialization or upbringing. His rewarding study challenges?and complements?traditional, religion-based views of evil with a humanistic perspective.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:41 PM
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The Fucking Archives.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:43 PM
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*Watchmen* is short, so you should be sure to also make them read *Watchmen and Philosophy*, which has a really good essay on consequentialism and deontology in Watchmen.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:44 PM
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Going Rogue: An American Life.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 12:55 PM
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Well, it is probably out because of the last topic mentioned, but what about _Complicity_ by Ian Banks? Short, engaging, and with a definite central ethics question. Plus, Ian Banks.


Posted by: fishbane | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:01 PM
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16: Do you collect any royalties?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:02 PM
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Not Frisch.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:03 PM
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19: Not a dime, I just like attention.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:03 PM
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There was some line about Kierkegaard in the Frisch that I remember being diverted by when I read it but have now utterly forgotten.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:06 PM
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23

I'd like to say Collapse but too long (although actually Parts 1 & 2 (Modern Montana + ancient societies) are ~300 pages and represent the strongest parts of the book (or could even just part 2)). Also want to say McPhee's Annals of the Former World but it may be too much of a niche so a better McPhee might be Uncommon Carriers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:09 PM
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I've been looking at a couple of translations of Gilgamesh recently. Perhaps the theme could be something open-ended-in-an-earnest-'90s-way "power and contingency." Although the role of Shamhat, the various references to the temple prostitutes and whatever Gilgamesh was doing to the brides would probably upset the usual people.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:15 PM
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25

Everybody should read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. It's very accessible reading, but asks hard questions about what obligations doctors have to their people, governments have to their people, etc.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:18 PM
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A Heartbreaking Work of Stagering Genius by Dave Eggers worked well at the state college where my spouse professes, with its college age protagonist and very familiar pop culture background, although the stuff that spoke to the kids in 2001* may be ancient history by now. Lots of MTV, no Facebook. Definitely has those moral issues youi're looking for.

*Fall term. On September 11, 2001, the syllabus called for a discussion of how the protagonist coped with becoming a teenaged orphan . Class was cancelled.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:19 PM
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27

So this is like that awkward moment back on my date when he asked "So what do you like to read?" and "The Fucking Archives" would have been the most honest answer. Well that or Harry Potter.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:20 PM
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28

Isn't Annals of the Former World completely devoid of any ethical questions?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:30 PM
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29

@27 - That's like the Atrocity Archives, only more interesting, right?


Posted by: fishbane | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:34 PM
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30

How about The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:35 PM
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31

29: I laughed, I cried...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:35 PM
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29: The Atrocity Archives wasn't that bad, for a book written by a fellow devoted, admirably, to writing stories that bore me to sleep. Tim Powers' Declare is similar but much less office-products-company-atmosphere boring.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:37 PM
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14 sounds incredibly interesting.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:37 PM
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34

If it were the UK, I'd suggest Sustainable Energy by David MacKay (online here). Not sure whether there's anything like it in the US (An Inconvenient Truth isn't so strong on the figures).


Posted by: Gareth Rees | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:38 PM
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Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude. Maybe Affliction by Russell Banks, set in the contemporary US.

A Hearst biography (but both good ones are too long) or Smedley Butler's War is a Racket, too short. Maybe a Winsor McCay biography?

If they are only interested in living Americans, kids apparently find Shawshank Redemption to be deep.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:41 PM
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My alma mater did this sort of thing, but only for freshmen. My freshman year it was Antigone, which worked well enough, I suppose. The year before they did Frankenstein, and the year before that, which I believe was the first year of the program, Guns, Germs, and Steel, which everyone seemed to think was way too long for the purpose.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:44 PM
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I think my alma mater did this for freshmen, but it was only recommended rather than required and I never read the recommendations (not just the books but the recommendations themselves).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:48 PM
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MIT had the class of freshmen enrolling in 1988 read Beloved. I remember reading the book -- any actual discussion of it has disappeared completely from my memory.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:48 PM
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39

My alma mater just had us read the same things in the actual school year.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:51 PM
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40

Hard Green by Peter Huber would be an interesting choice. It's the right length and an easy read, but it also raises some important questions from an unusual perspective. How appropriate it might be would probably depend on the demographics of the student body, and it would be important to carefully think through the surrounding programming.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:51 PM
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41

And it warn't no pandering "contemporary" bs, either!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:51 PM
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42

39/41: I think our summer reading was 1. The Iliad 2. The Aeneid 3. Don Quixote and 4. War and Peace.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:53 PM
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43

The Aeneid would be a good choice, actually. Empire and all that. Or the Georgics.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:54 PM
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44

39: ???


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:56 PM
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45

Ooh, Anasazi America! There's even a second edition coming out soon.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:57 PM
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46

essear: well, not literally had us do that. But there's a lot of overlap: most people end up reading a fair bit of The Wealth of Nations, and if not that then the Republic, and if not that then Elementary Forms.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 1:59 PM
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47

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Is anyone following the balloon story? Weird.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:00 PM
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48

47: Yeah! CNN just said they don't think the kid was ever inside. Let's hope not. But ugh.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:01 PM
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49

A monkey is on board! Poor George!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:05 PM
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50

Even better: 1491.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:06 PM
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51

Probably too long, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:08 PM
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52

42:

My sophomore class began with Genesis, hence no summer reading for that year; did you go to the one out west, or did they just do things in a different order your year?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:10 PM
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53

25 gets it right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:12 PM
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54

52: Oh ho! Nope. 'nap Town.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:13 PM
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52, 54: I was just looking at the reading lists, and it looks like Genesis is at the beginning of sophomore year for both campuses.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:16 PM
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56

Now, that is. It may have changed.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:16 PM
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57

well, not literally had us do that.

oud and I, though literally had to do that.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:17 PM
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56: I'm almost certain we didn't do any Bible stuff until we finished all the Roman stuff (which puts the HT badly out of order, but I think that is what we did). Of course, this was in 1988, since I am old, like an old person.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:20 PM
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58: According to the current reading lists they definitely do some of the Roman stuff after the Bible stuff, but like I say this definitely could have changed. I wonder if my mom remembers how they did it in her day.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:24 PM
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46: It used to be the case that all the first-years read Plato's Apology, and all Hum sections started with a discussion of the text. Has that fallen by the wayside?

And it warn't no pandering "contemporary" bs, either!

I believe "warn't" more correctly takes the double negative, viz., "And it warn't no pandering 'contemporary' bs, neither".


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:27 PM
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61

That's probably true.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:31 PM
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54: I had to stare at this comment for about a minute before I was sure it wasn't either a palindrome or an anagram of something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:31 PM
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46: It used to be the case that all the first-years read Plato's Apology, and all Hum sections started with a discussion of the text. Has that fallen by the wayside?

Yes. I took a two-quarter Hum sequence (winter and spring, fitting in my music requirement in the fall) and there was no Plato. We did read the Iliad. I don't quite remember most of the reading list. There was A Clockwork Orange, Giambattista Vico's New Science, A Journey into Mohawk and Oneida Country.... It was an odd mix.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:31 PM
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Or maybe I'm just forgetting about reading the Apology, because I've had to read it so many times in my life that I stopped paying attention. It may have also come up in Western Civ, but I don't recall.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:33 PM
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Temporary Autonomous Zones by Hakim Bey


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:39 PM
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66

Plus the SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:39 PM
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67

60: Isn't that a triple negative ("warn't," "no," "neither")?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:40 PM
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I was there before the newfangled two-quarter Hum/Soc/Civ sequences were an option; not having fall-quarter Hum would hamstring the campus-wide discussions pretty badly, so I imagine they've dropped the program.

essear, it sounds like you took the two-quarter version of my Hum sequence, which was regarded as the weird one in my day; I don't think Vico or Mohawk came up in anyone else's syllabus. The good part of the full-year sequence was that the third quarter was the first time we had a professor who knew what he was doing in the classroom.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:41 PM
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67: There warn't no countin' skills taught back then, neither.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:42 PM
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No, the two-quarter Hum sequence option involves not doing it in the Spring, not the Fall.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:44 PM
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Heh, I took the weird Hum sequence too. It was sort of a disappointment and in retrospect I wish taken one of the more canonical sequences. The dude really thought Vico was great, and I was like, WTF? He also wrote that the analysis in my essay on the Illiad was "depressingly shallow" in light of what was gone over in class discussions. I didn't like that guy.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:46 PM
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71: What was the weird sequence called again? Something and cultures?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:49 PM
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not doing it in the Spring

A timehonored U of C tradition.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:50 PM
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71: I didn't like that guy.

Most depressingly shallow people don't.


Posted by: THAT GUY | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:51 PM
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72: P/rspectives on L/nguage in the H/manities.

Though I gather R/ading C/ltures was also weird.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:51 PM
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and I was like, WTF?

And I bet you're wondering how someone who writes something like this could ever be labeled "depressingly shallow".


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:53 PM
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73: And the fall, and the winter.

75: That's the one. I would be curious to know if your That Guy was also the That Guy of my year; he ripped our class to shreds for having uniformly failed to understand what he had meant to teach us about the Saga of the V/lsungs. I for one certainly failed to understand what he'd meant to teach us, but for goodness' sake, That Guy, perhaps if the entire class misses the point, you should pause to consider whether your teaching methods are effective.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:57 PM
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70 No, the two-quarter Hum sequence option involves not doing it in the Spring, not the Fall.

This wasn't true when I took it.

Could Otto and I have been in the same class? I don't think there were many sections of it. But now I've forgotten if we graduated in the same year or not.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:58 PM
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I just happened to look at acephalous and, holy crap. I'm sitting here shocked slightly dumbfounded just having read about that.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:59 PM
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77: That Guy's name is in your email box.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:59 PM
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81

Oh yes, the V/lsung Saga. Was the guy's name Bucc/n/?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 2:59 PM
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82

And there I go ruining OvB's attempt to be secretive. Google-proofing should be enough, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:00 PM
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78: I believe I took it Winter-Spring 2000. (I'm '03.)


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:00 PM
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Well...

Indeed, in its 300-odd pages, the "Encyclopedia of Pasta" ranges from abbotta pezziende, a short pasta that means "feed the beggar" in Abruzzo dialect, to the zumari of Puglia, a long pasta traditionally added to vegetable soups. In between there are the corzetti of Liguria and Piedmont, the little stamped-out coins; pi fasacc of Lombardy, which look like little babies in a papoose; avemarie, which cook for as long as it takes to say a Hail Mary; and several dozen variations on macaroni and ravioli. Each illustrated entry lists ingredients, provenance and how the pasta is traditionally served.[...]
Before agreeing to demonstrate her own pasta-making techniques, Ms. Zanini De Vita, who used to run her own cooking school and still teaches the occasional lesson, insisted it be known that the "Encyclopedia of Pasta" is not "a recipe book." She is correct; it is a social history disguised as a food book. A repository of collective memory, it shows a country so varied as to defy unification, and so poor for so long that pasta was a luxury for four-fifths of Italians until the prosperity that came after World War II.
For centuries "pasta was a luxury, you ate it only inside vegetable soup," Ms. Zanini DeVita said. In the southern Basilicata region it was eaten "once or twice a year: for Easter, Christmas and Carnival." Flour was for the rich. "The poor wouldn't even see it in paintings," she said. Time and again in her research she was struck by "the poverty of Southern Italy -- of all Italy but of the south in particular," she added.
In a restaurant in Puglia, she once came across spaghetti di grano arso con le vongole, burnt-flour spaghetti with clams. It stems from the days when the poor would comb the threshing floor for crumbs left behind after milling, toasting what they found. "It has a slightly smoky flavor, and I have to say it goes very well with clams," she said. "Now it's a niche product. I suppose they make it by toasting the flour."
Poverty! History! Furrners! Swipply craftmatic detail!

max
['Fine. Be like that. I'll read it.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:01 PM
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85

Ah, OK. I took it winter-spring 2001.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:01 PM
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81: Yes, that was his name. And I imagine I was being overly secretive, yes.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:01 PM
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79: Holy fuck.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:03 PM
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88

53 is rather perceptive.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:03 PM
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79: Jesus christ. Reading Acephalous too much is almost enough to make believe there is a God, who hates SEK.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:03 PM
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81, 86: Yup, that's him.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:04 PM
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And, good lord, 79. Jesus.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:07 PM
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92

I think I bring it up in every suggest-a-book thread, but Coetzee's Disgrace is really excellent and somewhat cross-disciplinary. Elizabeth Costello is probably more cross-disciplinary, but somewhat less excellent.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:21 PM
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88 is spot on.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:23 PM
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I was thinking about Disgrace, but worried that undergrads would find it slow moving and depressing.

Elizabeth Costello is great. I assigned it one year at Stuffwhitepeople Like University and had a student ask "Why did you make us read a story about a woman giving a blowjob to a dying man?" The only response I could think of was "because it is a metaphor for literature."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:25 PM
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The story of a French grocery store cashier: Hits the Nickled and Dimed sweet spot pretty hard, I imagine, but consider the cross-cultural possibilities.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:37 PM
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94: Disgrace is currently on my nightstand because CA is insisting I read it. I asked him if I was supposed to draw meaning from that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:44 PM
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Hits the Nickled and Dimed sweet spot pretty hard

I have a friend who insists that The Working Poor is far better than Nickled and Dimed. It's on my reading list, but I haven't gotten to it yet.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:48 PM
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79: he probably should have stuck around until the cops showed up, because apparently the CHP doesn't know about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:51 PM
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98: The same thing occurred to me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 3:53 PM
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98

How about this ?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:05 PM
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98/99: you don't think it just scrolled off the end of the list already? If nothing else car crashes make very loud and distinctive noises, and I can't imagine a tollbooth operator wouldn't have heard it happen. Assuming that there was a tollbooth operator.

But yes. Any interaction with violent death sucks ass.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:09 PM
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SEK commented at Acephalous that he wasn't sure what side of the county line he was. Shearer's link looks like the same event -- I don't know the geography, but is it possible he wasn't in Orange County?

And man, if it wasn't for bad luck, SEK wouldn't have any luck at all. I'm not standing next to him during any meteor showers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:12 PM
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102: Shearer's link is about a pickup in a parking lot? And SEK's is about a luxury sedan and a semi, I thought.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:14 PM
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104

Except James' story happened yesterday, whereas reading the comments it does appear that SEK's happened today. Ugh. Poor people.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:15 PM
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103: In that story, the Blazer was on the freeway, hit a semi, and fell off the road into a parking lot, so it does sound freakishly similar, besides the details of tolls and a sedan.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:16 PM
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Howdy all, thanks for the sympathy, and for the story from yesterday, which happened at damn near exactly the same time a few miles before the exit to the toll road. My commute is like a death march, it seems.

Also, I've now talked to who I need to talk to, and yes, I should've stayed, especially as my vomit-spattered shirt apparently confused some scene investigators. They were nice about it though. Apparently they're used to people freaking out when this sort of thing happens.

As for the toll booth operators, they don't exist. I give them money every morning, but Google says they don't exist, so they must not exist. (That weirds me out, for some reason. Of all things to erase, why toll booths?)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:29 PM
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(And LB, I consider today a bit of good luck, given what could have happened. Maybe my winds have shifted?)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:35 PM
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106: Dude, take care of yourself. This is a good weekend to spend drinking herb tea and doing something calm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:36 PM
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107: Point. Hairbreadth escapes are better than no escapes at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:37 PM
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(And LB, I consider today a bit of good luck, given what could have happened. Maybe my winds have shifted?)

Considering the experience of the semi driver today, that still isn't an argument for standing next to you in a meteor shower.

But, yes, it is very fortunate that nothing worse happened to you.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:41 PM
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The tea will turn out to be hemlock or pennyroyal or some such. If the gods are after you, they're after you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:41 PM
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As for the toll booth operators, they don't exist. I give them money every morning, but Google says they don't exist, so they must not exist.

They're phantom tollbooths?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:46 PM
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The tea will turn out to be hemlock or pennyroyal or some such

Indeed. A nice scotch or the like seems more fitting. Glad you are safe SEK.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:48 PM
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107: (And LB, I consider today a bit of good luck, given what could have happened. Maybe my winds have shifted?)

Gallows humor, dude. Not a bit of good luck. Looking at one of those will do some damage, especially if you aren't practiced at seeing that sort of thing. ('You ever seen on of those Fenian bombings, lad? You'd think we were made of nothing but shit and mincemeat.') Since you write anyways, when you go home, write it all down (descriptively), probably perferably on notebook paper with a pen, and be sure to add all the awful crap it made you think of and feel.

The reason you do that is that it's in your head, and if you write it down while it is fresh, you can drain that shit out some before you go to sleep. Otherwise, not so good dreams - you can't 'just forget it', I wish people could.

Sorry you had to see that.

max
['A very shitty day.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 4:56 PM
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Further to 114: You may also want to consider playing a few games of Tetris.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 5:00 PM
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25 et al: That's a great book and everybody *should* read it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 5:16 PM
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116 is correct, and not just for the Berubé shoutout at the end.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 5:31 PM
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I always say this, but something by Banks or Gray is always a good bet, maybe (if Gray) A History Maker or Something Leather.

Oooh, ooh, I know, Banks' Player of Games!

Kelman's probably too much, but Greyhound For Breakfast or Not While The Giro might be readable maybe.

I'd be tempted to look for a book that was perhaps a bit quirky in terms of getting assigned, without being topical. But anyway, my recommendations: central belt Scottish literary novelists.

Rip It Up And Start Again might be funny, as would Militant Modernism.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:05 PM
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i guess they aren't looking for short story collections though so.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:08 PM
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113 seems like a bad idea, personally.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:16 PM
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114 and 115 seconded. And glad you're okay, SEK. That's intense, to say the least.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:25 PM
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This is late, but I just read of SEK's experience. Max is right; write it out, or talk it out, if you can. We all differ, but just reading about it puts me near tears, and I fear it may follow you around for a while if you don't allow yourself a catharsis.

Peace, Scott.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:26 PM
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Oooh, ooh, I know, Banks' Player of Games!

Nah. The Wasp Factory or Use of Weapons, if it's gonna be Banks.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:34 PM
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Before it gets lost, 112 was clever.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:37 PM
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120: To each his own, I guess. Though, to be clear, I was advocating *a* stiff drink, not a bender.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:42 PM
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The fact that the stiffer the drink the less it takes to get a bender started is a much discussed paradox in quantum mechanics, famously elucidated in the thought experiment "Schrödinger's Third Martini".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:51 PM
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We have things against benders now?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:53 PM
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A cat, two wives, and three martinis: just another typical day in the life of Erwin Schrödinger.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:55 PM
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After his Third Martini, Schrödinger just wouldn't quit it with the dubious assertions about how quantum mechanics has, like, totally deep implications for life, man. It's like, what can we ever really know for sure, you know?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 6:56 PM
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"Thiss drink. Lookit. Doess thiss drink exist? How do you know? Lookit!" (gulp) "Iz gone! Aaaand I'm gone! Whuzzat about, huh, Einstein?"

"F'in' no Niels shut it. I know yer not Einstein. No stupid. No I love you, man."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 7:01 PM
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127: Kind of.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 7:20 PM
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125: 1 leads to 2, 2 leads to 3...

At least in my experience.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 7:59 PM
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Something Leather, really?

How about 1982 Janine?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 9:43 PM
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A collection of undergrads would love Something Leather; sex! sex! exotic sex! It's well accessible in that sense. 1982 is rather depressing and alienating, and probably more Britishly grim than Something Leather.

(Mainly, you'd want to give them Lanark, but that's clearly out, so: A History Maker, Something Leather, maybe Poor Things. But I think Something Leather would be the best introduction to Gray.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 9:54 PM
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I didn't like Poor Things.

1982 has a lot of sex, of a sort. (I haven't actually read Something Leather.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 10:02 PM
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I didn't think Poor Things was that great either, to be honest.

(1982 has depressing sex though.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 10:05 PM
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Apologies if any of these have already been suggested; I've only skimmed the thread.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. It's frank, it's funny, and it's short. On the other hand, it's not totally coherent, and it was written in the 18th century.

A Soldier's Play It's a modern classic for a reason. And the movie version has Denzel. Unfortunately, it's very much an artifact of black/white racial politics, which if being read by a more or less sheltered group of young people may be hard to map on to today's United States.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I hate that YA literature gets no respect. It's all problem novels and stuff you've outgrown. This one is here more or less as a placeholder, and a slightly righteous sense that adults ought not to dismiss YA for 18- to 24-year-olds.

Talk to Me. I'm not actually serious about this, because I think it's not very accessible, and it's also pretty uneven. But it takes such interesting risks that I can't help but feel fond of it, lo these seven or eight years later. Plus, Anna Deveare Smith. Need I say more?

The Things They Carried. Predictable in that so many of these city-wide/college-wide reading projects pick a war novel. On the other hand, I really like this war novel. It's brief, choppy, rhythmic, profane, compassionate. It gives you Vietnam without assuming that you've been saturated in a generation's worth of literature and movies.

Clockers. I'm honestly going on a suggestion from my brother-in-law on this one. In my experience, "reluctant readers" doesn't begin to describe certain teenage males. Since I'm not jumping up and down to recommend Chunk Palahniuk in this context, Richard Price makes a nice substitute. Better dialogue, if a more clichéd setting.

Your Money Or Your Life and The Soul of Money. I wish desperately that any adult in college had talked honestly about money. I wish more people would, period. I think YMOYL is a great shake-you-up, hit-you-over-the-head unsubtle brief for a point of view that is very underrepresented in our society: not scarcity, not abundance, but "enough." It's pushy and sometimes judgmental, but if a dose of it counteracts a small slice of the relentless more-more-achieve-achieve mantra of our society, that's a good thing. And The Soul of Money is very short, but worth it for its core insight alone: Americans really do put their hearts where their money is.


Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead. I know, I know. Stoppard is not accessible. And plays should be watched, not read. But tell me again why not?


The U.S. Constitution. I'm totally serious. And have big copies spread all over campus, and let people put Post-It notes with commentary on them, and come up with #tags and create an environment where people can have opinions about the Third Amendment as an ordinary fact of life. Maybe even air those opinions in the context of, say, our current wars.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 10:27 PM
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(Sorry to post so late, but I was busy trying not to let my team give me a heart attack. Phew! Go Phils.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 10:29 PM
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137: A lot of people read The Things They Carried in high school classes, I think. At least, I did, and I remember that some other people I knew in college had also.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 10:38 PM
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fucking A, SEK, that's horrible, I'm so sorry. glad you're alive.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 11:36 PM
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Even by the SEK Gold Standard of Perpetual Misfortune, that's pretty fucking extreme. Luckily, even now, the Blogosphere is leveraging its considerable influence with The Almighty to get him a better deal henceforth. So... eventually... the Acephalous One may have cause to take heart.

Until then, well, you know... sympatheez.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-15-09 11:49 PM
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re: 118

Rip It Up And Start Again might be funny, as would Militant Modernism.

Cracking books, but maybe not the best choices for the OP's original purpose?

FWIW, I've pressed Militant Modernism on a couple of people. It's a fun polemic. And Rip It Up... has had me seeking out new music for months.

They made us read Kelman's "A Disaffection" when I was at uni', which is brilliant, but suicidally bleak.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 12:26 AM
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As a serious suggestion, what about William Finnegan's Cold New World?

Review here:

http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/bkrev/finnegan-98.php

less sympathetic review here:

http://www.yale.edu/yrb/fall98/feature1.htm


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 12:48 AM
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28: Isn't Annals of the Former World completely devoid of any ethical questions?

Yes, it was rather just the kind of book I'd like to assign because I don't care about no stinkin' ethics and shit. I meant to point out it didn't meet the criteria, but as I was writing the comment that slipped my mind and I instead just dismissed it with the anodyne "niche". Short-term memory fail.

I have not read it yet, but have heard good things about Searching for Whitopia*. It would make a good pairing with Methland which Ari suggested in 1.

*But am potentially put off that they are using a blurb from the SWPL guy.
"The revelatory chapters about New York City made me want to cry . . . Generous and understanding to all of its subjects, Searching for Whitopia is a eulogy for an unsustainable America lifestyle."
--Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 7:26 AM
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Lots of brilliant ideas here. Will take me a few weeks to look through them all.

TAZ and Wasp Factory would be my picks if I were philosopher queen, but then this is the mid-west and we are 40% first gen. But lots of promising suggestions and even more that I need to read myself. Middle-brow didactic pegs it perfectly.

Thanks for posting the ask, and for all the responses.



Posted by: oudeis | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 7:43 AM
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What about Bérubé's What's Liberal About The Liberal Arts? It's kind of navel-gazing, given that it's about the culture wars in college teaching, but that could be a plus as much as a minus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 7:50 AM
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146: I think I would have viewed that as a slog at 18, better I think would be his Life as We Know It.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 8:08 AM
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Aeschylus' The Persians


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 8:53 AM
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148: I really love teaching the Persians. Half my class says, "This is a hideous document -- the founding text of European orientalism!" and the other half says, "This play is a thrilling testament to human empathy, made all the more amazing for being written within 8 years of Salamis!" And everybody's right!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 9:04 AM
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What's the book that an economist who livved among gang members in Chicago that explores the underground/black market economy?

Also, can I cast a vote against anything about the particular problems of Boomers, especially white male Boomers? Whether or not they stand worthy on their own merits? Sorry to the Bomers in the room, but it'd be nice to expose the kids to voices/narratives that they may not have heard their entire life? E.g. The Things They Carried. I speak from experience on that one. The author is an alum of my school, and spoke to the Class of 95 after we read the book during orientation week.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 10:14 AM
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How about Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee? The discussion could center around why, if you sleep with one of your professors, you shouldn't tell anyone about it.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 12:11 PM
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"The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" is awesome. It is a shame it only covers a short portion of his life.

Maybe go with the first 3 books in this collection:

A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 12:20 PM
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A few East/Central European suggestions:

Tadeusz Konwicki: A Minor Apocalypse

Miroslav Krleza On the Edge of Reason

Jiri Grusa: The Questionnaire

Stefan Chwin Death in Danzig (My favorite post communist Polish novel - very readable and unlike the titles above, done with an old school realist novel feel)

Tadeusz Borowski: This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen - IMO easily the best of the Nazi camp genre. It rather than pathos it relies on bitter cynicism for its effect.

Or for a different time and place, Maupassant: Bel Ami So much fun

I guess I'd better stop here, I can get a bit carried away when recommending books.

NB Is it just me or do other people also think that Wikipedia's turn to an obsessive demand for footnoting has really hurt the quality of its articles?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 12:22 PM
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A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

I teach this every year (I am all about the captive ladies) and it works really well, I think.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 12:27 PM
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Cracking books, but maybe not the best choices for the OP's original purpose?

Well, I think you could hang ethical (& such) discussions from them, they're both quite intelligent books, and they're reasonable accessible.

I mean, clearly not paradigmatic examples of the kind of book the OP wants, but I personally think that midbrow didacticism is generally something to stay away from, so. (Or in other words, they'd be funny but probably not a good idea.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-16-09 7:36 PM
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re: 155

Yeah, you are probably right re: the midbrow didacticism.

A 'Militant Modernism' that covered the other visual arts and literature a bit more relative to the coverage of architecture [although the focus on architecture is understandable] would be perfect. Also, the idea of covering 'Rip it up ...': the vision of a bunch of American first year undergrads studying the semiotics of Phil Oakey's hair, and the socio-economic role of the founding of Postcard Records in early 80s Glasgow is pretty amusing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:14 AM
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It'd be so strange! And so daffy but also really quite appropriate.

However, I imagine that the wonders of Heaven 17 would go straight past them.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:38 AM
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re: 157

Speaking of post-Punk, Magazine* were live on TV last night [doesn't seem to be up on Youtube yet] and were sounding easily the best I've heard of any of the recent punk/post-Punk reformations. Genuinely thrilling sounding.

* complete with Devoto, Barry Adamson, etc. Basically the original line-up minus the late McGeoch.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:01 AM
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Is it just me or do other people also think that Wikipedia's turn to an obsessive demand for footnoting has really hurt the quality of its articles?

No, it's not just you. It's just one more example of how the understandable desire to be verifyable and respectable has degenerated into obsessive rule lawyering.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 3:09 AM
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re: 159 and 153

Yeah, you get demands for citations for things that clearly can't be referenced, too.

Such as when the wiki article is describing some opinion or other, or a statement of common belief.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:09 AM
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There are ads for the Buzzcocks playing here, and one is rather of the opinion that it isn't the Buzzcocks. I'd like to to be wrong but I am not too optimistic.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:00 AM
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I saw the Buzzcocks when they first reformed.* In, iirc, about 1989 or maybe 1990, at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. They were pretty good, actually: surprisingly unhinged mosh-pit. That was more or less the original post-Devoto classic line-up, though.

* I didn't actually know anything about them at the timebeyond the big hit singles [I was 4 when they were formed!], but some old punks I knew had a spare ticket.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:09 AM
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yeah, it's more the holy-fuck-you-guys-are-getting-old-thing &, of course, the eek, the poster has the zzs on the same baseline; don't they know it should read with one z below the other?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:16 AM
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North America was devastated by some sort of neutron-bomb stomach flu last night. I just thought I'd pop in and let y'all know before we shut it down for good.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:42 AM
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re: 163

I've seen Gang of Four, and Magazine both performing on telly recently, and both have been pretty good, actually. They looked like they meant it, and weren't just going through the motions for a pay day. Not bad for old guys.

With Gang of Four, however, Andy Gill, though good, wasn't quite what he once was.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:52 AM
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164: shhhhh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:39 AM
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Also, the idea of covering 'Rip it up ...': the vision of a bunch of American first year undergrads studying the semiotics of Phil Oakey's hair, and the socio-economic role of the founding of Postcard Records in early 80s Glasgow is pretty amusing.

Having just read Rip It Up ... it is great, but it is a little bit longer than suggested 250pp.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:50 AM
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167: CA and I both read it when it came out, but the "ethical content" is absent, no? I think it would be like my college profs assigning No One Here Gets Out Alive.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:54 AM
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164: I was not bombed by the stomach flu. I have been taken out by a perfectly ordinary head cold.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:03 PM
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I have been taken out by not eating when I drink. Good Christ, I have no idea how I got home last night, but vaguely remember taking a train the wrong way and thinking "Eh, it'll eventually go back toward where I live."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:16 PM
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I have been taken out by not eating when I drink.

I hear ya, sister. Not today (for me) but in general as I get half looped I just start talking and talking and talking and somehow eating never gets to happen.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:17 PM
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Apparently I get looped, play terrible pool, and try to convince my friends to dump their stupid girlfriends and have sex with me instead. It's really charming, I'm sure.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:23 PM
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I ate somewhere in there. Maybe it helped.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:28 PM
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It's really charming, I'm sure.

It does rate fairly high on the amusing scale. Plus, no vomiting, apparently.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 12:57 PM
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No vomiting, no. I actually don't remember if anything was decided about the girlfriend. I do remember getting pizza after getting off the subway, so I must have gotten home before 2am when the shop closes. I had eaten a slice of toast at noon, and kept saying, throughout the evening, "I wish I was hungry because I'm going to get wasted if I don't eat."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:06 PM
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I've escaped the apparent epidemic, no doubt because I had more pepper-infused vodka. A week's steeping was more than enough, as it's crossed the pleasure/pain threshold, but I'm convinced of its medicinal qualities.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:09 PM
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I've escaped the apparent epidemic, no doubt because I had more pepper-infused vodka.

Mmm. I had a couple of Habañero martinis last night myself. Quality business.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:12 PM
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I don't think I've ever used ñ correctly ever once in my life.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:13 PM
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I had an Anchor Steam last night.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:24 PM
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179: The first in a long while?


Posted by: M/tch M/llls | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:42 PM
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180: Actually, yes. I had a Boddington's from the tap at work last week, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 1:55 PM
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We made something called a Red Delicious (apple jack, apple cider, pommeau, crème de cassis) which was appropriately autumnal and yummy and then we made a Poire Williams Sour, which I liked more than CA did. It tasted like a pear Jelly Belly -- the best Jelly Belly there is.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 2:08 PM
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There's an apple cider drink I keep meaning to make ("Candidate Two" described here) but didn't. Instead, we made Air Mails. And then later, um, Sazeracs. And something called an "Adonis", that sounded very weird but was surprisingly tasty. And in between we went to the restaurant with the habanero martinis. So if I'm fucking up my accents when writing pepper names, now you know why.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 2:12 PM
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I had several of some beer, then an involuntary and instantly-regretted shot of something brown, and then several of some other beer. There was also a cup of terrible gallery-opening wine somewhere in there.

This morning, I woke bolt upright at 7am craving orange juice. Went down to the store, bought it, and drank some insane amount of it before passing out again.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 2:14 PM
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Ah, Saturday afternoon at Unfogged.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 2:21 PM
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When the actual fun-loving young people return and commiserate about the excesses of their Friday nights.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 2:21 PM
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170, 171: Indeed. I have some very embarrassing memories related to that error.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 2:35 PM
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Boo, fun!

All I had last night was some pinot gris.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 3:15 PM
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You guys are talking about yummy alcoholic drinks I'm too sick to have. Fie. I'm going to have some tea, maybe with honey and lemon.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 3:27 PM
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I had some Pinot Gris that was halfway through fermentation, and holy smokes was it tasty. It would be a great breakfast wine.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 3:30 PM
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You'll be well in a few days, but I'll be pregnant for months!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 3:30 PM
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And I've just discovered that the iPhone auto-corrects to capitalize grape varietals. So excellent.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 3:37 PM
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Oh god i can still remember last night, and i really wish everything after 1 am was hazy/gone. But no. The cringe stands.

(Oooh, but I did make an entirely correct comment on my aunt's facebook page about her 4-y.o daughter, which I am rather impressed with. And also a cup of terrible gallery-opening wine somewhere in there ; that stuff is bad.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:00 PM
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192: That's priceless.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:07 PM
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Fie. I'm going to have some tea, maybe with honey and lemon.

I went to sleep around 9:30 last night. I don't think I'm still sick, but my body is definitely still recuperating.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:12 PM
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We seem to be only a couple of degrees of Facebook separation.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:29 PM
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And also a cup of terrible gallery-opening wine somewhere in there ; that stuff is bad.

Reminds me of this: "Is there anywhere you could possibly feel smaller?" video artist Phil Collins said recently of the commercial art world, "It's the only place where you give away free booze and no one turns up." -


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:43 PM
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197: not true! That also happens at burning man.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:45 PM
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So, the non-commercial art-world as well, then.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:47 PM
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The non-commercial art non-world.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:48 PM
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the art world full stop is a pit of free booze and no-one turning up.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:50 PM
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Well, I suppose when the good beer is PBR it's not that surprising that nobody comes.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 4:56 PM
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It doesn't help when the white wine is at room temperature and the snacks are Ritz crackers.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 5:02 PM
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202: Or Rolling Rock. So. Much. Rolling Rock.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 5:03 PM
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On the other end of the spectrum, though, there's the opening I attended at which the artist's mum (I think) had gone nuts on the complimentary foodstuffs and provided tamales, still wrapped in their husks: wow, but sadly, they were sort of impossible to eat in a gallery setting, balancing a plastic plate and a napkin and a wine glass.

Made me smile, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 5:16 PM
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Add brandy and you have yourself a hot toddy. Delicious and healthy!


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 5:17 PM
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Add brandy to what, WM?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 5:21 PM
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Er, to 189, obviously.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 5:24 PM
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I'm no longer anti-fun. My fun for the weekend was going to NYC to see a milkmaid, IYKWIM.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 6:57 PM
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208: oh, obviously. Those are good with whiskey too.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 7:26 PM
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We seem to be only a couple of degrees of Facebook separation.

I shouldn't be surprised.

(By the way, speaking of odd names, there's a Dr. Nick Cave at Massey)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 7:37 PM
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I guess Rhys was right.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 7:52 PM
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My Saturday night excursion? Going to the grocery store to pick up dishwashing detergent.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 8:44 PM
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And now that I can add the link, here's the ITYD part. Worth seeing, if you're into that sort of thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 8:50 PM
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Aaaaand I grabbed the liquid instead of the powder.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 8:58 PM
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World's most exciting liveblogging!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 9:01 PM
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Now I want to know where Sifu got the habañero drinks and if it's the same place where I usually wimp out and get the merely-jalepeño version. Seems unlikely.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 9:04 PM
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214: Huh, interesting. I should probably head over there to see it. I've been meaning to visit the AMNH too, but that's probably too much museum for one trip.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 9:06 PM
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Will the grime on my dishes succumb to my newly acquired phosphates? Soon we shall see.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 9:21 PM
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219: Keep us posted. Be sure to let us know if water spots are a problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 9:24 PM
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220: Given how long they waited, if water spots are a problem I shall count myself fortunate indeed.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 9:32 PM
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Yeah, you get demands for citations for things that clearly can't be referenced, too.

Such as when the wiki article is describing some opinion or other, or a statement of common belief.

The worst is "is widely believed [by who?]". What do they want, a petition electronically signed by 500 individuals who believe the claim in question?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:16 PM
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This looks interesting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:22 PM
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The Met is a good place to spend about 8 hours or so if you're trying to stay away from the place you're staying because the people there are always on the verge of fighting (not physically, fortunately).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:27 PM
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I will probably go to this soon, but not this weekend since it just opened and is probably pretty crowded.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:30 PM
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The Met is also the ideal place for a quick drop in visit since it has that pay what you want policy. My shrink's office is right near there so I go about twice a month for an hour or so. It's especially nice since if you've lived here a long time you get into the habit of just going to museums for special exhibits, forgetting just how good the permanent ones are. A year or two ago I did the Greek galleries over a few weeks. So much fun.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 10:52 PM
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218 I've been meaning to visit the AMNH too, but that's probably too much museum for one trip.

The Met alone is too much museum for three trips. I go about every four to six weeks, on average, and usually spend around three hours, and try to vary which parts I spend time in, and there are still sections of it that I don't know well at all. The AMNH isn't so much my cup of tea, but if it's yours, it's also probably one you could spend many, many hours in. (I went there a few months ago while they were running a climate change exhibit, which was really nicely presented.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:09 PM
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MoMA is really nice too, but it's been a long time since I went.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:10 PM
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I went to the MoMA, New York version, in April. It was a Friday night and extremely crowded and there was a lot I didn't get to, but it was good. Most of it is outside of the time period that really interests me.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:14 PM
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The AMNH isn't so much my cup of tea, but if it's yours, it's also probably one you could spend many, many hours in.

I mostly just want to go there because it played a huge, huge role in the early history of southwestern archaeology, especially at Chaco, and yet my understanding is that approximately none of the stuff they acquired from those expeditions is on display.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:16 PM
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If you are up MoMA way, I strongly recommend checking out the nearby American Folk Art Museum. (And it looks like they have a new Henry Darger exhibit just starting.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:17 PM
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Much of the AMNH feels very old-fashioned to me, as if the museum was preserved unchanged since the 1910s or something. And there's something a little uncomfortable about the way you walk from rooms with dioramas of "African Mammals" or "Birds of North America" to dioramas of "Asian Peoples" or "American Indians".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:23 PM
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God, I'm so jealous of you people and your New York museums. I saw the review of the Vermeer exhibit and desperately wanted to go.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:28 PM
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Well that settles it: I need to start going to New York museums just to make () jealous.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:29 PM
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I meant to go to the Whitney, but never have.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:30 PM
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I'm sure nothing compares to the Crocker Art Gallery.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:32 PM
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Much of the AMNH feels very old-fashioned to me, as if the museum was preserved unchanged since the 1910s or something. And there's something a little uncomfortable about the way you walk from rooms with dioramas of "African Mammals" or "Birds of North America" to dioramas of "Asian Peoples" or "American Indians".

This is interesting to me, since that's definitely how I feel about the place, having never been there and knowing much more about its past than about its present. I had never even heard of it until I started working at Chaco.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:32 PM
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233: But just think of the cultural advantages you have that we lack! Like... tunnels for frogs?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:32 PM
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235 is true for me also.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:33 PM
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I'm applying for a conference at your home university, I believe, teo. I'm wondering if I can somehow build in museum time to the trip. (Answer: probably not, as it is in the middle of the quarter.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:33 PM
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234: Even easier; on the Internet no one knows if you really went to the museum that you said you did.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:34 PM
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I had never heard of the American Folk Art Museum until comment 231 of this thread. I wonder how it compares to the folk art museum.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:34 PM
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You guys are cruel. Cruel! I had a trip to the California Academy of Science planned, but a torrential storm put a damper (so to speak) on the plans. Sooner or later, I'll get there.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:34 PM
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I'm applying for a conference at your home university, I believe, teo. I'm wondering if I can somehow build in museum time to the trip.

You probably can, actually. New York's only an hour away by train.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:35 PM
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God, I'm so jealous of you people and your New York museums.

Maybe we can all unite in jealousy of Parisians. Also, I have to admit the Met felt a little lackluster after spending a lot of time at the Uffizi in the last month. It's much bigger, but it doesn't have the sort of room where everywhere you look there's something that floors you.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:36 PM
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I'm wondering if I can somehow build in museum time to the trip.

Apparently, it pays to read emails more closely, as I went back and looked and realized that I had the wrong branch. To Philadelphia, instead! (Which I love, so, not so bad.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:36 PM
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I used to feel more or less the same way about natural history museums as I did about interactivity museums.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:37 PM
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I really wanted to like the Uffizi. I really did. And there's stuff I like there, but not the whole museum visiting experience. The great thing about Florence to me were the churches/religious places.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:39 PM
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Maybe we can all unite in jealousy of Parisians.

The problem with this is that I've never actually been to New York (I spent an hour in the train station - I don't think that counts). Paris, on the other hand, I've pretty thoroughly explored. I should correct this in the near future.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:39 PM
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248: Huh. If the "museum visiting experience" is the issue, it might be the way they do crowd control? It helps to be there at the end of the day. They try to herd you through everything in linear order, and it's very crowded. But if you go late in the day, you can double back and spend all your time in the first rooms while the entire crowd is at the other end of the museum. I spent upwards of half an hour completely alone in the Botticelli room, more than once.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:42 PM
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No, I meant the amount of stuff I was interested in versus the amount that I saw. It wasn't extremely crowded when I went there a few years ago and I don't remember any crowd control beyond the entrance line.

Mostly it's just a matter of different tastes. Aside from a few standout works, I thought it was pretty repetitious (oh look, someone holding a baby again!). But if it's what you like, repetitious is good.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:49 PM
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242: Having been to both, I seem to recall the Santa Fe having more display are and extensive collections on view (and international of course). The couple of times I've been at the one in New York I liked a larger percentage of the works and was impressed with the care and thought with which the exhibits were put together. Both very nice, though (and I was suffering Museum Hill fatigue when I visited the Santa Fe one).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:50 PM
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As for:

The great thing about Florence to me were the churches/religious places.

That was what I thought my first time there. Somehow I didn't find them to repay a second visit much, though, whereas I really think I could go to the Uffizi at least once a week for a year or longer without tiring of it. De gustibus, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:50 PM
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I never saw the David. That was probably a mistake, but I didn't feel like going to the museum just for that. I need to get myself into whatever specialty involves international conferences. Or save up for retirement.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:51 PM
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I don't know about the possibility of museum jealousy if you're a New Yorker. With the exception of pre-19C European art, New York is the equal or, much more often, the better of any of the great European museum cities. And even on the former it's surprisingly good. I admit to being stunned by the Thyssen when I was in Madrid this summer. An absolutely superb and massive collection. This was private until recently? (The Swiss had a chance of have having it for free on the condition that they build a nice big museum for it. They refused so he sold it to the Spaniards for a couple hundred million plus a whopping building catty corner from the Prado.) Talking about Madrid/Europe vs. NY, damn they have a nice set of Caravaggios. I wandered into the Met's Caravaggio room and remembered just how mediocre theirs are.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:52 PM
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I don't think I'd ever go to the Uffizi again on my own.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:52 PM
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252: Yeah, the main thing about the Santa Fe one is that it's so huge. Fascinating if you're into that sort of thing, of course, but Museum Hill gets overwhelming pretty fast. I don't think I've ever gone there and not ended up feeling exhausted after one or two museums.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:57 PM
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I think the Thyssen is still private. It was open to the public at least as far back as 2001 when I went. I can't say I remember it all that well.

I was extremely lucky to be in Rome when there were two separate Caravaggio special exhibitions open, plus all the stuff in the churches.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:57 PM
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Mostly it's just a matter of different tastes. Aside from a few standout works, I thought it was pretty repetitious (oh look, someone holding a baby again!). But if it's what you like, repetitious is good.

Yeah, must be. There are long periods of art that bore me (the Met has a Watteau exhibit right now and I have no idea how anyone can find that sort of thing appealing). But I really love the Quattrocento stuff in the Uffizi (not just Botticelli, but Filippo and Filippino Lippi, Ghirlandaio, Verrocchio...). I just find it all strikingly beautiful. The stuff further into the museum gets less interesting, but there are some highlights hiding later on too (like the room with Gentileschi and Caravaggio, tucked in the wing near the exit).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:59 PM
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The Thyssen was definitely open to the public in winter 2000-2001 when I was in Madrid. We didn't go to it, but I remember it being an option. The Prado was fantastic, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-09 11:59 PM
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I've never been to Spain. I should remedy that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:03 AM
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It may have made a difference that there was stuff at the Uffizi still closed from some environmental damage (can't remember if it was flood or earthquake) both times I was there. I do remember seeing a couple of Caravaggios. I have no interest in the Ghirlandaios I just looked at on the uffizi website, but I'd go back to Santa Maria Novella to see his stuff there.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:04 AM
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The Uffizi was the first place I learned to enjoy art, on an October break trip when I was twelve. Also the stuff at the Duomo museum, and those green and white churches. But I'm someone who can look happily look at a parade of good Madonno and Childs' for a long time.

Hmmh, while overall I far prefer NYC to Geneva, one of the two things that I miss is being so close to all these wonderful tourist cities. The other is the Alps.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:04 AM
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I never saw the David. That was probably a mistake, but I didn't feel like going to the museum just for that.

Eh. A small mistake, maybe. The lines are long, the crowds are huge, and it doesn't look so different from the copy you presumably saw outside the Palazzo Vecchio. The other highlight in that museum are the unfinished slave sculptures by Michelangelo. But I didn't feel the need to return there on the trip I just took.

There's a limit to how enthusiastic I'll ever get about sculpture, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:10 AM
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essear, did you get to see the Fra Angelico exhibit at the Met a few years ago? It was amazing, I went back several times. On Spain, you should definitely go. It's cheap too - I was staying in a tiny but clean, comfy perfectly located room with bath and free wifi for 40E/night. Madrid as a city has amazing museums and is very fun, though it doesn't have much else. Andalusia is also amazing, in particular the Alhambra and the mosque in Cordoba.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:14 AM
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The Uffizi was the first place I learned to enjoy art

All the way up until college I had almost no interest in art. I generally didn't like history museums either. When my family went on trips we'd usually do outdoor things or go to science museums, zoos, aquariums. We took one trip to the east coast when I was in junior high and my parents insisted that we go to the major art/cultural museums along with the kind of stuff we usually saw.

I can't remember if it was in NY or DC where, tired of walking through yet another room of paintings or sculpture, I turned to my parents and said that I was only interested in the works of Theodore Exite.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:16 AM
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essear, did you get to see the Fra Angelico exhibit at the Met a few years ago? It was amazing, I went back several times.

Sadly, no. I've only lived close enough to go there regularly for about a year.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:19 AM
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Fra Angelico

I like him too, but again associate him with religious places (Museo di San Marco, in this case). But I'll stop belaboring the point.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:21 AM
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Yeah, the religious places do contain a lot of great art. I love the Filippo Lippi stuff in the Uffizi, but his frescoes in the cathedral at Prato are probably more impressive. I just wish there was a stepladder or something to see the parts at the top.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:24 AM
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I think my favorite art museum is the National Gallery in London, but probably just because it doesn't have as strict chronological boundaries of other museums.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:33 AM
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The church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome contains just amazing amazing stuff. There's two brilliant Carravagios, in a single alcove in the corner.

But my favourite art gallery, anywhere in the world, is the Villa Borghese in Rome. We went there just before it closed one evening, and, because they restrict numbers and it's ticketed, by the time we left the group we went in with had almost gone, and at one point it was just me and my wife, alone, in a single room for about half an hour with Bernini's Apollo and Daphne and a couple of truly unbelievable paintings.

I can't use enough hyperbolic language, it was a genuine "will remember this for the rest of my life" experience.

The way they restrict numbers in the Borghese is crucial, and because most people run round the place ticking off what they want to see and then leave, those who want to take their time get to spend time alone with the art. Also, no cameras, which rocks. Going to the Louvre earlier this year was, by contrast, beyond frustrating,.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 3:49 AM
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With the exception of pre-19C European art, New York is the equal or, much more often, the better of any of the great European museum cities.

In other words, with the exception of 25-odd centuries of pretty much unbroken cultural excellence and beauty, New York is the equal of any of the great European museum cities.

(I do agree, but European art ancient Greece to shall we say Courbet is a very very very important exception.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 3:57 AM
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Also: hating the Louvre because it is crowded in crucial to the context of many of the Salon works, so, you know, while maybe the Mona Lisa is best seen in comparative quiet, something like the Oath of the Horatii historically speaking should be seen in a crush of slightly indifferent viewers.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:00 AM
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re: 273

It wasn't really just how busy it was, there are other galleries I've been in that were quite busy, but the fact that every work of art was surrounded by people clicking away with their cameras, and the attendants just left them to it. You couldn't wait, or push through the crush to get a good look, because there was always some prat standing 2 ft away from it, with their flash firing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:23 AM
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Another really lovely gallery to spend time in is the Rodin museum in Paris. It's a nice space, and not too busy, and, at least when I was there, was just a really pleasant way to spend an hour or two.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:26 AM
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I do wonder what an actual Salon crowd would have been like though.

(& the sistine chapel is horrible for that; look, fools, you can't photograph the fucking sistine chapel with anything short of a lot of time and scaffolding, stop trying. The rest of the Vatican museums are actually pretty decent comparatively.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:30 AM
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re: 276

Yes. Galleries bring out the photo-snob in me. Take photos without a flash by all means. Otherwise, there should be some sort of firing squad arrangement, out the back of the gallery. Not knowing how to turn the flash on one's camera off will not be taken as exculpatory.

The annoying thing too, is that most galleries will happily provide you with a cheap guide or catalogue that features colour photography of their exhibits beyond, as you say, anything that can be achieved short of using scaffolding and lights.

And yeah, I really liked the Vatican museum other than that. There's some good modern stuff there, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:34 AM
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(Especially because photographing art is actually technical really rather hard, especially paintings.)

Yeah, there's a lovely room with a decent van Gogh and such on the way to the Sistine Chapel that all the annoying tourists just walk by, which is really funny. (Somewhere I have a bunch of drawings of stuff in the Vatican I should try and find.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:43 AM
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re: 278

Yes, I shot some stuff for an exhibition [and which later ended up in the Guardian] when the photographer at my old work was away. It was surprisingly tricky to light.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 5:07 AM
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also i am told getting the camera oriented right to the paintings is difficult without the proper kit.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 5:11 AM
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there's something a little uncomfortable about the way you walk from rooms with dioramas of "African Mammals" or "Birds of North America" to dioramas of "Asian Peoples" or "American Indians".

When I visited the AMNH last year, I decided that what they need is a 3/4 life-size diorama of me, in my living room, sitting at the computer looking at lolcats. USian Woman Avoiding Work.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:07 AM
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re: 280

Yeah, that would depend a lot on the size of the item, though, and how much space you have. But yeah, a lot of the time you might need to use a tilt-and-shift lens or a large-format camera (with movements) to keep the verticals straight, correct for distortion and so on. Certainly shooting a large painting in a gallery would normally require that, as you'd be both unable to get far enough away and high enough off the ground.

With smaller things it's less of an issue, as you can shoot with a normal lens that has a reasonably flat-field of focus, and low distortion. In the case of the things I was shooting, they were all smaller than about 4ft on the longest dimension, and I could use a good prime lens suited to that sort of shooting, and stay well back to avoid distortion or perspective problems. However, even there I had a couple of lights in softboxes, and some reflectors and had to be very careful to avoid highlights and reflections, and this was particularly easy material to shoot. Paintings are much harder.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/apr/14/artsandhumanities.arts

[Those were the photographs, the original article in the print version had more.]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:29 AM
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Now I want to know where Sifu got the habañero drinks and if it's the same place where I usually wimp out and get the merely-jalepeño version. Seems unlikely.

This joint.

I don't think they have a merely jalapeño version.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:32 AM
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Ah. Not what I was thinking of, but I was there earlier this week, as it happens. Since I was having my tongue destroyed by the Thai wings (tasty, if destructive), I reserved the beverage for cooling off.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 8:51 AM
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281: what they need is a 3/4 life-size diorama of me, in my living room, sitting at the computer looking at lolcats.

There was a sculptor whose stuff I used to like who did realistic life-size works in acrylic plastic showing ordinary folks. I have a few postcards of the work, but frustratingly cannot neither remember the name nor find anything online*. Anyway, his style would work well for what you describe.

*But in searching, did find these great shots of a Chinese artist who paints himself to merge into the background in various settings.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 8:52 AM
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The great thing about Florence to me were the churches/religious places was leaving. God I hate that city.

(Although driving across the Piazza della Signioria had, in retrospect, its charms.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 9:01 AM
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285: Duane Hanson?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 9:19 AM
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285b:Liu Bolin: those are great.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 9:26 AM
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287: Yes! Thanks. In other news, "I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. "


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 9:27 AM
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How can you hate Florence?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 10:44 AM
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Florence is lovely, but I think it does really suffer from being so completely swamped and smothered by the vast numbers of tourists. One reason I like Rome so much is that being swamped by tourists is not so much something that covers up the city but a vital feature of what makes it itself (and has been so for actual millennia).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 10:54 AM
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I can't say I hate Florence itself, but I do hate dealing with everyone else in Florence. I don't really want to be there. Or no: I want to be there in the Florence of Dichtung und Wahrheit.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 10:58 AM
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Only halfpwned!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 10:58 AM
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One reason I like Rome so much is that being swamped by tourists is not so much something that covers up the city but a vital feature of what makes it itself (and has been so for actual millennia).

One of the things I like pointing out to classes is that pretty much any great Roman poet you can think of is not from Rome. They all moved there to become great poets. Like, you know, the Village or something.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:00 AM
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Tourists: The price you pay for being in a city worth visiting. And while Rome is big enough that it is less 'swamped', the tourist hotspots are still crawling with them, particularly in high season. Plus you get all the pilgrims, half of whom seem to be my countrymen.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:04 AM
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I have a friend who grew up in Florence because her dad was stationed at the US Naval base there. There are worse places to be shipped out to.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:20 AM
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And while Rome is big enough that it is less 'swamped'

It's not just that -- it's that the essence of Rome is to be a hub for people traveling to Rome.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:23 AM
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297: All roads lead there! Everybody needs to get there! Aeneas, Paul, sickly people in 19thcent. novels . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:25 AM
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Rome isn't a hub for people traveling to Rome.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:36 AM
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The crowds of tourists really are oppressive; they didn't quite outweigh the great art the first time I went, but it was pretty unpleasant at times. This time I was there mostly for work, in a fairly isolated place up in the hills, which made the crowds more tolerable since I was only venturing into them for short forays and then retreating back to relative quiet.

The place I've been where tourists bothered me most was Venice, since it seems to be a nearly-dead city kept on life support entirely by the tourist population while the locals mostly live on the mainland in Mestre. I found it really depressing, though I've been told by Italians that I have completely the wrong impression.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:39 AM
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Hub:

3. transf. and fig. That which occupies a position analogous to the hub of a wheel; a central point of revolution, activity, life, interest, etc.

Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:41 AM
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How can you hate Florence?

It feels like Disney's Renaissanceland. Yes, there are tourists in other cities, but the centro storico (seems like it) has a higher density, and there's less integration with the life of the rest of the city.

Plus I don't particularly like Tuscan food, and if I never see another Annunciation it'll be too soon.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:44 AM
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This time I was there mostly for work, in a fairly isolated place up in the hills, which made the crowds more tolerable since I was only venturing into them for short forays and then retreating back to relative quiet.

Yeah, when I was in Tuscany last year I had a similar experience. I wasn't there for work, but we were staying in a house in the hills. Tuscany's okay, it's just Florence I hate. (The place you were working didn't happen to be primarily accessible by the number 7 bus, did it?)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:47 AM
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Plus I don't particularly like Tuscan food

Especially with Liguria so nearby.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:49 AM
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if I never see another Annunciation it'll be too soon.

I think some of them would be improved with a caption "INVISIBLE GAME OF CATCH".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:52 AM
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I'm not so much with the Ligurian food, I'm more of an Emilia-Romagna boy.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:52 AM
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The place you were working didn't happen to be primarily accessible by the number 7 bus, did it?

No, the other direction, and within walking distance of the city center, in Arcetri.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 11:54 AM
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If you're not into religious art, then I guess Florence isn't really much fun. Tourists don't bother me if I'm just visiting a place for a quick sightseeing trip, except as far as overcrowding goes and I don't care whether that's due to tourists or locals. When I go to a place like Florence I'm not there to soak up the atmosphere of a fun city but to see pretty stuff.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:03 PM
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I liked Siena better than Florence. That crazy Duomo! The Picolomini Library! That's a renaissance throwdown, right there, and all in one building!

Way neat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:15 PM
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"Piccolomini"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:15 PM
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I've never been to Italy. I suppose I should go some time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:17 PM
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Botticelli's Venus is religious art? I'm converting.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:21 PM
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308: yeah, Florence is better viewed as a museum than a city. The Uffizi is the best art museum I've ever been too, and the David is the most impressive piece of sculpture I've ever seen.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 12:55 PM
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I'd say that Daniel Gilbert's book _Stumbling on Happiness_ would be a very good choice.
It's an easy, interesting, read, so no-one's going to complain; it deals with a subject everyone is interested in; and it's full of enough counter-intuitive results that, if one wants to head the discussion off into history, philosophy or whatever, it's not at all hard.
(For example, Gilbert will certainly provide plenty of fodder for debates about whether it is more important for governments to allow citizens to be "free" (to, with predictable regularity, make their own mistakes) vs more or less constraining them to do what has been shown to work well for most people.)


Posted by: Maynard Handley | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 1:31 PM
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309 gets it right.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 2:03 PM
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I had never even heard of it [AMNH] until I started working at Chaco.

Dude, when I was in 4th grade in Miami I wrote an essay of some sort about the T Rex at the AMNH. You Westerners are so weird.

Does no one else think it's odd that SEK's tollbooths have been removed from Google Maps? I mean, seriously, WTF?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 2:40 PM
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Oh hey, speaking of Rome, Episode 1 of Rome was not well received. I thought it was ok, but AB found the writing and acting bad, plus didn't buy the authenticity. My impression was that it was actually pretty authentic, but what do I know.

Should I talk her into giving Ep 2 a shot, or is it a lost cause?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 2:43 PM
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Dude, when I was in 4th grade in Miami I wrote an essay of some sort about the T Rex at the AMNH. You Westerners are so weird.

Well, you know, it's not like we have any shortage of dinosaur museums of our own. Why care about whether there are any in New York?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 2:47 PM
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But we stole all your best fossils!

Actually, I liked dinos as a kid, but it's the contemporary dioramas that I love as a grownup. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which has a world-class dino exhibit, has a somewhat dated but wonderful collection of dioramas. The best one is a bear that's caught a salmon in Alaska, with a (iirc) bald eagle perched across the hallway, watching with interest.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 2:56 PM
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But we stole all your best fossils!

Eh, plenty more where those came from. And now we have ways of stopping you.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 3:06 PM
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re: 317

I think it develops pretty well, actually. It has the right mixture of high-camp, and excess, along with some humour and some reasonable level of historical accuracy to make it pretty entertaining (to me at least).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 3:42 PM
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Florence is touristed but there's not much Disney about it. It's not like there are costumed hosts there. Plus, with the euro, they use real currency now.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 4:17 PM
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317: Rome is the Shiznit, as Cicero once said. In terms of historical authenticity it's extremely successful -- though it will seem weird to people who are measuring its authenticity against prior Hollywood efforts at rendering Rome, which it's utterly unlike owing to some real research having gone into it. The duo of humble soldiers grow into their roles really well, the cast playing Rome's Great are uniformly excellent, and there are few false notes. You will be punished by Zeus if you do not make it past episode two.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 6:46 PM
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Addendum to 323: You will of course have to suspend disbelief a little as Pullo and Vorenus get drawn ever-more-improbably into the undertow of great events. That's the show's most implausible contrivance, but it's necessary and forgivable vice to enable the top-to-bottom social vantage point on those events that are its greatest virtue.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 6:49 PM
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One of the Romanist consultants who worked on the first season of Rome wrote a piece about the experience and about why she quit -- the producers only wanted authenticity up to a (lurid) point.

Regardless, I loved it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 6:49 PM
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325: Except... seems to me most of the historical deviations have to do with manipulating the timeline and simplifying the cast of characters, innit? Is that piece available online?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 6:59 PM
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326: It is not! I first heard it as a talk, but it seems perhaps to be in a book now. Let me see what I can dig up. But I'm not talking about historical/temporal deviations, or takes on historical personages. More like they didn't want to hear about things like the exposure of babies, because that would make Romans bad, bad people. Etc. And religious/social things.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:07 PM
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327: Cheers. I mean, it's obvious that they don't present everything, but if she's criticizing them for focusing on the lurid (maybe not, given that they did indeed avoid portraying infant exposure?) I'd be intrigued to find out what that consisted of.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:12 PM
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Thanks, guys. I will try to goad AB. Regardless, I think I'll probably watch at least a few more episodes on my own.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:35 PM
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Well, I think the criticism was more of production's spoken insistence on "authenticity" (we want dialogue in Gaulish! what do you mean we don't know any?!) that would be tossed if something fantastically lurid could be used (Atia's blood rite is anachronistic) or if something true was lurid in a non sexxxytimes way (infant exposure can never, ever be mentioned!).
But the piece I saw presented was not at all, "They suck I hate them," but rather, "Whoa this whole tv production thing is wacky."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:37 PM
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What do you mean by infant exposure?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:46 PM
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331: That baby looks like will -- I will drop it off this cliff!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:48 PM
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baby killing?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:55 PM
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333: Yep.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:57 PM
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Not necessarily killed, right? Could be abandoned to be picked up and raised by someone else. You know, like Trina Echolls.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 7:58 PM
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335: yes! And also, yes. There was probably a certain amount of recycling. Need a baby take a baby!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 8:03 PM
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that doesnt sound so bad...


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 8:15 PM
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There are recorded instances of Roman husbands instructing their wives to expose female children specifically -- comes up in the Roman edition of The History of Private Life. I think it probably also applied to sickly or deformed children or those you couldn't feed...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-09 8:17 PM
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Atia's blood rite is anachronistic

Before I discovered the factoid CC option, I had guessed it was a Mithras rite (altho it seemed early for that, but what do I know?).

There was probably a certain amount of recycling. Need a baby take a baby!

We just keep a basket on our porch. It's a pretty effective parenting threat, but Iris is starting to get suspicious:

"You keep saying you'll leave me in the basket and another family will take me away, but it never happens."

"I guess they don't want a little girl who won't eat broccoli, either."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 6:55 AM
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So, AB agreed to watch Ep 2, but on the condition that she be allowed to bring reading material. Close enough!

I'm rather liking the Pullo character - he's being played very cleverly, in that he is a hothead jerk, but with just enough self-awareness to make it utterly charming.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 6:57 AM
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The thing I liked most about "Rome" was the feel of a society that was simultaneously complex/advanced/sophisticated but also built around hierarchical clan patronage networks. I personally have never lived in ancient Rome, but something about the feel of that felt authentic to me. There was something profoundly alien about how people related to each other, something pre-Christian.

I remember going to Roman ruins in Europe once and realizing that all the architectural layout of the homes/businesses was dependent on which noble family the artisans were personally dependent on.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:13 AM
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re: 339

Heh, I once threatened to put my brother* and our neighbour in the bin when they were misbehaving. Finally, I carried out the threat [in jest rather than real anger]. Cue: lots of chuckling from inside the closed bin. He'd definitely have lain down in the basket and waited.

* 20 years younger than me


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:47 AM
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