Re: Holiday Reading

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If you're going to sell me a book, finish it. Oh, if you've got a clear plan that's going to take more pages than you can bind together, I can tolerate your selling it to me in several volumes, but I'm not happy about it, and I generally don't trust you to ever get the stupid thing wrapped up properly.

Another vote against LoTR.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:33 AM
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OP.2: Where's the dyspepsia?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:38 AM
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That one, I didn't encounter till it was done and wrapped up, and it was well within the "This is one book that doesn't fit in one binding" exception. But someone else trying to do the same thing? It might work, but I'm looking at you suspiciously.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:39 AM
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2: Gilman didn't inspire it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:40 AM
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Let me be the first to suggest Anna Karenina.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:40 AM
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I might finally try Game of Thrones over my break. But, probably not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:41 AM
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My parents used to read this guy a lot when I was a kid, but they'd had a clear out by the time I was old enough to wonder about it and I've not seen his stuff around lately. But I'd be very happy to hear the opinions of somebody with strong views on it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:45 AM
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Which is pretty much the same as Anna Karenina in that both involve snow and problems stemming from sexual relations.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:46 AM
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It's sort of a sequel to his Half-Made World, but as I was immensely relieved to find out when I read it, not the sort where exactly the same story picks up where we left off... Generally, I hate that sort of thing. If you're going to sell me a book, finish it. Oh, if you've got a clear plan that's going to take more pages than you can bind together, I can tolerate your selling it to me in several volumes, but I'm not happy about it, and I generally don't trust you to ever get the stupid thing wrapped up properly. Anyway, THMW was a complete book, and this is a complete, different book that takes place in the same world, after it.

Agreed. That sort of thing has started to really bug me over the past few years. I think I'm getting more impatient with my entertainment as I age. Not sure if it's general life experience or more going on at the moment or what, but I don't want to get lost in books any more, and I really don't want a book that you can get lost in just because of its page count.

I'm still happy to read plenty ongoing series that have ongoing plots as long as each book has a payoff at the end, and they've promised us that The Wheel of Time really, really, really only has one book left and the last few were better than the ones in the middle so I might as well finish it, but other than that, I might be done with the fantasy epic genre. I picked up a Brandon Sanderson book that I thought was a standalone and when I got to the end and found a cliffhanger I nearly threw it across the room.

1: Dude, LoTR was three books, the longest of which was 624 pages. That's experimental short-short fiction compared to some big names in fantasy these days.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:47 AM
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5: Read it.

Have I ever told you guys about the time I was working as a temp receptionist, and got into a conversation with someone waiting by my desk about how insanely dull the job was? He suggested I read War and Peace, which allowed me to pull the copy of War and Peace I was reading out from under my desk and ask if he had any other suggestions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:49 AM
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5.2: My first "real" job was pretty boring, but I could not read during it. However, the first day I went down to the bookstore and purchased three largish books* to read on lunch breaks since I thought I was completely uninterested in interacting with any of my co-workers. I made it five months before I was for all practical purposes living with one of those co-workers.

*Something Happened, The Sotweed Factor, and it bugs me that I can't remember the third one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:57 AM
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I still have an omnibus edition of Jane Austen I bought for another receptionist job. I got fired from that one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:02 AM
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7: Any particular titles?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:02 AM
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For reading on the clock?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:03 AM
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14 to 12.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:03 AM
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I hated The Sotweed Factor, but not as much as Giles Goat-Boy, after which I realised that it wasn't the end of the world if I didn't read books just because they were trendy. It was an important life lesson for me, but it still didn't justify the existence of John Barth.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:04 AM
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Suggestions, maybe:

Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World, or Angelmaker. Both flawed but entertaining, I think.

Guiseppe Genna In the Name of Ishmael, which is a sort of occult take on Operation Gladio, written by an Italian literary critic. It's almost straight 'crime'/'thriller' genre stuff, but at the same time, not. http://italian-mysteries.com/GGE01.html

I think I've recommended the Genna before, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:06 AM
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14: They would have tolerated the reading. It was the origami, mending, and not showing up for work because I thought the office would be closed for Patriots Day that pushed them over the edge.

I was eighteen -- I'm much better behaved now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:08 AM
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a sort of occult take on Operation Gladio

That's basically the Laundryverse, isn't it? Although remixing the Laundry novels with Italy rather than Britain sounds pretty eldritch.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:16 AM
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I'm in the market for some non-fiction reading for the holidays. Ancient history, anything about surviving shipwrecks or similar disasters, archeology, cloak and dagger stuff, stories of inventions, that sort of thing. I'm not really into biography as such unless it's embedded in some other particularly interesting matrix. Any suggestions welcome.

For LB - I recently read Explorers of the Nile by Tim Jeal and enjoyed it a great deal. Lots of interesting characters doing wild and crazy stuff. It covers a lot of territory at a pretty decent clip.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:19 AM
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re: 19

It's much more literary fiction than the Laundry stuff. Quite different in style and intent. But in the sense of 'a secret occult history of current political events', yeah, there's an overlap of sorts. The Laundry stuff is more fun, I think. This is slightly unsettling and odd by comparison.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:21 AM
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If anyone's not read it, Young Stalin is a pretty fantastic read.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:22 AM
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20: The Illustrious Dead was pretty good as a disaster narrative. Man's inhumanity to man is apparently nothing compared to what the fleas will do to us if we give them a chance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:23 AM
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Stuart MacBride's series of Aberdeen crime novels are pretty good as fun genre reading. Something of a shift of tone over the series, as the black comic elements and slightly less believable characterisation comes to the fore. But they are entertaining anyway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:26 AM
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20: Evan Connell's _A Long Desire_ and _The White Lantern_ sound exactly like what you are looking for.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:26 AM
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I think I just read a Moebius humblebrag.
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Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:37 AM
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Perhaps you are in the market for something depressing yet compelling! In that case, you might like Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy. I've only read The Eye In the Door, since that's not the one in which everybody dies - these are all about soldiers in WWI, so "everybody dies" really isn't a spoiler. Quite interesting about early 20th c. psychiatry.

I've also been reading Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth, very much in the same gripping-yet-crushingly-depressing vein only this time an actual memoir.

LB, you might also like the somewhat more cheerful (and modestly titled!) novel Life, by Gwyneth Jones. I have really mixed feelings about this book - it's supposed to be this big feminist book but its treatment of queer relationships is really slight and foolish and its characters are soppy in a way that I find anti-feminist although I can't quite explain why - that is, except for the ones who are implausibly brutal; and I don't really like the way that the section in Malaysia can be read as just "ooh, an exotic locale" (and the cover is wildly orientalist given that Aqueduct Press is a consciously radical and anti-racist operation) and yet I've read it a couple of times with great enjoyment. Partly, the depiction of the ups and downs of the main character's research career and lab life rings extremely true to me (I am not a scientist! I work with scientists); partly I like the intentional wanderings of the plot; partly I like that it's a story about a woman with a vocation; partly I like how it's science fiction (set in the near future! strong AI hovers on the horizon!) but is sort of also a domestic novel.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:39 AM
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26: Details?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:41 AM
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24: And looky there, they seem to be 99 cents at the ebook place.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:43 AM
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28: from the other thing. "Wow. I'm sometimes amazed to see how being a perfectionist so often prevents me from creating something of real quality."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:43 AM
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30: Heh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:45 AM
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23,25: Thanks. I'm looking forward to the read.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:47 AM
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Jonathan Carroll writes books that straddle literature and supernatural page-turners. He's more popular in Europe than in the US. Land of Laughs is nice.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:57 AM
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Non-fiction suggestion for Patrick O'Brien fans - Two Years Before the Mast. The story of a kid from Boston who works on a ship off the coast of California collecting cow skins from missions before the gold rush.

Another ship-related suggestion - Farley Mowat's The Grey Seas Under about a salvage tug.

And, continuing on with Canadian and history books - Pierre Burton. He's written a lot of books and I've only read one (The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 - which I had to temporarily put aside because there was too much poor planning leading to cannibalism) but my boyfriend got Klondike last year (along with a Bluenose bookmark so apparently my family has a secret anti-American streak) and it'll probably be my Christmas reading.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:57 AM
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5: Read it.

Shoot. Now I feel compelled to offer suggestions although I really have none. I think we're supposed to hate Dos Passos now or something, but I (alone maybe) think the USA Trilogy holds up and is worth a read. Mil Milington's Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: A Novel. Not going to satisfy VW's criteria, but I found Antrim's The Hundred Brothers to be a hoot.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:45 AM
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I've been yammering to people about Lauren Groff's Arcadia, the story of a boy growing up on a commune modeled after the Farm, with chapters set in (IIRC) 1968, 1979, 2004, and 2018. Just gorgeously written.

Seconding Cosma's recommendation of The White Lantern, which is one of my favorite books; IIRC it and A Long Desire are out of print, but some of the essays from those books are collected in The Aztec Treasure House. If you're looking for something a little more modern, maybe Robert Kurson's Shadow Divers (about two obsessive shipwreck divers and a mystery U-Boat)? And it's a few years old, but Tom Reiss's The Orientalist (about a strange, sketchy dude Lev Nussimbaum who masqueraded as a Bedouin in Berlin, served briefly as Mussolini's official biographer, and may have written the Great Azerbaijani Novel; also, if I remember correctly, Reiss implies that his mother had an affair with Stalin) was a great read.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:46 AM
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I've been yammering to people about Lauren Groff's Arcadia, the story of a boy growing up on a commune modeled after the Farm, with chapters set in (IIRC) 1968, 1979, 2004, and 2018. Just gorgeously written.

Seconding Cosma's recommendation of The White Lantern, which is one of my favorite books; IIRC it and A Long Desire are out of print, but some of the essays from those books are collected in The Aztec Treasure House. If you're looking for something a little more modern, maybe Robert Kurson's Shadow Divers (about two obsessive shipwreck divers and a mystery U-Boat)? And it's a few years old, but Tom Reiss's The Orientalist (about a strange, sketchy dude Lev Nussimbaum who masqueraded as a Bedouin in Berlin, served briefly as Mussolini's official biographer, and may have written the Great Azerbaijani Novel; also, if I remember correctly, Reiss implies that his mother had an affair with Stalin) was a great read.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:46 AM
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My favorite thing I've read recently was the latest Louise Erdrich, The Round House. It's not pleasant, but it's powerful. Trying to think what else I'd recommend.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:49 AM
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Genrewise, I tremendously enjoyed Kage Baker's fantasy novel The Anvil of the World, which read to me like a Jack Vance novel (Showboat World, maybe) with the... unique Vanceian use of language excised in favor of a something a little less noticeable. Rollicking! Funny, though not in a Pratchett-ish way, and not a bit ponderous. And complete in one volume, although Baker later wrote a prequel. I haven't read any particularly good science fiction since The Quantum Thief, so I don't have any recommendations on that score.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:53 AM
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Things that aren't genre? I don't read any of those. Not fiction anyway.

David Quammen has a new book about zoonoses which promises to be as great as all his others, and more frightening.

The science book I meant to recommend last time to Parenthetical but couldn't remember any details of is called "Dry Storeroom No.1". Great stuff.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:03 AM
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I greatly enjoyed The Sot-Weed Factor! I believe my father enjoyed both it and Giles Goat-Boy even though he came to dislike Barth's later work. I did not care much for the stories in Welcome to the Funhouse, though.

Much more recently I have enjoyed Barley Patch and found neither Doting nor The Go-Between quite what I was hoping for.

Njal's Saga is off to a promising start.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:06 AM
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Njal's Saga is pretty great. I never got good enough to read the whole thing in Norse, although I read chunks of some of the other sagas.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:11 AM
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41.1: As did I! And I enjoyed your reading of it nearly as much. Barth I'd consider re-reading, The Floating Opera.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:11 AM
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20: Have you read Endurance by Alfred Lansing? Well-written, an amazing story. Also, Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Edward E Leslie. True stories of maroons, castaways, shipwrecks, etc. Surprise problem: How to convince superstitious potential rescuers you are not a demon.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:14 AM
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My guess is that would resonate. But you've probably read it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:17 AM
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I screwed up my html, sorry. I meant to link this:

http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Throat-Part-D-Perkins/dp/B000RT9XPC/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355760879&sr=1-4


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:17 AM
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I was musing about why I enjoyed Chimera but not Grendel and suddenly realized that John Gardner and John Barth were two different writers, which you can tell by the fact that they have different names. And then Kegon said, "A broken mirror cannot reflect again," and I was enlightened.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:18 AM
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As is my custom, I will recommend Independent People to both VW and LB. JP Stormcrow read it on my advice and he enjoyed it. Robert Halford read it in response to both my and JP's enjoyment of it and he, too, enjoyed it. Snarkout, however, received this recommendation and did not read it—then got in a car accident. Just saying.

I will also recommend Riddley Walker!

I cannot, however, really recommend My Life as a Fake. The best novel about, or at least involving, the Ern Malley hoax? May be, but only by default.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:31 AM
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If only I had read Independent People and given Neb all my money, today I would have the use of my hands.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:36 AM
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I have read Riddley Walker largely on your recommendation. It was worth reading, although I probably should have found it twenty years ago and would have liked it more then.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:38 AM
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If you're up for something depressing, _Independence Day_ (Richard Ford) is pretty great. I loved _Housekeeping_(Marilynn Robinson)--which, however, some may consider not to be straightforward. I am planning to read her recent book of essays, _When I Was A Child I Read Books_ over the holidays.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:39 AM
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I enjoyed _Land of Laughs_ lo these many years ago.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:40 AM
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I will suggest a book so Von Wafer can avoid it. Everyone else should read it though. Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. A wrenching book and a depressing one, but extremely lucid and compelling. One of the best nonfiction books I have ever read, actually. In case you haven't heard about it, it's based on a year of immersive reporting in a Mumbai slum. The poverty is incredible but so are the stories. It really moves, it's extremely gripping and entertaining, but I found some of the stories so unbearable in terms of the level of injustice that it was hard to finish them. A reality check on global poverty.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:43 AM
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The book Bridget Jones' Diary is great IMO.

Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec is very nice also. Somebody here recommended Denis Johnson's poetry, which I'm liking so far.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:52 AM
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53: just ordered it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:53 AM
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I'm still reading books recommended in this old thread. Within the last year I read Ptashne & Gann's Genes and Signals and Langewiesche's The Outlaw Sea based on its recommendations, and maybe others.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:56 AM
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Two Swedish crime novelists who stand out from the really dreadful ruck of Mankell/Larsson/ Nesser

Åsa Larsson, who writes books set around Kiruna in the very high north. "Until your wrath be past" is fun and even has a realistic way to link Nazis into the plot

Johan Theorin, writes about the island of Öland, in the fairly far south. Subtle and interesting.

I also enjoyed Ninni Holmqvists "The Unit", a sad dystopian fantasy about place where the childless middle aged are kept alive in luxury to provide spare parts for more socially useful types.

All these read as a judge for a translation prize. Don't tell anyone, but it's going to a set of translations of the poetry of Harry Martinsson. That's also excellent.

Seconding ttaM's suggestion of Stuart MacBride. They are funny.

Otherwise the most fun non+fiction read of the year, free on Kindle, has to be David Hume's History of England. Full of delights and things entirely forgotten, like, basically, the entire history of the English middle ages.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:58 AM
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You won't regret it. It's not just a good book but a great one. I shouldn't have made it sound like a depressing trudge through the poverty 'problem'...it's really an electric, intellectually and dramatically exciting book. She did years of reporting and she plugs in to stories of upward mobility, corruption, politics, the whole sweep of life in that slum. Here's a publishers preview video .


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:59 AM
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58 to 55.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:00 AM
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20. togolosh, how ancient do you like your history/arhaeology? I just bought this on the strength of his other stuff. I'll let you know if it's any good.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:00 AM
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I'm reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and (predictably) enjoying the crap out of it. It takes about thirty seconds to whiz through and is in the same ballpark as Bossypants, although obviously you hear a different voice in your head.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:00 AM
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60: That does look interesting. Let me know also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:03 AM
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Hve bookmarked some of 25, 37, 58, and 60. THanks!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:06 AM
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I think we're supposed to hate Dos Passos now or something

??? I read a moving vindication of him within the past few years, maybe in the LRB. Was just regretting that I didn't have the cite.

I couldn't stand Independent People. I should try to think of some books I disliked to recommend, since you wouldn't think it was possible to have "opposite" tastes to the entirety of the great diversity of preferences here, but every time y'all have a book thread it seems to be the case for me. Let's see... Not a book, but I turned off Imamura's Black Rain halfway through, so you might all enjoy that. (I loved the book, which should consequently be avoided.) Oh, and I strongly disliked The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard. Try that one!

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My sister filed for divorce on her 2-year wedding anniversary yesterday, after six months of on-and-off abandonment/penitence from her husband starting when their baby was nearly 6 months old and ending now that he's nearly a year old. Among other things, he hooked up with someone else on the first anniversary of their formal wedding ceremony (they were officially married earlier for technical reasons) and left her alone that night. Words cannot really express the contempt I feel for this guy.
|>


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:13 AM
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think it was possible


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:14 AM
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60: Perfect. I love that kind of stuff. Thanks.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:15 AM
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48: JP Stormcrow read it on my advice and he enjoyed it

And my wife read it on my advice and she enjoyed it. Neb's the Amway of literary recommendations. I also recommended it to several friends who to my knowledge have not yet read it. Although not personally aware of their resulting tribulations I am sure that they are legion.

Replace my name with yours and post this comment on seven other blogs


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:19 AM
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Fiction I've read and liked a lot in the last year: Moby Dick, The Good Soldier, and Hilary Mantel's A Change of Climate. Oh, also a lot of the Sherlock Holmes stuff, and Intuition by Allegra Goodman, a novel about biology postdocs at Harvard that I enjoyed for its setting if nothing else.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:30 AM
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I'm planning to read The Devil's Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America". My niece just used it for a school report and it looks interesting.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:43 AM
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64.last: Hopefully she was a good lawyer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:45 AM
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69: Could you post your niece's report so I don't have to read the whole book?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:46 AM
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I started Woody Guthrie's Bound for Glory, which is really funny and engaging.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:48 AM
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71: Let me find out what grade she got on it first.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:48 AM
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Genre I've liked recently: _Up Against It_, a straightforward SF novel about colonizing the solar system. Elizabeth Bear's _Range of Ghosts_, epic fantasy on the Silk Road. _The Grass King's Concubine_, also fantasy.

I'm less and less convinced by hard SF nowadays, I hope I'm just missing the good stuff. Any recommendations? (Way too the hell much of it is sidling up to OH JOHN RINGO NO.)

Recommended here, I think, that I really liked; Ascherson's _The Black Sea_. His _Stone Voices_ didn't have enough stone in it, but Fortey's _The Hidden Landscape_ does. _Behind the Beautiful Forevers_ was excellent and only necessarily excruciating.

Biography of Coxinga, called I think _Coxinga_ but I've lent it away.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:50 AM
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Keep it coming, people. You've already filled in some holes in my gift list.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:51 AM
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urid, that's a hell of a story. I hope she escapes him completely
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Reread over the weekend an odd and very funny satire on literary life in London in the late eighties: "Another little drink" by Jane Ellison. The central character is clearly based on Jeff Bernard, and horribly lifelike: there are other figures in it I remember from the Coach and Horses even when I can't remember their names, and a glorious young fogey called "Alexander Brayne" whose original went on to edit the Daily Telegraph and write the authorised biograhpy of Mrs Thatcher.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:53 AM
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I'm less and less convinced by hard SF nowadays, I hope I'm just missing the good stuff. Any recommendations? (Way too the hell much of it is sidling up to OH JOHN RINGO NO.)

Yeah, this. I still think of myself as someone who reads SF, but there's less and less of it that I actually do read.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:04 AM
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I suppose it's a good time to recommend We Need To Talk About Kevin. Which is excellent and insanely gripping, not just timely.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:09 AM
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Emphasis in the original.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:12 AM
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53: I read that and mostly liked it, PGD.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:13 AM
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Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World, or Angelmaker. Both flawed but entertaining, I think.

Seconded!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:17 AM
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Further to 80: and the parts I didn't like were my problem not the books. The thing is, as I've aged, I've become a much more skeptical (a nicer way of putting it would be "astute" or "critical", but I think "skeptical", which doesn't reflect very well on me, is probably considerably more accurate) reader. I'm not sure how to put it, but it seems like I'm increasingly impatient with writers, increasingly quick to think they're using parlor tricks rather than substance to elicit responses from me, and increasingly certain that the vast bulk of the literary non-fiction I read is formulaic in a way that I find distracting.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:18 AM
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I did like Independent People! Also Two Years Before The Mast (not a porn title). Independent People is most def not easy going, though, and TYBTM (napt) should be easy reading but has a particular 19th Century writing style that prevents it from being easy reading, at least for me.

I am reading Railroaded, a history of the Western railroads that I think is pretty awesome. I have some minor criticisms but it's on the list of top 5 "business" books I've read and is a great history book. And it reads pretty easily, definitely generally accessible history if not quite pop nonfiction. I also read a fairly negative review of Railroaded by a former co-blogger of a formerly-non-pseudonymously named commenter here, but I think the book is much better than that review.
,


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:19 AM
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Also, this thread is awesome. I've got a $100 gift certificate to a large bookstore, and I'm going to buy a bunch of the books that have been recommended here. In the meantime, I'm reading the first of the Henning Mankell books (mentioned upthread) and enjoying it, so there's that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:21 AM
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Another vote for Two Years Before The Mast. Interesting class issues, or at least, interesting almost total elision of what must have been class issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:21 AM
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I'm shocked by 83.2. I think R/ichard W/hite is one of the great historians of this era, but I find Railroaded incredibly frustrating. Leaving aside the scholarly arguments against it -- because who cares, right? -- it's about 75% longer than it should be.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:23 AM
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48: I read it too, thanks to all y'all, and found it captivating. I don't think the person I suggested it to has read it yet.

I just this minute (yay, last day of vacation!) finished Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, an urbanish steampunkish fantasy I picked up because it had a black woman on the cover. I found it quite enjoyable, especially since much of it is about how various people believe in their gods but written in a way that's both gently respectful and playful. On the plane home, I read The Flame Alphabet and liked that in a lot of ways, though I'm not sure I'd normally put it on a recommendation list.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:24 AM
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86 -- I've read some negative reviews, but I think (to put it simply) most of them basically are by historians without business experience who think they are being faux-sophisticated, when actually this is much more true to life as a business history-- and really seems to get business-- in a way most academic history, even on these issues, does not.

It's true I'm only about 50% through, so maybe it will start to drag.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:28 AM
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Opium fiend : a 21st century slave to a 19th century addiction, Martin, Steven was a nicely self-aware book about becoming an opium addict.

The Rebbe's army : inside the world of Chabad-Lubavitch Fishkoff, Sue. She wrote another book after this about the world of certifying kosher foods, but I thought The Rebbe's Army was better.

Population, 485 : meeting your neighbors one siren at a time ,
Perry, Michael. About being a very small town volunteer firefighter.

The midwife : a memoir of birth, joy, and hard times Worth, Jennifer. Really surprisingly good, and it makes parts of 1950's London look like Bangladeshi slum.

Some girls : my life in a Harem, Lauren, Jillian. A contemporary woman gets into and wants to be the favorite concubine in a Brunei harem.

City of Thieves Benioff, David. A story so grim shouldn't be so funny.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:28 AM
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Åsa Larsson, who writes books set around Kiruna in the very high north. "Until your wrath be past" is fun and even has a realistic way to link Nazis into the plot

I've read a couple of those. She seems to be struggling to integrate the supposed main character Rebecka Martinsson into the plots, as everything revolves around the hard-bitten local yokels while Rebecka goes moping around occasionally doing paperwork and getting threatened. Rather odd.

Favorite Schwedenkrimi is by Åke Edwardson.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:28 AM
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88: I think that's a fair point. By far and away my favorite part of the book is the author's discussion of the role that friendship played in structuring c19 business. I think that part, while not even remotely original -- all of the business history in the book is recycled from 1970s and 80s scholarship -- is very good.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:31 AM
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Let me be the first to recommend Debt: The First 5,000 Years . If you can get past the some of the really gratuitous errors.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:32 AM
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I'm waiting to see how he handles the next 5,000 years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:34 AM
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it's about 75% longer than it should be

Amazon says it's 720 pages. Are you saying it should be 411 pages or 180 pages?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:34 AM
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89.last: I liked the first 91.6% of that and that it went bad that it led me belittle the person who lent it to me (a good friend whose taste in things mimics mine in just about everything other than book endings).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:35 AM
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that s/b then

94 illustrates why naked percentages often suck.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:36 AM
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_City of Thieves_ sounds right up my alley. Requesting from my library now....


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:38 AM
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95: uh oh.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:39 AM
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40: Thanks! I have Quammen's book on my Christmas list - I'm really looking forward to it. (I recently found out that one of my friends is, essentially, his nephew-in-law and about had a fangirl heart attack.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:42 AM
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98: I'd love to have you read it and see if you agree.

(I should have put a spoiler alert on my comment.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:42 AM
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91 --yes, I have absolutely no knowledge about what's original or not, or where it fits into the historiography generally (which I also don't know). But the ways he describes the business aspects are much more familiar (and more convincing, and probably more interesting) to me as someone who's spent time in the trenches of various corporate frauds, even though the details of the frauds are often more stark.* So I'd recommend it absolutely to a history-minded general reader with some knowledge and interest in contemporary business and in the railroads.

*Though, and this surprised me, they were often more sophisticated, less purely naked, and closer to today's chicanery, than I would have thought.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:44 AM
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I would like to know what books lurid keyaki did like, rather than didn't.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:48 AM
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Anyone read any Carlos Ruiz Zafon? I was stuck in an airport without any reading recently and I saw one of his novels in a bookstore. I didn't buy it, but it looked interesting.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:51 AM
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I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which was a highly engaging and fun read. Am in the middle of Tana French's newest Dublin murder squad procedural, Broken Harbour, which is pretty good, but not great. So far I don't love it as much as her last, Faithful Place, which was truly terrific.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:52 AM
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I wonder if Railroaded is the book Wh/te was working on while a fellow at the Steinford Humanities Center. While—let me be clear—he and I were both fellows there. It was supposed to be part of a series and he was just given a time period—I don't think he thought of it as a major effort or a place for groundbreakingly original work.

(Or I could be totally misrepresenting things based on faulty memories!)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:53 AM
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The possibility alluded to in 105.last is probably one that professional historians rarely consider.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:55 AM
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100: Will do! I don't think saying you were disappointed with the ending constitutes a spoiler.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:56 AM
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105: it's not. That was (maybe still is) going to be his book for the Oxford History of the United States series. Also, memory is absolute and infallible. Don't let me hear you again suggest otherwise.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:58 AM
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103. First one (Shadow of the Wind here, don't know what the American translation was called) was excellent; second one not as good.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:00 PM
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Also he pretty much fucks the shit out of Leland Stanford's skull* which is fun in and of itself.

*Not literally, you pervs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:02 PM
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109: Shadow of the Wind is the one I remember seeing in the store. Maybe I'll get an e-edition.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:05 PM
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Oh, is that what those fellowships are for? (Is it like the Stradivarius needing to be played, I wonder.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:06 PM
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...to 110/instant regret


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:07 PM
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For fiction: Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin is a tale about a character from myth I'd never thought about, made interesting and intriguing.

More importantly, if you've never read LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea trilogy, you're missing out. All three together are shorter than a modern fantasy novel.


Posted by: mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:11 PM
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I liked John Barry's recent Roger Williams book, but that's no surprise.

I'll probably like Railroaded too.

I don't read that much any more, but also enjoyed Pam Houston's Contents May Have Shifted. I think hearing her read a few of the chapters aloud was a big help, but I can imagine several of you guys enjoying her stories.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:11 PM
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Here's the last work of remotely contemporary fiction I read. I like tales of a corrupt and declining aristocracy, and these delivered in spades. Also very compulsively readable and well written, if very grim.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:12 PM
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With a nod to TFA: _To Say Nothing of the Dog_ (Connie Willis) is enjoyable fantasy-fiction for everyone except B.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:18 PM
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117: Does B get to read "Even the Queen"?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:24 PM
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I read the first two chapters of Ransom City at the preview here and am presumably getting it for Christmas. There is also this story ( "Lightbringers and Rainmakers") on the Tor website featuring Harry Ransom from a year or so ago. Not sure if it ultimately became part of the 2nd book.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:25 PM
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Connie Willis's latest in the same time travel universe (_Blackout_/_All Clear_) is decent - probably better if you like WWII England set-pieces, but rather too long if you don't.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:31 PM
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I haven't read "Even the Queen"; will have to do so! Perhaps B would enjoy it more than _TSNofD_.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:32 PM
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"TSNofD" s/b "TSNotD", obvs.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:33 PM
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120: I do like WWII England set-pieces (and Connie Willis!), but I thought it was about three times as long as it ought to have been, even so.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:33 PM
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120, 123 -- I'd never heard of the book, but it is described on Amazon as a "delectable romp" -- the kiss of death phrase.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:36 PM
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OT: I'm now getting spam asking me about my "special antibody needs."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:38 PM
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125: Forgot to turn off your iPhone location tracking this weekend, eh?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:40 PM
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126: Apparently, I'm a scientist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:42 PM
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I'm not, but I enjoy browsing the peptide ads in _Science_.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:49 PM
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It's a tribute to the advertising companies, really. I find myself thinking, "Perhaps I *do* need some peptides!"


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:53 PM
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A rising peptide lifts all pepboats.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 12:54 PM
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I'd invest in peptide bonds.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:06 PM
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117: Connie Willis is a fascist.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:27 PM
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It's a tribute to the advertising companies, really. I find myself thinking, "Perhaps I *do* need some peptides!"

If you must buy a peptide, at least get one that's pronounceable. FYGAKEIAL or KLERRMENL or something like that.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:33 PM
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Break the the peptides out of their bonds!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:35 PM
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Do they just troll the journal articles and dump everybody's name into a spam file to sell peptides and penis enlargers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:36 PM
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Here's a question: does the phrase "genre fiction" and variations bug anyone else?

Maybe it's just because I'm pedantic: "Yes, of course I'm reading genre fiction, doesn't all fiction have a genre? Doesn't everything published have a genre, for that matter?" But it also make it sound like you're trying to hide what you're reading. I get that fantasy and science fiction can have a certain stigma among serious adults, but it's 2012, aren't we past that? The Lord of the Rings trilogy won Oscars more than five years ago, comic book and fantasy novel movies do great at the box office, J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers are billionaires, people should be able to admit that they like books about vampires by now. Or maybe that's not the real reason - it certainly wouldn't be around here. Only other thing I can think of is that it's a catch-all term for fantasy and science fiction, or maybe even for everything except for serious literary fiction. But the problem with that is I can't think of everyone who likes or dislikes everything "genre" or "not genre" based on that definition.

I mean, sorry if this turns into a threadjack and no offense intended if I was too glib somewhere or other, but I can't be the only person this bothers, am I?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:37 PM
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For books, both PM Press and AK Press have put out a whole bunch of really great ones over the last couple of years. If you haven't read AK's Nabat series of radical autobiographies, you ought to, as they are very compelling and exciting and surprising and often funnier than you might think.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:37 PM
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132: I don't know anything about her politics, but Orson Scott Card is (so far as I can tell) quite literally a fascist, and I still liked _Ender's Game_.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:38 PM
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138: ThoughtLikecrime!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:44 PM
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Genre fiction being utterly dominant over all other fiction (much like "pop culture" being dominant over culture), are there people really thin-skinned enough to take offense at requests for non-genre fiction, because those requests are coming from the snooty cadre of superior snobs? To me it's more like it's hard to find ANYTHING to read that isn't genre fiction, so it's worth clarifying that that's what you're asking for.

And even in this thread where it was ruled out, a lot of people are recommending genre fiction.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:47 PM
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136: I've read the term as indicating the divide between "literary fiction" and "genre fiction". Mostly on the side of the literary types turning up their nose at genre. I think it is somewhat useful as a catch-all for science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller and crime fiction. Of course, the implication is that romance falls in there somewhere. And the position of YA fiction is unclear. Obviously, the whole discourse is pretty fraught. And there have always been plenty of crossover hits. I know it when I see it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:51 PM
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It's easier to type "genre" than "F&SF" because you don't have to hold down the shift key.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:51 PM
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And where does alternate history fiction or just plain historical fiction fit? Sometimes within F&SF, but not always.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 1:53 PM
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A literary-themed bar in my 'hood has classified _Moby Dick_ as F&SF...I balked at that.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:01 PM
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39: Seconding Kage Baker's fantasy novels
(i, ii, iii),
they are indeed somewhere on a hitherto-unsuspected continuum between Vance and
Pratchett.

74: Strong endorsement of Range of Ghosts and The Black Sea.

And the same problem with hard SF. (77.last puts it well.) The book last year
which was supposed to be the Great Hope of Hard
SF, Leviathan
Wakes
, I found just over the border into OK. But I was captivated by
Paul
McAuley's The
Quiet War

and Gardens
of the Sun
. I would also recommend the back catalog of Sarah Zettel
and Linda Nagata, which never got the attention they deserved but are now
available electronically. Similarly, Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman's
Road
and sequels
(i, ii, iii).
(Though the story is very much not finished, because she has to work a day
job.) Walter Jon
Williams's This
Is Not a
Game
, Deep
State

and The
Fourth Wall
are very-near-future SF done well.

Is there an Opinion
about The
Tiger's Wife
? I loved it but am prepared to hear that its depiction of
Yugoslavia is all bullshit.

Mysteries: Gillian
Flynn's Sharp
Objects
; Shamini
Flint's Inspector Sing
Investigates
(set in and around Narnia); Fred Vargas; Andrea Camilleri.

Oh, and there's this high-fantasy western novel
called The Half-Made
World
, maybe you've heard of it?


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:05 PM
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144: That bar probably won't replace the Library of Congress, authority-wise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:07 PM
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146: They use Dewey Decimal numbers on the menu. In a way it's appropriate, 'cause it's a throwback-y kind of place, but still...


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:09 PM
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Finally read, well, skimmed, the thread from the start. I love Two Years Before the Mast.

(Also, I really like Railroaded, but I'm not going to get into the discussion over that.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:09 PM
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God only knows where those linebreaks came from.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:10 PM
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Everyone should come here for a meetup and then argue about whether I'm being too judgmental or not judgmental enough.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:10 PM
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The Library of Congress doesn't use Dewey. Also, they have authorities, but probably not in the sense you mean.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:10 PM
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149:


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:11 PM
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love the enjambment


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:12 PM
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The Library of Congress doesn't use Dewey.

"But Dewey uses whatever he needs to survive. In theaters, Summer 2013."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:13 PM
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Kage Baker is almost appallingly readable. Snark and I have both found her books dangerous to take up at bedtime. Whoops, I stayed up until 2:30 reading AGAIN. Dammit!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:16 PM
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27: Frowner!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:26 PM
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(Also, also, unless things have changed, the Dewey system is copyrighted. A hotel once got sued for using it without permission. I think the case was settled.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 2:29 PM
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I read The Lost Battles by Jonathan Jones while I was in Florence, because it seemed appropriate. It was fairly entertaining but the criticism in the link is right: needs moar picturez.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:00 PM
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Another book I really liked recently was Avi Loeb's little book How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?, which was perfectly pitched for me (I've never taken an astrophysics class in my life), but might be too technical for the general reader.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:03 PM
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But I was captivated by
Paul
McAuley's The
Quiet War
and Gardens
of the Sun.

Me
too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:06 PM
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155: So true. I started reading her because she lived in my hometown, and then couldn't put her down. Seriously readable.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:07 PM
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142
It's easier to type "genre" than "F&SF" because you don't have to hold down the shift key.

OK, sure, but see the list of things "genre" encompasses in 141. It's easier to type "genre" than all of that too, but now we're really compromising understanding. Why not either say which genre you're most interested in ("science fiction"; "mystery"), or say "non-literary" if the thing you're seeking out is a lack of pretentiousness?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:15 PM
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Pretty sure it was someone here who recommended Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Dimitrios, which I'm reading now and enjoying tremendously.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:22 PM
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103: I listened to Shadow of the Wind on audible while roaming Barcelona last month. I only got through the first two chapters -- my commitment to audiobooks is marginal -- but I found it very enjoyable, a sentimental thriller with edges of metafiction, kind of as if Cinema Paradiso had been a Borges or Calvino story.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 3:56 PM
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I second both Frowner's recommendation of Gwyneth Jones' "Life" in 27.last and her misgivings about it.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 4:05 PM
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I just looked at my goodreads list, and here are some other books I read recently and enjoyed or admired:

A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan -- about a diptheria epidemic in a small town immediately after the Civil War.
The Group by Mary McCarthy. I can't believe I never read this before. Hilarious and great.
Hateship etc. by Alice Munro.
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys.
Providence by Anita Brookner. I don't know why I find Anita Brookner so addicting. Her books are so boring and so depressing, and yet so delightful.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 4:19 PM
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Genre really is the appropriate word & is conceptually coherent --- see genre painting.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 4:59 PM
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a catch-all term for fantasy and science fiction, or maybe even for everything except for serious literary fiction.

More: genre fiction is fiction that has rules other than those of literary fiction, but different genres have different rules (tautologically!). Personally, I think most genre fiction is Romance in the sense Richard Burton used in Masters of the English Novel. SF&F certainly is Romance in his sense. (Oddly, romance might not be, unless you consider True Love and the Glittery Hoo-Hah "a free admixture of myth and marvel"; fair enough.)

Nothing about working in genre requires being unambitious, uninterested in "the propagation of altruism", or incompetent as a prose or narrative stylist, so expecting me to say "a lack of pretentiousness" when I mean genre won't wash. "Literary" and "non-literary" are also troublesome, as it's never clear whether one means stylistically skilled and ambitious, or currently acceptable to MFA programs that call themselves literary.

(Final unreasonably irritated point: I can't parse the OP as requesting no genre recommendations -- only that recommendations not be limited to genre.)
--------

Kage Baker's The Empress of Mars is superb, mostly hard SF, and works as a stand-alone novel. I stayed up too late reading it, though.

If TYBTM is fair game, let me recommend Jack London's Tales of the Fish Patrol, especially to Californians.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 5:31 PM
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I get confused when people use "generic" to refer to something having to do with "genre."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 5:41 PM
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I had the impression that Connie Willis might be fairly awful, politically, from one of her books; I can't remember which one. However, To Say Nothing of the Dog led me to look up Jerome K Jerome. In large doses his facetiousness becomes a bit exhausting, but Three Men in a Boat was a lot of fun.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 5:58 PM
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Do labels on wine bottles count?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:22 PM
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Cherow's Alexander Hamilton biography.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:34 PM
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Cherow's Alexander Hamilton biography.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:34 PM
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In recent F&SF, I've enjoyed Joe Abercrombie's books quite a bit, though most other highly-recommended works in the "Tolkien Was a Pussy" "New Sword & Sorcery"* movement have left me cold after less than a chapter.

* I think people tried to use this name for a while but it didn't really catch on.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:36 PM
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OT: Until recently, one's personal artist-in-residence had never seen Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:43 PM
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11.*: and it bugs me that I can't remember the third one.

Actually, I believe it was the USA Trilogy now that I think about it, and the edition date of my copy checks out for that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 6:56 PM
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Qiu Xiaolong, Death of a Red Heroine. A police procedural set in Shanghai in the 1990's, with lots of interesting details about life in the city. The writing can be a bit uneven, and I haven't gotten to the end yet, but so far it's intriguing.


Posted by: Y_ | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 7:58 PM
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Flip's taste is a total mystery.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:08 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for all these recommendations. Mom and Dad are getting books for Christmas!

For the next person on my list: does anyone own a popcorn maker that they'd recommend? Conversely, does anyone have any opinions about popcorn maker brands at all?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:42 PM
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178: I'm sure TWWRCL is very attractive.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:42 PM
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179: A heavish pan, about 6 to 8 quarts, with a lid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:44 PM
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one's personal artist-in-residence

Or the au p.a.ir.?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:45 PM
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178: He tastes like chicken.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:45 PM
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pan, about 6 to 8 quarts, with a lid.

Seconded. Pressure cookers work well, and the silicon lid/trivets are particularly nice for popcorn-making.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:47 PM
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You people are no help.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:48 PM
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What's wrong with Jiffy Pop?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:50 PM
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Sure, but you need a stove for Jiffy Pop to work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 8:52 PM
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I'm responding to a request. This year I'm running seriously late with the gift ideas and asked my sisters what might be a good single gift for the whole family. Not an easy thing to come up with (they have ALL the board games they need), so the popcorn maker thing felt like a godsend. Back in the day, my dad used to get a weird satisfaction out of his sorta old-school popper, so maybe this might be fun for them. I DUNNO.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:00 PM
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The McRib is back. Who needs popcorn?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:02 PM
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If love can be measured solely by how much money is involved, which it must or why does Mitt Romney have so much more money that I do, you should get this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:06 PM
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Here's a popcorn maker that's expensive!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:07 PM
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Moby's is fine if you're into gimmicks and whimsy. The one I linked is ALL-PRO.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:07 PM
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And once you've seen the one in 192, you are primed to think this is reasonable. As it may be. Could you do things-that-go-together? Smaller popper and set of slankets? Cotton candy machine?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:12 PM
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Or you need a serious one for $2k. Two! One for the summer grill kitchen!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:14 PM
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Have you considered getting your family one of these?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:14 PM
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If the family cooks, marble mortar and pestle, whole cardamom seeds and some szechuan peppercorns.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:15 PM
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BOOM. It is motherfucking popcorn time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:16 PM
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One thousand two hundred and eighty servings of popcorn per hour. That is how much you love them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:17 PM
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195: Shipping's only $789.06, plus you'd get the free $100 gift card.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:17 PM
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179: The old one wore out?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:18 PM
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There's a lot of grey literature around decompressive cereal processing, IIRC. Flakes: tricky.

I used to make popcorn in a paper bag in a microwave, which worked perfectly well, and I can't remember why one isn't supposed to.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:19 PM
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198: It's filed under "home," so it must be reasonable. What family doesn't need 1,280 servings of popcorn per hour?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:20 PM
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You people are tremendously helpful. Fortunately, the top-rated popcorn maker costs $25 and fits in a kitchen. I threw in some popcorn, and bob's yer uncle.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:20 PM
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202 was to 195 before reading 198 and I don't even know how I got so pwned.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:21 PM
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200.--It's not for me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:22 PM
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BOOM. It is motherfucking popcorn time.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:26 PM
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I should have looked to see if that was the biggest one. Not to worry, JM, this bad boy can handle 80 pounds of raw corn per hour, or, if you'd like a more traditional look, this beauty has the same clean lines as the machine in 197 but boost you to 2400 servings per hour for family reunions and well-attended Thanksgiving dinners.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:26 PM
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You could take a grain drying bin and turn up the heat a little bit to make the world's biggest corn popper. In theory.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:40 PM
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Maybe that kind of heat would just start a popcorn fire.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:44 PM
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If it's only in theory, why stop there? Surely much bigger popcorn poppers are conceivable in theory. You could dangle a bucket of popcorn at the right distance from hot gas accreting onto a supermassive black hole, for instance.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:45 PM
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207 seems reasonable. I mean, once you're north of $10k for a popcorn popper, why not do it right? The question you should be asking yourself is, "Do I love my family?"


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:45 PM
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I'm sure I've said this before, but there's really no better time of year than Christmas to be a Jew.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:46 PM
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210: at some point wouldn't it just be easier to plant the arable surface of the Earth with corn and haul it to the black hole 'round harvest time?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:56 PM
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You'd also have to find a butter planet but that seems doable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:56 PM
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Why do you hate our corn?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:57 PM
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213: And people say hard SF is dead.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 9:58 PM
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We call it maize.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:07 PM
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Is this a gift? Please note that this item ships in its own packaging and cannot be gift-wrapped or concealed.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:07 PM
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213: Sifu--putting the corn in black holes since space-time immemorial.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:07 PM
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Butter satellite. That's no moon.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:11 PM
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In theory, who is eating the popcorn thus produced by the immolation of the planet? Or is it art?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:11 PM
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It's the Big Pop theory of the origin of the universe.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:13 PM
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221: The turtles.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:15 PM
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The point is to prove that you love your family, JM.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:17 PM
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Hotblack Desiato.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:18 PM
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163

Pretty sure it was someone here who recommended Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Dimitrios, which I'm reading now and enjoying tremendously

Looks like that was me. Glad you like it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:22 PM
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Right. Art then.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:23 PM
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Suddenly everyone was run over by a popcorn truck.


Posted by: Michael O'Donoughue | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:26 PM
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Whichever food has its 15 minutes of fame last wins.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:29 PM
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Meanwhile, on the other end of the popcorn popping spectrum.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:35 PM
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226: Thanks, James. I really do.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 10:58 PM
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178: The appeal to me of the tale of a self-important, transparently vulnerable stuffed shirt who yearns to be loved is indeed puzzling.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-17-12 11:24 PM
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Oh, and, if there is anyone who hasn't read it yet.
Jo Walton, Among others.
For massive, thought-provoking non-fiction
Robert Bellah Religion in Human evolution
I obviously have to get hold of Kage Baker.

I kind of agree about Rebecka Martinsson -- it's odd to have a detective series where the detective is the least coherent character. But the landscape!
Johan Theorin does character much better.

Francis Spufford's Unapologetic from another of my professional interests. It is really good, though.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:52 AM
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Some holiday reading: an opinion from today. I believe that TFA will bear out that I predicted this result: a 4-3 vote requiring plaintiffs to specify statutes, rather than just get our supremes to direct the legislature to create civil unions. Justice Nelson's dissent is worth the read, and I can't agree with either Cotter or Wheat (the other dissenters) that it's invocation of Dred Scott etc is over the top.

Here's how it ends:

Our collective frustration and sadness aside, however, if we have learned anything as an evolving species, it is that no government, no religion, no institution, and no political party can long oppress the inviolable dignity and spirit of human beings in their fight for fairness in the courts, access to justice, and equal protection of the laws. Those are the seminal principles upon which our country was founded, and they are the birthright of every natural person on this planet, without exception. Those rights will not be long denied to those suffering the scourge of discrimination and hatred. The committed couples here--and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Montanans everywhere--must never lose sight of the fact that although today's battle has been lost, the war has not been. They must remain united in defeat because, in the end, they will overcome; they will prevail.

On the majority side, only 1 of the 4 was committed to maintaining apartheid: the others just want plaintiffs to litigate specifically the constitutionality of every statute that provides disproportionate benefits to opposite sex couples.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:18 AM
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But I was captivated by
Paul
McAuley's The
Quiet War
and Gardens
of the Sun.

There's a
sequel out, you'll be glad
to
hear!

"In the
Mouth
of
the Whale".

Reading it now.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 2:49 AM
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For the next person on my list: does anyone own a popcorn maker that they'd recommend? Conversely, does anyone have any opinions about popcorn maker brands at all?

I have this one, which I like a lot. It doesn't scorch the popcorn like the hot air ones I've used in the past, and the thing that keeps the popcorn from flying all over the place doubles as a container from which to eat the popcorn. The only problem, from my perspective, is that I need a super-heavy step-up transformer to use it. If you're in America, not a problem.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 3:41 AM
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I'm proud to be an American, where at least I have high voltage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 7:00 AM
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What voltage do you have? I thought it was lower...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 7:48 AM
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It is. Maybe we have better amperage or maybe Ginger Yellow has a 12V battery system for off-the-grid living.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 7:52 AM
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Any of those are possible, but he (or I) would still need an adapter to run something built for 110 volts(?) on a 230 volt supply without burning shit down. And he's right, they do weigh a bit.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 7:57 AM
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The big appliances in a house (range, dryer, etc) do have 220 volt lines.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:00 AM
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I had to stop reading the popcorn machine part of the thread last night because I was about to get the hiccups from laughing. I'm glad I stopped before the butter planet.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:03 AM
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Yeah, now that I think about it, it's a step-down transformer. 240v to 120v or whatever.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:04 AM
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I bet 480V would make some great popcorn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:07 AM
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Speaking of alarming cooking, apparently a conspiracy of insurance companies and product safety people have figured out how to make deep frying a turkey safe enough for indoors. I assume this will end the trend as the only point I ever saw in it was the "I love this holiday enough to risk killing myself and burning my house to cinders" signaling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:45 AM
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One of my sister's friends used to have some impressive burns on his wrist, where he fused his watch to it while shorting out some electrics. He was working on some piece of RAF flight control equipment (a desk or similar) which ran at 480V [I can't remember the exact voltage, I just recall it was roughly twice UK mains].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:50 AM
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2400 servings per hour

But, hold on, that's 2400 one ounce servings per hour. Don't most people eat a lot more than that?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:02 AM
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Not after Mayor Bloomberg is through with them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:04 AM
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(Most people eat a lot more that one ounce per serving, I mean. I don't think many people eat more than 2400 one ounce servings per hour.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:07 AM
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A regular popcorn bag (like so) is a one ounce bag.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:09 AM
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It also comes in buckets.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:10 AM
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Anyhow, assuming JM has less than 2400 close relatives then there should be enough popcorn to spare on an hour-by-hour basis.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:11 AM
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I dunno, popcorn isn't very dense.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:11 AM
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250: But that's like the size of bag you would get at a carnival. I'm not sure you can even buy a bag that small in a movie theater, except maybe the kids' size. And movie watching seems like the most typical occasion for eating popcorn at home.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:13 AM
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If it's only in theory, why stop there? Surely much bigger popcorn poppers are conceivable in theory. You could dangle a bucket of popcorn at the right distance from hot gas accreting onto a supermassive black hole, for instance

I believe that's the signifier of a Type III civilisation. Type IV civlisations use gamma ray bursts.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:15 AM
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Anyhow, assuming JM has less than 2400 close relatives then there should be enough popcorn to spare on an hour-by-hour basis.

Oh, sure, I'm just saying the "2400 servings per hour" stat seems misleading, if JM was really counting on that. I doubt you could get more than 240 movie-theater-sized buckets per hour out of that thing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:15 AM
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I also question how effectively it would pop a single serving, if that's all you needed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:17 AM
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255: Where does a civilization that uses a Dyson sphere to make popcorn rank?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:18 AM
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257: Run the machine for 2/3rds of a second.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:18 AM
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Listen, I don't think they make any qualifications as to the size of the bag you want to use. If you want to fill a yard-size trash bag with popcorn and strap it to your head, fine. If you want to recline insead the hopper and just eat the popcorn raining down on your head that also seems like it could be arranged.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:18 AM
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"inside" not "insead". "insead"/


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:19 AM
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Also:

The Pit Popper was designed by popcorn scientists to eliminate the dreaded burnt...

Hold on... popcorn scientists??


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:26 AM
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It's like you don't even think Popcornology is a thing, urple.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:30 AM
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I've now decided I want a popcorn popper for Christmas. I also want some popcorn right now.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:30 AM
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Popcorn science


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:31 AM
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I still use the $15 hot air popper my mother bought me when I went away to college in 1985. Works just fine.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:33 AM
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246: I've a friend who has some impressive patterned scars on the underside of his wrist. Rolex watchband + Lucas electrics in an MGA are a serious mistake. I stopped wearing a wedding ring long before the marriage fell apart.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:34 AM
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I dunno, popcorn isn't very dense.

Maybe we could fuse a bunch of popcorn together to create a lightweight bicycle.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:34 AM
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[Oh sure, just ask the friendly mineshaft for kitchen appliance advice. They're all so helpful.]


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:35 AM
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Just saw a marriage end on Facebook for the first time. Young couple I'm related to, living apart for a few months professional reasons. She posted something warm, but not really surprising, about a male co-worker. A couple of hours later her husband posted "All good things must come to an end." I thought, "Funny, if you read those in context with each other, it looks really bad. But it's probably nothing." And then four hours later I heard about the impending divorce through real-world sources.

So, when a relative's marriage to someone you think well of but aren't really close to breaks up under circumstances where no obvious blame attaches to him, what's the etiquette on saying something nice to him before dropping out of touch forever? "You're a nice kid, shame it didn't work out with [my relative]; if you're ever in town stop by and say hi [under the assumption that no one would ever actually do that]"? Or is going straight to dropping out of touch forever a better idea?


Posted by: Golda Meir | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:41 AM
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what's the etiquette on saying something nice to him before dropping out of touch forever?

Send him a hot air popper with a note reading, "I'm sorry you vows were as insubstantial as the snack this machine makes."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:48 AM
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I've heard from other people that a note or a call is appropriate, under certain circumstances.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:54 AM
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But, if you liked him a lot, try to spell "your" correctly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:54 AM
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266: popcorn puritan.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:58 AM
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Where does a civilization that uses a Dyson sphere to make popcorn rank?

Technically, Type II. But you can't get the popcorn out of the sphere very easily. At least not without it going cold.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:11 AM
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Don't say anything that implies you're going to airbrush him out of history until you're sure your relative doesn't want to stay on friendly terms. Otherwise you'll run into him at a party in a year or so and feel a bit stupid.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:17 AM
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Got to be easier than getting it out of a black hole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:17 AM
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274: Just a cheapskate.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:17 AM
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Mystery time. This morning, it rained. Now, there are three dead birds on my deck, all from the same species and flock. There are many stray cats in the area. What happened?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:18 AM
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How do you know they are from the same flock?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:20 AM
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(How much time am I going to spend looking at popcorn poppers online today? I'm at almost two hours so far. I hadn't planned to spend the day looking at popcorn poppers. Why am I doing this? Oh, right, I have tons of work I have to do today. I must be procrastinating.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:23 AM
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They look almost identical, and are only a few inches from each other, so it seems likely.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:26 AM
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Do you have a new naked fairy magnet on your fridge, Halford?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:27 AM
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282: Maybe they were from rival flocks and killed in a flock war.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:28 AM
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Are the dead birds wearing scuba gear?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:29 AM
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No. There's some blood next to one bird's throat, but not the other two.

Also, my current plan is to ignore the cleanup and let the stray cats do the job. Will this work? Will I die from some weird ass avian disease?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:30 AM
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I've tried to comment a few times today from my phone and got the message "You are not allowed to post comments." Did I use one analogy too many?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:31 AM
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Do dead birds just fall in threes from the sky?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:32 AM
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Dead birds just floating in threes would be even more disturbing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:33 AM
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I'd get a shovel and remove the birds that way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:39 AM
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Type IV civilizations use blazars to dissolve marriages.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:39 AM
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287: I've gotten that posting from my phone. I have no explanation, and haven't figured out a pattern. Someone else at a meetup mentioned the same problem. Smearcase maybe?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:39 AM
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Does anyone have other book recommendation threads bookmarked?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:40 AM
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275: I like how it wasn't until I got to the part about "Type V that control collections of universes" that I had the response "oh, now you're just making stuff up."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:40 AM
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Are the dead birds near a window? They were trying to get in accidentally hit it and broke their necks. You probably want to at least move them aside because cats don't like pre-dead birds. Also don't lick them. Or let them sneeze on you.

Were they waxwings?


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:48 AM
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Does anyone have other book recommendation threads bookmarked?

James links to one in 226.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:52 AM
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http://www.delicious.com/search?p=unfogged

Has among its additional tags "totalfuckingmorons" but not "books" or "reading." I have songs and bike tire threads, one thread with books, but really specific ones that I haven't actually hunted down much less read.

I liked Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet a lot, not too heavy, historical, good resonance for O'Brien fans. Has anyone here seen the Cloud Atlas movie?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 10:59 AM
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Were they waxwings?

I think Halford lives pretty far from New Wye.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:04 AM
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Lightning strike?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:04 AM
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293, 296: Here's another, which also features a recommendation of A Coffin for Dimitrios.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:09 AM
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Got to be easier than getting it out of a black hole.

You don't make the popcorn within the event horizon. That would be silly. You do it within the superheated plasma created by the accretion disc, obviously.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:10 AM
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Any attempt to pop corn in the superheated plasma of the accretion disc would cause birds to die in sets of three.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:22 AM
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Will I die from some weird ass avian disease?

Beats the alternative.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:26 AM
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Dying from a common avian disease?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:37 AM
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Moribundity from an avian disease?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:38 AM
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The shooting jets of gas are much hotter


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:39 AM
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I assume Smearcase refers to the possiblity of being required to continue living.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:41 AM
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Some weird avian ass disease.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:41 AM
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or 307


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:41 AM
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307, 308: And once again those wise words about "assume" are confirmed.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:42 AM
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You can't spell assume without ass.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:49 AM
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"Assume" makes an ass of emu.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:49 AM
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The word for birds is cloaca


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:53 AM
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312 amuses.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:54 AM
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Because you're a cloacawatcher.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:56 AM
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Update: I have left the house. Dead and decaying birds still there. I don't think the window theory is right, they were pretty far from the nearest window, which isn't that big anyway.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 11:57 AM
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Looking at online pictures, they could be waxwings. I dunno, one of the many reasons I won't make it as a birder is that they all kind of look similar to me, unless we're talking about crow v emu or something. Why does it matter if they were waxwings? Are they known for group deaths?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:02 PM
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Are they Inaccessible Island rails?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:04 PM
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Or hydrobatidae?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:04 PM
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317.last: They've been known to be deceived by poetic colors.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:05 PM
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they all kind of look similar to me

The longer they've been dead, the more similar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:06 PM
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I'm guessing it's some kind of horse head in the bed signal to Halford.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:09 PM
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Maybe their flight path got privatized.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:13 PM
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Obviously, we need more information. Halford, taste the birds and report back to us.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:18 PM
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What would paleolithic man do if he found fresh dead birds at his doorstep?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:19 PM
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This is the beginning of the fullfillment of Mayan prophecy. Tomorrow, a light rain of goats is predicted for the LA area.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:21 PM
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||

Also, since this is apparently the thread in which I delurk and thank people for things, I believe it was redfoxtailshrub who originally posted the terrific, very slightly askew Christmas mix I'm listening to right now. The Raveonettes! Run DMC! Thanks, redfox!

|>


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:29 PM
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326.last: Holy fuck, we're trapped in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. This will not end well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:51 PM
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Re: book threads, I'm finally consolidating Unfogged recommendations but have managed to lose some of my bookmarks. I'll share the insanely epic list when I'm done.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 12:54 PM
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317: They are! They fly around in little flocks that all end up dying at the same time in window (wall?) related accidents. Once I found 9 dead ones that had hit a store window. They're kind of grey-brownish with black on their face. Smaller than either a crow or an emu, bigger than a sparrow but not by much. If you picked them up you could see if they have the little bits of red 'wax' on their wings.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:03 PM
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330 -- OK, thanks. I'll check when I get home unless (hopefully) some other member of the animal kingdom* has decided to dine on them first.

*Hopefully, vultures. I would like vultures on my deck. Not sure if they live around here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:10 PM
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I guess there are definitely hawks around. Maybe one of those bad boys would like some tasty carrion.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:14 PM
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It's happened here before.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:15 PM
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Oh shit! I think that's totally what happened. My neighbors have a pepper tree and those guys totally look like the dead birds. So I had some drunk-flying cedar waxwing lushes crash to their death. Awesomeness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:18 PM
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Speaking of popping corn, has none of you reprobates seen Real Genius? he typed, wondering whether the woman you repro- uh, degenerates call Lunchy threw away his "I [heart] Toxic Waste" t-shirt.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:20 PM
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335: Somewhere up there somebody put a link to the relevant scene, you love-sick monster.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:21 PM
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Ha! That is awesome.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:22 PM
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I knew that Unfogged could solve this mystery.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:30 PM
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A smudge of ashen fluff, identified.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 1:33 PM
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327:

where is the Christmas mix??


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 7:34 PM
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We use Chex mix but add crushed candy canes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 7:37 PM
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"I liked Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet a lot, not too heavy, historical, good resonance for O'Brien fans. Has anyone here seen the Cloud Atl"
what to like in there, totally fake racist with the babies eating cults and the protagonist calling his wife and son, "my Japanese son and wife", well, about one's wife maybe one can think like that, but about one's own son, do people think like that my, say , German or Mexican or whatever mixed nationality son as opposed to the genuine 100 % what is one's own? I suspect all the genre literature reads like that, too stupidly light, such a total waste of one's time


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:13 PM
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340: It's "Xmassery," from this bountiful thread. The link is long dead, unfortunately, but you can still check out the tracklist.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 8:37 PM
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And what about the Xmas mix I posted less than a month ago?! It was really good!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:04 PM
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Christ! Not sure how I missed that, but thank you, too.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12-18-12 9:29 PM
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329: Re: book threads, I'm finally consolidating Unfogged recommendations but have managed to lose some of my bookmarks. I'll share the insanely epic list when I'm done.

Thanks for doing this! It's a hard thing to do just via searching the archives (although I've tried it int he past ... a time when actual urls/bookmarks *are* better). And maybe I'll start reading more of these rather than being sort of depressed that I no longer seem to be independently finding and reading interesting little-known books. Where could my time otherwise be going? I have no idea.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 1:13 AM
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329: Also, let me know if you need some help. I'm always sometimes looking for ways to broaden my failure to meet expectations beyond work and home.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 1:15 AM
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for JPS http://www.languagehat.com/archives/004851.php


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 5:37 AM
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Protect your babies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 7:39 AM
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th kid's wearing a Monkey hat with ears and eyes. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DRESS YOUR KIDS UP LIKE ANIMALS PEOPLE!!!


Posted by: Opinionated Youtube Commenter | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:11 AM
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More non-fiction, please, the dense and opaque kind. Harry Harootunian kind of stuff. Zizek. Agamben. But not so famous and popular as those or Debt or C Robin. And nothing about America. I know some of you read this kind of stuff for work.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 10:06 AM
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Dense, opaque non-fiction that I read for work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 10:13 AM
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||

And recommendations? Well, I am not recommending Repoliticizing the Kyoto School though I am enjoying it. I got nothing for you.

Nor recommending Imamura really. He's too rough. Just finished Vengeance is Mine which was fantastic. For some reason I was expecting a Yakuza romance, like Seijun Suzuki or Fukasaku might make. I was expecting a classic based on reputation, and what I got exceeded my expectations. Just fucking brilliant, if filthy nasty and dark, even misanthropic or nihilistic. But that's Shohei-san, until the last gentler few.

I put him in the top rank, at least of Japanese directors if not world. With one exception*, Imamura has always exceeded my expectations, amazed and astonished me, challenged me and entertained me. I can't say that for Godard.

*Profound Desires of the Gods was a fucking mess.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 10:40 AM
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||

Stuff Like This

The union and various forms of class struggle are all examples of pressure. Citton argues, an a manner which comes close to Tiqqun (whom he cites) that such struggles have been attenuated in contemporary society. Neoliberal society can be understood as an attenuation of the pressure inherent in the wage relation. This attenuation takes the route of extending the capitalist relation throughout all of society, obscuring the real conflict between capitalist and workers through a ubiquitous and toothless notion of competition, but most importantly it does so by internalizing the ideal of the individual as human capital and entrepreneur of oneself. Here, Citton follows a great deal of writings on neoliberalism, but most importantly Lordon's work, which identifies neoliberalism with as much a production of subjectivity, a creation of individuals as entrepreneurs of the self, driven by either scarcity or opportunity. This universe of competition is an attenuation of the actual conflict underlying capitalist society. The pressures which defined class struggle become diffused in a society that generalizes and atomizes competition.

Citton's second figure of politics is a politics of gestures. Gestures, like pressures, are necessarily transindividual, existing as both individual and collective. Citton draws from a variety of thinkers, such as Agamben who have examined gestures as that which pass between the most intimate and basic of subjectivity to its infinite mediations through film and mass media. Citton's ultimate reflection on gesture is mostly spinozist. The first axiom of a politics of gestures is that they are always conditioned, are gestures, ways of acting and inhabiting space, are always citations. The second axiom is that are gestures have effect precisely because they are conditioned. It is because we act in relation to other gestures that our gestures have any effects.

Or This although Kotsko's blog is always a little farther than I can go

But as far as I can see, very very few have absorbed the truth of the quoted paragraphs, which insights are at least 75 years old.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 11:22 AM
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351: Non-fiction, not so dense:

Tamim Ansary, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes and Games without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan (disclaimer: friend of the family)

Thomas Barfield, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History

David Harris, Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science

Steven Berlin Johnson, Everything Bad Is Good For You; Where Good Ideas Come From; The Ghost Map; Emergence (older)

C. E. Lindblom, The Intelligence of Democracy: Decision-Making through Mutual Adjustment

G. E. R. Lloyd, Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the University and Diversity of the Human Mind and Demystifying Mentalities

Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (no doubt viewed as horribly out-dated)

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu, The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal

Chad Orzel, How to Teach Physics to Your Dog

Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox

Kathryn Schulz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things

Duncan Watts, Everything Is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer (disclaimer: friend)

Rudolf and Margot Wittkower, Born Under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists: A Documented History from Antiquity to the French Revolution


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 2:03 PM
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Duncan Watts, Everything Is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer (disclaimer: friend)

Oh, hey, I didn't know that person wrote that. Pay attention, Sifu.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 7:49 PM
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I started that last summer and I'm still only halfway through, but I still feel comfortable recommending it without even finishing it.

I think I learned about it at the Monkey Cage - maybe Andrew Gelman gave it a good review?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 7:52 PM
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Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

I saw that in a bookstore recently and was curious about it. I read his book on the Reformation a few years ago and liked it a lot, as I discussed in one of these threads at the time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:12 PM
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Shadow Divers is a rollicking yarn thus far. Thanks, snark!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:20 PM
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I've been meaning to read more Lindblom since I read The Market System and found it pretty insightful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:38 PM
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I read part of The Ghost Map when it was assigned for the class I TA'd. I still have it and have been meaning to go back and read the whole thing some time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:41 PM
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||

Woo Fresh Salt is back!

|>


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:43 PM
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Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu [...] Chad Orzel

Ah, the Usenet Victorious! part of the recommendations!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-12 8:46 PM
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Re: book threads, I'm finally consolidating Unfogged recommendations but have managed to lose some of my bookmarks. I'll share the insanely epic list when I'm done.

As this is the last day for Amazon two-day shipping to arrive the 24th ... done yet?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-20-12 4:52 PM
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(I'm kidding, mostly. Actually, I'm freaking out because, as usual, I have no idea what to buy for my family. Perhaps I should have established closer relations with them years ago, so that I would know what gifts they would value! Too late now.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-20-12 5:03 PM
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342: For the record, I also wasn't wild about The Thousand Autumns.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-21-12 9:14 PM
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I just finished the first of the series Halford recommended in 116, and it was pretty good. Seemed like a sort of Brett Easton Ellis'd version of Anthony Powell, though that sounds deprecatory and I don't mean it to be.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-12 9:57 PM
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Perhaps I should have established closer relations with them years ago, so that I would know what gifts they would value! Too late now.

So you're close enough to them to feel obligated to buy them presents, but not close enough to know what to buy? Huh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:17 AM
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368: An extremely common conundrum in my experience.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:22 AM
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An extremely common conundrum in my experience.

Yep. Especially after everybody has been settled in their own household for a few years. All the low-hanging fruit is gone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:30 AM
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Totally OT, but my ass is going to be in Boston for the first week of the year and then in NYC for the next five days, if any of you kids want to see me.

Also, regarding my earlier job kvetching, it turns out everyone was just acting weird because they want to keep me but didn't want to discourage me from trying to get a permajob, and also they've seen things go south at the admin level, which I don't think will happen in my case. Thanks for commiserating.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:54 AM
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372. Breathe out....


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:55 AM
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That would mean two additional years here, enough time to work out a book contract (hopefully) and really get in shape for the future without spending every waking moment trying to get a job. I haven't had that freedom in years.

It's not been offered yet, so I have to remain vigilant, but the recommendation is in process.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:58 AM
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May I be the first to suggest Fresh Salt? Now that it's reopen, we should spend some money there.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:29 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:59 AM
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Agreed!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:24 PM
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351: This fall I've liked Macherey's Hegel or Spinoza, & I think Daniel W. Smith's Essays on Deleuze is the best secondary work on Deleuze I've ever seen (though by no means an expert).

& if you're not familiar with Transcritique by Karatani, that's a book that brings together a few of your interests.


Posted by: clark diversey | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:34 PM
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Melamine Admixture is used in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives, whiteboards, kitchenware, fertilizer, dish ware, floor tiles, fire retardant fabrics, pesticide, glues, cement admixture and commercial filters.


Posted by: Melamine Admixture | Link to this comment | 08-20-13 2:17 AM
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Its beauty is beyond compare
In fertiliser, kitchenware
And plastics brighter than I've ever seen.
It's washable, and sure enough
In certain uses, sticks to stuff,
And I cannot compete with
Melamine.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-20-13 3:30 AM
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In China, home of tea and silk
They slip into kiddies' milk
To keep their infants shiny and wipe-clean,
And I can easily understand
How you would want to shake my hand
For keeping babies rich in
Melami-i-ine.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-20-13 3:33 AM
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Shit. "slip IT into kiddies' milk"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-20-13 3:33 AM
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"Melamine Admixture!" cried Legolam as he sprang into action. That's some high-quality fake elvish* right there.

*I actually thought Melamine might have showed up somewhere in Bored of the Rings, but Amazon Look Inside** says no (they're really expanding the range of books they have it for...).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-13 8:43 PM
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