Print Story Great Balls of Fire
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Sat May 25, 2019 at 03:43:19 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching, Me (all tags)
Reading: "Lincoln in the Bardo", "Poverty Safari", "A Princess of Mars", "The Book of Joan", "1666", "Amateur", "Ball Lightning". Watching. Me. Links.


What I'm Reading
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Booker prize winning novel about a group of ghosts in a cemetary on the night that Abraham Lincoln visits the body of his dead son.

Really liked this. It's wildly creative, with great characters, fascinating world-building, and some social commentary as well. It's a compelling story that I found very easy to get through Though it's written in an unusual way with a mixture of fake and real book extracts with dialogue and narrative, it's a compelling story that carries it along.

Well worth reading.

What I'm Reading 2
Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey. Autobiographical book where the author described his upbringing in a dysfunctional family in a rough area of Glasgow. He also discusses poverty, how it affects people, what outside agents get wrong and why they're not trusted.

Quite an interesting book, though it doesn't include any quick fixes.

What I'm Reading 3
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. First in the series of Barsoom adventure novels. I don't remember reading them before. Pretty much what I expected: rollicking adventure, with a few gaping plot holes and coincidences. There's a bit of period racism but not as bad as I expected. Not bad overall.

What I'm Reading 4
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch. Post-apocalyptic science fiction with a desexualised elite in a space station orbiting a depopulated world devastated by catastrophe.

Has some interesting ideas but I found it hard to get into. There's some rather over-the-top Cliver Barker-ish gore and some implausiblities. We're also told rather than shown a lot. It might be that I was just missing the clever references: I'd never heard of Christine de Pizan who one of the characters is based on.

Other people seem to like it a lot though.

What I'm Reading 5
1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal. Short, light history book about the year 1666 which included an Anglo-Dutch naval war, a plague outbreak and the Great Fire of London. Not terrible but not amazingly informative, a lot of the content is pretty familiar if you know a bit of history: Pepys' diary for instance. I found the account of the naval warfare most interesting as I didn't know much about it. A decent read but but not particularly worth seeking out.

What I'm Reading 6
Amateur by Thomas Page McBee is an account by a trans man about learning to box and training for an amateur fight, with some musings on what he learned about masculinity. Has some interesting sections, like the awkward interaction between working-class boxing coaches and the well-heeled New Yorkers who want to train. However the content on masculinity doesn't seem particularly original or insightful.

I found "Self-Made Man" by Norah Vincent more thought-provoking, though maybe that's just because I read it a while ago. It seemed though that as a lesbian woman who was just impersonating rather than transforming she was more positioned to be objective.

What I'm Reading 7
Listened to the audiobook of Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu, author of "The Three Body Problem". This book is less cosmic in scope: near future science fiction about scientists first investigating the phenomenon of ball lightning, then attemping to use their discoveries technology.

Works very well as hard SF, rigorously but creatively exploring the ideas that it generates. The characters are fairly well depicted, though a little bit clichéd, especially with the eccentric professor. It's surprisingly gripping although there isn't so much a plot as a succession of dramatic incidents: there are very memorable scenes within it.

A good read if you like hard SF, but not as mindblowing as his earlier series.

What I'm Watching
Saw Rocky for the first time, never got around to it before. Not quite what I expected: it's more focussed on the downtrodden life of the hero who is more of an underdog than I expected. Quite slow moving. The big training montage makes more sense than I thought as he is supposed to be pretty out of shape at the start.

Me
Signed up for a 10km race in central London on the May bank holiday. Should be fun. Not sure if I'll be able to beat my previous time: this course is a bit flatter but I think by accident I managed to pace the last one almost perfectly. I'm planning to wear normal running clothes though.

Links
Socioeconomics. "Richer Sounds" chain of shops to become worker owned . Despair deaths and regional inequality. Thoughts on carbon taxes:

Those on lowest incomes in society have the highest marginal propensities to consume i.e. they spend a greater part of their income on consumption than anyone else. This means that almost all carbon taxes, however superficially constructed, will be regressive in nature: there is almost no way round this.

There is another issue: if the demand for the products that will carry the carbon tax is very inelastic - partly because of consumer preference and partly because of the lack of viable alternatives - then imposing a tax may only raise revenues and not change behaviour at all.

Sci/Tech. Discrepancy between Self-Reported and Actual Caloric Intake and Exercise in Obese Subjects. Lava lamp encryption. Men and women sport performance Don Norman on design for the elderly.

Random. Medieval fantasy city generator. Fanny Fielding Watercolours. Obi Wan / Darth Vader fight scene fancied up in fan edit. Mail boat jumpers.

Articles. Stoicism is a philosophy, not a magic wand, a bag of tricks, or a prosperity gospel. Charles Stross on modern book titles.

Politics. Anarchist press sets up Big Issue-style free newspaper for sale by homeless people. Europe and the class cleavage. The mainstream media is exploiting "veganism" for clicks in an article about serious child neglect.

< Bucket full of meh
Great Balls of Fire | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)
Rocky by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat May 25, 2019 at 03:58:44 PM EST
II and III are decent.
Rocky Balboa and Creed are also not bad.

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I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
I'm glad to hear you liked Lincoln by LoppEar (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat May 25, 2019 at 08:59:02 PM EST
We loved it here, for all the reasons you note, but have rarely suggested it to anyone who reacted well to it. Strange, really. Isn't it, and lovely.

I quite like the idea of a homeless-sold anarchist newspress. One of the resonating aspects of piketty's straight up wealth tax is that so many other revenue approaches are necessarily regressive on the measure used for your carbon tax quote, and seemingly unavoidably/intentionally/desirable so.


I liked it a lot too by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun May 26, 2019 at 10:50:12 PM EST
Son is about the same age as Willie, which maybe upped the intensity. But it's a beautiful, funny, tragic, book, one of the finest novels I've read in years.

Interview with Saunders by Zadie Smith.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
cool someone is still doing the lava lamp thing by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun May 26, 2019 at 10:51:45 PM EST
Holy fuck I'm old, SGI patented this back in the day and the patent has already expired.

Stoicism as a way of life by lm (4.00 / 2) #5 Mon May 27, 2019 at 09:00:21 AM EST
My youngest daughter graduated from a liberal arts college this month. The keynote speaker Maria Semple drew considerably on Stoic thinking in her exhortations to the graduating class that success in life is more about who you are than what you accomplish and how you react to what the world presents to you is the key to becoming more complete as a human being.

It was the first speech at a graduation that I thought was worth listening to.

I'm probably going to go read her novels now.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Great Balls of Fire | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)