Print Story Officials are men who beat back evil, they are lords of goodness
By TheophileEscargot (Sun May 29, 2016 at 02:03:47 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Me (all tags)
Reading: "The Crying Of Lot 49", "The Tale of Sinuhe". Me. Links.

What I'm Reading
The Crying Of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon. Been meaning to try Thomas Pynchon eventually, and this novel seemed suitably slim. A women is called to be an executor of the will of a former lover, and stumbles across a mysterious organisation.

The conspiracy ideas are nicely creative, and the unveiling is fairly effective, though there's a big wodge of info-dump at the end. There's not that much plot though, and most of the humour fell flat for me Duke of Faggio ha ha ha. Might work better as satire if you know more about Sixties California.

Overall, glad I read it, but don't think I'll be rushing out to read the massive doorsteps by the same author.

What I'm Reading 2
The Tale of Sinuhe translated by R.B. Parkinson. Collection of most of the surviving works of Ancient Egyptian literature. Each one has a long scholarly introduction and a copious set of footnotes. Those are very useful as without knowing much about the culture it's hard to follow. Could have done with a broader introduction to the religion and culture too.

There's some interesting imagery, and some of the prophecies of destruction are fairly powerful. However the culture is a bit too alien to immerse yourself in the story. It's interesting to see how Officials and officialdom are glorified.

Not sure what the moral is of the ruler who ordered "Let me be brought twenty women with beautiful limbs, deep-breasted and braided, who are not yet stretched with childbirth" and made them row up and down the Nile wearing fishing nets instead of clothes", except that It's Good to Be the Pharaoh.

Finally got my phone replaced. They'd just that weekend stopped doing the Samsung G5 Neo, so I got an LG G5 since I've replaced fading batteries in the last couple of phones and wanted a replaceable battery. Seems OK. Display is as good as the G5, it's a little faster. It's a bit big and chunky even for me, and you need to fart around with the settings to get it usable. They decided to remove the list of all apps from the default: if you want it back, Google how to do it first thing otherwise you have to rearrange all your home screens afterwards.

Work: hopefully we've finally cleared that bastard release: it's out there now and any more problems will have to be hotfixes. For the second sprint in a row our demo is going to be painfully short though: all our effort's gone into release issues. Worse is that the last release and our current work have different Product Owners, so the current PO is understandably frustrated that we've spent practically a month doing almost nothing for her.

Toddler: Still grumpy and on a hair trigger for tantrums all day, but going to bed sometimes without too much fuss. Was utterly shattered yesterday. He got up at 6AM: I had to get him and me dressed simultaneously. Then I took him to the park but he wouldn't walk and had to be carried. Then it started drizzling and I had to get him reluctantly home. Then made breakfast, after that had to take him to the supermarket to get essentials. Rugby on at Twickenham (we're near the national stadium) so couldn't do much except try to keep him alive and entertained. He was reluctant to nap and had to scramble to do the hoovering and clean the bathroom when he finally conceded. After cooking dinner, bathing him, washing up and then the bedtime struggle I basically just collapsed into bed myself. Not sure how I'm going to cope with 3 days of this.

Politics. EU v. Poland The Unnecessariat.

Articles. Star Trek IV: "No dying, no fighting, no shooting, no photon torpedoes, no phaser blasts, no stereotypical bad guy"

Sci/Tech. How the Shanghai Pirates of the Caribbean ride (probably) works. Bones of ancient Rome reveal harsh life, via. Microsoft urged to open source VB6, via.

Random. How Roman Emperors die.

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Officials are men who beat back evil, they are lords of goodness | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden)
Conspiracies in novels by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun May 29, 2016 at 08:05:39 AM EST
Tricky business. The details hardly ever matter because conspiracy itself is such a characteristic thing. In film it's generally a fine vehicle for the characters' wit and (let's face it) eye candy.

See you, space cowboy.

Small Children by Herring (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun May 29, 2016 at 06:08:00 PM EST
You quickly give up on the idea of keeping the house and garden in any sort of shape. And that continues even when they are into their teens.

Re. VB6, I used to think that it was an invention of Satan that allowed people who can't think properly to write "mission critical" code. However, there are now plenty of other languages which accomplish this. So ... whatever.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Roman Emperors by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun May 29, 2016 at 09:29:36 PM EST
It is especially reading the tales of some of the later ones: basically some poor schmuck trying to do everything he can to get out of it.

I am extremely curious about the study of Roman bones, and how well they were able to determine the social class.  I was always under the impression that the npn-slave poor was mostly non-working in the era they are talking about.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

I remember hearing that by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon May 30, 2016 at 04:12:51 PM EST
cities couldn't support themselves (birthrate<deathrate) until roughly the nineteenth century (and presumably after the source of cholera was found). There is probably a significant difference between the cityfolk and country folk of roman times, but I'd expect *some* advantage in living in the eternal city (but health is unlikely to be one).<P> Wumpus

I think it was an aside from my professor in a history or science/tech class. Not sure.

[ Parent ]
Yeah by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon May 30, 2016 at 04:26:13 PM EST
My understanding was always that Roman cities were fed by Latifundia, which were basically slave-labor farms, probably not far in character to US slave plantations in terms of the treatment of slaves, which implies a fairly grim life expectancy.  I was also under the impression that there was a large class of urban poor citizens who were basically unemployed and fed by the state.  Some of the politics of the Byzantines a couple centuries after this implies a large class of urban youth with lots of time on their hands.

This particular study does not seem to say these are the remains of slaves, and I am very curious as to how they came to this.  What they describe is the results of lots of hard labor.  My own preconceptions lead me to assume that this means that these are the remains of slaves, though they don't say this.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
I don't remember reading anything by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon May 30, 2016 at 04:42:59 PM EST
About a large class of urban poor unemployed.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Just from the economics... by ana (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon May 30, 2016 at 04:46:22 PM EST
Nearly everybody in any society between the beginnings of agriculture and the early 20th century was involved in growing food, somehow. Presumably everybody in Roman society except the nobility, the army, and tradesmen (I'm thinking blacksmiths here). Some free men, many slaves, working the soil or tending livestock.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

[ Parent ]
In the "byzantine" era by lm (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue May 31, 2016 at 06:03:58 AM EST
Most of the land workers were wage laborers. Presumably they inherited this from the Romans.

There's a slim little volume that's rather dry reading, but very interesting if you're interested in the economics of late Christian antiquity up through the collapse of Constantinople: The Economics of the Byzantine State.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Maybe by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue May 31, 2016 at 01:32:01 PM EST
I'm not so sure they actually inherited that.  Rome in the first couple centuries AD had a slave-driven economy which had to reconfigure when it ceased to have the steady stream of slaves.

When Rome was at its height, it was acquiring large numbers of slaves in its various wars.  In addition, I've read speculation that abandoned infants was another steady stream feeding the slave economy.  If you look at the Byzantine era, there weren't significant victories for which slaves were taken, and the rule against Christian slaves greatly reduced the home-grown production.  In other words, the tradition to the slave-based economy to the feudal economy was already in full swing in Constantinople.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Pynchon by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon May 30, 2016 at 07:58:07 AM EST
I read Inherent Vice this year, which seems similarly short and digestible compared to stuff like Gravity's Rainbow. Haven't read any other Pynchon.

I enjoyed it a lot. Slacker noir, as the genre is retrospectively called, I think. Some laugh out loud stuff though it's not a comedy. I don't know sixties California.

Iambic Web Certified

Vineland is approachable, too by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #5 Mon May 30, 2016 at 03:51:47 PM EST
and taking place in the 80's, it's a little more relevant to those of use who were toddlers or not even born in the 60's.

I used to be a Pynchon completist, but there's still two to three I haven't read.

I saw the movie of Inherent Vice, I was stuck on a plane, and it was as filmable as any Pynchon could be.

[ Parent ]
Roman Emperors by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue May 31, 2016 at 05:43:22 AM EST
I'm not sure how they arrived at the figures. There are a number of deaths which are alleged to have been murders by some historians, but may have been natural causes. Augustus and Claudius spring to mind.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Great piece on the Star Trek. by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #13 Sun Jun 05, 2016 at 05:01:50 AM EST
Thanks for highlighting it.

Officials are men who beat back evil, they are lords of goodness | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden)