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November 05, 2008

Sorry, Guys :)

I've been working on something so I haven't had much spare time lately.

Sean had a good idea:


Cass, how about a new contest/topic to fill the post-vote ennui?

I suggest basing it on discussion of the new literature emerging from the US' current wars; you knew that in this age where it is easy to find an outlet for one's voice that there would be a significant body of literature appearing, and there is.

I just finished "HOGS in the Shadows," a fascinating series of "war stories" from Marine Corp Scout Snipers in Iraq. ("HOGS" refers to "Hunter of Gunmen", i.e., a sniper). It's very matter-of-fact with little in the way of much moral agonizing, more about the day to day lives of these remarkable soldiers.

I bet your readership is very well read on contemporary wartime literature and I'd like to see some recommendations. Is there a new "Naked and the Dead" out there? A John Keegan or Stephen Ambrose? An Ernie Pyle we should know about (or a Gomer Pyle, for that matter)? I think you could include straight-up political stuff as well as combat reportage...

Whaddya think?

I'm going to make it more general than that:

1. What are you reading right now?

2. Do you like it? Why or why not?

3. I'm thinking of ideas for the post-election period. I'm REALLY sick of politics. You have no idea how sick I am of politics.

I just don't think I can write about this stuff much more. I did it because I thought it was important. And I'll write about it now and then. But politics has never really been my thing. I have always written more about the war, economics, about law or foreign policy. Obviously about sex/relationships and how people think. There are a few other subjects I'm interested in that I'd like to explore. Otherwise, I really don't have a whole lot to say.

But my time is getting more limited so I need to structure this more and I want to vary it a lot more because I'm bored. Happy to entertain ideas. This is your place too.

Also, if there are any people who want to volunteer to judge contests (but don't normally play) I'd love to have a few volunteers. You have to remain anonymous. Email me if you're interested.

I would love to have more games and contests, but judging them is a huge stumbling block for me. So there is that.

Over to you.

Posted by Cassandra at November 5, 2008 03:01 PM

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Comments

I love games and contests. Dares too.

Posted by: man riding unicycle naked at November 5, 2008 03:35 PM

I just don't think I can write about this stuff much more. I did it because I thought it was important. And I'll write about it now and then. But politics has never really been my thing. I have always written more about the war, economics, about law or foreign policy. Obviously about sex/relationships and how people think. There are a few other subjects I'm interested in that I'd like to explore. Otherwise, I really don't have a whole lot to say.

Well, as the recent drubbing shows, we've got to have *ideas* and a well formed philosophy before we can politic with them.

Bring on the philosophy!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 5, 2008 03:54 PM

I'm reading, currently, the Japanese manga series Bleach and Naruto.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 5, 2008 04:05 PM

I'm currently reading "The Strongest Tribe" by Bing West. So far (I'm about 1/2 way into the book) I find it extremely good. Good writing + insightful analysis = great read! I'd recommend it.

Posted by: lela at November 5, 2008 04:39 PM

I just started Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor today. So far, so good (still on Chapter 1).

I've also read Casper Weinburger's Home of the Brave, Yon's Moment of Truth in Iraq and Bellavia's House to House.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at November 5, 2008 04:42 PM

That would actually be a fun exercise.

Maybe we could spend the next few weeks hashing out a workable platform. I've spent so many years listening to it being done wrong it would be a real relief to hear someone articulate things competently for a change.

Posted by: Stay-puffed Marshmallow Man at November 5, 2008 04:48 PM

I'm reading "Lycoming turbine engine compression specifications" and the Aeronautical Information Publication - Iraq.

Which is the reason my comments border on the manic...

Posted by: BillT at November 5, 2008 05:06 PM

"Maybe we could spend the next few weeks hashing out a workable platform. I've spent so many years listening to it being done wrong it would be a real relief to hear someone articulate things competently for a change."
Woof! It seems more like eons... But yes, that would be a refreshing change.
P.S.
" I'm REALLY sick of politics. You have no idea how sick I am of politics."
You might be surprised at the shared sickness many of us might have regarding the disgusting and repulsive state of political discourse at this time.
"I just don't think I can write about this stuff much more. I did it because I thought it was important."
And thank you. You did it well.

Posted by: Zuul at November 5, 2008 05:13 PM

Why thank you, Zuul ;p

When the glorious Third Reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants arrives, perhaps a new form will be chosen for you: that of a giant Slor.

Posted by: Stay-puffed Marshmallow Man at November 5, 2008 05:22 PM

I'm reading several John McPhee books. He never disappoints. Right now, "The Control of Nature," about, among other things, the hundred-year-old effort to prevent the Mississippi River from diverting through the Atchafalaya River basin. But I've never gone wrong with a McPhee effort since a friend recommended "Annals of the Former World," about geology. He's also written about the history and economics of oranges and about the Swiss civil defense system. McPhee must be an awfully quick study to have enabled himself to write so engagingly on such a variety of subjects.

McPhee has a remarkable ability to interview characters from all sides of an issue with insight and respect. "Travels with the Archdruid," for instance, deals with a long-running feud between a dyed-in-the-wool Sierra Club president and a mining scout. Neither is caricatured in the least.

By the way, Cass, I read and thoroughly enjoyed "Untethered," the novel you recommended to us a month or so ago.

Here's a lighthearted romp of an alternative, a science-fiction favorite of mine that I recently re-read: "Courtship Rite" by Donald Kingsbury. It's not about politics, but the author does explore some interesting ideas about a political structure that he can experiment with in his classic lost-colony story structure. This book is not in print, but cheap used copies are easily available on Amazon.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 5, 2008 05:29 PM

BillT, I so wanted to snark that line but was warned by the Engineer that I had to keep it family friendly.

I am reading "Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues," by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. It is a slim volume of prose dedicated to the finding the difference between Right and Wrong, or the merits of Relativism, as in No Difference. The suspense is killing me, so I need to finish the chapter and consult Jiminy Cricket (my uncle) on a matter of conscience.

Posted by: Cricket at November 5, 2008 05:45 PM

If the suspense is killing you, it's Wrong.

If it had been Right, you'd be room temperature by now...

Posted by: BillT at November 5, 2008 05:57 PM

I am in the death throes of "Chancellorsville" by Stephen Sears It's a fascinating book about the epic Civil War battle that took place just an hour or so up the road from me, but one that has so much information and such small type that its taken me roughly three times longer than the Lincoln administration to finish (albeit, at one or two sentences a night). I swear, I convinced that the Confederates are going to win it, sooner or later.

I'm also about halfway through reading "Wooden Boats" a really nifty look at a forgotten craft kept alive by improbable iconoclasts. I can't find it at the moment (I think its still in my suitbag from my last trip to Chicago), but if you like reading about a passion for wooden bosts, then the title just screams "Hey idiot!"

Lastly, there's this curious novel that a visiting friend left me that I've only briefly skimmed, but that I swear once Stonewall Jackson gets off'd and Bobby Lee routs Fightin' Joe Hooker, I'm going to take to bed every night for six months or so. It's a fictional tale about deconstructing a chess game that appears in a painting and something or other after that. Sounds like I'll get plenty of sleep.

Posted by: spd rdr at November 5, 2008 06:25 PM

B and I just finished the unabridged audiobook of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged this fall. I am currently reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, at the insistence of my husband, who is reading Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

I like Stranger in a Strange Land so far; I'm about halfway through. I never end up finishing books I don't like. It's a really interesting exploration of various influencers in society, and what our world (a future world hypothesized in 1961, when the book was published) might look like to someone who grew up on another planet entirely.

Posted by: Leofwende at November 5, 2008 06:41 PM

I've been reading The $50 Knife Shop. I'm thinking of taking up blacksmithing as a hobby when I get home. I can already do quite a bit of the finishing and modification work on knives, and I think it might be fun to learn to forge them from scratch.

Posted by: Grim at November 5, 2008 06:56 PM

Agreed. Politics is over, for the time being. All we can do now is duck & cover and hope the dreck doesn't hit us.

"An Ernie Pyle we should know about..."

More than one has nominated Michael Yon, but he doesn't seem interested in carrying that flag. I think he's the closest we've seen, anyway. Neither Pyle nor Yon have much time for fiction. Let's hope Yon comes out of this one in better shape than Pyle did.

spd rdr: Your comment about "Wooden Boats" reminds me of an old British line about wars being won by iron men in wooden boats.

Science-fiction fans might like Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War". It has a heart-tugging end.

I'm reading Nabokov's "Lectures on Literature". I always thought that as a Russian, he came here, learned English, and wrote "Lolita". Not so.

And G. K. Chesterton. His "Orthodoxy" and "Everlasting Man" are highlights of Christian apologetics; his "Father Brown" stories are great detecitive stories, and he has hundreds of other stories and essays.

Philosophy is a good thing to look into every once in a while. It asks simple questions, like "Why are we here?", "How should we live?", and "How should we be goverened?".

Posted by: ZZMike at November 5, 2008 07:28 PM

Just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and loved it.

As a child, we always had a garden. I grew up in SoCal and the house I lived in had 2 different orange trees (Navel and Valencia), a white grapefruit tree, pomegranates, and a tangerine tree. My dad planted grapes, asparagus, and helped me plant a garden of carrots, radishes, tomatoes, etc. I've always wanted to have my own garden and finally got around to planting a container garden recently.

After reading A,V,M I'm even more inspired to plant more. I can't wait until we move somewhere that I can actually plant in the ground as opposed to in buckets. And, if electricity rates and food prices go up like I worry they will, a garden seems like a good idea.

I need to hit the library and get some more books. I'm waiting for Liberal Fascism to come back in and I'm waiting for Ann Rice's newest - Called Out of Darkness to come in as well.

In the meantime, I think I'll go back and re-read Brad Thor's most recent, The Last Patriot. It's a great book and I have quite a crush on him as well ;~P

Posted by: HomefrontSix at November 5, 2008 07:34 PM

Well then, I just re-started (I had begun it and then got sidetracked) American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic by Joseph Ellis.

Posted by: Stay-puffed Marshmallow Man at November 5, 2008 07:36 PM

Science-fiction fans might like Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War". It has a heart-tugging end.

I strongly recommend reading Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" first, then "The Forever War". They make a great duo.

I'm desultorily reading about 3 things right now - all popular fiction - and not enjoying any of them which usually means it's time for some non-fiction.

Before my run of books I'm not enjoying, I re-read "The Autobiography of Henry VIII" by Margaret George. It's excellent. George is very good at letting her characters reveal all their flaws in their own words. Although the commentary by Henry's fool helps the process along a little here.

Posted by: Elise at November 5, 2008 07:55 PM

Someday I'm going to finish "Guests of the Ayatollah" by Mark Bowden. It's been on my nightstand, about 2/3 done, for six months. I guess I need a long plane trip to Europe or China to get 'er done.
Most interesting "war" book I've read in a couple years is "The Afghan Campaign" by Steven Pressfield, set in the time of Alexander's Hellenic conquests. It's good, but it doesn't have a happy ending.
If you want to get a better understanding of Saddam's Iraq, I would suggest reading "Republic of Fear", written about Iraq before the Gulf War of 1990-91. It is in most libraries, but is not an easy read. Surprisingly, it's not about us, George Bush, or the dreaded neocons.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 5, 2008 09:36 PM

I am reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Earth gets invaded by centipede like silver 'souls' that inhabit human bodies (body snatcher like) they are all peace & honesty. Everything is shared equally and no one has to pay for anything. Very utopia. Except of course for the renegade humans fighting to remain free. Great read so far.

Posted by: Kat at November 5, 2008 09:56 PM

Not exactly in the same vein as everyone's been mentioning, but before beginning Lone Survivor today, I finished Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry (the humorist) and Ridley Pearson. It's the third (and last?) book in a series (for children, obviously) of the story of how Peter Pan became Peter Pan. Yeah, I read all kinds of books lately. I'm not allowed to buy any more books until I've read all the ones I've picked up recently ;-) And, I plan to borrow some books I gave to my dad: The Blog of War and My Men Are My Heroes.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at November 5, 2008 10:03 PM

Let's see...

An autobiography of Johnny Cash, partially finished, lies at the head of my bed. Next to it lies D-Day by Stephen Ambrose, also partially finished. Liberal Fascism is on my desk, begun a week ago. I never properly finished Clayton Cramer's Armed America.

But the book I'm really loving is my third read of Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney. I also just finished The Tale of the Children of Hurin, collected/edited by Christopher Tolkien from his father's notes.

But if you'd asked that question this summer, it would have been the Change trilogy by S.M. Stirling...

Posted by: karrde at November 6, 2008 01:17 AM

1. What are you reading right now?
An old (late 60's) SciFi novel: NOVA

2. Do you like it? Why or why not?
I do; it's quite imaginative.

3. I'm thinking of ideas for the post-election period. I'm REALLY sick of politics. You have no idea how sick I am of politics.
I may have some inkling about how sick you are of politics...this has been the longest campaign season ever, or it surely seems that way. All the thought that went into explaining why people shouldn't vote for someone who is essentially a cipher (with a highly questionable past) and the mindless sheeple elect him anyway. Sick is putting it mildly, IMO...

Posted by: camojack at November 6, 2008 03:42 AM

Well, I am not Room Temp but I am nearly finished with the Week 3 Requirements. I now have to turn in a Rough Draft of my final paper.

What am I reading now? Heh. I'd like to get the title of the book that follows a chess game through a painting...that does sound rather fun.

The Inkheart series. I tend to go more for children's books as I am at that stage in my life. However, I do have the Harvard Classics waiting and the Engineer has already started on 'The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.'

Posted by: Cricket at November 6, 2008 11:21 AM

I've got about 5 books active at the moment. For work, I'm reading "Version Control with Subversion." At home, it's all re-reading, currently "The Compleat Traveller in Black" by John Brunner, and "I Wouldn't Have Missed It," a collection of Ogden Nash's poetry. I picked that one up again so I could introduce someone to "The Tale of Custard the Dragon."

Posted by: wheels at November 6, 2008 01:16 PM

Finished "Lycoming turbine engine compression specifications" and started on the latest edition of Army Regulation 95-1, which now incorporates ARs 95-2 and 95-3 -- each of which was originally incorporated in 95-1 until 1995.

Halfway through the Aeronautical Information Publication - Iraq. Great plot, but the characterization is somewhat lacking...

Posted by: BillT at November 6, 2008 01:38 PM

Well for God's sake, don't tell us how it ends.

If there's one thing I hate, it's having the suspense ruined for me.

Posted by: Stay-puffed Marshmallow Man at November 6, 2008 01:46 PM

If you'd like to experience the spellbinding narrative for yourself, I have it on digits.

Figure of speech.

I did *not* print it out on my fingers.

[/manic mode]

Posted by: BillT at November 6, 2008 03:38 PM

Wasn't it the Manhattan telephone directory that was once described something like "no plot to speak of, but a truly impressive cast of characters?"

Posted by: wheels at November 6, 2008 04:14 PM

I'm re-reading "What's a Woman Doing Here?" by Dickey Chappelle. She was a war correspondent from WWII through Viet Nam, where she was killed.

Not contemporary, but she was remarkable. Pretty sure it's long out of print, but you can pick it up at the library.

Posted by: April at November 6, 2008 04:54 PM

I just finished The Mote In God's Eye by Jerry and Niven.

Read it awhile back but that was when I was really young and I probably didn't get most of the meaning.

Reading the sequel now.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 6, 2008 07:40 PM

Just finished "We Few" by Weber and Ringo (military SciFi - good, but like most books in a series, start with the first one - "A March Upcountry" or you'll be LOST).

Currently reading Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" (and no, not because it was on Oprah, but it is my bookclub selection this quarter) and Will Thomas "Some Danger Involved" - I don't remember who rec'd the last one, but it was on a milblog - whoever you are THANKS! I'm loving this one and will hunt out the rest in the series!!)

Posted by: Karla (threadbndr) at November 7, 2008 01:43 PM

Karla, did you like LW's interviews with David Weber at Blackfive?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 8, 2008 03:11 PM

Bill, when does the movie come out and who are your picks?

Posted by: Cricket at November 9, 2008 09:44 PM

Probably be a Back-to-School '12 release. Since the end of the world will be shortly thereafter -- according to the Maya, anyway -- we can blame bombing at the box-office on that.

So far, we're considering CGI clones of Ymar as the entire Ministry of Defense and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

Posted by: BillT at November 9, 2008 11:47 PM

So far, we're considering CGI clones of Ymar as the entire Ministry of Defense

See if you can get the black shadowy wings from the Angel of Death. That'd be nice.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 11, 2008 03:28 PM

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